Randy's Blog

RSS Feed
Posted by Randy | October 12, 2015
In case you missed it, I recently introduced a resolution calling for sanctions against Chinese businesses and state-owned enterprises that can be linked to cyber attacks against the United States. Additionally, I, along with Rep Joe Wilson, Chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, sent a letter to the President outlining China’s belligerent behavior to the U.S. We urge the President to take action -- in the form of punitive economic sanctions -- to protect the intellectual property and personal data of U.S. based companies, as well as government data and personnel information.

It is time to send a clear message to China, and to the world, that state sponsored hacking against the United States will not be tolerated and will have tangible repercussions.
Posted by Randy | September 25, 2015
President Obama is hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping for a State Dinner at the White House tonight. Just this week, a Chinese aircraft harassed an American surveillance plane in international airspace and Beijing announced it will begin submarine patrols with nuclear missiles capable of striking the US homeland. China's behavior has become an increasingly destabilizing force in the international system and tonight's dinner is an opportunity for candid conversation between the U.S. And Chinese Presidents. In that spirit, I wrote an Op-Ed in The National Interest suggesting ten questions President Obama should ask his Chinese counterpart.  

The U.S.-China Summit: 10 Questions for President Xi Jinping
The National Interest
By Congressman J. Randy Forbes
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Washington on Thursday for two days of 21 gun salutes, state dinners, and fervent assertions of Sino-American cooperation and goodwill. But beyond the rhetoric, China's recent behavior across an array of policy areas has been the most openly antagonistic to American interests and values than at any time in at least a generation.

China has unilaterally sought to change the status quo in the South China Sea by creating nearly 3,000 acres of artificial formations and making baseless assertions of sovereignty in the surrounding waters and airspace. Just this week, the Pentagon reported that another U.S. plane was nearly hit during an overly aggressive encounter with Chinese interceptors in international airspace, directly contravening the intent of a 2014 memorandum of understanding on unplanned encounters at sea and in the air. By the year's end, China is expected to deploy a ballistic missile submarine carrying nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States. Meanwhile, the hacking of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the personal information of millions of U.S. government employees has focused renewed attention on the threat of Chinese cyber espionage.

Far too often in recent years, foreign policy experts have counseled to avoid speaking candidly with Chinese leaders in fear of somehow offending them or making relations worse. The Obama Administration seems to have taken this advice to heart. But despite this conciliatory tone, the competitive aspects of Sino-American relations have become even more pronounced as its military capability and capacity relentlessly grow. A strong bilateral relationship capable of withstanding the ups and downs of international politics is one based on mutual candor and respect for shared international norms. Therefore, I offer the following questions that President Obama should ask President Xi during this week's visit… Read the full article here.
Posted by Randy | September 04, 2015

22 million. That is the approximate number of people impacted by the recent hack against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which a number of accounts have attributed to the Chinese government. Although this malicious hack has not be formally confirmed to have originated the Chinese government, there is no shortage of evidence that China is actively promoting cyber espionage. And they are not just hacking personal information—they are also suspected of making off with some of our most sensitive military technology and the medical data of millions of Americans.

So far the Administration has pursued at best an incoherent strategy for addressing this growing threat.

As Chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, I sent a letter to the President, along with Rep Joe Wilson, Chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee outlining China’s belligerent behavior to the United States and urging him to take decisive action -- in the form of punitive economic sanctions -- to protect the intellectual property and personal data of U.S. based companies, as well as government data and personnel information. It is time to send a clear message to China, and to the world, that state sponsored hacking against the United States will not be tolerated and will have tangible repercussions.

You can read more about our letter in the article below, published in The Hill.


 Lawmakers press Obama to sanction China
The Hill  |  Thursday, September 3, 2015

Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) on Thursday called on President Obama to impose economic sanctions on China “to let the world know that state sponsored hacking will have tangible repercussions.”

