China says its arsenal compares to West’s

Associated Press / September 22, 2009

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BEIJING - China’s military now possesses most of the sophisticated weapon systems found in the arsenals of developed Western nations, the country’s defense minister said in comments published yesterday.

Many of China’s systems, including the J-10 fighter jet, latest-generation tanks, navy destroyers, and cruise and intercontinental ballistic missiles, match or are close to matching the capabilities of those in the West, Liang Guanglie said in a rare interview posted on the ministry’s website.

“This is an extraordinary achievement that speaks to the level of our military’s modernization and the huge change in our country’s technological strength,’’ Liang said.

But an analyst said the assertion was probably directed at the Chinese public and exaggerated its technological prowess.

The minister’s remarks come ahead of the country’s biggest military parade in a decade, scheduled for the Oct. 1 National Day in Beijing.

That event will showcase much of the country’s most advanced equipment, the fruit of a booming economy and nearly two decades of annual double digit percentage increases in the defense budget.

Liang said he believed the parade would “display the image of a mighty force, a civilized force, a victorious force.’’

However, the Pentagon’s own 2009 report on Beijing’s military power ranked Chinese defense technology below that of the United States - as it always has - but it noted that the country’s armed forces have improved their capacity to carry out operations away from its shores and to deny militaries of other countries access to its airspace and seas off its coast.