China Eyes Technological Edge Over Rivals
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China Eyes Technological Edge Over Rivals

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There are several military and civil aviation programs of the Chinese in which Airbus to Boeing and companies like Rockwell, Honeywell, Safran, Eaton Aerospace, Saint-Gobain-Sully, Liebherr are there, the sole aim being self-sufficiency in defence to face any eventuality and not be dependent on foreign powers for military hardware

The first part of this article is about the ‘visa humiliation’ of India, inflicted by the Communist Party of China (CPC). The second part addresses the CPC’s ways to strengthen air power, which stands perilously close to the aerial terrain of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Hence, New Delhi may like to change the threat alert to real-time ‘war of attrition’.

The one-point agenda of the humiliation inflicted by the Chinese and belittling of India shouldn’t be accepted by a 21st century sovereign country. Yet, as Indian diplomacy groans in agony under the weight of the uncivil and aggressive CPC-owned state, and as New Delhi’s mandarins hope for a favourable response for the issuance of visa to Indians — which stands suspended since November 2020 on the pretext of Covid-19 restrictions — one must ‘appreciate’ how well India treats the CPC.

The Chinese are being allowed to enter India on a visa made available by the Ministry of External Affairs, without mutual reciprocity. The Chinese enter and exit India with ease, thereby allowing themselves the leisure and pleasure to do what they feel like in the Indian hinterland. From economics to commerce, finance to banking and border intrusion to cyber fraud, the CPC leaders must be laughing at India’s plight, taking full advantage of the favour being granted through unrestricted movement of Chinese nationals across India.

In the process, the CPC dictators become a hero in the eyes of their oppressed and suppressed people, and despite being a democracy, the Indian government faces criticism from citizens enjoying fundamental rights for not being able to get the mutual benefits which the Chinese are enjoying on the Indian soil at the expense of the Indian state.

The so-called ‘free citizens of the CPC state visit India for everything. And the actual ‘free’ Indians, under laws administered by the Government of India, are shackled by a foreign government that restricts their international movement. Isn’t the scenario abominable as the Chinese pop up in every nook and corner of India?

Now, on to China’s foray into the foreign military arena! The IAF, on the eve of its 89th anniversary, notes the devious ploy of the CPC, to implement its plan into reality, through all or any means — fair or foul — by enhancing its capability and slicing the cake to spoil the rival’s plan of consumption.

So, ‘read’ the Chinese through their own 4th century BC soldier-scholar Sun Tzu’s The art of war: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of hundred battles.” India followed, and victory was theirs in the 1971 war with Pakistan. Nevertheless, ‘if you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat’.

It happened in September 1965 during the India-Pakistan war. The victory in the Punjab sector didn’t replicate in other combat zones where India faulted; only to be mutually restored in the post-war Tashkent meet in 1966. And finally, ‘If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle’. It occurred spectacularly, when the 20th century successors of Sun Tzu, the CPC-controlled People’s Liberation Army (PLA), attacked India unprovoked in 1962 (to save its dictator Mao Zedong from the famine that killed 50 million Chinese). Indeed, Mao gave a body blow to the political leadership of New Delhi. Indian polity then knew neither the enemy nor its own self in 1962.

So, today the ‘768 combat-capable’ IAF aircraft face China’s ‘2,367 combat-capable’ fleet (Military Balance-2021). How did it happen? It started with cold, calculated means three decades ago with emphatic emphasis on import substitution and home-made military aviation to avoid possible interruption of combat aircraft flow, following unanticipated and unexpected change in the supplier country’s political weather vane.

Starting with the Soviet aircraft import in the 1950s, the CPC Air Force today poses a challenge to all with deep inroads into Western technology to enhance its aviation capacity building. Thus, came in 2009 the Chinese XAC Y-20 Kunpeng medium transport/multi-role aircraft, designed reportedly with Antonov inputs. However, ‘recent image showed the design conforming more to Boeing C-17’. In July 2009, a former Boeing employee was convicted of selling C-17 technical details to China (Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft).

SAC Y-9 is another China-made special mission aircraft, supplied to Pakistan as Karakoram Eagle (KE-03). A reported similar role to the US Lockheed EP-3, expectedly its ‘systems were copied from an EP-3, which made emergency landing in China 2001’.

Contextually, one is constrained to draw the attention of the IAF to media reports of August 9, 2012: ‘Defence glare on Chinese spares’. “The Defence Ministry is investigating reports that faulty Chinese spares were used in the US-origin military hardware sold to India; the then Defence Minister AK Antony told Parliament’. He ‘listed some equipment among the contracts signed in the last five years (2005-10)’, the total value of which was more than $10 billion. Antony further said the Defence Ministry got intelligence reports in November 2011 about a ‘probable compromise’ of computers of the Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam.

That the CPC could drag anyone to any extent to achieve the ‘numero uno’ status, stands vindicated by numerous credible reports on its mischief which the developed Western world miserably failed to read over the years. Thus, it is the US-led West which surrendered their technological advantage to the CPC through joint venture and collaboration, and sheepishly succumbed to Beijing’s demands, however harsh these were.

A few more instances will suffice. On May 28, 2013 came the news of Polish maker Aero AT being bought over by China’s Jiangsu Lantian (Blue Sky) Aerospace Industrial Park ‘to produce light plane for Chinese market’. In February 2002 came the US-China joint venture in the form of Shanghai Sikorsky Aircraft Company, with US technology access to China. There are several military and civil aviation programs of the Chinese in which Airbus to Boeing and companies like Rockwell, Honeywell, Safran, Eaton Aerospace, Saint-Gobain-Sully, Liebherr (both French and German) are there with long-term development leading to home product program of the CPC, the sole aim being self-sufficiency in defence to face any eventuality and not be dependent on foreign powers for military hardware.

Ironically, however, after a three-decade honeymoon with the CPC-led China, cracks are visible. The US today is desperately trying to curb the CPC by clubbing other countries through Quad and AUKUS. Is it too late in the day? Or is it going to be one of those still-born tech programs? Only time can tell. Nevertheless, it’s also time for New Delhi and the defence forces to take note as the IAF completes 89 years. The flight to the destination (IAF’s centenary celebrations) is fraught with unanticipated, unexpected and severe air turbulence.

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