Richard Tomkins — UPI Dec 29, 2014
China’s military is touting its introduction of new weapons platforms in 2014 and says that having done so publicly underlines its commitment to transparency.
The new platforms comprise air, sea and land assets, including a stealth jet fighter, destroyers and a main battle tank.
“A series of ‘big moves’ have stunned all people with the fact that China had made rapid progress in upgrading weapons and equipment and also greatly increased its military transparency,” said China Military Online, a news site .
“In recent years, the openness of China’s military has received tremendous positive comments from home and abroad. On April 7 this year, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel boarded the Liaoning ship during his first China visit in Qingdao.
“Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military expert, pointed out that ‘This is a symbol of frankness that China has nothing to hide,'” the site said.
China Military Online – an official website – says it is sponsored by the PLA daily (newspaper)” of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
According to available figures, China is one of the world’s top five exporters of weaponry and spent about $171 billion on defense in 2013.
Its growing naval capability is of concern to the United States, which has strategic interests in Asia, and to countries in the region that are in sovereignty disputes with China over small islands and reefs in the South China Sea and the disputed areas’ natural resources.
Those countries include the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Taiwan.
China says it added 10 new vessels to the PLA Navy last year. Among them are guided missile destroyers and frigates and minesweepers such as the Qingzhou.
“The number of new warships that are put into service annually in China has overtaken the U.S. and has become the first in the world,” China Military Online said. Hou Xiaohe, Air Force colonel and the associate professor of the strategic Research department of the National Defense University of the PLA, said in an interview that the rapid development of the PLA Navy’s weaponry reflects the will of China for construction of marine power.
“In addition, the Chinese military has a more onerous task to protect the maritime interests and overseas interests, which requires China to accelerate the pace of construction and forge a strong navy.”
The PLA Air Force, meanwhile, debuted its prototype Y-20 and the J-31 at an international air show in China.
The Y-20 is a four-engine jet airlifter with a 145,000-pound payload capacity. With maximum payload, it can travel more than 2,700 miles.
The J-31, said to be designed as a competitor to Lockheed Martin’s F-35, is a fourth-generation fighter that is still undergoing development testing.
Also introduced was the J-20, a long-range strike fighter with stealth capabilities, which is expected to be ready for operational service in 2017.
Other items unveiled included a modified T-99 main battle tank, YJ-12 and YJ-100 anti-ship guided missiles.