In a letter to the White House, Wilson and Forbes pointed to mounting evidence of Beijing’s active promotion of cyber espionage, specifically its alleged hack on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The congressmen said the White House has pursued an “incoherent deterrent strategy” when it comes to state-backed cyber espionage.

While Obama authorized additional sanctions for certain North Korean officials in response to the attack on Sony Pictures, the representatives said he has taken no such action against the five Chinese military hackers indicted on economic espionage charges in 2014.

Some observers say it’s unlikely the five members of the People’s Liberation Army charged in 2014 will ever see the inside of a U.S. court room, and that the purpose of the indictments was simply to send a diplomatic warning.

“A clear and unwavering line needs to be drawn by your Administration in protecting the intellectual property and personal data of U.S. based companies, as well as government data and personnel information,” Wilson and Forbes wrote.

The representatives’ call comes in the wake of recent White House leaks that revealed the administration is developing possible economic sanctions to use as a tool to deter China cyber spying.

The unnamed White House sources suggested that those sanctions would most likely be targeted at Chinese companies, not Beijing — and that the OPM hack would not be one of the actions subject to sanctions.

Policy experts say there is a critical distinction between hacking for commercial gain and hacking for traditional intelligence purposes. Most reports indicate that the sanctions would address only the former.

The president has been under increasing pressure to take a more offensive stance on cyber espionage where China is concerned, with rhetoric amongst D.C. lawmakers reaching a fever pitch in the wake of the OPM hack.

“One of the conclusions we’ve reached is that we need to be a bit more public about our responses, and one reason is deterrence,” a White House official told The New York Times in an oft-quoted interview on administration policy. “We need to disrupt and deter what our adversaries are doing in cyberspace, and that means you need a full range of tools to tailor a response.”

“We strongly urge your Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, to apply punitive economic sanctions to entities and individuals conducting cyberattacks to punish and deter such action,” Wilson and Forbes wrote.
Posted by Randy | July 31, 2015

For too long, the United States has allowed China to dictate the words and phrases we use to describe our relations with Beijing. Whether it is our relationship with long-standing partners like Taiwan, a description of China’s illegitimate reclamation activities in the South China Sea, or very real concerns about Chinese human rights abuses, Washington has hoped that staying silent or using China’s preferred terminology would encourage Beijing to behave constructively. I recently wrote an Op-Ed in National Review Online about how this strategy has clearly failed and how it is time to reevaluate how the United States talks about China.

​It’s Time to Rethink How We Talk about China
National Review
​By Congressman J. Randy Forbes
July 30, 2015

A mid the spin and obfuscation of political Washington, it is easy to forget that words matter and have real consequences for U.S. foreign policy. Yet in its public statements on the relationship most likely to define global politics in the 21st century — America’s relationship with China — the U.S. government has long seemed like a detached observer. 

Years ago, prominent China watcher James Mann spoke of the “lexicon” that defines the Sino–American relationship. Disturbingly, that lexicon has far too often featured a “Made in China” label, as U.S. policymakers eagerly embrace Chinese exports while ignoring Beijing’s appropriation of language to serve its own purposes at home, in Asia, and around the world. 

The words American leaders use to describe issues of contention with China should, first and foremost, reflect U.S. interests and values. China’s unprecedented reclamation activities in the South China Sea, totaling roughly 2,000 acres in recent years, fly in the face of international law and norms, and mock the United States’ firm belief that territorial disputes should be peaceably resolved. Yet we repeatedly hear that China is constructing new “islands,” a word Beijing itself uses to describe what should more appropriately be called “man-made features.” This question of semantics has real-world implications. An “artificial feature” is a unilateral land grab. An “island” connotes the internationally accepted twelve nautical miles of territorial waters, along with an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of another 200 nautical miles. Blithely accepting China’s preferred language gives unwarranted legitimacy to Beijing’s destabilizing behavior. 

Read the full article here.

