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China ‘Clones’ Its Way to Military Dominance

China ‘Clones’ Its Way to Military Dominance

Asian giant using espionage and reverse engineering to copy advance US defense technology

China has been a global hub for manufacturing counterfeit electronics and consumer goods, but as the Asian giant asserts its dominance in the Asian Pacific and beyond, its defense establishment is using the same approach to modernise its vast armed forces. 

Despite its large standing and reserve army, Chinese Armed Forces technologically lags behind US, Russian and NATO forces. China has decided to manufacture ‘counterfeit’ high-end defense technology on a large scale to overcome its existing strategic weakness. According to a recent report published by the US Naval Institute, China is using military espionage and reverse engineering to build a modern army with “cloned weapons.”

Using cyber espionage and by making secret deals with US arms buyers, China has managed to obtain advance US weapons technology. China is reportedly also targeting Russia in its quest for high-end military technology. The Chinese often buy single units of Russian advanced military systems on a “trial” basis and reverse-engineer the weaponry to produce a large-scale Chinese version:

China’s expanding military and growing assertiveness has been bolstered by weapons cloned from the arsenals of other countries. Bleeding edge U.S. aircraft including the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) have Chinese counterparts that are remarkably similar. Some of the technology used in these designs was almost certainly acquired through a vigorous Chinese cyber spying campaign.

U.S. Defense officials have stated that Chinese military hackers undertaking “technical reconnaissance” have succeeded in pilfering highly classified technical documents on a number of occasions. The sensitive technical data that is known to have been compromised is now evident in the latest versions of several Chinese weapons.

Officials also suspect that China has managed to obtain valuable technical advances by making backroom deals with U.S. allies that bought American weapons. It is for this reason that the U.S. decided not to export the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighter. [USNI News, October 27, 2015]

China’s new knock off armoury includes US-designed fighter jets, Predator drones, Humvees, tanks and infantry weapons. The country is financing this counterfeit weapons program by selling its knockoff weapons in the international market.

There might be one downside to this Chinese proposition. The US Naval Institute’s report doubted the quality of Chinese counterfeit weapon systems. The report quoted senior naval analyst Eric Wertheim, saying, “I think the big issue with all Chinese weapons – including copies of Western equipment – is that they remain untested in combat.” Considering the sophistication of Chinese operation, it could only be a matter of time before Chinese engineers and manufacturers locate the bugs and smooth out the glitches.

Why go through the trouble and risk of counterfeiting military technology? It could be a question of territorial dominance. Since the days of the Communist China’s founder Mao Tse-tung, China has made territorial claims on Japanese Islands and Indian border provinces.

China wants control over oil-rich Japanese islands located in the east of Chinese mainland. In recent years, the Chinese Navy has aggressively patrolled the neighbouring waters and has even started creating artificial islands to operate as advance air- and military bases in the South China Sea.

To restrict India’s maritime reach, China is busy building naval bases across the Indian Ocean. With the completion of Gwadar Port in Pakistan, China is set to acquire a naval outpost as far out as the Arabian Sea.

These aggressive moves coupled with growing military capabilities, give China control over some of the world’s busiest commercial shipping lanes and strategic bases. And while President Obama has been busy talking “global leadership” on Climate Change and sustainability, China is ‘cloning’ its way to global military dominance.

(Cover Image courtesy BBC News, YouTube screenshot)


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Scary stuff until you think about how much stuff MADE IN CHINA is crap.

    great unknown in reply to clafoutis. | November 3, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    When it comes to mission-critical production in China, quality is high and corruption is low. Note how quickly their military-industrial complex produced the knock-offs.

    There is a reason military officers and manufacturers work at a high level of competence there. Failure is not rewarded by promotion, but with a bullet to the base of the skull. Which tends to focus the mind wonderfully.

      There’s also something we do not like to think about in military procurement. China can use a blank sheet of paper to start their design and use both current-technology and off-the-shelf parts, where the US may have a weapon system that dates back to Y2K and requires parts that are no longer made. Sure that particular missile/torpedo/rocket may only have 80% of the range, power, and speed of the US model, but they can fire many times as many of them.

      Old joke:
      US General: Our new $30 millon dollar missile defense ship can shoot down twenty incoming missiles.
      Russian General: Big deal. So we have to fire forty $10,000 missiles. That still leaves us a few hundred and change for drinks afterwards.

        Yes it is a joke, but not in a jocular way. It’s just not at all accurate.

          Paul in reply to Casey. | November 3, 2015 at 4:15 pm

          yep, plenty of real-world evidence over the past 25 years how the russian military hardware does against our stuff. our soldiers are orders of magnitude better too.

