China to Debut Fighter Jet as U.S. Brass Attends Airshow

By Clement Tan

Nov. 11 (Bloomberg) — China’s Air Force’s newest fighter jet made its debut at an air show attended by senior U.S. officers in an effort to showcase its rising military clout.

The J-31 stealth fighter gave a public demonstration of its capabilities at the Zhuhai Air Show that started today in Guangdong province, according to state broadcaster CCTV and the official Xinhua News Agency. The airshow coincides with a meeting in Beijing of leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, including U.S. President Barack Obama.

Manufactured by the Shenyang subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corp of China, also known as AVIC, the J-31 is a test of the country’s ability to deliver cutting-edge defense technology. Still largely-shrouded in secrecy, the production of the fighter could add heft to China’s sea and air expansion in the region and its push-back against decades of U.S. economic and military dominance.

“It appears to be a fifth-generation fighter and so far of course only the United States has been able to produce those,” said Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “So in a sense, it’s kind of impressive on a superficial level.”

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