China builds world’s fastest wind tunnel to test weapons that could strike US within 14 minutes

Researchers want new facility to be up and running by 2020 as race to develop hypersonic technology intensifies

China is testing a range of hypersonic aircraft, which can travel at many times the speed of sound. Photo: SCMP

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 9:01pm

UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 11:26pm

A hypersonic vehicle flying at this speed from China could reach the west coast of the United States in less than 14 minutes.

Zhao Wei, a senior scientist working on the project, said researchers aimed to have the facility up and running by around 2020 to meet the pressing demand of China’s hypersonic weapon development programme.

“It will boost the engineering application of hypersonic technology, mostly in military sectors, by duplicating the environment of extreme hypersonic flights, so problems can be discovered and solved on the ground,” said Zhao, a deputy director of the State Key Laboratory of High Temperature Gas Dynamics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

The ground tests will significantly reduce the risk of failure when test flights of hypersonic aircraft start.

The world’s most powerful wind tunnel at present is America’s LENX-X facility in Buffalo, New York state, which operates at speeds of up to 10 kilometres per second – 30 times the speed of sound.

Hypersonic aircraft are defined as vehicles that travel of speeds of Mach 5, five times the speed of sound, or above.

The US military tested HTV-2, a Mach 20 unmanned aircraft in 2011 but the hypersonic flight lasted only a few minutes before the vehicle crashed in to the Pacific Ocean.

In March China conducted seven successful test flights of its hypersonic glider WU-14, also known as the DF-ZF, at speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10.

Other countries including Russia, India and Australia have also tested some early prototypes of the aircraft, which could be used to deliver missiles including nuclear weapons.

“China and the US have started a hypersonic race,” said Wu Dafang, professor at the school of aeronautic science and engineering at Beihang University in Beijing who received a national technology award for the invention of a new heat shield used on hypersonic vehicles in 2013.

The JF-12 hypersonic wind tunnel near Beijing is able to replicate hypersonic flight conditions. Photo: SCMP

Wu has worked on the development of hypersonic cruise missiles, a near space vehicle, high-speed drones and other possible weapons for the People’s Liberation Army.

He said there were a number of hypersonic wind tunnels in mainland China which had helped ensure the high success rate of its hypersonic weapon tests.

The new wind tunnel will be “one of the most powerful and advanced ground test facilities for hypersonic vehicles in the world”, said Wu, who was not involved in the project.

“This is definitely good news for us. I look forward to its completion,” he added.

In the new tunnel there will be a test chamber with room for relatively large aircraft models with a wing span of almost three metres.

To generate an airflow at extremely high speeds, the researchers will detonate several tubes containing a mixture of oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen gases for a series of explosions that could discharge one gigawatt of power within a split second, according to Zhao.

This is more than half of the total power generation capacity of the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in Guangdong.

The shock waves, channelled into the test chamber through a metallic tunnel, will envelope the prototype vehicle and increase the temperature over its body to 8,000 Kelvins, or 7,727 degrees Celsius, Zhao said.

That is nearly 50 per cent hotter than the surface of the Sun.

The hypersonic vehicle therefore must be covered by special materials with extremely efficient cooling systems inside the airframe to dissipate the heat, otherwise it could easily veer off the course or disintegrate during a long-distance flight.

The new tunnel would also be used to test the scramjet, a new type of jet engine designed specifically for hypersonic flights. Traditional jet engines are not capable of handling air flows at such speeds.

The JF12 facility has been in operation since 2012, testing a variety of hypersonic weapons. Photo: SCMP

Zhao said the construction of the new facility would be led by the same team that built JF12, a hypervelocity denotation-driven shock tunnel in Beijing capable of duplicating flight conditions at speeds ranging from Mach 5 to Mach 9 at altitudes between 20 and 50 kilometres.

Jiang Zonglin, lead developer of the JF12, won the annual Ground Test Award issued by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics last year for advancing “state-of-the-art large-scale hypersonic test facilities”.

