Much better, less hyped NYT piece on same reporting (Chinese stealth fighter captured . . . on film!)
Sorry, but China on the brain. Spent half-hour taping today at WFYI (local PBS) for NPR's "All Things Considered" weekend show (based on my recent China-focused Esquire article). I will be interspliced with the eminently sensible Jim Fallows and Gideon (Mr. Zerosum!) Rachman.
Just had to include this piece from the NYT because the same story in the WSJ (see below) just set me off a bit.
Best bits here:
First, from VADM Dorsett, who's the N2/6 (or combo intell and info dominance guy):
Still, a top Navy intelligence officer told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that the United States should not overestimate Beijing’s military prowess and that China had not yet demonstrated an ability to use its different weapons systems together in proficient warfare. The officer, Vice Adm. David J. Dorsett, the deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance, said that although China had developed some weapons faster than the United States expected, he was not alarmed over all.
“Have you seen them deploy large groups of naval forces?” he said. “No. Have we seen large, joint, sophisticated exercises? No. Do they have any combat proficiency? No.”
Admiral Dorsett said that even though the Chinese were planning sea trials on a “used, very old” Russian aircraft carrier this year and were intent on building their own carriers as well, they would still have limited proficiency in landing planes on carriers and operating them as part of larger battle groups at sea.
That guy is sensible.
Then this bit from the Chinese side:
In an interview on Wednesday, a leading Chinese expert on the military, Zhu Feng, said he viewed some claims of rapid progress on advanced weapons as little more than puffery.
“What’s the real story?” he asked in a telephone interview. “I must be very skeptical. I see a lot of vast headlines with regards to weapons procurement. But behind the curtain, I see a lot of wasted money — a lot of ballooning, a lot of exaggeration.”
Mr. Zhu, who directs the international security program at Peking University, suggested that China’s military establishment — not unlike that in the United States — was inclined to inflate threats and exaggerate its progress in a continual bid to win more influence and money for its favored programs.
Ouch! Very ouch!
Nicely reported and written piece. Makes me feel sad for the WSJ (see below), and makes me wonder if Murdoch's influence is weakening its objectivity.
I especially agree with the NYT citation from the expert that this sort of military porn is China's preferred deterrence. I think that's a brilliant conclusion:
It is the J-20, a radar-evading jet fighter that has the same two angled tailfins that are the trademark of the Pentagon’s own stealth fighter, the F-22 Raptor. After years of top-secret development, the jet — China’s first stealth plane — was put through what appear to be preliminary, but also very public, tests this week on the runway of the Aviation Design Institute in Chengdu, a site so open that aircraft enthusiasts often gather there to snap photos.
Some analysts say the timing is no coincidence. “This is their new policy of deterrence,” Andrei Chang, the Hong Kong editor in chief of the Canadian journal Kanwa Defense Weekly, who reported the jet’s tests, said Wednesday. “They want to show the U. S., show Mr. Gates, their muscle.”
Think about it: they put together a plane that looks just like ours. Can it get any more obvious?
Now, whether it operates as well as ours . . . that's a VERY different question.
Again, great piece.