China unveils first domestically-produced large passenger jet
Beijing announces its first homegrown large passenger aircraft in hopes to decrease reliance on the West.
China unveiled, during the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition on Tuesday, the C919 large passenger jet, which Chinese authorities hope would be a competitor to the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus 320 among other foreign models.
The C919 jet, the first-ever domestically-built aircraft, did a live demonstration over the city of Zhuhai in front of hundreds of observers.
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President Xi Jinping noted that the project is "an effort freighted with the will of the country", praising its "gratifying achievements".
Chinese authorities are hoping that the aircraft built by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) would decrease the country's dependency on Western technology, especially at a time when tensions seem to be increasing between the two, despite the fact that most of the jet's parts are from foreign countries.
China's second-largest carrier, China Eastern Airlines, announced earlier in May plans to add four C919 jets to its fleet, while over 800 orders have been placed for the jet by dozens of customers, according to the manufacturing company.
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The first homegrown passenger jet is expected to enter operation at the beginning of 2023 after Chinese regulators approved it back in September, however, the aircraft is yet to receive a license from the US and the EU.
During the recent visit of German Chancellor Olaf Sholtz to Beijing, China's state-owned aircraft manufacturer, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) revealed that it had signed previously a $17 billion deal to buy a large number of Airbus aircraft.
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Last July China announced that it has launched its own high-tech aircraft carrier, the first of its kind to be designed and built in China, that serves Beijing's goal to become a "blue water" force capable of operating globally rather than remaining close to the Chinese mainland.
The country since has built two more in what was considered by the US and its allies an alarming rate of production.