In a reversal of a decision made earlier this year, Moscow has agreed to sell 24 Sukhoi Su-35BM fighter aircraft to China for an estimated US$1.5 billion, a sale that will further shift the balance of power in the air over the Taiwan Strait.
Russia’s Rosoboronexport and the Chinese Ministry of National Defense are said to have reached a preliminary agreement, with details discussed during a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday between Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).
Hu was accompanied by General Xu Qiliang (許其亮), who was appointed one of the two vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission during the 17th session of the seventh plenary conference earlier this month.
The 24 aircraft come equipped with the 117S engine designed by Russian firm NPO Saturn, the Russian business daily Vedomosti reported.
The contract is expected to be signed next year or in 2014, with delivery of the jets starting in 2015.
Beijing has yet to confirm the deal.
Russian media reported earlier this year that Moscow had decided against selling China the 48 so-called “fourth-plus-plus generation” Su-35s, valued at more than US$4 billion, after Beijing requested them last year. Analysts concluded at the time that Russia’s principal reason for not selling the advanced multirole aircraft was the risk of Chinese reverse engineering. Beijing had initially only requested four.
Relations were already strained after China canceled an order for 95 Su-27s last year after it launched the production of the J-11, which Russia alleged was a replica of the Su-27.
The spat led to Moscow’s decision not to sell carrier-based Su-33 aircraft to the Chinese navy, which then designed its own version, the J-15, based on a single Su-33 it obtained from Ukraine.
The Russian air force is expected to take delivery of its first Su-35s in 2015.
China’s rapid modernization of its air force also includes the development of two types of fifth-generation “stealth” aircraft, the J-20 and J-31. It occurs at a time when Taiwan’s air force readies to retire its aging F-5 and Mirage-2000 aircraft.
According to a recent report by the US Congressional Research Service, the number of combat aircraft in Taiwan’s air force will drop by 70 percent in 2020 if no new aircraft are acquired, and by 50 percent if Taiwan procures the 66 F-16C/Ds it has unsuccessfully been requesting from the US since 2006.
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Two US senators were critical of the WHO after a senior WHO official appeared to hang up on a Hong Kong reporter who asked about Taiwan’s membership status in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. During a video interview with Radio Television Hong Kong’s Yvonne Tong (唐若韞) on Saturday, WHO Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward first claimed not to have heard her question on whether the WHO would consider giving Taiwan membership. When Tong repeated the question, he asked her to “move on to another one.” The video then showed the line disconnecting after Tong said she would like to hear more about Taiwan.