By Hu Weijia and Ma Jun
At the ongoing Airshow China in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, it is conspicuous that some foreign enterprises have substantially cut their exhibition area at this year’s trade fair. Speculation has it that increased competition from Chinese firms may have encroached on the market of some international exhibitors as their presence in the fast-growing market is forecast to decline.
The biannual air show gives people a great chance to anticipate the future of global competition in military and civil aviation technology. This year’s air show features over 700 exhibitors from 42 countries and regions, including the US and Russia.
With China’s rise, the country will soon be able to challenge the US monopoly in military and civil aviation technology. The J-20 stealth fighter plane, which made its public debut at the air show Tuesday, is a symbol of the recent developments in China’s aviation technology. The stealth fighter, part of China’s fifth generation of military aircraft, can carry the PL-10E, an air-to-air missile (AAM) that is comparable to the most sophisticated AAMs from the US.
The US, Russia, the EU and China are the major players in the world’s increasingly competitive aviation sector. China has proved it is able to catch up with the others in certain areas, showing the most potential for large development of aviation technology. Although China’s overall strength in aviation technology still lags behind the US, the country has grown to be an important exporter of sophisticated aviation technology in the global market. The China-made CH series of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) have been sold to many countries and regions to undertake military tasks and missions, such as geological surveys.
China and the US will fiercely compete with each other in the development of sophisticated aviation technology in the coming years, although realistically, the US is expected to maintain strict technological export restrictions on China.
China has to promote aviation technology through independent innovation. Despite its improved comprehensive competitiveness, China still lags behind other countries in terms of some key areas such as engine technology. Varied industries will gain momentum from the improvement in China’s aviation technology, which is actually one of the factors that will determine the upgrading of China’s manufacturing sector.
However, whether China can achieve the sustainable development of aviation technology depends not only on government-backed investment, but also to what extent the aviation industry can be opened to private enterprises to inject fresh momentum into the sector.
Progress of China’s aviation sector highlighted at Airshow
By Hu Weijia and Ma Jun