Special clubs for advanced nations

The nuclear club is one in which many small and despotic countries aspire to gain membership. It signifies a degree of wealth and capability that sets one apart from the second (or lower) tier. There is another such club, one that isn’t so much in the public notice but which is perhaps more significant. Membership in that club requires an ability to manufacture modern jet engines. China has just joined this elite advanced technology club. Strategy Page reports that China Wins a Big One in that “The Chinese Air Force is satisfied enough with its locally made WS10A jet engine, to put it into production.”

The WS10A is something of an acid test for China, as it is a powerful military engine, and a complex piece of work. … That’s a major victory for Chinese industry, as only half a dozen countries can produce high-end jet fighter engines, and now China is one of them.

While it is noted that “the Chinese stole as much of the technology as they could and designed the WS10A,” the lesson is that manufacturing jet engines is not a capability that can be borrowed or stolen easily. There is much more to the capability that involves everything from metallurgy to organization and management. The lessons learned and the techniques and technologies developed will bootstrap many other aspects of the Chinese economy in helping to bring it up to modern standards of productivity and quality. That may bode ill for those who are fearful but for those of an optimistic bent, a wealthy country is a country less paranoid about others and less concerned with envy. Matters of trust and integrity also become more significant as this level of capability cannot exist without them.

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