China’s military has been boosting its air force as part of an overall program to strengthen armed forces amid the threat posed by US military presence in the region.
Chinese combat exercises are becoming more intense and more realistic, according to a Friday report by the official China Daily.
“Commanders and pilots have been given stringent, realistic combat scenarios and are told to try their best to win,” the paper said, citing the air force.
“Now, freestyle fighting, live-fire strikes, and long-range sea patrols have become regular elements in the training of the air force’s fighter jet and bomber units,” it added.
Integrated operations involving more than one type of aircraft and different air force units are also becoming more common, the paper said.
“Thanks to exercises that are much more difficult than before, pilots have substantially enhanced their capabilities,” air force pilot Xu Qin said.
Beijing, which boasts the world’s largest armed forces with 2.3 million personnel, has decided to upgrade its military technology to match international standards.
President Xi Jinping outlined in March Beijing’s goal to enhance the country’s military in the shortest possible time. Xi emphasized that the country needed to have a greater sense of urgency and pursue scientific and technological advancements with greater vigor and determination.
Science and technology provide the “key to military upgrading,” he said.
To increase its military muscle, Beijing has upgraded its armed forces by employing advanced stealth jets, anti-satellite missiles, and submarines.
Beijing has also made huge advancements in space technology and plans to build a permanent space base by 2022 at the latest.
Chinese officials have underscored Beijing’s determination to do whatever is needed to defend its territorial rights in self-ruled Taiwan and in disputed waters in the South and East China seas.
The regional military presence of the United States, which always takes sides with China’s rival claimants in the disputed waters, has been a source of concern for China’s leadership.
US President Donald Trump had during his election campaign often bashed China for its policies. But Trump later invited President Xi to his luxurious estate in Florida to hold one-on-one talks on how to further expand business ties.