China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | July 30, 2015

Forbes: As China Increases Tensions, U.S. Must Ensure Asia Rebalance Has The Right Goals. “China uses “applied friction” – calling coral reefs “islands” to claim them, setting up aerial identification zones, building its navy’s blue water capacity – as part of its strategy to get its way in the Asia-Pacific region, the chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee said Wednesday. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), speaking at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said the Chinese use that friction “like a check valve on a pump. We’ve become very adverse to any friction,” even to the point of renaming the “Pivot to the Asia Pacific” the “Rebalancing to the Asia Pacific,” he said. But the Chinese “overplay their hand sometimes,” which causes its neighbors to look to the United States to resolve disputes and provide security. Forbes said the Chinese realize that they have a certain amount of time, possibly a decade, to keep accelerating its economy before serious problems arise, and the current American administration appears unwilling to act with the same force it has towards Russia for meddling in Ukraine. For China, like Russia, bold steps overseas can divert public attention from domestic problems, he said. Forbes, who also serves as founder and co-chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, said it was important that the Obama administration brought the Asia-Pacific “to center stage.” That renewed attention has helped the United States improve relations with countries in the region beyond its traditional allies. “What we want is networks,” Forbes said in answer to a question. He cited Japan’s closer working relationship with Australia on security and the Philippines giving the United States access to facilities there. “It causes the Chinese to think.” But, more critically, Forbes has long asked for more from the administration to ensure the new focus on the region is strategic in meeting the United States’ desired goals. “Tell me what the strategy is,” “are we winning or losing,” and “tell me the metrics you are using,” he said he always asks of witnesses in his hearings. He said those questions are often met with sighs from the witnesses. “We’ve gone away from strategic thinking,” he said. Later, in answer to a question, Forbes said, “we need to redefine what winning is.” It is not a zero-sum game, but rather “It’s bolstering everyone up,” including China, and promoting rule of law over force. Forbes said the top concern in the region is trade. He said the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty will improve trade relations between the United States and Asian countries. In his 14 years in Congress, he said China’s military reach has dramatically increased. “We were writing reports [that in] 10 years [the Chinese] are going to build aircraft carriers,” and those findings were met with skepticism. Forbes said the same thing has proven true about China’s capability to build a ballistic missile submarine. Chinese “blue water capacity is increasing qualitatively, and increasing their [submarines’] quietness.”

Barack Obama's Big South China Sea Mistake.
The fifth annual Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conference on the South China Sea, held in Washington DC last Wednesday, was a quality event, where knowledgeable experts rubbed shoulders with senior politicians and officials. Regrettably, there was not a glimmer of hope pointing to a breakthrough in the competing sovereignty claims marking the region, or the deeper strategic forces driving China and other parties. Of particular note at the conference was the speech from Daniel Russel, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and one of the Obama Administration’s most senior Asia hands. The speech is notable for what it doesn’t say and striking in casting U.S. policy in terms of what a Chinese analyst might call the “five nots.” To quote Mr. Russel: “Now, the US is not a claimant…these maritime and territorial disputes are not intrinsically a US–China issue. The issue is between China and its neighbors…” On the current Philippines-initiated case at the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague: “The United States, of course, is not a party to this arbitration and does not take a position on the merits of the case.” And finally on the Law of the Sea Convention: “This is as good a time as any to acknowledge (as China has often pointed out) that the United States has not acceded to the Law of the Sea Convention…” Mr. Russel did say that “problematic behavior in the South China Sea has emerged as a serious area of friction in the U.S.–China relationship.” He also stressed that: “President Obama and Secretary Kerry have shown that they are not afraid to tackle the biggest challenges facing U.S. foreign policy and the world. And we’re energized, here in the fourth quarter of this administration to do much more…” So, how will American high energy promote a solution in the South China Sea? “So we are pushing the parties to revive the spirit of cooperation embodied in the 2002 Declaration of Conduct. … In the famous words of Rich Armitage’s Dictum Number 1, ‘when you find yourself in a hole – stop digging.’ That is the advice we are giving to all the claimants: lower the temperature and create breathing room by: stopping land reclamation on South China Sea features; stopping construction of new facilities; and stopping militarization of existing facilities.” Russel also said that Secretary Kerry would be making this point to “Chinese leaders and to the other claimants” at forthcoming ASEAN meetings. That was the limit of the Obama Administration’s leadership on display at the CSIS conference. Frankly, it fails to meet regional expectations of what needs to be done to respond to China’s increasingly assertive behavior. Mr. Russel’s comments come after China’s incredibly hasty reclamation of some 2,000 acres of land on disputed features in the area. That contrasts with a total of five acres of land reclaimed over the last few decades by all other claimants. China has also engaged in high-risk challenging of the ships and aircraft of other countries in the area, and hasn’t ruled out declaring an Air Defense Investigation Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea, as it did over the East China Sea in November 2013.”

Why Would Chinese Hackers Want To Go After An Airline?
“United Airlines may be the latest victims of the Chinese hackers suspected to be behind breaches of major health insurers and government agencies. The world's second-largest airline detected an intrusion into its computer systems early this summer, Bloomberg reported in a story citing unnamed officials familiar with the investigation. Asked about the Bloomberg story, a United Airlines spokesperson did not directly address whether the company had suffered a breach, but dismissed the story as "based on pure speculation" and said that customers' personal information is secure. "We remain vigilant in protecting against unauthorized access and use top advisors and best practices on cyber-security to maintain our effectiveness,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. But if accurate, the Bloomberg report suggests that the airline's manifests were compromised -- meaning that the hackers would have their hands on information about passengers and their origins and destinations. Since United is a major contractor for U.S. government travel, experts say that could mean that a vast cache of information about the movements of specific government or military officials are now in the attackers' hands. Some security experts and government officials believe the recent breaches at the Office of Personnel Management are linked to the Chinese government. While the United States has declined to point fingers at China, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has called China the "leading suspect" in the OPM hacks. China has dismissed questions about its involvement. Some researchers have linked the OPM intrusion to the same cyber espionage group that hacked health insurance giant Anthem, which is also thought to be the work of hackers associated with the Chinese government. The hackers appear to be targeting large caches of personal information to build a massive database of Americans' personal information, according to some experts. If a group closely connected to the Chinese government was behind a breach at United, there are a number of ways that they could use that data, said Paul Tiao, a partner at law firm Hunton & Williams and former senior counselor for cybersecurity and technology to the FBI director. First, there's the value of knowing how specific people in government and industry are moving around the world, he said. But there's also the possibility that information from United could be used to craft very targeted spear-phishing attacks -- personalized e-mails that appear legitimate and could trick a person into opening an e-mail or attachment that could compromise their systems so the attacker can gain additional information. And if this is the same group thought to be responsible for other attacks, Tiao says, travel information could be a valuable addition to their data trove.

China Pushes to Rewrite Rules of Global Internet.
As social media helped topple regimes in the Middle East and northern Africa, a senior colonel in the People's Liberation Army publicly warned that an Internet dominated by the U.S. threatened to overthrow China's Communist Party. Ye Zheng and a Chinese researcher, writing in the state-run China Youth Daily, said the Internet represented a new form of global control, and the U.S. was a "shadow" present during some of those popular uprisings. Beijing had better pay attention. Four years after they sounded that alarm, China is paying a lot of attention. Its government is pushing to rewrite the rules of the global Internet, aiming to draw the world's largest group of Internet users away from an interconnected global commons and to increasingly run parts of the Internet on China's terms. It envisions a future in which governments patrol online discourse like border-control agents, rather than let the U.S., long the world's digital leader, dictate the rules. President Xi Jinping – with the help of conservatives in government, academia, military and the technology industry – is moving to exert influence over virtually every part of the digital world in China, from semiconductors to social media. In doing so, Mr. Xi is trying to fracture the international system that makes the Internet basically the same everywhere, and is pressuring foreign companies to help. On July 1, China's legislature passed a new security law asserting the nation's sovereignty extends into cyberspace and calling for network technology to be "controllable." A week later, China released a draft law to tighten controls over the domestic Internet, including codifying the power to cut access during public-security emergencies. Other draft laws under consideration would encourage Chinese companies to find local replacements for technology equipment purchased abroad and force foreign vendors to give local authorities encryption keys that would let them control the equipment. Chinese officials referred questions about Internet policy to the Cyberspace Administration of China, a recently formed government body. That agency declined to make an official available to comment for this article. Such a strategy would have been impossible a few years ago when Western companies dominated the Internet. That has started to change with the rise of Chinese powers such as e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., online conglomerate Tencent Holdings Ltd. and information aggregator Sina Corp., which enable Chinese citizens to enjoy most services Westerners use, plus some unique to China, without needing Google Inc. or Facebook Inc. Chinese companies are easier for Beijing to control and have a history of censoring users upon demand. The government is directing financial and policy support toward domestic firms that are developing semiconductors and servers that can replace ones provided by Western players. Earlier this year, Premier Li Keqiang unveiled Internet Plus, a strategy to incubate Chinese companies that integrate mobile, cloud and other types of computing with manufacturing and business.”

Get Ready: China Could Build New Artificial Islands Near India.
“There are growing fears, particularly in India, that China may soon launch an island reclamation project in the Indian Ocean. The fears stem from a constitutional amendment passed by the small archipelagic nation of Maldives last week, which for the first time allows foreign ownership of Maldives territory. Specifically, the constitutional amendment allows foreigners who invest over $1 billion to own land, provided that at least 70 percent of the land is reclaimed from the sea. Since July 2013, China has launched a massive reclamation project in the South China Sea that has created 2,000 acres of artificial landmass in five Spratly island outposts. Some 75 percent of this been dredged this year alone. Unnamed Indian officials have told local media outlets [4] that they are “concerned” that China now plans to do the same in some of the Maldives’ 1,200 islands, which are located strategically in the Indian Ocean.     They are not alone; domestic opponents of the amendment have expressed similar concerns. For example, Eva Abdullah, one of just 14 parliamentarians to vote against the amendment, told The Diplomat “this will make the country a Chinese colony.” She elaborated by saying, “what I fear is that we are paving the way for the establishment of Chinese bases in the Maldives and making the country a frontline state between India and China, thereby disturbing the current balance of power in the Indian Ocean. We cannot ignore the increasing rivalry between India and China.” Maldivian and Chinese officials have sought to temper such fears, however. In a statement given to Reuters, China’s Foreign Ministrysaid that Beijing [6] “has always respected and supported the Maldives' efforts to maintain its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.” The statement added that “what the relevant people said about China building bases in the Maldives is totally baseless.” China has claimed that it will never build oversea military bases. Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has similarly dismissed fears that China will reclaim the islands and use them for military purposes. In a public address, Yameen said: “The Maldivian government has given assurances to the Indian government and our neighboring countries as well to keep the Indian Ocean a demilitarized zone.”    Vice President Ahmed Adeeb echoed Yameen in an interview with The Hindu this week, saying: “Our sovereignty is not on offer… We don’t want to give any of our neighbors, including India...any cause for concern. We don’t want to be in a position when we become a threat to our neighbors.”

This is What Could Start a War between India and China.
While everyone’s anxiously watching and analyzing the events unraveling in the South China Sea, there’s another resource conflict involving China that also deserves attention. In the Himalayas, China and India are competing for valuable hydropower and water resources on the Yarlung Tsangpo–Brahmaputra River. The dispute offers some important lessons for regional cooperation (on more than just water), and highlights what’s at stake if China and India mismanage their resource conflict. The Yarlung Tsangpo–Brahmaputra River is a 2,880km transboundary river that originates in Tibet, China as the Yarlung Tsangpo, before flowing through northeast India as the Brahmaputra River and Bangladesh as the Jamuna River. The resource conflict began on June 11, 2000, after a natural dam-burst in Tibet caused a flash flood that resulted in 30 deaths and serious damage to infrastructure in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Some Indian government officials believed the flood was intentionally caused by China, even suggesting China would weaponize or interrupt water supply to leverage over India. The issue dominated reporting on China, but later subsided after satellite imagery confirmed the natural dam. Later in 2002, China and India signed their first Memorandum of Understanding for the provision of hydrological information during the monsoon months, previously discontinued after their 1962 border war. The issue gained serious traction in 2008, when the Chinese government announced plans to begin construction of the Zangmu hydroelectricity dam. Located on the middle reaches of the Yarlung–Tsangpo River, the dam was perceived by many Indian observers as the beginning of a major river diversion project that would dry up the Brahmaputra River. Speculation and suspicion were further stoked by Chinese refusal to divulge information deemed “internal matters” and conflicting information released by government officials. Indian fears drove some commentators­—led by Brahma Chellaney—to warn of a coming water war over the river; suggesting a river diversion would be tantamount to a declaration of war. The contentious issue soon sparked concern in the Indian Parliament, and became a priority in high-level bilateral exchanges with China. In its exchanges, India sought reassurances and pushedfor more extensive water data sharing practices (negotiating an extra 15 days of data). The crux of the resource competition thus relates to mass dam building and diversion plans. With the Yarlung Tsangpo representing 79 gigawatts of hydropower potential (more than enough to power NSW, ACT and South Australia combined), China is planning the construction of 20 hydroelectricity dams along the river, In addition to these dams, China is also considering a potential Grand Western Water diversion plan (redirecting water to the dry north). India fears upstream China will ‘turn off the tap’ that makes up 30% of its water resource. However, despite calls for greater transparency and consultation, India is also racing to construct hydropower dams on the Brahmaputra River. While India’s dam building drive is primarily motivated by a desire to take advantage of the river’s hydropower potential, the dams also help to consolidate India’s territorial claim on the contested border state of Arunachal Pradesh (known as ‘South Tibet’ in China).”

