Li Daguang, a military expert at the PLA National Defense University, told the Global Times that Gates' prediction was overly optimistic.
"The recent rumor about the J-20 is pure speculation," he said. "The F-22 is an offensive weapon that fits Washington's global strategy. China's defense development is self-defensive in nature and does not require a fighter jet of that caliber.
"Furthermore, if China does want a fourth-generation fighter jet, it needs to build a large number of them in order to affect the regional military balance. The US has capped its number of F-22s at 187. How many should China build?"
Li also noted that China's aviation technology is still far away from competing with Western countries, especially the US.
"Some Western media are more optimistic than Gates, and than the Chinese people," he said. "They've hyped the issue because they want to."
Chinese media lift silence on J-20
The English-language Global Times newspaper, which is published by the Chinese Communist Party, has broken China's media silence on the J-20 program today. The story is headlined "Rumored stealth jet undergoes tests: report", and is careful to not confirm or deny the J-20's existence. China also seems to be trying hard to avoid looking provocative. The Global Times article quotes a Chinese military expert, Li Daguang, who pours cold water on comparisons of the J-20 to the Lockheed Martin F-22.
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