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Watch: China puts on a display of military might

Zhuhai: China is showing off its military might at the country's International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition.

China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition

Everything from drone helicopters to tanks and armoured vehicles are on display in Zhuhai where more than 700 exhibitors from over 40 countries have gathered.

Chinese-made tanks are put through their paces in a demonstration at the International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in southern China.

The rare display of military might is to show the world what China has to offer as it seeks to gain market share in the global arms trade.

These tanks have been produced by a state-owned company and are intended for export, according to defence analyst, Gordon Arthur from Shephard Media.

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"This show has become much more than just an air show. It's more than just aircraft and helicopters and aerospace, there's a whole new realm of ground vehicles and land equipment that China is advertising and marketing to the world," he says.

The demonstration, which showed the combat capabilities of the tanks, was watched by hundreds of spectators, including Chinese soldiers.

China has the world's second-largest military budget – though still just a fraction of the US. In recent years China has been pushing to sell more tanks, rockets, and other military gear to the Middle East and Africa.

"Countries like America are sometimes very careful about who they sell armed UAVs to. Often China doesn't have the same restrictions, so it's selling a lot of equipment to the Middle East and Africa, where other Western countries, perhaps, wouldn't sell equipment," says Arthur.

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Another advantage China has is price. It's able to sell products cheaper than what you'll buy from the US or Europe, according to Arthur.

Another sign of China's growing global ambitions was on display inside one of the exhibition halls – a life-sized partial model of China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International's new CR929.

China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International (CRAIC) is a joint-venture between China's Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, intended to break the duopoly of Airbus and Boeing on the global jetliner market.

Former Chinese airforce mechanic Xie Xueyong is one of the many visitors to the CRAIC pavilion: "(Let's) see when it will be officially on the market, hopefully there'll be lots of international orders, the more the better. Boeing, Airbus, these are the strongest two in the world, if our COMAC can have a place in this business, isn't it the pride of our nation? You see how much foreign exchange we spend on buying Airbus and Boeing planes every year? If you can just have the cake for yourself, isn't it the best?"

The CR929 is planned to have roughly 300 to 400 seats and is projected to enter the market in about a decade.

Though it's still far from production, suppliers are already scouting the company, anticipating growing business from China.

Export Sales Representative for aircraft components maker Paris Saint-Denis Aero, Massine Hamouma says there could be an advantage if the plane is priced more competitively than it rivals.

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"For now, it's true that Boeing and others, they still have their experience, their reliability so far, so if they (CRAIC) can prove that their planes are as good as the others, maybe they can get market share in the future, definitely."

This year, more than 700 exhibitors from over 40 countries and regions are showcasing their latest aviation and aerospace technologies and products at the exhibition.

Among them were many drone and other unmanned aerial vehicle companies, including Beijing Zhonghangzhi Technology (ZHZ), which is pioneering a prototype of an unmanned helicopter.

The groundbreaking innovation is so cutting-edge that the legal framework to handle such a vehicle does not yet exist.

ZHZ says the TD10 prototype will be capable of going up to 275 kilometers an hour for a 1200 kilometer range.

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"It has a lot of applications. For example, in large logistics and transportation, it might be able to take one or even two containers, and also in disaster relief and fighting fire, it can be customized according to the users' choice," says Yan Huaiqiang, director of flight test center at ZHZ.

Yan says he doesn't foresee any safety issues with people flying in an unmanned aircraft.

"We are just taking stock of the concept and figuring out our long-term goals. I personally don't agree (that it isn't safe), It might become very reliable in the future. Just like driverless cars, in the streets in Beijing, driverless cars with lidar equipment are under use. Many people thought driverless cars are unreliable, that it'd blow past red lights or hit people, but now, driverless cars are definitely a big future trend," he says.

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The China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition runs 6 - 11 November.



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