Jiang’s JF12 design “uses no moving parts and generates a longer test-duration and a higher energy flow than more traditionally designed tunnels”, according to the American institute.

According to state media reports, the JF12 tunnel has been operating at full capacity with a new test every two days since its completion in 2012 as the pace of hypersonic weapon development increased significantly in recent years.

In an article published in the domestic journal National Science Review last month, Jiang said the impact of hypersonic flights on society could be “revolutionary”.

“With practical hypersonic aeroplanes, a two-hour flight to anywhere in the world will be possible” while the cost of space travel could be cut by 99 per cent with reusable spacecraft technology, Jiang wrote.

“Hypersonic flight is, and in the foreseeable future will be, the driver of national security, and civilian transportation and space access,” he added.

The escape velocity, or the minimum speed needed to leave the Earth, is 11 kilometres per second.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Wind tunnel to give China edge in hypersonic tests

Source: SCMP “China builds world’s fastest wind tunnel to test weapons that could strike US within 14 minutes”
Note: This is SCMP’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China’s Big Lead over US in Supercomputers

Sunway Taihulight, the fastest supercomputer in the world. Photo: Xinhua

According to SCMP’s report “Supercomputer superpower China takes biggest lead over US in 25 years” on yesterday, in recently released TOP500 list “China had 202 of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers compared with the US total of 143”.

SCMP says, “China’s Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2 are the two fastest supercomputers in the rankings, with Switzerland taking third place, Japan fourth and the US fifth.”

Source: SCMP “Supercomputer superpower China takes biggest lead over US in 25 years” (summary by Chan Kai Yee, full text can be found at

Taiwan says shut out of U.N. climate talks due to China pressure

Jess Macy Yu NOVEMBER 14, 2017 / 4:28 PM / UPDATED 14 HOURS AGO

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan said its environment minister has been prevented from attending an annual U.N. climate meeting even with credentials as a non-governmental participant due to pressure from China.

It represents the latest case of self-ruled Taiwan not being able to take part in an international event because of opposition from China, which objects to the island it claims under its “one-China” stand being accorded anything akin to the status of an independent state.

Environmental protection agency minister Lee Ying-yuan had hoped to attend a U.N. climate change meeting in Bonn, Germany, the island’s foreign ministry said in a statement late on Monday.


“Due to China’s interventions, environmental protection minister Lee was unable to enter the UNFCCC meeting,” it said, referring to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have nosedived since Tsai Ing-wen was elected the island’s president last year. China believes she wants formal independence for Taiwan, a red line for Beijing. Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan’s democracy and security.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry spokesman, Andrew H.C. Lee, told a news conference in Taipei the president believed climate change was an important issue and the island would endeavor to take part in international meetings to address it.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China’s position was very clear.

“On the matter of Taiwan participating in international events, China’s position is very clear; that is, it must comply with the One China principle,” Geng told reporters, without elaborating.

Organizers of the event in Bonn where were not immediately available for comment.

Since 2009, when Taiwan announced its intention to participate in U.N. climate change meetings, the government has helped officials get credentials for talks as non-governmental observers to attend the international meeting. Taiwan participated last year with a lower-level delegation.

Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, having lost the seat it held in China’s name in 1971 when the Communist government in Beijing assumed the position.

Under the previous Taiwan administration of the China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou, Beijing let Taiwan attend some U.N.-related events, including getting observer access at the annual U.N. World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva.

This year, Taiwan was shut out of the health assembly, which the island also said was due to China’s coercion and threats.

China has previously blamed Taiwan for its exclusion from international events, saying it is due to Taipei’s refusal to accept the “one China” principle.

Nationalist forces, defeated by the Communists, fled to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Reporting by Jess Macy Yu; Additional reporting by Philip Wen and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING, and Alister Doyle in BONN, Germany; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Source: Reuters “Taiwan says shut out of U.N. climate talks due to China pressure”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Amnesty says China detains 30 relatives of exiled Uighur leader

Reuters Staff November 14, 2017 / 6:34 PM / Updated 13 hours ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – Authorities in China’s far western region of Xinjiang have in recent months detained up to 30 relatives of an exiled ethnic Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer, rights group Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

It was not possible to independently verify the report.

Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in recent years in violence between majority Han Chinese and ethnic Uighurs who call Xinjiang home, is under tight security and independent reporting there is difficult.

Uighurs are a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language.

A Xinjiang government news department official declined to comment, saying she was unaware of the report. China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kadeer is a former political prisoner in China accused of leaking state secrets in 1999. She was later allowed to leave on medical grounds and lives in the United States. She is president of the World Uyghur Congress.

Amnesty said that among those detained were Kadeer’s sisters, brothers, sons, grandchildren and extended relatives.

Some of her relatives have been detained or jailed previously in Xinjiang.

The rights group said in an emailed statement that it was unclear when they were taken away, and that they were “presumed” to be held at a so-called education center and risked torture.

“These facilities are known to arbitrarily detain Uighurs and other Muslim minorities for 6-12 months or more,” it said.

“Forced to study Chinese laws and policies, many of those detained are targeted because they may have been found praying, owning religious books, have traveled abroad, or have family members living abroad,” it said.

The Chinese government routinely denies accusations of rights abuses in Xinjiang, though it has admitted a problem with torture of detainees and has pledged to stop mistreatment of prisoners.

Xinjiang, on the borders of Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, is one of China’s most sensitive domestic issues and where China says it faces its own war on radical Islam and militancy.

Rights groups and Uighur exiles say the unrest is more a product of Uighur frustration at Chinese controls on their culture and religion. China denies any repression.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editong by Tony Munroe

Source: Reuters “Amnesty says China detains 30 relatives of exiled Uighur leader”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

South China Sea code of conduct talks to be ‘stabilizer’ for region: China premier

James Pomfret, Neil Jerome Morales November 14, 2017 / 9:55 AM / Updated 7 hours ago

MANILA (Reuters) – China’s agreement to begin talks with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the fine print of a code of conduct framework for the disputed South China Sea will help to stabilize the region, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said.

“China’s greatest hope is for peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Li told ASEAN leaders in Manila.

The Chinese and Southeast Asian foreign ministers in August adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.

While the South China Sea was not as dominant an issue at this summit at a time of relative calm, there was an underlying acknowledgement amongst ASEAN members that the risk of a miscalculation in the disputed waterway could flare up at anytime.

Li, addressing ASEAN leaders during a summit in the Philippines capital Manila on Monday, said there was a consensus on moving forward and to try to peacefully resolve the issue.

“We hope the talks on the code of conduct will bolster mutual understanding and trust,” Li said, according to a transcript of his speech released by China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.

He added that he hoped this would be a “stabilizer” for the region, while pledging that China would “firmly safeguard” the freedom of navigation and overflight in the strategic waterway where $3 trillion worth of goods passes every year.

Critics, however, say the agreement to talk on the details of the code of conduct is only an incremental move, with a possible final agreement still years away.

While Li did not give a timeframe, Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, who was chairing the regional summit, said China was being pressed to set a specific date and that Beijing responded it would “consider really fast-tracking” the code of conduct.

“China has graciously agreed to a code of conduct and it binds itself to the agreement,” Duterte said.

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which has mostly been ignored by claimant states, particularly China, which has built seven manmade islands in disputed waters, three of which are equipped with runways, surface-to-air missiles and radars.

All parties say the framework is only an outline for how the code will be established but critics say the failure to outline as an initial objective the need to make the code legally binding and enforceable, or have a dispute resolution mechanism, raises doubts about how effective the pact will be.

Signing China up to a legally binding and enforceable code for the waterway has long been a goal for claimant members of ASEAN, some of which have sparred for years over what they see as China’s disregard for their sovereign rights and its blocking of fishermen and energy exploration efforts.

Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines all claim some or all of the South China Sea and its myriad shoals, reefs and islands. China claims most of the waterway and has been aggressively building and militarizing artificial islands.

