China, Russia set up wide-body jet firm in new challenge to Boeing, Airbus


People take pictures of a model of a jet at the launching ceremony of China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation Limited (CRAIC), a joint venture between Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp (UAC), in Shanghai, China May 22, 2017. China Daily/via REUTERS

By Brenda Goh | SHANGHAI Mon May 22, 2017 | 6:50am EDT

China and Russia on Monday completed the formal registration of a joint venture to build a wide-body jet, kick-starting full-scale development of a program aimed at competing with market leaders Boeing Co (BA.N) and Airbus SE (AIR.PA).

State plane makers Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC) [CMAFC.UL] and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp (UAC) said at a ceremony in Shanghai the venture would aim to build a “competitive long range wide-body commercial aircraft”.

The announcement comes just weeks after COMAC successfully completed the maiden flight of its C919, China’s first home-grown narrow-body passenger jet.

COMAC President Jin Zhuanglong said the two firms had decided to hold the establishment ceremony after the C919’s flight.

“This program is aimed at fulfilling future market demand,” he told reporters. “Our two countries, our two firms … have created this joint venture to undertake responsibilities such as organization, research, management and implementation.”

The program will have a research center in Moscow and assembly line in Shanghai, he said, adding division of labor was still being discussed.

Guo Bozhi, general manager of COMAC’s wide-body department, said the venture would ask suppliers to bid for the contract to build the engine by year-end.

MAIDEN FLIGHT

COMAC and UAC first announced the program in 2014. In November, they said they had set up a joint venture in Shanghai and unveiled a mock-up of the basic version of the jet that would have a range of up to 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) and seat 280 passengers.

UAC President Yuri Slyusar said the firms looked to complete the maiden flight and first delivery during 2025-2028, and aimed to take 10 percent of a market dominated by the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.

Previously, they targeted a maiden flight in 2022 and delivery in or after 2025.

UAC is also developing a version of Russian wide-body jet Ilyushin IL-96. Slyusar said the two programmes had different requirements, and that UAC would use experience with the IL-96 to aid development of the Chinese-Russian jet.

UAC and COMAC hold equal shares in their venture, whose jet they said would be 10-15 percent cheaper to run than planes from Boeing and Airbus.

Last July, Boeing forecast airlines worldwide would need 9,100 wide-body planes over 20 years through 2035, with a wave of replacement demand around 2021-2028.

Over the past decade, China has plowed billions of dollars into domestic jet development to raise its profile in global aviation and boost high-tech manufacturing.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Wrting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing)

Source: Reuters “China, Russia set up wide-body jet firm in new challenge to Boeing, Airbus”

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


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China’s Vital Success in Its OBOR


Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

In its report “Pakistan signs nearly $500 million in China deals at Silk Road summit” yesterday, Reuters quotes Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif as saying to Chinese President, “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a core component of your visionary initiative of the ‘One Belt-One Road'”.

In my post “The Conundrum of China’s New Silk Road Plan” on April 20, I said that China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) aims at establishing alternate land routes for its national security and expanding its trade with other countries. China is not rich enough to share the bounty of its economic development and to fund infrastructure gaps irrelevant to its national security or economic growth.

Sharif is wise to see the vital strategic importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in China’s OBOR so that he describes it as the core of Xi Jinping’s OBOR initiative.

The Corridor will facilitate Pakistan’s and Western China’s economic development and strengthen China’s and Pakistan’s defense in their border with India. Moreover, China will have a shortcut in its trade with the Middle East through the corridor.

Due to the strategic importance, Xi and Sharif signed $500 million deals for CPEC in addition to the $57 billion already pledged for its projects. Pakistani troops are active in ensuring the safety of those projects due to their importance to Pakistan’s and China’s national security.

In fact, the core projects for OBOR are but those in Pakistan, Central Asia and Russia for China’s trade to the Middle East and Europe, especially the access to oil and gas resources there.