Posted by Randy | July 24, 2015

Five years after the Administration announced a greater focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the United States still lacks a strategy for confronting China's continuing military and diplomatic  expansion. This week I gave a talk at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on how to respond to China's construction of nearly 2,000 acres of artificial "islands" in the South China Sea, where I discussed the importance of formulating, articulating and implementing a clear strategy for the United States in Asia. You might be interested in this article in Breaking Defense summarizing my speech.

Forbes: White House Has No China Strategy; Here’s Mine
Breaking Defense
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
July 24, 2015 at 1:41 PM

What’s the strategy for coping with what everyone on Capitol Hill and inside the Obama administration agrees is an increasingly assertive China? The White House can’t answer, Rep. Randy Forbes says, “because they don’t have it.” So, it’s fair to ask: what is Forbes’s strategy, then?

The House seapower chairman’s outline for a “winning strategy” boils down to five principles, he told me in an interview:
  1. Have a clear objective: a peaceful and prosperous Pacific where China follows the rule of law and the US works closely with its partners.
  2. Speak truth to Chinese power: Be willing to offend Beijing with frank statements, especially on issues like human rights and Taiwan.
  3. Punish Chinese provocations, for example by un-inviting them from international wargames like RIMPAC if they continue building artificial “islands.”
  4. Strengthen our military presence in the Pacific, especially (but not onlynaval forces.
  5. Communicate our strategy — to the American people so they buy in, to our allies so they’re reassured, and to the Chinese so they’re deterred.
  6. “One of the cornerstones of any strategy is the ability to articulate that strategy,” Forbes told me. “The administration will tell you have they have a strategy, but ask them in any hearing, ask them in any place, to put it on the record… They will not tell you, because they don’t have it.”

“We’ve been trying to encourage them to have an East Asia strategy review,” Forbes added. “We haven’t had one since the ’90s… They’ve refused to do one since they’ve been in office.”

Read the rest of the article here.

I recently  wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on the senseless humiliations the United States places on its longstanding partner Taiwan, all to avoid antagonizing China. Yet China's behavior in the region has only become more opposed to U.S. national interests. See my article here.

Posted by Randy | April 22, 2015

Over the last few weeks, we have heard story after story about China’s provocative actions in the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas.  Many of these actions are being taken by China’s Coast Guard, which now outnumbers the coast guards of all of China’s neighbors combined.

At a House Armed Services Committee hearing recently, I asked Admiral Samuel Locklear, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, what strategies, concepts, forces, and capabilities we need to counter aggression by China’s paramilitary forces.  While I am fully committed to maintaining U.S. superiority at the “high end” of the conflict spectrum, I believe it is critically important that we be able to counter and deter this sort of “gray zone” aggression as well.

You can watch my question and ADM Locklear’s response here, or by clicking the image below.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | October 27, 2014

Asia Emerges As Center of Gravity in the International System. As Henry Kissinger and others have observed, Asia is emerging as the center of gravity in the international system. The rapid economic growth that began with Japan during the 1960s spread to South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore in the 1970s; China in the 1980s; and India in the 1990s. As has become indisputable, throughout history, prosperity brings power in its train. Today, Asian nations account for an increasing share of global military resources and overall economic output. Even though defense budgets and force levels have declined in Europe and North America, Asia’s have expanded. The region is home to five nuclear-armed militaries (China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Russia), and their number could increase. Meanwhile, on the conventional side of the weapons ledger, Asian nations have been investing in advanced combat aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, submarines, and surface vessels and progressively expanding arsenals of both long-range ballistic and cruise missiles. Compared to Europe, Asia has weak international organizations and means of resolving disputes. Moreover, it contains different types of states — from liberal democracies to authoritarian regimes of various stripes and repressive totalitarian dictatorships — with myriad outstanding differences over borders and maritime claims. Asia is also a region in which the domestic politics of many significant players are characterized by strident forms of nationalism. For these reasons, Asia is one region of the world where conflicts among major powers remain plausible and may even be probable. It is also a region where the United States has substantial economic interests, strong alliance commitments, quasi-alliance relationships, and a continuing interest in preserving freedom of navigation across the Western Pacific. http://american.com/archive/2014/october/eye-on-asia

