China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | July 02, 2015

The Caucus Brief will return on Monday, July 6th. Happy Fourth of July!

Dempsey Releases National Military Strategy.
"The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff cannot predict exactly where the next threat to the United States and its interests may come from, but he knows it will happen faster than in the past and the U.S. military must be prepared. The National Military Strategy released today by Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey provides the blueprint for how the military will use its forces to protect and advance U.S. national and security interests. “Globalization, diffusion of technology, and demographic shifts are driving rapid change as state actors and trans-regional networks challenge order and stability,” said Dempsey. “This strategy addresses these dynamics and our strategy to ensure that our force remains the best-led, trained and equipped military on the planet.” The National Military Strategy follows the release of the 2015 National Security Strategy in February this year, as well as the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review. The strategy recognizes that the application of military power versus traditional state threats is far different than military power against non-state actors. It also posits that the most likely scenario is prolonged campaigns rather than short, intense battles. The strategy also states that as a “hedge against unpredictability with reduced resources we may have to adjust our global posture.” According to the strategy document, the U.S. military also must be ready to counter “revisionist states” such as Russia that are challenging international norms as well as violent extremist organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. “We are working with allies to deter, deny and -- when necessary -- defeat potential state adversaries,” the document says. But at the same time, the U.S. military is building and leading an extensive network to take on ISIL. Globalization is allowing people and technology to move around the world in a way never seen before, complicating an already complex security situation, according to the strategy. Globalization has positive effects in stimulating trade and making many nations prosperous, but it also can exacerbate social tensions, cause competition for resources and may engender political instability. Technology speeds everything up. The strategy noted that individuals and groups, today, have more information at their beck and call than governments had in the past.”

Just How Strong Will China's Military Be in 2025?
“The People’s Liberation Army and its constituent branches have undergone extraordinary change over the last fifteen years.  Doctrine, equipment, training, and strategic orientation have all evolved to the point that the PLA, the PLAN, and the PLAAF have become nearly unrecognizable from the vantage of the 1990s, when they used antiquated equipment, concentrated on making money rather than preparing to fight, and still looked for threats from the north rather than from the east. The PLA has taken great steps forward over the past decade, just as it took great steps forward in the previous decade. What might it look like ten years from today?  What trends do we expect to continue? One area in which China remains dramatically behind the United States is in operational experience.  For good or (mostly) ill, the United States has embroiled itself in a series of “wars on terror” which have given its armed forces tremendous experience in the day-to-day execution of military force.  These wars have not, to be fair, allowed the military services of the United States to engage in high intensity combat against a peer competitor, but they have nevertheless illuminated key concepts, provided the opportunity for training under fire, and forced the various elements of the U.S. military machine to figure out how to work together. This is experiential, tacit knowledge, and it sets functional military organizations apart from ones that look good but have never been tested under fire. The PLA lacks such hands on experience, and it’s not clear that China is planning to start an endless, pointless series of wars in order to acquire it. However, there’s little question that China has stepped up its efforts at building experiential knowledge through improving its realistic training procedures (China’s version of Red Flag) and by conducting more overseas deployments of air, land, and naval forces. In every war, the U.S. armed services grow closer together, developing the procedures and communications techniques they need in order to perform as an effective team. In every peace, the U.S. armed services grow farther apart, as each pursues internal, parochial goals at the expense of joint training, procurement, and planning.”

South China Sea: China’s HD-981 Oil Rig Is Back.
 "The latest oil rig gesturing shows an inconsistency between rhetoric and action in China’s policy in the South China Sea. Together with its mass reclamation activities, the use of the oil rig is part and parcel of coercive diplomacy. It affirms China’s territorial ambition in the highly strategic seawater. Still, though, it is hard to see the situation escalating to the point of conflict. China’s Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig is back, following on from last year’s headline dispute with Vietnam. Only this time, the rig is being reintroduced in timely fashion, just weeks before the first visit by the general secretary of Vietnam’s Communist Party to Washington. According to reports, the platform is currently located 17°03’75’’ North latitude and 109°59’05’’ East longitude. While the rig’s present location is not as close to Vietnam as it was last year, the intent is fairly obvious. Yet it is unlikely that Vietnam will overreact to this provocation. It has no immediate reason to do so and it is, after all, accustomed to Chinese displays of power. For Hanoi, continuing an approach of carefully balancing and engaging China and more distant powers seems prudent.  The move itself, announced by China’s maritime safety authorities, comes soon after Beijing indicated it was close to setting up new outposts in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia, as it nears completion of land reclamation in the South China Sea. This dispute originates from a group of small islands and atolls in the South China Sea, which are claimed in whole or in part by a host of nations: China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines. The contested area, about the size of Iraq, is one of the busiest sea transport routes in the world, features potentially lucrative oil and natural gas deposits, and offers fishing grounds that are still diverse and bountiful. The practice of land reclamation is not exactly of Chinese innovation. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNLOS) stipulates rights to different maritime features that are relevant to the South China Sea situation. Fully fledged islands enjoy territorial rights up to 12 nautical miles (nm), while their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) extends to a maximum of 200 nm. Most acutely, the EEZ setup increases the potential for overlapping territorial claims in enclosed seas like the South China Sea. The result is that littoral states have hastened to establish settlements – in most cases by military outposts – on the small islands of the region in a bid to establish unique territorial claims to both an EEZ and a continental shelf."

Explained: Why China and Japan Simply Don't Trust Each Other.
“At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit late last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping began to restore their nations’ relations, attempting to overcome differences over islands in the East China Sea. Again this year, the leaders of Asia’s two largest powers met at the Bandung Conference, demonstrating a slightly more relaxed and encouraging demeanor, suggesting that the maritime talks between their two governments were bearing some fruit. But it is not the territorial dispute itself that threatens improvement in the Japan-China relationship; it is their deep skepticism of each other’s ambitions in the region. Chinese officials have not been shy in suggesting that the changing balance of power between their nation and Japan is the root cause of their diplomatic difficulty. The most recent statement of China’s perception of the change in regional influence comes from Foreign Minister Wang Yi. After his speech at Beijing’s World Peace Forum last week, China’s foreign minister was asked about the prospects for Japan-China relations, and Xinhua, quoted him as follows: “the crux of China-Japan relations is whether Japan can sincerely accept and welcome China’s revival and rise.” Wang was further quoted as saying, “China’s development has brought important benefit to Japan, but Japan is not fully prepared in its mindset for an increasingly powerful China.” The solution, from Wang’s perspective, is simply that the Japanese have to accept China’s growing power. Wang is not off the mark about Japan’s concerns about Chinese ambitions, and this too was amply demonstrated last week in Tokyo. Japan’s chief of the Joint Staff of the Self Defense Force, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano agreed to an interview with the Wall Street Journal, and openly acknowledged his concerns about China’s behavior in the South China Sea. Admiral Kawano noted that China’s program of island building in the disputed islands of the South China Sea created serious concerns for Japan because of its dependence on the sea lanes through the Malacca Straits.”

See China’s Rapid Island-Building Strategy in Action.
“New images taken just this week show China building what look like military bases on reclaimed land in the South China Sea, a development likely to add to concerns in the United States and among its Asian neighbors. China said on Tuesday that land reclamation had now finished on "some islands" in the South China Sea. But the focus is now likely to shift to the construction work that China is carrying out, which many fear will lead to further militarization of the South China Sea. Images taken as recently as June 28 show how China has almost completed the construction of an airstrip at Fiery Cross Reef. The images were taken by Digital Globe and supplied to The Post by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Land reclamation is now complete at Fiery Cross Reef. AMTI says construction of the air base is continuing “with ongoing paving and marking of the airstrip, an added apron, construction of a sensor array and development of additional support facilities.” According to AMTI, features here include: a small port with limited berth space and two loading stations, two helipads, three possible satellite communication antennae, one large multi-level facility, two possible radar towers under construction, six possible security and surveillance towers for weapons and or sensors, four possible weapons towers, a lighthouse, a possible solar farm with 44 panels and two wind turbines. AMTI Director Mira Rapp-Hooper says the facilities have “all the trappings” of military capabilities and applications and would improve China’s ability to monitor other nations’ activities in the disputed Spratly Islands. The construction work, she says, “is going to be the new diplomatic challenge, not just for the United States, but also for all the regional countries which have been very keen to deter China from militarizing the islands.” On June 16, China’s Foreign Ministry announced that the land reclamation work on some islands in the South China Sea would be completed in the near future and that it would now begin to build more infrastructure on the islands. On Tuesday, it confirmed the land reclamation “on some islands” was now complete. It says that infrastructure will mainly be for civilian purposes but acknowledges it will also be used for “military defense.” That does not reflect a change in policy but simply an acknowledgement of the fact that the project to stake China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea more forcefully had moved onto a new phase, experts say."

Images Show Chinese Airstrip on Man-Made Spratly Island Nearly Finished.
"China has almost finished building a 3,000-meter-long (10,000-foot) airstrip on one of its artificial islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, new satellite photographs of the area show. A U.S. military commander had told Reuters in May that the airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef could be operational by year-end, although the June 28 images suggest that could now be sooner. The airstrip will be long enough to accommodate most Chinese military aircraft, security experts have said, giving Beijing greater reach into the heart of maritime Southeast Asia. China said on Tuesday some of its land reclamation in the Spratlys, where it's building seven islands on top of coral reefs, had been completed, although it gave few details. The latest photographs were taken by satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe and published by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.  AMTI said the airstrip was being paved and marked, while an apron and taxiway had been added adjacent to the runway. Two helipads, up to 10 satellite communications antennas and one possible radar tower were visible on Fiery Cross Reef, it said. The images also showed a Chinese naval vessel moored in a port. Recent images of Chinese-occupied South Johnson Reef also showed a large multi-level military facility in the center of the reef with two possible radar towers under construction, AMTI added. Two helipads and up to three satellite communications antennas were also visible, it said. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.”

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | July 01, 2015

Weapons of the Next War. “For the last two decades, the Asia-Pacific has represented a positive story in geopolitics, at least compared to the chronic instability in the Middle East. There was an integration of economies on both a regional and global level, a rise in prosperity unprecedented in human history, and a relative absence of major conflicts either between nations or within them. This era of stability is ending, however. In the 21st century, this very same good news story has put the region on the geopolitical center stage, and not in a good way. China has enjoyed a political, economic, and now military rise that Foreign Affairs magazine has said may be the “most important international relations story of the 21st century.” The problem is that no one knows how that story might end. Disputes with every one of its maritime neighbors over islands and sea rights are helping to fuel a regional arms race. But underlying these disputes are larger geopolitical questions centering on Beijing’s vision of emerging as the leading global power of the next 100 years, the American response, and whether this reordering will be one that remains only within the realm of politics and economics. Henry Kissinger remarked in a 2012 essay that U.S.-China relations have long been “…heading for confrontation rather than cooperation.” This confrontation is purposeful, not careless. Even the “China Dream” now has the country becoming, in strategist Liu Ming Fu’s concept, “the most powerful country in the world” – a world that he defines as “post American.” This is not merely top-down thinking: The Chinese Communist Party is carefully encouraging a more nationalist Chinese public to become aligned with this ambition. According to one survey, more than 80 percent of those polled think China should return to its status as the world’s strongest power in both political and military terms. It is an alignment that combines historical longing and 21st century ambitions, nurtured by a Party leadership that has harmonized its strategy with popular priority. Indeed, the Party’s Global Times newspaper last September featured an editorial “As possibility of a Third World War Exists, China Needs To Be Prepared” by a professor at PLA Defense University who made the case as explicitly as possible: “Without large-scale military power, securing China’s overseas interests seems like an empty slogan.”

Meet China's East China Sea Drones.
“China has stationed at least three BZK-005 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on Daishan Island in Hangzhou Bay, an inlet of the East China Sea near Shanghai. The development confirms Chinese drone operations in the East China Sea, where it unilaterally declared an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in November 2014. Satellite imagery analysis by Chris Biggers over at Bellingcat shows the three medium altitude, long range drones sitting at the Daishan airfield, which Biggers describes as “one of the few dedicated facilities for drone operations known in China.” Chinese military UAVs were thought to have been operating in the East China Sea since at least late 2013. Reports from fall 2013 noted that Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) had scrambled a jet to monitor a “drone of unidentified nationality” flying over the East China Sea. Later, Japan’s defense ministry released imagery all but confirming that the unidentified UAV was likely a Chinese BZK-005. These means that these drones have been operating off Daishan and into the East China Sea for at least two years. Tensions between Japan and China spiked over the East China Sea in late-2013 and early-2014 over the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute. In recent months, the situation in the East China Sea has been calmer and relations have improved between Tokyo and Beijing (meanwhile, the South China Sea continues to heat up). Biggers’ report offers additional detail outlining the development of the Daishan airfield. He notes, for example, that “according to historical imagery, China began renovations at the airfield patching concrete runway tiles and removing encroaching vegetation between mid-2010 and 2013.” This suggests longer-term planning for UAV use in the context of the East China Sea, even before Chinese President Xi Jinping became president. In September 2010, the East China Sea issued flared up momentarily between Japan and China after a Chinese fishing boat captain was arrested by Japanese authorities in disputed waters after colliding his vessel with a Japanese patrol ship.”

China Approves Sweeping Security Law, Bolstering Communist Rule.
The Chinese government announced Wednesday that it had enacted a new national security law, one that amounts to a sweeping command from President Xi Jinpingto maintain the primacy of Communist Party rule across all aspects of society. The law is expected to bolster the power of the domestic security apparatus and the military. The law says “security” must be maintained in all fields, from culture to education to cyberspace. A draft version of the law was released in May, leading to intense discussion about its long-term impact, but the version approved Wednesday is even wider in scope — adding, for instance, that security must be defended on international seabeds, in the polar regions and even in outer space. The law is one of three that are being scrutinized by foreign leaders and corporate executives, who say Mr. Xi is moving to severely restrict the influence and actions of foreign organizations in China. The other two laws are expected to be passed soon; one would regulate foreign nongovernmental organizations and place them under the oversight of the Ministry of Public Security, and the other is a counterterrorism law. While those two laws, currently in draft form, have specific details on controlling foreign groups, the national security law is a more abstract statement of principles, aimed at exhorting all Chinese citizens and agencies to be vigilant about threats to the party. Legal scholars and analysts in China say it will probably lead to the security apparatus amassing more power, and to courts employing a broad definition of national security violations. Human rights advocates expect the same and say they are worried that defendants accused of such violations will have little legal protection. “It is as much to do with protecting the Communist Party and punishing those that criticize the leadership as addressing national security,” William Nee, a researcher at Amnesty International, said of the law. The law, which was passed Wednesday by a committee of the National People’s Congress, a pro forma legislature, also assigns oversight of national security to a central agency. Analysts say this is a reference to the National Security Commission, established and run by Mr. Xi, which is widely seen as a party rather than a government organization.”

Disdain in Beijing and Edginess in Tokyo.
“At the APEC summit late last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping began to restore their nations’ relations, attempting to overcome differences over islands in the East China Sea. Again this year, the leaders of Asia’s two largest powers met at the Bandung Conference, demonstrating a slightly more relaxed and encouraging demeanor, suggesting that the maritime talks between their two governments were bearing some fruit. But it is not the territorial dispute itself that threatens improvement in the Japan-China relationship; it is their deep skepticism of each other’s ambitions in the region. Chinese officials have not been shy in suggesting that the changing balance of power between their nation and Japan is the root cause of their diplomatic difficulty. The most recent statement of China’s perception of the change in regional influence comes from Foreign Minister Wang Yi. After his speech at Beijing’s World Peace Forum last week, China’s foreign minister was asked about the prospects for Japan-China relations, and Xinhua quoted him as follows: “the crux of China-Japan relations is whether Japan can sincerely accept and welcome China’s revival and rise.” Wang was further quoted as saying, “China’s development has brought important benefit to Japan, but Japan is not fully prepared in its mindset for an increasingly powerful China.” The solution, from Wang’s perspective, is simply that the Japanese have to accept China’s growing power. Wang is not off the mark about Japan’s concerns about Chinese ambitions, and this too was amply demonstrated last week in Tokyo. Japan’s chief of the Joint Staff of the Self Defense Force, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano agreed to an interview with the Wall Street Journal, and openly acknowledged his concerns about China’s behavior in the South China Sea. Admiral Kawano noted that China’s program of island building in the disputed islands of the South China Sea created serious concerns for Japan because of its dependence on the sea lanes through the Malacca Straits.”

China's Afghanistan Moment.
The 7th Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) with China has recently concluded in Washington.  Hawks will no doubt opine that the Obama Administration has not shown adequate backbone in standing up to China in the South China Sea.  Doves, by contrast, will complain that progress on key issues, such as North Korea’s expanding nuclear arsenal, have been superseded by tense discussions about reefs and rocks. It has become increasingly clear that close U.S.-China cooperation is a prerequisite to managing problems across the globe, from the Ebola crisis in West Africa to the deteriorating security situation in the Persian Gulf to maintaining the delicate ecological balance in the polar regions.  A rather ripe area for regional cooperation that has not received adequate attention concerns the future of Central Asia, and the Afghanistan imbroglio, in particular.  Continuing grave instability in Afghanistan was once again underlined last week as the Taliban attacked the Parliament building in Kabul. In a perfect world perhaps the United Nations together with the new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani would invite China to enlarge its role in fostering regional stability and PLA soldiers clad in blue helmets would flood the narrow alleyways and valleys of dangerous Helmand Province to finally accomplish what Washington has been unable or unwilling to do.  There is emphatically no support whatsoever for that scenario – least of all in Kabul and Beijing.  Still, Chinese strategists are talking about Afghanistan with an unmistakable urgency of late.  This edition of Dragon Eye will make a close examination of an early 2015 Chinese-language academic analysis of the situation in Afghanistan published in the State Council’s journal 亚非纵横 [Asia and Africa Review] by two Shanghai academics. “The new generation leadership group’s policy toward Afghanistan will be clearer.  China’s foreign policy activity and dynamism concerning Afghanistan is obviously increasing,” these authors assert at the outset of the essay.  But that was not always the case, as they readily admit.”

PLA Plays Down Indian Ocean Visits, But Says Ocean Not India's Backyard.
“As the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy expands its profile in the Indian Ocean with recent submarine visits to Sri Lanka and more recently Pakistan, its officials have moved to assuage India's concerns by emphasising its motivations were driven by trade and security and not aimed at India, although with one important caveat: it would be a mistake for New Delhi to consider the ocean's international waters as "its backyard". In an interaction with visiting Indian reporters in Beijing, officials from the Chinese Defence Ministry and the PLA's top think-tanks, such as the National Defence University, PLA Air Force Command Academy and PLA Navy Academic Institute said they believed that India and China needed to expand military ties to reduce strategic mistrust, and bolster exercises between the armies, navies and air force. Especially as the two navies more frequently encounter each other on the high seas of the Indian Ocean, where the PLA Navy (PLAN) has taken part in anti-piracy escorts since 2008, and in the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, where India is devoting more attention, Beijing is of the view the two sides need to do more to build trust - and be more open. Senior Captain Zhao Yi, who is Associate Professor at the Institute of Strategy of the elite National Defence University, said: "I admit that geographically speaking India has a special role to play in stabilising the Indian Ocean region and South Asian region. But [for the Indian Ocean], backyard is not a very appropriate word to use for an open sea and international areas of sea. If the Indian side views the Indian Ocean as its backyard," he added, "it cannot explain why navies from Russia, the United States, Australia have the right of free navigation in Indian Ocean." He said one American scholar had warned of the possibility of "clashes" in the Indian Ocean. "I don't agree," Senior Captain Zhao said, but added: "If some countries view it as their backyard, then this [possibility] could not be eliminated." The Chinese experts did, however, acknowledge the need for more transparency, especially in the wake of concerns in Indian strategic circles over submarine visits by the PLAN to Sri Lanka last year and to Pakistan earlier this year. China described both visits as routine.”

Thailand Tilts Away From the U.S.
“Thailand’s navy has long pushed to buy conventional submarines, with U.S. allies Germany or South Korea the expected suppliers. So the decision to buy Chinese boats, reported Friday by the Bangkok Post, suggests America’s oldest ally in Asia is edging toward Beijing. This development is particularly concerning because the two countries’ militaries have a deep and abiding relationship. The U.S. helped Bangkok fight a communist insurgency and flew bombing missions from Thai air bases during the Vietnam War. Started more than 30 years ago, the annual Cobra Gold joint exercises are among the largest in the world. In 2003 President George W. Bush made Thailand officially a “major non-NATO ally,” a designation that brings the benefits reserved for the most trusted security partners. The relationship started to sour after the May 2014 Thai coup, with Cobra Gold downgraded and other U.S. aid and contacts curtailed. Washington has called for an early return to democracy and warned against a politically motivated prosecution of deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. While this mirrors American condemnations of past coups, the generals bridled at the perceived interference. Thailand’s polarized politics makes it doubtful they will allow fresh elections soon, and a new constitution is expected to neuter elected politicians. The junta has tried to get Washington to mute its criticism by strengthening ties with Beijing, which is all too happy to lend support to fellow authoritarians. Such signaling is one thing, but the sub deal would be a concrete step away from the U.S. alliance. The Thai navy would need a continuing relationship with Beijing to maintain and operate the boats. Naturally Beijing has sweetened the deal to secure this opening. The three subs will cost $355 million each, including technology transfer and training, which makes them cheaper than the competition. And on paper at least they are more capable vessels, with advanced air-independent propulsion that allows them to stay submerged for extended periods. If the submarine deal goes ahead, it will represent the breakdown of trust between the U.S. and Thailand. Clearly there has been a divergence of values as the Thai elite has turned against democracy. But the U.S. has exercised a stabilizing influence in the neighborhood and will continue to do so. Thailand’s generals need to think twice about squandering their most important alliance.”

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 30, 2015

Pacific Pivot Makes Modest Gains In Early Years. “The military facet of the Obama administration’s rebalance to the Pacific has provided at least $9 billion more to U.S. Pacific Command over the last four years, although experts have difficulty gauging the initiative’s actual success. With more than $1.2 trillion in U.S. trade transiting through the Pacific each year, it’s easy to see why the U.S. is seeking to renew its diplomatic, economic and political engagements in the region. But given China’s constant nettling of its neighbors with territorial claims and North Korea’s dogged pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, a beefed-up American military presence is perhaps the most important part of the so-called Pacific pivot, particularly among U.S. allies in the region. Figures provided by the Defense Department to Stars and Stripes show some military progress has been made in the pivot’s inaugural years – even if experts say the pivot came with no yardstick for measuring progress. PACOM officials have deemed the approach a success so far, if for no other reason than the additional funding the command received for the region – no small feat in an era of budget cuts that have included across-the-board sequestration. During a speech to Hawaii business leaders earlier this year, Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, PACOM’s deputy commander, said PACOM had received almost $9 billion directly tied to rebalance initiatives across the theater. “We would not have received those resources had we not had this strategy,” he said. There are other signs of an increased military presence in the region, although some changes appear incremental. The number of troops in the region rose by 22,000, from 244,000 to 266,000, based on data obtained from PACOM, Pacific Fleet, Pacific Air Forces and Army Pacific. The Navy forward-deployed additional forces west of the International Date Line, with two more destroyers stationed in Japan and a second littoral combat ship in Singapore. The Marine Corps created a Marine Rotational Force-Darwin in northern Australia, deploying 1,150 Marines and increasing bilateral training. Under its Pacific Pathways concept, the Army deployed highly trained units for multiple sequential exercises with nations throughout the region, providing a presence without permanent bases – and their inherent costs. USARPAC doubled the amount it spent on security cooperation since 2011 to $30.5 million.”

Understanding China’s Aims.
Both of these statements are true: China possesses a rapidly improving military that, in certain local or regional engagements, could match — and even defeat — United States forces in battle, and, in military terms, China is a paper dragon that, despite its apparent strength, is powerless to intervene in world events far from its shores. Seeing the distinction between these two ideas is the key to understanding China’s strategic aims, its military means and the threat, if any, that the country poses to its neighbours, the US and the existing world order. Beijing’s goals include “securing China’s status as a great power and, ultimately, reacquiring regional preeminence,” according to the 2015 edition of the US Defence Department’s annual report on Chinese military power. China is not a global military power. In fact, right now, it doesn’t even want to be one. But that doesn’t mean the world’s most populous country doesn’t pose a threat to the planet’s wealthiest and most powerful one. Yes, the US and China are at odds, mostly as a result of China’s expanding definition of what comprises its territory in the western Pacific, and how that expansion threatens US allies and the postwar economic order Washington was instrumental in creating. Beijing’s army, navy and air force may be flush with new equipment, but much of it is based on designs that Chinese government hackers and agents stole from the US and other countries. Most of it has never been exposed to the rigours of actual combat, so it’s unclear how well it would actually work. But that might not matter. China has no interest in deploying and fighting across the globe, as the US does. Beijing is preparing to fight along its own borders, and especially in the China seas, a far easier task for its inexperienced troops. The brutal Japanese invasion and occupation of China during the 1930s and 1940s had a profound effect on modern China’s development. Prior to the mid-1980s, China’s military strategy was focused on one great fear — another invasion, in this case an overland attack by the Soviet Union. The danger from the Soviet Union ebbed and, in 1985, the Chinese Communist Party revised its war strategy. The “active defence” doctrine sought to move the fighting away from the Chinese heartland. It shifted attention from China’s western land border to its eastern sea frontier, including Taiwan, which in the eyes of Beijing’s ruling Communist Party, is a breakaway province. But the new strategy was still largely defensive.”

From Unmanned Fighters to Orbital Lasers, How the U.S. and China Could Fight a War.
 “What would you say "Ghost Fleet" is all about? It is a novel that explores a scenario that is now fictional but could unfortunately be real: the risk of a great power war in the 21st century, the risk of a U.S., a China, a Russia going to war. Except that it's backed by 400 endnotes documenting how every single technology in it, every single trend, even some of the things that characters say, are drawn from the real world. We went around meeting with various real-world people — from U.S. Navy ship captains and fighter pilots to Silicon Valley venture capitalists, to Anonymous hackers, to Chinese generals. The war begins with a surprise attack by China against the United States involving all manner of cyberattacks and even attacks from outer space. Could such a war really happen?  The scenario is realistic, but it's also not a work of exact prediction. It's still a novel. If it's a work of fiction, what are some assumptions you make about how the future's going to play out? Our rule was, "No teenage wizard hormones, dragon's blood or ancient alien technology." So every single technology in the book, every single trend had to be drawn from the real world, no matter how science-fiction-seeming it might be. It can't be dreamware; it can't be vaporware. What makes the story interesting is how much doesn't go to plan. New technologies give you new capabilities but also new vulnerabilities. As we've seen from the Office of Personnel Management hack and the Edward Snowden files, the United States has incredible offensive capabilities. But to say we're living in a glass house is to insult glass houses. Last year the military's weapons tester found that every single major weapons system had cybersecurity vulnerabilities. And those were just the things we found! Not the things we didn't know of, which is the essence of cyber. Cyberwar is not just people stealing James Bond scripts or Social Security numbers — it could be something way worse. In the book, you discuss a number of new, game-changing technologies for the military. Can you give an example? The U.S.S. Zumwalt is under construction right now in Maine. It's this new ship that breaks all the old rules -- from what ships are built out of to how they operate. It's a ship that's basically a 21st-century version of a battleship that's made of different materials to be stealthy. The ship is highly robotic: A ship of its size a generation ago would've needed a crew of 1,200. I met with the captain; he will lead a crew of around 130. And that's because robotics will do everything from run the engine room to being the firefighter. The ship is powered by millions of lines of Linuxcode. It's the only ship in the fleet that's going to toss off so much power that it can mount this other new technology called the electromagnetic rail gun.”

Japan Not Welcome In South China Sea, But US Forces Can Patrol Region, China Says.
Japanese sea patrols in the South China Sea are unacceptable, but U.S. patrols there will be tolerated, a prominent Chinese general declared, according to a new NBC news report. The ongoing military dispute between China and Japan that will change the strategic make-up of the region centers on territorial claims over a group of islands that could have huge economic potential. While Japan was not claiming ownership of the Spratly or the Parcel Islands, also referred to by China as the Nansha and Xinsha islands, respectively, Tokyo is concerned about the Chinese Navy’s increased presence in the region and its growing influence as maritime force. Beijing hopes to exert greater control of the South China Sea by building fake islands that already accommodate military outposts and heavy weapons, according to the Pentagon. "As for the Japanese military presence, it is very difficult for the Chinese people and the Chinese government to accept it," said Major General Zhu Chenghu, a professor of strategic studies at China's National Defense University, according to the NBC report. "The United States used to have military bases in Southeast Asia, like in the Philippines and even in Vietnam, and they have military cooperation with Singapore, so American military presence in the South China Sea is acceptable to China.” Zhu's claim that the U.S. is welcome to patrol the region may come as a surprise to many, as the general is known for his hawkish views towards Washington, and because the Obama administration is continuing its political and military pivot towards Asia. Overall ownership of the island group -- especially the Spratly Islands, which is located in an area that is surrounded by Malaysia, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan, who all are making claims for the island group -- would significantly increase China’s strategic territorial waters and economic opportunities. It’s thought that the area has significant oil deposits. A U.S. State Department official said Friday said that China’s pursuit of the territory in the South China Sea was the equivalent of Russia’s attempts to take Donbas in east Ukraine away from Kiev.

