BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Mark Urban
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What China stealth plane response reveals about US

Mark Urban | 15:56 UK time, Friday, 7 January 2011

It has been fascinating to see photographs of what is reported to be a new Chinese stealth fighter, the J-20.

Some US commentators have flagged it up as evidence that China is preparing to challenge American military dominance in the Pacific, and to me the treatment given to the photos overseas says more than the images themselves.

The Wall Street Journal website made the J-20 pictures their lead item a couple of days ago, and the Los Angeles Times has chosen to link the appearance of new Chinese weapons to the US defence secretary, Robert Gates' visit to that country this weekend.

It is all very reminiscent of the atmosphere in the mid-1980s, when grainy images of new Soviet weapons made front page news, and we tried to analyse what difference the new tank or plane would make to the global balance of power.

In the Cold War, releases of new data about Soviet hardware were all part and parcel of the Pentagon spending battle.

The financial implications of addressing some newly identified "capability gap", particularly when it involved ballistic missiles or bombers, could be colossal.

When it comes to the J-20 fighter, there has been some professional debate about whether the pictures depict an early test-bed or a viable technology that is about to enter service.

The US Director of Naval Intelligence this week was sanguine about the development, arguing that China is still several years away from having a production stealth fighter.

While I do not suspect a conspiracy in the appearance of these photos, I do think it is hardly a coincidence that they are receiving such prominent coverage in the same week that Mr Gates has been speaking about a $78bn cut to the Pentagon budget over the next five years.

As the budget battles turn uglier, we can expect more messages along the lines of "just look at what the Chinese are doing".

America's huge defence establishment needs purpose, and it is evident that the counter terrorist mission that provided it after the end of the Cold War and then 9/11 is fading in its potency.

Scares about Chinese military potential are not new - indeed one was touched off when an American plane was forced to land in China shortly after President George W Bush came to power.

In the 10 years since that incident, the al-Qaeda threat has dominated the scene.

Now, the increasingly fraught trading relationship with China is touching deep insecurities in the American psyche.

China's military capability, it is only fair to point out, has advanced markedly in the past decade too, with major spending increases and some impressive technological achievements.

There seems then to be a sort of glacial certainty to the Pentagon's increasing focus on China - a slow but inevitable shifting of horizons towards a new, defining, great power rivalry.

The only way that might stop now is if an even worse threat materialises, from a further 9/11 scale attack to the implosion of a state with nuclear weapons, such as Pakistan.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    another Chinese scare two hours you will fancy another one!!

  • Comment number 4.

    no doubt there is a debate in the pentagon about their budget and media stories will be planted to support one or the other side of that but you can't plant stories which are not there. So something IS going on in China?

    given the increasing size of their commodity empire it would make sense for them to lock that in which means more long range capability like aircraft carriers, long range bombers fighters, missiles, large overseas espionage service and at some point overseas naval and air bases [in africa?]?

    there is a an ideological mismatch between china and the west as stark as ever there was with the soviets. the chinese however are richer than the soviets ever. its more likely we go bust in any arms race than they will? who still says nationalist communism was 'defeated'?

  • Comment number 5.

    'China's military capability, it is only fair to point out, has advanced markedly in the past decade too'

    It's always good to be fair.

    Especially when it comes to rich superpowers with billions of folk, some nifty shooty kit, and a 'patchy' record on democratic controls.

    Though, to be fair, those latter have not exactly been great on the checks and balances front in certain hands either.

    But as once noted, though imperfect, probably still better than the alternatives.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hey, what's the worst that could happen?

    So they flog 'em to the N. Koreans.

    It's not like they might actually use 'em in ange... oh.

  • Comment number 7.

    News of the J20 pictures first circulated 2 weeks ago, the BBC has been rather late in its report.
    The J20 or JXX as it was call was first proposed during the early 80s much as when the F22 was being designed. China would not reveal any military hardware unless it has passed various flight tests and close to operational. The J10 first came out in the mid 90s, put into production in 1999, fielded in official operation in 2005 when grainy pictures started emerging and official announcement of its existence 2 years later. The J20 stealth fighter appearance now is liken to the J10 in 2005 and it is in production. What many news channels had missed is all Chinese prototype planes are painted yellow. The J20 has operational coating. China will of course announce the existence of the J20 a couple of years from now when enough quantity are built and combat ready.
    When Robert Gates said China will not have a 5th generation fighter until 2020 perhaps what he meant was the Chinese 5th generation which is the 6th generation fighter by western standard.

