China may be on a path to becoming a high-tech superpower in many sectors, but commercial aircraft is not one of them. Watch this video report to learn about how China has struggled for decades to develop its own commercial aircraft to compete with the likes of Boeing and Airbus. As a result of China’s frustrations, the United States remains far ahead of China, and the gap is not closing.

The report is a joint production of CSIS’s Dracopoulos iDeas Lab and the Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics. Research was carried out for over two years and involved interviews with aerospace firms, government regulators, and industry experts in China, the United States, and Europe.

A short video cannot cover everything, so the Trustee Chair is simultaneously issuing a blog post to provide additional information and analysis. “China’s COMAC: An Aerospace Minor Leaguer,” part of the Trustee China Hand series, covers just about anything you would want to know about COMAC, including: its creation, the massive extent of state-related financial support, its suppliers, its limited progress through the certification process, and the misleadingly high number of orders for the C919. It concludes by explaining why potential sanctions against COMAC would not serve the U.S. national interest. They would mildly harm China in the short run but hurt the United States aerospace sector both now and well into the future.

Remote Visualization

This video was made possible through general support to CSIS.

Related Trustee Chair Activity

Blog Post: Scott Kennedy, “China’s COMAC: An Aerospace Minor Leaguer,” December 7, 2020.

Report: China’s Uneven High-Tech Drive: Implications for the United States, February 27, 2020.

Event: “China’s Turbulent Aircraft Sector: Challenges, Opportunities and Prospects,” October 11, 2018.