Blogs

The Reason for North Korea's Big Diplomatic Blitz: China?

The Buzz

Over the past few months North Korea has undertaken a large diplomatic effort. It has reached out to traditional opponents like the United States, Japan and South Korea. Contemporaneously, it has pursued a warmer relationship with Russia. But one nation has been missing from that charm offensive: China.

The border between China and North Korea is the focus of a significant amount of investment activity. But when one looks more closely at that investment, a pattern begins to emerge: Chinese spending along the border isn’t replicated within North Korea.

Emblematic of that spending—and perhaps also of the wider relationship—is the new bridge over the Yalu River at Dandong. The bridge itself is no small feat of engineering as it spans nearly 1.5 kilometres. Complementing the bridge, is a new high-speed-rail link to Dandong, from Shenyang, intended to feed into the new Yalu River crossing point. On the North Korean side of the bridge, there’s nothing but dirt.

The port in Rason in northeastern North Korea has also been developed as part of a trilateral effort on the part of North Korea, Russia and China. The port, for its size, is remarkably empty. A seaside hotel, which dwarfs the surrounding infrastructure, sits vacant at the end of a dirt road.

The size of the investment is obvious but the results are not so easy to identify. For all of its spending, Beijing has not been able to convert the effort into stronger diplomatic relations. The North, for its part, is clearly baulking at the possibility of being so heavily dependent upon China. As a result it’s reaching out in an apparent effort to diversify the sources of its relationships.

Pyongyang has reached out to South Korea and Russia. In October, a senior North Korean delegation made an unannounced visit to Incheon for the closing ceremony of the 17th Asian Games. And after receiving a high-level mission from Pyongyang, Putin seems receptive to developing the relationship further—he’s written off significant debt from the Soviet era and pledged another billion in infrastructure investment.

Russia already has a presence on the ground in North Korea’s Special Economic Zones (SEZ) but it’s dwarfed by China’s. During my visit to the Rason Trade Show in August 2013, there were a dozen Chinese companies operating stalls for every Russian or South Korean one. Still, it would seem logical for Pyongyang to seek an expansion of that investment if its intent is to reduce its dependence on Beijing.

North Korea has also reached out to Japan. Relations between the two states face inherent difficulties due to the large part history plays on both sides. For the Japanese, the issue relates to the North’s nuclear program and its abduction of Japanese citizens. On the other hand, Japan plays a large role in the historical narrative of Pyongyang’s propaganda. Pyongyang has signalled a willingness to compromise on the issue of abductions and it seems possible that could be the basis for developing a more stable relationship between the two.

Finally, although the position of the United States towards North Korea has not markedly altered, Pyongyang has signalled that it’s open to improving their relations. A major stumbling block to any future relations was the imprisonment of two US citizens. Prior to their release, the North Koreans signaled to the Americans that they would be interested in welcoming a cabinet-level official to their country to facilitate the prisoners’ release.

A wary US sent James Clapper—a cabinet-level official, but not a member of cabinet or a diplomat—to Pyongyang to retrieve the two citizens. Interestingly, the North Koreans were puzzled when, upon Clapper’s arrival the US was not prepared to resume more high-level talks.

Taken together, this recent bout of activity paints a picture of a North Korea clearly operating from a different diplomatic playbook to the confrontational one it had been using for the previous two years. It doesn’t follow, however, that the North Korean leadership has altered its underlying strategic aims. All of those negotiations have essentially pursued a similar objective—that of diversifying relations and reducing the North’s diplomatic reliance on China.

Those actions are neither unique to the region nor unprecedented for Pyongyang. During the Cold War North Korea relied upon the support of the Soviet Union and since that time it has played a successful game wherein it seeks the support of outside powers to leverage its position for a maximum advantage and independence. To that end it has—at various times—embraced the South (during the days of the ‘Sunshine Policy’), China, Japan and the US.

For the Kim dynasty, exploiting the North’s weak position for maximum gain has long been a hallmark of their foreign policy. As such, although the means of pursuing survival have altered, for the time being, Pyongyang has not shifted internally. The rise of China may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle but the Kim dynasty is deploying its traditional means of resisting interference in order to maximise its own freedom of action.

