China: Intensive arms race causes stress on elite engineers

Luo Yang

This year is a very busy year in China’s weapon development with a lot of achievements such as the completion of the part of the Beidou GPS system that covers China and its nearby areas, the commissioning of China’s first aircraft carrier, the virgin flight of J-31, China’s second type of stealth fighter, the successful deployment of China’s first generation of carrier-based fighter J-15 and the smooth taking-off and landing of J-15 fighters on China’s aircraft carrier.

China’s unilateral arms race with the US began when US President Obama announced the US return to Asia (see my post Arms Race between China and America on March 5). It has put great stress on China’s elite weapon development scientists and engineers.

The recent death of Luo Yang, who was responsible for the J-15 fighter project, is a case in point.

Luo, 51, died of a heart attack while overseeing the tests of J-15 taking-off and landing on the aircraft carrier.

He was an excellent engineer in China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corp. that has developed most of China’s jet fighters. A graduate with a master degree from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Luo has been awarded many times for his prominent contributions to China’s weapon development. He had been paid special allowance by the state since 1999 and was appointed top management posts in the corporation, being its chairman of the board and general manager at the time when he died.

From 1966 to 1976 when Luo was 5 to 15 years old, school education was almost nonexistent in China due to the Cultural Revolution. However, Luo was still able to become a top engineer. It was certainly because of good family education as at that time educated parents tried their best to teach their children.

Some people regard the generation of Chinese people from Luo’s age to Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang’s age as a lost generation as they lost some years of schooling when they were young. I described in my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements” that due to family education and the free time they had in that era, some of them, though a small proportion, became well educated through self-study under the guidance of their relatives and friends.

I regard them in my book as the youngest of the new generation of talented scholars with moral integrity. As those scholars are in power now, and will remain in power for one or two decades, I say in my book that I am quite sure that China may catch up with or even surpass the US in one or two decades.

That worries me most especially because there are clear signs that China is quickly catching up with the US in its weapon development.

There is unfortunately the probability under China’s current political system that a despot like Mao may rise to the top. When such a despot does come to power, there is no mechanism in China to restrict or remove him when China is stronger than the US and the despot wants to use China’s military strength for aggression.

The people of the world people must be on their alert to that probability. That is why I have written so much about China’s weapon development in my blog.

Twice Mao brought the world to the verge of nuclear war. Prominent US diplomat Henry Kissinger describes it in his book “On China”, but still praises Mao. In spite of the problem in China’s political system, he tries to make people believe at the end of his book that people need not compare China’s rise to Germany’s rise before World War I. He says there will not be confrontation between China and the US because the leaders in both countries may act soberly.

He says that if before World War I, if European leaders had known the disaster caused by the war, there would not have been the war due to Germany’s rise.

Unfortunately, European leaders were not wise or sober then. Not even after World War I. Hitler was mad in starting World War II. Mao was mad to bring the world to the verge of nuclear war. Mao did not care if half of Chinese population perished in the war.

We Chinese have to make great efforts to improve China’s political system to prevent the emergence of another Mao and to establish the mechanism to restrict or remove a mad leader. On the other hand, world people certainly have to be on their guard.

You may wonder why I write so many posts at the age exceeding 70. I have to as I have not much time left. I have to make more people pay attention to my warning.

Categories: Politics & Law

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2 replies

  1. I tend to disagree with the author that when China’s military strength once on par or supercedes USA it will use it for aggression. It is against the historical behaviour and political philosophy of China. Historically, even when its military strength is at its zenith vis a vis the west, it had never gone beyong its border. If you read history, it is the Mongolians that invaded the west up to Instanbul and not the “Chinese” or Hans. The Mogolians even conquered the Hans and as a result become Chinese. Admiral Zheng He in the Ming dynasty had commanded fleets way before Europeans to far off land but did not colonize any. Historically and culturally Chinese a basically not a very aggressive culure. Even in migrant colonies like in Malaysia where the numbers are significant they do not resolve to arms to subdue others. If the population of Europeans in Malaysia for example, had reach the proportion of the Malaysian Chinese hey will probably rule Malaysia, by force if necessary, rather than be submissive citizens like the Malaysian citizens. China had not stationed any troops outside of China like the USA or is fighting any war beyond its borders. Political philosophical wise it is like Russia, who believe in a multi polar world unlike the USA who likes to dominate in a unipolar world. China dont mind sharing power as a super power with others. Like Xi Jin Ping once said :” Well fed foreigners had nothing better to do than always point fingers at China – we manage to feed more than a billion people, we do not export revolution, we do not give trouble (mess around) to you, what more do you want from us?” (Not the exact words but translated as best as I can). It has to strengthened its military being a big country with a long border. As for the fear of a despot getting in power with no checkes on him/her, I can assure you the communist had their ways. The Western democracy is not that perfect either because no matter whom you elect policies are always the same and are run by a shadowy group of special interest. For example Obama was elected on the slogan of change – withdraw the troops from Iraq immediately, close Guatemo prisons etc but when he became president was there really any change – the troop surge and Afghanistan and the Iraq war is still continuing, the Guatemo prison is still merrily existing. Frankly there is no difference between the communist and the so call Western democracy because it is all run by shadowy powerful interest groups. Until a third political system arises let us accept the differences (or similarities) and work for world peace. USA is not really interested in promoting Democracy. If it is Saudi Arabia, Jordan etc are ruled not by democracy. It is just interested to have obedient governments to further its interest, or to be precise, its ruling class’s interest.


    • I sincerely hope that you are correct and agree with you that normally Chinese people and communist leaders except Mao Zedong do not seek world hegemony. However, the threat of a despot becoming China’s top leader and act as madly as Mao is a real one. It lies in China’s political system and there is no mechanism in China to restrict or remove the despot unless some real political reform has been carried out.

      That is quite a long topic I have elaborated in my comment on Henry Kissinger’s book “On China”; therefore I do not repeat here.

      If interested, please read the comment “Kissinger’s Ignorance about China — On his ‘On China'” at:

      Anyway, thanks for your interest in the topic.


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