It is Xi’s wise idea to describe OBOR as a global initiative involving lots of countries that in fact are not along China’s Silk Road in order to attract other countries’ investment and construction industries to the projects that benefit China. Japan and South Korea are interested in the infrastructures in Southeast Asia, which though is included in China’s OBOR initiative, is really not along China’s Silk Road as China’s trade routes to the Middle East, Europe and Africa through Southeast Asia have yet to go through the Indian Ocean with the risk of being cut by not only US but also Indian navy.

However, the infrastructure developed by whatever countries China, Japan, South Korea or others will facilitate rich overseas Chinese’ business in the region and thus expands China’s influence there.

As for the US, Japan and South Korea’s competition with China in developing infrastructures in Central Asia, China certainly welcomes such competition as the infrastructures will first of all be exploited by China in its trade and investment there. I do not see the wisdom in such competition as the infrastructures are in countries under Russian military dominance.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-pakistan-idUSKBN1890KD.


No Attack Weapons in China-Russia-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Borders


China’s border patrol at very cold Chinese-Russian border. Credit: PLA Daily reporter

April 24 was the 20th anniversary of the joint signing of the agreement on reducing border troops between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. There are now no deployments of attack weapons within 100 km of the borders between those countries and the number of border troops does not exceed 130,400.

It proves that the five countries, especially the two military powers China and Russia are peace-loving.

Source: Global Times “There have been no attack weapons on China-Russia-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan borders: Military deterrence has disappeared” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


The Conundrum of China’s New Silk Road Plan


Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni (who will attend New Silk Road summit) talks to the media at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

In its report yesterday titled “China to gather friends for biggest summit of year on New Silk Road”, Reuters says, “While China has portrayed the New Silk Road as a genuine effort to share the bounty of China’s economic development and to fund infrastructure gaps, many Western countries are concerned about a lack of detail and transparency in the project and are suspicious about China’s broader political intents.”

China certainly is not so generous as to contribute billions of dollars to its New Silk Road projects for nothing in return. The sharing of bounty is but propaganda. China is simply not rich enough to do so. It has to first eliminate poverty at home and raise its own people’s living standards to a level similar to Western developed countries. To achieve those goals, China still has a long way to go.

Therefore, it helps other countries build infrastructures first of all for its own benefits, i.e. to provide alternative routes for import and export, which will facilitate not only its trade but also national security.

The most important are pipelines for import of oil and gas from Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The shipping route to the Middle East and Europe through Indian Ocean can easily be cut by powerful US navy. Russia and Central Asia offer alternative land routes, but the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be even better.

The roads, railways and pipelines to be built and expanded through the corridor will provide China with connections to the Middle East, Europe and Africa as there is military protection by Iran and Russia of the sea route from Pakistan’s Gwadar Port that China has been building. That trade route will facilitate the economic development not only in Pakistan but also China’s vast west.

In addition, China may move its labor-intensive industries to Pakistan to exploit the cheap labor there.

The New Silk Road projects are first of all for China’s own security and economic growth while enabling other countries along the road to become rich through win-win cooperation. Leaders of Western developed countries will not attend the New Silk Road summit as they do not think that their countries will be much benefited by the road. Only Italian Prime Minister will attend the summit as the sea route from Gwadar Port may connect to land route through Italy to Europe.

However, can China’s good relations with those small and poor nations along the New Silk Road in Asia enable China to replace the US as world leader? I don’t think Western leaders have such rich imagination as Reuters points out in its report.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-summit-idUSKBN17K0FL.


Trump’s Bargaining Tricks in Dealing with China, Russia, EU


When the seller refuses to reduce price to your bid, a usual bargaining trick is to pretend you are no longer interested in the deal and even find faults with the goods you want to buy. As a shrewd businessman, Trump has gone further, he denounced China and EU before he even bargains to give the impression that they may be in trouble if they do not satisfy him.

He said that he would improve ties with Russia in order to make Russia bold in Europe and the Middle East. As a result, EU was indeed worried. Then he attacked Syria with missiles to remind EU the importance of US protection. He will thus force EU to contribute funds to NATO and give trade concessions to him more willingly.

In its report titled “In abrupt shift, Trump warms to China and NATO, sours on Russia” on April 13, Reuters believes that Trump has abruptly shifted his stance in his diplomacy towards China and NATO and describes Trump as unpredictable.

