China has announced that it will enter into the passenger jet manufacturing business.  China Commercial Aircraft is expected to produce 150-passenger aircraft by 2020. 

This is a big deal.  And a big time challenge to the primacy of the US aviation industry. China’s aim is to achieve self-sufficiency in all high tech sectors. If it were just that, it would be less threatening. But what it really means is global market domination, not just self-sufficiency.  This is just competition, but how it plays out for the US will depend on how US industry acts to hold on to its marketshare beginning right now.

The USA retains talent and ability in the entertainment and aviation industries. I believe that US influence of the petrochemical industry is in decline, due in part to the rise of nationalized oil companies in much of the oil producing world. It looks as if our aviation industry will feel competition by a nationalized aircraft manufacturer as well.

The rise of Chinese competition in the marketplace in inevitable. What the west must come to grips with is the inherent leverage that China has with its low wage labor force and the ability to channel resources into projects of national pride such as this.

China will also have the benefit of a century of jet engine and aeronautical research paid for by other nations. I imagine that more than a few of its engineers will have western universities listed on their resumes. Can’t do much about this either. But we in the west can use this example to strengthen our resolve to not go the way of tired and anemic empires.

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