11 April 2016
No one can ever accuse China of thinking small. The Great Wall. The Three Gorges Dam. World’s largest manufacturer.
And when China decides to enter into a business traditionally dominated by the West, it usually aims for the top. It has built the world’s largest high-speed rail network, the world’s largest radio telescope, the world’s fastest supercomputer.
All undeniably quite impressive, and all worthy of praise. But success in one endeavor does not guarantee success in other areas. Some business sectors still have very high barriers to entry, let alone dominance, and sometimes even the most arduous effort will not pay off.
When it comes to breaking into the civil airliner business, China is learning this fact the hard way. When it decided, a little more than a decade ago, to enter into commercial aircraft manufacturing, Beijing knew that it was going up against one of the world’s greatest duopolies: the Boeing-Airbus stranglehold on the medium-to-large jetliner business. These two companies produce nearly every 100-seat-and-above passenger plane flown by nearly every airline in the world. Other companies that have tried to play in the “big boys club” of commercial aircraft production – Japan’s Mitsubishi, Russia’s Sukhoi, Indonesia’s IPTN – have all flopped, and in some cases quite spectacularly.
… Richard A. Bitzinger is a Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Military Transformations Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 12/04/2016