China’s Submarines Add Nuclear-Strike Capability, Altering Strategic Balance. One Sunday morning last December, China’s defense ministry summoned military attachés from several embassies to its monolithic Beijing headquarters. To the foreigners’ surprise, the Chinese said that one of their nuclear-powered submarines would soon pass through the Strait of Malacca, a passage between Malaysia and Indonesia that carries much of world trade, say people briefed on the meeting. Two days later, a Chinese attack sub—a so-called hunter-killer, designed to seek out and destroy enemy vessels—slipped through the strait above water and disappeared. It resurfaced near Sri Lanka and then in the Persian Gulf, say people familiar with its movements, before returning through the strait in February—the first known voyage of a Chinese sub to the Indian Ocean. The message was clear: China had fulfilled its four-decade quest to join the elite club of countries with nuclear subs that can ply the high seas. The defense ministry summoned attachés again to disclose another Chinese deployment to the Indian Ocean in September—this time a diesel-powered sub, which stopped off in Sri Lanka. China’s increasingly potent and active sub force represents the rising power’s most significant military challenge yet for the region. Its expanding undersea fleet not only bolsters China’s nuclear arsenal but also enhances the country’s capacity to enforce its territorial claims and thwart U.S. intervention. http://online.wsj.com/articles/chinas-submarine-fleet-adds-nuclear-strike-capability-altering-strategic-balance-undersea-1414164738

Chen Ziming, jailed leader of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, dies at 62. Chen Ziming, an activist branded as one of the “black hands” behind the 1989 pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square, which was crushed by the Chinese government, died Oct. 21 at his home in Beijing. He was 62. The cause was pancreatic cancer, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. Mr. Chen, who was convicted of sedition in 1991, spent about 13 years behind bars or confined to his apartment. In response to economic pressure from the United States, Chinese authorities released him in 1994 but imprisoned him again in 1995 after he staged a 24-hour hunger strike commemorating Tiananmen. Suffering from testicular cancer and other illnesses, he was allowed to go home, under house arrest, in 1996. Even after his sentence ended, the scholarly but impassioned Mr. Chen was under constant surveillance, he told interviewers. He published political commentaries under 30 pseudonyms. With permission from various government agencies, he started a Web site called “Reform and Construction,” but it was shut down, he said, for no apparent reason. “They just pull the plug on you because they can,” he told Radio Free Asia in 2006. In the years before the Tiananmen Square massacre, Mr. Chen, a biochemist by training, was one of China’s most prominent social scientists. With his longtime colleague Wang Juntao, he founded an influential think tank, ran a dissident magazine called Beijing Spring, published the reform-minded Economics Weekly and started China’s first independent political surveys. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/chen-ziming-jailed-leader-of-chinas-1989-tiananmen-square-uprising-dies-at-62/2014/10/26/d2caeb82-5c5c-11e4-b812-38518ae74c67_story.html

World Bank president, Obama at odds over China global lending project. The Obama administration-appointed president of the World Bank says he feels in no way threatened by — and instead fully supports — China’s creation of a massive infrastructure investment bank, despite the administration’s tireless behind-the-scenes attempts to smear the project. Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American who has headed the World Bank since President Obama tapped him for the post in 2012, said he and others at the international lending institution have “been working quite closely” with Chinese officials on the $50 billion Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. He made the comments Friday, hours after Beijing officially launched the bank, which Chinese officials tout as a fresh well of cash for badly needed loans that developing nations around the globe can spend on telecommunications, transportation, energy and other projects. The catch is that the Obama administration privately stands in firm opposition to China’s project on grounds that it is a calculated attempt by Beijing to undermine American dominance over multilateral international lending since shortly after World War II, when the World Bank was created. With headquarters in Washington, it has always been run by a U.S. citizen. Several major news outlets, including the Financial Times and The New York Times, have carried reports in recent days highlighting the administration’s attempt to convince other world powers to stay away from the Chinese bank for a host of reasons. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/26/world-bank-president-backs-chinese-counterpart/

