Russian defense promotional film shows military plane blowing up Chinese warship



News analysis

Russia was the dominant player in China’s biennial air show. However, at the recent 14th China International Aviation and Aerospace Expo, Russia kept a low profile and its two air show teams were absent this year. Additionally, a Russian defense company showed a commercial in which a Russian military plane blew up a Chinese warship.

The six-day exhibition, which kicked off Nov. 8 in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, has drawn public attention amid the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war.

State media Global Times reported on November 10 that the stand of Rosoboronexport – the only state organization in Russia that exports the full range of dual-use military products, services and technologies – was much smaller than before, which had “a video display to introduce the Russian-developed Su-57E stealth fighter, Su-35 super-maneuverable fighter, Su-34E fighter-bomber, etc.

The Russian Air Force’s Russian Knights and Swifts aerobatic display team, once the most eye-catching performers at the Zhuhai Air Show, did not participate this year. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force was the only flight demonstration performer at the show.

At the 11th Zhuhai Air Show in 2016, Russia was more present. Chinese state media caused a stir even before the air show started on November 1 that year.

According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, 49 Russian defense and dual-use industry companies attended the show, with more than 220 pieces of military equipment on display.

Russian Su-27 and MiG-29 jet fighters fly over Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on May 9, 2016. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)

The Russian Knights Aerobatic Display Team, formed in April 1991, made its first trip to China during the country’s second air show in 1998 and has since competed in 2000, 2006, 2012, 2014 and 2016. The team Swifts aerobatic display unit, formed in May 1991, has joined the Knights Air Show in China since 2004.

The two teams had a joint training show at the 2016 Zhuhai Airshow, their first outside of Russia.

Analyst: Russian Air Force Damaged in War in Ukraine

US-based Chinese news commentator Chen Baokong analyzed the reasons behind Russia’s low-key participation in his YouTube program on Nov. 13.

He said the international community has ridiculed Russia’s fighter jets and air force for their poor performance in the war in Ukraine. Therefore, Russia did not have the confidence it had before to show off its military strength at the Chinese air show.

“Russian warplanes have been wiped out in large numbers by Ukrainian forces, so Russia feels humiliated,” Chen said. “Furthermore, the Russian Air Force struggled on the Ukrainian battlefield; he certainly does not have the ability to participate in the Zhuhai Air Show. In other words, the real reason for Russia’s low-key participation in the air show is that it was badly hit by the Russian-Ukrainian war.

The Chinese Air Force presented its J-16 and J-20 stealth fighter jets. Some analysts have commented that this indicates that China is surpassing Russia in military strength.

However, Chen pointed out that in the past, the Chinese regime was reluctant to introduce its military aircraft because its J-16 fighter is an imitation of the Russian Su-30 fighter. China was afraid to get into intellectual property disputes with Russian engineers, he said.

Video: Russian plane bombs Chinese warship

In a video shown by the Russian exhibitor at the Zhuhai Air Show, a Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jet launched an anti-ship missile attack on a Chinese warship, which instantly burst into flames.

A Chinese military online media commented on the video: “At first glance, it was just an ordinary computer-generated publicity video, but when you take a closer look at the bombarded ‘enemy ship’, why do you think? he so familiar? The bombed warship turned out to be the Chinese 052D destroyer.

“This scene is just too embarrassing. After all, China and Russia [are] strategic partners,” the article reads.

The author claimed that India was involved in the film. “Some say… that the Russian operator outsourced the production of commercials to an Indian company. In other words, the Indian side deliberately replaced the target ship of the fighter jet attack Russian by a warship made in China.

However, India’s Eurasia Times newspaper denied the claim in a Nov. 11 report, saying the scene in the video was a mistake made by the Russian exhibitor and had nothing to do with India.

In this regard, Chen said it is impossible that the Russian company did not review the promotional video before the exhibition.

“But here’s what Russia means,” he said. “Russia made it clear in the film that the real enemy it wants to destroy is the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party claims its 052D is a first-class warship, but Moscow implies it is no match for the Russian war effort.

According to Chen, Russia deliberately released the video during the air show to send a message to the Chinese regime: first, Russia is not happy that China is copying its technology; second, Russia is letting the international community know that its real enemy is not the United States or Ukraine, but the Chinese Communist Party.

jessica mao


Jessica Mao is a staff writer for The Epoch Times and focuses on China-related topics. She started writing for the Chinese language edition in 2009.

Olivia Li


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