While denying that its aircraft carrier was steaming towards the Middle East, China has not ruled out joining the Russian-Syrian effort to strike at Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria.
A report in China Military Online, a website sponsored by the Peoples’ Liberation Army provided a vague clue that China is on top of plans to enter the Syrian conflict though no information was provided about when it plans to do so.
“Perhaps the Syrian crisis will still last for a long time, and we have no idea when China will decide to intervene. It is completely possible that China's cautiousness will help it choose a more successful moment for its appearance on the world stage as a leader,” the report said.
Reports in the Israeli media last week had claimed that China’s lone aircraft carrier, "Liaoning" with a complement of combat planes was close to the Syrian coast to join hands with Russia in the fight against the IS and to undermine American and Israeli interests in Syria. However, no other media or military sources corroborated the Israeli report.
Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on October 8 that she does not have any information about the Chinese Air Force's possible involvement in the air strike against Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
The Syrian conflict has become a showpiece for weapons of both Russia, the US and Europe. Till last week, the US and its European allies took pains to explain the type of aircraft flown and the munitions it dropped on so-called Islamic State targets. It is interesting that throughout the more than 3 months of American bombings, the IS continued to expand on the ground driving about in convoys of flashy new Toyota Hilux pickups.
However, after Russia’s entry, the limelight has transferred to its Sukhoi range of aircraft, its cruise missile and its precision-guided bombs, going by the success on the ground in terms of destroying IS assets and killing its members, a fact which has been corroborated by the Syrian army.
Syria provides an ideal situation to show off your weapons in actual war without the risk of counter-attack. The IS does not have surface to air weapons, electronic warfare and satellite reconnaissance of the type required to defeat the air assets of a modern air force.
China has been eager to sell its fighter planes to international customers and would not like to lose out on the opportunity provided by the Syrian ‘Air Show’. Will it, wont it join in then?