(Bloomberg) — China put on a spectacular military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule last year, and President Xi Jinping wasn’t the only star of that show.
As Xi and other leaders watched from a Tiananmen Square grandstand, a squadron of fighter jets, attack helicopters, troop transports and surveillance planes roared overhead in a display orchestrated to impress TV viewers at home and warn potential aggressors abroad. The company that made those aircraft: Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC), a state-owned conglomerate with 100-plus subsidiaries and 450,000-plus employees — more than Boeing Co. and Airbus SE combined.
Being China’s premier military aerospace contractor and a pillar of Xi’s strategy to become an industrial superpower are enough by themselves to warrant attention from the U.S. government. But AVIC builds more than war machines, running a civilian business that makes airliners and private jets — some built