China showcases its military prowess at Saudi defense expo, eclipsing US and Russia

China has made a strong impression at the World Defense Show, a major defense exhibition held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from February 6 to 9, 2024. China has outpaced the US and Russia in terms of the number and variety of the military equipment and systems it has exhibited at the show. China has dominated the show with its drones, both armed and unarmed, but has also presented models of fighter jets, air-to-air missiles, air and missile defense systems, anti-tank weapons, and C4ISR equipment.

China’s large and prominent presence at the show reflects its growing ambition and confidence in the global defense market, especially in the Middle East, where it has increased its influence and expanded its cooperation with several countries in recent years. China has leveraged its competitive edge in price, quality, and technology to attract and satisfy the demand and needs of the regional customers, who are looking for reliable and affordable alternatives to the Western and Russian suppliers.

China performs its first aerial demonstration in the Middle East with its J-10 jets

China has also impressed the visitors and spectators at the show with its first ever aerial demonstration in the Middle East, performed by the Ba Yi Aerobatic Team of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The team, which consists of six J-10 fighter jets, has showcased its skills and maneuvers in the sky above the show venue, displaying the capabilities and performance of the Chinese-made aircraft.

The J-10, which is a multirole and fourth-generation fighter jet, is one of the flagship products of the Chinese defense industry, and has been exported to several countries, such as Pakistan, Thailand, and Myanmar. The J-10 is also compatible with the PL-15, a long-range and active radar-guided air-to-air missile, which is another highlight of the Chinese display at the show.

China seeks to boost its defense ties and sales in the Middle East amid regional tensions

China’s participation and performance at the show indicate its intention and ability to boost its defense ties and sales in the Middle East, a region that is strategically important and economically lucrative for China. China has benefited from its non-interference and pragmatic approach to the region, which has enabled it to maintain and balance its relations with different actors, regardless of their ideological and political differences.

China has also capitalized on the opportunities and challenges that have emerged in the region in recent years, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Iran nuclear deal, the Abraham Accords, and the conflicts in Yemen, Syria, and Libya. China has offered its assistance and cooperation to the regional countries in various fields, such as health, energy, trade, infrastructure, and security.

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