  • Comment number 8.

    they cannot hurt us now....Roy is sacked and Kenny is back in at Liverpool....yesssss and now we will beat the Mancs.......we will now sell shirts to the Chinese....

  • Comment number 9.

    re#1. At 4:49pm on 07 Jan 2011, barriesingleton wrote:

    Mark - you can NOT be serious man! Why would America need to ATTACK ITSELF again? All the Terror legislation they need, is in place. JOB DONE.

    PLEASE don't tell me you truly think this was a genuine event?


    And I suppose the London subway bombings were the work of the British government and the Spanish government bombed the passenger trains there, etc.?

    Is this just the latest trend in the usual nefarious plotting for power by governments or are the space aliens co-ordinating the attacks? Please tell us, enquiring minds want to know.

  • Comment number 10.

    The United States didn't waste much time saddling up the horse to visit China. Some think the stealth plane is still years into the future, but I think this is American wishful thinking.
    There is a file picture of a Chinese Navy nuclear-powered submarine during an international fleet review: Stealth fighters, carrier-missiles all showing Chinese naval capabilities.
    US Defense Secretary William Gates is off to Beijing next week allegedly to restore military-to-military exchanges, which were cut by China a year ago. There is a photo - not grainy - taken Jan. 5, 2011: of a Chinese J-20 stealth plane, though this could be a prototype undergoing testing.
    As America's top defense official visits China next week, it becomes evident that China's military capabilities will inevitably redraw the security landscape in Asia. The United States must know that China (with the largest standing army) is on a on a potential augmentation course that will challenge the United States.
    US Defense Secretary Robert Gates last visited China in 2007.
    In the past year, China's diplomatic and military stance has became increasingly confrontational, most notably at sea.
    It seems the region is setlling into a Sino-American security rivalry.
    China says it's not a threat and its military is purely for defensive reasons.
    US calls for what it never gives: more transparency.
    One gets the sense that the leaders are saying show us yours and we'll show you ours. Chinese officials have also been lowering their rhetoric, partly to ensure a smooth visit by President Hu Jintao to Washington later this month. China's growing military strength can be at odds with the government's avowed policy of a "peaceful rise" - that a more powerful China will not threaten its neighbors or upset the global order but I think China is more interested in not being threatened by the United States.
    Gates said the US needed to be mindful of China's growing capabilities, but there was "no reason for China to be an adversary...So I think looking for ways to be constructive, to be more open, to better understand what each other's intentions, this is the way that sovereign nations deal with each other.", or rather the new way that the United States might be forced to deal with other nations (vs. subterfuge & bombs).
    While top generals appear publicly in lock step with the Communist Party leadership, lower-ranking and retired officers have increasingly voiced more war-like views. Gates will be anxious to find out whether the latter represents a genuine independent voice coming from the People's Liberation Army, which has 2.3 million troops.
    In Southeast Asia, stronger Chinese assertions of territorial claims to disputed islands prompted a statement from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Washington considered the peaceful resolution of the disputes to be in the US national interest.
    China announced a smaller-than-usual 7.5%increase to $76.3 billion last year - the second largest defense budget in the world behind the United States. Actual spending, including funding for new weapons and research and development, is believed to be double that.
    A more immediate concern is the ongoing development of the DF-21D "carrier-killer" missile, one that could hold a US aircraft carrier battle group at bay in any confrontation over Taiwan.

  • Comment number 11.

    The Chinese has a stealth bomber the H8 going through tests the last few years. It is more advance than anything America has. Now because it is still a prototype no pictures are released yet. Unlike other countries China don't release pictures of prototype hardwares because if the prototype dont make it to reality it is a great loss of face. The J20 is not an experimental craft but a living and breathing production model and there are a dozen of them already built and fine tuned. The reason USA and other countries are unable to monitor China's military development is because their spy satellites are being successfully blinded by laser fired from the ground by the Chinese. Also Chinese radar can detect American stealth planes and with ram jet missile has the ability to knockout any US fighters or bombers.

  • Comment number 12.

    Is it just me or is there something wrong with the photo in this article. Examine the size of the head of the pilot and the size of the heads of the people in the picture. The pilots head is much larger even accounting for the fact that he is wearing a helmet and in spite of the fact that he is further away. Mmmmm????

