Terrifying Chengdu?

As U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrives in the PRC, all manner of speculation is focusing on a “stealth jet fighter” currently in Chengdu, Sichuan province, as described in this Wall Street Journal story. (Hat tip to Robert Lopez at Sichuan University.) 

Not to be outdone by the Air Force, the army headquarters in Chengdu decided to run some major combat drills over the weekend (see below).  This sort of thing was being done — with air support — in September in the name of “anti-terrorist” operation drills (read: how to crush Tibetan/Uighur rebellions if necessary), but the Wall Street Journal didn’t seem to notice at the time, and even the Huanqiu Shibao held off.  So Chengdu newspapers might be a good place to continue the narrative of this particular story.   

courtesy Huanqiu Shibao

Yes, Chengdu is a military hub, and the base for the PLA’s activities in Tibet, and it is a place where the reading public (as in other comparable cities like Shenyang) pays close heed to military news.  At the same time, it might bear noting that these images of a fire-breathing dragon PRC can and do coexist along with a population in Sichuan that has very little interest in chest-thumping at the United States, preferring instead the “harmonious society” of the Mah-Jongg table.  If only Secretary Gates knew how to play…

Post-Wedding Mah-Jongg in Sichuan, photo courtesy Wang Yue


  1. What’s disturbing about this post is that the image is no laughing matter. With Chengdu’s recent J-20 Stealth Fighter one can only raise their eyebrow when you see a picture with that much significance. I understand that Americans follow through on daily combat drills as part of their service, but this has to put some government affiliates on edge. This guy just jumped through a freaking ring of fire! Are you concerned???

    1. Thanks for the note on this, Jordan! The Chinese military doesn’t mess around when it comes to creating at least visually appealing drills for their troops. (Perhaps that is the whole point, to make we outsiders wonder if it is worth messing with the PLA.)

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