Archive for August 17th, 2011

China’s Military Striptease

August 17, 2011

Recall this photo widely distributed in China pre-Games 08. Cyborgs or modern samurai warriors a-la-Kurosawa (depending on your frame of reference)on electric scooters designed to scare the bejeesus out of any bad elements intent on non-harmonious behaviour. To the best of my knowledge, this elite counter-terrorism unit on their mopeds was never sighted again during the Games after this photo opportunity.

Cyborgs on Sedways


Now, most Sino military pundits make reference to this text sooner or later, or if discussing PRC naval power and the Spratly’s, shoe horn in some reference to Alfred Thayer Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660 – 1783.

Personally, I think such pundits are misguided, and should instead be referencing the following text:

The Art of the Military Striptease

Now lets recall how China went about announcing the development of its Chengdu J-20 Stealth Fighter in late December 2009. As reported by Christopher Bodeen/Associated Press (and just about everybody else}:

“Photos leaked online that appear to show a prototype of China’s first stealth fighter jet were discussed in state media Wednesday — a move that supports claims the country’s military aviation program is advancing faster than expected.

Both the English and Chinese language editions of the Global Times ran front-page articles on the photos of what appears to be a future J-20 fighter, along with extensive reports on the buzz the pictures have generated overseas.

Photos of the plane appeared on unofficial military news websites and hobbyist blogs last week and were still viewable Wednesday.

The Global Times did not comment on the authenticity of the pictures, but since the government wields extensive control over state media, the report’s appearance and the fact that censors have not removed images from websites suggest a calculated move to leak the information into the public sphere”.

Now these grainy photo releases of a prototype coincided with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates discussions with President Hu Jintai. Forums for China’s military enthusiasts went positively orgasmic, and Western military experts got into panel discussion-wonk mode.

However, I am beginning to smell a rat here. Want to scare the competition to death. Organise a timely photo opportunity and let the pundits and Sino-observers do the rest. Show them a bit of tit, inflame the senses and their fear of China imaginations will do the rest.

Like the cyborgs on sedways during the Games, a hop, step and jump into the near future and your stealth fighter is a fully operational reality. You can do your own google work here, but here in tubbyland, citizens remain unconcerned.

This hodge podge of flying components is probably a greater threat to its handlers and pilots than it is to any US carrier-based air power in the Pacific.

Think of the bragging and reality check provided by the HSC or even the Three Gorges.

In June KTs Military Affairs Desk discussed the appearance of China’s breakout in naval power projection into the Pacific HERE. In particular, we referenced David Axe’s highly detailed analysis of the aircraft carrier the Shi Lang HERE. Basically, Axe concluded this aircraft carrier was a piece of oversized floating JUNK, and Phil Radford in the Asia Times Online TODAY comes to the same conclusion, and also make the point that “… the ship could prove to be more of a diplomatic liability than a military asset”.

While The Diplomat contains numerous articles on recent developments in PRC naval and airpower, half of which are contrary to my sanguine position, think about this.

When Japan signed the instrument of surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Toyko Bay on Sept 2 1945, the fighter bomber flyover consisted of almost 2,000 aircraft. This concrete display of raw military power was the product of an integrated approach to the business of war….science, engineering, r @ d, personnel training, communications, logistical support and just about every other element entering into the war equation. And in subsequent decades, the US has continually drained the tax purse to feed its military industrial complex.

To think that China could GLF itself in this war business to be a match for the US in the Pacific in this, or in the next decade, is simply ludicrous. Grainy photos of a stealth fighter, the Shi Lang’s return to dock in Dalian after its ‘maiden” (sic) voyage (China Daily report), is just so much striptease titillation for an onanistic domestic audience.

If China seriously believes that it can mount a challenge to the US in the Pacific in the near, or even long-term future, it is placing its faith in Viagra and not the real thing.

Alternative title: How to fox the West with photos and news reports.