  • Comment number 13.

    re.#12. At 7:38pm on 08 Jan 2011, dead_man_bones wrote:
    Is it just me or is there something wrong with the photo in this article. Examine the size of the head of the pilot and the size of the heads of the people in the picture. The pilots head is much larger even accounting for the fact that he is wearing a helmet and in spite of the fact that he is further away. Mmmmm????


    No, the size looks right to me.

  • Comment number 14.

    Funny, but this plane looks a lot like the Sukhoi Pak, which the Russians are working on. They ARE supposed to be working with the Chinese and the Indians, on separate joint efforts to develop versions for each country. I am utterly amazed at why this is not mentioned by Mr. Gates, who knows a lot about this. I am also amazed at the inefficiency of American Intelligence (oxymoron)at estimating when weapon programs will be available for deployment at any given country.

  • Comment number 15.

    What is everybodies problem?
    The Chinese are doing nothing more than what the US did to Russia, push them in to bankruptcy. And it is laughable that the US complains of the greatly expanded Chinese military budget. US $700 billion to the Chinese $75 billion, get real guys. Even more laughable if you calculate it on a per capita basis.

    Next the arrogance of the US to think that the US is the only country in the world that is capable to develop new technology. Wheren't the mathematics for celebrated stealth technology develop in Russia?

    So now China can throw their weight around in this world, like the US has been doing. Tell me something new.

    To put the icing on the cake lets bring up the JSF-35 disaster Aplane that is still in development, the camel that was suppose to be a horse. When is the west going to realize that it will be blowen out of the air by the presently flying Su-35s and the new generations of Russian and Chinese planes.

    There go my tax dollars down the toilet. But then again the US economy might be bad but the military industry is doing very well. Perhaps the only thing that keeps people working in the US. President Eisenhower was right on the money when he warned us.

  • Comment number 16.

    I do not believe that the plane in the images is a "stealth" fighter, but rather that it is a fighter, bomber, with limited "stealthy" characteristics, an exceptionally powerful thrust for takeoff, and an unusual wide body shape that indicates a heavier than would be expected payload. Added to that is the unusually prominent front nose extension which is most likely a jamming technology. The appearance of the latter indicates a departure to what may be a uniquely Chinese design or adaptation. In other words, a very sophisticated delivery vehicle, most probably designed as a relatively inexpensive and potentially effective means for delivering tactical weapons of mass destruction, including tactical nuclear weapons. Thrust for take off with a heavy payload seems to be more prominent than concern about the types of maneuverability and exhausting that a stealth fighter would have to have to be competitive in combat. On the other hand the technology would have other uses consistent with China's stated strategic objectives within its current and projected sphere of influence.

  • Comment number 17.

    At 4:07pm on 09 Jan 2011, nordicman wrote:
    Funny, but this plane looks a lot like the Sukhoi Pak, which the Russians are working on. They ARE supposed to be working with the Chinese and the Indians, on separate joint efforts to develop versions for each country. I am utterly amazed at why this is not mentioned by Mr. Gates, who knows a lot about this. I am also amazed at the inefficiency of American Intelligence (oxymoron)at estimating when weapon programs will be available for deployment at any given country.
    I've been following news about Chinese defence industry for a couple of years, it was said Russian's proposal to jointly develop a fifth-generation fighter was flatly rejected by their Chinese counterparts years back, therefore only Indians are currently on board the Sukhoi programme.

    Also imho the Chinese fighter looks nothing like Sukhoi PAK, with completely different wing config. & air induct. etc. Neither does it look like F-22 Raptor or F-35 apart from the front section before the leading edge. This fighter is clearly a design of its own, drawing influences on Chinese J10, JF-17 series more than any other existing fighter jets.

    btw thumbs up for Mr. Urban's analysis on the issue behind the issue.

  • Comment number 18.

    Simple solution: Borrow more money from the Chinese to pay the full Department of Defense budget, then default on the debt.

  • Comment number 19.

    I would dearly like to know where this aircraft was designed, parts of it look AWFULLY FAMILIAR, concordski springs to mind!

  • Comment number 20.

    I think you're all barking up the wrong tree.

    Have none of you ever seen the film Firefox...???

  • Comment number 21.

    @1 barriesingleton wrote: " 'A FURTHER 9/11 STYLE ATTACK'

    Mark - you can NOT be serious man! Why would America need to ATTACK ITSELF again? All the Terror legislation they need, is in place. JOB DONE.

    PLEASE don't tell me you truly think this was a genuine event?"


    Yawn, another conspiracy-theorist idiot trolls the comments section. Perhaps barriesingleton would like to explain precisely how the US Government went about their nefarious deeds?

    Oh, and in the interests of balance I have seen Zeitgeist and several other so-called documentaries, and it's all biased junk-science drivel...before you start quoting a load of silly home-made films.

    Back on topic - the plane looks nice, hopefully it'll never get used in conflict.

  • Comment number 22.

    dead_man_bones and Scott0962
    Something also seemed a little odd about the perspective to me too. But I agree with Scott, I don't think the pilot's head is giant. Having gone through that process, the size of the figures in the foreground does suggest a pretty large aircraft, even for an air superiority fighter. That's one reason why I think Bob Ezrgailis's analysis is so interesting - so many thanks Bob for contributing !
    Alastore and others - the possible Sukhoi influence on this design is an inreesting question. Let's see what emerges in Russia and India in the coming year or two...

  • Comment number 23.

    I won't even begin to pretend I know anything about stealth design, but won't those flat, right angles on the new plane be susceptible to radar moreso than curves/oddly angled aircraft e.g. the F117A?

    Secondly, the Chinese have far more to fear from America than vice versa. For decades the Americans know that they could do anything in any region from a militaristic point of view and not suffer the consequences - even the UN rejected the war on Iraq, but still they went ahead and were REWARDED (private contracts, natural resources etc) rather than punished. The Far East and surrounding regions are extremely important to China - not from an imperialistic view, but an economic stability view. They have a rising NEED (not influence) of supplies from foreign countries, and thus cannot afford for problems to start elsewhere. Problems that can be exacerbated by US military forces in the area.

    As a result, the growing (though as someone else said, laughably little compared to America's spending, especially per person) military of China is essential to keep the status quo and prevent America from exploiting China's weak points. I'm sure they don't need reminding about the Opium Wars - they were top of the economic world back then, but lack of military compared to the enemy allowed it to be raped and pillaged.

  • Comment number 24.

    " Some US commentators have flagged it up as evidence that China is preparing to challenge American military dominance in the Pacific"


    Do they have any idea how ridiculous they sound... what a contradiction it is, being worried about "American dominance in the Pacific"? The Pacific is not America. It would be like the Chinese saying "oh we're worried about Chinese dominance in Europe"... it's not yours to begin with!

  • Comment number 25.

    I doubt it will be all that stealthy, the thing is enormous! It looks about the size of the Thunderchief F105 fighter bomber. Also, it has canards (not remotely stealthy) and no IR reduction on the engines. With its size, it is clearly an attack plane, not a fighter at all. Probably would have only been stealthy from the front aspect, but then the canards scuppered that. D- try harder.

  • Comment number 26.

    I find it wonderful to hear the Americans in their language "crapping it" because another country CHINA can compete both on a financial and military basis, now thats what I call "balance", the trouble with America is they think they should be the only super power, get real as they say, they are on downward slope, within the next 10 years I believe China will surpass America financially, as far as the military I believe in the next 15 years China will have more capability. The advancement in China's space exploration will far surpass Americas. The one big difference in my opinion between America and China is that China I believe are not hell bent on world domination as I believe America has, you would have thought America would have learnt valuable lesson from the Great Britain's end of empire in the last century. They keep getting their "but kicked" Vietnam etc.

  • Comment number 27.

    "Do they have any idea how ridiculous they sound... what a contradiction it is, being worried about "American dominance in the Pacific"? The Pacific is not America. It would be like the Chinese saying "oh we're worried about Chinese dominance in Europe"... it's not yours to begin with!"


    In fact, the US has over 7,600 miles of Pacific coastline including the states of Alaska and Hawaii. They fought to the very death with Japan defending it and have every right to be concerned with maintaining a relative peace in the area.

    China, on the other hand, has no territorial claims in Europe.

  • Comment number 28.

    What is all the fuss? This does not even look like a stealth jet, because it has curved surfaces. Curved surfaces reflect radar signals quite well.

  • Comment number 29.

    Before I begin, let me say first up that I do not intend to demean the great work the Chinese have done in turning their country into an economic power. As a matter of fact, I respect it. Now on to the main issue;

    I am not in the least impressed by China's brandishing of a purported stealth fighter plane. I say "purported" because anyone who follows business and economic news is familiar with how dodgy the glowing statistics of China's economic growth can be sometimes. With such antecedents, it is possible this was all a PR stunt to score political points in the run up to Defence Secretary Gates's visit to China. On the other hand, it may be that China truly possesses a stealth fighter plane. Only time will tell. But more importantly, I think the Chinese leaders are missing the point here. The greatest, and most potent threat to the People's Republic as we know it today is not America, Japan, Russia or any other country. What the Chinese leaders should fear is the 1.3 billion people who are repressed, controlled and routinely denied their human rights. China may be the second largest economy, but its per capita income remains low. As this index improves, its people are going to want more freedom, and seeing that Chinese society already has a number of fundamental cleavages, there's no telling what might happen.

