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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

People's Daily Online

Private companies hope for relaxed requirements in military-civilian integration

People's Daily Online

By Jiang Jie (People's Daily Online) 17:19, April 13, 2017

As China pushes forward the national strategy of military-civilian integration, private companies long for more space to put their advanced technology and innovative ideas to military use.

Military-civilian integration – which aims to add more civilian forces into military equipment development and to introduce military technology back into civilian industries – was announced as a national strategy by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015. The country has since witnessed the booming development of this nationwide trend.

Despite a great deal of enthusiasm, however, it remains relatively difficult for private companies to freely access the lucrative military market, according to several private company exhibitors at the Beijing Civil-Military Integration Expo on April 13.

"Military officers visit this kind of expo to seek cooperation opportunities, but they always go to the 'national team.' On very rare occasions, they look at us," said Zhang Chengbin, a marketing manager for Beijing Digital Hail Technology Co. Ltd.

Digital Hail is China's leader in providing analysis and decision-making support based on data visualization. It is also one of not so many private companies in China to successfully cooperate with the military. According to Zhang, the company's battle simulation system is now serving a number of military units, and the company also provided visualization systems for the launch of several satellites.

The founders' experience with military units is undoubtedly one of the key reasons they were placed high on the list of potential partners. Digital Hail also holds three of the four qualification certificates to conduct military-related research and development, Zhang explained.

"But the bar is still set too high. Even our company, with rich experience in military collaboration, is often denied because we lack the last qualification certificate," Zhang said in an interview with the People's Daily Online.

China requires four certificates to officially allow a company to do military-related research and development. Among other things, companies much be authorized as weapons manufacturers and hold production permits. Additional qualifications are also needed to guarantee a company's confidentiality and military-standard quality management.

It is still quite difficult for private companies to acquire all four qualifications in a short time, noted Liu Pan, sales director of EWATT Technology Co. Ltd., a leading drone maker based in Wuhan, Hubei province.

EWATT is famous for its drones used in power cruising in China, but the company has also started working with military institutes and armed police forces to carry out geological surveys. However, this cooperation only accounts for 20 percent of the company's total revenue, Liu revealed.

"Not only are the qualifications hard to acquire, there is actually a whole separate standard of qualification for our products when they are intended for military or police use. Our products have undergone qualification tests with top authorities dozens of times, but we still need to pass a new test administered by military and police authorities if we want to bid for a military project. Such tests cost hundreds of thousands of RMB," Liu told the People's Daily Online.

Several exhibitors agreed, noting that private companies often have an advantage in cutting-edge technologies, and it would be useful if they could put those technologies to use in the military. For example, the rapid development of drones could be an especially fruitful point of intersection, especially in air transportation, said Qi Juntong, CEO of Tianjin-based Efly Technology.

Qi demonstrated during a forum on the sidelines of the expo that his company's drones can automatically fetch and move objects, even when the objects themselves are in motion. The technology has already been used in power grid construction; military use could potentially come next.

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