China’s official news agency Xinhua said in a commentary that the pact to hold consultations on the code of conduct was “a new starting point to jointly build a sea of peace, stability and prosperity”.

Additional reporting by Karen Lema and Manny Mogato in Manila; Editing by Angus MacSwan

Source: Reuters “South China Sea code of conduct talks to be ‘stabilizer’ for region: China premier”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

UCLA players depart China after Trump asked for Xi’s help

November 14, 2017 / 1:21 PM / Updated 4 hours ago

Steve Holland, John Ruwitch

MANILA/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting were headed back to the United States on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he had sought the help of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the case.

Staff for Delta Air Lines Inc confirmed that the players had boarded a Delta flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles.

“What they did was unfortunate,” Trump told reporters earlier in Manila. He said the trio, who have been held since last week, could have faced long prison sentences, and described Xi’s response as “terrific.”

“They’re working on it right now,” Trump said.

Trump had raised the issue with Xi during a dinner held during the U.S. leader’s Nov. 8 to 10 state visit to Beijing. Trump was in the Philippines capital for a summit of Asian leaders.

Asked about the trio and Trump’s discussing the issue with Xi, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in Beijing he was unable to provide any further information.

The three basketball players from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) were detained by police on Nov. 7 in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou over allegations of shoplifting. They were not on the team’s return flight to the United States on Saturday.

A senior White House official said the players had been given relatively light treatment due to Trump’s intervention.

“It’s in large part because the president brought it up,” the official told Reuters.

The UCLA team had been in China for a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai on Saturday, which UCLA won 63-60. The teams had traveled to Hangzhou earlier in the week to visit the headquarters of the game’s sponsor, Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

The three students – freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill – were taken in for questioning by police about alleged shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store.

They were released from police custody early on Wednesday and had been confined to a luxury hotel pending legal proceedings.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who had not spoken with the three players, said what had occurred was a “very regrettable situation.” Pac-12 is a college athletic conference in which UCLA participates.

“I‘m just glad it’s resolved and that they’re on the way home safely,” he told Reuters by telephone from an Anti-Defamation League Sports Leadership Council event in San Francisco.

Since the matter didn’t occurred on the court, it was up to UCLA whether the players would be punished, Scott said.

Reporting by Steve Holland in Manila and John Ruwitch in Shanghai, additional reporting by Philip Wen in BEIJING; Writing by James Pomfret and Susan Heavey; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Bernadette Baum

Source: Reuters “UCLA players depart China after Trump asked for Xi’s help”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

South Korea Swings Closer To Beijing


Since an unexpected détente between Beijing and Seoul at the end of October, South Korea has continued to seek closer relations with China. Here’s the latest:

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in has agreed to visit Beijing in December, Bloomberg reports, noting that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal to also meet with President Xi Jinping was left unanswered. Moon and Xi met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam.
  • The “two countries will strengthen strategic talks on all levels” and “quickly normalize bilateral exchanges in all sectors,” according to a South Korean presidential spokesman, per Reuters.
  • Moon and Xi also “agreed on the need to manage the security situation on the Korean peninsula in a stable way” after Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un “exchanged war-like threats and insults,” raising tensions last month, Reuters reports.
  • The South Korean military may also be pivoting toward Beijing, the Nikkei Asian Review finds (paywall), as it “rejected a U.S. proposal to conduct a trilateral military exercise that would have included participation from Japan…possibly out of concern for relations with China.”
  • Moon hopes that the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea can be the “peace olympics,” Nikkei further notes (paywall), and has invited Xi to attend. He “aims to have Chinese President Xi Jinping attend the opening ceremony of the Games — now less than 100 days away — and use this as leverage to persuade North Korea to participate.”
  • A Chinese marketing campaign featuring a South Korean actress further indicates the warming of relations, Reuters reports.

Source: SubChina “South Korea Swings Closer To Beijing”

Note: This is SubChina’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.