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.
IF THE CHIPS ARE DOWN: The US secretary of state warned that a disruption to the supply of Taiwanese semiconductors would play havoc with the global economy If Taiwan were attacked, the global economy would face devastation, as that is where most of the world’s semiconductors are produced, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday. In an interview that aired on the 60 Minutes television program, Blinken was asked whether instability across the Taiwan Strait would be felt around the world. Blinken said that China has been increasingly aggressive against Taiwan, posing a threat to peace and stability in the region, while economically the world would feel the effects of such aggression. Blinken was interviewed for the program after meeting with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi
‘ABSURD’: UN Resolution 2758 expelled the Chiang Kai-Shek government without mentioning Taipei, something the Chinese minister did not acknowledge, Taipei said Taiwan yesterday criticized Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) for “intentionally misinterpreting” a 1971 UN resolution to misrepresent Taiwan’s status to the global community. In his address on Saturday to the UN General Assembly, Wang cited Resolution 2758 as a basis for Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China. He said that Beijing considers Taiwan an “inseparable part of China’s territory since ancient times.” “Only when China is completely reunified can there be enduring peace across the Taiwan Strait... Any move to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history,” Wang said. General Assembly Resolution 2758
MORE ARRIVALS ALLOWED: Taiwan yesterday increased its cap on arrivals to 60,000 from 50,000 ahead of a full border opening with a weekly cap of 150,000 on Oct. 13 Travelers arriving in Taiwan from Oct. 13 would no longer be required to quarantine on arrival and visitors of all nationalities would be allowed to enter, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced yesterday. However, the number of arrivals would be capped at 150,000 per week, he added. Travelers aged two or older would be given four rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits on arrival and be asked to monitor their health for seven days, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference. Under the new arrival protocol, travelers would have to take a test on the day of arrival or the day after, followed
The UK is determined to work with its allies to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself, British Prime Minister Liz Truss said on Sunday, a pledge that drew expressions of gratitude from Taipei. “What I’ve been clear about is that all of our allies need to make sure Taiwan is able to defend itself, and that is very, very important,” Truss said in a CNN interview, when asked whether the UK was willing to match the US’ pledge last week to defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an attack by China. Truss said her government was working with its G7 allies,