They fail to see what Trump is doing is but to facilitate achievement of his goal of bringing jobs back and make America great again. He has never changed that. What he has changed is but the ways to achieve the goal, some of which are just his tricky rhetoric.

Can improvement of ties with Russia help him achieve his goal? Putin cannot help Trump much in attaining his goal even if Putin makes the greatest efforts as US-Russia trade is simply insignificant for US economy.

Then why shall Trump court Russia?

1. To make Russia bold in dealing the West in Europe and the Middle East so as to make Europe give the US concessions willingly under Russia’s threat; and

2. To cut China-Russia alliance, the greatest threat to US world leadership.

True enough, Russia is fooled by Trump and began active involvement in Syria and thus made Europe very uneasy as described above. Trump then order missile attack at Syria to show EU how important its US ally is.

That is but the often repeated trick in romantic fictions. A hero saves a beauty in trouble to win her love. It is cheap but effective.

China’s Xi, however, saw through Trump’s trick and began to court Trump as soon as Trump was elected as he knows good relations with the US is indispensable for both China’s peaceful rise and Trump’s recovery of America’s greatness.

Trump’s grandchildren’ Chinese language skill proves his interest in China and his understanding of China’s greatness in the future.

Chinese leaders believe that a great powerful United States is good for China as “allying with remote states and attacking neighboring states” is China’s traditional strategy in a divided China. The strategy is useful now in a divided world. China’s strong neighbors Russia or Japan may become a threat when China is weak but a remote strong ally the US may help it when it is in trouble.

There is quite much analysis that China and the US will not be able to satisfactorily solve their differences due to the common idea that two great powers are bound to fight for world dominance. Sorry, world dominance is not Xi’s goal. Xi is sober-minded that China simply lacks the strength to be world leader and will not be benefited by world leadership. Trump, on the other hand, is wise enough to see that the US is declining and has to recover its greatness to maintain its world leadership. However, in spite of its decline, with Chinese support, US can maintain world leadership.

In fact, Russia was not so aggressive when China supported the US in dealing with Russia. There would not have been Syria problem now if China had not joined Russia in the veto of three US Security Council resolutions concerning Syria.

Now, Trump has at least driven a wedge between China and Russia to make China abstain instead of joining Russia in vetoing US Security Council resolution.

If one clearly knows Trump’s goal and his persistence in achieving his goal, one may not be fooled by his rhetoric.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-idUSKBN17F07G


US military technology superiority is challenged as reaching near parity in some capability areas


The Military Balance 2017 is the annual assessment of global military capabilities and defence economics from the IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies, London)

There has been no reduction in the range and number of security challenges demanding the attention of policymakers. Conflict and insecurity continue in Africa, the Middle East and, in the case of Ukraine, in Europe too. North Korea still develops and tests its missile capabilities. More attacks in 2016 highlighted the challenge from transnational terrorists. More states are willing to take military action in pursuit of their national security objectives. Meanwhile, the balance of global military spending continues to shift towards Asia.

From 2012 to 2016, real-terms defence spending across Asia grew by 5–6% each year. However, total global military spending in 2016 fell by 0.4% in real terms when compared to 2015, largely driven by reductions in the Middle East. The fall would have been larger were it not offset by increases in Asia. After overtaking Europe as the second largest defence spending region in 2012, Asia in 2016 spent 1.3 times more than Europe on defense when measured in constant 2010 US$.

It is expected that China’s military budget will be about $233 billion in 2020. China’s actual military budget is generally considered to be larger than its official budget.

2013 IISS estimate of future military budgets for China and the USA. Generally not until 2030-2040 will China pass the US in military budgets

Western military technological superiority, once taken for granted, is increasingly challenged. We now judge that in some capability areas, particularly in the air domain, China appears to be reaching near-parity with the West. Also, Beijing is now beginning to offer for export some of its modern military systems. Across the globe advanced military capabilities are spreading. There is a growing proliferation of lethality, and the increasing sophistication of these systems risks complicating Western states’ military options.

