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"Let the Chinese stand on the same boat with us": British arms sales to China (1973 - 1982)

ohistory @ 2019/12/23

Write: Xinjiang

The Oriental historical review WeChat number: Ohistory

In 1975, the British and Chinese agreed to sell the "spade MK202" military engine agreement to achieve the first entry of Western armaments into China. Britain is a vanguard of arms sales to China. It seeks to enhance the strength of China's Soviet system, seek arms sales, and boost China's comprehensive integration into the international system through arms sales. Although China did not introduce British Heavy equipment to the British Army due to its bad performance in the malma Islands War (Malta war), the two sides still signed other military trade agreements. British arms sales to China follow the restrictive principle, that is, the limited promotion of China's conventional tactical military strength, but prohibiting the enhancement of China's strategic offensive capability, and promoting the Westernization of China and the West on "one ship" to the western strategy of China, highlights the strategic consideration of realism and Liberalism behind the Western arms sales to China.


At the end of the 60s, the Soviet Union gradually formed its relative superiority to the US nuclear force. In this regard, the Nixon administration is determined to push forward the "new relationship between ourselves and the other party" in the Soviet policy. Nixon believes that "mitigation" is different from the "understanding" that has reached extensive agreement between the great powers for common interests. The strategic differences and philosophical contradictions between the US and the Soviet Union remain the same, but the two countries do not want to fight because of differences. Obviously, "moderation" is a kind of negative peace created by the US and the Soviet Union under the condition of nuclear balance. Therefore, in order to maintain the "Relaxation" of the US and Soviet Union, including the core issues of European security and nuclear disarmament, China's "third powers" policy towards the US and the Soviet Union has become an important factor that affects and even shapes the power structure of the whole sphere and the process of "easing" the US and the Soviet Union.

The Nixon administration believes that the deterioration of Sino Soviet relations resulting from the mutual confrontation between ideological confrontation and national security has been solidified, and the "left" revolutionary trend of thought in China's foreign strategy has gradually deteriorated. Therefore, "China's survival has become one of the most important national interests of the United States", which has become the core of the "contact" policy of the US strategy toward China in the second half of 1971. Therefore, maintaining the independence, survival and security of the Chinese Soviet regime has gradually become a deep security cause for the pragmatic development of the United China strategy. Among them, the US policymakers especially seek to enhance China's ability to secure Soviet and Soviet Union at two levels of strategy and tactics.

From 1971 to 1973, the Soviet Union put forward the idea of nuclear strike against China for many times, and sought to sign the agreement on the prevention of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union against China. China's absolute disadvantage to the nuclear power of the Soviet Union is worrying the United States. Therefore, the US government believes that the imbalances of the strategic triangle, the guarantee of the survival of China's Soviet regime and the enhancement of China's anti Soviet capability are among the most important national interests of the United States. In mid 1973, the Nixon administration made clear to Huang Zhen, director of the Liaison Office of the Chinese Embassy in the United States, "the United States refuses to accept the view of the Soviet Union expansion. The national interest of the United States requires us to cooperate closely with the Chinese side in the field of defense, and the interests of the United States and China coincide at present and in the future. China's independence, freedom and security are of vital importance. For the United States and China, the survival of the other is the key national interest. " In fact, from 1971 to 1974, the representative of the United States, including Kissinger, assistant president of the national security affairs of the United States, held an unspecified but frequent secret meeting with the Chinese envoy in a secret apartment in the CIA and Waldorf hotel in Manhattan. In the meantime, Kissinger and others often stressed to the Chinese side that they should ensure China's strength and self-reliance and ensure China's independence in controlling its own destiny, which is related to the national strategic interests of the United States and global peace and stability.

To enhance China's ability to respond to nuclear war, the Nixon administration has been secretly helping China build a ballistic missile satellite early warning system in the second half of 1973, and set up a US China military intelligence hotline to share information on Soviet ballistic missiles and strategic bombers learned from US satellites in real time and provide strategic early warning time for China. In promoting the conventional, tactical and Soviet capabilities of the Chinese armed forces, in view of the fact that the US and Soviet Union "easing" as the core of the "phase I strategic arms negotiations" is the top priority, it is difficult for the United States to openly arm China before taking the stage, and then, with the help of Western European hands, to open up the export of sensitive technology and equipment to China after the curtain, and appropriately raise the level of China's cutting-edge technology and equipment, including military technology, and make a "limited armed support China" attack on the Soviet Union. This strategy in the United States has been widely welcomed in Western Europe.


At the beginning of 1976, the top secret documents of the United States first appeared the concrete policy of highlighting the concept of "limited armed support to China". In February 6, 1976, with the instructions of the Secretary of state of the Gerald R. Ford, Kissinger, the inter ministerial group of the State Council responsible for East Asian Affairs held a special meeting, and William Gleysteen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of state, took the lead in organizing a comprehensive study of the feasible plan of arms sales to China by the United States and Japan. The conference called the "limited armed support to China" policy known as "Hold the Line Policy". We can translate it literally into "keeping the bottom line policy", but its purpose is to moderately enhance the essence of Chinese military power, which is equivalent to the policy connotation of "limited armed forces supporting China". Therefore, we can call "Hold the Line Policy" the policy of "limited armed support to China". The essence of the policy first appeared in the early Nixon administration in the early 70s, and was followed by the continuous implementation of the US government and the general recognition and concrete implementation of the political elites in the US and Europe.

Generally speaking, the categories of Western technology transfer to China are synchronized with the "thaw" of Sino US relations. At the beginning of 1972, the Nixon administration upgraded China from the most strictly controlled Z class countries to the Y class countries with the same level as the Soviet Union Eastern countries. However, the actual control of China is more relaxed than that of the Soviet Union and the East countries. Britain's technology transfer to China was more relaxed. As early as 1957, the United Kingdom took the lead in abolishing the "China difference" in the "Paris Co ordinating Committee"'s strict embargo against China. Since 60s, the United Kingdom has made more successful use of the "general exception procedure" within the "Batumi", and exported sensitive technology equipment such as high-end CNC machines to Romania and other countries. London is determined to achieve arms sales to China through the "general exception procedure" as usual. During this period, following the deliberation and early progress of the Sino US Soviet security coordination relationship, Kissinger began to consider allowing Western European allies to take the lead in arms sales to China. Therefore, it did not exclude the initial consultation between China and Britain on military trade issues, and Britain and France also sought to gain foreign exchange gains and security benefits through arms sales to China.

