Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Venezuela to get Chinese military planes in 2010
Venezuela may add Chinese-made fighter jets to a wish list of planes it plans to buy from China as it strengthens trade ties with its Asian ally, officials from both countries said Thursday.
The K-8 flight training and light attack aircraft are due for delivery in January 2010, Chinese aerotechnology official Yang Yng told Venezuela's state-run Bolivarian News Agency. He didn't confirm how many planes Venezuela was buying or how much it would pay for them, but Venezuelan Army Gen. Jesus Gonzalez in September said his country would purchase at least two dozen of the aircraft, with options for more.
China will provide logistical support for the planes for three years and Chinese technicians will service the planes for as long as they're in use, Yang said.
Venezuela may also buy advanced trainer aircraft such as the Chinese-made L-15, said Luis Reyes Reyes, an aide to President Hugo Chavez.
Chavez's government has in recent years fed fears in Washington of a military buildup, signing contracts with Russia to purchase more than US$4.4 billion worth of arms since 2005 _ including 24 Russian Sukhoi fighter jets and 53 attack helicopters. Venezuela also plans to install a radar system with China's help.
A 2007 report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service warned of a potential Latin American arms race, citing "concern" that Venezuelan purchases "could stimulate other states in the region to seek comparable weapons systems as a counterweight to Chavez's military buildup."
Trade with China reached more than $10 billion in 2008, up 13 times from $742 million in 2003, Venezuelan Trade Minister Eduardo Saman said. Much of the trade flows are made up of Venezuelan oil exports.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The figures in the report only cited sales for civilian products such as small cars and motors, and no details were given on the composition of total sales from military products. "In the first quarter, the company sold 300,000 sets of vehicles, up 13.2 percent year on year. The growth was more than 9 percent higher than a 3.88-percent growth in the country's overall domestic auto sales in the same period." Moreover, "sales from its power transmission and transformation, as well as new-energy sectors, jumped almost 60 percent year on year to 3.44 billion yuan [approximately $500 million]. The company's sales of transformers surged 73 percent" (Xinhua News Agency, April 26).
CSIGC is a state-owned enterprise under the direct administration of the Chinese State Council. The company was re-structured in the landmark reforms of 1998, which divided China's defense industrial base into civilian and military components. CSIGC is comprised of 64 large-and medium-sized industrial enterprises, 13 research institutes and other corporations. According to a Chinese government website, CSIGC holds 11.6 percent and 50 percent of shares of North lndustries Finance Company Ltd. (NORFICO) and China North lndustries Corporation (NORINCO), respectively (Techinfo.gov.cn). While CSIGC produces equipment for civilian uses, it is known for its research and development of "special equipment" for the country's armed forces.
The growth in sales of CSIGC and its sister organizations in recent years have increased in line with the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) military budget, which analysts say creates a feedback loop for PLA defense modernization. The PLA's overall budget has been increasing by double-digits annually for the past two decades, and the modernization of the Chinese military is stoking concerns of a regional arms race and raising international awareness about the impact of Chinese arms sales toward conflict zones.
Andrei Chang, the editor-in-chief of Kanwa Defense Weekly, noted in a January report that the quantity of Chinese military arms and equipment transferred to Africa is expanding. According to Chang, the arms and equipment are being “traded for oil, mineral resources and even fishing rights.” For instance, “Zambia has used its copper resources to pay China in a number of military deals, for instance, and Kenya has been negotiating with China to trade fishing rights for arms” (UPIAsia, January 26).
While China’s military exports are soaring, Russian arms sales on the other hand have been in decline. According to a Russian official, Moscow’s sales of weaponry and military technology to Beijing continue to drop from previous years. Anatoly Isaikin, general director of Rosoboronexport—a Russian arms export monopoly—told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta that “sales have dipped about $1 billion a year” (The Moscow Times, April 19; UPI, April 11). The Moscow Times reported that Russia has pulled in $16 billion from arms sales to China since 2001, and this includes Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets, Kilo class diesel submarines and air defense systems. Yet, Isaikin said that the Chinese share of Russian arms exports fell to 18 percent last year and could continue dropping to 10-15 percent in the future. Isaikin attributes this to Russia's expansion into other arms markets (The Moscow Times, April 19). The Russian arms industry, however, has been trying to lobby for stronger Sino-Russian defense ties due to concerns about the 62 percent drop in Russian arms sales to China in 2007 (SIPRI's online Arms Transfers Database, March 31, 2008; Moscow News Weekly, March 27, 2008; China Brief, April 16, 2008).
Monday, June 8, 2009
By MALIN RISING
STOCKHOLM (AP) — China has become the world's second biggest military spender behind the United States, a Swedish peace research group said Monday.
Global arms spending rose 4 percent last year, but China increased its spending by 10 percent to an estimated $84.9 billion last year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in its annual report on world arms transfers.
"China is continuing to acquire both domestic and foreign arms as it seeks to equip its armed forces for conditions of modern 'informationalized' warfare," it said. Such warfare involves the use of precision weapons and high-tech information and communications technology.
