Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Analysis: China eyes ‘extraterritoriality’ through use of UAVs

As China gains self-confidence, it could begin exercising certain rights that for the past two decades have been principally a US prerogative. UAVs could be that first challenge

“Unmanned aerial vehicles [UAV] and helicopters will play a bigger role in anti-terrorism missions in the future, both at home and abroad,” Ma Tenglong (馬騰龍), a marketing manager at the Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), China’s largest aircraft manufacturer, said at the 4th China (Beijing) International Exhibition and Symposium on Police Equipment and Anti Terrorism Technology and Equipment (CIPATE) earlier this month.

Although Beijing’s interest in UAVs has been known for years, it wasn’t until the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, in November last year that the scope of Chinese capabilities in that department was fully unveiled. In all, more than 25 models of UAVs were showcased and a good number of them had dual-use capabilities, meaning that they had both civilian and military applications.

While the development and deployment of unmanned vehicles by the Chinese military and security apparatus adds to an already complex situation in Asia, it is a perfectly natural consequence of China’s rise and Beijing is only following the example set by other modern militaries the world over.

However, what is more worrying, experts say, is that Chinese officials appear to have been impressed by, and to have learned lessons from, precedents set by the US.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

No comments: