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Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | October 14, 2014

China Military Buildup Shifts Balance of Power in Asia in Beijing’s Favor. Congressional report warns the danger of U.S.-China conflict is rising. China’s decades-long buildup of strategic and conventional military forces is shifting the balance of power in Asia in Beijing’s favor and increasing the risk of a conflict, according to a forthcoming report by a congressional China commission. China’s military has greatly expanded its air and naval forces and is sharply increasing its missile forces, even while adopting a more hostile posture against the United States and regional allies in Asia, states a late draft of the annual report of the bipartisan U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. As a result, “the potential for security miscalculation in the region is rising,” the report said, using the euphemism for a conflict or shootout between Chinese forces and U.S. forces or those of its regional allies. The report paints an alarming picture of China’s growing aggressiveness and expanding power, including development of two new stealth jets, the first deployment of a naval expeditionary amphibious group to the Indian Ocean, and aerial bombing exercises held in Kazakhstan. China’s communist government also views the United States as its main adversary—despite strong trade and financial links between the two countries, the report says. The commission report—to be released in final form in November—concludes that the war-footing-like buildup by the People’s Liberation Army is increasing the risk that a conflict will break out between the United States and China. The report warns that China’s communist leaders are fueling nationalist tensions amid concerns about declining economic growth and increasing social unrest. “Promoting a sense of grievance among the Chinese people and creating diversionary tensions in the region would carry real risks of escalation and create the potential for the United States to be drawn into a regional conflict,” the report says. The high-technology weapons and other capabilities China is fielding also pose a growing threat to America’s ability to deter regional conflicts, defend allies and maintain open and secure air and sea-lanes. As China builds up its naval power, the U.S. Navy is declining, and the current American ability to defeat China in a conflict will be difficult to maintain, the report says. http://freebeacon.com/national-security/china-military-buildup-shifts-balance-of-power-in-asia-in-beijings-favor/

Army's Pacific Pathways: New Tactics, Lessons Learned. A US Army Stryker brigade with added engineering, logistics and aviation capabilities is currently in Japan on its third stop of the Army’s inaugural Pacific Pathways rotation. The brigade and its equipment boarded contractor-piloted ships in Washington State in August and have joined exercises with partner forces in Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan since then, including the massive RIMPAC exercise, marking the first time the US Army was involved. US Army helicopters performed “hundreds” of deck landings during the exercise, Gen. Vincent Brooks, head of US Army Pacific, said on Monday. As part of the strategic “rebalance” toward the Pacific region, and with the end of rotations of soldiers based there to Iraq and Afghanistan, Brooks said that the number of soldiers assigned to Asia has grown from 60,000 to 100,000 over the past two years. “We have begun to train our aviation units in over-water operations so we can interface very easily” with the Navy, he said during a press briefing. Overall, “we are increasing the amount of work we do with the joint team” in the region, he said. Performing more joint operations and partnering with allies is more important than ever given budget cuts and the shrinking size of the overall force, he said. “The smaller we are the more engagement we need in order to maintain our leadership in the region … because we will have to rely on our partners to carry the load.” The Stryker unit is merely the first of what the Army hopes to be more — and more frequent — Pacific Pathways deployments, which would ramp up to three separate brigades running three separate rotations in fiscal 2015 and each year after if the funding holds up. Over the past two months, “we have found that we can be more efficient in using assets [to] drive costs down to squeeze every dollar we can” out of the event, he said, but offered few other lessons learned. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141013/SHOWSCOUT04/310130028/Army-s-Pacific-Pathways-New-Tactics-Lessons-Learned

Army Steps Up Pacific Sea-Based Exercises. The Army plans to conduct more maritime exercises with Navy ships in the Pacific as part of the services’ rebalance to the region, service leaders said Monday at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C. “We’ve begun to train our aviation units in Hawaii, Alaska, Japan and Korea to train them over water. We’ve done deck landing qualifications and participated in medical and logistical exercises. We are increasing the amount we are doing with the joint team,” said Gen. Vincent Brooks, Pacific Commander. Brooks added that the Army participated in the Rim of the Pacific training exercise this past summer, performing deck landings and medical evacuations. “We were flying out to ships with Army helicopters integrating air, land and sea. As we bring domains together we find the Army is an active player,” he said. Overall, the Army has increased its presence in the Pacific from 60,000 soldiers up to 100,000, Brooks said. “The rebalance takes the form of a 60-percent increase in forces assigned to the Pacific. This is an important step as part of the Army’s regional alignment,” Brooks added. As part of its rebalance to the Pacific, the Army plans to build upon a program it refers to as Pacific Pathways. This involves an effort to move a battalion-sized element of approximately 700 soldiers from a Stryker Task Force and about 500 enabling troops from support units. The effort links a series of exercises with foreign militaries by deploying Army forces for longer periods of time than a traditional exercise. http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/10/13/army-steps-up-pacific-sea-based-exercises/