Robert Potter is currently assisting with research at the Kennedy School. Previously he was a visiting scholar at Columbia and a student at Cornell. He took part in a research  program in North Korea and China in 2013. This piece was first posted on ASPI’s the Strategist here.

Image: Creative Commons/Flickr. 

TopicsSecurity RegionsNorth Korea

The National Effort at Self-Exoneration on Torture

Paul Pillar

The nation's current attempt at catharsis through a gargantuan report prepared by the Democratic staff of a Senate committee exhibits some familiar patterns. Most of them involve treating a government agency as if it were Dorian Gray's portrait, which can take on all the hideous marks of our own transgressions while we present ourselves as pure and innocent. The saturation coverage of the report and most early comment about it have displayed several misconceptions and misdirections.

One misconception is that we, the public, and our representatives in Congress are learning something new from this report that better enables us to make policies and set national priorities—better than we already could have done, based on what we already knew about this whole unpleasant business. In fact, the main directions of the activity in question and even many of the relevant gory details have long been public knowledge. Many people seem to believe that wallowing in still more gory details is a form of expiation. The basis for that belief is hard to understand.

The report itself and almost all the coverage of it misses what is the main, big story—missed perhaps because we ourselves are characters in it. The story is that the American people, and thus our political leaders, have had a major change in fears, mood, and priorities from the early days after the 9/11 until the present. In the aftermath of 9/11 Americans were far more militant, more willing to take on costs and risks, and more willing to compromise long-held values in the name of counterterrorism. The interrogation techniques that are now the subject of controversy and abhorrence were condoned or even encouraged back then by our political leaders in both the executive and legislative branches. As time has gone by without another terrorist spectacular in the U.S. homeland, pendulums have swung back, moods have changed again, and old values have reasserted themselves. It is difficult for anyone, but perhaps most of all for elected politicians, to admit this kind of inconsistency. Thus we get the current effort to focus ignominy on a single agency, where people who were on the tail end of that entire political process happened to work, as a substitute for such admission.

This is by no means the first time that waves of fear in America have resulted in deviation from liberal values, with the deviation later becoming a source of shame and regret. There is a long history of this, going back at least to the Alien and Sedition Acts in the eighteenth century. Another example, now universally seen as a black mark on American history, was the internment during World War II of American citizens of Japanese ancestry.

Another misconception is that because a report comes from a Congressional committee or some ad hoc commission, it is the Voice of God and the ultimate source of truth on whatever subject it addresses rather than what it really is, which is one particular set of perspectives or opinions. Another official pronouncement is the CIA's report on the report, which for anyone who bothers to look at it comes across as a sober and balanced treatment of the subject that carefully differentiates between the valid observations in the Senate committee staff's report and the significant errors in it. The CIA's report was prepared under senior officers who had no stake in the interrogation program. It is by no means the reaction of someone in a defensive crouch. Unfortunately few people will look at that report and make any effort to learn from it. The Washington Post barely mentioned its existence, let alone any of the substance in it, in its saturation coverage of the Senate committee report.

Anyone who did bother to look and learn from the CIA report would realize how mistaken is another notion being widely voiced: that the abusive interrogation techniques were the result of an agency or elements within it “running amok.” The program in question was authorized by the topmost authorities in the executive branch, as those authorities have confirmed in their public statements or memoirs. Congressional overseers were informed, according to the instructions of those topmost authorities and according to standard practice with sensitive covert actions. Overseers had ample opportunities to object but did not.

A final misconception being displayed from people on various sides of this issue is that the question of whether any useful information was gained from application of the controversial techniques has to be treated in an all-or-nothing manner. People, including authors of the Senate committee report, wishing to make an anti-torture statement seem to believe that they have to argue that the techniques never gained any useful information. They don't have to argue that. In acting as if they do, they are exhibiting another American trait, which the political scientist Robert Jervis noted almost four decades ago, which is to resist recognizing that there are trade-offs among important values. The coercive interrogation techniques involve such a trade-off. One can accept that the techniques did yield some information that contributed to U.S. security and still oppose any use of such techniques because they are contrary to other important American values, as well as hurting the standing of the United States abroad and yielding bad information along with the good. This is the position expressed by former CIA director Leon Panetta.