China Says Some South China Sea Land Reclamation Projects Completed
. “China has completed some of its land reclamation on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, raising the stakes in Beijing's territorial dispute with its Asian neighbors. China stepped up its creation of artificial islands last year, alarming several countries in Asia and drawing criticism from Washington. The United States, which has called for a halt in China's island building, said earlier this month that it was concerned about Beijing's plans for more construction work, including for military defense. China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing that the land reclamation projects on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea had been completed "in recent days.” China had been working on land reclamation projects on seven reefs among the tiny islets at the center of the maritime territorial dispute involving the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. Recent satellite images have shown a hive of work on China's new islands. U.S. officials say China has reclaimed 1,500 acres of land this year alone. The spokeswoman did not specify where the land reclamation had been completed. "As for the next step, China will begin fulfilling the relevant functions of the facilities," Hua said. "The construction is mainly to provide services to meet civilian demands so as to better facilitate China's efforts at maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and reduction, maritime research, meteorological observation, environmental protection, safety of navigation, fishery services and so on, in keeping with (our) international responsibilities and obligations," she said.”

The Great Game Folio: Chinese Submarines.
Reports that the docking of a Chinese submarine at Karachi last month has surprised New Delhi are distressing. One would have thought Delhi would have anticipated the development after it sighted Chinese submarines in Sri Lanka’s waters last year. Despite the growing strategic importance of the Indian Ocean in China’s maritime strategy, Delhi’s defence bureaucracy seems to continue to wring its hands rather than act. The Chinese navy first showed its flag in the Indian Ocean nearly three decades ago, when it began to make ship visits to Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Since then, the frequency and intensity of Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean has grown. The Chinese navy’s continuous anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea since the end of 2008 have showcased Beijing’s growing naval capabilities as well as the political will to operate in waters far from its shores. Defending China’s growing overseas interests has become a major priority for the PLA. China has also begun to debate the challenges of acquiring military and naval bases in other countries, especially in the Indian Ocean. As part of its “going out” strategy, the PLA navy has begun to build strategic partnerships in the Indian Ocean, cultivate access arrangements with critically located countries, export ships and submarines, and intensify its defence diplomacy in the littoral. The idea of a Chinese network of naval facilities and bases in the Indian Ocean, or a “string of pearls”, is often invoked by those in Delhi who fear Beijing’s hostile intentions. Others taking a more benign view of China’s policies ridicule the idea. Ignoring the alarmists and apologists, Delhi must take a more realistic view of China’s long-term role in the Indian Ocean. China has ambitions to become a great maritime power. It is building the capabilities and devising policies to become one. A rising China is bound to establish a sustainable naval presence in the Indian Ocean."

We’re Losing the Cyber War.
"The Obama administration disclosed this month that for the past year China had access to the confidential records of four million federal employees. This was the biggest breach ever—until the administration later admitted the number of hacked employees is at least 18 million. In congressional testimony last week it became clear the number could reach 32 million—all current and former federal workers. The Chinese hackers managed to gain “administrator privileges,” allowing them full access to the computers of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Among other things, they were able to download confidential forms that list “close or continuous contacts,” including those overseas—giving Beijing a new tool to identify and suppress dissenters. That’s not the worst of it. The administration disclosed a separate intrusion that gave Beijing full access to the confidential background-check information on federal employees and private contractors who apply for security clearances. That includes the 4.5 million Americans who currently have access to the country’s top secrets. The potential for blackmail is chilling. Since 1996 the Defense Department has considered 18,272 appeals from contractors whose security-clearance applications were denied. Decisions in these cases are posted, without names, on a Pentagon website under the heading “Industrial Security Clearance Decisions.” These are detailed case assessments on whether these individuals can be trusted or whether something in their background disqualifies them. China now knows who they are. One man kept his security clearance despite admitting a 20-year affair with his college roommate’s wife, about which his own wife was unaware. Another accessed pornography on his work computer and didn’t tell his wife “because he feels embarrassed by his conduct.” Another admitted shooting his teenage son in the leg. Other cases detailed spousal abuse, drugs, alcoholism, tax evasion and gambling. OPM director Katherine Archuleta tried to dodge blame for the security lapses. “I don’t believe anyone is personally responsible,” she told a Senate committee last week.”

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 29, 2015

China Builds Mystery Midget Submarine. "China has apparently built a previously unseen midget submarine at its Wuchang shipyard in Wuhan. DigitalGlobe satellite imagery dated 24 October 2014 showing the submarine was posted on Google Earth and was highlighted by a contributor to the Bellingcat open source intelligence website. The imagery shows the craft berthed at the pontoon used for fitting out submarines. The midget submarine had left the pontoon by late November and by mid-January 2015, another submarine, probably a Type 041 Yuan-class boat, occupied the berth. Based on the imagery the midget submarine has an approximate length of 35 m and beam of 4 m, suggesting a surface displacement in the region of 400-500 tonnes. The Wuchang shipyard is at the forefront of conventional submarine production in China and has constructed most of the Type 039 Song-class and Type 041 Yuan-class boats, including the most recent variant, with its distinctive hydrodynamic fairings between the casing and the fin. It also built the world's largest conventional submarine, the Type 032 Qing-class ballistic missile trials submarine.”

Chinese Submarine in Karachi, India Alarmed.
"Chinese submarines have now reportedly begun to make forays to even Karachi after making similar visits to Colombo over the last one year, sparking further concerns in the Indian security establishment. This is yet another indicator of the fast transformation of the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N), which operated close to its shores for long, into a "blue-water force with long legs" that is expanding its presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). In the latest incident, the PLA-N's conventional Yuan-class 335 submarine entered the Karachi port on May 22 after crossing the Arabian Sea close to the Indian waters. After docking there for replenishment for about a week, it set sail again, much like the visits of Chinese submarines to Colombo since September last year, as was earlier reported by TOI. While India had raised the matter with Sri Lanka, the Chinese government had said such replenishment stopovers on way to the Gulf of Aden for escort and anti-piracy operations were a "common practice" for navies around the world. While this is certainly true, many feel China is practising long-range deployments of its nuclear and conventional submarines on the pre-text of anti-piracy patrols. Though India has been closely tracking this increased activity of Chinese warships and submarines in the IOR, it can do little since international waters or the "global commons" are open to all. "Four of our warships, after all, are also currently in the South China Sea on a long overseas deployment," said an official. But this first-ever reported visit of a Chinese submarine to Pakistan does up the stakes in the IOR, where India and China are jostling for the same strategic space. Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan had recently said his force was "minutely and continuously monitoring" the presence of Chinese warships in the region to ascertain "what challenges they could pose for us". Incidentally, though the Yuan-class submarines are diesel-electric, they are equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) to greatly enhance their underwater endurance and stealth. Unlike nuclear-powered submarines that can stay underwater for months at end, diesel-electric submarines have to surface every few days to get oxygen to re-charge their batteries."

Author Warns U.S. Military to Focus on China.
"Peter Singer, one of Washington’s pre-eminent futurists, is walking the Pentagon halls with an ominous warning for America’s military leaders: World War III with China is coming. In meeting after meeting with anyone who will listen, this modern-day soothsayer wearing a skinny tie says America’s most advanced fighter jets might be blown from the sky by their Chinese-made microchips and Chinese hackers easily could worm their way into the military’s secretive intelligence service, and the Chinese Army may one day occupy Hawaii. The ideas might seem outlandish, but Pentagon officials are listening to the 40-year-old senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. In hours of briefings, Mr. Singer has outlined his grim vision for intelligence officials, Air Force officers and Navy commanders. What makes his scenarios more remarkable is that they are based on a work of fiction: Mr. Singer’s soon-to-be-released, 400-page techno thriller, “Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War.”“World War III may seem like something that was either a fear in the distant past or a risk in the distant future,” Mr. Singer told a dozen Air Force officers during a Pentagon briefing last week. “But, as the Rolling Stones put it in ‘Gimme Shelter,’ ‘It’s just a shot away.’ ”Pentagon officials typically don’t listen to the doom-and-gloom predictions of fiction writers. But Mr. Singer comes to the table with an unusual track record. He has written authoritative books on America’s reliance on private military contractors, cybersecurity and the Defense Department’s growing dependence on robots, drones and technology. The Army, Navy and Air Force already have included two of his books on their official reading lists. And he often briefs military leaders on his research. “Ghost Fleet,” co-written with former Wall Street Journal reporter August Cole is based on interviews, military research and years of experience working with the Defense Department."

U.S. Compares China's South China Sea Moves to Russia's in Ukraine.
The U.S. State Department's number two diplomat on Friday compared China's behavior in pursuit of territory in the South China Sea to that of Russia in eastern Ukraine. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken called China's large scale reclamation projects in the South China Sea, "a threat to peace and stability." He said the United States took no position on the merits of competing claims in the disputed sea, but had a strong interest in how those were pursued, and in preserving freedom of navigation. "The way forward is for China, and all claimants, to freeze their reclamation activities and resolve their difference in accordance the rule of law," he said. "In both eastern Ukraine and the South China Sea, we’re witnessing efforts to unilaterally and coercively change the status quo — transgressions that the United States and our allies stand united against," Blinken said in a speech at the Center for a New American Security think tank. China claims nearly all of the South China Sea and says it has every right to build up reefs there. Its top diplomat State Councilor Yang Jiechi said after talks with the United States this week that freedom of navigation in the Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, was guaranteed. The comments come at a time of rising tensions between the United States and China over the latter's increasingly assertive behavior in Asia and massive cyber attacks on U.S. government computers. On Thursday, U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper said on China was the top suspect in the hacking attacks on the Office of Personnel Management, which compromised the data of millions of Americans. It was the first time the Obama administration has publicly accused Beijing of the hacking, but Clapper said the attacks were still under investigation. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang called this "absurd logic." In April last year, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Daniel Russel said the prospect of economic retaliation should discourage Beijing from using force to pursue territorial claims in Asia in the way Russia had in Crimea. He also said China should not doubt the U.S. commitment to defend its Asian allies.”

Unease at China’s rise in South China Sea.
"The U.S. and China are jockeying for power in the South China Sea, deploying sharp words and an expanding fleet of warships, spy planes and fighter jets to protect their interests in a vital maritime domain. Is this regional arms race and increasingly tense diplomatic showdown between the world’s two largest military forces a new Cold War? Not exactly. But it is dangerous, according to military officials and analysts based in the Pacific Rim. Run-ins between U.S. and Chinese military personnel in the South China Sea are happening on a routine basis, American commanders say, stressing their efforts to keep the encounters safe and professional. CNN broadcast one of them in late May, when the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a U.S. surveillance plane flying over man-made islands it occupies to clear out of the area. No breakthrough that could trigger a detente emerged from the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue that ended Wednesday. The U.S. State Department announced that both nations are committed to “enhancing risk-reduction; so as to promote mutual trust and avoid conflict.” Talks will continue in hopes of expanding last year’s non-binding “memoranda of understanding” on encounters between military ships at sea, to include aircraft ideally before September’s state visit to Washington by President Xi Jinping.At the opening of an annual bilateral meeting in Washington last week, the U.S. administration publicly scolded the Chinese state councilor and military brass for expanding their outposts in South China Sea waters under contested jurisdiction. Vice President Joe Biden criticized “nations that disregard diplomacy and use coercion and intimidation to settle disputes,” and State Secretary John Kerry spoke of “the need to reduce tensions — rather than add to them,” The Associated Press reported. Unless the U.S. and China sign a treaty like the Soviet-American Incidents at Sea Agreement of 1972 to curtail ship-bumping, radar locks and aircraft-buzzing provocations, “We are going to see more and more of these kinds of incidents, absolutely,” said Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.”

Analysts: Taiwan Goals Drive China's Spratly Grab
. Missing from discussions at last week's US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) was Taiwan's significance in China's land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea, said defense analysts. Held annually since 2009, the S&ED is a high-level government meeting set alternatively in each other's capital. The Taiwan invasion scenario drives all Chinese military planning, force modernization, exercises and training, and this includes the recent land reclamation projects in the South China Sea, said Ian Easton, a China defense specialist at the Project 2049 Institute in Washington. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) views the militarization of these islands as creating an outer defensive perimeter to extend its precision strike battle networks, Easton said. In the event of a Taiwan crisis, there is a "high probability that the US would steam at least two aircraft carrier groups to the Philippine Sea to bolster Taiwan's defense." Since 9/11, the US has had at least one carrier group available for the mission in either the Arabian Gulf or the Indian Ocean, thus forcing the group to pass through the South China Sea to reach the area. There are now high expectations China will establish an air defense identification zone (ADIZ), as it did in the East China Sea in November 2013, as part of an anti-access/area denial strategy in the South China Sea, said Andrew Erickson, a China defense specialist at the US Naval War College. Erickson points to possible engineering efforts to lengthen the 1,300 meter runway on Fiery Cross in the Spratly Islands to 3,110 meters, allowing for the safe forward deployment of its J-11 (Su-27) fighter aircraft. However, Chinese sources still insist the reclamation effort is largely for civilian and non-military purposes, including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, fishery safety, ocean preservation and scientific research, said Wang Dong, deputy executive director, Institute on China-U.S. People to People Exchange, Peking University.”

The Right Way to Study China's Military.
"On February 2, 1977, the late Mike Oksenberg, a China expert then serving on the National Security Council staff, wrote a memo to his boss, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, expressing his dismay with the state of U.S. Government analysis on China. Although Oksenberg had “not been very impressed thus far by what [he had] seen,” he was admirably concerned about the future: “How do we cultivate talent so that 15–20 years from now, we will have a core group of 25–35 top-flight Chinese intelligence analysts in the then age bracket of 40–55. Everyone agrees with me that unless something is done, such a group will not exist.” Thirty-five years later, a senior U.S. academic on China would stand up at a Washington, DC conference and tell an audience of his peers in government and defense contractors that universities had failed to build expertise in the ivory tower and to produce sufficient numbers of properly trained analysts to support ongoing analysis of the Chinese military. And more recently, General Karl Eikenberry, a retired U.S. Army foreign area officer, called American expertise on China into question when he suggested expanded support for China and East Asian area studies to “to better understand and more effectively respond to China's attempts to expand its influence.” With U.S.-China relations seemingly becoming more competitive and U.S. forces or those of treaty allies brushing up against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), having a strong cadre of specialists on the Chinese military as well as a broader set of well-informed generalists capable of original insight is more critical than ever. While the number probably is smaller than even China watchers think it is, the former arguably is present. The latter, however, is mostly absent, and it should be concern anyone with a stake in U.S.-China relations.”

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 26, 2015
China’s New Military Strategy: “Winning Informationized Local Wars.” “In November 2013, the report of the Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress hinted that China might adjust its national military strategy. The Plenum’s Decision outlined the need to “strengthen military strategic guidance, and enrich and improve the military strategic guideline for the new period.” In May 2015, the new Defense White Paper, China’s Military Strategy, reveals that China has now officially adjusted its military strategy. This follows previous practice, such as when the 2004 strategic guideline was publicly confirmed in China’s defense white paper published in December 2004. In China’s approach to military affairs, the military strategic guideline represents China’s national military strategy. It provides authoritative guidance from the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for all aspects of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) combat-related activities. Since the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949, China has issued eight strategic guidelines. The 2015 Defense White Paper reveals that a ninth change has occurred (Xinhua, May 26). The new guidelines shift the goal of China’s military strategy from “winning local wars under the conditions of informationization” to “winning informationized local wars.” The change in the strategic guidelines reflects an evolution of the existing strategy, not a dramatic departure. Two key assessments serve as the basis for the change in strategy. First, what the Chinese military calls the “form of war” or conduct of warfare in a given period of time, has changed. The application of information technology in all aspects of military operations is even more prominent. Second, China faces increased threats and challenges in the maritime domain, including over disputed islands and maritime jurisdiction in waters close to China as well as through the growth of interests overseas in waters far from China. This article reviews how the language of the white paper indicates that China has officially changed its military strategy. The first section introduces briefly China’s concept of the strategic guideline. The second section reviews the language in the 2015 white paper to demonstrate that a change in the strategic guideline has occurred. The third section considers the timing of the adoption of the new strategy. It speculates that the change occurred sometime during the summer of 2014, as the Plenum’s Decision was being implemented.”