Sam Perlo-Freeman, a researcher for the peace institute, said China had previously spent relatively little on its military.
"They are the second biggest military spender now, that does not mean they are the second strongest military power, because a lot of other countries have been at this game for a lot longer than China," Perlo-Freeman said.
"While they are certainly seeking to increase their regional and global influence ... there is very little evidence of any hostile intent in terms of the region," he said.
The United States continued to top the rankings by a wide margin, with its military expenditure rising 9.7 percent last year to $607 billion, the institute said. It said the U.S. accounted for nearly 42 percent of the total global arms spending of $1.46 trillion.
France narrowly overtook Britain — last year's No. 2 — for third place. Russia climbed to fifth place from seventh in 2007.
The report said the security situation in Afghanistan is likely to worsen and warned that expectations for President Barack Obama's strategy for the region may be too high.
"Regrettably, Afghanistan's fate over the next few years still looks to be finely balanced. Progress will continue to be slow, flawed and fragile," the report said. It warned that a hasty international exit would risk leaving the political and security situation dangerously unstable.
The report also said Obama's goal of putting less emphasis on military solutions and more on political development seemed at odds with the U.S.' decision to deploy new combat troops to Afghanistan over the next two years.
The research institute said Obama will face difficult challenges in withdrawing troops from Iraq, as well as in changing the way the U.S. deals with the international community and in pursuing nuclear disarmament.
"These and other challenges may be exacerbated by the effects of the world financial crisis as key countries find it difficult to muster the necessary political and economic will to collectively address global and regional security problems," the report said.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Hong Kong, China — Shipbuilding experts from Eastern Europe have confirmed that China will start to build its own aircraft carrier this year, as preparations for the project are complete.
The experts had visited the No. 3 military dock of the Changxing Island Shipyard – the new location of the Jiangnan Shipyard, known as the cradle of China’s defense industry – based in Shanghai, where they acquired exclusive photos of the interior of the shipyard. From these it can be deduced that China is ready to commence building the aircraft carrier at this dock.
Chinese armed police have dramatically strengthened their watch on Dock No. 3. All the entrances to and exits from this dock are under armed police guard, with plainclothes police on patrol. In contrast, the entrances to Dock No. 1, where civilian ships are built, are guarded only by shipyard security staff.
Dock No. 3 is 580 meters long, 120 meters wide, and completely encircled by a wall at least 2.5 meters high. A giant gantry crane has been built, with a capacity to lift at least 600 tons. The dock is large enough to build a medium-sized conventional aircraft carrier similar to the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov class with a light load displacement of about 50,000 tons.
The outfitting quay for No. 3 Dock has been finished and includes a large gantry crane. According to the Eastern European sailors who visited the shipyard, the quay is 8 kilometers long, and was finished in the autumn of 2008.
A number of large containers have been shipped to the area near the dock. Among senior shipbuilding experts from Germany, France and Italy who examined the shipyard photos, one suggested the containers might be loaded with oxygen supplies and power-generating equipment, as huge amounts of oxygen and power would be required for welding engineering.
An Eastern European source familiar with the aircraft carrier project said China had invested 35 billion yuan (US$5.1 billion) in the facilities at Changxing Island, including three gigantic joint-structured indoor assembly workshops in which the separate sections of the carrier would be built.
The expert from the French shipbuilding industry said these facilities could be used for processing steel plates and section materials, or the preliminary treatment or assembly of separate sections of the carrier.
Sources say that the shipyard and all its facilities were built at a very fast pace. A separate road network was finished around January 2007, to provide safety and security for the project. Despite attempts at secrecy, many residents of the nearby Changxing township knew that the shipyard was being readied to make China’s first aircraft carrier.
The facilities include numerous five-story buildings – accommodations for nearly 60,000 peasant laborers hired to build the aircraft carrier facilities – that have been in use since early this year. A correspondent for Kanwa Defense Review visited the area to interview peasant workers recruited for this project. The workers said they were paid from 3,000 to 4,000 yuan (US$440 to $585) per month, which is three or four times what an ordinary laborer in Shanghai can earn, and that their living conditions were very good.
The round-shaped headquarters building was to be finished this spring. Free-standing residential buildings in red and grey have been constructed for the shipbuilding experts. Satellite photos show that these houses are quite luxurious.
Judging from the size of the three gigantic joint-structured indoor assembly workshops affiliated to Dock No.3, it is fully possible that the separate modules of the ship will be built in these workshops and finally assembled at the dock.
Sources claim that China intends to build, equip and launch its first aircraft carrier – internally named “Beijing” – between 2009 and 2015. It is possible that the process could take longer, however.
The first steps will include the processing and cutting of steel plates and section materials as well as the assembly of sectional parts. When the keel is laid down it will be difficult to keep it secret, as the keel of the aircraft carrier must be towed to the dock in one piece.
June 3 is a date worth watching, as that day will be the Jiangnan Shipyard’s 144th anniversary. It is part of Chinese culture to mark anniversaries in a special way to bring good fortune. Therefore, China may take the opportunity to officially launch the aircraft carrier project on this date.