Wen Jiabao

Wen outlines sky-high vision to build competitive aircraft

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 December, 2007, 12:00am

Premier Wen Jiabao said the mainland should build 'big aircraft' that are competitive around the world, adding credence to the mainland's ambition in the area of aviation manufacturing.

Just hours after he played baseball with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in Beijing on Saturday, the premier was seen chatting with staff at the Xian Aircraft Industry (Group) Company and touring a couple of villages, inspecting pig and dairy-goat farms in Xian, Shaanxi province, footage of which was broadcast by CCTV last night.

The mainland hopes to challenge the dominance of Boeing and Airbus in the local market by developing its own aircraft.

'To build big aircraft by our own efforts is a big decision made by the party and the State Council. I mean we have to use our own hands and wisdom to build big aircraft that could be competitive in the world,' Mr Wen said during a visit to the aircraft company.

The premier's visit came about a week after China Aviation Industry Corp completed production of a domestically designed regional jet, ARJ-21 (or Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century), in Shanghai.

Planes in the ARJ21 family will be able to seat 70 to 100 people, but the mainland hopes to build larger aircraft, initially comparable with the Boeing 737 or the Airbus 320.

'What is competitive?' Mr Wen said. 'You have to manufacture those aircraft in scale, and the plane itself has to be safe, economical [to operate] and comfortable. Those three aspects could make our planes competitive internationally.

'To make the project a success, we have to have steel-like nerve, decisiveness and courage, and a spirit not to bend to failure,' he told company staff. 'We have a tested team that has been through very good training. We have a certain amount of ability in research and development. It is a huge burden on your shoulders, and you guys should be very decisive to carry out this project.'

Mr Wen then visited the company's research centre and said: 'To build big aircraft is a test of our country's overall strength, but in the end, we still have to depend on you guys' wisdom and creativity to deliver.'

CCTV also carried footage of the premier touring the villages, expounding on his concerns over farmers' livelihoods and the control of soaring pork prices in the past year.

Mr Wen was seen chatting with Yuan Baoan inside the farmer's humble home. At one point, the premier inquired about the effectiveness of the government's new measures on stabilising pork prices. He told him that his last visit to the village had helped him identify various problems that pig farmers faced.