    When 1.3 billion people get fed up of being repressed, a thousand stealth fighter planes or a million nuclear submarines will avail nought!

    To the Chinese leaders I say: Get your priorities right !

  • Comment number 30.

    For smart people that know how to do their math, go to www.u.s. national debt clock. org and do your math! see how many more f 22 you people can build!

  • Comment number 31.

    Those that thought it was all another ploy must have been sick to see it flying on the very day Gates arrived!
    This looks like another 1949, when the Soviets detonated their first atomic bomb, years ahead of what America thought possible.
    This says more about the frightening state of American intelligence agencies than it does about Chinese propaganda! The fact that you can read thousands of arrogant U.S secret comments online (wikileaks) should be enough to convince anyone!

  • Comment number 32.

    1) Many nations release statements about new weapons systems & their capabilities. Not all are accurate. A few, not necessarily those involving China, are mere puffery, intended to bolster national image at home or abroad.

    2) "Stealth" is a relative term. Some aircraft are "stealthier" than others. Even the WW2 DeHavillan (sp?) Mosquito was made of a wood-composite material that, much to everyone's suprise, had radar-absorbant materials. Rumor has it that the US Military has purchased some, & uses them as very discreet transports. (BTW--no classified info was accessed, to my knowledge). So, don't be too impressed with the word "stealth".

    3) China began developing its J-10 fighter over 20 years ago. It first entered service in 2003. Allegedly, they have a lot of mechanical issues, or so sayth the online scuttlebutt. So, seeing this aircraft does not in any way prove that production is going to begin, nor does it guarentee a reliable fighter aircraft.

    4) Has the US Military found a way to detect Stealth aircraft. I don't know, but I wouldn't put it past them.

  • Comment number 33.

    It's a large plane for a 'fighter', F-111 sized.
    It does seem to show an advance on previous Chinese efforts, but soon to be deployed? Probably not.
    The reason why modern combat aircraft take so long from first flight to deployment is a sheer complexity of the avionics, not just weapon system related but with highly agile types, for flight control too.
    This is one area where China will face issues.

    One respected aerospace commentator reckons this plane 'looks like it was designed in 1985'.
    it does seem an odd mix of features, it looks like it is low observable around the forward fuselage/cockpit, not so other areas.

    We should be careful of not having another 'Foxbat'.
    In the late 1960's the USSR flew a new type, the Mig-25, the test examples had the sort of performance that breaks records, which it did.
    The NATO codename 'Foxbat', when mentioned sent shivers around the West, it was the catalyst for the development of the US F-15 aircraft.

    In 1976, a Soviet pilot flew a Mig-25 to defect to Japan (from the USSR far eastern airbase).
    Before it was returned, the US swarmed over the aircraft.
    Expected to have titainium alloys for high speed flight, it was in fact largely stainless steel.
    The radar contained valves! (No ability to track and guide missiles below the aircraft due to radar 'ground clutter', something the new Western types at the time had and vital for it's role).

    No gun, no agility, it was no 'superfighter', it had been quickly designed to counter the US B-70 bomber, a Mach 3 aircraft, B-70 was cancelled as a production aircraft, however the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, with similar performance, emerged.
    Mig-25 could intercept higher speed, higher altitude targets, under strict ground control, however that was not the attack profile then used, which was radar avoiding low level attack.
    Foxbat was also a useful tactical recce type too but far from being a 'superfighter'.

    The USSR did go on to build a credible counter to, for example, the F-15, the SU-27, in service from 1987, over a decade after the US type entered service.

    Whether this new Chinese type is a technology demonstrator or if to be operational, a strike aircraft, time will tell.
    But the aircraft itself is just part of the '5th generation' package, sensor fusion, data distribution, modern weapons, all linked in with the infrastructure to make the most of it.

  • Comment number 34.