Why China Loves Pakistan and India is the 'Kabab Mein Haddi.'
“China's move to block sanctions on Pakistan for harbouring the notorious terrorist mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is the latest manifestation of the growing strength of the Beijing-Islamabad axis. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made strengthening Pakistan's 60-year-old alliance withChina a top priority. India needs a subtle response. The Chinese used their veto authority to block India's attempt to pressure Pakistan for releasing Lakhvi from jail seven years after the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267, States are required to take action against designated organisations and individuals involved in terrorism. The LeT and its cover organization, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), are both designated terrorist organisations by the UN. This is far from the first time China has used its veto to protect the LeT and Pakistan. Three times before the 26/11 attack, China blocked efforts to designate the JuD as a terrorist group. The Chinese are well aware of the close connections between the LeT/JuD and the Pakistani army and intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), connections which included joint planning of the Mumbai attack. The LeT is Pakistan's preferred terror outlet. Just a year ago, the group attacked the Indian consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's inauguration. More recently, the LeT has led the campaign in Pakistan to send troops to fight alongside Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Riyadh is an important source of LeT fund-raising. The Chinese veto in the UN is only one manifestation of the growing strength of the China-Pakistan connection. It is an issue that both Pakistani civilian leaders like Sharif and Pakistan's army leaders like Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif can fully agree on. Beijing provides diplomatic support, economic investment and arms and technology for Pakistan. China's support was essential to the development of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. The centrepiece of the China connection now is the Chinese commitment to invest $46 billion in the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to connect Kashgar in Xinjiang to Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. The power projects, fibre optic links, roads and energy supply lines involved in the project, promise to transform the Pakistani economy if completed in the next 15 years.”

The Chinese Connection.
“On June 4th of this year, rebels from northeast India killed at least 20 Indian soldiers and injured 11 in an ambush in the Indian state of Manipur, near the India-Myanmar border. It was the deadliest single attack on the Indian army in more than a decade. The rebels came from armed ethnic insurgencies that have fought for decades now to secure independence from India, citing grievances like illegitimate annexation and exploitative governance by central authorities. Since the ambush, a series of media reports have cited Indian officials positing links between these rebels and Chinese intelligence and military officials. The details are still murky, so it is wise to avoid dramatic assessments about their significance. But there’s another good reason for caution. Beijing’s behavioral precedents and current interests suggest real limits to the actions it would take in stirring up trouble in the Northeast. That’s not to say that ties with Northeastern rebels don’t exist, or that these ties align with Indian interests. But the strategic context today—and the information available so far on such ties—give little reason to expect that links between China and Indian rebels will prove a major sore spot for bilateral relations. There’s a long history of Chinese engagement with Northeastern insurgents, and after a lull in the post- Mao era, such engagement seems to have picked up over the past decade. Media reports present a variety of forms of engagement. Rebel leaders have spent time on Chinese soil, met with leading Chinese intelligence officials, procured arms from China’s shadowy arms markets, gathered intelligence for China in India, and even trained cadres on Chinese soil. A 2011 Outlook magazine report suggests that Indian diplomats saw China’s engagements here as par for the course—unhelpful, but not overly concerning against the complex backdrop of Sino-Indian relations. Until recently, militant attacks on security forces in the Northeast had declined significantly since the mid-2000s. But in late March, the armed National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), or NSCN(K), broke its 14-year-old ceasefire with the Indian government. Since then, NSCN(K) and its allies have launched a series of attacks that have killed at least 35 Indian security personnel. It’s thought that NSCN(K) chairman S.S. Khaplang is trying to show India the consequences of sidelining his group over the past decade in peace negotiations with rival Naga insurgent groups.”

China Moves Controversial Oil Rig Back Towards Vietnam Coast.
China has moved an oil rig at the center of last year's violent dispute with Vietnam closer to Vietnam's coast in the disputed South China Sea, just weeks ahead of the first visit by a chief of Vietnam's Communist Party to Washington. The move, announced by China's maritime safety authorities, comes soon after the country indicated it was close to setting up new outposts in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia, as it nears completion of land reclamation in the South China Sea. China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims. China's deployment of the rig last year in what Vietnam called its exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf, about 120 nautical miles off its coast, led to the worst breakdown in relations since a brief border war in 1979. Vietnam's people remain embittered over a perceived history of Chinese bullying and territorial claims in the South China Sea, although China said at the time the rig was operating completely within its waters. The rig now appears to be in an area where the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Vietnam and China overlap, but further away than last year, said Le Hong Hiep, a visiting fellow at Singapore's Institute of South East Asian Studies. In an online statement posted on Thursday, China's Maritime Safety Administration said the 'Haiyang Shiyou 981' rig would carry out "ocean drilling operations" 75 nautical miles south of the resort city of Sanya on southern Hainan island. Experts estimate the drilling site is about 104 miles (167 km) east of the Vietnam coast. The $1-billion rig will remain there from June 25 until August 20, the statement said, telling ships to stay 2,000 m (6,562 ft) away for safety reasons. Vietnam's maritime authorities were monitoring the rig's placement, the website of the country's state-controlled Tuoi Tre newspaper on Friday quoted unidentified sources as saying.”

Philippine Officials Say China's Island-Building Is Still In Full Swing At 2 Disputed Reefs.
China is pressing ahead with the construction of artificial islands on at least two reefs that are also claimed by the Philippines in the increasingly tense territorial dispute, Filipino officials said Friday, despite Beijing's pronouncement that some work would end soon. Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon of Kalayaan island, which is under Philippine control in the Spratly islands, where attention has recently focused on China's massive islands reclamation work, said that he flew last week near the Chinese-controlled Subi Reef and saw construction was in full swing with many dredgers and a huge crane visible on the emerging man-made island. "It's full-blast construction. It's massive and incredible," he told The Associated Press, adding that it was evident it would take months before the Chinese complete the work. In the mid-portion of the emerging island, a 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) -long landfill is taking the shape of a runway, Bito-onon said. His comments followed similar findings by the U.S. military and independent defense analysts. Two senior Philippine military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk to the media, said that aside from Subi Reef, China's island-building has also continued on Mischief Reef, also in the Spratlys, based on recent military surveillance. Chinese Embassy officials in Manila did not comment immediately. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on June 16 that the land reclamation projects on some islands and reefs "will be completed in upcoming days." However, in a sign that the developments were far from over, the ministry also said on its website that China would follow up by building infrastructure for operations ranging from maritime search and rescue to environmental conservation and scientific research. The U.S. and the Philippines, its defense treaty ally, have expressed concern that China's island-building on at least half a dozen features in the South China Sea could be used for positioning military planes and navy ships to intimidate other claimants, reinforce China's claim over virtually the entire sea and threaten freedom of navigation in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.”

Obama Raises Cyber, Maritime Concerns with Chinese.
“President Obama closed out two days of talks between U.S. and Chinese officials on Wednesday by raising concerns about Chinese cyber behavior and tensions over disputed seas of East Asia. He urged China to take action to reduce the tensions, the White House said. The high-level talks in Washington were a prelude to Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to the U.S. this fall, and ended with both sides saying they are stepping up cooperation on preserving the ocean and combating illegal fishing. Secretary of State John Kerry said that shows the two nations are "working hard to address differences and to find the areas of commonality." But Obama made clear that problems remain as U.S. officials met with leaders of the Chinese delegation at the White House on Wednesday afternoon. "The President raised ongoing U.S. concerns about China's cyber and maritime behavior, and he urged China to take concrete steps to lower tensions," the White House said in a statement after the meeting. The fall visit will be Xi's first to the U.S. since 2013. Despite growing tensions over cybertheft and China's island-building in the disputed South China Sea, the U.S. and China are stressing how they can work together on less contentious issues, such as climate change. State Councilor Yang Jiechi said they have "broad common interests in global maritime governance" and that they could jointly build a "peaceful and tranquil" marine environment. Kerry said they would expand cooperation among coast guard and law enforcement authorities to uphold international standards. He did not provide details. Kerry said one-third of the world's fisheries are overfished, and levels of plastic and pollution are reaching alarming levels, threatening marine mammals and fish. Kerry also warned that the causes of climate change can also cause ocean acidification, which could lead to "ecosystem collapse." "On the marine environment, there's an urgent need for our countries to step up and help lead," Kerry said.”

U.S. Intelligence Chief James Clapper Suggests China Behind OPM Breach.
The top U.S. intelligence official signaled Thursday that Chinese hackers were behind the theft of millions of personnel records from the federal government, marking the administration’s most pointed assignment of blame since the breach was announced June 4. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, speaking at a Washington intelligence conference, said China was the “leading suspect” in the attacks, adding that given the difficulty of the intrusion, “You have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did.” Mr. Clapper’s pointed remarks come as U.S. officials are debating how and whether to retaliate against Chinese officials for the breach of records and background investigation data from the Office of Personnel Management. Officials are still studying how many people were affected, but they believe 18 million Social Security numbers could have been compromised. President Barack Obama in April signed an executive order that would make it easier for the Treasury Department to impose sanctions against any person who conducts a cyberattack that represents a “significant threat” against the U.S. government or a U.S. firm. The White House hasn’t used these new powers yet, but they are considering whether to enact them in this case, people familiar with the matter said. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday the new sanctions power “gives the U.S. government a whole set of new tools that didn’t previously exist in responding to incidents like this.” He said the White House would not telegraph its “response to this incident, but they certainly are available.” The administration previously avoided publicly attributing the breach to China, though numerous U.S. officials privately have said the hackers were Chinese. A spokesman at the Chinese embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. Beijing has previously denied involvement in the incident. Mr. Clapper said hackers will continue to try to steal information from the government and from American companies until policy makers beef up deterrence against stealing intellectual property or private records.”

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.
Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 25, 2015

America's Pivot to Asia: Why Rhetoric Simply Isn't Enough. “The Obama administration’s “rebalance” to the Pacific is manifestly failing to prevent Chinese expansionism.  The reason is that China’s rapid military buildup is shifting the regional balance of power in their direction.  Until the United States and its partners reinforce their own position in the region, China will continue its coercive tactics in the East and South China Seas, increasing the risk of armed conflict, and undermining both the rights of neighboring countries and the vital interests of the United States. The entire world has now heard of China’s actions across seven islets and reefs in the South China Sea and its ongoing conversion of those features into military installations.  But that is just the latest in a series of aggressive Chinese actions over the last several years. In 2012, Chinese forces blocked off the Scarborough Shoal, eventually taking control of it from the Philippines. They are trying the same tactic now with the Second Thomas Shoal. Last summer China stationed an oil rig in waters also claimed by Vietnam.  The Chinese are flooding the Senkaku Islands, which Japan administers, with paramilitary vessels, supported by China’s naval presence just over the horizon. They have declared an “Air Defense Identification Zone” over much of the East China Sea and likely will do the same soon in the South China Sea. All of these are hostile acts, and the Chinese consistently accompany them with uncompromising rhetoric:  loud claims of absolute sovereignty, repudiation of negotiated solutions, and threats against other countries which fly aircraft or sail vessels within international waters or airspace that the Chinese claim as their own.   Looming in the background is the vast military which China has built over the last twenty years.  China has nearly 300 vessels in its increasingly modern Navy, several thousand fighter aircraft, updated intelligence and reconnaissance systems, growing anti-satellite capabilities, highly sophisticated and lethal cyber capability, and an enormous and growing inventory of increasingly longer-range anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles.  Virtually all of this power can be concentrated on targets in the East and South China Seas. Twenty years ago the PLA Navy could put to sea little more than a coastal defense fleet.  But since then China has been increasing its defense spending by double digits every year, incorporating the most sophisticated technology, much of it stolen from the United States, into its ships. They are now in serial production of entire classes of modern corvettes, frigates and destroyers, all heavily armed with anti-ship cruise missiles.  Given their vast shipbuilding base, they could increase production quickly whenever they want. There is nothing subtle about all this and no sign whatsoever that it will stop.”

The Pentagon’s Fight Over Fighting China
. “At first, it’s hard to see Operation Desert Storm as anything less than an unparalleled American military victory. The battleship U.S.S. Missouri began the campaign to forcibly remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait by firing four Tomahawk cruise missiles at military command and control centers in Baghdad in the early morning hours of January 17, 1991. “I’ll never forget the day we launched these,” a Missouri crew member who witnessed the Tomahawk attack later wrote. “We listened to CNN radio from Baghdad after we had launched our birds. For an hour, everything was calm, but we knew sorties were on the way. Then all hell broke loose.” In all, the United States fired 297 Tomahawk missiles from ships and submarines during the Gulf War, of which 282 reached and destroyed their targets. Nine of the missiles failed to fire, six fell into the water after their launch, and two were shot down. The Tomahawks’ carefully tabulated success rate of 94.94 percent was revolutionary, the most precise delivery of munitions on target in the history of warfare. And the Tomahawks were just one of an array of air assets used in the war’s earliest days to destroy Iraq’s military and leadership infrastructure. The Iraqi military never recovered. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who was Desert Storm’s principal air campaign planner, says the air attacks were decisive. While Americans later focused their attention on Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf’s famous 100-hour “left hook” against the Iraqi army in Kuwait, Deptula says, the 900-hour air campaign that preceded it made the success of the ground war inevitable. He calls Schwarzkopf’s left hook “the great Iraqi prisoner roundup.” Yet even as the military was celebrating Desert Storm, a small group of defense intellectuals—those Washington denizens who think about how to organize, train and equip U.S. forces—began to raise a series of uncomfortable questions about the campaign. They pointed out that U.S. naval and air deployments in the Persian Gulf were unchallenged—what if they hadn’t been? What if Iraq had been able to mount a sustained anti-naval and anti-air campaign that denied the U.S. Navy and Air Force access to the waters of the Gulf and the use of air bases in nearby countries? Would we have been able to counter their weapons? Would the operation have been as successful? The difficult questions weren’t aimed so much at Iraq or even its Persian Gulf neighbor, Iran, as at a potential conflict in the Asia-Pacific with China.”