The USA still spends the most, and retains the world’s most powerful military forces. Nonetheless, Western military systems are increasingly complex and costly, and there are also fewer of them. Taken together with a security environment that is progressively more uncertain, this would indicate that Western states, no matter how large, will in future be able to do less, less effectively, by acting on their own.

China

For years China was engaged primarily in the imitative manufacture of former Soviet-era or Russian systems. This is still the case but now in key areas China is shifting to the domestic research, development and manufacture of military systems, supported by sustained budget increases. Beijing’s official budget is 1.8 times higher than those of South Korea and Japan combined and accounted for more than a third of Asia’s total spend in 2016.

China’s navy has developed and deployed more advanced capabilities. Work has started on building three Type-055 cruisers. At least 13 Type-052D multi-mission destroyers are in service or under construction and a growing number of China’s modern surface combatants are being fitted with phased-array radars. Commissioning in 2016 of an additional three large replenishment ships indicates that China’s navy is resolutely pursuing its blue water plans – as does China’s nascent naval facility in Djibouti. China’s Coast Guard is also receiving larger vessels and is now larger than some regional navies by overall fleet size.

In the air domain, China is now seen as the ‘pacing threat’ for the US. China’s progress in research and development, and its improved military capabilities, mean that it is now the single most important driver for US defence developments. This year’s Military Balance assesses that China’s air force has just introduced into service a highly capable short-range missile in a class only a handful of leading aerospace nations are able to develop. The introduction of this weapon – called the PL-10 – reflects the sustained and continuing investment China is making in air-launched guided weapons. Beijing will almost certainly be able to add increasingly capable airto-air weapons to its inventory in the next few years.

These systems will be close to parity with similar Western weapons, while one of China’s air-to-air missiles has no Western equivalent.

China is developing what could be the world’s longest range air-to-air missile. Seen on exercise last year and estimated at near six meters in length, this developmental missile likely has the task of engaging large high-value and non-manoeuvring targets. With a lofted trajectory, an engagement range around 300km would appear feasible. When it enters service, this new system will hold at risk.

Not only is China producing more advanced systems. It is also starting to sell these abroad. Last year we noted how Chinese military exports to Africa were moving from the sale of Soviet-era designs to the export of systems designed in China.

This trend continues. China is now, however, also beginning to sell more advanced systems. The PL-10 missile, for instance, is being offered for export and would, if it proliferates, complicate the operations of any Western air force. China is also exporting armed UAVs, and Chinese origin systems have been seen in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. With China now selling abroad its armed UAVs, it is possible that states unable to procure Western systems may now be able to secure similar capability from non-Western sources.

Russia

For states in Europe’s east and north, however, Russia remains the principal security concern. Russia’s armed forces continue to benefit from renewed investment, with the continuing delivery of improved weapons as Moscow swaps old for new equipment. Russia’s armed forces also retain significant strength in traditional competencies like armoured and electronic warfare and in capabilities like rocket artillery, which was used to devastating effect against Ukrainian forces at Zelenopillya in 2014.

IISS data shows that some Russian equipment outranges the missile and rocket artillery systems of NATO’s most capable power, the US.
Source: nextbigfuture.com “US military technology superiority is challenged as reaching near parity in some capability areas”

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


US to Find Solutions to Deal with China’s Long-range Fast Missiles


A notional concept grapic of China’s WU-14 hypersonic glide vehicle. Credit: Wikipedia

Business Insider’s article “The US Navy has a severe ‘missile gap’ with China and Russia — here’s how it can beat them anyway” says, “The US wields the world’s biggest, most powerful Navy, but recent developments in China and Russia’s missile inventory severely threaten the surface fleet with superior range and often velocity.”

As a result, “US Navy and Lockheed Martin have a variety of solutions in the works to tip the scales in the US’s favor by going hard on offense.”

Now, it is China who takes the initiative to make the US busy to find ways to deal with China’s new weapons. Certainly, the US will find some solutions, but when the US has found such solutions, China will have developed newer weapons to force the US to make further researches.

That is the beginning of the era of the US lagging behind China in weapon development.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Business Insider’s article full text of which can be found at http://www.businessinsider.com/missile-gap-us-navy-russia-china-lrasm-2017-3.