    As an American I can tell you that we have always seen the Chinese as a true problem. The terrorism war is pushed by politicians but the people believe that China poses a potential danger in the future.
    This, however, doesn't manifest as something like the Red Scare of the mid-20th Century. We know that their military is not as advanced as ours. Neither a stealth jet or a missile is perceived as an immediate danger. We even joke that their lack of quality assurance will keep them out of the running. Historically, they've never held nor attempted to hold any territories outside their immediate region. Few of the Pacific-Asian nations are backing China.
    In the absence of a global military and cultural influence, they're attempting to keep the US off balance via economics. But they cannot seem to innovate on their own so their entire strategy is based on cheap labor and mass manufacturing of existing products - few of which are conceptualized in China.
    China's lack of freedom is their greatest hinderance. Fortunately for us they believe it is the only to keep their people together.

  • Comment number 35.

    Many people do struggle for Peace and security, but one thing that has slowly dawned on me after years of working for peace, is that our leaders are more interested in "dominance".
    The United States for example, just can't stand the thought of not being the most powerful anymore and it will invest whatever it takes financially to try and buy that power. The problem is that it hasn't the numbers. Both in population and in scale of economy. It is actually very straight forward. The more people, the more chances of an Einstein being in the population. And so it is easy to see who will win this race.
    How many wars does China have going at this time? How many war does America have at this time. Who is wasting and squandering their resources?
    I watch China building things. I see America destroying things.

  • Comment number 36.

    For every succesful Chinese military invention there are 20 unseccesful ones, China's military while flashy on the outside is still largely poorly trained at lower levels and most officers are corrupt. China will continue to grow but not for much longer. Go to smaller Chinese provinces and you will see how socially corrupt and backwards they are.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    It is important we monitor china and there progress in advanced weaponry. Steath technology gives an adversary a wonderful advantage in warfare, however, the fact that China is developing such weaponry has been known for a long time and is very predictable.
    We must not overreact to such steps. Already we spend more money on our national defense than China and virtual every other country COMBINED. Eisenhower cautioned us not to allow the military industrial complex to take over our country and he was right. Let China spend more on weapons while we fix our roads & bridges. We must again commit to giving our children a world class education, especially in science and engineering. Most importantant we must insist our political leaders do WHATEVER is necessary to begin the rebuilding of industry in our country. Stealth technology will not be needed to defeat us, We will be doing it from within. We must manufacture our way to a competitive and prosperous future...

  • Comment number 39.

    Thanks for the comments, everyone, to BBC for hosting this post, and to Mark Urban for writing this provocative piece. China does seem to loom large as an increasingly technologically advanced super-power, the J-20 stealth plane a case in point. It seems to me that the PRC has chosen unwisely to enter the age-old ranks of the "evil imperialists." Whether China continues to pursue this ill-fated approach economically or militarily (or both, as it now appears), history teaches us that the end is the same. Just a few examples include the UK, Portugal (Portugal? Yes, sadly.), Spain., France, the US (remember the Boxer Rebellion: 1899-1901), and Holland.
    To me it seems that imperialism just doesn't work. Ever. We don't see The Vatican training its Swiss Guard to take over Rome, now do we? Not yet, any way. Perhaps the memories of Western Imperialism and the accompanying evangelical spread of Christianity still rankle in the minds of some of those in power in China, still officially atheistic.
    Let's all hope and pray that diplomacy, common sense, and good leadership bring this sort of posturing with weaponry to an early end. "Swords into plowshares!" I declare! (original, don't you think?)
    Again, thanks to all. I

  • Comment number 40.

    China and India are booming now thanks to Western countries and Western companies who have for the last 15 years been sending all their manufacturing and service industries such as IT offshore from the West to countries like China and India and others. This means much less products are being made now in the West so the West is forced to import more and more from countries where western companies have moved to.
    We have created this problem of trade imbalances and huge deficits and job losses ourselves.

    Either way this is helping China and others to have much more cash which of course they will use much of it unfortunately to buy or build new weapons. Their new stealth jet is just a copy of other countries like the U.S. who have already done it ages ago. Any one can copy it's nothing to be proud of.

    There is no reason that other countries should be scared of the U.S. or should build up weapons trying to catch up with the U.S. because the U.S. could of easily destroyed any country completely, in the last 50 years, yet it hasn't because the U.S. is a country who never has intentions of destroying or taking over another country. The U.S. is peaceful and helps humanity and has good intentions. The U.S. is democratic and most people in the world have wanted democracy for decades and still do and fight for democracy and western values.