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Reappears in Public, North’s Media Reports. The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whose prolonged absence from public view generated speculation about his health and grip on power, has visited a housing project and was seen walking with a cane, according to the North’s state-run media on Tuesday. The report was the first time the state-run news media had mentioned a public appearance by Mr. Kim since Sept. 3, when he was reported to have attended a concert. The report was likely to help dissipate the recent flurry of rumors over Mr. Kim’s whereabouts, many of which speculated on whether he had lost out in a power struggle inside the notoriously opaque government. According to the Korean Central News Agency, Mr. Kim recently visited a district where his government had just finished a cluster of homes for satellite engineers. North Korea is particularly proud of its scientists who succeeded in putting a satellite into orbit on board a long-range rocket in December 2012. Washington considered the rocket program a cover for developing an intercontinental ballistic missile. Mr. Kim “inspected various parts” of the housing district in Pyongyang, the news agency said, indicating that he had no trouble moving about. He expressed “great satisfaction” at the project and also posed for pictures with North Korean scientists who were to move into the new homes, the report added. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/world/asia/north-korean-leader-kim-jong-un-reported-to-have-appeared-in-public.html?_r=0

Hong Kong police clear barricades, open roads around protest site. Police used chain saws and sledgehammers to clear away barricades around protest sites and reopen several major roads in Hong Kong on Tuesday, appearing to gain the upper hand for the first time since pro-democracy protests began late last month. In two efficient operations, hundreds of police descended first on the Causeway Bay shopping area and then on Queensway, a wide road running through the heart of Hong Kong’s business district, on Tuesday morning. Forming lines around groups of protesters, other officers demolished barricades that had only been reinforced the night before, and cleaned the roads. Police left untouched the main protest area on Harcourt Road, just north of Queensway in Admiralty District, while some protesters continue to occupy one side of the road in Causeway Bay. But the police action should significantly ease traffic congestion and allow trams, buses and taxis to operate much more freely on Hong Kong island. By lunchtime, traffic was flowing freely down Queensway for the first time in more than two weeks, while police remained on the sidewalks, many carrying riot shields and helmets, to keep the protesters at bay. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/hong-kong-police-clear-barricades-open-roads-around-protest-site/2014/10/14/36fe0463-a84b-471f-b39b-4fb2a2efac60_story.html

Posted by Randy | June 30, 2014

Below is a recent article in the Virginian-Pilot that discusses my concerns that U.S. leaders are not speaking openly about the challenge China poses to U.S. security interests. I recently expressed my concerns on this subject in an op-ed entitled “China. There, I Said It. (Part II)”.


Navy should talk openly about China, Forbes says
The Virginian-Pilot
June 28, 2014

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes says Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert was wrong in urging military officers not to speak openly about Chinese military threats during a recent speech.

"If we resign ourselves to a policy of self-censorship about China's assertive actions and growing military power for fear it will antagonize them, we will be granting Beijing a veto over what we can and cannot say," the Chesapeake Republican wrote in a column published Thursday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Forbes, the senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, started the House's China Caucus and has repeatedly warned about the Asian nation's growing military presence.

He was reacting to Greenert's comments June 17 at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island.

When an unidentified officer noted that there was a reluctance to publicly talk about operations, tactics and air strategy in responding to the Chinese military, Greenert agreed.

"If you talk openly, you cross the line and you unnecessarily antagonize diplomatically," he said. "You probably have a sense of how much we trade with that country, right? It's astounding."

The admiral said there are closed-door discussions of how to meet the Chinese threat.

"There are groups up here that do this full time. And they're talking strategies and all that," he said. "People say we need to talk about it more openly... We can't do that... It will unnecessarily muddy waters."

But a lack of open discussion hurts the Navy's argument that it needs a larger 313-ship fleet and new military capabilities, Forbes wrote.

He has said that he believes many in Congress who want to shrink the military do not have a deep understanding of the threats the U.S. faces.

If China wants to be a superpower, Forbes wrote, it has to develop a "thick skin" so that its leaders can respond to criticism "without simply resorting to retaliation."

