What the congratulations Boeing and Airbus sent to the C919 reflect: Global Times editorial
Published: May 28, 2023 11:21 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

The domestically-manufactured aircraft C919 successfully completed its maiden commercial flight on Sunday, marking its official entry into the civil aviation market. This is a historic moment for China's aviation manufacturing industry, and a milestone for the entire Chinese high-end manufacturing industry. From the approval of the project in 2007, to the assembly line rolled off in 2015, the test flight in 2017, and now to the commercial flight, the C919 has moved forward step by step, soaring in the sky steadily and achieving a breakthrough from 0 to 1. China's high-end manufacturing industry overcame another hard nut, which certainly deserves our pride.

Large aircraft manufacturing is called "the crown of modern industry" and "the standard configuration of a great power," and is regarded as a symbol of the greatest achievement of modern industry and the highest value-added product, which tests the level of talent, industry, science and technology as well as comprehensive management of a country. After the successful commercial flight, the crew and passengers sang the song Ode to the Motherland in the C919 cabin, representing the mood of the Chinese people at this moment.

The C919 has fulfilled a dream of the Chinese people. There is a popular saying that "the Chinese people sell 100 million pairs of jeans to exchange for a big plane," which expressed the common feeling and dissatisfaction of the Chinese people at that time about the low-added value of Chinese manufacturing. From making jeans to developing and producing airplanes, this gap, which once seemingly couldn't be bridged, has been filled through the down-to-earth efforts of the Chinese people. This is the result of the solidarity, perseverance and pursuit of excellence by hundreds of research institutes and thousands of manufacturing enterprises across the country. It proves once again that if the Chinese people are determined to do something, they will achieve it.

It is conceivable that the process is not easy, but when the goal is achieved, all the past experiences are turned into the proud feelings that inspire us to further move forward. In today's world, only a small number of countries have the ability to manufacture large aircraft. In fact, China doesn't need to be reminded that the C919 still has a long way to go, and no one knows this better than the developers and producers. According to the international practice of the aviation industry, it takes many years of continuous optimization and improvement after the commercial operation stage for an aircraft model to be mature and develop into large-scale market operation. The project team of the C919 large passenger aircraft has long been psychologically ready for long-term struggle, research, hardship and dedication. Being firm and steady is a gene that the Chinese carry in their bones, and the C919 has undoubtedly greatly enhanced the nation's confidence in made in China, but it is far from making the Chinese people complacent.

There have always been people online pouring cold water on the C919, even booing it. This scene also appeared in the development of China's high-speed rail, but today China's high-speed train has become a world-class brand, making those who once criticized and denied China's high-speed rail a laughing stock. We believe that the C919 will also prove itself to the world by soaring in the sky. 

It is worth mentioning that Boeing and Airbus both offered their "congratulations" to the C919 at the first time, and their open and friendly gesture has been received by Chinese society. To be honest, it is somewhat unexpected, because the malignant competition initiated and promoted by the West from the perspective of geopolitics has seriously damaged the atmosphere and environment of international cooperation, which makes the "congratulations" from Boeing and Airbus even rarer. Foreign media reported that the C919 poses "a small but symbolic challenge to the decades-old duopoly of Boeing and Airbus in one of their most important markets," but from a higher perspective, benign competition will promote more innovation and create win-win effects. Just based on the "congratulations," it can be seen that the mindedness of Boeing and Airbus is much larger than that of Washington politicians.

Some people are keen on calculating how many components of the C919 are imported from abroad, and using the engine provided by a US-French joint venture to prove that the C919 is not independently produced by China. They are completely amateur, as independent innovation and open cooperation have never been contradictory. Compared with Boeing and Airbus, the C919 started much later and was never a "closed-door" project. Instead, it is a trunk airliner with completely independent intellectual property rights designed and developed by China, which is beyond any doubts. If one thinks that building a large aircraft is like assembling various parts when building blocks or Lego, they are simply ignorant. As for the jealousy from some Americans toward China's independent innovation capabilities demonstrated in the C919, we need to emphasize that the C919 is not only a success for the Chinese people, but also a success for international cooperation, including China-US cooperation.