China, Russia to Hold Military Drills in Sea of Japan. “
China and Russia will hold joint naval and air defence drills in the Sea of Japan, China said on Thursday, the latest exercises between the two countries which could concern Japan, involved in a marine dispute with China to the south. The manoeuvres also come as the United States ramps up military cooperation with its allies in Asia in response to China's increasingly assertive pursuit of territorial claims in the disputed waters of the South and East China seas. China and Russia are veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, and have held similar views on key policy questions like the crisis in Syria, putting them at odds with the United States and Western Europe. The exercises, which will take place from Aug. 20-28, will take place in the Gulf of Peter the Great, which lies off the strategic Far Eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok, and in the Sea of Japan, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news briefing. The drills will include anti-submarine and anti-ship exercises. Chinese fighter jets, destroyers, frigates and supply vessels will take part, Yang said. The Russian side plans to dispatch ships, submarines and fixed-wing aircraft, he added. Both sides will send helicopters and marines, Yang said. The drills could especially alarm Japan, which is involved in an ongoing spat with China over a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea. Last week, Japan called on China to halt construction of oil-and-gas exploration platforms in the East China Sea close to waters claimed by both nations, concerned that Chinese drills could tap reservoirs that extend into Japanese territory. China responded by saying it had every right to drill. Yang said that certain people in Japan were "hyping up" the issue as an excuse to promote legislation that could see Japanese troops sent to fight abroad for the first time since World War Two. "We hope that certain people in Japan can calmly reflect on what they have done," he said.”

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 29, 2015

Editor’s Note: At noon today, Congressman Forbes will participate in a discussion of U.S. security challenges in the Asia-Pacific at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). More information can be found here.

Asia’s New Geopolitics Takes Shape Around India, Japan, and Australia.
“New configurations in Asian geopolitics are emerging thick and fast. Last month saw the initiative of a new trilateral involving India, Japan, and Australia when Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar met his Australian counterpart and the Japanese vice foreign minister. Japan will also be a part of bilateral India-U.S. annual naval exercises–the Malabar–slated to be held over the next few months. Though Japan has participated in these exercises in the past as well, this will be only the second time when Japan will join these exercises in the geostrategically critical Indian Ocean region. There is a growing convergence in the region now that the strategic framework of the Indo-Pacific remains the best way forward to manage the rapidly shifting contours of Asia. Proposed first by Japan and adopted with enthusiasm by Australia under the Tony Abbott government, in particular, the framework has gained considerable currency, with even the U.S. now increasingly articulating the need for it. Though China views the framework with suspicion, many in China are acknowledging that the Indo-Pacific has emerged as a critical regional space for India and China needs to synchronize its policies across the Indian Ocean region and the Pacific. These developments underscore the changing regional configuration in the Indo-Pacific on account of China’s aggressive foreign policy posture as well as a new seriousness in India’s own China policy. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach to Japan and Australia has been a significant part of his government’s foreign policy so far as strong security ties with Tokyo and Canberra are now viewed as vital by Delhi. China’s increasing diplomatic and economic influence, coupled with domestic nationalistic demands, has led to an adjustment of its military power and the adoption of a bolder and more proactive foreign policy. From China’s unilateral decision in 2013 to extend its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over a contested maritime area in the East China Sea overlapping with the already existing Japanese ADIZ to announcing new fishing regulations for Hainan province in January 2014 to ensure that all foreign vessels need fishing permits from Hainan authorities to operate in more than half of South China Sea, the list of assertive moves has been growing in recent years. China’s land reclamation work in the Spratly Islands has been the most dramatic affirmation of Beijing’s desire to change the ground realities in the region in its favor. This has generated apprehensions about a growing void in the region to balance China’s growing dominance. With the U.S. consumed by its own domestic vulnerabilities and never ending crises in the Middle East, regional powers such as India, Japan, and Australia have been more proactive than in the past in managing this turbulence. The new trilaterals emerging in Asia go beyond past attempts at rudimentary joint military exercises. In December 2013, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) conducted its first bilateral maritime exercise with the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean Region. With growing strategic convergence between the two, in 2014 India invited the JMSDF to participate in the annual Malabar exercises with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific waters. India and Japan have an institutionalized trilateral strategic dialogue partnership with the United States, initiated in 2011. Maintaining a balance of power in the Asian-Pacific as well as maritime security in the Indo-Pacific waters has become an important element of this dialogue. A similar dialogue exists between the U.S., Japan, and Australia. And now a new trilateral involving India, Japan, and Australia has joined these initiatives, which can potentially to transform into a ‘quad’ of democracies in the Indo-Pacific region.”

China Conducts Air, Sea Drills in South China Sea.
“China said it conducted air and sea drills in the South China Sea on Tuesday as it stakes an increasingly assertive claim to virtually the whole sea despite rival claims by neighbors. The live-ammunition drills involved more than 100 ships, dozens of aircraft, information warfare units as well as the nuclear force, the state-backed China Military Online said in a report posted on the defense ministry's website. It did not specify where exactly the exercises took place. China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and rejects the rival claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. The United States has called on claimants to settle differences through talks and has said its Pacific Fleet aims to protect sea lanes critical to U.S. trade with Southeast Asia and the oil-rich Middle East. China rejects U.S. involvement in the dispute and its more assertive approach recently, which has included land reclamation and construction on disputed reefs, has raised tension. The latest exercises focused on integrating information warfare systems with air and naval forces, as well as testing the combat effectiveness of new weapons and equipment, ChinaMilitary Online said. The military achieved "new breakthroughs" in several areas including engaging high-speed low-altitude targets, anti-submarine warfare and intercepting supersonic anti-ship missiles with surface warships, it added. The drills used "all sorts of information technology tactics" to create simulated reconnaissance, surveillance, and early warning systems to detect air and sea targets in real time, it said. The exercises were conducted in "a complex electromagnetic environment" involving many types of missiles, torpedoes, shells and bombs, it said. China's navy on Saturday played down its recent exercises in the South China Sea and criticized other countries for "illegally" occupying islands and reefs.”

Beware China’s ‘Basing’ Strategy: Former US Navy Chief.
“China is developing a widening network of strategic ‘bases’ that further heightens the challenge it poses to the United States, a former U.S. naval chief told a conference Tuesday. Beijing has already sought to secure access and rights in strategic countries to boost its influence and support its naval forces as it deploys them further out for patrols in the Indian Ocean or anti-piracy operations in the Horn of Africa. These include ports in Oman, Pakistan and Djibouti. But Admiral Gary Roughead, the former Chief of Naval Operations, told a two-day conference at the Center for Naval Analyses that Beijing may be looking to expand its network of distributed, critical outposts across regions for various functions including projecting power, establishing necessary supporting infrastructure and gathering intelligence. New nodes, Roughead said, may include Greece to establish a foothold in the energy-rich Eastern Meditteranean and even Iran which already has a burgeoning maritime partnership with Beijing. “We are beginning to see the Chinese version of ‘places not bases’,” Roughead said in his keynote address, using the term U.S. officials use to distinguish between older, tighter agreements it had with allies like Japan to permanently station forces there and looser pacts offering temporary and limited access to facilities as with Singapore. Apart from Greece and Iran, Roughead said that further nodes could be developed as well, especially if they are “synchronized” with China’s ambitious ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative which seeks to boost connectivity and cooperation primarily with countries in Eurasia. However, he stressed that this network would be stitched together with a “light touch” and be “distributed,” quite apart from the more alarmist ‘string of pearls’ interpretations that continue to persist. He also urged to think of China’s island-building activities in the South China Sea in a similar way, with Beijing looking to use its artificial islands to build maritime infrastructure, enhance its power projection capabilities, and establish information nodes to improve its surveillance of the region. The confluence of Chinese economic initiatives and its ongoing military buildup, he said, made Beijing the most consequential strategic challenge facing the United States today, in spite of the fact that many in the United States may now perceive greater threats from the Islamic State or Russia. Roughead said he was not yet worried about the United States being outmatched militarily since it had a significant qualitative advantage in spite of Chinese quantitative advances, ensuring that Washington would be “in a good place” for at least the next decade. But he acknowledged that those rising Chinese numbers would matter over time. In particular, if Beijing continues increasing its out of area missions and boosting key capabilities – including submarines – Roughead said the United States would need to make adjustments to ensure it maintains its relative position. “Numbers will continue to matter, and presence will be the driver,” he said. In terms of capabilities, he encouraged the United States to continue with ongoing to shift more resources from the Atlantic to Pacific, including at least another aircraft carrier and an additional amphibious ready group to help support Southeast Asia. He also emphasized the need to invest in key areas like cyber and never relinquish American dominance in the undersea domain. Beyond what Washington could do itself, he stressed the need for more engagement with traditional U.S. allies like Japan and Australia but also emerging partners like Vietnam and India. He also joined the chorus of former U.S. officials in underscoring the importance of the 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, noting that the U.S. stock in the region would be “significantly less” if it is not concluded. “Our China strategy needs to be more about our allies and partners instead of about China,” Roughead said.”

10 Ways for American to Deal with the South China Sea Challenge.
“Maritime tensions in Asia are growing and will persist, and yet relations are likely to remain bounded below the threshold of military conflict. Steering through intensified competition in the South China Sea and beyond requires a realistic U.S. foreign policy founded on deep engagement, comprehensive power, and durable principles. Cooperating with China when interests overlap is in the U.S. national interest. Likewise, confronting China over issues where our interests diverge—including over rules in the maritime and cyber domains—is also integral to America’s future power and purpose. But expectations about dampening all maritime frictions should be kept modest. Even with calls for grand bargains and strategic accommodation, well into the next U.S. administration we will be navigating in the messy middle ground between war and peace. Although such volatility may be uncomfortable, achieving a firmer footing with China will be elusive. That is because the primary competition in the South China Sea is rooted in a reemerging China’s capacity and desire for expanding influence over its neighbors and adjacent waters, en route to securing a position as a if not the major global power in the 21st century. The Asia-Pacific or Indo-Pacific region will offer some of the greatest opportunities and challenges for U.S. foreign policy in the decades ahead. In addressing what we need to do with respect to maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the United States needs to place all of our foreign policy activities within a comprehensive framework designed to bring about future decades of stability, prosperity, and freedom. The driving force behind America’s gradual rebalance to the Indo-Pacific is rooted in secular trends. For the first time since the 18th century, Asia is becoming the locus of the global economy and world politics. It is important to understand that the South China Sea is not just or even mostly about rocks, reefs, and resources. While some have likened China and the South China Sea to America and the Caribbean, such an analogy quickly loses its explanatory power because of the stark differences between the two bodies of water and changes in the global economy. Unlike the Caribbean in the mid-19th century, the South China Sea is at the nexus of the global economy.  All maritime powers depend on it because through its waters sail half of the world’s commercial shipping by tonnage (valued at more than $5.3 trillion). Furthermore, Southeast Asian nations comprise nearly two-thirds of a billion people with a GDP pushing $4 trillion in purchasing power parity; and there are great expectations for those economies in the decades ahead. Finally, we live in—or should at least strive to live in—a world governed by rules, not spheres of influence, such as those that may have been more in vogue in the 19th century. Thus, it is rules and order that remain at the heart of America’s interests in Asia and the South China Sea. Over the past decade, China has transitioned from a hide-and-bide approach to greater activism in and beyond the South China Sea. While China has become marginally more transparent, in important areas it is as opaque as ever. As with China’s expansive nine-dash-line claim to the South China Sea, there appear to be important areas of policy that China simply does not wish to clarify.”

What’s Behind Beijing’s Drive to Control the South China Sea? “
On 26 May, CNN broadcast an unusual clip of a US navy intelligence flight over the South China Sea. The P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane – one of the newest weapons in the Pentagon’s arsenal – had taken off, with a CNN reporter on board, from Clark airbase in the Philippines, once part of America’s largest overseas base complex during the cold war. After about 45 minutes, the plane reached its first target – which had, until recently, been an obscure, almost entirely submerged feature in the Spratly Island group. Fifteen thousand feet below, dozens of Chinese ships tossed at anchor. Their crews had been working day and night for weeks, dredging sand and rock from the ocean floor to fill in a stunning blue lagoon – turning a 3.7-mile-long reef that had only partially revealed itself to the daylight at low tide into a sizable man-made island nearly 1,000 miles away from the Chinese mainland. At the approach of the American aircraft, a Chinese radio operator can be heard addressing the pilot: “This is the Chinese navy. This is the Chinese navy … Please leave immediately to avoid misunderstanding.” When the plane, which was busily photographing the land-reclamation effort, failed to heed these instructions, the operator grew exasperated, and the recording ends as abruptly as it had begun, with him shouting the words: “You go!” For many people who viewed this clip, it might have almost passed for entertainment, but the plane continued on to a place called Fiery Cross, whose history and recent development point to how deadly serious the struggle over the South China Sea has become. Fiery Cross came under Chinese control in 1988, following a confrontation with Vietnam at a nearby site, Johnson Reef, where Chinese troops opened fire from a ship on a contingent of Vietnamese soldiers who stood in knee-deep seas after having planted their country’s flag in the coral. A YouTube video of the incident shows dozens of Vietnamese being cut down in the water under a hail of machine-gun fire. China had come late to the game of laying claim to parts of the Spratly archipelago, which comprises hundreds of uninhabited coral reefs and sandbars flung across a vast area between the coasts of the Philippines and southern Vietnam, each of which has long controlled numerous positions in the area. But in this bloody way, China announced that it was fully committed. Its position on Fiery Cross Reef, staked out back in the 1980s, was initially justified under the auspices of Unesco, which had called on the nations of the world to cooperate in collectively surveying the oceans for meteorological and navigation purposes. Fast-forward 28 years, though, and as seen from the American surveillance flight, what had begun as an innocuous “ocean observation station”, has now mushroomed in less than a year of dredging into the most important of Beijing’s seven newly created positions in the South China Sea. From a single coral head that peaked a mere metre out of the waves, Fiery Cross has grown in stunning fashion, attaining a size of over 200 hectares of reclaimed land – roughly equivalent to about 280 football pitches. Leaving little doubt about its purpose, it has already been equipped with a 3,300-metre airstrip, which is long enough to accommodate a wide range of Chinese combat and transport planes, and a harbour big enough to handle even the largest of the country’s ships. The primary attraction of this locale, though, may be something that cannot be perceived from even the most sophisticated surveillance plane, which from China’s perspective is precisely the point.”

