China, The Rising Aerospace Power – Implications for India

Napoleon once said, “China is a sleeping giant, let her lie and sleep, for when she awakens, she will astonish the world.” By the turn of the 21 st century the sleeping giant was not only awake but heavily influencing and, in many ways dictating world affairs. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has had an unprecedented continuous double-digit growth of its economy for nearly two decades, and is still maintaining close to 7 per cent growth. In the same period, Europe and the USA who have been preoccupied with the ‘war on terror’, have had declining or slow rates of growth. While China was raising the standard of living of its people, it has simultaneously been modernizing its armed forces. The balance of world power has already shifted from Europe and the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific region. 
Chinese President Xi Jinping calls for the Chinese to realize the “China dream of national rejuvenation,” he is articulating the belief that China is simply reclaiming its natural political and cultural importance. China is not, as was once said of imperial Germany after its unification, “seeking its place in the sun.” Rather, it is retaking its rightful place as the sun. Xi is clearly a man in a hurry. His push into the South China Sea, and the very ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have clear geopolitical implications. In this process he has antagonised a large part of the world. The USA, Japan, Taiwan, India, Australia and a significant part of Europe are making open statements against Chinese global approach. Chinese strong man and reformist Deng Xiaoping had said in the 1990s, that China must hide achievements and bide time. Do not seek a place on the head table till you are actually there. He also believed in collective leadership. Xi has obviously thrown all that into the wind. He has usurped every position of power, and as they say, he is “Chairman of Everything”.  

In the 1950s, China had made up its mind to be a super power. They were clear that power flows from the barrel of the gun. They had also realised that the one who controls the aerospace, controls the planet. And therefore this book – “China the Rising Aerospace Power – Implications for India”. This book covers the primacy of aerospace; the Chinese economic rise and military modernisation; the Chinese Aerospace industry, including the reverse engineering, and IPR; the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), including brigadisation and the new training approach; Chinese capabilities and future in Space;  The air assets with Army and Navy, including the development and status of aircraft carriers; the technology and combat exposure weak areas; the China-Pakistan aerospace nexus; the air balance in Indo-Pacific region; Air war across Himalayas, and finally the options with India. 

China clearly still has a long way to go. It has only one fully operational aircraft carrier, compared to 12 of the USA. It’s over hyped aircraft and missile capabilities are suspect. It lacks critical technologies for aircraft engines, AESA radars and Electronic Warfare systems. Even the claimed stealth capabilities seem exaggerated. PLAAF also lacks combat exposure and experience. Notwithstanding, one must never underestimate an adversary.
The book is a product of a research project of United Services Institution (USI) that was assigned to the author. It has been published by Pentagon Press. It is available on Amazon

The book was formally launched by the Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC , at a brief ceremony at Air Head Quarters, Vayu Bhawan, New Delhi. The author is second from the left. Also in the picture is Maj General BK Sharma (second from the right), Director USI, the institution that sponsored the research. Col Gill who has instituted a reasearch scholarship in the memory of his son late Fg Offr Amandeep Singh Gill (Ex 45 Squadron) is on the extremee left with a cap. This book was a part of this project. On extreme right is Maj Gen Goswami of USI.

Book Endorsements:

Relations between Asia’s giants, China and India, have long been characterised by cooperation, co-existance, competition and conflict. Aerospace is an area of China’s greatest leap forward. I compliment Air Marshal Anil Chopra for the extensive research on China’s rising aerospace power and so lucidly bringing out its implications for India. The book is appropriately timed, and is strongly recommended for analysts and strategic cognescenti. 

– Lt Gen (Dr) Prakash Menon PVSM AVSM VSM, Director, Strategic Studies Program, Takshashila Institution, Bangalore and Former, Military Adviser, National Security Council Secretariat.

China has long realised the importance of aerospace as a major element of national power. As the two Asian giants are currently face-to-face in Ladakh, this book focuses on China’s aerospace capability and military strategy and its implications for India. The detailed research by the Air Marshal will make a great read for the security mandarins, and especially those following the rising China.

– Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha PVSM, AVSM, NM & Bar, Former  Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command & Chief of Integrated Defence Staff

The aerospace systems are evolving at a rapid pace. China has been investing heavily into new aerospace technologies. Air Marshal Anil Chopra an avid writer has researched and very logically presented the  trajectory of Chinese aerospace power in his book “China The Rising Aerospace Power – Implications for India”. I strongly recommend this comprehensively compiled volume to students and scholars  of regional security and aerospace power.         

– Air Marshal Anil Khosla   PVSM, AVSM, VM, Former Vice Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.

Published by Anil Chopra

I am the founder of Air Power Asia and a retired Air Marshal from the Indian Air Force.

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