Thursday, April 21, 2011



( To be read in continuation of the following articles of mine: (1) Article of January 12,2011, titled "PLA's Stealth Surprise to Gates: Was it A Surprise to HU Too?" at and (2) Article of January 21,2011, titled "A Stealth Aircraft with Peaceful Chinese Characteristics !!" at )

China has once again used its bloggers ----possibly belonging to the People's Liberation Army (PLA)--- to indicate to the world in general and to the US in particular that it successfully carried out the second test flight of its J-20 Stealth aircraft---still under development--- on April 17,2011, from the Chengdu military airport in the Sichuan province.

2. The Chinese authorities, who have not yet made an official announcement of the successful flight, used the same procedure as they did during its maiden flight in January to let the world know of their success---- they apparently alerted a group of bloggers around the Chengdu military airport about the impending flight and encouraged them to cover the flight through postings of their visual observations in their blogs.

3. A detailed report carried by the Party-controlled "Global Times" on April 19,2011, on the flight is annexed. According to the bloggers, who had timed the two flights of J-20, whereas the first flight in January lasted only 20 minutes, the second flight on April 17 lasted about 85 minutes. It took off at 4-25 PM and landed at 5-50 PM.

4. Why do the Chinese use the bloggers for announcing the flights instead of doing so officially? A convincing answer to this question is not available. One reason could be to maintain the deniability of any possible failures, but that is not a convincing answer. If they don't encourage any leaks of impending flights the deniability of failures would be even stronger.

5. Are the bloggers making the postings simultaneously with the flights or after the flights have successfully ended? Since in the latest case, the flight lasted about 85 minutes it should have been possible for Western intelligence agencies, which monitor Chinese blogs, to simultaneously track the flights or to determine whether the blog postings are being made after the flights are successfully over.

6. According to Western experts, the J-20 has a height of 5 metres ( 5.08 in the case of the US F-22 Raptor), weight 17600 kgs ( 19700), cruising speed 2100 kph (2500 plus) and estimated unit cost US $ 110 million ( US $ 130 million ). Some US experts suspect that the Chinese were able to develop the stealth technology from parts of an American F-117 Nighthawk that was shot down over Serbia in 1999 and parts of which they allegedly managed to acquire from the locals.

7.Is the J-20 still at the concept demonstration stage or is it a prototype moving towards production?Many believe after studying the two tests that the Chinese are past the concept demonstration stage and are now gradually moving towards production. ( 22-4-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presenhtly, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )


( "Global Times" report of April 19,2011)

Mystery jet 'flies' again

An alleged J-20 prototype prepares to take off from the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute's airfield in Sichuan Province on Sunday. Photo: Anonymous

By Xu Tianran and Huang Jingjing

Photos of China's J-20 stealth fighter prototype are all the rage on online military forums, after word emerged that another test flight was completed Sunday when officials in Beijing celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of China's aviation industry.

Some of the online footage showed scores of military enthusiasts yelling when an aircraft flew over the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute's airfield in Sichuan Province, but it was unclear whether the plane was the J-20 prototype.

"The J-20 made several passes and waggled its wings (rolling the plane first to one side then to the other) to salute the crowd near the airfield," a witness told the Global Times on condition of anonymity, adding that the plane took off at around 4:25 pm and landed at about 5:50 pm.

As of press time, Chinese authorities had not commented on the issue, but the Xinhua News Agency posted another clip of the flight uploaded by Internet users.

The J-20 prototype made its 18-minute debut flight in Chengdu on January 11, when US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Beijing. Since then, it has been touted as a potential challenger to the US Air Force's F-22 Raptor, the world's only fifth-generation fighter jet.

Xu Yongling, one of China's top test pilots, said that if Sunday's test flight proved true, it would be more or less the same as the first test, but Xu noted that every test is one step closer to mass production.

"The first 10 to 20 tests are meant to calibrate the entire aircraft, including its stability, handling qualities and performance. All of them are short in time, but the entire process will take years to complete," Xu told the Global Times on Monday.

The alleged test flight coincided with a celebration in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday that marked the 60th anniversary of China's aviation industry.

Lin Zuoming, general manager of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), pledged at the ceremony to push forward the development of next-generation aircraft and to make breakthroughs in propulsion systems.

"By 2015, the research and design of all key models will be completed," Lin said, adding that inferior engine design has been a "bottleneck" for the advancement of China's aviation industry.

According to him, AVIC will invest 10 billion yuan ($1.52 billion) in engine development, which is equivalent to its net profit from 2010.

However, this amount of investment is unimpressive when compared with other major engine projects.