Submarine Killers: India's $61 Billion Warning to China.
In a dock opening onto the Hooghly River near central Kolkata, one of India’s most lethal new weapons is going through a final outfit. The Kadmatt is a submarine killer, bristling with technology to sniff out and destroy underwater predators. It’s the second of four warships in India’s first dedicated anti-submarine force -- a key part of plans to spend at least $61 billion on expanding the navy’s size by about half in 12 years. The build-up is mostly aimed at deterring China from establishing a foothold in the Indian Ocean. It also serves another goal: Transforming India’s warship-building industry into an exporting force that can supply the region, including U.S. partners in Asia wary of China’s increased assertiveness. “India’s naval build-up is certainly occurring in the context of India moving towards a greater alignment with U.S. and its allies to balance China,” said David Brewster, a specialist in Indo-Pacific security at the Australian National University in Canberra. “India wants to be able to demonstrate that Beijing’s activities in South Asia do not come without a cost, and Delhi is also able to play in China’s neighborhood.” China showed its growing naval prowess when it deployed a nuclear-powered submarine to patrol the Indian Ocean for the first time last year, while a diesel-powered one docked twice in Sri Lanka. India says another Chinese submarine docked in May and July in Pakistan, which is reportedly looking to buy eight submarines in what would be China’s biggest arms export deal. The U.S.’s Seventh Fleet has patrolled Asia’s waters since World War II and is backing India’s naval expansion. On a January visit to New Delhi, President Barack Obama pledged to explore ways of sharing aircraft carrier technology. The two countries also flagged the need to safeguard maritime security in the South China Sea, where neither has territorial claims. India’s present fleet of 137 ships falls far short of the more than 300 vessels in China, which has Asia’s biggest navy. China boasts at least 62 submarines, including four capable of firing nuclear ballistic missiles, according to the Pentagon. “We would like to have the Moon,” Navy Vice Chief P. Murugesan told reporters on July 14, acknowledging that its goal of a 200-ship navy by 2027 was ambitious. The vessels on India’s wish list show Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intent on expanding the navy’s influence from Africa to the Western Pacific. Most of them will be made in India, a sign that moves to upgrade the country’s shipyards are starting to pay off for the world’s biggest importer of weapons. India plans to add at least 100 new warships, including two aircraft carriers, as well as three nuclear powered submarines capable of firing nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.”

Taiwan Pursues MH-60R ASW Helos
. “Taiwan's Navy seeks to procure eight to 10 MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters via the US Foreign Military Sales program to replace aging MD500 "Defender" helicopters, a local defense industry source said. An announcement is expected by the end of this year and a possible letter of acceptance in 2016, the source said. A US-based defense industry analyst said the deal was estimated at $700 million to $800 million. Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense confirmed that the MD500s are scheduled for retirement and that it was seeking a replacement. The revelation comes on the heels of news that Lockheed Martin will acquire Sikorsky Aircraft, maker of the Seahawk, from United Technologies for $9 billion. The new Seahawks will also augment the Navy's existing inventory of 18 S-70C(M) ASW helicopters now in operation. "Some of the older S-70s' mission equipment and avionics is outdated," the defense industry source said. The MH-60Rs will be able to take up some of the heavy lifting. "This is good news. The MH-60R program is essential to Taiwan's maritime security and represents an important new capability for the ROCN," said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president, US-Taiwan Business Council, Arlington, Virginia. "The main issue is ensuring the budget is suitable for a program of this cost as Taiwan's ruling party continues to underinvest in the defense budget. "It is also noteworthy that if the MH-60R LoR is accepted this fall it will be the first new program for new equipment that would result in a new capability since the autumn of 2006. This in the face of ongoing reporting by the Bush and Obama administrations that the cross-strait military threat expands annually." Taiwan's Navy has two S-70C(M) ASW squadrons, the 701 and 702, formed in 1991 and 2000, respectively. The Navy also has an active ASW squadron (501) of 10 MD500 Defender helicopters procured in 1980. The MD500s are now "worn out" and "couldn't find a submarine unless it was washed up on the beach," the defense industry source said. They could still use some of the MD500s for pilot training, but they are finished as an operational platform, he said. Taiwan has been beefing up its ASW missions with the replacement of two squadrons of Northrop Grumman S-2T Turbo Trackers with 12 refurbished P-3C Orion ASW aircraft. In 2010, the US announced a $3.1 billion deal for 60 UH-60M helicopters to be delivered 10 a year until the final transfer in 2018. "It's not a production problem, it's a rate of delivery the military wants for training reasons," the local defense industry source said. However, after 700 people were killed by Typhoon Morakot in 2009, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou announced that 15 of the aircraft would be given to the National Airborne Service Corps (NASC), under the Ministry of Interior, for humanitarian missions. The NASC has a mix of helicopters for rescue and transport missions: AS365N1/N2, S-76B, UH-1H and B234/CH-47. Taiwan still needs additional Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters to replace the 15 Black Hawks transferred to the NASC and to replace the 45 remaining Bell UH-1H utility helicopters. These additional Black Hawks would properly equip its third battalion, the 603 Army Aviation Battalion, now outfitted with nine Boeing CH-47D Chinook cargo helicopters and other training helicopters.”

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 28, 2015

China Says Not Planning Military Bases in the Maldives. “China is not planning to build military bases on the Maldives, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, after the Maldives allowed foreigners to own land despite opposition concern the reform could be used for military expansion by China.The Indian Ocean island nation passed legislation last week to allow foreigners to own land within a project site on condition at least 70 percent of the area is reclaimed from the sea. The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party said the bill could give "unprecedented access to foreign parties to operate in the Maldives". One party member said the government was facilitating a more robust Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. China's Foreign Ministry, in a statement sent to Reuters, said the vote was an internal matter for the Maldives, but that China wanted good relations with the country, best known for its luxury diving resorts. China "has always respected and supported the Maldives' efforts to maintain its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity", the ministry said. "What the relevant people said about China building bases in the Maldives is totally baseless," it added. India, which traditionally has strong ties with the Maldives and Sri Lanka, has been concerned about China's growing involvement in the Indian Ocean as it opens its purse strings and builds a network of ports dubbed the String of Pearls. In September last year, during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Maldives signed a deal with a Chinese company to upgrade its international airport after cancelling a $511 million deal with India's GMR Infrastructure in 2012. 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. But 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.”

China Commissions Second Type 052D DDG, Pushes Ahead with Frigate, Corvette Launches.
“People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) watchers report that the second of the Type 052D 'Luyang III' class destroyers, Yangsha (pennant number 173), was commissioned in mid-July and joined China's South Sea Fleet. Yangsha is likely to operate from the PLAN base at Yalong Bay on Hainan Island. Although launched only four months after first-of-class Kunming (172), it was commissioned 16 months later, suggesting an extensive programme of trials. The major change in the weapon systems between the Type 052D and the preceding Type 052C is the installation of a universal vertical launch weapon system capable of firing anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine, and land attack missiles. The Type 346 phased array radar has also been modified, so an intensive series of trials would be unsurprising. Earlier in July, the seventh Type 052D emerged from the building shed at the Jiangnan Changxingdao shipyard in Shanghai and after launch joined the sixth of class currently fitting out. Photographs showing visible progress on the eighth and ninth hulls have also appeared. Internet observers suggest that progress on the Type 052D destroyer being built at the Dalian shipyard is considerably slower than at Jiangnan Changxingdao. However, this is Dalian's first Type 052D and the pace of production is likely to increase if more orders are received. Type 054A 'Jiangkai II' class frigates Yangzhou (578) and Handan (579) appear to have been handed over to the PLAN and are believed to have been commissioned, or they will be shortly. They are the 19th and 20th ships of the class. Two more are in build at the Hudong shipyard in Shanghai and a further two at the Huangpu yard in Guangzhou. On 17 July the latest Type 056 'Jiangdao' class corvette was launched at the Huangpu shipyard. This is the 27th of the class and the eighth to be equipped with variable depth and towed array sonars. Reports suggest that two days later, the 22nd of class, Suqian(504), also an ASW variant, was commissioned. Earlier in the month the sixth Type 056 to be built at the Lushun Liaonan shipyard was launched. On 10 July, two auxiliaries were commissioned, the semisubmersible heavy lift ship Donghaidao (868) and Type 904A resupply ship Junshanhu (961).”

PLA Navy in Future will have World-Class Ships, but Not the Expertise to Operate Them, Military Observers Say.
“The PLA’s recall of retired naval officers for recent maritime drills has exposed a deep shortage of talent in the ranks due to the military’s defective training and succession system, defence observers say. More problems would come to light if nothing was done to rectify the outdated and bureaucratic methods of training and promoting staff as the People’s Liberation Army Navy expanded rapidly with more advanced warships and armaments, the experts warned. China will have the world’s second-largest naval fleet by 2030 after the United States based on the aggregate tonnage of its modern surface warships, according to the Chinese-language Kanwa Defence Review.   The Canada-based magazine said China would have at least 12 advanced Type 052D missile destroyers and 22 multirole 052A frigates by next year, followed by other state-of-the-art vessels including two more home-built aircraft carriers, bringing the total tonnage to at least 500,000 tonnes.   A retired PLA senior colonel, who had spent much time in naval research but did not wish to be named, said many of China’s advanced vessels like the 052D destroyers were being sent to the South China Sea, where Beijing has territory disputes with its Southeast Asian neighbours. In May, Beijing signalled in a defence ministry white paper a strategic shift to a more assertive military, transforming its navy from an “offshore defence” power to one committed to “open-seas protection”. However, China’s naval academies could not meet the training requirements of a blue-water navy, and the US and other Western countries were reluctant to hold officer exchanges with their Chinese counterparts, Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said.  “For historical reasons and the perceived threat of China, Washington is more willing to provide naval training to other developing countries in Asia such as India and Vietnam, and even share technology with them, in a bid to balance a rising China,” Wong said. “That’s why China must try all means to cultivate its own naval talent, which will take more time than other countries.” Last month, state broadcaster China Central Television reported that the South Sea Fleet had called up more than 120 reserve officers from Sichuan, Chongqing, Hunan and Guangdong to take part in four days of anti-piracy and ocean rescue drills. The report said that many of the officers were outstanding retired technicians who had served with the navy for more than a decade. The report initially raised speculation in domestic and overseas media that China was preparing for a war with its neighbours over South China Sea territorial disputes after Washington urged Beijing to halt its land reclamation projects and stop the placing of mobile artillery on its reclaimed islands. The Chinese defence ministry, however, dismissed the speculation as “groundless rumours”, saying that that the reserves trained regularly with regular forces to beef up the navy’s combat capability. But the retired colonel said the PLA had shut the door to promotion for many senior technicians who had reached the age of 30 but had not been made company commanders. “Corruption is a key reason that so much real talent has been underappreciated,” the naval veteran said, adding that the fighting capacity of PLA crews was yet to match the hardware build-up.”

