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Russian Arms for Taiwan

I have often argued that Russia’s friendship with China is more talk than it is substance (for example, Venezuela’s president has made twice as many trips to Moscow in recent years than China’s President Hu Jintao).  But this news about Russia’s participation in developing military aircraft in Taiwan may partly explain some of Beijing’s hesitance to schedule more state visits to Russia..  From the RCW’s Compass blog:

When it comes to China, Moscow has been developing a strong military-economic relationship with its giant neighbor for the past two decades, seeking to avoid any major internal or external component to jeopardize these ties. So its comes as a surprise that Russia has had a hand in the development of a third generation advanced fighter jet for the Republic of Taiwan – mainland China’s official opponent. This was reported recently by Agence France-Presse, referring to the Chinese edition of The China Times. The information source argues that technology for the fifth generation F-35 Lightning II, which is currently being developed by the American corporation Lockheed Martin for the United States and its allies, was used in creating the Taiwanese fighter.

According to The China Times, Taiwan has begun work on a new military aircraft after appeals to the U.S. with a request for the sale of 66 fighter aircraft F-16C/D. Washington, as previously reported, denied this request, not wanting to spoil relations with Beijing. Chinese journalists also point out that the plane, developed by a public company Taiwan Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), has two engines and has a short take-off capability. Its development, according to The China Times, was completed only after Russia sent its experts to Taiwan – the source did not specify what Russian organization or company they represented.