© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The fifth prototype of China's home-built C919 passenger airplane takes off for its first check flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China October 24, 2019. Picture taken October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
By Stella Qiu and Yew Lun Tian
ZHUHAI, China (Reuters) - China's drive for self-sufficiency in aerospace and its rising army prowess might be on show on the nation's largest air present this week, in an occasion set towards the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and commerce frictions with the West.
The usually biennial Airshow China within the southern metropolis of Zhuhai, delayed by a 12 months because of COVID-19, might be a principally home affair due to tight quarantine guidelines.
"The fact that Airshow China is happening at all, when the global air show calendar has been pretty disrupted, allows China to show it has returned to post-COVID normalcy," stated Douglas Barrie, a senior fellow for army aerospace on the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
Local aerospace and defence companies have ramped up their presence considerably. Major Western suppliers like Airbus and Boeing (NYSE:) will ship their China-based groups, and there will even be a digital element for these unable to journey.
The nation's efforts to enhance homegrown aerospace know-how might be within the highlight at a time of a rising strategic rivalry with the West.
"As China faces increasing threats from the West, it needs to improve its military-industrial, aviation and aerospace capabilities," stated Song Zhongping, a army commentator and former PLA teacher on missile know-how.
Trade frictions with the West are additionally accelerating China's need to cut back its dependency on foreign-made industrial merchandise.
Commercial Aircraft Corp of China's (COMAC) C919 narrowbody airplane, because of be licensed this 12 months, is made up principally of Western elements however the combine is anticipated to alter over time as Chinese know-how advances, with the engines a key goal for eventual home substitute.
More than 100 plane have registered for show within the air or on the bottom as China exhibits off its army would possibly and its house ambitions, together with a next-generation crewed rocket and heavy-lift launch car.
State media reported the J-16D digital warfare model of the J-16 fighter jet will make its present debut.
The flying shows will characteristic some merchandise China desires to export, together with the AG600, the world's largest amphibious plane, designed for fire-fighting and sea-rescue roles.
The Wing Loong II, an armed drone just like the American MQ-9 Reaper, has already been offered to clients together with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan as China competes towards Western rivals for extra army exports.
A brand new collection of drone merchandise named Feihong, together with an unmanned helicopter, loitering missiles and a brand new era of stealth drones, will make their debut on the present.
"Beijing is intent on not just pushing locally made military aircraft and aerospace technologies, but also its ability to address almost any military requirement out there," stated Kelvin Wong, a Singapore-based defence know-how analyst at Janes.
The present comes as analysts warn Asia could also be sliding into an accelerating arms race as international locations react to China's army development.
The United States and its Asian allies have expressed rising alarm at Beijing's army buildup, strain on Taiwan and deployments within the contested South China Sea.
Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained for a 12 months or extra of repeated flights by China's air pressure close to the democratically ruled island.
The United States, Britain and Australia this month established a safety partnership that may contain serving to Australia purchase nuclear-powered submarines.