Keeping the South China Sea a Peaceful Part of the Global Commons.
“In what follows, I offer my assessment of the current situation in the South China Sea, how the U.S. government should understand the situation, and how it may best address the situation. A major Chinese narrative regarding the South China Sea is one of unreciprocated restraint. But Chinese leaders have clearly had an ambitious long-term vision of some sort, backed by years of island seizures, themselves based on longstanding claims encapsulated in an ambiguous “nine-dash line” enclosing virtually all of the South China Sea. In 2014, China greatly accelerated what had long been a very modest process of “island building,” developing land features in the Spratlys and Paracels with a scale and sophistication that its neighbors simply cannot match, even collectively over time. But it’s what China’s constructing atop these augmented features that most concerns its neighbors and the United States: militarily relevant facilities, including at least two 3,000-meter runways capable of serving a wide range of military aircraft, that could allow Beijing to exert increasing leverage over the South China Sea. No other South China Sea claimant enjoys even one runway of this caliber on any of the features it occupies. One logical application for China’s current activities: to support a South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) like the one Beijing announced over the East China Sea in November 2013. The way in which China announced its East China Sea ADIZ suggests that it’s reserving the “right” to treat international airspace beyond 12 nautical miles as “territorial airspace” in important respects. My Naval War College colleague Peter Dutton characterizes China’s island building and outfitting activities as a “tipping point” meriting U.S. government response. Militarizing the newly constructed islands, he argues persuasively, will alter strategic stability and the regional balance of power. As bad as things are already, they could get worse—particularly if American attention and resolve are in question. Maritime militia and Coast Guard forces will be forward deployed. They might even be used to envelop disputed features as part of a “Cabbage Strategy” that dares the U.S. military to use force against non-military personnel. Such paramilitary forces would be supported by a deterrent backstop that includes both China’s navy and its “anti-navy” of land-based anti-access/area denial (A2/AD), or “counter-intervention,” forces—collectively deploying the world’s largest arsenal of ballistic and cruise missiles. More broadly, worries about China’s island construction, developing South China Sea force posture, and accompanying official statements exemplify broader foreign concern about China’s rise—that as it becomes increasingly powerful, Beijing will: abandon previous restraint in word and deed, bully its smaller neighbors, implicitly or explicitly threaten the use of force to resolve disputes, and attempt to change—or else run roughshod over—important international norms that preserve peace in Asia and underwrite the global system on which mutual prosperity depends. That’s why the United States now needs to adjust thinking and policy to stabilize the situation and balance against the prospect of negative Chinese behavior and influence. As Peter Dutton has long emphasized, the way forward for the United States is clear: even as China advances, we cannot retreat.”

How the US Outplayed China in the South China Sea.
“What separates the aggressive move from the modest one?  Or the unnecessarily risky move from the prudent one?  Context.  Last week, the recently appointed commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Scott Swift, joined a routine surveillance mission in the South China Sea conducted by a U.S. P-8 aircraft.  Four-star admirals don’t routinely join such frontline missions, of course, which may lead some to view the move as confrontational and risky.  To the Chinese, it was “irresponsible and dangerous.” But this was a single well-played move in an iterative and indirect competition with high stakes.  The Chinese are understandably upset because it shifts the terms of the next move in their disfavor, creating a circumstance that requires them to adapt expectations.  Moves like the one taken last week, putting a high-level U.S. commander in harm’s way but in a highly anodyne way, help (temporarily at least) stack the deck in favor of the United States and the status quo. Why?  Because it was a signal of U.S. resolve without deterrence.  America’s interest in the South China Sea is stability—not ownership—and the most assured path to continued stability will depend on precisely the balance Swift managed with that P-8 mission: establishing new precedents that favor the status quo while avoiding circumstances of immediate deterrence.  In effect, the United States must shape the context in which future possible confrontations take place. The U.S. defense community places a great deal of emphasis on deterrence, but deterrence (the immediate, game theoretic kind) is often a loser’s game.  It’s like going to the casino and expecting to beat the house at blackjack; it can be done, but the odds are generally against you.  And the odds are against you because the threat of force as a means of convincing someone not to do something—especially when that something is very specific—is fraught for a number of reasons.  Establishing the credibility of the threat is hard.  Even if they believe your threat is credible, they may believe that the balance of interests is worth them hazarding the risk of violating your proscription.  And even if you’ve successfully deterred something in a specific instance, you’ve almost inevitably generated second-order consequences that challenge you anew; neither people nor states suffer under the boot of others kindly, or for very long. That’s not to say that acts of immediate deterrence aren’t sometimes necessary, or that a general posture of deterrence—that is, signaling your ability to threaten something without issuing direct threats—isn’t a reasonable way of inducing caution in a would-be adversary.  When something you value is in jeopardy, appeals to community, norms, or the rule of law may be irrelevant in the heat of the moment; sometimes you just have to be willing to fight. But just as walking around seeking out a fight is reckless, so too is seeking out immediate deterrence opportunities.  And that’s why Swift’s P-8 move was so appropriate—it wasn’t immediate deterrence; it wasn’t America seeking a fight.”

South China Sea: Philippines v. China.
“The Philippines v. China case before the arbitral tribunal set up under Annex VII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has attracted worldwide attention for a number of reasons, one of which being China’s refusal to participate in the proceedings, which were initiated by the Philippines. The non-appearance of a party before an international court or tribunal is not uncommon, nor is this the first time a party has chosen not to appear before an UNCLOS dispute settlement body. In 2013, Russia elected to stay away from both provisional measures proceeding before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and currently, as things stand, it is not appearing before the Annex VII arbitral tribunal in the Arctic Sunrise case initiated by the Netherlands. What is peculiar about Philippines v. China, however, is that even though China has officially made it public that it would not participate in the proceedings, it has missed no opportunity to make the details of its position known through both formal and informal channels. This situation gives rise to several interesting legal questions. Even though international law imposes on States an obligation to settle disputes peacefully, when it comes to international adjudication or arbitration, States retain the right to decide whether to take part in it or not. The decision to not participate in legal proceedings of course begs the question of good faith, nevertheless it has to be acknowledged that international law allows for States to do so. In this particular case, Article 9 of Annex VII UNCLOS, Default of appearance, and Article 25 of the Rule of Procedure of the Arbitral Tribunal envision a situation in which one of the parties fails to appear before the tribunal. However, both of these articles state that the non-appearance of one party will not constitute a bar to the proceedings and at the same time require the tribunal to “satisfy itself that it has jurisdiction and that claim is well founded in fact and in law.” It should be noted, however, that China’s refusal to appear before the tribunal does not negate the consent that it has given to the compulsory jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal when becoming a party to the UNCLOS. The use of the argument that the arbitral tribunal does not have jurisdiction as a reason to not participate in the proceedings is highly ungrounded to say the least, and was indeed struck down by the arbitral tribunal in the Arctic Sunrise case against Russia. China remains a party to the case unless and until the Tribunal finds that there is no jurisdiction. Despite the official position that “it does not accept the arbitration initiated by the Philippines,” China has hardly adopted a hands-off policy towards the arbitral proceedings. China has through different channels made its position on the jurisdiction of the tribunal known to the public, while remaining silent on the merits of the case.”

China's Un-Separation of Powers.
“In late January this year, 18 U.S. business associations penned a joint letter to the Chinese authorities complaining about a new rule requiring that they replace their banking technologies with "secure and controllable" ones produced in China. Adopted ostensibly for national security purposes after Edward Snowden revealed the presence of spying equipment in the existing banking technologies, the guidelines actually cater to Chinese industrial policy by potentially requiring foreign companies to reveal source code and other commercial secrets. Although it is not uncommon for U.S. industry to lobby the Chinese government, particularly when the stakes are high, in this case, the businesses chose to bypass the government and address the letter directly to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs rather than the government’s Cyberspace Administration of China. The standard practice is to engage government officials up and down the hierarchy, from the lowliest section chief up to the minister and beyond. Business lobbyists even interact with critical decision-makers who hold key party positions on a government rather than a party level. (The exception is local investment deals, where the local party secretary has the ultimate say and can influence the bureaucracy’s decision.) In any case, soon after registering their complaint, representatives from U.S. businesses received face-to-face meetings with Chinese officials, and in late March, China announced it would suspend implementation of the banking-technology regulations. Fearing that China would attempt to quietly implement the policy anyway, the group sent a second letter in early April to the same party agency, asking that it issue a written edict to ensure the suspension would truly hold. A few days later, the party complied once more. This unexpected victory not only reveals how U.S. industry has figured out how to pull the levers of power in China but also points to a substantial change in how China is governed. In the past, there was at least some separation between party and government roles, but it seems that the line is blurring dramatically. The CCP and its ruling Politburo Standing Committee have always been the ones in charge, but they have been amassing greater control over policymaking and even implementation. It leaves one wondering: Does the Chinese government matter anymore? The Chinese Communist Party has always had a love-hate relationship with its own government, needing it for legitimacy and governance but keen to uphold the party's own prerogatives. The CCP has maintained full control of the country since Mao Zedong strode atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace to declare the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. But in the early 1950s, the party, in order to manage the day-to-day running of the country, constructed an elaborate central government and multiple layers of administration down to the village level. Mao was known as "Chairman" of the PRC for five years during the 1950s, but from the Great Leap Forward on, he held no government title. He often chafed at the inefficiency of the bureaucratic system, and during the Cultural Revolution he helped create tripartite "revolutionary committees" composed of Red Guard organizations, People's Liberation Army (PLA) units, and the CCP.”

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 27, 2015

Forbes: White House Has No China Strategy; Here’s Mine. “What’s the strategy for coping with what everyone on Capitol Hill and inside the Obama administration agrees is an increasingly assertive China? The White House can’t answer, Rep. Randy Forbes says, “because they don’t have it.” So, it’s fair to ask: what is Forbes’s strategy, then? The House seapower chairman’s outline for a “winning strategy” boils down to five principles, he told me in an interview: (1) have a clear objective: a peaceful and prosperous Pacific where China follows the rule of law and the US works closely with its partners; (2) speak truth to Chinese power: Be willing to offend Beijing with frank statements, especially on issues like human rights and Taiwan; (3) punish Chinese provocations, for example by un-inviting them from international wargames like RIMPAC if they continue building artificial “islands;” (4) strengthen our military presence in the Pacific, especially (but not only) naval forces; (5) communicate our strategy — to the American people so they buy in, to our allies so they’re reassured, and to the Chinese so they’re deterred. “One of the cornerstones of any strategy is the ability to articulate that strategy,” Forbes told me. “The administration will tell you have they have a strategy, but ask them in any hearing, ask them in any place, to put it on the record… They will not tell you, because they don’t have it.” “We’ve been trying to encourage them to have an East Asia strategy review,” Forbes added. “We haven’t had one since the ’90s… They’ve refused to do one since they’ve been in office.” Forbes isn’t alone in his frustration with the administration. Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jack Reed, the chairman and ranking Democrat of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote the Pentagon in May protesting the Chinese invitation to participate in the world’s largest naval exercise, RIMPAC. McCain, Reed, and two other Senators — Bob Corker, and Bob Mendez, the top Republican and top Democrat on the Foreign Relations committee — sent Obama a letter in March calling for a strategy on Chinese provocations in the East and South China Seas. “Without a comprehensive strategy…long-standing interests of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, stand at considerable risk,” they wrote. At a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference on Wednesday, Forbes outlined three crucial questions on which he’d never gotten a satisfactory answer: “When it comes to China, what is our strategy?.. Are we winning or losing?… What are the metrics that we use to measure that?” “We should have as the cornerstone of our strategy that we want to have a winning strategy, [not] do this just to get this participation trophy,” Forbes told me. That said, “winning doesn’t mean the Chinese come out worse and we come out better,” the congressman clarified. “It just means we have to have a definition of what winning is.”

The PLA General Staff Department Third Department Second Bureau: An Organizational Overview of Unit 61398
“In May 2014, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced indictments against five Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers on charges of cyber espionage directed against U.S. firms. According to the indictments, the five officers were assigned to the Third Office of the PLA General Staff Department (GSD) Technical Reconnaissance Department (alternatively known as the Third Department) Second Bureau. According to the U.S. Attorney General, “this is a case alleging economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first-ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking.” While assigned personnel may well engage in cyber espionage, a survey of Second Bureau infrastructure indicates a much broader communications intelligence mission. Who is the Second Bureau, what is its mission, how is it organized, and where does the bureau fit within the broader Chinese Communist Party state and military bureaucracy? This overview updates and expands upon Project 2049 reports published in November 2011 and October 2012 on Chinese cyber operations. Signals intelligence (SIGINT), or technical reconnaissance in PLA lexicon, advances the interests of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The PLA’s SIGINT community consists of at least 28 technical reconnaissance bureaus (TRBs). The GSD Third Department, often referred to as 3PLA, is roughly analogous to the U.S. National Security Agency. It has direct authority over 12 operational bureaus, three research institutes, and a computing center. Eight of the 12 operational bureau headquarters are clustered in Beijing. Two others are based in Shanghai, one in Qingdao, and one in Wuhan. Ten additional TRBs provide direct support to the PLA’s seven military regions (MRs), while another six support the PLA Navy (PLAN), Air Force (PLAAF), and Second Artillery Force (PLASAF). Grade, rather than rank, is the main indicator of relative authority and responsibility throughout the PLA. Third Department bureau leaders – the director and political commissar – have a grade equivalent to a ground force division leader with a primary rank of senior colonel (SCOL) and a secondary rank of major general (MG). A bureau director is also identified as the unit commander.4 The Second Bureau (Unit 61398) is one of the largest among the 12 operational bureaus that comprise the GSD Third Department. The Second Bureau and the GSD Third Department Fourth Bureau both have origins in the mountains west of the Shanxi provincial city of Xinzhou. Technical reconnaissance work stations under Second Bureau control were distributed throughout China. By 1986, the Second Bureau headquarters and most subordinate elements relocated to Shanghai. At the same time, the GSD Third Department Fourth Bureau headquarters moved to the city of Qingdao in Shandong province. The Second Bureau Party Committee implements policies established by the central leadership in Beijing and Shanghai City Party Committee. The political commissar serves as the bureau’s Party Committee secretary. The Second Bureau director has a formal position within the Shanghai City government and most likely is deputy secretary of the Second Bureau Party Committee.”

