They call it ‘Chinese speed’: a bridge built in 24 hours; a high-rise building in Shenzhen that had a new floor completed every 2 days; from a mobile network follower to the world’s 5G leader; a new aircraft carrier in 24 months … the list goes on and on. And this is not shoddy work, but high quality production, using innovative technologies and the Chinese aptitude for finding solutions no-else has even imagined.
Let us take the example of China’s naval fleet. It is well worth paying attention to recent observations from Russian specialists, such as Aleksandr Khramchikhin, deputy head of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis. He spoke of China’s navy development program as ‘totally unprecedented‘. He went on: ‘One cannot even count all the ships being built there. The modern Chinese program is unrivaled throughout the world and the Americans cannot even dream of such pace’. In fact, the Chinese ‘have more shipbuilders than the rest of the world together’.
As for Vasily Kashin, whom we have met before and who is Far East researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, ‘It is easier for China to increase its fleet numbers as it is the world’s biggest shipbuilder. They have immense shipyard capacities, which the US lacks, as its commercial shipbuilding has been thrown into disarray over the past decades’.
US observers have seen the writing on the wall, knowing they can never match Chinese innovation, efficiency and speed. But what about technology? The Chinese are already ahead of the USA on more and more fronts, but if they still find themselves slightly behind, they can increase their cooperation with Russia. While old-style military alliances are out of favour, the increasing levels of collaboration between China and Russia will see even more breakthroughs.
More and more aspects of Chinese technology have now leapt ahead of the rest of the world, from high speed trains to internet technology. Now it is military technology.
I remember reading this article by Vasily Kashin in October, soon after the amazing 70th anniversary celebrations of the New China. I have mentioned this article on a number of occasions in China, to much excitement, and returned to it recently.
Kashin is a Russian military expert and viewed with great interest the new military hardware on display at the wonderful parade in Beijing on 1 October, 2019. I recommend that you read the whole article, but these points are particularly noteworthy:
‘Making its debut at the China Day parade was the Dongfeng-41 (DF-41) intercontinental ballistic missile, which is capable of reaching any point in the continental United States in 30 minutes at Mach 25 carrying as many as 10 independently-targetable warheads … the introduction of these weapons of mass destruction by a US rival other than Russia remains impressive and sobering’.
Kashin mentions evidence of serious innovations, with methods never tried fully elsewhere, such as the use of the ramjet engine in cruise missles and high-altitude drones with liquid-propellant rocket engines. He observes that ‘China is taking a leading position in many areas regarding the development of military equipment’ and that ‘Chinese military and engineers are not afraid to try extremely original, never-used concepts and approaches’.
As for being at least four years ahead:
Kashin refers to the medium-range ballistic missile DF-17, the ‘first missile in the world equipped with a hypersonic manoeuvrable warhead. The United States expects to form the first experimental battery of its medium-range ballistic missiles with hypersonic warheads by 2023. Thus, the Americans are at best lagging four years‘.
A final observation: it makes the accusation levelled at China of ‘technology theft‘ or ‘forced technology transfer’ quite empty. How can you steal someone’s else’s technology when yours is the most advanced?