Influenced by Britain's strategic independence with China, before the US trade control in China relaxed and sold us civil aircraft, the British and Chinese rate reached the 35 Trident aircraft contract in August 1971, which cost 120 million pounds. In this way, China has won the "spade MK512" high-performance civilian engine made by the British aviation giant Rolls Royce. China is unable to overhaul the MK512 engine, hoping to get the technical assistance from the company. In May 1972, the first group of British technology teams providing technical maintenance services to China was visited. Taking the opportunity, the Chinese side has repeatedly proposed the imitation of MK512 in the way of licensing production in China, and expressed the hope to imitate the "SPI MK202" type military engine manufactured by MK512, suggesting whether the future purchase of the civil aviation of ror's company depends on whether the British side can sell MK202 military engines.

In the 3 month of 1972, the diplomatic relations between China and Britain were upgraded from the agent level to the ambassadorial level. In March 1973, when Keith, President of Kenneth Keith, visited China for the first time, the Chinese side again proposed the introduction of the "SPI MK202" engine. In mid June of the same year, Chinese Foreign Minister Ji Pengfei expressed his wish to introduce MK202 type military engines when he visited Britain. In this regard, the British government agreed in principle, while in the same period rejected Romania and Yugoslavia's purchase of "spade MK202" to build a JUROM attack attack aircraft purchase plan. For a long time, the US and Europe have relatively relaxed control over technology transfer in Yugoslavia and other countries, but at that time, Britain decided to sell China's "MK202" and refused to apply for the purchase from South and Roland, highlighting the subtle changes in Western China policy and the cold war strategy.

"MK202" is an advanced military turbofan engine designed by Rolls Royce. It is comparable to the TF-30 engine equipped with the F-111 fighter bomber, and is the military modification of the "SPI MK512" civilian engine. Compared with China's "turbojet -7" military engine, the engine is equipped with afterburner, and its thrust is nearly two times higher than that of the civilian version and up to 20 thousand and 500 pounds. It is the active force of the F-4 generation of the second generation fighters of the British army, and also equipped with the A-7 attack aircraft of the US Army, highlighting its advantages of high weight to weight ratio, low fuel consumption, high reliability and long service life. At that time, Luo Luo company was bankrupt soon after it was nationalized by the government, and the company was facing financial difficulties for the development of RB211 high-performance civil aviation engine. The British government actively supports Luo Luo's military trade to earn foreign exchange, which will continue to inject capital into the development of RB211 engine. These factors, together with the relaxation of technology transfer control in China and the US at this time, make it possible for the "SPI MK202" military engine to enter China.

At the end of March 1973, the conservative government of Britain formally transmitted to the White House to sell the "spade MK202" military turbofan engine, and provided imitation technology and parts. The United States and China have been reconciled for two years. The United Kingdom is ready to sell military engines and transfer technology. The British side expects that China will make use of the new fighter bombers and high-speed interceptors developed by "SPI" equipment, and the speed of the new aircraft will reach two times the speed of sound, which is an important tactical weapon for intercepting the Soviet supersonic strategic bombers and fighting against the ground armored targets.

In this regard, British Prime Minister Heath (Edward Heath) sent a letter to Nixon, saying that "the British side will not harm the common political and security interests of Britain and the United States, and is in line with the tone of the two countries' policy toward China". The British side believes that even if the engine is not sold, it is expected that China will be able to build a military turbofan engine in just a few years, and request the US and Batumi to ratify it. British Defense Secretary Carrington (Peter Carington) also said, "the" Bei Bei "will be used for China's defense against the Soviet Union, and China's defense policy is defensive in the short and medium term. Kissinger believes that the British move is feasible, but the US policymakers have objections to the sale of the Chinese engine with afterburner. It is suggested that a joint commission be set up to explore the possibility of installing a military afterburner in the Chinese engine. Kissinger urged the British side not to rush for success and wait for the results of the high-level debate in the United States. Kissinger stressed that at present, "Batumi" does not allow such sensitive equipment to be sold to the Communist countries, such as military engines, and the sale of British engines to China is related to the overall adjustment of the western world's technology and equipment transfer policy to China.

In response to the US reply, the United Kingdom sent a letter to the White House in early July, saying it would not wait for the US opinion to unilaterally sell "spies" to China. The British side stressed that selling China "sbay" is a powerful weight to strengthen China's military strength, and the main threat from Western Europe is from the Soviet Union. In response, Kissinger pointed out that the White House expressed "welcome" to the British decision making. "From the perspective of the United States, the US side is willing to strengthen China's defense capability and support the United Kingdom. The question is, is the United States making a low profile and superficial objection in accordance with the usual practice and the current "Batumi" export assignment rules for China? Or is it directly supporting the UK with a low profile? Nixon's response is also vague. He endorsed Britain's deregulation of technology transfer in China, indicating that the US government is also concentrating on it.
In view of the historic arms sales to China, the opposition of the US policymakers came from the fear of the Soviet Union's opposition to the Soviet Union. In the late June 1973, Brezhnev, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Leonid Brezhnev), warned the United States that "any degree of military cooperation and defense arrangements between the United States and China is extremely dangerous and will cause serious consequences." Although the Soviet Union did not say "Sibei", its strong anti Chinese attitude and rejection of us US defense cooperation strongly concern the heavy Soviet faction in the US government.

The United States Department of state and the arms control and disarmament department and other departments concerned that British arms sales to China will have a serious impact on the basic principles of further restrictions on the negotiation of offensive strategic arms, which are being discussed in the 1973 Sino US Soviet summit. In addition, Clift, senior assistant to the Soviet Union and European affairs in the National Security Council (Denis A. Clift), and Hormat, senior assistant to international trade and Economic Affairs (Robert Hormats), also oppose the sale of China's "SPI MK202" military engine, and oppose the policy of fundamental modification to China's sensitive technology and equipment.

