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VOA Asia Weekly: Chinese C-919 Jet Hopes to Challenge Boeing and Airbus

VOA Asia Weekly: Chinese C-919 Jet Hopes to Challenge Boeing and Airbus
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Flooding and landslides in northern Vietnam. The Philippines celebrated its Independence Day. The oldest member of BTS, Jin, was discharged from South Korea's army. Jakarta's Chinatown blends modernity with tradition.

Chinese and Western airliner manufacturers battle for the business of Southeast Asian travelers.

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Jessica Stone in Washington. That story is coming up, but first, making headlines:

Flooding and landslides in northern Vietnam have killed three people, state media said Monday. They were triggered by high water on the Lo River after days of heavy rain which has submerged homes, overturned vehicles and stranded residents. The province of Ha Giang which is popular for motorcycle tours has been particularly hard hit.

South Korea and the United States held their third Nuclear Consultative Group meeting and agreed on a procedure to maintain and strengthen nuclear deterrence policy and posture against North Korea. The nations agreed to a series of table-top exercises to work on interoperability, community and joint decision-making. The South Korean military says soldiers fired warning shots over the weekend after North Korean troops briefly crossed the border.

Thailand’s constitutional court has set a hearing date for next Tuesday on whether to dissolve the election-win of the Move Forward Party. The MFP is accused of campaigning on a promise to reform the royal defamation law – in violation of the Thai Constitution. If the election is overturned, it nullifies the votes of 14 million people and begins a new round of political instability. The court also decided to formally indict former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra on Tuesday.

The Philippines celebrated its Independence Day, Wednesday, marking 145 years since Manila declared independence from Spain. On the eve of the holiday, hundreds of Filipino activists marched towards the Chinese consulate in Manila, protesting China’s aggressive militarization on the disputed shoals of the West Philippines or sea or South China Sea.

The oldest member of K-pop group, BTS was discharged from the South Korean army Wednesday. Jin is the first member of the group to trade in his music for 18 months of mandatory military service. He was greeted by rapper, RM, playing the group’s hit single, Dynamite – on the saxophone.

A Chinese aircraft manufacturer is actively marketing its commercial jet to the international market, eventually hoping to compete with giants like Boeing and Airbus. But VOA’s Ahadian Utama reports that Beijing faces an uphill battle for Asian skies.

Indonesia’s aviation market is the second-fastest growing in the world, next to China, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration.

Enter the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China—or COMAC for short. Beijing is showing off its new single-aisle jet, the C-9-1-9, and looking to muscle in on a business dominated by US and European aerospace giants Boeing and Airbus

Bayu Sutanto, the head of the Indonesia National Air Carriers Association, says that there are opportunities for China in this part of the world.

"There are opportunities because the aviation industry is dynamic and each nations needs are also different and cannot be met by a single provider or one type of aircraft.”

COMAC went on a promotional tour to six Southeast Asian nations, including Indonesia, in February and March. Aviation analyst Alvin Lie says COMAC might be hoping to take advantage of safety and supply issues impacting Boeing and Airbus.

"Boeing is experiencing problems with safety issues, while Airbus has a long queue production, to be able to bring in Airbus, the waiting time can be up to 5 years, this is a good opportunity for the COMAC C919 whose capacity is equivalent to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.”

But to be able to operate in other countries, the planes must be certified by each country’s local civil aviation authority.

And so far, no countries in Southeast Asia have certified the C919.

Lie says COMAC’s smaller plane, the ARJ21, has been certified by Indonesia’s civil aviation authority, and that could make new certifications easier.

“…if you are familiar with the manufacturer, it becomes more familiar; the process is faster, but the procedure is all the same.”

Boeing predicts the number of commercial aircraft flying in Southeast Asia could quadruple to more than 4,000 jets in less than 20 years. And China is pushing to make sure its planes will be among them.

Ahadian Utama, VOA News, Jakarta, Indonesia

Finally, in the heart of Glodok, Indonesia's largest Chinatown.

Kopi Es Tak Kie, a coffee shop, has been operating for almost a hundred years. Liong Ming Joe is now the third generation running the business. Today, the Chinatown thrives as a commercial hub, with Chinese Indonesians owning diverse businesses.

To watch more “Chinatown: Past, Present, and Future” stories , visit

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.