The U.S. sent its C-17 Globemaster III to the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition this week, despite it being targeted by Chinese hackers this summer.
Su Bin, formerly of the Chinese aviation firm Lode Technologies, was arrested in Canada in June at the request of the FBI. He and two other two Chinese-based co-conspirators are accused of stealing a treasure trove of data from Boeing and other contractors in Europe. The hackers obtained data on the U.S. F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, as well as Boeing’s C-17 cargo plane.
Officials told the security website Defense One that besides the security concerns related to taking part in the airshow, the decision was hypocritical: the U.S. denied South Korea the ability to take part in the same event because the aircraft they wanted to bring included American technology.
“It was just bad idea after bad idea,” a government official told Defense One, of the displaying the C-17 Globemaster III.
Attendance fees for the event cost $350,000, the website reported. The plan to take part is believed to have originated with U.S. Pacific Air Forces, in part as a good-will gesture towards the People’s Liberation Army.
“Sending the C-17 builds trust and strengthens partnerships with China and Asia-Pacific nations,” Lt. Col. Christopher Karns, media operations chief for the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon, told Defense One. “The C-17 signals the Air Force’s capability to deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief through the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe.”
China seemingly responded to the U.S. outreach by timing the unveiling of its new stealth fighter jet to coincide with President Obama’s visit to the region.
The J-31, which will initially be built with Russian engines, was on display at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Reuters reported Wednesday.
The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) declined to answer questions about the new aircraft.
“We were told not to do any promotion for the plane,” said corporation spokesman Fu Mingyao, Reuters reported.
China hopes its J-31 will rival Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter on the international market.
If Mr. Obama was bothered by the timing of the J-31’s unveiling, he did not show it publicly Tuesday. The president said he wanted to take America’s relationship with China to “a new level,” The Associated Press reported.
“When the U.S. and China are able to work together effectively, the whole world benefits,” he said.
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