China Caucus Blog

Caucus Brief: CNO Greenert: U.S. Navy Needs To Engage More With China
Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | October 16, 2014

CNO Greenert: U.S. Navy Needs To Engage More With China. The key to a peaceful maritime future between China and the U.S. will be rooted in additional engagement between the countries’ navies. U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said at the CSIS and U.S. Naval Institute’s Maritime Security Dialogue on Tuesday. “We all recognize the Chinese Navy is big and growing. It’s capable and they will continue to be more capable but they need to be a responsible neighbor in the Western Pacific as they expand – as they are – operating in the Indian Ocean,” Greenert said. “I think it’s an opportunity that if don’t handle it well, it could be an increasing challenge. Some would say a threat. But first of all we need to recognize its an opportunity.” So far this year, Greenert has met with his People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) counterpart Adm. Wu Shengli five times – more than any other Navy chief, Greenert said. “I think he recognizes that a growing navy is also one that has to be responsible. We have to learn to coexist in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and everywhere,” Greenert said. “He believes that miscalculation is one of our threats and our fear is that we get kicked off into something we don’t want to.” In April, China, the U.S. and several other Western Pacific nations signed the Conduct for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) – an at-sea etiquette guide when naval ships meet in the region. “We both agree that we have to enable those 40 years command officers with the right processes,” Greenert said. CUES was implemented after an incident when U.S. guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG-63) had a near collision with a Chinese amphibious ship in December. Greenert also said that China and the U.S. plan to conduct more exchanges in the future, starting with a group of PLAN sailors traveling to Newport, R.I. later this year. “It’s really about engagement,” Greenert said. “We’ve to engage if we want to shape. I don’t see any way around it.” http://news.usni.org/2014/10/15/9555

FBI Warns About Chinese Hacker Group; Beijing Denies Spying. The FBI on Wednesday issued a private warning to industry that a group of highly skilled Chinese government hackers was in the midst of a long-running campaign to steal valuable data from U.S. companies and government agencies. “These state-sponsored hackers are exceedingly stealthy and agile by comparison with the People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398 ... whose activity was publicly disclosed and attributed by security researchers in February 2013,” said the FBI in its alert, which referred to a Chinese military hacker unit exposed in a widely publicized report by the security firm Mandiant. Indeed, U.S. officials say privately, the activities of this group are just as significant – if not more so – than those of Unit 61398. The U.S. government has publicly called on the Chinese government to halt its widespread cybertheft of corporate secrets, but Beijing has denied such activities. When the Justice Department in May announced the indictments of five PLA officials on charges of commercial cyberespionage, the government responded by pulling out of talks to resolve differences between the two nations over cyberspace issues. The FBI’s alert, obtained by The Washington Post, coincided with the release of a preliminary report on the same hackers by a coalition of security firms, which have dubbed the group Axiom. “The Axiom threat group is a well-resourced and sophisticated cyber espionage group that has been operating unfettered for at least four years, and most likely more,” said the report, issued by Novetta Solutions, a Northern Virginia cybersecurity firm that heads the coalition. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-warns-industry-of-chinese-cyber-campaign/2014/10/15/0349a00a-54b0-11e4-ba4b-f6333e2c0453_story.html

Taiwan Considers Permanent Armed Ships For Disputed South China Sea Island. Taiwan is considering stationing armed vessels permanently on a disputed South China Sea island, officials said, a move bound to renew friction in a region claimed almost wholly by China, with Vietnam already dismissing such a plan as "illegal.” The potentially energy-rich Spratly islands are one of the main flashpoints in the South China Sea, with claims also from Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei, and are closely watched by the United States after China placed a giant oil rig in nearby waters also claimed by Vietnam. Itu Aba, also known as Tai Ping, is the only island in the Spratlys large enough to accommodate a port - currently under construction. Taiwan had previously said the port, expected to be completed in late 2015, would allow 3,000-tonne naval frigates and coastguard cutters to dock there. Officials at Taiwan's Coast Guard, which administers Itu Aba, and Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense, which stations troops there, said the port could become the permanent home of armed vessels. "We are discussing this possibility," said Chen Yeong-kang, chief of Taiwan's navy, acknowledging that "it is a very sensitive issue.” Shih Yi-che, head of communications at Taiwan's Coast Guard, said: "The purpose of this action would be to promulgate the Republic of China's sovereignty and power in defending our territory around Tai Ping Island." Rivals China and Taiwan share claims to virtually the entire South China Sea, a legacy of the Chinese civil war when the Communists split from the Nationalists and took control of the Chinese mainland in 1949. The Nationalists settled on Taiwan, and as the "Republic of China,” still claim to be the legitimate rulers of greater China. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/16/us-taiwan-soutchinasea-idUSKCN0I509I20141016