Responding to China's Rise: Could a 'Quad' Approach Help?
“On the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum meetings in 2007, assistant secretary–level diplomats from four countries—the United States, Japan, India and Australia—convened the “quadrilateral security dialogue.” Then, after only one meeting, largely in response to complaints from Beijing, the initiative died. For the sake of long-term peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region, it is something that should be revived. Dr. Mark Brawley, a professor at McGill University in Montreal, has done some interesting work looking at the misalignment of policies among British, French and Soviets in the lead-up to World War II. He demonstrates that largely due to domestic factors, the three countries developed such different strategies for dealing with German power in the 1920s that by the 1930s, it was virtually impossible to formulate an effective coordinated response. Appeasement did not spring from nowhere in 1938. It was a policy choice conditioned by faulty, inconsistent assessments of German power by the various parties and domestic political trade-offs made decades prior. The United States, its allies and security partners, such as India, face a similar problem today regarding Chinese power. This is not meant to equate the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with prewar Germany. The differences between the two situations are multiple. The lessons of prewar Europe, however, do raise critical questions about the management of emerging major powers. Develop the right approach with regard to China, and it will pave the way for a prosperous and peaceful Pacific century. Fail to do so, and catastrophe could repeat itself in Asia, with all the implications that it would have for American blood and treasure. Earlier this year, national-security analysts from four major think tanks—the Heritage Foundation (USA), Vivekananda International Foundation (India), the Tokyo Foundation (Japan) and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute—met in Bali, Indonesia, to compare notes on a range of security issues. Central among them was China’s military capability, posture and strategic intentions. Both this year, and at talks in late 2013, the dialogue also included scholars from outside the quad countries. The Yuchengco Center from Manila’s De La Salle University was what organizers called the “plus” partner in 2013 and Indonesia’s Habibie Center hosted the talks as “plus” partner this year. These “plus” countries provided additional regional perspectives and served as critical sounding boards for quad participants. Convening a regular consultation among these same players—but at an official level—would offer the political/security establishments of the four countries an action-forcing opportunity to share assessments of Chinese power and coordinate responses.”

Japan May Join U.S. in South China Sea Patrols
. “Japan’s military may join U.S. forces in conducting regular patrols in the South China Sea, according to the nation’s top uniformed officer, underscoring how China’s territorial claims are encouraging Tokyo to play a greater role in regional security. Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of the Joint Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, said in an interview that China’s recent moves to build artificial islands have created “very serious potential concerns” for Japan, a trading nation that relies on the sea lane that runs through the area. “Of course, the area is of the utmost importance for Japanese security,” Adm. Kawano said. “We don’t have any plans to conduct surveillance in the South China Sea currently but depending on the situation, I think there is a chance we could consider doing so.”Adm. Kawano didn’t specify what actions by China might trigger Japanese consideration of patrols, and any activity by Japan’s military beyond its borders would likely raise concerns at home. However, Japan’s participation would be a welcome move for the U.S., which has sought to rely more on allies to provide peacekeeping in the region. “I view the South China Sea as international water, not territorial water of any country, and so Japan is welcome to conduct operations on the high seas as Japan sees fit,” said Adm. Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, at a briefing in Tokyo earlier this month. Troops from Japan’s navy have been conducting joint drills this week with the Philippine navy around Palawan Island, just a few hundred kilometers from the Spratly Islands, which are at the heart of a territorial dispute between Beijing and Manila. The session features Japan’s P-3C surveillance aircraft, which Adm. Kawano described as having “a superb ability for detecting submarines and other objects in the water.” The U.S. has pledged to send aircraft and naval ships to contest China’s claims, and Australia already runs military patrols. Adm. Kawano took the helm of the military late last year as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was seeking to ease decades-old self-imposed restrictions on the nation’s Self-Defense Forces. Mr. Abe has cited China’s military buildup and North Korea’s nuclear-weapons development for the shift.”

Battleground Burma
. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently sent his country’s special forces into Burma to attack two militant camps, in retaliation for a series of deadly ambushes on Indian soil. Given reports that the militants’ activities have been secretly supported by Beijing, we may be witnessing not just an Indian antiterrorism campaign but the start of a proxy war between India and China. The violence began when a splinter group of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, a militant Christian organization that seeks a sovereign state for the Naga people of India and Burma, launched several attacks on Indian security forces in northeast India. One of these operations left eight members of India’s Assam Rifles paramilitary force dead in early May. A month later, 18 Indian soldiers were killed and 15 injured in an attack in India’s Manipur state. New Delhi’s ensuing pursuit of this splinter group, known as the NSCN-K, was swift and deadly. The Indian army followed NSCN-K into Burma and carried out what it calls pre-emptive raids based on “credible and specific intelligence” about plans for further attacks on Indian territory. Initial reports indicate the two militant camps suffered significant casualties. The raids were sanctioned by a 2010 agreement permitting Indian counterterror forces to enter Burma if they receive permission from Burmese authorities. Yet the Burmese army wasn’t directly involved in the raids—either because it was already overstretched fighting insurrections in northern Burma or because, since NSCN-K hasn’t broken the truce it signed with the Burmese government in 2012, Burma’s army had no justification to intervene. Tensions had been escalating since March, when the NSCN-K broke a 14-year truce with the Indian government, claiming it was weakening the nationalist cause. The NSCN-K then announced in April that it had joined forces with eight other rebel militias to create a new United National Liberation Front of West South East Asia (UNLFWSEA) to pursue the common goal of undermining Indian rule. These militant groups reportedly have connections to China. Among the nine groups in the new umbrella force is the United Liberation Front of Assam, led by Paresh Baruah, whom Indian authorities say has found safe haven in the Chinese province of Yunnan and has close ties with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.”

China Military Declines to Confirm Djibouti Base Plan
. “China's Defense Ministry on Thursday declined to confirm a report that it was in talks for a military base in Horn of Africa country Djibouti, though it said all countries had an interest in regional peace and stability. In May, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh told Agence France-Presse of the talks, adding that Beijing's presence would be welcome in the former French colony, which borders Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia. The United States and France both already have bases in the country and its port has been used by foreign navies, including China's, participating in the fight against Somali pirates. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun, asked about the report at a monthly news briefing, said the two countries had a traditional friendly relationship. "Over the past few years both countries' friendly cooperative relationship has kept on developing, and in all areas there is practical cooperation," Yang said, in comments broadly in line with Foreign Ministry remarks last month on the same topic. "What needs to be explained is, maintaining regional peace and stability accords with all countries' interests, and is the joint desire of China, Djibouti and all other countries in the world," Yang added. "China is willing to, and ought to, make even more contributions in this regard," he said, without elaborating. In an effort to damp fears about Chinese plans connected to its increasingly modern and confident military, Beijing has repeatedly said it does not want military bases abroad. In 2009, Chinese officials distanced themselves from comments by a rear admiral, Wu Shengli, who urged the nation to set up navy supply bases overseas for the anti-piracy fight. Wu is now China's naval chief. Chinese ships have undertaken anti-piracy operations off Somalia since late 2008, and in early 2010 Beijing agreed to join the multi-nation effort to protect shipping in the Gulf of Aden and nearby stretches of the Indian Ocean. Experts have said China is likely one day to have to overcome its discomfort about overseas military bases, as its forces are drawn into protecting the growing interests of the world's second-largest economy.”

Russia, Mongolia to March in China Parade to Mark End of World War Two. “Troops from Russia and Mongolia will march together with Chinese forces in a parade in Beijing in September to commemorate the end of World War Two, the government and state media said on Thursday, confirming the first two foreign participants. China has been coy about which countries it plans to invite to the parade, but says it will also likely invite representatives from the Western Allies who fought with China during the war. President Xi Jinping could be left standing on the stage with few top Western officials, however, diplomats have told Reuters, due to Western governments concerns over a range of issues, including the expected presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Xi attended a parade in Moscow in May to mark 70 years since the end of the war in Europe. Western leaders boycotted the Moscow parade over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis. Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said that a "certain number" of country's militaries had already responded to the invitation for the Beijing event, which will be held around Tiananmen Square. "Russia and others have already clearly said that they will send representatives to participate and watch the parade," Yang told a regular monthly news briefing, without providing details. The Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said that Mongolia, sandwiched between China and Russia, will also send a 75-strong military delegation to march. The Beijing parade will be Xi's first since he took over as Communist Party leader and military chief in late 2012 and as state president in early 2013. Sino-Japan relations have long been affected by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war, and Beijing rarely misses an opportunity to remind its people and the world of this. In April, U.S. President Barack Obama's top Asia adviser, Evan Medeiros, said that he had questions about whether a large military parade would really send a signal of reconciliation or promote healing, drawing a rebuke from China. This week, a senior Chinese official complained about what he said was a lack of appreciation in the West about China's sacrifices and contributions during the war.”

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 24, 2015
US Chides China on Cybertheft, Other Tensions, But Avoids Clouding Cooperation. “The United States voiced deep concern Tuesday over state-sponsored cybertheft and tension in the disputed seas of East Asia but did not let the sharp disagreements with China on pressing security issues cloud the outlook for cooperation between the world powers. At high-level talks in Washington, China was intent on setting a positive tone ahead of a White House visit this fall by President Xi Jinping. The Chinese leader has sought deeper relations with the United States, as his nation's economic and military clout grows. The sprawling agenda of the two-day U.S.-China Security and Economic Dialogue that began here Tuesday reflects the growing depth of the relationship despite the emerging rivalry between Washington and Beijing. Few major outcomes were expected, although U.S. officials touted "remarkable" progress in climate change cooperation over the past year. Using well-worn exhortations to China, Vice President Joe Biden urged it to be a "responsible stakeholder" in the international system. In an opening statement, Biden acknowledged that there will be intense disagreements between the U.S. and China, but added: "This relationship is just too important. Not only do we depend on it, but the world depends on our mutual success." Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said the two countries can keep bilateral relations on the right track so long as they "respect and accommodate each other's core interests." Another vice premier, Wang Yang, said neither China nor the U.S. can afford a lack of cooperation or "all-out confrontation." The U.S. and China are cooperating on a growing array of hot-button issues, like Iran's nuclear program, Afghanistan and global pandemics such as Ebola. But they remain at odds on human rights, religious freedom and Xi's crackdown on domestic dissent. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of the need to "reduce tensions rather than add to them" in the South and East China Seas, where China's assertive behavior and land reclamation to advance its territorial claims has rattled its Asian neighbors, U.S. allies among them. China says the disputed areas are its sovereign territory. U.S. officials said they voiced concern over the possible militarization of artificial islands China is building.”

Beijing’s Master Plan for the South China Sea.
In late 2013, Beijing started taking a very different approach to sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea — although few outside China noticed the change. Instead of directly confronting the other regional claimant states, Beijing began the rapid consolidation of, and construction on, the maritime features already under its control. And it did so on a scale and pace befitting China’s impressive engineering prowess. Much of the outside world only realized this approach in early 2015, after several high-profile U.S. think tanks published high-resolution satellite images showing the extraordinary progress of China’s island construction, including military facilities and runways, which could extend Beijing’s military reach over the contested waters. This worried Southeast Asian countries, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines, because their claims to parts of the South China Sea overlap with China’s, and because they fear Beijing’s island construction threatens their security. It worries Washington as well: In May, the U.S. government vowed to assert freedom of navigation by sending military assets to Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea. And in late May, in Singapore, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter called for “an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants” — in other words, China. Intriguingly, half a month later, Beijing indicated that it would soon conclude its land reclamation projects in the South China Sea. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs even held a special press conference to deliver that message So what happened? Is Beijing changing its strategy in the South China Sea or backing down because of pressure from Washington? Perhaps. A more accurate way of looking at the issue, however, is to see that Beijing believes it has achieved enough in this round of island construction. China, according to Carter, has reclaimed more than 2,000 acres over the last 18 months — a claim that Beijing has not publicly disputed. And the facilities Beijing will continue to build on the new land — including airstrips, ports, and lighthouses — will be sufficient for a wide range of civil and military purposes. (Indeed, Beijing is not denying that those facilities will have “necessary military defense” functions — although it is certainly not emphasizing that aspect of its island construction.) Beijing’s South China Sea policy actually hasn’t changed much. Reclamation will stop for now, but construction of facilities on the reclaimed land will continue, and Beijing hasn’t changed its claims to the South China Sea.”

Let's Be Real: The South China Sea Is a US-China Issue
. “On June 18, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel offered a press preview of the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED) now taking place in Washington, D.C. During the briefing Russel fielded a question about U.S. efforts to reduce tensions with China in the South China Sea. His response was surprising: “As important as [the] South China Sea is … it’s not fundamentally an issue between the U.S. and China.” While Washington has long sought to avoid entanglement in the complex territorial disputes in the South China Sea, it has had plenty of “issues” with Chinese behavior there. Yet such concerns may pale in comparison to growing discord over a new Chinese initiative to build artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago. Although these “land reclamation” projects are now nearing an end, the episode has provoked new U.S. concerns about freedom navigation and risks drawing Washington more firmly into the South China Sea milieu than ever before. China’s land reclamation efforts on eight maritime features in the South China Sea cannot be explained by basic economic motives or the important but declining fishing stocks around the Spratly Islands. While there are not-insignificant reserves of natural resources in the South China Sea, the high cost of deep-water drilling and the abundance of political risk have rendered their extraction unprofitable for the time being. In any event, most of the natural resources lie outside the areas affected by China’s artificial island-building. Instead, China hopes to buttress its claims to disputed waters and features 700 miles from its coast and fortify its military foothold in the South China Sea. It’s no coincidence that “satisfying necessary military defense requirements” is always referenced in Beijing’s own justification for the projects. China has already built a runway on Fiery Cross Reef and recent satellite footage captured two mobile artillery pieces being placed on an artificial island before being quickly removed or hidden. Although vulnerable to attack during wartime, these outposts nevertheless can offer China myriad strategic advantages as power projection platforms. Ports and airstrips would extend the range of Chinese planes and ships, while helipads would enhance the potency of China’s otherwise modest air-based anti-submarine warfare capabilities. Meanwhile, its vast and active Great White Fleet of maritime law enforcement vessels will enjoy new re-supply hubs. Finally, the outposts give China a foothold atop one of the world’s most important Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC), host to some $5 trillion in seaborne trade annually and the vital lifeline for the economy of China’s regional rival, Japan.”

Why the US Shouldn't View China as an Enemy.
“East Asia has avoided major military conflicts since the 1970’s. After the United States fought three wars in the preceding four decades originating in East Asia, with a quarter of a million lost American lives, this is no small achievement. It is owing to the maturity and good sense of most of the states of the region, their emphasis on economic growth over settling scores, and the American alliances and security presence that have deterred military action and provided comfort to most peoples and states. But above all else, it is due to the reconciliation of the Asia-Pacific’s major powers, the United States and China, initiated by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and nurtured by every American administration and Chinese leadership since. Judging by recent public commentary from a number of American foreign policy experts, this reconciliation is in danger of unraveling. Some argue that it should. In reaction principally to China’s aggressive land reclamation projects on disputed atolls and reefs in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea that seem to prefigure establishment of military outposts far from China’s coast, they argue that the policies pursued by eight presidents beginning with Nixon are outdated. They contend that we need to accept that strategic accommodation with a China seeking to dominate the western Pacific is impossible and we should accept, even embrace, a relationship built on rivalry, with cooperation sidelined. In a world beset with grave challenges to order, established governments, and accepted international norms, with vast swathes of the greater Middle East ungoverned, ungovernable, and home to threatening insurgencies, with Russia destabilizing a neighboring sovereign state through military intervention and pressure, it is not in the U.S. interest to be complicit in turning the world’s most stable, orderly, economically dynamic region into yet one more area of conflict.”