Kissinger, the soul of American foreign policy making during Nixon and Ford administration, wrote to the president, expressing his affirmative comments on "Si Bei"'s entry into China. He hoped Nixon would press against the opposition and promote it with authority. He pointed out that even if the United States and Batumi opposed, Britain would also sell "SPI" to China, while the "SPE" entry into China would "fully benefit the US's China policy", even if the price is the key technology that China will not master in a few years. Under the current "Batumi" rule, this arms sale will be banned, but now it is also time for the us to further adjust its technology transfer rules to China and expand the export of non strategic technical equipment to China. Kissinger suggested that President Nixon issued a presidential directive. Even if the United States does not approve publicly, it should also try to minimize opposition. He believed that defense minister Schlesinger (James R. Schlesinger) agreed with him to suppress the military opposition in the Ministry of defense. In this regard, Nixon instructed, "the United States can not make an open objection and should acquiesce in the completion of the arms sale in Britain".


Based on the final decision of President Nixon, Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft, vice president of national security affairs, met Huang Zhen in July 6, 1973 at St. clementency, California, stressed: "the United States has spoken with the foreign ministers of Britain and France, and the West has strengthened their common aspirations to strengthen the armed forces. We will do our best to encourage allies to transfer China's defensive armament needs to China". Kissinger pointed out: "the hottest thing at present is the output of Roros company's aero engine to China. Under the current" Batumi "mechanism, the United States has no way to fully endorse the arms sales, but the United States is actively consulting with the United Kingdom to change the objection of the domestic and" Batumi "to the arms sales. The United States may consider opposing the sale of arms within the "Batumi", but please do not misunderstand China. We are only against the surface. In the future, once the US and China have established a new military connection mechanism, they will be easy to deal with.

In July 17th, Scowcroft pointed out to Han Xu, deputy director of the Chinese liaison office in the US, that the United States had to oppose the sale of China's "shell" in the "Batumi", but the real measure of the US side was to suggest that Britain bypass Batumi and transfer it to China as soon as possible. In the middle of 1973, in the middle of the year, in the middle of the year, the US policymakers first conveyed to the Chinese envoy the policy of "limited arms to China" encouraged by the Western allies to transfer military equipment to China. Under the guidance of the Soviet Union logic, while maintaining "tight control" against China in the areas such as "unified operational plan of action", the elements of "contact" in the US policy toward China have been climbing steadily. In this period, the independent and firm decision on arms sales to China combined with the merger promoted the Nixon administration's covert policy of "arming the Chinese with limited arms", and the US and Europe formed coordination, coordination and linkage with "limited armed forces supporting China".

In December 11, 1973, Keith, President of RLO, went to China again to start negotiations between China and Britain. As for how to deal with the internal opposition of Batumi, the Heath administration and the successor Wilson (Harold Wilson) government adopted the strategy of circumvent Batumi and use the "general exception procedure" to achieve arms sales to China. Meanwhile, the British side sent special orders to the main countries of the US and Europe to inform the arms sales to China, but did not solicit opinions from all sides. After hard negotiations, in December 12, 1975, China and Britain formally signed the transfer of "SPI MK202" type military engine and its imitation production technology contract to Beijing in China. The two sides agreed that the Chinese technology import company would introduce the "Si Bei", and the Xi'an aircraft manufacturer should be allowed to copy the "shell" from 1978. The British side will provide the technology and equipment needed for the initial 50 prototype engines and related copying and testing, and the contract value will be 90 million pounds, totaling 230 million yuan. Among them, the British side will provide China with the necessary technical materials and documents to transfer all the technological processes of design, experiment, production, manufacture, assembly, operation, maintenance and repair.

When the Heath administration finalized the details of the transfer of "SBE" to China, the Soviet Union also hoped to import the advanced RB211 type civilian high bypass ratio turbofan engine from Rawls Royce by "easing" the overall situation. On July 1974, Secretary of state Kissinger sent a letter to the United Kingdom, saying that the United States strongly opposes the sale of Soviet Union's civil aviation engine capable of being equipped with a wide body large passenger aircraft. "Any export to sensitive technology of the Soviet Union will be seriously concerned by the United States". In response, the British government issued an order to prohibit the sale of the engine to the Soviet Union in three years. Britain will further open its differential control over China's export of technology and equipment. In this regard, under the acquiescence of the United States, Britain has historically realized the highly successful military engine of China which successfully controlled the "Batumi" mechanism of the western countries. In the same period, under the guidance of the policy of "limited armed support to China", which was tacit and promoted by the US and Europe, other Sino British breakthroughs and strategic negotiations on the military trade project were also low-key.


When China and Britain talked about the military trade contract of the "SPI" engine, the two countries held long-term secret consultations on the sale of China's "Kite" vertical take-off and landing fighter. Unlike the "non lethal" military equipment "SPI MK202" type military engine, the "harrier" fighter is an advanced "lethal" "military weapon". In early 1980, the US Carter (Jimmy Carter) government finally decided to open the sale of China's "military weapons" before the British considered the sale of such heavy military weapons in 1973. The Harrier vertical take-off and landing aircraft is the world's first vertical take-off and landing fighter attack aircraft developed in 1966 by the British Hawke west company. It entered the British army in 1969 and was equipped by the US Marine Corps. The machine has a maximum take-off weight of 14 tons, capable of carrying multiple types of anti tank and air combat weapons, with advanced performance. In November 13, 1972, on behalf of the British delivering the "Trident" airliner ceremony to China, the representative of China secretly expressed his first intention to import 200 "harrier" fighters for the first time.

In January 1973, during his visit to Britain, the Ministry of foreign trade of China, Hatfield visited the kite flying performance on the spot and appreciated his technical and tactical performance. In June of the same year, Chinese Foreign Minister Ji Pengfei expressed his sincere wish to the British Foreign Secretary Holm (Alec Douglas-Homo) during his visit to Britain, and the Chinese Embassy in Britain also asked Broadcasting British Corporation to purchase a special documentary on the "harrier" fighter. According to the British assessment, the reason why China seeks to introduce "harrier" is its unique vertical take-off and landing capability, excellent anti armor and ground support operational performance. In view of the lack of field airports in the Sino Soviet front line and possible destruction by the Soviet Union during the wartime, the "harrier" type capable of taking off and landing vertically will be deployed to a large number of simple evacuation bases as close to the front as possible, so as to achieve far more rapid battlefield support than conventional fighters, reduce the strike force of the enemy forces, and enhance China's Soviet capability.