Amid all that is misleading in the committee report itself and in reactions to it, some kudos are in order for other reactions. One compliment should go to the Obama White House, which provided in its statement on the subject a principled declaration that torture is wrong along with some recognition of the public emotions and moods that underlay what was done several years ago. A particularly graceful touch was a reference to how “the previous administration faced agonizing choices” in how to secure the United States amid the post-9/11 fears. This fair and correct way of framing the recent history was the opposite of what could have been a partisan “those guys did torture and we didn't” approach.

Also worthy of compliments in the same vein is Senator John McCain, who made an eloquent speech on the floor of the Senate opposing any use of torture. McCain often is as hard-minded a partisan warrior as anyone, but on this matter he spoke on the basis of principle.

Finally, kudos should go to the CIA for not going into a defensive crouch but instead recognizing deficiencies in performance where they did exist and, unlike the Senate committee report, coming up with specific recommendations for improvement. This response, too, represented important American values. As Director of National Intelligence James Clapper noted in his own statement, “I don’t believe that any other nation would go to the lengths the United States does to bare its soul, admit mistakes when they are made and learn from those mistakes.”

TopicsIntelligence RegionsUnited States

India and Israel's Secret Love Affair

The Buzz

The Indo-Israeli defense relationship is once again in focus following Benjamin Netanyahu's "sky is the limit" comment after meeting Narendra Modi in New York back in September—and especially after the signing of the long-delayed $144 million deal on Barak I missiles in October. Another milestone was crossed in November when New Delhi and Tel Aviv successfully tested the Barak 8 anti-missile system—a joint project developing an aerial defense system for naval vessels. Moreover, since Modi took power this summer, New Delhi has purchased a whopping $662 million worth of Israeli arms.

So is the Indo-Israeli strategic relationship likely to be fundamentally different now that Modi is in power?

Although Indo-Israeli ties are undoubtedly on the upswing, history suggests that Modi is not likely to have a fundamental impact on the substance of the bilateral relationship.

During the early part of the Cold War, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru briefly considered inviting Israel to the 1955 Bandung Conference, but eventually decided against doing so in order to appease Arab and Middle Eastern states. While this carved out India’s Cold War foreign policy of opposing Israel and siding with Palestine, New Delhi’s military ties with Tel Aviv, however modest, began by the 1960s. Not only did Israel provide military assistance to India in its wars in 1962, 1965 and 1971, but Tel Aviv was also one of the first countries to recognize Bangladesh following India’s victory in its 1971 war against Pakistan. When the traditionally pro-Israel and Hindu, right-wing, Jan Sangh-led government was briefly in power from 1977 to 1979, Israeli foreign minister Moshe Dayan paid a secret visit to New Delhi in August 1977 to further expand bilateral ties.

While Prime Minister Indira Gandhi mostly maintained her father’s pro-Palestine position, her son and successor Rajiv Gandhi met his Israeli counterpart in September 1985 during the UN General Assembly’s annual meeting, which was the first such open meeting between the prime ministers of the two states. Indian concerns over the fast-advancing Pakistani nuclear program are believed to have facilitated these improved ties. However, it was not until 1992—after the end of the Cold War and India’s 1991 economic liberalization—that New Delhi formally established diplomatic relations with Israel. Nevertheless, it is important to note that even without formal diplomatic relations, Indo-Israeli military ties existed during the Cold War. These ties have certainly increased in volume since the 1990s.

However, a constant theme in the history of Indo-Israeli relations has been that their public visibility has been conditioned on which party holds powers in New Delhi. Specifically, each time a Hindu nationalist coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power in New Delhi, the visibility of the bilateral ties increases, but not the substance. On the other hand, the Congress Party has tended to downplay India’s ties to the Jewish state whenever it holds power.

In this sense, the Modi government’s proximity to Israel harkens back to the previous BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. In 2000, for instance, BJP leader L.K. Advani was the first senior Indian minister to visit Israel since the 1992 establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. An Indo-Israeli joint working group on terrorism was formed that year, and in 2003, then national security advisor Brajesh Mishra delivered a speech at the American Jewish Committee underlining the potential for cooperation among India, Israel and the United States in fighting Islamist extremism.