According to a press release from Pratt & Whitney, the company was awarded a contract valued at more than $4 billion in 2001 to develop its F135 engine for the US air force's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

Lin also urged speedup in transferring technology to civil aviation, saying China's aviation industry cannot rely solely on the military.

Wang Zhilin, general manager of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, told CCTV on Sunday that, by 2020, China's C919 passenger jet will be equipped with engines designed by AVIC.

"By 2021, the Chinese aviation industry will be at the same level as major players in the world and have become the outstanding supplier of air defense equipment," Lin added.

Separately, another rumor circulated on the Internet recently involving the alleged J-18, China's first warplane with vertical/short takeoff and landing capabilities.

Earlier this month, citing a report by Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Phoenix Television said the J-18 had completed a test flight at a field base in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The report said the wings of the jet, similar to Russia's Su-33, a carrier-based multi-role fighter, could be folded, and suspected that it would be installed on China's future aircraft carrier.

The report came at the same time as foreign media speculated that China's first aircraft carrier, a modification of the Varyag bought from Ukraine, would take to the oceans in July. The Chinese military has denied such reports.

Ding Zhiyong, a spokesperson at the AVIC, told the Global Times on Monday that the Japanese report of the alleged J-18 was pure speculation and that the corporation had no information to reveal.

Li Daguang, a professor specializing in military strategy at the National Defense University, told the Global Times earlier that even if the rumored carrier were true, the vessel would only be used for training.

Liu Linlin contributed to this story



In a sensational letter to his senior colleagues in "The Hindu" disseminated on April 20,2011, Shri N.Ravi, it Editor,has accused Shri N.Ram, its Editor-in-Chief and a close relative of his, of manipulating matters in the paper in order to take all the editorial directors into retirement with him with a scorched earth policy to ensure that no one in the family succeeds him. In his detailed letter on the sad state of affairs in the paper since Shri Ram took over as the Editor-in-Chief some years ago, Shri Ravi has, inter alia, accused Shri Ram of "a pronounced pro-China tilt and blacking out or downplaying any news that is less than complimentary to the Chinese Communist regime." I had drawn attention to "The Hindu" gradually coming under the influence of China in an article titled " The People's Daily of Chennai," in my blog on March 17, 2008. I am reproducing it below. The text of Shri Ravi's letter to Shri Ram is available at§ionId=1&valid=true

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

THE PEOPLE'S DAILY OF CHENNAI ( My article of March 17,2008)


Tibet and Sichuan have seen some determined protests by the long-suppressed Tibetans since March 10. The protests were initially started by Tibetan monks, but subsequently a large number of students and other sections of the general population joined in. The Chinese Army, which was taken by surprise, is in the process of putting down the protests ruthlessly.

2. There is no doubt they will ultimately succeed in ruthlessly crushing the protests, arresting those who participated and sending them to their own Gulags.

3.There can be different views on what the Government of India's attitude to the protests should be---sympathise with it or disaprove of it or adopt an ambivalent attitude? A decision on this has to be taken by the Government after taking the national interests into consideration.

4. But there can be no different views on what should be the attitude of the media to the developments in Tibet and Sichuan, particularly of a newspaper which projects itself to be independent and objective, with no agenda of its own. It has to inform the public of the various versions of the developments----the Tibetan, the Chinese, the Western etc--- and leave it to the readers to decide which version to believe.

5. If it has any views as to which version is more credible, it can express those views in its editorial columns for the benefit of its readers.

6. But, when a newspaper censors the various versions, blacks out the Tibetan version and disseminates only the version as put out by the Government-owned Hsinhua news agency of China, one has reason to feel shocked----- and sad.

7. Read the report as carried by that newspaper on its front page on March 17,2008. At the bottom, its says "Hsinhua, PTI and Reuters" as if the entire report is based on the versions put out by these three agencies.

8. It is not so. The portion regarding the disturbances in Tibet is totally the version of the Hsinhua with no clarifications or additions as to what the Tibetans have had to say. The Dalai Lama held a press conference on March 16,2008. Truncated versions of the press conference as disseminated by the Reuters and the PTI have been added on to the main Hsinhua version.

9. The Dalai Lama made two important points in his press conference. He accused the Chinese of cultural genocide in Tibet and asked for an international enquiry into it. At the same time, he made it clear that he did not want the Beijing Olympics to be disrupted. In its headline , the paper played up only what he said on the Olympics and remained silent on what he had to say about the alleged cultural genocide.

