Chinese military ‘not afraid of suffering, death’ after US vows to intimidate enemies

Harvey Kong, South China Morning Post

Posted at Sep 01 2021 01:36 PM | Updated as of Sep 01 2021 01:40 PM

A senior Chinese air force officer has said his country's military will not be scared by the United States, citing past confrontations between China's armed forces and their US counterparts.

"The air force has always upheld the mottos that, first, we are not afraid of suffering, and second, we are not afraid of death," air force spokesman Shen Jinke said on Tuesday.

Shen was responding to comments by new United States Air Force secretary Frank Kendall, who said the US would continue investing in leap-ahead technologies that "will be intimidating to our future enemies".

Shen said China's People's Liberation Army was not afraid of challenges, pointing to its participation in the Korean war in 1953 against the US military.

Other examples cited by Shen included combat patrols in the East China and South China seas - where the Chinese military often has close encounters with the US - and the shooting down of five U-2 strategic reconnaissance aircraft between 1962 and 1967.

"Air force officers will resolutely defend the aerial security of the country, firmly protect the developmental interests of the country, so the (Communist Party) and the people can be at ease," Shen said.

China and the US are locked in a race to advance their military technology, and view each other as rivals.

The Chinese military said earlier in August that it had tested two short-range conventional missiles designed to take out enemy communication systems. China's rocket force last year launched a DF-26 missile from the country's inland northwest to target a moving ship in the South China Sea.

Kendall told Defence News Weekly on August 13 that the Chinese military's modernisation had implications for US security, and that China was moving faster than the US may have anticipated.

"The air force has been overly constrained," Kendall was quoted as saying. "I think we've not been allowed to do things we really need to do to free up resources for things that are a higher priority. We've had a very hard time getting the Congress to allow us to retire older aircraft."

Kendall outlined several US programmes, including an F-35 upgrade and the B-21 bomber.

"I think that's going to be something that will be intimidating, it's going to be very capable," he said.

Shen was speaking at a press conference to preview the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition - China's biggest air show, where the country's military and civil aviation technology is displayed. Held every two years, this edition will take place from September 28 to October 3, in the southern city of Zhuhai.

Huang Zhihao, the mayor of Zhuhai, said the China-developed AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft, would have its first flying performance during the show. The domestically made Wing Loong II drone will also appear.

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