Harrier fighter

In addition, China's top executives also proposed importing the British VC-10 and Concorde supersonic airliners and continuing to purchase Trident aircraft. Beijing plans to spend 60 million pounds to buy 3 Concorde airliners, hoping to become the first batch of overseas users of "Concord", triggering the attention of the British government and military enterprises. The "Concord" airliner is the first supersonic airliner that can be developed by Britain and France jointly to cruise at the speed of 2 Maher. China is concerned about its advanced hypersonic cruise performance.

With the consent of the sale of China's "MK202" to achieve continuous injection of R & D for RB-211's engine, the British side urgently needs to acquire foreign trade in military trade and accelerate the development of new products such as "Concord" and "RB-199" military engines. To this end, the United Kingdom needs to open more military sales to China, attract China to import British civil aviation products jointly and compete with Chinese companies in the Chinese market. In addition, London has the strategic consideration of China's softening of the Hongkong issue with the help of arms exports to China. To sum up, the British government has a positive attitude towards the Chinese hawk fighter. In the meantime, the news of China's introduction of the Harrier fighter was leaked. The Soviet government immediately sent a protest to London, emphasizing that Britain's armed China was "disturbing". In response to this, British Defense Secretary, kharlin, publicly stated in Tokyo in February 1973 that he did not object to arms sales to China. The British government did not rule out the possibility of selling "Kite" fighters in China.

In fact, on the sale of China's harrier fighters, in addition to strengthening the security demands of China's Soviet capability, the British government's decision documents reveal that the British side's pursuit of economic interests is more urgent. London believes that even if the 200 "harrier" styles are not able to change the comparison of air force between China and the Soviet Union, this purchase quantity is significant for maintaining the normal operation of the Harrier production line, and can provide funds for other products developed by ror. Therefore, even if the Chinese government can not purchase the "harrier" by using current foreign exchange, the Heath administration is also interested in providing relevant preferential loans to China for the purchase of weapons. But strangely enough, since the introduction of the intention of junior high school in 1973, up to 1977, nearly four years later, Beijing did not propose to buy "harrier" fighter again. In response to this, the British Wilson administration judged that China's political situation was uncertain and worried that after China acquired the Harrier, once the Sino Soviet reconciliation was made, Beijing might transfer the aircraft to the Soviet Union, which would help the Soviet Union develop the "Jacques -38" vertical take-off and landing fighter.

On November 1977, Vice Premier Wang Zhen met with the British business delegation in Beijing and made clear again that "China intends to win the" harrier "fighter. Different from the 200 purchases proposed in 1973, Wang Zhen proposed to buy 70 "harrier" style and to imitate in China by license. Together with the "Kite" fighter, China also seeks to introduce British Heavy Duty naval gas turbines, finished product destroyers, fighter planes, avionics and main battle tanks. In early 1978, the British side was interested in sending teams to China to perform the "harrier" fighter in the field. But it was not in the middle of the year. However, in the middle of the year, the Chinese side sent a delegation to participate in the British van pall exhibition. The British The Aerospace Corporation (BAE), which merged Hawke west company, showed China's "harrier" body, airborne weapons, flight control system, avionics system and the "Pegasus 104" engine. During the air show, Chinese military test pilots also flew the "harrier" fighters on the spot. Zhang Aiping, deputy chief of staff of the PLA, led the Chinese military delegation to visit Britain in the same period. The Chinese side proposed that the first year provided 10 sets to China, and then provided 20 units every year. After the completion of the shipment, the Chinese side passed the permit to imitate the body and engine in the country, 70 aircraft and spare parts and so on cost 600 million pounds, together with the licensing fee of the production license, and so on. The Chinese side concluded that the project should not cost more than 1 billion pounds at the end. The United Kingdom decided to sell the Chinese harrier I single seat fighter plane, not selling the Chinese AV-8 fleet of the US Marine Corps. The Chinese side acknowledged its endorsement and emphasized the random purchase of the British BL755 cluster bombs. However, the Chinese and British sides are in dispute over the specific price of the Harrier fighter and the price of other items.

With the transformation of China's foreign strategy in the late 1970s, the United Kingdom has a new thinking on the issue of arms sales to China: first, Britain urgently wants to acquire foreign exchange through arms sales to China and eliminate the long-term deficit in trade with China so as to form "a more balanced Sino British economic and trade relationship". In 1977, British exports to China amounted to 62 million pounds and imports amounted to 104 million pounds. Britain's trade with China is much smaller than that of the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy and France. It is only the tenth largest non communist country's trading partner in China, while China is the fifty-fifth largest trading partner in the UK. Britain has competition relations with Western European countries and the United States for arms sales to China. With regard to China's arms imports, the British side expects that in 1979, China's defense imports will reach 8 billion to 15 billion dollars in the next ten years. The British Institute for international strategy also estimated that the Chinese military's modernization of a division would cost 664 million dollars. Relevant optimistic estimates push the British government and enterprises to earn foreign exchange through arms sales to China.

Secondly, because the Soviet Union destroyed the "Relaxation", the US side decided to continue to deepen the policy of "limited armed support to China" with the help of Western European allies. The Carter Administration held a low attitude towards the arms sales of Britain, France, Italy and other countries. In December 1979, before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its influence on the US arms sales policy to China, the Carter administration made a clear statement to London in June of this year. Although Washington currently pursued a balanced diplomacy against the Soviet Union and China, it did not sell arms to China, but "respected" the British decision on arms sales to China, and suggested that Britain should act with ease. Carter also stressed that the sale of weapons to China by allies must be defensive weapons and armaments, but "what weapons are defensive in nature must be judged by the countries themselves". The United States has not closed the door for future direct sales to China. Carter said that the US has no intention to sell weapons to China at present. Obviously, this caliber is very vague. The United States acquiescence the allies to sell China's offensive weapon system. In order to counter the Soviet Union's accelerated global expansion since 1977, Moscow has been encouraged to respect "mitigation" and promote the "second phase strategic arms limitation talks". The British government also believes that strengthening China's strength will promote global stability, and a powerful China is an important force in the global geopolitical landscape.