Once the Congress Party–led United Progressive Alliance government came to power in 2004, however, Indo-Israeli ties mostly disappeared from the headlines. This was by design; in 2010, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs refused to allow Congress Party MP Mani Shankar Aiyar to ask questions about the Indo-Israeli defense relationship in parliament on the grounds that it pertained to a “state secret.” At other points during the UPA’s tenure, Israel and India openly clashed. This was the case, for instance, when Indian president Pratibha Patil called on Israel to withdraw from Golan Heights as a primary condition for peace. Despite this public bickering, Indo-Israeli strategic ties remained rock solid. In fact, in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, India’s defense purchases from Israel increased so much that Tel Aviv briefly replaced Russia as New Delhi’s largest defense supplier in 2009.

In other words, the key difference between the secular Congress Party-led coalition and the one led by the Hindu nationalist BJP lies in their public-relations management of the bilateral relationship. The former publicly downplays strategic ties between India and Israel, while the latter loudly champions its defense and strategic cooperation with Tel Aviv. Beyond these semantics, however, the Congress Party and the BJP maintain largely similar ties with the Jewish state.

Not surprisingly, then, as Narendra Modi prepared to take office, think tanks in Washington and New Delhi predicted that Indo-Israeli relations would once again become more visible. After all, the Modi government’s anti-Islam, anti-Pakistan, anti-terrorism and pro-business positions are compatible with its public enunciation of deeper defense, strategic and economic ties with Tel Aviv. Furthermore, given his historic win and the weak and fractured nature of the opposition, Narendra Modi is nearly able to single-handedly coordinate the future direction of India’s foreign policy. This allows him and his government to magnify Indo-Israeli relations in public.

Which isn’t to say that Indo-Israeli ties aren’t currently expanding, as they are and are likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. New Delhi is currently Israel’s largest arms customer, and talks are underway for the conclusion of a free-trade agreement that would increase bilateral trade many times over.

In addition, Israel has hailed India as a strategic partner in Asia, while China as merely a trading partner. With Modi entrenched in power, and strategic interests aligned, we are poised to see India and Israel expand on their already-strong relationship.

Jayita Sarkar is a Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Image: Office of India's Prime Minister

TopicsDiplomacy RegionsSouth AsiaMiddle East

China and America's Dueling South China Sea Papers

The Buzz

Beijing is fast approaching a Dec. 15 deadline to submit its defense in the arbitration case against its South China Sea claims brought by the Philippines. That case, brought under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea’s (UNCLOS) compulsory dispute mechanism, is summarized here. The Chinese government has no intention of taking part in it, or refuting the Philippines’ 4,000 pages of evidence and arguments, but it has made sure that the five judges hearing the case in the Permanent Court of Arbitration take China’s arguments against their jurisdiction into account.

To that end, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Dec. 7 released a position paper laying out China’s legal objections to the case. Two days earlier the US State Department released a long-awaited analysis of the legality of Beijing’s South China Sea claims through its Limits in the Sea series. The timing of these two releases, both in relation to each other and to the next stage of the arbitration case, suggest that policymakers in Beijing and Washington recognize the value of occupying the legal high ground in the South China Sea and are eager to influence the arbitral tribunal even if they are not directly engaging in the case.

What does China's position paper say?

The core of the Chinese position paper lays out Beijing's arguments for why the arbitral tribunal at The Hague lacks jurisdiction in the Philippines' case. China contends that:

1. At its heart the case is not about interpreting UNCLOS, but about territorial sovereignty - who owns what features - over which UNCLOS has no jurisdiction. This argument is not compelling, at least not in China's formulation that to rule on any of the Philippines' points, the court "would inevitably have to determine, directly or indirectly, the sovereignty over both the maritime features in question and other maritime features in the South China Sea."

2. Even if the case were about UNCLOS, the Philippines had no right to bring it. China argues that the Philippines bound itself in both bilateral statements and especially in the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to only resolve disputes through negotiation. Whether or not any such binding obligation was made is highly suspect, but Manila could easily argue that Chinese violations have nullified the DOC regardless.

China also argues that the Philippines has not met the UNCLOS requirement to only pursue compulsory arbitration after failing to reach a bilateral accord. Beijing insists that despite decades of discussions, "the two countries have never engaged in negotiations with regard to the subject-matter of the arbitration," and even if they did, UNCLOS does not specify a time limit for such negotiations. If accepted, this line of reasoning would preclude a country from ever using compulsory dispute resolution no matter how long another claimant stonewalls discussions.

