The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is unarguably the most advanced defence research agency in the world known for its pathbreaking technical innovations. And its discoveries are not limited to the military domain only. In fact, the biggest technological breakthrough of contemporary times, the Internet, is DARPA’s gift to the humankind. What began as a defence experiment, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), later became the foundation for the Internet.
Another technology that is now a regular part of today’s technology driven lives, the Global Positioning System or GPS, is also DARPA’s discovery. In addition, there are most advanced defence technologies of the day, i.e., stealth fighters, precision weapons, electromagnetic cannons and laser guns.
Now China, the aspiring superpower that is trying to replace the world’s only superpower from its global leadership position, the US, has announced its own version of DARPA, the Scientific Research Steering Committee (SRSC). According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), the committee was set up earlier this year but it’s existence was publicly announced this week only with a documentary aired on China’s state broadcaster CCTV.
‘Carrying Reform Through to the End’, a 10-part documentary series was focused on SRSC in its Sunday and Monday episodes. The committee will report to China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) which is headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The documentary claimed that SRSC was similar to DARPA and “would make greater efforts to promote scientific technology in the Chinese army to win the competitive advantage.”
Xi Jinping, who was declared only the second Core Leader of China last year, decades after the title was given to Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, is on a spree to modernize the Chinese defence establishment including the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The official PLA Daily earlier this month reported that China is going to downsize its military strength from 2.3 million to below one million and attributed the reason behind this to change in China’s strategic goals. PLA is presently the largest military force in the world.
According to Chinese media reports, China is going to shift its strategic focus from ground battles to electronic warfare and communication and the PLA restructuring, while cutting down army troops, will focus on increasing troops and resources for PLA’s air force, navy, strategic support force and rocket force, in a clear departure from its ‘homeland defence approach to acquiring overseas mission capabilities to defend the Chinese interests anywhere in the world.’
In March this year, China inducted J-20, its first stealth fighter jet, into active service. The same month, it announced to develop a breakthrough, an electric propulsion technology, that it claimed would make its submarines quieter than US submarines. In April, the country launched its first home-built aircraft carrier in open waters. In June, it launched its home-built guided missile destroyer that it claimed was most advanced in Asia and the world second most powerful.