Patt Morrison for May 14, 2012

The aerospace industry is taking off in China

China Unveils New Turboprop Regional Aircraft

China Photos/Getty Images

The first China made regional aircraft 'Modem Ark (MA)600' during a ceremony to unveil the plane at the Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company Ltd. of China Aviation Industry Corporation on June 29, 2008 in Xian, China.

Construction is underway at the new Hefe

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Construction is underway at the new Hefei Xinqiao airport in Hefei, east China's Anhui province on March 14, 2012, which is schedule to be completed by end of this year. Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) plans to invest 55 billion yuan building 11 airports around the country -- including one in Beijing -- as well as expanding existing facilities to meet mushrooming demand for air travel.

China's First A380 Makes Maiden Flight

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

Air hostesses of an Airbus A380 of China Southern Airlines pose ahead of its maiden voyage from Beijing to Guangzhou at Beijing Capital International Airport on October 17, 2011 in Beijing, China. China Southern became the country's first airline to fly the Airbus A380 and only the seventh operator globally.

A man watches as an airliner flies over


A man watches as an airliner flies over his house into Hongqiao International airport in Shanghai on January 5, 2012.

China has announced a plan to spend a quarter of a trillion dollars on the aerospace industry. Their airlines are expected to triple in fleet size over the next ten years, which means big business for Airbus and Boeing. But the Chinese are looking to the future and want to produce their own airplanes. Their ambitious plan is reminiscent of America’s transcontinental railroad in the nineteenth century.


Why are two-thirds of the new airports in the world being built in China? Is this a test for China’s hopes for modernization and innovation in other industries? How will this affect aviation in the United States and the rest of the world? Is China looking to rule the skies?


James Fallows, national correspondent, “The Atlantic”; author, "China Airborne"

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