China’s military finds a cash-hungry partner at a Ukrainian aircraft engine factory, The Washington Post reports.
The president of a top Ukrainian aerospace company says its new Chinese investors often ask the staff for “little conversations.”
They want to know about record-keeping and planning, the setup of production lines and the interplay between workshops.
“They’ll talk for three hours, and the next day, a totally different group of people will come,” said Vyacheslav Boguslayev, whose sprawling Soviet-era company, Motor Sich, is one of the most advanced military aircraft engine manufacturers in the world.
“They’ll ask all the same questions as yesterday, and this continues for a week,” he said.
Racing to upgrade its military, China has been turning to Ukraine. And Ukraine — with its economy scrambled by hostilities with Russia — has been willing to accept China’s embrace.
“If they ban us from working with China,” Boguslayev said, “then the first thing I’ll do is fire 10,000 people.”
Motor Sich, dubbed the “Czar of Engines” in the Chinese media, has what Beijing wants: It can supply warplane engines and the know-how to one day possibly make a Chinese-built version.
The Chinese, in turn, have what Motor Sich wants: reliable buyers.
The company lost its biggest market — supplying engines for military helicopters and other aircraft in Russia — after war broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Now it sells mainly to China.
China’s under-the-radar push into Ukraine illustrates Beijing’s hunger for technology imports and its ability to access them even though Western countries have limited military-related exports to China.