Defense secretary Robert Gates recently visited Beijing shortly after the release of the highly speculated leaked pictures of the J-20 aircaft. It is again speculated that the photos were released in conjunction with Mr. Gates visit however the reason is not known why. However it has further been reported that Mr. Gates during his visit asked President Hu directly and he stated that it had absolutely nothing to do with his visit to China, confirmed by the Reuters news agency.
Secretary Gates had the chance to meet Defense Minister of China, Liang Guang Lie who welcomed him to Beijing. It comes at a time when there is the issue of Taiwan which early last year the U.S. sold arms to Taiwan and in return the Peoples Republic of China ceased military cooperation and exercises with the U.S. military after protesting against the arms sale worth billions.
In a military build up from China the defense secretary has defended the defense build up as only proportional to China’s increasing economy and power in the world.
In the visit both defense secretaries made brief talks with the world media in Beijing stating that “military co-operation should continue and not be affected by politics”. However Liang further stated he doesn’t want to see anymore military arms trade between Taiwan and the U.S. as he says it will “damage Sino-US military relations”.
What are the Chinese building or what have they built?
The J-20 is by far the hottest topic on the internet right now. There are pictures all over the internet of this aircraft including newly uploaded videos of the aircraft apparently taxiing on a runway. The aircraft is said to be 5th generation utilizing advanced technology such as AESA which has been previously tested in the 4th generation fighter; the J-10B. Competition aircraft such as the US’ F-22, F-35 and the Russian T-50 with 5th generation stealth capabilities. It has come as a surprise as it wasn’t thought initially China could build such an advanced aircraft. However as the fastest growing economy in the world they are quickly catching up technology-wise and economically.
An aircraft carrier. It has become apparent that the Peoples Liberation Navy have pursued a modern aircraft carrier for their navy. In early 2009 the Japanese defense minister visited China, Hamada the defense secretary of Japan was apparently told by Liang in reports that “China was the only major nation in the world that doesn’t have aircraft carriers”. In 1998 a private enterprise from China purchased the the Ukrainian 67,000 tonne aircraft carrier; the Varyag. Which was then purchased by the Chinese military. It has been undergoing a total refit as the aircraft carrier was only at 70% completion with all military hardware stripped out before the sale of the carrier. It is said to undergo sea trials in late 2011. According to other reports China have also expressed indigenous carriers roughly in the size of 50,000 – 60,000 tonnes.
An anti-ship ballistic missile system the DF-21C or Dong-Feng 21C. In reports China have built a ballistic missile system with anti-ship capabilities; the first in the world developed for this purpose. It is said that the weapon was developed for one reason and that is to block any naval ships from the US navy from reaching Taiwan if it is attacked by China, as there is a US carrier group based in the South China Sea. However China have stated that all weapons made by them is only to protect their countries national interest, sovereignty and only maintain a defense force. Though China see’s Taiwan as a breakaway province and has missiles directed toward the island which is governed independantly of Chinese mainland control. China has stated they would attack if Taiwan dared to delcare independance which is why Taiwan has no official diplomatic relations or embassies as they are not recognized as an independant country.
In 2009 the Taiwanese defense ministry stated that China’s military strength is far more than the needs of self-defense says a report by the BBC.
Defense expenditure comparison
China has the second largest defense expenditure in the world after the United States who rank first. China has an annual defense expenditure of $78 billion ($USD) which equates to 2.0% of GDP while the US has a defense expenditure of $729 billion ($USD) which equates to 4.3% of GDP. In every aspect the US spends more by over 7 times than China on defense. However as China’s economy continuously grows as being the current fastest growing major economy in the world with growth rates for the past 30 years exceeding 10% on average; China is quickly playing catch up. – Which could mean further increases in Chinese defense spending.
The US defense secretary, Robert Gates has stated that from his experience in his recent visit to China that “We have to pay attention to them, we have to respond appropriately with our own programmes.” – The United States has the only in-service or operational stealth aircraft in the world; the F-22 raptor. The US has also said that the Chengdu J-20 is years away from operational use. Downplaying the release of unofficial pictures of the aircraft.