U.S. Must Modernize, Update Nuclear Strategy for New Century. “
America must change its policies regarding its nuclear weapons arsenal if it wishes to remain safe in the coming century, according to a new study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Clark Murdock, an expert in strategic planning and defense at CSIS, writes in the study, ‘Project Atom,’ that the effects of global nuclear proliferation will dominate American foreign policy between 2025-2050 if the United States does not revamp its policies today, including modernizing its nuclear weapons and seeking enhanced tactical nuclear capabilities. “The value of nuclear weapons as a ‘trump card’ for negating U.S. conventional power was enhanced by the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 to prevent Saddam Hussein from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Murdock writes. “If the United States apparently believes that it can be deterred by an adversary’s nuclear weapons, why wouldn’t a nonnuclear ‘regional rogue’ want one?” The root of global nuclear ambitions lies in American strength, according to Murdock. The clout of the U.S. military leads non-nuclear nation-states to seek nuclear capabilities. As the United States plans its nuclear posture for the 2025-2050 timeframe, Murdock recommends that the American inferiority to Russian nonstrategic nuclear forces should be addressed. Murdock says that a variety of tactical nuclear weapons, including some small-scale missiles, should be developed to counter Russian capabilities. “U.S. nuclear forces were designed for a global conflict involving the exchange of thousands of high-yield weapons, not limited exchanges of low-yield weapons,” she writes. “Since most U.S. nuclear response options are large, ‘dirty,’ and inflict significant collateral damage, the United States might be ‘self-deterred’ and not respond ‘in kind’ to discriminate nuclear attacks.” Murdock’s recommendations were based on two assumptions regarding what could happen in 2025-2050 in the absence of effective American nuclear weapons planning.”

Pentagon Rushing to Open Space-War Center To Counter China, Russia.
“The Pentagon and intelligence community are developing war plans and an operations center to fend off Chinese and Russian attacks on U.S. military and government satellites. The ops center, to be opened within six months, will receive data from satellites belonging to all government agencies, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said Tuesday at the GEOINT symposium, an annual intelligence conference sponsored by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. “[W]e are going to develop the tactics, techniques, procedures, rules of the road that would allow us … to fight the architecture and protect it while it’s under attack,” Work said. “The ugly reality that we must now all face is that if an adversary were able to take space away from us, our ability to project decisive power across transoceanic distances and overmatch adversaries in theaters once we get there … would be critically weakened.” Work also said that Air Force Secretary Deborah James would soon be named the “principal space advisor” to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, where she will to provide “independent advice separate from the consensus process of the department.” Senior officials at the Pentagon and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are still finalizing details of the new center, which will back up the military’s Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The center will help the military and government coordinate their preparations for and responses to any attack, said Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson, a spokeswoman for Work. The hope is that it will also shore up the U.S. technological advantage over China and Russia—the latter of which Work said “represents a clear and present danger”—by coordinating the development of new capabilities. In particular, Work said, the Defense Department intends to “double down” on geospatial intelligence. “We want to be able to establish patterns of life from space. We want to know what the unusual looks like,” he said.”

Japan Navy Drill in South China Sea May Lead to Larger Role.
“A tiny military exercise in the Philippines this week may presage something much bigger: the entry of Japan into the tussle for control of the South China Sea. A Japanese surveillance plane and about 20 troops conducted the first of two days of joint training with the Philippine navy on Tuesday off the coast of Palawan, a strategically important island not far from contested islands claimed by several countries including China and the Philippines. While the P-3C plane was being used for maritime search-and-rescue drills and disaster relief drills, the aircraft is also a mainstay of Japan's anti-submarine and other aerial surveillance efforts. In theory, it could help the U.S. keep an eye on the Chinese navy in the South China Sea. Some experts think that's a possibility in coming years. "It's likely we will see Japan doing joint surveillance and reconnaissance in the South China Sea in the coming years," said Narushige Michishita, a defense expert at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. "It is going to be with the U.S., Australia, the Philippines and others." Others are less certain. Such a move would raise tensions with China, with which Japan already has a major territorial dispute over islands farther north in the East China Sea. It would face public opposition at home from those who want Japan's military to avoid getting entangled in overseas disputes. The military is already stretched, keeping an eye for example on North Korea and China in the East China Sea. Takashi Manzen, speaking for the Japanese delegation, said the P-3C, which was manned by 13 Japanese flight crewmembers and accompanied by three Filipino military personnel, flew 100 kilometers (62 miles) westward from Palawan island with a Philippine navy islander toward the South China Sea in a mock search for a missing ship. While the Philippines and Japan can possibly hold similar drills in the future, Manzen told The Associated Press that these would remain focused on improving disaster response, "not patrolling, not surveillance." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang expressed concern about the exercise."

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.
Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 23, 2015

It’s Time to Stop Pretending Beijing is a Partner. “This week, top American and Chinese officials will meet in Washington for the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). The dialogue, which the Obama administration began in 2009, was once touted as one of Washington’s most important bilateral meetings, potentially even a de facto G-2, where the world’s two dominant powers would not only settle their differences but shape Asian, if not global, economic and political issues. Experience has proved a bitter teacher, however, and the hopes of just a few years ago have dissipated as the desired strategic partnership has devolved into an undeniable strategic competition. It is long past time to reevaluate our relationship with China and, more important, to put to pasture failed initiatives such as the S&ED in favor of a more realistic and self-interested engagement with Beijing. It will be particularly difficult this year to pretend that Sino-American relations are anything other than increasingly competitive. Just this month it was revealed that Chinese hackers penetrated the U.S. government’s personnel files in 2014, potentially gaining access not only to the files of nearly every government employee, but also to the sensitive and private information of Americans holding government security clearances. Some believe that American intelligence has been gutted by this invasion. At least 4 million, and possibly as many as 14 million, Americans may have had their personal information stolen by the Chinese (I may well be one of those persons). This act alone should result in a radical rethink of U.S. strategy toward China. Meanwhile, our nascent military competition is heating up. Over the past several months, Washington has focused on China’s land-reclamation activities in the South China Sea, which are unprecedented in their scale. Beijing is building new territory in the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei in addition to China, and which sit astride some of the world’s most important trade routes. China has warned away U.S. surveillance flights, which have revealed that the Chinese are militarizing the islands, building landing strips and emplacing radars. Beijing has asserted that the islands will be used for military as well as civilian purposes and has rejected American demands to stop the land-reclamation process. Even China’s recent announcement that the project will be completed this summer leaves open the door to further militarization of the islands and the construction of new ones in the future.”

America’s Asia Policy: The New Reality.
“During this week’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Washington officials presumably will demonstrate their recognition of a new reality in America’s Asia policy. In the immediate term, regional and global security requires the United States to contain China’s expansionism. Long term, the interests of the Chinese people, as well as regional and global security, can only be served by American support for regime change in China. The first task, containment of aggression, whether overt or attenuated, is encompassed within international law and norms. The undertaking is mandatory, and it contemplates the possible use of force. The second challenge, openly pursuing change of China’s communist system, is prudential but optional, and lawful as long as it is done by peaceful means. China has long claimed that virtually any external opposition to its actions or any U.S. policy it disagrees with are part of a Western plot to contain China’s peaceful rise; so Washington’s emerging new approach constitutes both Chinese vindication and American bluff-calling. Beijing’s blanket charge that Washington seeks to “keep China down” is absurd on its face since American policy from Richard Nixon’s opening to the present has been designed to help China shake off historic shackles, lift its people out of poverty, and bring it into what Richard Nixon called the family of nations. The policy succeeded beyond Nixon’s dreams, but Xi Jinping’s China Dream has become a potential nightmare for the West. Yet Beijing’s permanent persecution complaint has proved useful, constantly keeping Westerners on the defensive, making concessions, striving to prove our benign intentions toward China in order to expiate “the century of humiliation.” In recent years, however, the ploy of Chinese victimhood, deeply resonant in Western academic circles, has begun to wear thin. China has used its new economic power in ways the West did not expect: building up its military beyond conventional mainland defense needs, threatening its neighbors, constricting regional freedom of navigation and overflight, and jeopardizing the maritime stability that facilitated China’s rise and the new prosperity of the region. Washington has apparently decided that enough is enough. Despite hollow American denials, the U.S. pivot or rebalance to Asia was a direct response to what has fast become the non-peaceful rise of China. Beijing’s protests that it is not trying to push the U.S. out of East Asia rings equally false. As China escalated its assertive posture – its neighbors call it simple aggression – so too has Washington upped its rhetoric and its security cooperation with countries in the region. What has emerged is a policy of containment lite, more narrowly focused than the across-the-board anti-Soviet strategy of the Cold War. It offers a blunt new message to China: You are free to thrive but not to threaten.”

U.S. And China Set To Meet, With Few Expectations.
“Expectations are low as top officials of the United States and China prepare for an annual meeting here on Tuesday. Yet the fact that the two nations are talking at all is seen as positive at a time when they seem as far apart as ever, not least after the recent discovery that hackers linked to China have stolen the personal data of millions of federal workers. The cyberattacks are certain to charge the atmosphere at the seventh such gathering, known as the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. But that issue will share a lengthy agenda with discordant matters of trade and open markets, the value of China’s currency, the treatment of American companies in China, Beijing’s military buildup in the South China Sea and more. The high-level gathering is occurring as the Republican-led Congress, in a rare alliance with the Obama administration, is trying to revive legislation recently derailed by Democrats that would ease President Obama’s negotiation of a trade accord with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, excluding China. While administration officials have said little in briefings with reporters that would raise expectations for breakthroughs between the world’s two biggest economic powers, the talks are nonetheless seen as potentially setting the table for agreements to be announced when Mr. Obama receives President Xi Jinping for a state visit in September. The meeting between the United States and China in Beijing last summer was the background for an announcement by the two presidents in November of a climate change accord. Also, the White House sees China’s cooperation as important to the success of international negotiations with Iran to limit that country’s nuclear production, with a deadline for those talks set for the end of this month. China is considered critical to managing nuclear-armed North Korea, as well. “The U.S. and China have a very complex, very consequential relationship,” said Daniel R. Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. “We don’t always see eye to eye. But the fact is that global challenges require that we cooperate.” On the eve of the two-day discussions, Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew hosted a dinner on Monday for their Chinese counterparts and other diplomats from both countries at Mount Vernon, the estate of George Washington. The joint roles of Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lew reflect the dual nature of the talks, which are to cover economic and national security issues. ”

U.S.-China Dialogue Pays Dividends.
“I have the honor of co-chairing the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C., this week. This meeting is of particular significance as it lays the groundwork for President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the U.S. in September. We look forward to engaging in candid discussions with U.S. colleagues to achieve broader consensus, better solutions and mutual success. The role of this dialogue has been commended by many, but unfortunately also criticized by some who see it as producing more accusations than results. The facts clearly prove otherwise. The dialogue has helped both countries identify and expand common interests and achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. For example, the talks were critical in kick-starting negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty that had been stalled since 1982. This breakthrough came in 2013 during the fifth round of the dialogue with the adoption of a pre-establishment national treatment clause, which means national treatment will apply to U.S. businesses as they establish a presence in China. We also adopted a “negative list” approach, which clearly details which sectors aren’t covered in the treaty. Climate change is another area where dialogue has achieved success. This is an issue where both countries have enormous shared interests and face daunting common challenges. The last three dialogue rounds focused on this issue and produced extensive common ground that paved the way for the historic Joint Statement on Climate Change announced by President Xi and President Obama during the latter’s visit to China last November. Such progress also gave a strong boost to multilateral negotiations. Maintaining a strategic dialogue has helped the U.S. and China effectively manage differences and minimize their impact on our relationship. Some may recall the motion in the U.S. a decade ago to impose a 27.5% punitive tariff on Chinese imports. Fortunately, both sides chose dialogue over confrontation and worked together to forestall a looming trade war. Over the past decade China has been committed to market-based currency reforms, and the yuan has appreciated 35% against the U.S. dollar. The International Monetary Fund recently released a report stating that China’s currency is “no longer undervalued.” Currency reforms have also helped reduce China’s current-account surplus from a high of 10% of GDP to 2% today.”

China Aims to Challenge U.S. Air Dominance: Pentagon.
China is mounting a serious effort to challenge U.S. military superiority in air and space, forcing the Pentagon to seek new technologies and systems to stay ahead of its rapidly developing rival, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said on Monday. The Pentagon's chief operating officer, speaking to a group of military and civilian aerospace experts, said China was "quickly closing the technological gaps," developing radar-evading aircraft, advanced reconnaissance planes, sophisticated missiles and top-notch electronic warfare equipment. While hoping for a constructive relationship with China, the Pentagon "cannot overlook the competitive aspects of our relationship, especially in the realm of military capabilities, an area in which China continues to improve at a very impressive rate," he said. China's state-run news agency Xinhua late on Monday cited Xu Qiliang, a vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, as saying China must innovate even more."Our military's equipment construction is shifting from catch-up research to independent innovations," Xu said. Work made his remarks to the inaugural conference of the China Aerospace Studies Initiative, a partnership of the U.S. Air Force and the RAND Corporation think tank. The initiative aims to boost U.S. research on China's aerospace ambitions.The conference came as hundreds of Chinese officials were in Washington for the three-day U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, wide-ranging talks that look at areas of mutual cooperation and address points of friction. Asked about the timing of the military conference, Work said U.S. and Chinese leaders both see the bilateral relationship as one in which there are "measures of cooperation and measures of competition." "We're hoping over time that the cooperative aspects outweigh competitive aspects," Work added. "As the Department of Defense, we're the hedge force. ... We say, 'Look, here are capabilities that we see that the Chinese are developing and it's important for us to be able to counter those." Work, citing a Harvard study on rising powers confronting established powers, told the conference that interactions between the two often result in war. As a result, the Defense Department must "hedge against this international competition turning more heated." The United States has generally felt the best hedge is a strong nuclear and conventional deterrence capable of overmatching any rival, he added.”

