China has agreed to buy 24 fighter jets and four submarines from Russia, state media reported yesterday, the country’s first large-scale weapons technology purchases from Moscow in a decade.
The agreement to buy the Sukhoi Su-35 fighters and four Lada-class submarines was signed just before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) weekend visit to Russia, said the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party organ, citing state television.
The report, which did not give a value for the purchases, said it was the first time in 10 years that China had bought “large military technological equipment” from Russia.
The deal comes as Beijing expands its military reach — it commissioned its first aircraft carrier last year — and is embroiled in a bitter territorial row with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Two of the submarines will be built in Russia, with the other two to be built in China.
“The Su-35 fighters can effectively reduce pressure on China’s air defense before Chinese-made stealth fighters come online,” the report said.
China and Russia are expected to cooperate further in developing military technology, the report said, including that for S-400 long-range anti-aircraft missiles, 117S large thrust engines, IL-476 large transport aircraft and IL-78 aerial tankers.
China’s defense ministry had no immediate comment on the report.
Xi visited Moscow from Friday to Sunday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his first trip abroad since becoming head of state earlier this month.
The countries signed around 30 energy and other agreements during the visit.
Xi also met Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and became the first foreign leader to visit the Russian armed forces’ control center.
Moscow and Beijing, which were once bitter foes during the Cold War, have strengthened cooperation in recent years to counterbalance what they see as US global dominance.
Earlier this month China announced a further double-digit rise in its defense budget, increasing it by 10.7 percent to 720.2 billion yuan (US$116 billion) this year.