China’s Island Building is Clearly Military, U.S. Pacific Chief Says.
“The top U.S. military officer in the Pacific sternly warned China on Friday to immediately cease its “aggressive coercive island building” in the South China Sea, which he argued was intended clearly for China’s military use as forward operating bases in combat against their regional neighbors. “I believe those facilities are clearly military in nature,” Harris said at the Aspen Security Forum, an annual gathering in Colorado of dozens of top U.S. national security leaders, convened by the Aspen Institute. In his notably undiplomatic remarks, Harris called on China to show meaningful diplomacy to resolve the territorial disputes. But the four-star admiral also appeared resigned to seeing further construction and eventual deployment of military aircraft and ships. “They are building ports that are deep enough to host warships and they’re building a 10,000-foot runway at Fiery Cross Reef,” Harris said, referring to one of China’s construction activities in the Spratly Islands that Japan has protested. “A 10,000-foot runaway is large enough to take a B-52, almost large enough for the Space Shuttle, and 3,000 feet longer than you need to take off a 747. So, there’s no small airplane that requires a runway of that length. They’re building rebutted aircraft hangers at some of the facilities there that are clearly designed, in my view, to host tactical fighter aircraft.” Harris also said he is concerned the islands could be used as a chain of Chinese listening posts. “Certainly, those islands, which are well out in the South China Sea, extends a surveillance network that could be in place with radars, electronic warfare capabilities and the like.” If that happens, he said, American warships could strike them in combat. “I think those islands, given the capabilities we have, are clearly and easily targets in any combat scenario with China. But they’re also easily seen as forward operating posts. Any increase of capability like that in that area is cause for concern,” Harris said. The U.S. has not yet seen China place any anti-ship missiles or supporting gear on the islands, he added. The U.S. commander dismissed Beijing’s repeated claims that the island expansions were rightful and peaceful, and said China has shown no credible diplomatic effort to resolve its territorial disputes with neighboring countries.  “Most countries choose to pursue diplomatic means to address their disputes.  China, on the other hand, is changing the status quo in the region through aggressive coercive island building without meaningful diplomatic efforts toward dispute resolution or arbitration,” Harris said, reading opening remarks at his appearance in Aspen. “China is changing facts on the ground…essentially, creating false sovereignty…by building man-made islands on top of coral reefs, rocks, and shoals,” Harris said. “These activities are harming the environment and will not strengthen any country’s legal claims to disputed areas in the South China Sea. We call on China to use the mechanisms of international dispute resolution in good faith, and to abide by those decisions as so many of its regional neighbors have already done. China has in the past accused the U.S. of ‘pursuing international hegemony’ and adopting a ‘Cold War mentality’ toward China. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is China’s actions that are inducing its South China Sea neighbors to build stronger relationships with each other and the U.S., driven not by a sudden U.S. effort to increase stability and security within the region, but by China’s conspicuous failure to do the same.”

FBI Probes ‘Hundreds’ of China Spy Cases.
The FBI has seen a surge in cases of economic espionage in the past year, and the bureau says that China is largely to blame. China’s intelligence services are “as aggressive now as they’ve ever been,” said Assistant Director Randall Coleman, who runs the bureau’s counterintelligence division. He and other senior FBI officials described the threat China poses to U.S. companies during a rare, on-the-record briefing with reporters Thursday. It was an event meant to underscore the pervasive nature of intellectual-property and trade-secrets theft and to alert businesses to protect themselves. “The predominant threat we face right now is from China,” Coleman said. The FBI has linked the theft of a broad range of technologies—from seeds to software—to the Chinese government, he said. The number of cases investigated by the division, which is responsible for stopping and catching spies, has shot up 53 percent in the past year, Coleman said. The precise number of total cases is classified, but Coleman said it’s “in the hundreds.” The FBI’s willingness to call out China for spying on U.S. companies stood in contrast to the White House’s reluctance to blame China for the massive hack against the Office of Personnel Management. As The Daily Beast reported this week, Obama administration officials have privately concluded that hackers working with the Chinese government stole personal information on more than 22 million current and former government employees, in what experts have called one of the biggest intelligence disasters in recent memory. Coleman declined to discuss the OPM hack, which he described as an ongoing investigation. But the spying for which the FBI is blasting China is also distinct, U.S. officials have said, from traditional espionage that aims to steal government secrets. When Chinese hackers or human spies make off with companies’ pricing data, secret formulas, or software code, they’re giving it to Chinese companies to give them an unfair advantage in the global marketplace, officials argue. The Obama administration has tried to draw a line between that economic espionage and the global surveillance against terrorists or spying on foreign governments that the United States routinely conducts. To bolster its case, the FBI released the results of a government survey of 165 companies—which it didn’t name—half of which reported said that their proprietary information had already been targeted by foreign spies. And in 95 percent of those cases, the companies suspected China was to blame, said William Evanina, a top U.S. counterintelligence official.”

Asia-Pacific Countries Buy Surveillance Planes to Outfox Rivals
. “Military commanders in Asia are putting surveillance planes at the top of their wish lists, ahead of warships and fighter jets, as they strive to protect their territorial waters from rival claimants. Several countries are hoping better intelligence will keep a lid on the region’s worsening maritime disputes by deterring provocative actions in remote stretches of ocean that Asian countries claim but aren’t able to monitor effectively. Nowhere has Asia’s weak ISR capabilities—military shorthand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance—been more ruthlessly exposed than in the South China Sea, where China has been building at least seven artificial islands to boost its territorial claims. The islets were half-built before Beijing’s rivals even realized what was happening. Regional governments believe that investing in better ISR will help them avoid more nasty surprises. The thinking has opened up alucrative niche for aerospace companies, such as Boeing Co. and Sikorsky Aircraft Co. of the U.S., hoping to capitalize on Asian demand for a new generation of patrol planes. Bumping through choppy sea air in a U.S. Navy P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft east of the Philippine island of Palawan in June, it was easy to understand why surveillance is the region’s latest military buzzword. The plane’s radar system swept a 200-mile radius of ocean with enough precision to spot a person in the water, while high-resolution cameras scanned the surface. The plane’s sensors can detect faint noises or metallic objects. A vessel somewhere below flashed onto the P-3’s consoles with perfect clarity. It was 6 miles away, the radar operator said. While defense spending in Asia has been surging, new monitoring capabilities have generally been neglected. But no longer: Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam are among those prioritizing up-to-date surveillance systems.  “Investing in maritime ISR is a no-brainer for these countries,” said Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank. Piracy and smuggling, and a recent influx of seaborne refugees, are among the challenges demanding investment in surveillance technology, even without the territorial standoffs, Mr. Graham said. “Southeast Asian countries need to have some visibility about what is happening in their own backyard,” he said. The P-3—a venerable workhorse that has served the U.S. Navy for five decades—can scour several thousand square kilometers in one flight, and in all weathers. “This is the plane they send into hurricanes,” said Lt. Cdr. Patrick Ronan, commanding the P-3. In contrast, satellites take too long to retask and are useless in cloudy conditions, he said, while lumbering ships can’t search huge swaths of ocean. Drones have great potential, he said, but for now can only complement the work of human crews. Circling at 6,000 feet on a stormy summer morning, the plane steered U.S. and Philippine warships toward their search objectives as part of annual drills in the Sulu Sea. The ships were lonely specks in a featureless gray expanse: it was hard to imagine them ever finding anything without the P-3 to guide them.”

They’re Just Not That Into Us.
“A swelling chorus of Washington voices wants to change America’s long-standing strategy toward China. “I was so gullible,” Pentagon adviser Michael Pillsbury, who has helped shape policy under every president since Nixon, lamented in a recent book. “We believed that American aid to a fragile China whose leaders thought like us would help China become a democratic and peaceful power,” but “every one of the assumptions behind that belief was wrong—dangerously so.” Veteran diplomats Robert Blackwill and Ashley Tellis likewise concluded, in an April report for the Council on Foreign Relations,that Beijing’s goal is to become East Asia’s hegemon, so Washington should stop basing policy on the false hope that China is evolving into a “responsible stakeholder” in the American-led liberal international order. Thomas J. Christensen disagrees. A Princeton professor who served in the State Department from 2006 to 2008, he argues that “The China Challenge,” as he titles his book, isn’t chiefly to limit the risks of a rising China. It is to persuade Beijing to “pull its weight” in matters of cooperative “global governance.” U.S. strategy should thus “focus on the considerable common interests we have with China on everything from finance to trade, to nonproliferation, to stability in various regions of the world, to global environmental protection.” Beijing, in other words, is better viewed as a potential partner than a potential adversary. Mr. Christensen hasn’t written a brief for Beijing. He backs “a very strong U.S. military presence in East Asia” and doesn’t endorse withdrawal from the Korean Peninsula or cessation of support for Taiwan. As he tells it, he simply wants to extend the “pragmatism” that has governed U.S. policy toward China since the two countries cooperated against the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. Though Mr. Christensen presents his case in a scholarly and accessible fashion, contradictions and omissions ultimately make it unconvincing. U.S.-China relations appear more perilous than the author wants to admit, and his book—inadvertently—helps prove the point. Start with his claim that China wouldn’t have to “transform itself radically at home” and abandon authoritarianism in order to accommodate itself to the liberal global order. “Chinese patriots have every reason to reject a demand that they become ‘Western,’ ” he writes, emphasizing China’s postcolonial nationalism, “but no reason to reject high standards of compliance with universal norms of free market economics, intellectual property rights protection, and nuclear nonproliferation, as well as basic standards of universal human rights.”

China’s Global Ambitions, With Loans and Strings Attached.
“Where the Andean foothills dip into the Amazon jungle, nearly 1,000 Chinese engineers and workers have been pouring concrete for a dam and a 15-mile underground tunnel. The $2.2 billion project will feed river water to eight giant Chinese turbines designed to produce enough electricity to light more than a third of Ecuador.Near the port of Manta on the Pacific Ocean, Chinese banks are in talks to lend $7 billion for the construction of an oil refinery, which could make Ecuador a global player in gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products. Across the country in villages and towns, Chinese money is going to build roads, highways, bridges, hospitals, even a network of surveillance cameras stretching to the Galápagos Islands. State-owned Chinese banks have already put nearly $11 billion into the country, and the Ecuadorean government is asking for more. Ecuador, with just 16 million people, has little presence on the global stage. But China’s rapidly expanding footprint here speaks volumes about the changing world order, as Beijing surges forward and Washington gradually loses ground. It represents a new phase in China’s evolution. As the country’s wealth has swelled and its needs have evolved, President Xi Jinping and the rest of the leadership have pushed to extend China’s reach on a global scale. China’s currency, the renminbi, is expected to be anointed soon as a global reserve currency, putting it in an elite category with the dollar, the euro, the pound and the yen. China’s state-owned development bank has surpassed the World Bank in international lending. And its effort to create an internationally funded institution to finance transportation and other infrastructure has drawn the support of 57 countries, including several of the United States’ closest allies, despite opposition from the Obama administration. Even the current stock market slump is unlikely to shake the country’s resolve. China has nearly $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, which it is determined to invest overseas to earn a profit and exert its influence. China’s growing economic power coincides with an increasingly assertive foreign policy. It is building aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and stealth jets. In a contested sea, China is turning reefs and atolls near the southern Philippines into artificial islands, with at least one airstrip able to handle the largest military planes. The United States has challenged the move, conducting surveillance flights in the area and discussing plans to send warships. China represents “a civilization and history that awakens admiration to those who know it,” President Rafael Correa of Ecuador proclaimed on Twitter, as his jet landed in Beijing for a meeting with officials in January. China’s leaders portray the overseas investments as symbiotic. “The current industrial cooperation between China and Latin America arrives at the right moment,” Prime Minister Li Keqiang said in a visit to Chile in late May. “China has equipment manufacturing capacity and integrated technology with competitive prices, while Latin America has the demand for infrastructure expansion and industrial upgrading.” But the show of financial strength also makes China — and the world — more vulnerable.”

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 24, 2015

Achieving Strategic Rebalance in the Asia Pacific: Dr. Patrick M. Cronin’s Congressional Testimony. “Chairman McKeon, Ranking Member Smith, and other distinguished members of the Committee, I sincerely appreciate this opportunity to testify on the trenchant matter of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region. I say trenchant because I believe it is in the vital interest of the United States to use the past few years as a springboard for widening and deepening our strategic engagement in the most important region of the 21st century. If we move intelligently and doggedly to leverage our considerable power to mold the rising and dynamic Indo-Pacific, then we can preserve and adapt an inclusive, rules-based international community that is fundamental to the preservation of freedom, peace and prosperity. But if we falter in our purpose and vigilance and divert from our long-term strategic interests, then fissures and flashpoints that seem manageable today may one day overwhelm our capacity to deal with them. Achieving strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific requires a clear understanding of U.S. interests, regional and global trends, and a realistic plan for linking our finite means to our ambitious objectives. If we are to succeed, we will have to adapt our armed forces to balance existing capacity while investing in future capability in what is largely a maritime and air (and cyber and outer space) domain. Equally, we will have to rebalance our finances through tough trade-offs at home and greater economic competitiveness and expanded international trade. And even as we maintain a defense second to none and a globalleading free market, we will have to rely more on allies and partners to shoulder more shared responsibility for the maintenance of regional and global order. Every government searches for strategic balance. After all, strategy involves aligning policy objectives with available means. When the environment in which one is crafting a strategy is in constant flux, there is a persistent need for recalibration. As the United States prepares to hand responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to Afghans next year, officials in Washington, D.C. continue to search for a new strategic balance, one that responsibly weighs short-term against long-term risk, and one that assesses the proper weight to place on military power as opposed to diplomacy, development, and other levers of power. The search for strategic balance and coherence is hardly new. The Obama administration entered office in 2009 determined to address a heavy “inheritance” of two protracted ground wars, a global counterterrorism campaign, Iranian and North Korean nuclear proliferation, and mounting debt and deepening economic recession.”

America’s Security Role in the South China Sea: Dr. Andrew Erickson’s Congressional Testimony. “
Chairman Salmon, Ranking Member Sherman, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to address this vital, timely topic. Allow me to share my assessment of the current situation in the South China Sea, followed by my recommendations concerning how the U.S. government should understand the situation and how it may best work to address it. A major Chinese narrative regarding the South China Sea is one of unreciprocated restraint. But Chinese leaders have clearly had an ambitious long-term vision of some sort, backed by years of efforts, themselves based on longstanding claims encapsulated in an ambiguous “nine-dash line” enclosing virtually all of the South China Sea. Beijing’s stance regarding South China Sea sovereignty issues is categorical and steadfast. In a position paper rejecting outright the Philippines’ recent initiation of international arbitration regarding their bilateral dispute, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs states, “China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands (the Dongsha [Pratas] Islands, Xisha [Paracel] Islands, the Zhongsha Islands [whose main features include Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Shoal] and the Nansha [Spratly] Islands) and the adjacent waters.” Despite all its rhetoric, actions, developmental efforts, and apparent preparations, however, China has repeatedly declined to disclose the precise basis for, the precise nature of, or even the precise geographical parameters of, its South China Sea claims. As the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence documents, China “has never published the coordinates of” the nine-dash line that it draws around virtually the entire South China Sea—perilously close to the coasts of its neighbors, all of whom it has disputes with. It has not “declared what rights it purports to enjoy in this area.” Beijing has still has not specified whether or not it considers the South China Sea to constitute a “core interest.” Given China’s statements and actions to date, however, there is reason for concern that it is determined to maintain expansive claims based on unyielding invocation of the “nine-dash line.” China’s military and paramilitary forces have a half-century-plus history of capturing islands and other features, many in South China Sea. It appears that Beijing long harbored ambitions to seize significant numbers of South China Sea islands, and indeed took several occupied by Vietnam in 1974 and 1988 even though severely limited in sea and air power at that time. Such operations have not received sufficient analytical attention. In some respects, they may have been more complex that previously appreciated outside China. For example, maritime militia forces appear to have been employed in the 1974 Paracels Conflict, the 2009 Impeccable Incident, the 2012 Scarborough Shoal Standoff, and the 2014 Haiyang Shiyou 981 Oil Rig Standoff.”

America’s Security Role in the South China Sea: Dr. Mira Rapp-Cooper’s Congressional Testimony.
“Chairman Salmon, Ranking Member Sherman, distinguished members of the Subcommittee, I am honored to have this opportunity to discuss regional states’ responses to China’s recent activities in the South China Sea. My testimony today will focus primarily on responses by countries that have sovereignty claims and occupy territory in the South China Sea, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Taiwan. I will also address noteworthy responses by Japan, Australia, India, and regional institutions. Regional states share many of the United States’ interests in the South China Sea, including freedom of navigation and overflight, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and upholding international law. Claimant state actions are also motivated by their national sovereignty claims, which, as a neutral party, the United States does not necessarily share. I will argue that there are, however, ample opportunities for the United States to advance its interests in the South China Sea in tandem with those of other regional actors. To that end, I will conclude my testimony today by offering some suggestions on how the United States can use multilateral mechanisms to enhance security in this vital waterway. Land reclamation and construction in the South China Sea did not begin with China’s building efforts in 2014. South China Sea claimants began to set up outposts in the Spratly Islands in the 1950s, and several have undertaken land reclamation and construction efforts since that time. Malaysia occupies five Spratly features and reclaimed land and constructed facilities on Swallow Reef in 1983. The Philippines occupies eight features and has constructed facilities. Taiwan occupies one feature. It has reclaimed a small amount of land and is currently in the midst of airstrip and port renovations. Vietnam, which occupies as many as 29 features, has reclaimed land and built military and civilian facilities. Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan all have airstrips of their own on Spratly outposts, and all four have stationed troops on these islands. When these other claimants activities are compared to China’s in size, scope, and speed, however, their building activity pales in comparison. To paraphrase Secretary of Defense Carter, China has gone farther and faster in its construction activities. The breakneck pace and widespread use of land reclamation and construction, rather than the mere fact of the building itself is what raises serious concerns about China’s intentions in the Spratlys for other South China Sea claimants. It is also worth noting that China is the only country to have completely transformed features that were formerly under water into artificial islands; other countries have used the technique to add some additional acreage onto features that were already above water. By way of comparison, Taiwan has reclaimed approximately five acres of new land over two years at one location. Malaysia reclaimed approximately 60 acres over 30 years at one location. Vietnam reclaimed 50-60 acres over five years at one location. China, however, has reclaimed at least 2,000 acres over one year at seven different locations.”

The Sino-Iranian Tango.
“The recent nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) will have major implications for security in the Middle East. But the impact of the deal will be much wider. Just how wide was demonstrated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who, even before the official press conference announcing that the agreement had been concluded, declared that the deal obviated any need for NATO missile defenses in Europe, which have long been a point of contention between the United States and Russia. The deal will also likely lead to billions of dollars of investment by India in Iran's southern port of Chabahar, long-awaited progress on a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan, and perhaps even the provision of Iranian gas to a Europe eager to reduce its energy dependence on Russia. The biggest impact of all, however, may be on China. Iran and China have long-standing ties that are free of the historical baggage that complicates Tehran's relations with Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Modern Sino-Iranian relations predate U.S. President Richard Nixon's opening to China, and China has been an indispensable security partner to Iran, including by supplying it with arms and, as Orde Kittrie noted in another article for Foreign Affairs, by providing it with key nuclear components. Thanks to the two countries' historically close relations and their mutual suspicion of the United States, many well-regarded China scholars expected China to play a spoiler role in the talks. But by all accounts, Chinese involvement was constructive. Beijing's approach may have been motivated by a desire to shape a diplomatic outcome to head off either of two undesirable outcomes: a U.S.-Iranian war that could endanger China's oil imports from the Persian Gulf or a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement that could leave that waterway ringed by American partners. Like Iran, China also likely sought the reversal of American sanctions, which in recent years threatened not only Chinese nuclear and arms exporters but more strategically important institutions such as Chinese banks and oil giants. Throughout the nuclear negotiations, China was careful to maintain close ties with Iran from within the P5+1, shielding the country from the effects of sanctions resolutions even as it voted in favor of them at the United Nations. Chinese-Iranian trade increased from about $3 billion in 2001 to over $50 billion in 2014 (the precise number is difficult to determine), and Chinese oil imports from Iran rose in 2014 and 2015 to their highest levels ever, after temporarily declining in 2012-13. Sino-Iranian security ties also continued to expand during the period of negotiations, and they went well beyond nuclear and arms exports. Chinese fighter jets reportedly refueled in Iran in 2010, and Chinese warships paid a visit to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in 2014 -- both firsts. Additionally, China at least indirectly supported Iran's regional agenda by vetoing multiple UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.”

Small Reefs, Big Problems.
“Every ten or so days, and rarely at weekends, the Chinese coastguard arrives at eight in the morning, in time for the Japanese foreign ministry to deliver a formal complaint to its Chinese counterpart by lunchtime. It is something of a ritual these days. Chinese vessels breach the 12-mile territorial limit of Japan’s Senkaku islands, which China claims and calls the Diaoyu islands. Japanese coastguard cutters shadow them warily until the Chinese decide that national honour has been satisfied and sail away. Call this little dance an improvement: in 2012, with anti-Japan fervour at its height, aggressive incursions into Senkaku waters highlighted the risk that China might even provoke a war with its neighbour over the uninhabited rocks. That the dance is carried out by coastguard vessels, white-painted and minimally armed, also allows both sides to disengage more easily. Yet gunmetal-grey warships lurk nearby. One reason China has backed off in recent months is the solid presence of the Japanese navy just over the horizon. And were the two countries ever to come to blows over the Senkakus, America has made it clear it would come to Japan’s aid. (It claims no view over the territorial dispute, which did not stop it using the Senkakus for bombing practice during its post-war occupation of Japan.) Facing pushback in the East China Sea, China has turned to softer targets: the islands, reefs and atolls of the South China Sea. These have long been the subject of territorial disputes among littoral states, especially involving the Philippines and Vietnam. But China has increased the tensions sharply in the past year. First, without consultation it towed an oil rig into Vietnam’s claimed Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). More troubling is confirmation of China’s massive landfill work on disputed reefs and islands a very long way from China’s shores. In contrast with Japan, China’s neighbours to the south are poorer and weaker, and they lack cast-iron American security guarantees. A vacuum has existed in the South China Sea since American forces withdrew from the Philippines in 1992. China’s neighbours are unnerved by its rapid increase in defence spending, in particular its pursuit of a blue-water navy. They note a Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who is not shy about flexing Chinese muscle. He likes to talk of China’s “peaceful rise” and of a “new type of great-power relationship”—one that appears to leave little space for small countries. In both Beijing and Washington, strategists have long liked to grapple with whether America and China are destined to fall into a “Thucydides trap”. In the original, the Spartans’ fear of the growing might of Athens made war inevitable. The modern parallel states that an existing power (America) is bound to clash with a rising one (China). In Japan the point is made differently: at sea modern China is behaving with the paranoid aggression of imperial Japan on land before the second world war. “They are making the same mistakes that we did,” says a Japanese official.”

China as an Autopilot Nation.
“Why did China’s government pump up stock prices and then react sharply when they started to fall? Why is it surfacing territorial disputes across the East and South China Seas? The issues are more related than they may seem, as both help illustrate how Chinese leaders grapple with making decisions and assuage domestic constituencies. In both areas, the Chinese government functions to a significant degree on autopilot, with decisions made largely through bureaucratic momentum. Flaws in the government structure allow small groups of officials to make important decisions. The top leaders may find it difficult to repudiate the resulting policies, even when they run counter to the overall strategy. Leaders in China don’t receive as broad a range of views as their counterparts in the U.S. and other advanced economies do. Rarely are they exposed to unsolicited critical views from think tanks, academia or the press. Open discussion of sensitive topics such as territorial claims or economic management is prohibited. Foreigners are one of the few permissible targets for critical commentary, so it should be no surprise that Chinese policy makers frequently blame foreign parties for problems. Meanwhile, policy makers gravitate to maximalist points of view. The stock market will rise indefinitely; build-out in the South China Sea will continue for the foreseeable future; nothing but sunny days ahead. Once a leader in China’s system adopts a maximalist position, nobody can question this approach without appearing weak or disloyal. Specialists and midlevel officials have few incentives to raise concerns or contrary ideas. China’s Confucian tradition supports a hierarchical worldview in which respect for elders is imbued from childhood, and its Leninist political structure means there can be no tolerance for dissent. Bad news does not flow up. China also suffers from time-horizon bias. There is little appetite for incurring short-term costs even if they might lead to long-term benefits. If a bull market can lead to increased economic confidence and a wealthier populace, so be it. If expansion and construction in the South China Sea allows for easier power projection, so be it. Arguably China could strengthen its security by resolving territorial disputes, or could have a better stock market if it hadn’t injected so much liquidity recently. But such moves would likely require compromises. The Chinese system offers little capacity for climb-downs or restraint. Decision making is siloed. In the U.S., before problems reach the president or even the cabinet, the National Security Council staff directs a series of working groups and coordinating bodies down to midlevel officials, requiring every department and agency to understand the others’ views on the subject at hand. A range of interagency exchanges means that before civilian or military officials reach senior rank, they are familiar with the broad scope of U.S. government decision making. In China, by contrast, the Central Military Commission makes military decisions as a stand-alone entity. Only at the highest level of the Communist Party, the Central Committee, is there a mechanism for interagency coordination. So if a Chinese ship harasses a U.S. ship in international waters, it is likely doing so without the approval or knowledge of, say, the foreign ministry. The Chinese ship captain might burnish his credentials as an aggressive officer while the foreign ministry pays the price for the deterioration in relations with Washington. Beijing knows it has limited political capital and an ambitious agenda. This includes keeping growth on track, reforming the economy, reining-in state-owned enterprises, helping banks deleverage, encouraging consumer spending and fighting corruption. And that’s just on the domestic side. Leaders seek to avoid the sort of internal friction entailed by course corrections. Easier to keep things on autopilot until problems come to a boil and the need for action is more generally accepted. These factors suggest that China will increasingly assert itself overseas not primarily because of expansionist or hostile aims, but because its system rewards and perpetuates such behavior. The lack of internal discipline and cost-benefit analysis can hurt the international community and—here’s the surprise—China, as well.”