Hagel Devises New Mission for Army: Coastal Defense Force. After two days of US Army top leadership extolling the virtues of putting US boots on the ground across Asia-Pacific to train and advise allies, both old and new, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday suggested a new Army mission at the annual AUSA convention: a coastal defense force. In a speech to a military and industry audience that mostly shied away from program specifics, the secretary suggested the Army should try and “broaden its role by leveraging its current suite of long-range precision-guided missiles, rockets, artillery and air defense systems.” Hagel said these capabilities “would provide multiple benefits, such as hardening the defenses of US installations; enabling greater mobility of Navy Aegis destroyers and other joint force assets; and helping ensure the free flow of commerce.” He also insisted that “this concept is worthy of consideration going forward” and that “such a mission is not as foreign to the Army as it might seem — after the War of 1812, the Army was tasked with America’s coastal defense for over 100 years.” Transitioning back to the service’s comfort zone, the secretary bemoaned the budget cuts that have landed on the federal government, saying that due to reductions to the Pentagon’s top line budget Army readiness levels have fallen “short of what I believe is sufficient to defend our nation and our allies with minimum risk.” Despite this dim view of readiness, 12 out of 37 brigade combat teams are still trained to the “highest levels of readiness,” he said, a marked increase from last year’s event when Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno claimed that only one brigade was at the highest level of readiness. http://www.defensenews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014310150044

Beating Of Democracy Advocate In Hong Kong Fuels Public Outcry. The videotaped beating of a Hong Kong democracy advocate, apparently by the police, opened a new political fault line in the city on Wednesday, adding to volatile tensions between protesters who have occupied major roads for weeks and the beleaguered government. The video of the advocate, Ken Tsang, being kicked and beaten in a predawn melee, along with pictures of his bruised body, became an emotion-laden focus for critics of the government after a night of mayhem near the city’s heart. They gave a face to accusations that pro-democracy demonstrators have been targeted by an overzealous police force. A video filmed by TVB, a usually pro-government television station, showed a bearded man in a black T-shirt being led away by officers in civilian clothes and black police vests, his hands behind him. The video then jumps to a scene in which a man lying on the ground is kicked and hit many times by several figures who appear to be police officers. TVB said the beating had lasted about four minutes. Outside the North Point Police Station on Wednesday night, Mr. Tsang said he had been “brutally” assaulted by the police during the protest and again at the police station. He said that, because he might pursue legal action, he would not make further comments or answer questions. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/16/world/asia/video-of-apparent-beating-of-protester-in-hong-kong-stirs-anger.html

Hong Kong leader ready to talk with protesters. Hong Kong's leader is ready to participate in talks with pro-democracy protesters, the city's embattled Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Thursday. The announcement is a potential breakthrough in a bitter standoff between the semiautonmous territory's Beijing-backed authorities and student-led groups who have been taking part in protests that have rocked the city for nearly three weeks. "As long as students or other sectors in Hong Kong are prepared to focus on this issue, yes we are ready, we are prepared to start the dialogue," Leung told reporters in Hong Kong. "This is why over the past few days … we expressed the wish to students that we'd like to start the dialogue to discuss universal suffrage as soon as we can, and hopefully within the following week," he said. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/10/16/hong-kong-protest-talks/17343493/

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