Latest news, features and opinion on the military in China, including the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the development of warships, aircraft carriers and fighter jets, spending on the armed forces

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US Navy launches live-fire missiles in ‘warning to China’
The US Navy was targeting China with live-fire missile tests in the Philippine Sea last week, sending a message that it was up to the challenge of the Chinese military’s new advanced systems, military analysts said. In the drill in waters east of the Philippines on Thursday, the guided-missile destroyer USS Barry launched a medium-range Standard Missile-2, the US Seventh Fleet said on its Facebook page. It was accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh, which also launched an SM-2 during the drill. The Philippines Sea is separated from the disputed South China Sea, a major flashpoint in the US-China rivalry, by the Philippines.  Beijing claims almost all of the energy-rich South Ch
How China’s military took a frontline role in the coronavirus crisis
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has taken on some of the country’s heaviest responsibilities in helping fight the novel coronavirus outbreak, military experts said. Since Beijing declared the highest level of medical emergency in Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, on January 25, more than 10,000 personnel have been sent into the area. The PLA was also armed with more power than local governments to control medical supplies, a sign of the central government’s determination to contain the spread of the virus. “The military has been well trained to give a quick response to any critical events,” Beijing-based military observer Zhou Chenming said. “All the officers
The US is patrolling the South China Sea more than ever
US Navy patrols near disputed features claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea hit a record high last year, newly released figures show, as the Trump administration ramped up its efforts to challenge China’s territorial claims in the contested waterway. US Navy vessels sailed within 12 nautical miles of features claimed or occupied by China seven times in 2019, according to data released by the US Pacific Fleet – the highest number of so-called freedom of navigation patrols (FONOPs) since Beijing controversially began constructing artificial islands around disputed reefs in the waterway in 2014. Washington carried out five such operations in 2018, six in 2017 – President Donald Trump’s fir
Has China outsmarted the US in the South China Sea?
Before assuming his post as commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip S Davidson issued a stark warning about Washington’s loosening grip in the fiercely contested South China Sea. “In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios, short of war with the United States,” Davidson said during a Senate confirmation hearing ahead of his appointment as the top US military official in the region in May 2018. For many analysts, the dire assessment was a long-overdue acknowledgment of their concerns. Today, there is a growing sense it did not go far enough. Washington’s strategic advantage in the waterway, which holds massive untapped oil an
The US-China rivalry will lead to an epic arms race
The defining character of the relationship between China and the United States has, for decades, been based on a gradual transition of power. Beijing recognized this early on, but a lot of powerful people in Washington did not realize what was happening until relatively recently. They had believed that the bilateral relationship was primarily about commerce. Now that it is apparent what the relationship really is about – the slow devolution of power from Washington towards Beijing – it is having a profound impact on how the two nations interact and compete. As China continues to grow stronger, it will become increasingly less inclined to compromise on issues it views as important to Chinese
China’s first homemade aircraft carrier aims at ‘domination’ in South China Sea
In a ceremony attended by President Xi Jinping, China’s first home-built aircraft carrier officially entered service on Tuesday. The commissioning of the warship, called the Shandong, is a significant milestone in the country’s efforts to build up its naval power. A commentary published by a social media account affiliated with Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily said the Shandong will be deployed to the South China Sea, where “it is very likely that it will have face-to-face encounters with foreign military vessels.”   “The Shandong is aimed at achieving domination in both the air and sea,” the Wednesday commentary said. The article did not name any nation, but Beijing has repeatedly
How does the world see China's rise? It's complicated
China’s growing economic strength is seen by most people as positive, but the country’s rise as a global superpower is not making it popular with neighbors in the Asia-Pacific, a survey released on Thursday showed. The survey of nearly 39,000 people in 34 countries by the Pew Research Center also showed the world had an overwhelmingly negative view of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Over the past 70 years, China has transformed itself from an economic backwater to the world’s second-largest economy and a major source of investment around the world. Some 58% of people across 16 countries recognized China’s strong economy as mutually beneficial, while 52% said they see Chinese investment as posi
China tests urban killer drones for export
A Chinese technology firm is testing a new attack drone specifically designed to help ground troops in street-level combat, in the hope that it can sell the unit abroad, reports say. Engineers recently completed a successful air-to-ground test firing exercise for the mini quadcopter named Tianyi, Modern Weaponry reported. The developer, Tianjin Zhongwei Aerospace Data System Technology, said the unmanned aerial vehicle had been designed to carry out both reconnaissance missions and close-range strikes against armored vehicles or individuals in an urban environment. “It is suitable for circumstances that include asymmetric combat, counterterrorism and special forces [operations] and street ba