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Thatcher (Margaret Thatcher) government sent a letter to Carter, emphasizing that Britain and the United States need to jointly strengthen strategic ties with China, including the sale of weapons to China. In an internal meeting, the British government acknowledged that the Carter administration's balance diplomacy towards Soviet Union and China has ended. In the short term, London has no need to take into account the sensitive nerves of the Soviet Union in formulating its policy towards China. The Chinese leaders are keenly aware of the changes in Western policies towards China and are willing to accept the Soviet Union's task. Hua Guofeng, premier of the State Council of China, told Thatcher in November 1979 that if China achieves military modernization, it will bear the responsibility of making Soviet Union more forcefully. China is ready to shoulder this heavy responsibility.


Finally, the British political elite affirms that the transfer of technology and equipment and arms sales to China have great strategic effect beyond the purely economic and security interests, namely, continuously strengthening China's "extroversion" and "westward" strategy, which is conducive to accelerating China's integration into the "international mainstream society". The leaders of the United States, Britain, France and Germany met in French Guadeloupe at the beginning of 1979. The four countries agreed that China should contribute to the peace and stability of the international system, and arms sales to China could help to develop deeper relations between China and the West. In late May, the British Defense Secretary and then foreign secretary, Cyrus, reiterated that China will face severe political and economic challenges in the future. If the current reform efforts fail, China will revert to isolation and xenophobia, arms sales to China, meet the aspirations of China's military modernization, and help to appease China and develop constructive and mutually beneficial relations between the West and the Vance.

In the same period, the British planned to sell the "harrier" fighter in France. Dassault France seeks to sell the 50 generation third generation fighter "phantom -2000", and the Western arms sales to China have substantial upgrading. France has indicated to Britain that France will sell China's "mirage -2000" once the "Kite" is successfully sold to China. To this end, before the United States completely transferred the control of technology and equipment to China from the Y class to the P class in 1980, how to realize the sale of arms to China and the "Batumi" mechanism became a key issue in the Anglo American communication. The United States affirms no objection to arms sales to China, but believes that the "China exception" procedure for facilitating arms sales to China should not be set up within the "Batumi", so as to prevent the countries concerned from exporting such sensitive equipment to Romania and other countries by this mechanism and thus impacting Batumi. The United States suggested that the United Kingdom follow the way of "Si Bei" entering China and continue to bypass the "Batumi" arms sales to China through the "general exception procedure".

Despite the fact that the Chinese hawk fighters are already accessible, there is a constant conflict between the price of Chinese and British aircraft. In August 1979, the British The Aerospace Corporation finally decided that the "harrier" fighter was 5 million 500 thousand pounds, but it did not include spare parts, flight simulators, pilots, ground crew training and airborne weapons. It was estimated that a harrier would eventually sell for about 10 million pounds. The Chinese side has repeatedly requested the British government to coordinate with it and urge the British The Aerospace Corporation to cut prices. The British The Aerospace Corporation has given a total discount of 2.5%, which means that the selling price to China must be equal to the price of "harrier" purchased by India in the same period. The Chinese side indicated that the discount was at least 7.5%. Under the current selling price condition, China might import only 20 to 30. Because of this problem, from the end of 1979 to the end of 1980, junior high school English remained deadlocked. On January 1980, Vice Premier Geng Biao complained to the visiting US Defense Secretary, Harold Brown, that the voyage of the Harrier fighter was actually limited, but the price was too expensive. In the same period, China began to buy the US F-16 third generation fighter planes to the United States. China's ambassador to Britain, Kehua also stressed to the British side that in view of the situation in Afghanistan, the UK should lower its selling price. Once the British company substantially reduced its price, the Chinese government immediately signed a contract with the British side.

Even so, the British side has never been willing to give in. Negotiations between the Chinese and British "harrier" fighters tend to stagnate. As China and Britain reached an agreement to upgrade China's -7 series fighter aircraft avionics agreement, and the Sino US joint transformation of China's J-8 II fighter, that is, "peaceful pearl" plan, the foreign exchange strained Chinese government terminated negotiations on the introduction of the Harrier fighter in 1980. However, the Sino British air military cooperation has not ceased and many other arms sales have been reached. The United Kingdom is one of the largest external suppliers of sophisticated weaponry in China in early 80s. Close cooperation in aviation industry between China and Britain is also highlighted in the following aspects.

First, China hopes that the British government and enterprises will fully assist the technological development of all categories and fields in China's military aviation industry. Since 1978, the Chinese side has proposed that Luo Luo company can build the R & D and production base of civil and military aircraft in China. Wang Zhen stressed that tens of thousands of skilled aviation technicians in China will help the development of the British aviation industry. At the same time, China hopes to inject capital and participate in the research and development of the "strong wind" fighter made jointly by Britain, Germany and Italy, and manufacture some spare parts in China. The Chinese side proposes to supply strategic metals such as titanium, cobalt and other aviation industries to the British side. On the one hand, it will offset some of the cost of importing aviation industrial products from the UK, on the other hand, it will help Britain to help China upgrade its strategic mineral production capacity and the processing technology of related aviation materials. When Wang Zhen visited Britain in November 1978, he left samples of China's rare earth minerals to the British side. In January the following year, a delegation of 20 delegations visited China to discuss cooperation in mining and refining rare earth minerals in the Dadu River Basin. China has also offered Airbus Company that is willing to participate in the joint venture law, Germany, Britain and the West. In addition, according to the record of Lu Dong's December 1978 visit to Britain, the Minister of the third Ministry of machine building (three unit), China has proposed to purchase the British production of the pilot ejection seat, warplanes, avionics, air-to-air missiles and simulated flight devices, and requested the UK to assist China in building important facilities such as large wind tunnels and engine test platforms.