    The U.S. dropped 2 bombs on Japan but only because it was a major world war at the time and Japan refused to surrender and Japan was allied with crazy Hitler and Japan and Hitler started the world war and Japan was committing horrors and atrocities in many countries and taking over many countries but the U.S. and the west was not taking over any countries. The U.S. and the West was only stopping Japan and Germany from doing the wrong and terrible things !!

    The problem in the world is that China is obsessed with a small piece of land called Taiwan which is just silly. China should forget about taiwan and the koreas.

    The other problem in the world is that some Palestinians and some Muslims and some Christians and some Jews are obsessed with Israel. Palestinians and Muslims and Christians and Jews should stop being obsessed with Israel, it's just another piece of land on this planet with some so called holy sites and they should forget about it and just get on with their lives. Palestinians should just move to other arab countries and get on with their lives, I mean I would, I would be happy to forget about Israel and I'd be happy to get on with my life in another country if I were Palestinian, I mean who cares, I would move out and I wouldn't even look back I'd be happy to be living in another country and getting on with my life and with my family in peace.

    The problem in the world is that too many people on either side are obsessed with religion, these people are the problem. All they have to do is forget about stupid religious obsession and some stupid religious rules. Religious obsessions are responsible for much un-necessary violence in the world down through the ages.

    Finally if the U.S. has had so called alien and ufo technology for the last 60 years then who cares if China has just built a stealth jet just now in 2011, I mean the U.S. should have alien weapons that are way beyond stealth jets so in any war with any country the U.S. should be able to use this alien technology to flatten and country and any stealth jets.

    Stealth jets are probably ancient obselete crap compared to ufo and alien technologies that the U.S. has suppose to have had for the last 60 years that some people believe is true.

    Think about that.

  • Comment number 41.

    No one seems to be aware that the US was the only major power to be involved in the Chinese civil war between Mao's communist army and the nationalist 'government'. They poured great quantities of weapons into supporting the brutal, corrupt and by all accounts extremely nasty regime aka the 'gang of four'.

    Of course the communists, because they had the overwhelming majority of the people behind them, won against the vastly better supplied US supported nationalist forces, who in defeat retreated to Taiwan.

    The US is still supporting and defending this Chinese island, and given the history of the situation it seems obvious why.

    Namely, the US is still in a de facto, non declared state of proxy war with the Chinese mainland, and is pursuing the old, well tried and tested policy of divide and rule so as to 'keep them down'.

    The rhetoric that comes out of washington may include lofty notions of defending democracy and freedom against dictatorial communism, but looking around the world it is plain to see that brutal and dictatorial regimes are supported when it is in the US interest, and that is the self admitted cornerstone of US foreign policy. Self interest, not democracy and not freedom.

    There is a sense though in which the US does always defend freedom, in that it always defends its own freedom to do as it pleases and pursue its own interests regardless of what the rest of the world may wish.

  • Comment number 42.

    @Commonsense10a. Your views on history and perception of the US as a benevolent great power are both sadly without merit.
    Whilst I can hardly argue that US hegemony has been of the tirant variety displayed by other great powers of yore and democracy is certainly a worthy system, the fact is the US has and continues to flex its might and not always on the side of right!
    A shortish history lesson from the 1940's onward

    1941-45 Pushed into war by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour! However it is little noted by most Americans that the US had an economic blockade of Japan, was supporting and arming the Chinese nationalists who were fighting the Japanese (albeit the Japanese had invaded them) and was alreading gearing up for a possible conflict with Japan. Hence the reason why Japan felt the need to strike first realizing that if they gave the US time to 'gear up' they had no chance as was proved during the course of the war.

