Chinese military websites have been abuzz lately with images emerging of China's first stealth drone, dubbed 'Sharp Sword', which has started undertaking so-called 'taxi trials' (moving under its own power on a runway) and will presumably make its first flight soon. This image posted today on Sinodefence Forum, evidently taken by enthusiasts hanging around the perimeter of the airfield, is strangely evocative of modern China.
First, think about the fact that this picture was taken at all, then uploaded to the internet and now viewable anywhere in the world. That tells its own story about the rapid evolution of Chinese society and the limits of censorship in the information age.
Second, look at the machine itself, which speaks to the incredibly rapid development of China's aerospace sector and the modernisation of China more broadly.
Third, there's the lone figure in the middle ground, presumably a cleaner or maintenance worker carrying buckets slung over a timber pole. That's an image suggesting a poor society whose modernisation is imperfect and incomplete. I wonder if he ever thinks about the money being spent on the gadget in the background?
Meanwhile, the US Navy's stealth drone effort has reached a milestone, with the first take-off from an aircraft carrier. The US Navy's program is being pursued very much with China in mind, the idea being that drones such as the prototype seen in the video below will have long enough range so that the carriers themselves can maintain a safe distance from China's growing anti-ship capabilities.