Second, following the introduction of the "harrier" fighter, China also bought the "fierce wind" fighter bomber which was developed by the United Kingdom at the time and used to fight against armored and air superiority, and the RB-199 type sophisticated military engine equipped with it. In October 1979, when Hua Guofeng visited Britain, he formally told Thatcher that China wanted to buy the "strong wind" fighter and the RB-199 engine. In December, Wang Zhen met with the senior delegation of Luo Luo, and stressed again that the PLA could not cope with the "MIG -23" high-speed interceptor of the Soviet Union. It needed a "strong wind" and a RB-199 engine. China understood that the RB-199 engine was very advanced, and it was more sensitive to China's transfer, but it hoped to be imported later. Deng Xiaoping also told former British Prime Minister Heath in September 1979 that China hopes to invest in the development of the "strong wind" fighter. Some parts of the aircraft can be made by the Chinese side and are willing to become the first overseas customers of the aircraft. For the "strong wind" fighter and the RB-199 type military engine it is equipped with, the company is considering the economic benefits and hopes to sell China RB-199. On the request of the Chinese side, both the governments of West Germany and Italy jointly agreed to sell "strong winds" to China. However, in view of the advanced performance of the engine and engine, the British government finally rejected it.

Third, before the Carter administration opened arms sales to China in 1980, and the US Defense Secretary Brown visited China, the high-level Chinese and British counterparts had achieved rare intensive visits, highlighting Britain's independent will to develop Sino British military cooperation. On 1978, Vice Premier Wang Zhen and Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua visited Britain, the commander of the British air force, and Neil Cameron, the chief of the British army, visited China. In July, Yang Yong, deputy chief of the general staff of the PLA, visited the British delegation with the Academy of Military Science. The Chinese side visited the British army equipment exhibition, the van pellento air show and the Royal Navy Equipment Exhibition in 1978. During the Sino Vietnamese war, British Industrial Secretary Valli (Eric Varley) visited China in 2 and March in 1979. The British The Aerospace Corporation and the senior representative of Luo Luo company were accompanying. In May of the same year, the first British naval secretary, Lu Yin (Terence Lewin), visited China. In March 1980, British Defense Secretary Pimm (Francis Pym) led a delegation to China. Not only that, officials from the Chinese and British embassies also exchanged information about Soviet and Vietnamese military affairs in real time. In addition, Chinese and British military enterprises also exchanged visits. Among them, at the invitation of China North Industries Group, the delegation of British military enterprises visited China in November 1978, including Martin, Beeker Co, Smith industries, Ferrante and Marconi Company. Similar visits continued after several rounds. Over the same period, China's three aircraft Department has set up a special office in the Chinese Embassy in Britain to facilitate mutual visits and cooperation between military personnel in the two countries.

Fourthly, the sale of aviation and weaponry equipment between China and Britain is mainly Marconi Company's help to upgrade China's "fighter -7" series avionics system. After negotiation and inspection, in July 31, 1980, the Chinese government formally imported 124 sets of avionics from the Marconi Company, including sub-systems including head up display, static inverter and radar rangefinder, to refit 100 fighter -7IIA fighters. At the same time, the British side agreed to transfer the imitation production technology and bulk parts of the relevant avionics system to China, which cost about 40 million pounds. The new type of "annihilation -7IIA" which was modified by the British avionics equipment, namely the export model "fighter -7M", was successfully exported to Pakistan and other countries. When the Sino British negotiations escalated the "-7IIA" fighter, China's top technology and negotiators, including the three machine division, the fourth Ministry of machine building and the air force, knew nothing about advanced technologies such as head up display, weapons aimed at computers and digital circuits, which had long been popular in the Western military aviation industry. They needed to translate, study all kinds of technical information and negotiation documents provided by the British side, and consult related nouns before they could negotiate, which highlighted the huge gap between the Chinese and Western military aviation industry.

It should be pointed out that after the acquisition of British airpower technology, a large number of exports of China's new foreign trade fighters reduced the impact of the Soviet Union on the third world military trade, and earned valuable foreign exchange for China. In addition, although China and Britain did not achieve the "Hawk" fighter sales contract, the Chinese side attached importance to the BL755 cluster bomb that was used by the aircraft to fight against armored targets and was successfully introduced.

At the end of 1978, China began to seek to import the British The Aerospace Corporation's "sky flash" medium range missiles. The missile is based on the US AIM-7E-2 missile and has advanced performance. But the missile contains us made parts, and the British government is determined not to export to China. However, it is proposed that after the removal of us parts, the improved red flash missile will be exported to China. In response, China said it would use the "red flash" missile technology to improve China's "Thunderbolt -4" air-to-air missile, hoping to design the missile body by the Chinese side, and provide guidance devices and combat fuzes in the UK. The thunderbolt -4 missile is a medium range interceptor for the "-9" interceptor, but the "annihilate -9" project was aborted in 1980, and the R & D project of the missile was cancelled in 1985.

In the field of aero engine, apart from the continued performance of the "spade MK202" engine project, to help China develop the "-9" interceptor, Luo Luo provides advisory services for the design and manufacture of the "turbofan -6" military engine equipped with "-9" equipment. In addition, the British side has helped China improve the "spade MK202" engine for the use of China's "bomber -6" medium range bomber. In the field of military aviation, China and Britain launched a lot of negotiations on the sale of land and Naval Weapons and equipment during this period, and many projects were successfully completed.


Since 1980, the Carter administration of the United States has released the export of defensive arms to China. Therefore, Britain is still the main supplier of Chinese arms purchases during this period. Although naval and air force equipment is the focus of China's military modernization after the "reform and opening up", China also seeks to import military equipment from the traditional armoured power Britain, based on the favorable situation of Sino British military cooperation. On November 1978, Vice Premier Wang Zhen visited China and said that China was seeking to introduce night vision devices, fire control systems and new main guns equipped with armored vehicles in the United Kingdom. Since 1979, China North Industries Group has been working with Vickers, the largest tank and armored vehicle manufacturer in the United Kingdom. In the summer of 2000, Vickers technology team visited the North Industrial Group's production base in Baotou and Datong. According to China's request, the British side agreed to help improve the tank's sight, fire control system and engine and transmission devices, and systematically improve the research and development level and manufacturing process of Chinese tanks. The British side believes that Vickers's Mark 4 foreign trade tank is suitable for the technical and tactical requirements of the Chinese side, and agrees to build a tank production base in China. The whole industry chain teaches the imitation technology of the tank. But then the Chinese side did not introduce the British Mark 4 tank after weighing.