Smart. Moral? Ethical? Does anyone really care?

Case in point: elective abortion, planned cannibalism, selective congruence (“=”), class diversity, etc.

Progressive corruption has consequences. Good luck to the Chinese, I suppose.

Obama gifted Iran, thus the Axis of Evil, a stealth drone.

Wealth spreading includes the wealth that is knowledge.

China is run by immensely old fahrts, whose policies have been consistent for decades. If you want to see what is in store for us under the mis-named “progressive” (or, are they back to “socialist” now?) agenda, China is it.

Power in the hands of the “best and brightest,” now aged, perfectly willing to treat normal, capable people as statistics in the service of their society.

    Anchovy in reply to Valerie. | November 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Not to worry. Soon we will be led by the trigger warning generation.

    Sorry… the thumbs down was because of fingers cat.

We finance their programs by interest on our own uncontrolled spending, inordinate desire to by extremely cheap electronics from the Chicoms at a cost of our design technology, and our lax cybersecurity (did someone say Hillary?).

Can you say stupid?

Considering the US cloned its way to becoming a totalitarian state? Karma.

Obama wishes the US was more like China:

They don’t need to clone when they have helpful people like the Clintons giving them our military secrets.

Will they clone our stupidity too?

Let’s convince them to focus all energy on gay and transgenders serving openly, as well as lowering standards so women can serve in special ops.

I’m sure none of those H1-Bs were spies. Also innocent were all those Chinese students.

A few days ago I argued that we have been underserved by piling money on the universities. Without such resources, they would have to be less arrogant and more careful of their political role. They would also be much smaller, which means on balance that lots of dummies wouldn’t be “researching” there.

Now we see that our failure to ban Chinese nationals from our universities has strengthened a major enemy and given loads of money to another such enemy: the universities themselves.

Midwest Rhino | November 3, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Trade with emerging democracies on our terms certainly has some merit. But bad trade deals with our enemies that lie and cheat could be catastrophic. A good trade deal benefits both parties, but when one party is a murderous commie, the long term consequences of enriching an enemy of freedom, changes the equation.

Decades of trade have created tremendous wealth that dictatorships like Russia and China have used to build sophisticated authoritarian infrastructures inside the country and to apply pressure in foreign policy. The naive idea was that the free world would use economic and social ties to gradually liberalize authoritarian states. in practice, the authoritarian states have abused this access and economic interdependency to spread their corruption and fuel repression at home.

The Chicoms have gotten rich enough to buy off our Democrat politicians, and our globalist traders have profited from the cheap labor. Stock holders participate and so feel wealthy in a stock market bubble propped up by ZIRP, QE and tons of unsustainable debt.

Too big to fail or jail leaves us corrupt from top to bottom of the political chain, with blue collar America left holding the bag of debt. Capitalism and our republic require a just system and a people with the moral integrity to insist on that. The PC religion has replaced that for the left, and for now they dominate, with RINOs playing along.

So much fail here.

To start, the report is at best flawed. China has had more success in copying Russian tech than American. The main exception is jet engines, and China is advancing on their own there.

China has not “cloned” the F-35, much less the F-22. They best they’ve done so far would be more comparable to the F-15 Golden Eagle. In fact they haven’t “cloned” much of any US military tech, except for easily-copied stuff like drones, which are hardly high-tech. Most of what they’ve produced, from rifles to subs, contains at best Russian DNA.

The article cited is at best rumor-mongering, and at worst alarmism. (Firefox flagged that as misspelled; one suggested correction is “Islamism.” Heh)

What it ignores is that high-tech is more a force multiplier than a war-winner. Superior doctrine, strategy, and tactics win wars. America, alas, has been weaned on several generations of Hollywood spy & action movies wherein that “one vital piece” of advanced tech will either destroy the world, or save it. The reality is far more mundane. Historically the United States have won their wars with “lower” tech than their opponents.

This is different from business as usual with China how?

Casey, why should we believe your assertions? If, in addition, you don’t think that one piece of technology can win a war, may I introduce you to the “atomic bomb”?

    Barry in reply to skzion. | November 4, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    “…you don’t think that one piece of technology can win a war, may I introduce you to the “atomic bomb”?”

    “Can win”, OK. Did win, no. The war was won, Germany defeated and in tatters. Japan defeated, its cities razed, only the date of capitulation and final death toll remained. The bombs saved American lives (and nips) but did not win the war.

    If only we had the weapon in December of 1941.