Chinese armaments firms are taking preventative measures and have postponed planned work, including those building the country’s new aircraft carrier and fighter jets, as the nation battles the spread of novel coronavirus, Global Times reported.
According to statements released by Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, which is reportedly building China’s third aircraft carrier, and Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, maker of the J-15 carrier-based fighter jet in Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, in the past few days, the companies are extending the Spring Festival holiday, the report said.
They asked employees who traveled to other cities since the virus outbreak not to return to work until further notice, or quarantine themselves at home for 14 days, the reported latent period for the virus, the report said.
This will likely result in delays in the construction of the new aircraft carrier and the fighter jets it needs, observers said, noting that China is ushering in the building of a deep blue water navy, in which powerful aircraft carriers play a crucial role, the report said.
Observers fear that in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, the impact could be even heavier.
Wuhan is home to many Chinese weapons and equipment design and manufacturing institutes, like Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group Co. Ltd., which builds submarines, and the Naval University of Engineering, which is developing advanced naval technologies like the electromagnetic catapult, railgun, full electric propulsion, and submarine-related technologies, according to media reports.
Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times that while the virus will have an impact on China’s weapons and equipment programs, it will be short-term, as the virus is expected to only last for a few months at worst.
Meanwhile, eight large transport aircraft dispatched by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army air force landed at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, delivering 795 military medical staff and 58 tonnes of supplies to help the city fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic, Xinhua reported.
It is the largest number of large transport aircraft dispatched by the PLA air force in non-combat military operations after its disaster relief efforts in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province and the 2010 Yushu earthquake in Qinghai Province.