China May Be Trying to Hide its Submarines in the South China Sea.
“For months, China’s visible construction of artificial islands and military facilities in the South China Sea has alarmed U.S. officials and many of China’s neighbors. What is happening under the water is also worrisome, say several defense and security analysts. China has a growing fleet of nuclear submarines armed with ballistic missiles. The expansion of its claim on the South China Sea may be intended to create a deep-water sanctuary – known in military parlance as a “bastion” – where its submarine fleet could avoid detection. “The South China Sea would be a good place to hide Chinese submarines,” said Carl Thayer, a U.S.-born security specialist who has taught at the University of New South Wales and other Australian institutions. The sea floor is thousands of meters deep in places, with underwater canyons where a submarine could easily avoid detection. Conflicts in the South China Sea are expected to be a major focus of annual U.S.-Sino talks that start Tuesday in Washington, including meetings between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang. China last week announced that it was winding down its expansion of artificial islands in the South China Sea, but the statement wasn’t warmly received by U.S. officials. Daniel Russel, assistant U.S. secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, noted that China continues to build facilities on the islands, including military installations, a move that he said was “troubling.” “The prospect of militarizing those outposts runs counter to the goal of reducing tensions.” Russel said Thursday during a briefing in Washington. “That’s why we consistently urge China to cease reclamation, to not construct further facilities, and certainly not to further militarize outposts in the South China Sea.” The South China Sea – bounded by Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and Malaysia – is one of the world’s most important shipping lanes. China asserts it holds maritime rights to 80 percent of the sea, a claim that other countries have vigorously contested. According to Thayer, Beijing sees the South China Sea as a strategic asset because it guards China’s southern flank, including a submarine base in Sanya, on China’s Hainan island. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has built underwater tunnels there to quietly dock some of its submarines, including those that carry ballistic missiles. As of 2014, China had 56 attack submarines, including five that were nuclear powered. It also has at least three nuclear-powered submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles, and is planning to add five more, according to a Pentagon report released last year.”

Japanese Plane Circles over China-Claimed Region in S. China Sea.
“A Japanese military patrol plane circled over disputed parts of the South China Sea on Tuesday at the start of an exercise with the Philippine military that has irked China. According to Japanese and Philippine officials, the Japanese P3-C Orion surveillance plane, with three Filipino guest crew members, flew at 5,000 feet (1,524 m) above the edge of Reed Bank, an energy-rich area that is claimed by both China and the Philippines. It was accompanied by a smaller Philippine patrol aircraft. The disputed waters are close to the Spratly Islands, which the Philippines also claims, where China is building a series of man-made islands."We practiced search and rescue patterns, which are essential in any humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations," Marine Colonel Jonas Lumawag said at Puerta Princesa International Airport on Palawan island, the operations base for the drill 50 miles (80 km) to the west. "This is our first time here and also with this kind of activity with the Philippines," Maritime Self Defense Force Commander Hiromi Hamano, head of the Japanese navy contingent, said after the P3-C returned to Palawan. Japan's presence in what it considers international waters may be seen by Beijing as tacit support for ownership claims made by the Philippines. "We hope the relevant parties do not hype up or even create tensions in the region and we hope the parties concerned can do more to contribute to peace and stability in the region, rather than the opposite," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing. Japan worries that China's domination in a region through which much of its sea-borne trade passes would isolate it. Tokyo is also locked in a dispute with Beijing over islands in the East China Sea. China's official Xinhua news agency has previously condemned the two-day search and rescue exercise as Japanese "meddling". China claims about 90 percent of the 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million sq mile) South China Sea, an area it denotes on maps with its so called nine-dash line. The exercise by Japan and the Philippines comes as Manila conducts separate drills with the United States military that began last week.”

Xi to Roll Out Made-in-China Weaponry for WWII Victory Parade.
“President Xi Jinping will use a World War II victory parade to showcase new weapons systems, a Chinese general said, amid growing regional concern about the country’s military reach. The Tiananmen Square pageant on Sept. 3 marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender will feature domestically made military hardware, Major General Qu Rui said on Tuesday at a briefing in Beijing. Much of the equipment will make its public debut at the event to be presided over by Xi, Qu said without elaborating. The People’s Liberation Army will use the parade to highlight a modernization push that the U.S. Defense Department said last month was producing an arsenal with “the potential to reduce core U.S. military technological advantages.” The country’s growing naval might in particular has helped spur the region’s largest military buildup in decades around the disputed East China Sea and South China Sea. China became the world’s third-largest exporter of arms after the U.S. and Russia in the five-year period ending last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. China has invited foreign troops to attend the parade, Qu said, without specifying which nations would be represented. Last month, Xi joined Russian President Vladimir Putin for a similar military parade in Moscow’s Red Square marking the defeat of Nazi Germany. Absent from the event were Western leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama. Veterans of Nationalist forces, who fought the Japanese alongside the Communist Party before the two sides clashed in the civil war, would be invited to the parade in Beijing, Qu said. China has declared Sept. 3 a national holiday amid party efforts to focus attention on Japan’s wartime legacy. Japan signed a formal surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, which China celebrated the following day.”

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 22, 2015

Dragon Tracks: Chinese Access Points in the Indian Ocean Region. “With six-plus-years of Chinese Gulf of Aden anti-piracy operations and China’s first submarine deployments to the Indian Ocean, considering possible support facilities for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) isn’t just for those theorizing a “String of Pearls” anymore. The U.S. Department of Defense itself forecasts that within the coming decade Beijing will establish one or more facilities capable of providing significant, if still limited, logistical support. The IOR is attracting increasing Chinese and American attention, with the latest U.S. Maritime Strategy referring to the “Indo-Asia-Pacific” and the previous commander of the U.S. Pacific Command describing its area of operations extending “from Hollywood to Bollywood.” With IOR geopolitics thus receiving growing outside attention, where China will ultimately locate its naval logistics points is an increasingly important question. Such “places not bases” are unlikely to spring from nowhere. Instead, to plot where China’s navy may be heading the IOR, it helps to review where it’s been. That’s because establishing access points tends to be a long-term endeavor, based on enduring fundaments observable from outside. Naval facilities generally require (1) reliable political support in a stable host nation, (2) robust logistics infrastructure, and (3) sufficient draft for all major ships. On that basis, the patterns represented in Exhibit 1 (below) are instructive, but hardly surprising. Leaving aside the potential ports of the future colored in white (many of which receive Chinese investment, but remain under development), several dynamics stand out. First, only two ports are colored red (indicating more than 20 PLAN port calls): Port Salalah, Oman and Djibouti. Only one is colored yellow (10-20 port calls): Aden, Yemen. In terms of both political support/stability and infrastructure, they are in two separate categories. Oman and Djibouti are both resource-limited oases of stability in geopolitically complex regions which seek economic and political benefits by cultivating positive strategic relations with diverse outside powers.”

Stirred But Not Shaken: Sri Lanka’s Rebalancing Act.
“Shortly after President Maithripala Sirisena’s surprise victory in Sri Lanka’s January Presidential election, the new leader suspended one of the largest Chinese-led infrastructure investments in the country—the $1.5 billion Colombo Port City—and caught the Chinese government off guard. Seemingly in denial, Chinese officials and the media echo chamber downplayed this move as a minor speed bump in the relationship.  Three months later, however, the project remains suspended and its fate hangs in the balance as a review committee weighs concerns over Sri Lanka’s environment, rule of law, and sovereignty. China’s inability to move the project forward is not for a lack of trying. Following Sirisena’s visit to Beijing in late March, Chinese media reported one Chinese official declared the suspension was “temporary,” Sri Lanka’s objections had been “sorted out”, and that Sri Lanka had “promised” to continue with construction. Other media outlets began to echo this as fact until a Sri Lankan external affairs minister denied it, emphasizing nothing had been decided. An opinion piece appearing in China’s Global Times titled, “Sri Lanka recognizes value of Chinese Friendship in Post-election Era,” also warned the suspension would jeopardize Sri Lanka’s development prospects and relationship with China. An editorialfrom a widely read Sri Lankan newspaper responded with the acerbic headline, “China shows it certainly knows what is good for Sri Lanka.” Though only one instance of China’s insensitivity to local political dynamics, the episode epitomizes China’s misplaced confidence in its strategic foothold in Sri Lanka. Because China tethered itself to the former Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka, it did not fully appreciate the emergent. Dismissing the critiques as political grandstanding of a small opposition, they were unprepared for the rhetorical and substantive shift in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy. During the Rajapaksa government, a number of international observers argued Sri Lanka was steadily tilting towards China as one node along its “string of pearls” or “Maritime Silk Road.” This emerging strategic relationship was allegedly motivated by China’s steadfastness during Sri Lanka’s civil war, a desire to offset Indian regional hegemony, and an opportunity for massive development assistance and investment.”

U.S., Japan Join Philippines in Navy Drills Near South China Sea.
“The U.S. and Japan are conducting separate military drills with the Philippines near the disputed South China Sea, signaling support for the country as China builds out reclaimed reefs in the waters. The annual CARAT Philippines joint exercise started Monday off the east coast of Palawan island and will run until June 26, according to U.S. Navy spokesman Arlo Abrahamson. The Philippine and Japanese navies are holding drills around the same island through June 27, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force said last week. The U.S. has backed Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines as tensions escalate with China over territorial claims in the South China Sea, while Japan is providing patrol vessels to the Philippine coast guard. Closer to home, Philippine President Benigno Aquino has rallied neighbors to more aggressively respond to China’s efforts to enforce its claims to 80 percent of the waters. “This year’s exercise reflects more than two decades of increasingly complex training ashore, at sea and in the air,” said Abrahamson. The drill includes a sea phase with the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth, diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard and a P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft and at least one Philippine frigate, according to the U.S. Navy. It’s the first time a littoral combat ship has taken part in CARAT Philippines. Japan’s exercises with the Philippines will take place adjacent to the Spratly Islands, where China has created more than 2,000 acres of land in waters also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia. Japan will send a P-3C anti-submarine, maritime surveillance aircraft and 20 personnel. Tensions in the area have risen recently with China warning planes and ships away from reefs where it is reclaiming land. The Fort Worth had an encounter last month with a Chinese ship - - it was reportedly followed by a frigate -- and a U.S. surveillance plane was repeatedly warned by radio to divert from its path near the reefs.”

China's J-11 Fighter Jet 'May Find New Role in South China Sea'.
“China might station its J-11 fighter jets in the disputed South China Sea once work on several runways on reclaimed land there is complete, analysts say. The deployment in the Spratly Islands, which China calls the Nanshas, would dramatically extend the reach of the nation's military beyond its southernmost base at Sanya on Hainan Island. However, experts say the jet would be limited to a defensive role because it is an older model outclassed by aircraft in the US Air Force. The J-11 has lost much of its competitive edge over the quarter-century since China began to build on the Soviet-designed Su-27. But it is a key asset of the air force, with an estimated several hundred in operation. "As a long-range strike aircraft, the J-11 should be sent to the South China Sea," Huang Zhao, an 80-year-old former air force pilot, said. "Every time when the J-11 flies over the sky, it also reminds me of that historic decision made 25 years ago to push for its creation, and rapidly develop the PLA Air Force." The Central Military Commission passed a proposal on June 30, 1990 to buy 24 of the Su-27s, the most advanced aircraft made by the Soviet Union at the time. The deal came after three events led Beijing to rethink its military's air strength, said Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong. The first was the US embargo against arms sales to China, imposed in the aftermath of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. In the Middle East, Beijing saw how quickly the US achieved victory in the first Gulf war, largely on the back of its air superiority. Washington also agreed to sell Taiwan 150 of its latest generation F-15 aircraft, which was a leap ahead in technology over the PLA's J-8 II, already a decade old by then. China's arrangement for the Su-27s was unusual. The Soviet Union was suffering through a period of scarcity and Moscow took 70 per cent of the payment in light industrial goods and food.”

Counterbalancing China and North Korea.
“Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of ties between South Korea and Japan. In recent years the relationship, however, has been anything but normal. Roiled by tensions over “comfort women” and other disputes, ties between America’s two northeast Asian allies have become downright poisonous. This has hurt U.S. efforts to bolster security and economic ties in the region and to push back against growing Chinese assertiveness. Now there are signs of a limited thaw, including this weekend’s visit to Tokyo by South Korea’s foreign minister—the first in four years. Washington should take advantage of the opening to bring its allies closer together. The chief diplomats will meet following several years of deep disaffection between South Korea and Japan. President Park Geun-hye has pledged to stand up for the honor of wartime comfort women and has demanded explicit apologies from Tokyo. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has emphasized his reaffirmation of previous government statements on the matter, and Japanese officials privately suggest that no new statement would fully sate the Korean desire for repentance. Differences over history have compounded existing territorial disputes. Both Seoul and Tokyo lay claim to islets in the Sea of Japan, known variously as the Dokdo or Takeshima. Ms. Park and Mr. Abe, despite vigorous international diplomacy with scores of world leaders, have never met with each other one-on-one. The result has been a sharp decline in public goodwill in both countries toward each other, and a shifting strategic outlook—especially in South Korea. A recent joint survey by Japan’s Genron NPO and Korea’s East Asia Insitute indicates that more Koreans expect a military threat from Japan than from China, and a full third of Koreans expect their country to enter military conflict with Japan at some point in the future. This puts the U.S. in a difficult position. Poor relations between these two Asian allies makes regional security and economic cooperation more difficult. It also represents a major distraction from the region’s more pressing challenges. In recent weeks, for instance, North Korea claimed it test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile. Meanwhile, U.S. officials have confirmed that North Korea is making progress on miniaturizing nuclear warheads. The country’s mercurial young leader, Kim Jong Un, with his periodic executions at home and saber-rattling abroad, should fix Seoul’s security gaze north, not east.”

The US and China Won't See Military Conflict Over the South China Sea.
“In a recent piece on the South China Sea disputes, I argued that “the ASEAN claimants are largely staying behind the scenes while external powers take center stage.” Based on recent developments on the South China Sea issue, it seems the U.S. will not only be a ‘director’ but an actor. We saw this clearly on May 20, when the U.S. military sent surveillance aircraft over three islands controlled by Beijing. However, this does not necessary mean the South China Sea will spark a U.S.-China military conflict. As a global hegemon, the United States’ main interest lies in maintaining the current international order as well as peace and stability. Regarding the South China Sea, U.S. interests include ensuring peace and stability, freedom of commercial navigation, and military activities in exclusive economic zones. Maintaining the current balance of power is considered to be a key condition for securing these interests—and a rising China determined to strengthen its hold on South China Sea territory is viewed as a threat to the current balance of power. In response, the U.S. launched its “rebalance to Asia” strategy. In practice, the U.S. has on the one hand strengthened its military presence in Asia-Pacific, while on the other hand supporting ASEAN countries, particularly ASEAN claimants to South China Sea territories. This position has included high-profile rhetoric by U.S. officials. In 2010, then-U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton spoke at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi about the South China Sea, remarks that aligned the U.S. with Southeast Asia’s approach to the disputes. At the 2012 Shangri-La Dialogue, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta explained how the United States will rebalance its force posture as part of playing a “deeper and more enduring partnership role” in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2014, then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called out China’s “destabilizing, unilateral activities asserting its claims in the South China Sea.” His remarks also came at the Shangri-La dialogue, while China’s HY-981 oil rig was deployed in the waters around the Paracel Islands. In 2015, U.S. officials have openly pressured China to scale back its construction work in the Spratly islands and have sent aircraft to patrol over islands in the Spratly that are controlled by China. These measures have brought global attention to the South China Sea. However, if we look at the practical significance of the remarks, there are several limiting factors. The interests at stake in the South China Sea are not core national interests for the United States.”