China Says Has Every Right to Drill in East China Sea.
China said on Friday it had every right to drill in the East China Sea close to waters disputed with Japan, adding that it did not recognize a "unilateral" Japanese median line setting out a boundary between the two in the waters. Japan this week called on China to halt construction of oil-and-gas exploration platforms in the East China Sea close to waters claimed by both nations, concerned that Chinese drills could tap reservoirs that extend into Japanese territory. Patrol ships and aircraft from both countries have been shadowing each other in the area over the past couple of years, raising fears of a confrontation and clash. In an escalation of the latest dispute, Japan released aerial photographs of China's construction in the area, accusing it of unilateral development and a halfhearted attitude toward a 2008 agreement to jointly develop resources there. China resumed exploration in the East China Sea two years ago, Japan said. In 2012, Japan's government angered China by buying a disputed island chain there from private owners. Before then, China had curtailed activities under an agreement with Japan to jointly develop undersea resources in disputed areas. The platforms are being erected on the Chinese side of a median line delineating the exclusive economic zones of the two countries, according to a Japanese ministry official said. China's Foreign Ministry said its drilling activities in waters which are not disputed and under Chinese administration are "completely appropriate and legal". "China and Japan have not yet delineated maritime boundaries in the East China Sea, andChina does not recognize the Japanese side's unilateral marking out of a so-called 'median line'," the ministry said in a statement. China's position is that it had a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone, and its continental shelf in the East China Sea extends to the Okinawa Trough, it added. Japan was the one distorting the consensus reached in 2008, and Japan should "create good conditions and atmosphere" for resuming talks, which China sees as a good way of managing the dispute, the ministry said. Japan worries that the platforms will tap into gas fields that overlap the median line and could also be used as radar stations or bases for drones or other aircraft to monitor air and sea activity near the disputed chain of islets, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.”

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 23, 2015

The New Silk Road: Xi Jinping’s Grand Strategy for Eurasia. “Xi Jinping’s ambitious vision is to improve connectivity from China to Europe, which is now considered part of China’s Greater Neighborhood Policy (GNP). China plans to spearhead investment in transport corridors including new air, rail and road infrastructure projects. Xi announced his Silk Road initiative in Astana, Kazakhstan on September 7, 2013 while on tour of Central Asia. He characterized it as an ‘‘economic belt’’ emphasizing the wealth of investment funds China could bring to the struggling region. In Astana, Xi Jinping introduced new vocabulary, notably the idea of an ‘‘economic belt’’ in order to differentiate his vision from that of Hillary Clinton’s ‘‘New Silk Road.’’ Hillary Clinton first referred publicly to her vision of a ‘‘New Silk Road’’ in a speech in Chennai, India on July 20, 2011.3Clinton’s approach was to help to integrate Afghanistan into a north–south trade corridor as a means of improving the Afghan economy. Chinese policymakers felt historic ownership of the Silk Road. Historically there was no single silk road but many, some more dangerous than others. Not only was silk traded, but also spices, silver, and other goods. The term ‘‘Silk Road(s)’’ is of recent vintage and was only introduced in the mid-1800s by German explorer Ferdinand von Richthofen who organized expeditions to China between 1868 and 1872.4 Chinese officials were flummoxed to find that Hillary Clinton used the term Silk Road to describe a U.S. policy. According to one Chinese diplomat, ‘‘When [the] U.S. initiated this we were devastated. We had long sleepless nights. And after two years, President Xi proposed [a] strategic vision of our new concept of Silk Road.’’ Clinton’s concept was repurposed, repackaged, and shifted from a north–south axis designed to improve Afghanistan’s economy, to an east–northwest axis, which gave the impression that all silk roads lead to Beijing. Clinton’s Silk Road initiative is not dead, but, compared to China’s deep-pocketed promises, appears to be on life-support. In October 2014, while in Indonesia, Xi Jinping announced the will to build a ‘‘Maritime Silk Road of the 21st century.’’ This maritime component of his Silk Road concept is expected to stretch across Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. Connectivity would include, for example, investment in port infrastructure in Sri Lanka and modernization of facilities. Although ‘‘road’’ is an awkward term to describe a maritime corridor, this word refers to the ‘‘silk road’’ and emphasizes China’s attempt to claim historical legitimacy in the region. Since then, the overland ‘‘economic belt’’ and the ‘‘maritime silk road’’ are referred to as ‘‘One Belt and One Road’’ (yi dai yi lu) and ‘‘Belt and Road’’ in official documents. The Government Work Report to the National People’s Congress of March 2014 and successive documents stressed the importance of the ‘‘Belt and Road’’ as a priority of China’s external action.8 At the March 2015 National People’s Congress, Foreign Minister Wang Yi indicated that the ‘‘Belt and Road’’ would be the focus of Chinese diplomacy in 2015 and that it would lead to the ‘‘rejuvenation of the Eurasian continent.’’

Tough Times Ahead if the DPP Returns to Power?
“Taiwan’s presidential election is six months away, but it seems increasingly likely that the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen will win. In a July 7 TVBS public opinion poll, Tsai leads the KMT’s Hung Hsiu-chu 54.2 percent to 24.6 percent. Among those closely watching the possible return of the DPP to power is China, which worries that if elected, Tsai will deny that the two sides of the Strait belong to one China and pursue de jure independence. This fear derives from Tsai’s history as the creator of the “two states theory” in the Lee Teng-hui era as well as her unwillingness to accept the existence of “one China” even as she pledges to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. Beijing could react harshly if Tsai is elected president of Taiwan, including by taking punitive economic measures, suspending communication and cooperation mechanisms, stealing away some of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, or even using military coercion or force. Xi Jinping’s reaction to a Tsai Ing-wen victory should not be underestimated. When it comes to sovereignty issues, the Chinese leader has shown little willingness to compromise. Since becoming General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012, Xi has sent tough signals to Taiwan, and these warnings have intensified in the run up to the presidential elections. As he deepens the anti-corruption campaign and maneuvers to put supporters on the Standing Committee of the Politburo at the 19th CCP Congress in 2017, Xi must protect his flank. Appearing soft toward Taiwan could create a vulnerability for his opponents to exploit. Early in his presidency, Xi met with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s official representative, former Vice President of Taiwan Vincent Siew, on the sidelines of the 2013 APEC summit in Bali, Indonesia. According to China’s official Xinhua news agency, Xi told Siew that “the issue of political disagreements that exist between the two sides must reach a final resolution, step by step, and these issues cannot be passed on from generation to generation.” He insisted that Beijing was “willing to have equal consultations with Taiwan on cross-Strait issues within the framework of one-China,” and would “make reasonable and fair arrangements for this.” Xi’s expression of impatience with the status quo echoed former Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s July 2004 statement that the “solution of the Taiwan question cannot be delayed indefinitely.” Still, unlike Jiang, there is no evidence that Xi has set a deadline for reunification.  Xi’s pressure tactics did not work. President Ma, who proposed a cross-Strait peace accord as recently as December 2011, said that there was no consensus in Taiwan on holding political talks with the Mainland and instead pushed for expanding cooperation on more practical issues. Progress in cross-Strait relations stalled unexpectedly in early 2014, when the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement (CSSTA) failed to pass Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan due to massive protests later dubbed the “Sunflower Movement.”

Overcoming Japan’s Security Skeptics at Home.
 On the cusp of passing laws that will increase Japan’s military role abroad, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is suffering a surprising reversal of fortune. As his popularity has dropped at home, his relationships with other East Asian leaders have suddenly improved. All this because Mr. Abe refuses to budge from his conviction that a more activist Japan is good for itself and the world. Last week, Mr. Abe’s coalition pushed two controversial security bills through the Lower House of the Diet. The legislation puts meat on the bones of Mr. Abe’s reinterpretation of Japan’s Constitution to allow for collective self-defense. If the bills pass the Upper House, or are passed for a second time in the Lower House, the Japan Self-Defense Forces will be allowed under certain conditions to come to the aid of third-party nations under attack. The scenario most frequently used by the government in arguing for the bills is the need to protect the forces of allies with which Japan might be engaged in security operations. Thus American ships that come under attack from North Korean missiles could be protected by the antimissile capabilities of the Maritime Self-Defense Forces. Many of the limitations on Japan’s ability to use force abroad, however, will remain in place, as the security legislation is far from a blank check for military operations abroad. Despite the limited nature of the bills, Mr. Abe’s popularity has soured at home. For more than two years he was an unstoppable politician, winning elections and confounding both domestic and foreign predictions of his political demise. The Japanese people, fed up with decades of ineffective governance, gave Mr. Abe resounding victories to try and jump-start the economy. Now, however, there is massive public backlash against Mr. Abe. His approval rating has fallen to 39%, and a majority now doesn’t support his government. More than 20,000 protestors jammed the streets of Tokyo to protest the passage of the security bill. Tokyo hasn’t seen protests of this size since the 1960s. Yet while he struggles at home, Mr. Abe is suddenly persona gratawith his two most important neighbors, China’s Xi Jinping and South Korea’s Park Geun-hye, who have tried to freeze him out during the past two years. The expectation of a summit between Messrs. Abe and Xi was strengthened by recent reports that Japan’s top security advisor met his Chinese counterpart to lay the foundations for a high-level meeting, possibly as early as September. Similarly, having just passed the 50th anniversary of the normalization of relations, South Korea and Japan are sending signals that Mrs. Park and Mr. Abe may meet this autumn as well. The shift in Mr. Abe’s diplomatic standing seems to be due to his persistence in expanding Japan’s relations throughout Asia, including with India and several Southeast Asian nations, as well as his triumphant visit to the U.S. Leaders in both Beijing and Seoul appear to be realizing that Mr. Abe is not going away and that they have failed to isolate him. Mr. Abe’s strange reversal of fortune thus has a common thread: his bulldogged determination to modernize Japan’s security policies. Despite growing domestic opposition, an equally large portion of the populace is worried about threats to Japan’s security. North Korea continues to build its nuclear and missile programs, and a rising China raises long-term fears.”

India, Japan, U.S. plan Naval Exercises in Tightening of Ties in Indian Ocean.
“Japan is set to take part in joint naval exercises with India and the United States in the Indian Ocean in October, military and diplomatic sources said, a drill that so riled China eight years ago that Delhi has not since hosted such a multilateral wargame. The Indian Ocean has emerged as a new arena of competition between China making inroads and India trying to recover its position as the dominant maritime power in the region. New Delhi's decision to expand the "Malabar" exercises that it conducts with the United States each year to include Japan suggests a tightening of military relations between three major maritime powers in Asia, analysts said. Military officials from India, the U.S. and Japan are meeting at a U.S. navy base in Yokosuka, near Tokyo, on Wednesday and Thursday to plan the exercises, a navy and a diplomatic source in New Delhi said. A Japanese government official in Tokyo confirmed the meeting and said representatives from the three navies were discussing Tokyo's participation in the wargames. He declined to be identified. The officials will decide the type of warships and planes the navies will deploy for the exercises in the Bay of Bengal in the northeastern Indian Ocean, said one of the sources familiar with the initial planning. "They are discussing platforms, logistics and interoperability between the three naval forces," said the source. India and the United States have fielded aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines in previous bilateral exercises. An Indian defense ministry official declined any comment on Malabar 2015, saying announcements will only be made closer to the event. A spokesman for Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force said no decision had yet been taken on Japan's participation. Jeff Smith, a South Asia specialist at the American Foreign Policy Council, said Japan was keen to take part in the exercises this year at a time when it is expanding the role of its military against a more assertive China. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's inclusion of Japan after some hesitation was part of a trending pattern of forging close ties with the U.S. and its allies. "I'd view aircraft carrier participation in this year's drill as yet another signal from the Modi government that it was shedding the (previous) government's anxiety about a more overt balancing posture toward China and a more robust strategic embrace of the U.S. andJapan," Smith said. India last hosted a multilateral exercise in 2007 when it invited Japan, Australia and Singapore to join its drills with the U.S. navy in the Bay of Bengal, prompting disquiet in Beijing where some saw it as a U.S.-inspired security grouping in the making along the lines of NATO in Europe. At the time, Beijing activated diplomatic channels seeking an explanation from the participating nations, said Gurpreet Khurana, Indian navy captain and executive director of the government-funded Maritime Foundation of India.”

Beijing is Building World’s Largest Sea Plane for Use in South China Sea.
“After months of speculation China finally announced that it is has started to assemble the Jiaolong (Water Dragon) AG600 – the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, according to the International Business Times. The first airframe is currently being constructed at a facility in Zhuhai in Guangdong province. Final assembly should be completed  by the end of 2015 with a first flight tentatively scheduled for mid-2016. Government sources report that an order for 17 planes has already been placed domestically. As I reported before (See: “Will This Plane Let China Control the South China Sea?”), the AG600 is capable of landing and taking off on water (and land) and could make it easier for Beijing to press its claims in the South China Sea. Back in April, a defense analyst observed: Amphibious planes like the AG600 would be perfect for resupplying the new artificial islands that the Chinese are building in the SCS [South China Sea]. At the same time, these islands would be excellent bases of operations for the AG600 to engage in maritime patrols of claimed territories. However, an official in the Chinese aviation industry stressed that the plane is also intended for export abroad. “Since the first day of its development, the AG-600 has been designed for the global market. We are confident in its market prospects because the aircraft’s overall specifications, such as the maximum take-off weight and flight range, are better than other amphibious planes in the world,” said Qu Jingwen, general manager of the China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company. The aircraft is powered by four turboprop WJ-6 engines and has a range of 5,500 kilometers. It has a maximum take-off weight of 60 tons and can carry up to 50 people. A few potential foreign customers have allegedly already sent purchasing inquiries. “Some countries with many islands, such as Malaysia and New Zealand, have expressed interest in the AG-600, and we are in contact with them,” Qu noted. However, one analyst is not so sure about the plane’s export potential. “Since the program can hardly be justified by the civilian demand, the likely explanation is that the program has a significant military importance,” Sam Bateman, an adviser with the Maritime Security Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore emphasized. Yet, the chief designer of the plane, Huang Lingcai, insists that the plane can first and foremost play a key role in maritime rescue operations: There’s always a golden rescue time for survivors in the open sea. The time limit is usually controlled in seven to 12 hours, but the speed of the rescue boat is too slow. The cruise speed of this seaplane is 480kms per hour. If other conditions allow, the seaplane can land directly on the water surface, and then send out lifeboats. In this way we could conduct a successful rescue. This statement should still be taken with a grain of salt. It is highly unlikely that such a plane could be deployed in the open oceans for rescue operations due to high waves and strong currents. It will much more likely be used as a military or civilian transport aircraft in shallower waters. In that sense, it is ideally suited for deployment around the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.”

