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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Thursday, February 01, 2007

China Looks to New Fighters, Sparking Regional Arms Race: Report

AFP: China has started developing more advanced fighter jets in a bid to match the state-of-the-art F-22 U.S. combat aircraft, sparking a regional arms race, it was reported January 31.

Research is under way into developing the Jian-13 and Jian-14 (or J-13 and J-14) by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation and the Chengdu Aircraft Company, the Liberty Times said.

“The F-22 is seen as the target enemy while they are working on J-14,” the paper quoted an unnamed Taiwanese air force officer as saying.

The J-14, which is forecast to be equipped with radar-dodging capability, is scheduled to join the Chinese air force in 2015, he said.

“As J-14 would be much superior to J-10 or Russian-made Su-27s (now serving China’s air force) ... the arms build-up is sure to touch a new round of arms race in the region,” he added.

Taiwan plans to acquire 60 F-16 C/Ds from the United States while Japan is prepared to buy a number of F-22s, he said.

Taiwan’s defense ministry last week confirmed reports that China had put into service about 60 J-10 aircraft, whose combat capabilities are tipped to be the equivalent of the F-16 A/Bs in Taiwan’s air force.

“Armed with these airplanes, as well as Su-27s and Su-30s, China will have supremacy over Taiwan in the air,” air force Major General Wang Cheng-hsiao told reporters.

In the face of the perceived Chinese military threat, Taiwan planned to lift its military spending. It would account for 2.85 percent of gross domestic product in 2007, up from 2.32 percent in 2005, Vice Admiral Tung Hsiang-lung said last week.

China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence. It has regarded the self-governing island as part of its territory since a split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have escalated since the independence-leaning Chen Shui-bian was elected president in 2000. He was narrowly re-elected in 2004.
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