Upgrading China's 59 main battle tanks is also the focus of Sino British Army arms cooperation. China hopes that Vickers will provide new night vision, fire control systems, engines and main guns for the 59 type tanks, and discuss the introduction of tank engines with Rolls Royce. Rolls Royce plans to transfer the CV-12 diesel engine and transmission used by the British challenger -1 type tank to China to help China develop a new type of large tonnage main battle tank. British Foreign Secretary William Clinton agreed. For this reason, many delegations were sent to China and Britain, including representatives of Hua Guofeng and the leaders of China north industries, to visit the tank engine factory of Luo Luo company. The British side plans to send the CV-12 diesel engine to China for testing before October 1980. The Shanxi Datong Automotive Engine Research Institute has introduced the prototype of the CV-12 diesel engine to conduct a comprehensive study. In the same period, China and Marconi Company reached an agreement on importing "Xin Berlin" FANO15 mortar positioning and reconnaissance radar. In addition, although China did not introduce the Vickers Mark 4 tank into the vehicle, the United Kingdom has transferred the British L7 type 105 mm tank line gun gun to the Chinese tank, and the imitation production technology of the multi type ammunition including the shelling tail armor piercing bullet. This is of great significance for enhancing the Chinese Army's anti armor capability.

In the field of naval weaponry, the Chinese government has focused on the introduction of the complete set of technical equipment from the British side. From the end of 70s to the beginning of 80s, the Sino British cooperation plan on the construction plan of the 051S guided missile destroyer was a major practice for China to build a modern large destroyer with world-class level. The idea of building a new 6000 ton destroyer in China is also an important project for the Sino foreign naval cooperation in 80s. These cooperative plans show that the United Kingdom is committed to developing the independent will of the Sino British security relationship and its breakthrough in the "limited armed support China" set by the United States, highlighting the ambition of China's naval modernization in the early 80s.

On July 1979, Yang Yong, deputy chief of staff of the Chinese people's Liberation Army and Liu Daosheng, deputy commander of the Chinese Navy, visited Britain to request the British side to help China rebuild large surface combat ships and conventional submarines. In February 29, 1980, the British and Chinese governments signed an administrative agreement to help Britain modernize the 051 missile destroyer. According to the agreement, the United Kingdom will carry out a comprehensive modernization of the Chinese type 051 destroyers, carrying the "sea wolf" short-range air defense missile and the "javelin" type long-range air defense missile for the new ship, and equipping the EW system, the new communication system and the fire control radar, and adding the modern operational command special cabin, so the standard displacement of the ship has increased to 4100 tons. According to the Chinese side's opinion, the new ship will also carry the "lynx" antisubmarine helicopter, which will be equipped with "Seagull" anti-ship missiles and anti submarine torpedo. China takes the initiative to copy the bobcat helicopters and the "javelin" missiles as the precondition for signing the contract. The British side expects that the retrofitting of the 1 051 destroyers will cost about 100 million pounds. According to China's request, the first new ship will be modified in 1985, and the related modification plan is called "051S destroyer project".

Yang Yong

Objectively speaking, in the period when the Chinese navy has no effective medium range ship to air missiles, it is planned to equip the 051S destroyers equipped with "sea javelin" type ship to air missiles and other weaponry, which will greatly enhance the air defense operational standard of the Chinese Navy's fleet. According to the British estimate, this will enhance the operational level of Chinese naval surface ships for 15 to 20 years, basically reaching the world class level. Not only that, the Chinese side also considers the introduction of British active ships directly. In November 1978, the Chinese government offered to import 3 to 4 British 42 missile destroyers and had strong interest in 21 type missile frigates. The United Kingdom intends to help China design a new destroyer with a standard displacement of over 6000 tons, and it is estimated that a new ship will cost 150 million to 200 million pounds. In order to show China's 42 destroyers and "javelin" ship to air missiles and other weapons, a total of 4 warships of the British destroyer fleet launched a historic visit to Shanghai in early September 1980. However, because the price of the 42 destroyer was too high, China did not purchase at last.

To help China design and build a 055 type missile destroyer with a displacement of nearly 8000 tons, China's long-term cooperation with China has been committed to the sale of the "TM3B" heavy duty marine gas turbine by China's request and the approval of the British government. In October 1977, the delegation of Luo Luo visited China. Wang Zhen said he would like to introduce the gas turbine of roroll company to replace China's old Soviet power system and help China fully realize the modernization of the Navy. From 5 to June next year, the Chinese Navy delegation visited Ying Da for five weeks. They inspected the "Olympus" gas turbine and its transmission gearbox, and proposed the purchase of an engine group for 4 to 6 large combat ships, which cost 50 million to 70 million pounds. In addition, the Chinese delegation also inspected the marine gas turbines reconstructed by the company based on the "SPI MK202" aero engine, but it was not discussed in depth because of its general technical specifications. However, due to the advanced design indicators in the UK, China's 055 destroyer project was forced to dismount due to tight military expenses in 1981, and the US government allowed the General Dynamic Corp to sell more excellent LM-2500 gas turbines, and so on. The Chinese and British "Olympus TM3B" gas turbine project finally aborted.

As the British navy equipment cooperation entered a climax, the British Army's achievements during the 1982 4 to June war caused the Chinese attention and anxiety on the signing of the 051S destroyer reconstruction plan. During the war, although the United States secretly gave a lot of assistance, the British 42 missile destroyer was sunk 2 by the Argentina air force, seriously injured 1, and the 21 frigate was sunk 2. It was severely damaged 2 and suffered heavy losses, exposing the serious shortcoming of the British surface combat ships in the field of anti strike, antimissile and fleet air defense operations. Among them, the actual hit rate of the "javelin" type ship to air missile that China plans to introduce mainly is low, and its ability to intercept low altitude targets is weak, which makes the outside world vibrate. The bad performance of the British Navy's weapons and equipment on the battlefield directly shook China's confidence in the introduction of British naval equipment. In February 1983, the Chinese government finally failed to approve the Sino British joint reconstruction of the 051S destroyer treaty. Instead, it chose to use the limited military expenditure to independently develop the 052 type missile destroyers, and the related shipborne weapons and equipment and power systems were mainly made in the United States and France. As a result, Western arms sales to China and the sea air force were mainly based on Sino French and Sino US cooperation, and Sino British military cooperation entered a low ebb.

This article is authorized by the cold war international history study. Li Danhui. The twenty-seventh edition, the summer 2019, world knowledge press.


