An interesting side to China's ascendancy is its emergence as a major arms innovator, a reputation it's built on the ruins of a former weapons powerhouse—Russia. When the Soviet Union collapsed and left the nation desperate for money, China shrewdly bought $30 billion in cut-rate missiles, tanks, and planes—plus licenses to build them. Now, it has absorbed the Russians' knowledge and is putting out weapons that take the best from both countries' engineering efforts, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Recently, China debuted the J-11B, a fighter jet that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Russian Su-27 fighter jet, but with an upgraded Chinese-made engine. Beijing bought the license to build the fighter with Soviet parts, but wiggled its way out of that deal as its indigenous technical capabilities grew. "We didn't pay enough attention to our intellectual property in the past," says a Russian defense official. "Now China is even competing with us on the international market."