10. A few years ago, the paper came under a new leadership of the same family. Since then one could see a change in its editorial policy towards China and Tibet---- no publicity to the statements and activities of the Dalai Lama, no dissemination of his pictures, no publicity to the views and hardships of the Tibetans, no negative comments on China, only the positive to be highlighted and not the negative about China. Beijing to be projected as an angel in a world of villains.

11. More and more Hsinhua despatches started finding their way into the columns of this paper. The readers were told what a wonderful country China was, what a wonderful people the Chinese were, how there is nothing for India to fear from the Chinese.

12.Its Washington office was closed and shifted to Beijing indicating where its heart lay.

13. A Chinese interlocutor recently mentioned to me the names of two persons from this paper----one in its headquarters in Chennai and the other in its office in Beijing-- and remarked that if only all journalists were like these two, journalism must be the most beautiful profession in the world. I asked him why he thought so.

14. He replied that they write only positively about China. They never say anything negative.

15. All of us, who were born and brought up in Chennai, grew up on the mother's milk of this daily. Whatever little we achieved in our life and career was due to what we imbibed from its columns.

17. What a great family it was! What great names it had in its staff in its headquarters and in its field offices!

18. When we travelled abroad and mentioned that Chennai was our home town, people would immediately say " oh, the city of that famous newspaper". Chennai was known as the city of the Music Festival and this newspaper.

19. I am 71---- well on the way to making my peace with My Maker. How cruel to see this daily with which I grew up reduced to its present status!

20. Its founding fathers and the giants who served in it must be shedding tears in heavens over the way their child has been reduced to being the "People's Daily" of Chennai.



( To be read in continuation of my article of November 26,2010, titled "Our Own MeCarthyism" available at )

While Shri Arnab Goswami, the highly-reputed Editor of the Times Now news channel, who often projects a sense of modesty about himself with expressions like "your channel", "your editor" etc, continues to wax eloquent over various issues bothering him which he feels ought to bother the public too, there is one development over which he does not wax eloquent, which does not seem to bother him and which he does not want the public to bother about.

2. The issue I am referring to is a document purporting to be the interrogation report of Ms. Niira Radia, the lobbyist, allegedly recorded by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that has been circulating in the Internet for the last three or four days. Presuming that this report is authentic, I have carefully gone through its Internet version, which is available at

3. The report is in two parts. The first part, recorded on 21-12-10, is about the personal and professional background of Ms.Radia as ascertained during her interrogation. The second part recorded on 25-1-11, relates to certain tapes which the CBI has apparently identified as of an incriminating nature having relevance to the scam case against Shri A.Raja, former Telecommunications Minister, under investigation by it.

4 What the CBI’s investigating officer seems to have done is to play these incriminating tapes one after the other to Ms.Radia and ask her to identify the persons talking with her in the tapes and summarise the conversations. Amongst the persons whose tapped telephone conversations with Ms.Radia were thus played back to her for establishing their authenticity through her words were the following journalists:

• Ms.Navika Kumar, described as the Senior Political Editor of the Times Now Channel.
• Shri T.K.Thomas of the “Hindu Businessline”
• Shri Satish Ohri, described as the Editor of a magazine called “Business At Zero Hour” and
• Shri Ganapati Subramanyam Ganu of ET and ET Now channel.

5. The conversation between Ms.Navika Kumar and Ms.Radia relates to the alleged links of Shri Sharad Pawar, Union Agriculture Minister, with DB Realities, one of the companies reportedly under investigation by the CBI. The interrogation report quotes Ms. Radia as stating as follows while explaining her conversation with Ms.Navika Kumar: “As per general perceptions in Mumbai as well as outside, DB Realities directly or indirectly controlled by Sharad Pawar and his family members.”

6.The following questions arise from a study of this portion of the interrogation report of Ms.Radia recorded by the CBI:

• Since when was Ms.Kumar in contact with Ms.Radia?
• When did the telephone conversation described in the interrogation report take place?
• Who initiated the telephone call discussed in the interrogation report---Ms.Radia or Ms.Kumar?
• Who broached the subject of the alleged links of Shri Sharad Pawar and his family with DB Realities?
• Since Ms.Kumar was in possession of this explosive information, did she use it in her reporting? If not, why not?
• Did she convey this information to Shri Goswami? If so, what further action did he take on it?
• How come none of the incriminating tapes, which had a relevance to the 2 G scam, were not among those publicized by the two leading journals of Delhi which went to town with the Radia tapes?

7. The public has a right to know the answers to these questions. If Shri Goswami and Times Now continue to maintain their silence and avoid answers to these specific questions, a strong suspicion is likely to be created that there is more than meets the eye behind the intriguing silence. (21-4-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi. E-mail: )