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18 July, 2024
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China recruiting Western 'top guns' to train their military

US and allies raise alarm as concerns mount over Chinese military's recruitment tactics

Source: CNN

In a joint bulletin released Wednesday, the US and its closest intelligence partners raised concerns about China's intensified campaign to recruit former Western military pilots and other service members for training its own aviators.

China, facing challenges in air operations and technical capabilities, especially concerning Taiwan, seeks to enhance its air and naval forces. Western-trained pilots provide valuable insight into combat tactics and aircraft carrier landings, aiding China's military aviation prowess.

The warning, issued by the Five Eyes nations – the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – highlights Beijing's aggressive recruitment tactics. China utilizes private companies to attract Western pilots, offering lucrative contracts and exotic aircraft training. These companies operate discreetly in third countries, including South Africa and Singapore.

The bulletin caps years of concern by the US and its allies, as tensions escalate between China and Taiwan. China's military drills around Taiwan follow the island's recent presidential elections. Adm. John Aquilino and Gen. Charles Q. Brown have previously cautioned against foreign recruitment of US and NATO-trained military talent.

The issue gained public attention in 2022 when a former US Marine pilot was arrested in Australia for training PLA pilots. Several UK military pilots were also found training the PLA Air Force, prompting investigations by Canada and Australia.

The bulletin coincides with recent arrests of US service members for allegedly leaking classified intelligence to China, underscoring Beijing's persistent efforts to obtain critical defense information. The extradition of a former Marine pilot, Daniel Duggan, is pending, highlighting legal repercussions for unauthorized training of foreign military personnel.

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