China’s Drones of Its Own

Drone wars have reached an early stage of maturity with China beginning to include them in their mix of national security power tools.

Chinese officials this month sent a drone near disputed islands administered by Japan; debated using a weaponized drone last year to kill a criminal suspect in Myanmar; and sold homemade drones resembling the Predator, an American model, to other countries for less than a million dollars each. Meanwhile, online photographs reveal a stealth combat drone, the Lijian, or Stealth Sword, in a runway test in May.

via Hacking U.S. Secrets, China Pushes for Drones –

Some suggested in a recent Kennedy Center panel discussion that drones pose less of a challenge in the mode of warfare than a broader consideration of the overall strategy of conflict.  Are we heading toward a Blade Runner era of battle?

14 thoughts on “China’s Drones of Its Own”

  1. People have posed concerns about the world’s greatest governments having drone capabilities, the truth is that this is a matter of concern. Personally, I trust the governments of China and the United States on how they are going to use their drones. Since they are such big entities, the world monitors them carefully so it is difficult to fall out from drone usage policy. It worries me however, how terrorist organizations could somehow manage to acquire these weapons. As the article “Hacking U.S. Secrets, China Pushes for Drones” from the New York Times described, computer geniuses have the ability to hack into the system and gain control from one of these drones. I do not think China is the real threat, it is China’s ability to contain this kind of technology from the wrong organizations.

    1. I don’t believe that the status of the US and China as big entities will deter them from misusing their drone capabilities; quite the contrary. The bigger question, in the end, is not whether they will misuse drones, but rather what the two deem as proper use or misuse of drones. In the end, the US have misused their drones, according to some, in causing collateral victims during the ongoing anti-terror war.

      Also, will the world really be aware of when and how drones are used? Pakistanis often accuse the US of flying drones over and blowing stuff up on Pakistan’s territory. Whether it’s true or not we don not know. There have been rumors of terrorists killing civilians and accusing the US of being the culprits.

      Either way, drone tech is no longer a huge secret. It is only a matter of time before terrorists start using it, should they deem it necessary to their cause. Theirs may not be as fancy as the USA’s, but they will serve their purposes well. Globalization!

        1. Mihai, I’ve never heard that before. Could you post a link to a source there?A British non-profit has been compiling a list of names of those reported killed by U.S. drone strikes. Can you point to any of the civilians in particular on that list you believe were not, in fact, killed by drones?

          While reading, I came across this report on how U.S. drones have attacked funerals and first responders to other drone strikes (Like in the third Hunger Games book). I would prefer the CIA to not do that sort of thing.

          1. I do not deny the existence of civilian casualties in drone strikes. I never did.

            I have read somewhere about terrorists’ staging bomb attacks and then blaming US drones in order to gain popular and media support. I wish I could tell you where I read that, but I cannot remember… I could have been an isolated case.

      1. Mihai you touched upon one of the greatest problems with drones: plausible denyability.
        Drones can be mass produced, controlled from afar by non-state actors, and do not have to be incredibly complex to be effective. I could build a functional surveillance drone with GPS navigation and a built in camera (FPV) out of hobby parts for less than 1000 dollars.

        For me, the threat of terrorism is not as acute as the possibility of organized crime using drones to threaten civilians without ever having to get near their targets. Organized crime syndicates could potentially use drones to extort funds and favors from targets, and could afford to buy relatively expensive drone units capable of doing a lot of damage. There

        1. was an interesting TED talk given on this subject last april; anyone interested the problems associated with drones in the near future should watch it;

          That’s a future I’d rather not live in, which is why I would support Mr. Suarez’s proposed treaty banning the development of autonomous drones before this threat becomes a reality.

  2. With China increasing its own arsenal of drones, I believe that we are witnessing the beginnings of the drone race. In my opinion, America is moving back towards Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy to “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Unfortunately, recent presidents, including President Obama, have been waving the stick around quite liberally.

    This type of foreign policy only scares the other countries into carrying sticks of their own. After all, it wasn’t a few days ago that the article titled “Diplomats have been dropping their pens and waving guns.” It makes sense that China is building its drone technology and other people are more than happy to buy it from them. Unfortunately, I believe this drone race will only heighten tensions rather than release them.

  3. This is scary. Last Thursday General Amos A. Jordan came to speak at the Wheatley Institution and he spoke about the future problems the United States would have and who would the major causes of those problems. China was the what he said should be our biggest future worry and I agree. From this article we can see that China is definitely growing in power and these are just examples of them flexing their muscles. I have a feeling that their power is greater than what they are showing. And so this raises the question, can the United States sit back and do nothing? I believe that we cannot slack off as a country in any way and especially in the cyber area as has been mentioned in this article.

  4. The reality that the Chinese government has access to powerful weapons, such as unmanned military air drones, scares the American people. I think that the central problem with this recent development is that their expanded military gives them a storage of power that they will be tempted to use in a high stress situation. The Chinese goal is to have control over the Southern and Eastern Seas off of China. While the government of China might intend this as a defensive measure, other governments and people are going to understand it to be an offensive and even a preparatory maneuver. These drones enable China to launch an air attack quickly, to monitor the skies, and control the seas. They also have potential to malfunction or be hacked into by a third party and lack human judgement. Americans and more rightfully other Asian countries (namely Japan) have reasons to be concerned.

    1. At least for the near future, I would guess that the Chinese strategy is to become strong enough that its opinion cannot be ignored in the region. (maybe halfway between offensive and defensive).

      For example, if China had had the power (or even could a make a plausible threat) to deny U.S. fleets access to the South and East China Seas during the Korean or Vietnam War, the U.S. would probably have been much more sensitive to Chinese concerns.

  5. I think the US’ biggest concern with the PRC’s drone development is not the actual development itself, but the fact that the information for drone technology was hacked from US companies. It is troubling enough that China is investing in and creating weapons over territorial concerns with one of our allies, Japan. Yet, even more so, the PRC’s military has the capability to hack into various US secure networks starting with businesses all the way to top-secret government documents. Thus, while not only protecting our drone information and upping our security due to China’s new-found technology, the US also needs to find a way to condemn the PRC for hacking as well as put up more barriers of protection against information theft.

  6. In light of our in-class discussion on the importance of word choice, I would like to argue that we should find a better word to use than “drone”.

    Drones sound so uninteresting, like a half-dead bee buzzing around. Why can’t we just call them robots? It’s the word that’s been used in science fiction for the last 90 years.

    If ‘Robot’ isn’t descriptive enough, I might suggest:

    Remote-Control Bombers
    Robot Planes (or, to be more descriptive, Flying Killer Robot Planes)
    Ambassadors of Skynet

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