"I am not implying we need to be abrasive or obstinate in how we discuss this policy issue," he wrote. "Instead, our leaders should speak with clarity when China bullies its neighbors, seeks to unilaterally revise the status quo, challenges freedom of navigation, directs economic espionage, and as it continues to build military capabilities that undermine U.S. security guarantees in the region."

The debate arises as Chinese navy ships are participating for the first time in a joint exercise - called the Rim of the Pacific - off the coast of Hawaii with ships from the U.S. and 20 other nations. Greenert and his wife plan to visit

China next month at the invitation of his counterpart, Adm. Wu Shengli.

Nonetheless, Greenert said, the U.S. is continuing to build its presence in the Pacific and Asia.

Other nations and U.S. trading partners who want to keep maritime shipping lanes open have expressed growing concern with China as its navy moves more aggressively to broaden its influence.

"People ask me: 'What are you going to do about the South China Sea?' " Greenert said. "I say we're going to manage it."

The U.S. has to be clear with the Chinese about the freedom of the seas, he said. "They understand that. They don't like it, but they understand it."

Read the article here: http://hamptonroads.com/2014/06/navy-should-talk-openly-about-china-forbes-says
Posted by Randy | May 29, 2014
In recent years, China’s behavior in the Asia-Pacific has become increasingly aggressive, leading to growing territorial disputes with neighbors including Japan, Vietnam, India, and the Philippines. Chinese ships and aircraft have repeatedly violated the airspace and waters of other nations, leading to rebukes from the U.S. State Department, as well as many American allies.

In November 2013, China unilaterally declared an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, seeking to enforce air traffic restrictions over what had traditionally been seen as international airspace. In May 2014, China moved an oil rig into waters claimed by Vietnam, leading to heightened tensions and, most recently, the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel this week.

Some believe that, in order to reduce tensions in the Asia-Pacific caused by China’s growing military and increasingly aggressive stance toward its neighbors, the U.S. must maintain and expand its military and diplomatic posture in the region. Others have asserted that the United States should direct its attention elsewhere despite China’s behavior toward U.S. allies in the region and attempts to restrict access to international waters and airspace.

Question of the week: 
What is your view of the best response to China’s behavior in Asia? (multi-answer)

( ) Reduce overall U.S. engagement in the region.
( ) Reduce U.S. military engagement in the region, while expanding diplomatic and economic ties.
( ) Strengthen U.S. posture in the Asia-Pacific, including an expanded military presence.
( ) Strengthen U.S. diplomatic and economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific.
( ) I don’t know. 
( ) Other.

Take the Poll here.
Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | June 14, 2013
On May 29, 2013 Smithfield Foods, Inc. and Shuanghui International Holdings Limited announced that they have entered into a merger agreement.  Smithfield Foods is a $13 billion company and the world’s largest pork processor and pig producer, while Shuanghui International and its subsidiaries are the majority shareholders of China’s largest meat processing enterprise.

This $4.7 billion transaction, if approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, will be the largest to date of a U.S. corporation by a Chinese Enterprise. 

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is an interagency organization that oversees the national security implications of foreign investment in the U.S. economy.  Under current law, CFIUS has 30 days to conduct a review, 45 days to conduct an investigation, and then the President has 15 days to make his ultimate determination of whether a deal threatens to impair the national security. The President is the only officer with the authority to suspend or prohibit mergers, acquisitions, and takeovers. 

As the largest takeover of a U.S. company by a Chinese buyer, I formally requested a briefing from CFIUS regarding the potential impacts of this merger on national security, the economic market, and international trade, as well as the review and investigative process CFIUS would undertake in such a case. 

Question of the week:  Do you believe that this purchase necessitates CFIUS review and investigation to ensure the safety and security of America’s citizens, as well as the preservation of national economic interests, food safety, and environmental standards?

(  ) Yes.
(  ) No.
(  ) I don’t know.
(  ) Other (leave your comments below).
Take the instaPoll here.

Find the results of last week’s instaPoll here
Posted by Randy | May 31, 2013
This week, news reports surfaced indicating that designs of some of our military’s most advanced weapons systems were compromised by a sustained strategy of Chinese cyber espionage. More than two dozen major weapons systems, critical to U.S. regional missile defense for Asia, Europe and the Persian Gulf, as well as combat aircraft and ships, were the targets of these attacks. 

In January, the Defense Science Board warned that U.S. “security practices have not kept up with the cyber adversary tactics and capabilities.” While China has worked diligently to build a sophisticated military over the past decade, these breaches will only serve to accelerate the development of their growing capabilities.