China to streamline counter-terrorism intelligence gathering. China will set up a national anti-terrorism intelligence system, state media said on Monday, as part of changes to a security law expected to be passed this week after an upsurge in violence in the far western region of Xinjiang. Hundreds of people have been killed over the past two years in Xinjiang in unrest the government has blamed on Islamists who want to establish a separate state called East Turkestan. Rights groups and exiles blame the government's repressive policies for stoking resentment among the Muslim Uighur people who call Xinjiang home. The Xinhua state news agency said changes to the draft security law going through parliament were aimed at improving intelligence gathering and the sharing of information across government departments, while also enhancing international cooperation. "Our country is facing a serious and complex struggle against terrorism," Xinhua said. "China will set up an anti-terrorism intelligence gathering center to coordinate and streamline intelligence gathering in the field, according to a draft law submitted for reading on Monday," it said. The agency did not elaborate on the proposed intelligence center but said other changes to the law would focus on the "management" of the Internet, the transport of dangerous materials and border controls. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/27/us-china-violence-intelligence-idUSKBN0IG07M20141027

As China Deploys Nuclear Submarines, U.S. P-8 Poseidon Jets Snoop on Them. Swooping down to 500 feet over the western Pacific, Cmdr. Bill Pennington pilots his U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft toward an unidentified vessel off southern Japan. In the back of the plane, a heavily modified Boeing 737, the crew homes in on the vessel using a barrage of surveillance equipment, including radar, GPS and infrared cameras. Further down the fuselage stand rows of tube-shaped sonar buoys that the crew can catapult into the sea and that float for up to eight hours as they track objects underwater. This is a dummy run: Today’s target is a Singaporean container ship, and the P-8 roars by without dropping the buoys. But the aircraft is designed to hunt a far more elusive, and potentially dangerous, quarry: Chinese submarines. http://online.wsj.com/articles/as-china-deploys-nuclear-submarines-u-s-p-8-poseidon-jets-snoop-on-them-1414166686

Underwater Drones Join Microphones to Listen for Chinese Nuclear Submarines. Last November, an unusual experiment took place in the congested waters of Singapore just a few weeks before a Chinese nuclear attack submarine passed through the adjacent Malacca Strait. U.S. and Singaporean researchers used an underwater drone named Starfish to explore ways to monitor subsea activity in an experiment sponsored by the U.S. military and Singapore’s defense ministry, say people involved. The goal of the operation, named Project Mission, was to link a Singaporean underwater surveillance system to an American one that is designed to track potentially hostile submarines. The trial was also part of a broader U.S. effort to use its own underwater drones, combined with data from friendly countries, to enhance a sub-snooping system that dates back to the early years of the Cold War. From the 1950s, the U.S. listened for Soviet subs entering the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by stringing underwater microphones across the seabed around its coast and in strategic chokepoints, such as between the U.K. and Iceland. http://online.wsj.com/articles/underwater-drones-join-microphones-to-listen-for-chinese-nuclear-submarines-1414166607

Japan Builds Response to Chinese Area-Denial Strategy. Japan’s response to Chinese anti-access/area-denial threats rest on three planks: increasingly large helicopter carriers, next-generation 3,300-ton Soryu-class submarines and new Aegis destroyers. This strategy is further enhanced by plans to deploy 20 Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft as replacements for the P-3C, and upgraded SH-60K sub-hunting helicopters. When integrated, this will create a much more capable fleet able to expand its role beyond being a simple “shield” to the US Navy’s “spear,” analysts said. Data from AMI International shows that the Izumo-class helicopter destroyers (22DDH) and the Soryu-class submarines are the leading programs for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), both in budget and importance to Japan’s maritime security, according to Bob Nugent, affiliate consultant at AMI. Japan unveiled the first of the two planned Izumo-class ships on Aug. 6, 2013 — the largest Japanese warship since World War II — which will be able to carry 15 helicopters. In 2009 and 2011, the Navy also commissioned two new third-generation Hyuga-class helicopter destroyers, each capable of deploying 11 helicopters. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141026/DEFREG03/310260020/Japan-Builds-Response-Chinese-Area-Denial-Strategy