1. Even if Manila did have the right, China is exempted from compulsory arbitration. This is Beijing's most compelling argument. It rests on China's 2006 declaration, as allowed by UNCLOS, that it is exempt from arbitration on certain topics including maritime delimitation. The Philippines has done an admirable job of framing its case as being about China's obligation to clarify the nine-dash line and about the status of features, not about delimiting disputed waters.

But Manila's argument is not a slam dunk. Most worrying for the Philippines is that its lawyers felt compelled to include an argument about the status of Itu Aba, the largest of the Spratly Islands, in its March 30 submissions to the court. Were the tribunal to rule Itu Aba (or any other feature) an island legally capable of generating a continental shelf, then it would likely undermine parts of the Philippine case, especially those pertaining to low-tide elevations. But it is noteworthy that China's position paper does not detail this point, leaving it to the arbitral judges to connect the dots.

1. Even if China were not exempt, the use of a special arbitral tribunal in cases in which a state has not selected one of the other options for arbitration permitted by UNCLOS violates international law. This is essentially questioning an UNCLOS provision to which China agreed in 1996. It is the least compelling of China's arguments, not least because it is hard to fathom that a court established under the provisions of UNCLOS would feel empowered to overturn the only sensible interpretation of one of those provisions.

It is telling that amid its arguments against the court's jurisdiction, China also touches on the merits of the case (despite insisting in the introduction that it will not do so). In particular, it makes an argument about the ability of a state to make a claim of sovereignty over a low-tide elevation, despite acknowledging that the International Court of Justice in 2012 ruled that such a claim is not permissible. China also defends its actions at Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal since 2012, which the Philippines describe as employing the threat of force. Yet the position paper does not address either the status of those features the Philippines identifies as rocks rather than islands, nor does it defend the nine-dash line as a claim to maritime space in accord with UNCLOS - both indicative of the weakness of China's legal position on those points.

What does the US study say?

The State Department's Limits in the Sea studies have examined the maritime claims of dozens of nations, including Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The latest report does not touch on the validity of territorial claims over islands in the South China Sea, reiterating the US position of neutrality.

The study's main finding is that "China has not clarified the legal basis or nature of its claim." The study points out that the nine-dash line lacks "geographical consistency and precision," which it underscores by overlaying several Chinese maps showing significant variation in the placement of the dashes. It offers some support for aspects of the Philippine case covering Chinese-occupied rocks and low-tide elevations. At its core, the analysis offers a refutation of the nine-dash line as a valid maritime claim, and thus aligns with the heart of the Philippines' case.

The State Department presents three possible interpretations of the nine-dash line and analyzes their legality. Each of these interpretations are simultaneously supported and contradicted by various Chinese legislation and official pronouncements:

1. A claim to islands and the waters they would generate. The study finds that this could be a legally consistent definition of the nine-dash line but points out that it has major caveats. For one, "states and international courts and tribunals typically accord very small islands far from a mainland coast equal or less weight than opposing coastlines." This means that China could at best justify an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extending to a median line between its claimed islands and its Southeast Asian neighbors' coastlines.

2. A maritime boundary. The State Department points out that the nine-dash line extends too far beyond any coastline or island to be legally justifiable as the boundary of an EEZ, and certainly not territorial waters. The study also charges that the claim's lack of precision and unilateral declaration fail to meet the basic requirements of a legal maritime boundary.

3. A claim to historic title or rights. This is the most complicated of the legal justifications put forward by Chinese scholars regarding the nine-dash line. The State Department rightly points out that UNCLOS "limits the relevance of historic claims to bays and territorial sea delimitation" near a nation's coast. Nothing in the convention justifies a historical claim of sovereignty or extensive rights far from a coastline.

And contrary to some Chinese scholars' assertions that customary law predating UNCLOS would allow such a claim, the State Department rightly insists that the convention takes precedence. To prove the point, it cites the International Court of Justice's ruling that the advent of EEZs "overrides the prior usage and rights of other States in that area" - a clear refutation of China's claims to historic rights over fisheries and hydrocarbons.

What is next for the arbitration tribunal?