These cyber intrusions follow reports of an attack last week that hackers from Iran infiltrated software that controls U.S. oil and gas pipelines.  As one report noted, “The developments show that while Chinese hackers pose widespread intellectual-property-theft and espionage concerns, the Iranian assaults have emerged as far more worrisome because of their apparent hostile intent and potential for damage or sabotage.”

Question of the week:  What should the response by the U.S. government be to these cyber attacks? 

(  ) Invest more in technology to counter these attacks
(  ) Encourage more information sharing within industry and the government 
(  ) Increase penalties for hackers that steal intellectual property from U.S. companies
(  ) Create a security clearance system for employees of private sector companies for cyber security threat sharing
(  ) Increase penalties against those who cause or attempt to cause damage to a computer that powers critical infrastructure, such as energy and water and food supply systems
(  ) Enact a federal data breach law
(  ) I don’t know.
(  ) Other (leave your comments below).
Take the instaPoll here.

Find the results of last week’s instaPoll here.                  
Posted by Randy | May 20, 2013

I wanted to share with you an article I wrote that was published by National Review, regarding China as a military competitor.  We must acknowledge China’s military ambitions and their potential consequences for U.S. interests in the region.  By assessing the intentions of the Chinese, the United States will be better prepared to evaluate our interests in Asia and act accordingly.  

As Chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, I want to hear your thoughts on how the United States should address China’s military modernization. 

Time to Admit China Is a Military Competitor

By J. Randy Forbes

May 17, 2013 1:56 PM

The early-May release by the Defense Department of its annual report to Congress on China’s military developments is a prime opportunity to reevaluate how the United States frames the future of its security relationship with Beijing. For too long, politicians and pundits of both parties have refused to clearly state the obvious: The U.S. and China are engaged in a long-term peacetime competition with economic, diplomatic and, yes, military components. The sooner Washington begins speaking honestly about our relationship with China, the sooner we’ll have policies that adequately address the challenges facing our two countries.

As China’s economic development continues and its regional aspirations expand, its military modernization has continued apace. This reality, and the necessity of the United States’ remaining a force in Asia-Pacific for the sake of regional stability, makes many in Washington uncomfortable. Indeed, the pressure to refrain from speaking openly about the issue has led some U.S. officials to begin referring to China as a national “Voldermort.”

It’s immensely counterproductive to avoid speaking openly and truthfully about the Sino-American rivalry and its future trajectory. By failing to acknowledge China’s military ambitions and their potential consequences for U.S. interests in the region, American policymakers are choosing timidity when resolute leadership is required.

The reality is this: Over the past decade, China has been developing military capabilities designed to deny the United States access to the waters and airspace of the western Pacific. Through the acquisition of anti-ship ballistic missiles designed to target American aircraft carriers, advanced aircraft capable of hitting U.S. and allied bases around the region, and large numbers of modern submarines, Beijing has clearly signaled its intention to subvert the balance of power that has anchored peace in Asia for six decades, and to do so in ways inimical to American interests.

This is not simply the case of a rising power seeking a military befitting its economic might; rather, China has specifically geared its military development to areas of perceived American weakness with the objective of restricting U.S. action in East Asia.

Speaking clearly about Beijing’s actions and intentions is not a fatalistic acceptance that Sino-American conflict is inevitable, or even likely. Instead, by realistically appraising Chinese intentions, the United States will be better prepared to assess our interests in Asia and act accordingly.

With 80 percent of global trade traveling by sea, a substantial amount of that through the waters of East Asia, allowing the United States to be pushed out of the region is simply unacceptable. American military power, particularly our navy, has ensured the peaceful, liberal order that currently predominates in East Asia. As our fleet has slowly atrophied from the nearly 600 ships of the Reagan era to 283 today, the ability of the United States to uphold its obligations and interests around the world has become sorely tested. Even as the Chinese are developing sophisticated systems to target our perceived vulnerabilities, the U.S. is expected to experience major shortfalls in areas from attack submarines and surface combatants to Air Force long-range bombers. Understanding, and speaking clearly about, our interests in Asia and the challenges we face is critical to fixing the military gaps we have incurred over the last decade.

The Pentagon’s latest report on Chinese military modernization is an excellent opportunity for leaders in both parties to begin the process of speaking honestly about the China challenge. Our future relations with China are not preordained. Sound policy based on American strength and rooted in longstanding American interests is achievable only through recognition that China is a long-term competitor of the United States across a range of areas, including the military. The sooner we are comfortable admitting this fact, the better our chances of marshaling the resources to maintain a free and prosperous Asia.