Pacific Powers Build Capability, Warily Eye Neighbor Countries. Ninety percent of the world’s trade flows by sea and the majority of that through narrow, vulnerable straits such as Malacca, Singapore and Taiwan. This has forced the Asia-Pacific region to outspend all other nations, except the US, in procurement of ships and submarines. The dangers are real. Taiwan Adm. Chen Yeong-kang said regional territorial disputes could disrupt sea lines of communication (SLOC) in the region. The comments were made during the 2014 International Sea Lines of Communication Conference sponsored by the Taiwan Navy on Oct. 15. “Any abrupt armed incident or mass military conflict is possible to impact the SLOC and endanger transport safety.” Due to the tight thoroughfares of many of Asia’s straits and low depths of the South China Sea, many regional countries are procuring fast attack craft, corvettes and coast guard cutters, said Stanley Weeks, an adjunct professor at the US Naval War College. He expects navies and coast guards to procure more fixed-wing planes, including UAVs and refurbished P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft. More P-3s will become available as the US begins retiring its fleet and procuring the new P-8 Poseidon. “The biggest spenders are China and India, the two most rapidly developing navies in the world,” said Guy Stitt, president of AMI International Naval Analysts & Advisors. “These two nations are not only expanding their navies, they are now building some of the most complex naval vessels in any navy’s inventory.” These include nuclear ballistic missile submarines and aircraft carriers. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141026/DEFREG03/310260019/Pacific-Powers-Build-Capability-Warily-Eye-Neighbor-Countries

China, Vietnam say want lasting solution to sea dispute. China and Vietnam agreed on Monday to use an existing border dispute mechanism to find a solution to a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, saying they did not want it to affect relations. The two countries have sought to patch up ties since their long-running row erupted in May, triggered by China's deployment a drilling rig in waters claimed by the communist neighbors, which lead to confrontation at sea between rival vessels and violent anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam. After a meeting between China's top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi, China's foreign ministry said they had agreed to "appropriately handle the maritime problem". The two exchanged smiles and warm handshakes in contrast to Yang's last visit in June, which ended in acrimony with Yang accusing Vietnam of "hyping up" their dispute, which was the worst breakdowns in their relations since a brief border war in 1979. The rapprochement began in late August, a few weeks after Vietnam started courting other countries embroiled in maritime rows with China, including the Philippines and China's biggest investor, Japan, which will provide boats and radar equipment to Vietnam's coastguard. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/27/us-china-vietnam-idUSKBN0IG0Y220141027

Taiwan eyes homegrown submarines after 13-year wait on U.S. deal. Taiwan is moving ahead with plans to build its own submarines, with an initial design to be completed by the year-end, after lengthy delays in getting eight vessels under a 2001 U.S. defense deal and as China's navy expands rapidly. While major obstacles remain, such as overcoming significant technical challenges and what would almost certainly be strenuous objections from Beijing, a political consensus has emerged in Taiwan in recent months that it can wait no longer, officials and lawmakers said. China is Taiwan's largest trading partner and economic ties have warmed since China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in 2008. But Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has never renounced the use of force to bring the proudly democratic island under its control. Taiwan has four aging submarines including two that date back to World War Two, although its military is otherwise considered generally modern. China, however, has 70 submarines alone, along with dozens of surface ships and a refurbished aircraft carrier, although that vessel is not yet fully operational. A recent Taiwanese government defense report said China would be capable of a successful invasion by 2020. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/27/us-taiwan-submarines-idUSKBN0IF0YD20141027

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.