China will not submit anything on Dec. 15 in response to the tribunal's deadline. This means the judges will take it upon themselves to consider the counterarguments that Beijing would have made. This is why the Chinese position paper's release is so important. It has been timed to ensure that the judges ask the right questions, from China's perspective. Experts in China know that Beijing will lose on at least one point if the case goes the distance. The nine-dash line in its current form does not meet any of the requirements of a legal maritime claim - a point the new US study underscores - and requires clarification.

That is why China, even while refusing to officially take part in the proceedings, has invested considerable energy in developing a legal case against jurisdiction. Despite its bluster, Beijing does not want to flout an international tribunal's ruling and incur the opportunity costs that come with being seen as an irresponsible player in the international system.

As a next step, the court will ask the Philippine legal team to respond to questions and possible objections regarding its March submission. Those questions will likely cover many of the points raised in China's position paper, among others, since the judges will not rule on such a high-profile and controversial case unless they feel it is airtight.

Once the Philippines responds - a task that will take several months - the judges will consider the questions of jurisdiction and merits in the case. They seem ready to consider both at once, which should speed up the proceedings. There is no set timetable for a decision, and there might be more than one request to the Philippines for clarification of points. But by late 2015, and perhaps earlier, the court should make its decision - potentially the most impactful by any tribunal established under UNCLOS.

Gregory B. Poling is a Fellow with the Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies at CSIS. Follow him on Twitter @GregPoling. This article originally appeared on the CSIS Asia policy blog, cogitASIA and CSIS PACNET newsletter here.

TopicsSouth China Sea RegionsAsia-Pacific

Chinese Official: J-31 Stealth Fighter Could ‘Definitely Take Down’ F-35

The Buzz

The president of a leading Chinese defense company boasted that China’s J-31 stealth fighter jet could definitely take down the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Appearing on China’s state broadcaster on Tuesday, Lin Zuoming, president of Aviation Industry Corp of China (Avic), the state-owned Chinese defense company that manufactures the J-31, boldly declared that “When it [the J-31] takes to the sky, it could definitely take down the F-35. It's a certainty.”

It is widely believed that the J-31 is modeled in part off of stolen F-35 technology.

Lin went on to say that the J-31 would compete with the F-35 in the global marketplace, painting China’s second stealth fighter as a low-cost alternative to the U.S. made fifth generation jet.

"The next-generation air forces that are unable to buy the F-35 have no way to build themselves up. We don't believe the situation should be that way," Lin said, Reuters reported. He added, “The world should be balanced. Good things shouldn't all be pushed to one party."

(Recommended: 5 Chinese Weapons of War America Should Fear)

The J-31, which is alternatively referred to as the Falcon Hawk, Falcon Eagle, Shenyang FC-31, and F-60/J-21, is a twin-engine (Russian RD-93s) jet that conducted its first flight sometime in 2012. The jet did not make its first public appearance until the Zhuhai Air Show in China last month. At the show, the jet made a demonstration flight but was not put on display at the air show, however.

Long before the Zhuhai Air Show, Chinese officials began comparing the J-31 to the F-35, and suggesting it could compete with the Joint Strike Fighter in international markets. In August 2013, for example, the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, carried an article that postulated that the J-31 “represents a serious threat to U.S. arms manufacturers.” It went on to say, “Experts predict that the J-31 will make rapid inroads in the international market in the future, and will undoubtedly steal the limelight from the F-35.”

(Recommended: 5 American Weapons of War China Should Fear

As to the J-31’s ability to take down American and allied F-35s, most experts agree it’s too early to tell, although the J-31 received largely negative reviews at the air show last month. For instance, a senior U.S. pilot told USNI News at the time that, once operational, the J-31 could probably challenge America’s fourth generation unstealthy American fighters.

“They’ll probably be a handful right off the bat for all of our fourth gen stuff,” the pilot was quoted as saying.

(Recommended: 5 Israeli Weapons of War ISIS Should Fear

On the other hand, the same pilot added, “I think they’ll eventually be on par with our fifth gen jets — as they should be, because industrial espionage is alive and well.”

Similarly, frequent TNI contributor Robert Farley said, “Will Chinese fighters be as ‘stealthy’ as Western fighters? We won’t know that for another five or 10 years.”

Zachary Keck is managing editor of The National Interest. You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck.

Image: Wikimedia/Russavia/CC by-SA 4.0.

TopicsmilitarySecurity RegionsAsia-Pacific

Pages