Posted by Randy | November 30, 2012
Last the weekend, China’s Defense Ministry released video and pictures of a Chinese J-15 fighter jet taking off and landing from its aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

The news marks a significant milestone for China 14 years after it acquired the unfinished carrier from the Ukraine, 18 months after its first sea trials and two months after its commissioning into the People’s Liberation Army Navy. Though significant work lies ahead to make the Liaoning combat operational,  the commencement of carrier-based, fixed-wing flight operations puts China in elite company, with only five other nations with these current capabilities – The U.S., Russia, France, India and Brazil.  

This comes during a time of increasing concern among China’s neighbors in the Pacific, many of which remain embroiled in territorial disputes with China over the long-term regional intentions of the People’s Liberation Army and the Chinese Communist Party.  This week, Congressman Forbes moderated an important discussion at the Foreign Policy Initiative entitled, “All Eyes on Asia: Perspectives From Our Allies” between representatives of several nations in the region on their security concerns and the re-rise of China.

Additionally, click here to read about Congressman Forbes’ work as Chairman and founder of the Congressional China Caucus, whose primary mission is to investigate and educate its members on the emergence of China’s global reach and the consequences of its growing international, economic, and political influence on U.S. interests.

Question of the week: Given China’s growing military capabilities, do you consider China….

( ) a partner of the United States
( ) friendly, but not a partner of the United States
( ) a competitor to the United States
( ) an adversary to the United States
( ) I don't know
( ) Other (Leave your comments below)

Take the poll here.

Find out the results of last week’s instapoll here.

Find out the results of my instapoll about the “Fiscal Cliff” here.
Posted by Randy | March 07, 2012
Just days after the Department of Defense failed to release its annual report to Congress on China’s military power, China announced that its military spending will top $100 billion for the first time. This a double-digit increase on last year's military spending, and comes “as China’s neighbors are increasingly unnerved by the country’s growing assertiveness in pressing territorial claims,” according to the Washington Post.

The news of this increase alone fuels concerns about China’s long-term intentions. Taken within the context of DoD military power report delay, it raises significant questions about our nation’s long-term strategy, or lack thereof, for responding in an era of Chinese military modernization.  The DoD report is critical for the United States to be able to evaluate its own defense strategy in light of a dramatic military buildup by China in the Western Pacific.  Each day without the report is another without a necessary tool to understand the Department of Defense’s perspective on China in light of this continued military buildup.

Read about the letter I sent to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, asking him to comply with the law and release the report on China’s military power: http://forbes.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=282971
Posted by Randy | February 23, 2012

According to a new forecast by the research group IHS Global Insight, China is set to double its defense spending between 2011 and 2015. This increase from $119.8 billion to $238.2 billion will exceed the combined spending of the next twelve largest defense budgets in the Asia-Pacific region, solidifying China's status as a regional superpower.

This increase in military capability has been enabled by China's rapidly expanding economy. From 2000 to 2009, China's defense budget grew by an average of 12 percent annually. The projected surge of China's gross domestic product over the next three years will accelerate this growth, allowing for an annual increase in defense spending of 18.75 percent.

This rise is unlikely to subside anytime soon, notes IHS Asia-Pacific chief economist Rajiv Biswas. He says “Beijing has been able to devote an increasingly large portion of its overall budget towards defense and has been steadily building up its military capabilities for more than two decades. This will continue unless there is an economic catastrophe.”

I recently discussed the issue of China’s growing defense budget and ways that the United States can meet China’s military challenges in an article I wrote for Aviation Week. You can read that article here.

Posted by Randy | January 19, 2012
Yesterday, the Administration announced that it had rejected plans for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast Refineries.  Although several environmental studies related to construction had been completed, the Administration continued to delay issuing a final decision on construction of the pipeline.  As a result, Congress issued a requirement at the end of last year that the Administration issue a decision within 60 days of the President signing the payroll tax cut extension into law.  The rejection has been applauded by organizations that had resisted construction of the pipeline due to environmental concerns, but has also been opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations that point to the estimated 120,000 jobs and steps toward energy independence the pipeline would create.  TransCanada, the corporation seeking the permit to construct the pipeline, must now find another recipient for its 830,000 barrels of oil a day it plans to export.  In November, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicated that China may be interested in procuring the North American energy.

Question of the Week: Do you support the Administration's decision opposing construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline?

(  )  Yes, I support the Administration's decision regarding construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
(  )  No, I oppose the Administration's decision regarding construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
(  )  Other (share your thoughts below)
(  )  I am unsure.

Take the poll here.

Find the results of last week's instaPoll here.

Read Congressman Forbes' statement in regard to the Administration's decision here.