24 May 2013

China Has Drones. Now What? When Beijing Will—and Won’t—Use Its UAVs

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “China Has Drones. Now What? When Beijing Will—and Won’t—Use Its UAVs,” Foreign Affairs, 23 May 2013.

The time to fret about when China will acquire drones is over: it has them. The question now is when and how it will use them. But as with its other, less exotic military capabilities, Beijing has cleared only a technological hurdle — and its behavior will continue to be constrained by politics.

Drones, able to dispatch death remotely, without human eyes on their targets or a pilot’s life at stake, make people uncomfortable — even when they belong to democratic governments that presumably have some limits on using them for ill. (On May 23, in a major speech, U.S. President Barack Obama laid out what some of those limits are.) An even more alarming prospect is that unmanned aircraft will be acquired and deployed by authoritarian regimes, with fewer checks on their use of lethal force. …

  • Mike88888

    Drones are not exotic rather an application of well known technology, Given capability, we should look to intentions. When has China used lethal force outside its claimed borders without perceiving a violent threat? There is no reason to suspect that any threat from drones will come from China.