China to ‘clone’ Russia’s advanced weapons technology. China and Russia have signed two important arms sale contracts. China is buying 24 of the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter planes and four Lada-class AIP submarines from Moscow.
Chinese state media say the deals were signed before Xi Jinping visited Russia. Sources say it’s the first time in nearly a decade that China has bought large military technological equipment from Russia. So what caused the arms sale? Let’s take a look at some expert analyses.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s central television reported that the Lada-class AIP submarine’s silencer ability is very prominent – two submarines are to be built in Russia and the other two in China.
The Su-35 plane is a 4th generation fighter, classified as being closest to the 5th generation. Reports say the Su-35 can effectively reduce the pressure on China’s air defence before its stealth fighters come online.
It predicted that China and Russia will sign more new military technical cooperation contracts, eg, the S-400 air defence missile, the Saturn 117S engine, the IL-476 aircraft carrier and the IL-78 air refuelling tankers. So what’s the reason for the CCP’s purchasing of weapons from Russia after a decade?
Russia wants to strengthen relationship with China
Wu Fan, Chief Editor of the US-based China Affairs magazine, makes some comments. Wu gives two factors: firstly, Russia wants the business, and secondly, Russia wants to strengthen its relationship with Xi Jinping’s new leadership:
“Xi Jinping wants to follow the road of communism and Putin wants to go the Soviet Union’s way. These two ways are close politically and in the military area, they can cooperate. Putin opened the defence centre for Xi’s visit. Thus, now both countries’ military relations are slightly closer than in the past.”
Wen Zhao, a current affairs commentator, believes that after China and Russia’s signing of contracts, the next move will be to increase their bilateral trade volume, strengthening economic relations and the political coordination for both,
“The purchase deals have big political meanings; they serve as part of China’s so-called strategic partners relationship – it’s a bonus for the first move. Putin sold advanced weapons to China’s communist regime – it’s equivalent to Russia sending a gift to a strategic partner and as for the CCP, they will be sending large trade orders as their gift to Russia.”
China will create ‘counterfeit’ copy technology
Wen says the CCP’s first wish is to get technological military knowledge from Russia, but not the hardware equipment, and to transfer Russia’s technology – eg, for aviation, they need the plane’s engine and radar technologies. Wen believes that Russia’s military-industry sectors may not agree with the arms sale.
Wen says the CCP will be studying the bought technological knowledge and creating “counterfeit” copy technology. Thus, weapon sales are a sensitive topic; Russia’s sale to China will cause its military industry a loss in weapon intelligence.
In 2008, Russia launched its Su-35 fighter as one of the most advanced fighter models. And the CCP purchased and cloned Russia’s Su-27, creating the F-11, with its many similar designs.
Wu Fan says Russia has been cautious and the Sino-Russia relationship is not one of “strategic partners” as some say. Wu emphasises that Russia will certainly hold back and will not sell its best weapons to China. The huge arms sales are only a framework agreement and may change in the future.