Generally speaking, the military trade between countries is based on the consideration of economic and security interests. However, from the end of 70s to 80s, the western countries' technology transfer and arms sales to China also contained the complex strategic thinking of "transforming China" and "tempering" China. In this regard, the British political elite has figuratively called it the use of arms sales to China, prompting the Chinese and the west to "stand on a ship".

The British arms sale to China was a breakthrough of the "SPI MK202" military engine, and the introduction of the Harrier fighter as the main force in the Sino British negotiations, with the two countries pushing the 051S destroyer reconstruction plan as the climax. As a pioneer of the Western arms sales to China, the British government has spoken out in its internal documents. "Si Bei" entering China is the first major landmark event in the western countries to provide military equipment to the Communist government in the "Batumi embargo list" for the first time. In view of the gradual opening of arms sales to China, London has openly expressed to the world public opinion that "the United Kingdom is committed to developing closer relations with China and needs to expand the possibility of China being fully integrated into the international system and promoting Beijing's full participation in international affairs". For this reason, "Britain needs to provide some technical products to China to maintain China's active attitude towards the international system, which is conducive to the strategic interests of the western world".

In July 1973, Rowland Baring, the British ambassador to the United States, admitted to Kissinger and others that the United Kingdom needs to strengthen the comprehensive link between the western world and China, and the way to strengthen it is to "urge the Chinese people to stand on the same boat with the West as soon as possible". During the meantime, the British sale to the Chinese army is just seeking some foreign trade and commercial interests of the military and commercial affairs in a timely manner. Obviously, promoting China's "standing on the same boat" with the West means not only building closer Sino US security cooperation relations aimed at the Soviet Union, but also forming a certain degree of bilateral security community. At the same time, it also implies the promotion of China's embrace and integration into the Western led world system and regional order, and even recognition and acceptance of Western ideology.

Deng Xiaoping and his followers set the positive results of the political reform agenda; the transfer of technology to China can bring social changes to the Chinese society beyond the control of their social elite; modern science and technology has made the society more stratified and complicated; therefore, the more sophisticated China is, the more complex the Chinese Society will be, and the more political control will be further away from the centralized system. At the same time, various social organizations and private units will gradually accept external technology and capital as a "empowerment" process, which will reduce the control of various resources by the Chinese state machine, promote the diversification and centralization of Chinese Social structure, and gradually lead to fragmentation of the authoritarian system. Finally, the transfer of technology to China will lead to the practice of so-called "market socialism" in China. Western political elites generally believe that technology transfer to China can help change the Chinese society and further affect China's social structure.

Undoubtedly, it is necessary to inherit the "revolutionary China" to the end of the "joint China system" strategy, and to moderately strengthen the military strength of the Chinese Soviet Union, and then actively seek to establish friendly relations between China and the west through the transfer of technology and arms sales to China. The United Kingdom hopes to play a double insurance role in China's cutting-edge technology transfer and arms sales: enhance the "safety" coefficient of China's response to the Soviet military pressure, ensure that the Soviet Union respects the "mitigation" with appropriate joint China, and adapts to the western "new cold war" situation against the Soviet Union; at the same time, actively utilizes China's "reform and opening up" opportunity, based on the western national interests and national will, guiding China's future "development" to guide China and the West in the direction of "standing on a ship".

The logic of developing the strategic relationship between the West and China under the dual pillars of "security" and "development" has been stereotyped and developed in the UK's decision-making and practice in technology transfer and arms sales to China. Under the premise of continuously improving self security, China's active development of the Soviet Union has become the focus of the western strategy toward China. Undoubtedly, the logic behind China's policy of "two aspects" of realism and liberalism coupled with "security" and "development" has become the strategic foundation for the breakthrough leap of Sino Western relations in 80s to completely rewrite the cold war logic.

In view of the British military performance in the 1982 Falcon war, and the Ronald W. Reagan government's positioning of relations with China as a "non allied friendly partner country", the United States officially launched arms sales to China. The irreplaceable position of British arms sales to China has been greatly weakened. Sino British military cooperation has been in a low ebb. But since 1973, the Sino British military cooperation represented by the arms sales, military technology transfer and the close exchange visits of the high-level military circles is indeed the first round of close military and security cooperation between China and the western countries since the establishment of People's Republic of China, and it is also a key matter and important historical narrative that profoundly highlights the global Cold War transformation in the international history of the cold war. "Reagan" Britain's arms sales to China and the United States since 1973 have speeded up the establishment of Sino US Soviet security coordination relationship, which constitutes a joint venture between the United States and Europe.

The strategic thinking of "standing on a ship" between China and the west is not only committed to maintaining China's survival and security through the appropriate arms sales to China, but also gradually affecting China's development direction. The US high-level understands profoundly the strategic connotation of "standing on a ship" between China and the West. It is clear that the western world must avoid China's return to economic stagnation, cynical xenophobia, and ideological obsession based on disillusionment and frustration. Based on this, the western countries need to shape a new China. For the western world, the characteristics and model tests of China's modernization path have special national interests. This policy manifesto that sets up a deep interest coexistence and linkage mechanism between China's road pattern and Western interests can help us to explain from strategic psychology and national cognitive level. In addition to the consideration of the Soviet Union's safety utility and military trade and foreign exchange earnings, the European and American political elites are committed to developing Sino Western security relations, advancing other profound strategic intentions of arms sales and technology transfer to China.

From the perspective of Post Cold War era, it is clear that relevant issues can be clarifying. Enhancing the deep national security needs of military modernization and reintegrating into the world system and actively participating in the global labor division are the main reasons for the deep opening of Sino British military cooperation in the mid and late 70s and the promotion of Sino Western security relations and even preliminary strategic relations. However, there is a structural contradiction between the so-called "newborn" China, which is actively called by the political elite of Europe and the United States based on western strategic will and national interests, and the fundamental national interests of China. On the one hand, from the historical logic level, the relative limitation of Sino British military cooperation has been determined, and the above principles of "keeping the bottom line" have emerged. On the other hand, at the strategic structural level, the deep military security cooperation between China and the West has come to a close at the end of 80s. This basic characteristic also laid down the structural and philosophical entanglement elements in the interaction between China and Europe and the United States in the post Cold War era, which originated from the deep historical logic of the cold war.

(slightly omitted, note omitted)

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