By B. Raman
Annexed below is an interesting article on the Chinese Stealth aircraft J-20 tested by the Chinese on January 11 before the meeting of Robert Gates, the visiting US Defence Secretary, with President Hu Jintao at Beijing. This article has been written by Rear Admiral Yang Yi, of the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) who is a research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Studies, National Defense University of China. This article written by him on January 13 was carried by the party-controlled “People’s Daily” online on January 21.
Stealth jet just part of China’s peaceful military modernization
The successful test flight of the J-20 stealth fighter in Chengdu is an important achievement for China’s national defense industry as well as a landmark in the process of China’s military modernization. However, we have no reasons to be complacent and arrogant.
It should be noted a considerable gap still exists between China and the developed Western countries in terms of weaponry. More importantly we should be anticipate and address renewed cries of alarm over the “China threat” that are sure to be raised following the test flight of the J-20.
Special attention should be given to rumors insinuating that the development of the J-20 fighter threatens other countries or will spark an arms race. Ample explanation ought to be made to ensure correct understanding of the fact. Otherwise, it will undermine the external environment for China’s peaceful development, which will be harmful in the long term.
It is the legitimate right of any sovereign country to develop and maintain appropriate military forces for the purpose of safeguarding national security and defending the interests of its national development.
The Chinese government put forward the strategy “make our country prosperous and our armed forces powerful.” Being prosperous does not mean dominance, and developing powerful military forces is not equivalent to militarism. The strength of a country’s military forces does not constitute a threat necessarily. The things that really matter are a country’s strategic intent, the policies it upholds and the way it uses its military forces.
Coping with the “China threat” theory, which is further fueled by China’s development of advanced weapons and equipment, requires China’s policymakers to ponder how to assuage the fears of neighboring countries and prevent the United States from being overly sensitive.
To ease the fears of neighboring countries means China will continue to uphold the principle of maintaining harmonious and peaceful relations with neighbors and bring them prosperity. In the 30 years since the Reform and Opening-up, China, has never used its increasing economic strength, political influence and military power to bully those nations that are weaker.
Instead, at critical times, such as the Southeast Asian financial crisis of 1997, it sacrificed local interests to help the neighboring countries through the difficult times. In the future, China will definitely not seek hegemony in the region by its military strength.
To keep the United States from being overly sensitive is not so easy. As the superior military power, the United States keeps a high degree of vigilance regarding the development of other countries’ militaries. One current trend worthy of attention is that the United States is increasingly focusing its strategic attention on China. Inappropriately handled, the Sino-U.S. military and security relations will fall into a “security dilemma.”
By adhering to peaceful development and pursuing a defensive national military policy, China does not pose a threat to any country. With the development of new technology and in accordance with the needs of national defense, upgrades to weapons and the replacement of equipment is standard practice in the world. China’s weapons and equipment development is entirely based on its own security and defense needs, which serves to the need of defend national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, instead of targeting any country.
China will never seek hegemony or engage in military expansion, nor will it compete with any country in arms race. In particular, China will not have a “Tortoise and the Hare”-style arms race with the United States.