Cybertheft Adds to U.S.-China Tensions Ahead of Upcoming Talks.
“Tensions between the U.S. and China are growing over its island-building in the South China Sea and over suspicions that Beijing was behind a massive hack into a federal government server that resulted in the theft of personnel and security clearance records of 14 million employees and contractors. But both powers have incentives to calm the waters ahead of the Chinese leader's visit to Washington in the fall. The two countries' top diplomats and finance officials meet here next week for the annual U.S.-China strategic and economic dialogue. The Obama administration says the two governments won't be papering over their differences, but they are expected to accentuate the positive, stressing areas of cooperation, like climate change. Civilian and military officials will meet Monday to discuss thorny security issues. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew kick off two days of talks Tuesday with Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi on a sprawling agenda, including plans for a bilateral investment treaty. China, in particular, is presenting the dialogue as a prelude to Xi Jinping's visit to the White House slated for September, his first since becoming China's president in 2013. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang called it an opportunity to "push for new progress in the building of a new model of major power relationship," the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Friday. But it's a model with cracks in it. Relations between the world's two largest economies, with their divergent political systems and priorities, rarely run smoothly. But recent months have been particularly rocky. China's reclamation of more than 2,000 acres of land on disputed islands and atolls in the South China Sea since last year has raised international alarm over its territorial ambitions. Washington took the unusual step last month of publicizing a U.S. military surveillance flight that showed the massive scale of China's island-building. China says the islands are its sovereignty territory, but Washington argues that the continuation of building work and militarization of the islands could enflame complex territorial disputes with China's neighbors, with whom the U.S. is seeking to forge closer ties while preserving freedom of navigation in sea lanes crucial for world trade. "Nobody is interested in conflict here and there's no reason why it needs to devolve into conflict. Again, that's why next week's meeting is so important," State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday.”

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 19, 2015

China Showcases Plans to Become the Leading Space Power. “While NASA and private corporations such as SpaceX get much of the attention in the US, China is showing off its plans to become the leading space power via recent coverage on state media. A centerpiece project, Beidou 2, began in January 2015. Eventually 35 Beidou 2 satellites will form the next generation platforms for the Compass satellite navigation system that China is rapidly deploying into geosynchronous and medium earth orbit. Beidou 2 is more accurate than its predecessor, Beidou 1, with an accuracy of up to 10 centimeters for military subscribers like the Chinese and Pakistani militaries. While its American counterpart, GPS, is a transmit only system, Beidou users can use the satellite navigation system to send limited messages. Beidou 2 would provide Chinese missiles and robots with high accuracy, as well as giving Chinese soldiers a limited but universal coverage for communications. China is finally setting up a Space Debris Monitoring and Application Center to track space debris and issue warnings to Chinese spacecraft; there were 30 near misses in 2014 for Chinese space assets alone. China hopes to eventually take a role in cleaning up the 500,000 large pieces of space debris, and the 100 million smaller ones. China is also taking a major step in space debris management by launching a center to track such debris. While space debris isn't nearly as sexy as spy or navigation satellites, it's an important part of space operations. Space debris, of which there are 500,000 pieces large enough to be tracked, can severely damage or destroy satellites and spacecraft (a 1 square cm piece of debris travelling at 17,000 kph has as much kinetic energy as a hand grenade detonation). The new Space Debris Monitoring and Application Center, part of Chinese Space National Administration (China's NASA equivalent), will focus in the near future on tracking space debris, especially the estimated 100 million pieces 1cm2 or smaller, but CNSA Secretary General Tian Yulong hopes for capabilities one day to neutralize and reduce the space debris menace. It's a growing Chinese priority, given that China is the world's third largest space launcher, and Mr. Tian noted that Chinese spacecraft and satellites had over 30 near misses with space debris in 2014.”

U.S. to Face Differences with China Head on at Talks Next Week.
“The United States said on Thursday it would not "paper over" differences between the United States and China when top officials of the world's two largest economies meet to discuss financial and political strategy in Washington next week. Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, set the scene for contentious exchanges at the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) by stressing that differences over the South China Sea, cyber security and human rights would be high on the U.S. agenda. Speaking after revelations of massive cyber attacks on U.S. government computers in the past two weeks, which U.S. officials have blamed on Chinese hackers, Russel said cyber security issues would be raised throughout the talks from Monday to Wednesday in Washington. The United States would also stress human rights, including the issue of democracy in Hong Kong, China's "very problematic" law on NGOs, and its restrictions on media and civil society, he told a media briefing. China has indicated a desire to avoid acrimony at the talks, looking to set the scene for a successful visit to Washington by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang told a forum in Beijing on Friday thatChina would seek to "constructively handle and control" differences with the United States on maritime disputes, cyber security, and human rights. "On these issues our attitude is to not evade and to resolutely defend China's interests," Zheng said. Russel said maritime disputes in the South China Sea were "not fundamentally" between the United States and China and the United States had "an unwavering determination ... to avoid military confrontation, including with China." However, he said the principles of freedom of navigation and overflight were at stake and maritime claims had to be consistent with international law. "It's an issue of China's future and of China's choices,” Russel said. He called this week's announcement by China that it planned to continue and expand the construction of facilities on reclaimed outposts in disputed waters troubling. "Neither that statement, nor that behavior, contributes to reducing tensions ... We consistently urge China to cease reclamation to not construct further facilities and certainly not to further militarize outposts in the South China Sea," Russel said. This year's meeting comes amid heightened tensions, not just over Beijing's increased territorial assertiveness and the allegations of cyber spying, but China's expanding economic influence across the Pacific Rim at a time of growing doubts over U.S. leadership after last week's congressional rebuff of President Barack Obama's landmark Asia-Pacific trade pact.”

US ‘Troubled’ by China’s Plans to Keep Building on Islands.
The US says it's troubled by China's plans to keep building on artificial islands in the South China Sea.  Danny Russel is the top US diplomat for East Asia. Russel says the prospect of China militarizing those outposts runs counter to the goal of reducing regional tensions. China has territorial disputes with several neighbors in the South China Sea. According to the US, China has reclaimed 2,000 acres (800 hectares) on reefs and atolls there since last year. Chinese foreign ministry said Tuesday that the reclamation projects on seven reefs and atolls will be completed within days and will follow up with building infrastructure for military and civilian purposes. Russel says he expects the issue to be raised at a high-level US-China dialogue in Washington next week.  On Wednesday, a Vietnamese official on Wednesday accused China of attacking its fishermen in three separate incidents over the past week in the disputed South China Sea.  Nguyen Thanh Hung, head of the fisheries union in Binh Chau village in central Quang Ngai province where the fishermen came from, said a Vietnamese trawler with 12 crew was intercepted by a Chinese military vessel while fishing near the Paracel islands on Sunday. He said the Chinese seized their catch and fishing equipment.  Hung said this followed incidents last week where Chinese military vessels used water cannon to try to drive away a Vietnamese fishing boat, injuring two fishermen, while another Vietnamese fishing boat was intercepted and robbed of its catch and equipment while fishing near the Paracels. "I strongly protest these Chinese actions,'' Hung said by telephone from Quang Ngai province. "This is our traditional fishing grounds, it's within Vietnamese sovereignty and our fishermen have been fishing there for generations." The incidents come as Vietnam's foreign minister, Pham Binh Minh, who is also the deputy prime minister, began a three-day visit to China on Wednesday to talk about bilateral cooperation, with the situation in the South China Sea expected to be high on the agenda. Vietnam claim sovereignty over the Paracels, which were occupied by China after it drove off the US-backed South Vietnamese navy in 1974, one year before the end of the Vietnam War.”

Philippines to Hold Military Exercises with US, Japan.
“The Philippines is set to hold military drills with its ally the United States and its strategic partner Japan next week, Philippine officials confirmed Thursday. The exercises with the United States technically began on June 18, but will be formally opened only on June 22 and run till June 30. They are part of the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises which Washington carries out with several South and Southeast Asian nations During the exercises, the United States will deploy its littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth, while the Philippines will deploy the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz. Philippine Fleet public affairs officer Lt. Liezel Vidallon said the exercises would involve helicopter crash and salvage, live fire, deck landing qualification, board and seizure and weapons systems training. Vidallon also stressed that the holding of CARAT Philippines 2015 near the South China Sea was part of regularly planned and scheduled drills had nothing to do with Manila’s ongoing dispute with China. The exercises with Japan – only the second ever between Tokyo and Manila – will be staged separately but during the same week as the U.S. As I reported earlier this month, Philippine Navy spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo had confirmed that the exercises will be part of a series of activities lined up for a country visit by the Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) from June 22 to June 26 Specifics of the exercises, however, still remain unclear. The Philippine Star noted that Philippine Navy spokesman Commander Lued Lincuna could not immediately provide any further details such as where the exercise would be held. But Japanese public broadcaster NHK had previously reported that the exercises will be held near the South China Sea and that the MSDF would dispatch a P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft to the drill. Additionally, as I reported previously, Arevalo had earlier revealed that the exercises between Manila and Tokyo would include humanitarian assistance and disaster response, maritime search and rescue, and maritime situational awareness training and cooperation. There would also be staff-to-staff talks conducted during the visit to strengthen information-sharing and step up maritime situational awareness.”

The Scramble Against China. “
China's latest white paper mentions "offshore waters defence and open seas protection", explicitly declaring Beijing's hardened determination to actively defend its territorial ambitions in adjacent waters, while Washington has stepped up its surveillance operations close to Chinese reclamation activities. With little sign of compromise on the horizon, the Philippines and Japan, two of America's closest allies, have stepped up their strategic partnership against China. Recently, Philippine President Benigno Aquino embarked on a four-day state visit to Japan, where he negotiated the parameters of expanded Philippine-Japan maritime security co-operation, potentially paving the way for Japanese access to military bases in South-east Asia. The trip was of great strategic significance to both countries. Since 2011, as Sino-Japanese territorial tensions in the East China Sea picked up, Tokyo has reached out to like-minded countries in the region, striking strategic partnership agreements with the Philippines as well as Vietnam, which are also locked in a bitter maritime dispute with Beijing. In recent years, Japan, which is the Philippines' biggest source of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), has supported the South-east Asian country's efforts to develop a minimum deterrence capability in the light of rising tensions in the South China Sea. Together with the United States, Japan has also called for a robust information-sharing system in South-east Asia in order to enhance coordination and surveillance amid China's expanding presence in the area. Calling for "pro-active pacifism", and eager to ease decades- long restrictions on Japan's ability to project power beyond its immediate shores, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to carve out a new security role for Japan by pushing back against Chinese maritime assertiveness in the South China Sea. Mr Abe has reiterated that Japan, along with its South-east Asian partners, particularly the Philippines, shares "serious concern about large-scale land reclamation and that we oppose any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo". But in order for Tokyo to play a more consequential role in the region, it has to overcome lingering anxieties, at home and among neighbours, over the alleged erosion of Japan's pacifism as well as strike security agreements that allow for the resupply and refuelling of Japanese Self Defence Forces beyond Japan's immediate waters. Mr Aquino's state visit to Tokyo represented a crucial opportunity for the Abe administration to show how neighbouring countries like the Philippines, which was among the biggest victims of Japanese imperial aggression during World War II, are supportive of Japan's bid for a greater role in the region.”

Growing Maritime Security Concerns in Southeast Asia: A Greater Need for Further Regional Cooperation.
“Cooperation between Japan, the United States, and Vietnam has been improving dramatically over the last several years—a reflection of both the changing strategic environment in the region, as well as a deepening sense of trust among the three countries. Recent events—especially when one examines specific instances of warming bilateral ties with Vietnam—demonstrate how far relations have come. For example, during U.S. secretary of defense Ashton Carter’s recent visit to Vietnam from May 31 to June 1, 2015, he and his Vietnamese counterpart, Gen. Phung Quang Thanh, signed a Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations—a remarkable development in the defense ties between the two nations, as relations were only normalized just twenty years ago. In the case of Japan, Vietnamese-Japanese defense cooperation has also moved in a similar direction since the two countries upgraded their limited strategic partnership to an extensive strategic partnership in June 2014. All of this comes on the heels of increased defense ties between the United States and Japan, who just announced updated Guidelines for Defense Cooperation with the possibility of joint naval and air patrols in the South China Sea—a development of considerable interest to Vietnam. Since ancient times, life-sustaining goods and services have traveled by sea. The sea is also a source of prosperity and advancement—the quickest and in many ways easiest means for commercial and political intercourse among different ethnic and political groups. The often-discussed “Sea Lines of Communication” (SLOCs) are more than just shipping routes. They also represent access to the renewable resources of the sea—bountiful fishing stocks and natural resources that can be extracted from the seabed. Today we remain as dependent on free and open access to the sea for security and prosperity as we did centuries ago. Various statistics only underline this fact. Consider, for example: today 95 percent of international communications travel via underwater cable; twenty-one of the world’s twenty-eight mega-cities are within 62 miles or roughly 100km of the sea; 49 percent of the world’s oil travels through seven major sea chokepoints; 50 percent of the world’s population lives within 62 miles, or roughly 100km, of a coast; and 23,000 ships are underway daily in SLOCs carrying 95 percent of the world’s commerce by sea.”

China's East China Sea ADIZ Gamble: Past, Present, and South China Sea Future?
“Aggressive,” “coercive,” “antagonistic,” and “hostile” are some of the words various Asia-security experts have used over the last several years to describe recent Chinese foreign-policy choices. Such talk heated up dramatically in November 2013 when China declared—with no official advanced warning—an Air-Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, a geographic flashpoint between various powers in the region. This unilateral action sparked intense global debate as to the logic of such a move, but also amplified larger concerns over Chinese intentions throughout the Asia-Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific regions. This essay, divided into several sections, offers a rationale for China’s ADIZ declaration, with an eye towards an even more important question: Will Beijing declare such a zone in the area of the South China Sea? This author believes China’s recent island-reclamation projects are an effort to create the core infrastructure for the declaration and enforcement of such a zone within the next several years. Unless serious action is undertaken to change Beijing’s calculus for creating such zones—utilizing confidence-building measures to change the core of its geostrategic thinking, along with strategies that will challenge such island reclamations—a Chinese ADIZ in the South China Sea is a near certainty. There are various prospective motivations behind Beijing’s 2013 ADIZ declaration that are worthy of consideration—the rise of a great power acting in its own self-interest, a deeply rooted sense of historical wrongdoing at the hands of stronger nations in the past, combined with an attempt to shield itself from future actions, as well as nationalistic motives. While all of these explanations lie well within the realm of possibilities, this analysis will explore an equally if not more plausible rationale: China’s 2013 declaration and possible moves towards an ADIZ in the South China Sea should be seen as part of a series of actions that are rooted in an effort to push U.S. and allied forces away from Chinese “near seas” and areas of “core interest,” while at the same time attempting to negate operational concepts like the much-debated but often-misunderstood Air-Sea Battle (ASB) concept and associated weapons platforms that could challenge China’s growing antiaccess/area-denial capabilities (A2/AD.”

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

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