    1948 - start of cold war... US and the USSR start the great game
    1951 - 54.. Korean war (US and UN defending S. Korea so no great shakes)
    1957-61.. Covert support of French in its Indochina (Vietnam) conflict. France attempts to hold on to a colony seeking independence. US supports France because the independence movement is vaguely communist
    1961 or thereabouts - Bay of Pigs (support for invasion of Cuba)
    1963 - Cuban missile crisis, the US threatens war because the USSR wishes to place missiles in a friendly nation (Cuba) while the USA had already deployed even deadlier missiles in Turkey and Germany (equivalent distance to parts of the USSR)
    1963-66 - increasingly direct intervention in Vietnam
    1966 - support for Isreal in defeating Arabs
    1967 -73 Vietnam/Cambodian wars... US intervenes to prop up a military dictatorship in S.Vietnam as a bulwark against communist aggresion in Asia. Result strategic defeat of US military but Vietnam and Cambodia instantly take up arms against each other and no communist threat emerges
    (2 million + Vietnamese casualties but all we here about are the 58,000 + US troops that died in this pointless conflict)
    1975 - brief invasion of Cambodian islands after a trawler incident
    1980s - multiple attacks on Libya using carrier based aircraft because of terrorist threat by Libya (now a friend and ally in the war on terror)
    1981 US marines killed while keeping (peace) in Lebanon.. in truth, providing a bulwark against Syrian influence
    1983 - the laughable lovely small war called the invasion of Grenada. Because Cubans were expanding a runway for tourist purposes
    1986 - support for the very brutal regimes in Nicaragua and El Salvadore
    1990s onwards... Gulf war 1, Somalia, Liberia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Gulf War 2, shoot down of Iranian passenger jet by the USS Vincenze (300 killed) because it was manouvering just outside Iranian territorial waters, Afghanistan, Sudan etc etc etc

    I don't assert that all of these incidents were the fault of the US or that there were no real strategic concerns at play. But I just wish to show that the US has been at war on a major or minor scale from the mid 1940s onward. Which is why there are no high ranking American military men who have not seen combat.... none!
    Imagine if China had the same number of incidents. Imagine a Chinese Aircraft carrier on military manouvres with say Germany in the North Sea (i won't even use any where close to mainland America). By now we would be having fits of apoplexy and threats of war without end!
    Just saying...
    By the way, this stealth plane (if it is one) is irrelevant. China's assymetric warfare threat and limited aims of projecting might are much more relevant I believe.

  • Comment number 43.

    Facts first:
    May, 2011-US hit it's >14 trillion debt ceiling.
    Feb, 2011-"The US owes considerably more money to China than previously reported, the Treasury Department said recently, as it revised Beijing’s holdings of U.S. Treasury debt sharply upward to $1.160 trillion".
    And this aircraft is not 'stealth' at all. Anyone who has stood beside an F-16 or Mig-25 would tell you this is an all out 'attacker' with that odd bigger payload capacity.
    US is going down and China is coming up. And yes, as someone said, US should have learned a lesson from Britain's history.... you spread yourself too thin, the things back home suffer and scatter.
    All you need to do is take a road trip in mid west USA these days and you will witness the sorry state of economy-- the ground reality, not the rhetoric one listens to, day in and day out.
    Chinese growth and the way their cities are now, is almost scary to watch how fast they have developed. They were supposed to come up second in ecomony in 2040, they have done it in 2011. Next 10 years are going to show an even faster changing panorama.
    And while US has been busy yielding it's influence like a heavy clout, well more like a club all over the world, Chinese have steadily been building their economic hold in Indian subcontinent and Africa. The next battle is a true economic and resources' war, it will have nothing to do with your military might. If that was so, Vietnam and Afghanistan would have been victories rather than shameful milestones in US history.

    And oh btw, Pakistan and China have been doing regular military exercises for last five years and both Pakistani and Indian Nuclear Physicists are a major core of their said industry.

    But, I think China will have to grant more human rights and say to their own people if they are to come on par as a superpower might... And I have an odd feeling, Chinese will find a way as they found a way to invoke a capitalist rife- communist China.

  • Comment number 44.

    I agree with you 100%.
    The Americans are broke. Most Americans do not want to raise the debt ceiling, and what good would raising the debt ceiling do anyway - except to keep the printing presses running while each dollar becomes progressively worth less.
    So, the world gets a good feeding of American propaganda - some of it pretty bad; I guess pretty desperate. I guess pretty quickly done and often silly.
    The US cannot fandangle beyond August 2cd. Tim Geithner has told this to Congress, Senate and Obama.
    We get stealth Chinese jets.
    We get a new Bin Laden tape.
    We get a feeling that the military/industrial complex must somehow feed its inhuman monstrosity in order to make money. Nothing like a good war to sell planes and guns and even get rid of your murderous garbage like depleted uranium and white phosphorus...
    The China stealth plane reveals blatantly that the United States cannot hope to survive without war
    1. for profiteering purposes,
    2. for employment. I mean what on earth would the United States do with all those soldiers returning home without jobs, without employment prospects, but most likely with their homes FORECLOSED...
    What they will have is military training, weapons and great anger!
    3. And finally for oil - the military/complex needs lubrication. Any oil will do Afghanistan's, Pakistan's, Iraq's - and Gaddafi must go!


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