BEAST MODE: China Debuts J-20 Stealth Jet in Show of Strength

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ZHUHAI, China (Reuters) –Tim Hepher and Brenda Goh report: China showed its Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter in public for the first time on Tuesday, opening the country’s biggest meeting of aircraft makers and buyers with a show of its military clout.

“It’s a change of tactics for the Chinese to publicly show off weapons that aren’t in full squadron service yet, and demonstrates a lot of confidence in the capability, and also a lot of pride.”

— Sam Roggeveen, a senior fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute

Airshow China, in the southern city of Zhuhai, offers Beijing an opportunity to demonstrate its ambitions in civil aerospace and to underline its growing capability in defense. China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s top aviation market in the next decade.

Two J-20 jets, Zhuhai’s headline act, swept over dignitaries, hundreds of spectators and industry executives gathered at the show’s opening ceremony in a flypast that barely exceeded a minute, generating a deafening roar that was met with gasps and applause and set off car alarms in a parking lot.

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“I think we learned very little. We learned it is very loud. But we can’t tell what type of engine it has, or very much about the mobility. Most importantly, we didn’t learn much about its radar cross-section.”

— Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor of FlightGlobal

Experts say China has been refining designs for the J-20, first glimpsed by planespotters in 2010, in the hope of narrowing a military technology gap with the United States. President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in Asia, particularly in the South China and East China seas.

“It is clearly a big step forward in Chinese combat capability,” said Bradley Perrett of Aviation Week, a veteran China watcher.

State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) was also bullish on China’s appetite for new civilian planes, estimating the market would need 6,865 new aircraft worth $930 billion over the next 20 years.

The COMAC forecast – similar to long-term outlooks from well-established rivals Boeing Co and Airbus Group – said China would make up almost a fifth of global demand for close to 40,000 planes over the next two decades. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters Not Allowed to Board Flight to Beijing

Alex-Chow

HONG KONG — Isabella Steger reports: Members of a student protest group who planned to take their demands for democracy in Hong Kong to the Chinese capital weren’t allowed to board a flight to Beijing on Saturday.

Four members of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, who have been at the forefront of pro-democracy protests that have gone on for more than 40 days in the city, were unable to board their Cathay Pacific flight.

Representatives of the group said the airline denied boarding to Alex Chow, who leads the student group, Nathan Law, Eason Chung and Jeffrey Tsang, because they received notification that the students’ entry permits had been voided.

About 100 pro-democracy protesters went to Hong Kong’s airport to send the students off, carrying yellow umbrellas and singing protest anthems. Read the rest of this entry »


China, India Sign Border Cooperation Agreement

India

(BEIJING) — China and India signed a confidence-building accord Wednesday to cooperate on border defense following a standoff between armed forces of the two Asian giants in disputed Himalayan territory earlier this year.

The agreement followed a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also had trade ties on the agenda as India seeks to gain greater access to Chinese markets and attract inbound Chinese investment. Read the rest of this entry »


Xi’s Neo-Maoist Mass Line Campaign Casts A Dark Shadow Over China

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The government’s insistence on ideological supremacy has coincided with the reprinting of Mao’s “Little Red Book.” Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

China’s mass line campaign is well in gear: self-criticisms are grabbing headlines, ideological warfare against all things foreign is underway and China’s online world continues its descent into digital hell. As it nears its fourth month, the government is trying its level best to make clear that this mass line is the future.

Since its inception, constant reminders have been issued that this crusade is here to stay. Last Wednesday, Xi Jinping urged further self-criticisms in line with the campaign; the previous week saw calls from Liu Yunshan to keep the mass line “strict and honest”; and earlier that month the Party issued warnings about mooncake moderation.

The mass line campaign began in early June as part of President Xi Jinping’s new anti-corruption effort–a tenure that has thus far seen a litany of high-profile corruption cases. In the beginning, the purpose of the campaign was to attack “formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.” Unsurprisingly, the mass line concept did not stay long in the realm of political theater; it quickly began targeting police officers and netizens through the nation’s now notorious online rumor crackdown. Read the rest of this entry »


China launches free trade zone in Shanghai

Workers finish off a large sign that reads "China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone", on September 23, 2013 (AFP)

Workers finish off a large sign that reads “China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone”, on September 23, 2013 (AFP)

Shanghai (AFP) –  China launched a free trade zone in its commercial hub Shanghai on Sunday, state-media reported, with the project seen as a testing ground for much-needed reforms in the world’s second largest economy.

The zone, which covers 29 square kilometres (11 square miles), “started operating Sunday”, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that it was “a test bed for the Chinese leadership’s drive of deepening market-oriented reforms and boosting economic vigour”.

Reforms in the zone will be closely-watched as a key test of China’s ability to make long-pledged structural changes as it attempts to shift its economic model in the face of slowing growth. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Guangzhou to empty labour camps ‘by year end’

China's labour camps were set up in the 1950s

China’s labour camps were set up in the 1950s

The last 100 inmates are to be released from labour camps in one of China’s biggest cities, Guangzhou, by the end of the year, state media report. The city stopped sending new prisoners to the controversial camps in March. The police can send suspects for re-education for up to four years without a trial. China’s leaders have said they intend to reform the nationwide system – but labour camps still operate across most of the country. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Poultry Plant Fire Kills More than 100

Relatives of victims left the scene of the deadly fire

Relatives of victims left the scene of the deadly fire

HONG KONG — Explosions and fire tore through parts of a poultry processing plant in northeast China on Monday, killing at least 120 people in one of the country’s worst factory disasters in years.

Chinese news reports said many of the workers who had died had been hindered from leaving the factory, the Baoyuanfeng Poultry Plant, because the exits had been blocked or inadequate. The plant began operations four years ago and was considered a major domestic poultry supplier.

Survivors described panic inside the burning plant, as employees unfamiliar with the fire escapes jostled and trampled one another through smoke and flames to reach exits that turned out to be locked.

Read the rest of this entry »