South China Sea Row: Beijing Flexes Muscle in Military Exercises.
“China has launched a major military and naval drill in the South China Sea — a day after Japan warned Beijing to back down from territorial claims in the region. Chinese navy chiefs said the 10-day exercise, which started yesterday, would involve hundreds of military officials in waters just off the eastern Hainan Islands. Other military vessels were warned to avoid the area. The drill was expected to heighten tensions with Tokyo, which said this week in a defence white paper that Beijing should stop acting “without compromise” to meet its “unilateral demands” in the South China Sea dispute. Chinese military academics played down worries that the drill signalled Beijing would toughen its stance on the contested Spratly Islands. The Defence Ministry told the China Daily newspaper that “peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific ­region is in all parties’ interests”. Major General Zhu Chenghu, a professor at National Defence University of the People’s Liberation Army, ruled out a connection between the exercise and disputes in the South China Sea. “For people with military knowledge, they’d certainly know that a military drill of this scale will take at least three to four months of preparation, or maybe even longer,’’ he told Chinese state media. “Dozens of projects will be done during the training to test the navy’s tactics and weapons. “Of course, no country will conduct military training without any purpose ... but this time there is no evidence to subjectively link an ­ordinary drill to a third party.” The Chinese Defence Ministry said President Xi Jinping’s administration was offended at the Japanese white paper, which sets military plans for the year ahead. The report criticised China’s “opaqueness” over its military budget, saying China, particularly over maritime issues, “continues to act in an assertive manner, ­including coercive attempts at changing the status quo”. China’s Defence Ministry said it would not back down in efforts to “safeguard” the South China Sea and warned Japan against interfering in regional issues in which it was not involved. “According to international and domestic laws, China’s related activities in the jurisdiction of the East China Sea are beyond ­reproach,” it said. “Japan is not a party to the South China Sea issue, it should not sow discord, provoke conflicts and undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea. “Chinese army has unwavering determination to safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and China will continue to carry out legitimate activities in relative sea and airspace.” People’s Daily said Japan’s criticism of China was orchestrated to strengthen military and diplo­matic ties with the US. “If this attitude does not change, the defence white paper will only become a chronology of China’s military development and cannot stop China’s military development, “the newspaper said.”

Chinese PLA Simulates ‘Attack’ on Taiwan’s Presidential Office.
“His back to us, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier is seen running towards a building that bears a striking resemblance to the Japanese-built Presidential Office in Taipei. Following a collage of tanks and artillery firing rounds of ammunition, the scene switches back to infantry, which is seen approaching and eventually entering what is, presumably, the same building. According to reports in Chinese media, those scenes, featured in a three-minute video clip aired on state-run CCTV on July 5, come from Series C of this year’s live-fire Stride 2015 Zhurihe (跨越-2015·朱日和C) military exercises, which commenced at the Zhurihe Training Base in Inner Mongolia last month. Unnamed military experts cited in the reports inform us that the five-story structure, which is ostensibly computer generated, is of about the same height as the Presidential Office in Taipei, which has led to speculation that the object of this years Zhurihe’s exercise is to develop the skills necessary to resolve the “Taiwan issue” by force. The PLA Daily reported on July 21 that the exercises aimed to practice “winning a battle to gain control of major urban stronghold.” Citing PLA brigade head Ding Chao (丁超), the PLA Daily reported that the C exercise simulated urban combat sites copied from real city environments. Although the reports have understandably sparked some concern in Taiwan, the release of the footage should be taken in its proper context. Above all, given the sensitivity of the matter, and since it was aired on the CCTV 4, it is almost certain that the decision to air the segment, and to do so now, required the approval of senior officials in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Although not everything that appears on CCTV or Xinhua is necessarily controlled and approved by CCP officials, something as controversial as a simulated assault on the seat of government in Taipei certainly falls in the category of material that does necessitate a green light from above. Therefore, we should pay close attention to the propaganda value of the segment, which aired at a time when Beijing’s favorite counterpart in Taipei, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), looks likely to be defeated in the January 16, 2016, presidential and legislative elections. As it has done before in the past, Beijing is sending a signal to voters in Taiwan to make the “right” choice (vote for its favored candidate, Hung Hsiu-chu of the KMT) and warning of the consequences should they fail to comply (by voting for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party’s Tsai Ing-wen). Only this time, rather than bracket Taiwan with live missiles as it did in 1995-96—which backfired and forced the Taiwanese to rally ’round the flag—Beijing is using simulated combat in an environment that is intimately known to the Taiwanese: downtown Taipei, which is much less abstract than bodies of water off Kaohsiung and Keelung. Look, the video says, we have become so powerful that we can take the battle to the street level. Consequently, rather than treat the video as portraying a serious drill in which PLA soldiers are practicing urban warfare in a Taiwan context, it should instead be regarded as an exercise in political warfare, something that the CCP is rather adept at. We should always keep in mind that China would much prefer to defeat Taiwan without having to resort to force, especially if this risks a U.S. intervention. The political warfare component of its strategy is therefore at least as important as is the PLA’s ability to fight.”

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 22, 2015

Forbes: China Winning 'Rhetorical Battle' With US. The US has failed to articulate clearly a national strategy for dealing with China, something that has let the communist nation take an edge in the “rhetorical battle,” Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., warned an audience Tuesday. Forbes, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee's seapower and projection forces subcommittee, told an audience gathered at the Center for International and Strategic Studies that the government has spent too much time “tiptoeing around” the China issue rather than laying out how to deal with the rival nation. While Forbes praised the focus on the Pacific put forth by the Obama administration, he said it has not been backed up by a cohesive strategy or metrics that are able to define progress on the core issue — whether US interests are winning out in the region, or if Chinese interests are. “I’m not talking about military victories, I’m not talking about a zero-sum game. I’m talking about simply a definition of what ‘win’ is. And I don’t see that [from the US],” Forbes said. In comparison, Forbes said, China has a clear strategy of “controlled friction,” where they push against their neighbors and slowly expand their power — a situation highlighted by the expansion of reclaimed territory in the South China Sea. “No matter what anybody says, our friends in China feel they have strategy — and they do — and they feel they have a winning strategy, or at least their goal is to win,” he noted. He also pointed to the constant interchange of the much ballyhooed “pivot to the Pacific,” which was quickly renamed a “rebalance” to the region — with Pentagon and administration officials vacillating between the two in the last several years — as an example of how the US seems unable to articulate its goals. Part of the challenge identified by the congressman is a hesitancy on the part of the US to speak openly about China as a competitor. “It’s almost taboo to talk about competition with China. It’s like if we pretend there is no competition, there won’t be any competition,” Forbes told the audience. “Competition is OK. It doesn’t mean we are enemies. It just means we have a competition.” One thing that would help the issue, Forbes said, is the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) bill put forth by the Obama administration. Experts have said the TPP represents a political tool for forging relations in the region that can help counter China, something Forbes hinted at in his commentary. “The United States has an incredible ability to build coalition that many other countries don’t have, and I have not yet seen China being able to put together that kind of coalition building,” Forbes said. He added that efforts to build allies' capacity in the region will get a boost if funding to train and equip regional partners comes through the conferencing process for the National Defense Authorization Act — which, he predicted, it likely will. Though Forbes did not specify which money he was referring to, it was likely a reference to a pot of $425 million included in the Senate version of the NDAA, available to help develop partner maritime security in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.”

‘The China Challenge,’ by Thomas J. Christensen.
“China has major incentives to avoid unnecessary conflict,” Thomas J. Christensen writes. But the United States has no experience “tackling the least appreciated challenge: persuading a uniquely large developing country with enormous domestic challenges and a historical chip on its national shoulder to cooperate actively with the international community.” Christensen, a professor of politics at Princeton, served from 2006 to 2008 in the Bush administration as the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. While he didn’t make policy, he was often present as a “backbencher” when China was being debated. (I would say he had a box seat.) He knows Chinese, and is well connected to Chinese academics, although seemingly not to more ordinary Chinese, whose opinions he does not report. I don’t always agree with what he writes, but he is unarguably qualified to make the judgments he does. And when he contends, with the clarity that distinguishes his narrative, that China “is by far the most influential developing country in world history,” and emphasizes that it “is being asked to do more at present than any developing country has in the past,” I take him seriously. He deals here with the crises and collisions that bedevil China-United States relations. He notes the big ideas that invariably add to the bedevilments. Many Chinese, whether sincerely or not, refer to imperialism and colonialism as factors that can never be forgotten, which the Communist Party overheats with waves of nationalism. The United States has numerous allies. Beijing has exactly one, North Korea, and some of Christensen’s high-ranking or well-informed interlocutors confide that this ally is a vexatious one. The grand problems also include climate change; nuclear proliferation, especially from Pyongyang and possibly Iran; the nature of Taiwan’s sovereignty; ­applying sanctions or not to third countries (Beijing usually vetoes these in the United Nations); Myanmar; who has what rights in the South China Sea. And add human rights in China and internationally — issues Christensen barely ­mentions. There are also the sudden thunderclaps, impossible to foresee but with immense consequences, like the accidental American bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 during the Kosovo war, and the crash, in 2001, of a Chinese fighter jet into an American Navy intelligence plane in international air space. In that incident, the Chinese pilot died; the American aircraft landed in China, and the crew was briefly detained. Each of these events Beijing labeled an act of American ­aggression. Any of these issues, whether long-term or sudden, would be a first-class diplomatic headache. Christensen was present for some, and has discussed others with Chinese experts. Some of those he talked to characterized most American positions as moves to humiliate China, or even to attempt regime change. Christensen seems to be unusually evenhanded. On climate change he states that China and the United States together produce 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses. China is the greater culprit now, but he suggests that the first world created this problem and that China has made some efforts to limit its polluting. He notes as well that many third-world countries cannot see how they can advance without burning fossil fuel.”

To Defeat China in Battle, America Should Study World War II.
“Military organizations are often accused of fighting the last war. In the case of the U.S. Air Force, the war in question is Desert Storm, the last unambiguous U.S. victory and a major milestone in the development of American air power. The Gulf War was a major success, demonstrating effective applications of stealth, precision and electronic warfare. But the war was fought with overwhelming logistical, numerical and technological superiority against an adversary that was geographically isolated, poorly trained, badly equipped and ineptly led. It is unlikely that the United States will operate from such a position of advantage again. Pentagon planners should give up on the fantasy of a short, decisive war against the People’s Republic of China — any “short, decisive war” involving the PRC is likely to end in a PRC victory. In a potential conflict with China, it is the U.S. that is geographically and numerically disadvantaged. Further, China has organized military developments for the past two decades around one key principle — that the U.S. would not be allowed to repeat Desert Storm. The U.S. Department of Defense summarizes the Chinese approach under an “anti-access, area denial,” a.k.a A2AD label, but is overly focused on finding technological means to operate in the A2AD environment in order to attempt a repeat of the Gulf War’s air campaign. China is perhaps the least likely country to succumb to such a strategy, which is really an attempt to match strength against strength in an epic, mano-a-mano battle where China holds advantages in distance and mass that we are unlikely to ever overcome conventionally. If the Air Force is going to do its part in deterring the PRC, the Pentagon must contribute to a viable offset strategy that relies as much on geography as technology. This is not to say that the United States cannot effectively fight the PRC, only that it cannot do so with a replay of techniques that proved successful more than two decades ago over Iraq. The war the United States should base its strategy upon is another conflict in which it fought an island nation that had successfully executed an “A2AD” strategy by physically occupying much of the Asian landmass from Manchuria to Burma — to Wake Island and the Solomons. An analysis of the flow of goods and materials into and out of China reveals that with 98 percent of all freight moving by sea, China is practically, if not geographically, an island nation. As such, it is vulnerable to interdiction of trade routes and energy supplies to a far greater degree than a land power, and this is a national vulnerability that air power is well-positioned to exploit — if applied properly.”

Japan-China East China Sea Dispute: Defense Paper Takes Aim At Chinese Gas Project. “
Japan’s Defense Ministry rolled out its defense white paper Tuesday, outlining various threats to the country and the Asia Pacific region. The paper gave particular attention to China, citing the Asian military giant’s maritime ambitions as one of the biggest concerns. “Coupled with a lack of transparency in terms of military and security affairs, China’s military development is of concern to the regional international community, including our country,” Defense Minister Gen. Nakatani said in news conference, according to the Japan Times. “Our country needs to observe it closely.” Though Japan took issue with several areas China was operating in, including the South China Sea, the most urgent concern was with an offshore gas platform that China has been constructing in the disputed waters of the East China Sea since June 2013. Plans of gas drilling in the East China Sea were initially mutually agreed upon by both parties in 2008. However, because the two sides have not been able to agree on a maritime boundary between their two exclusive economic zones, Japan expressed wishes to postpone the gas field project until a mutually agreed upon demarcation was met. Under Japan’s proposed demarcations, China’s gas platform was still theoretically on the Chinese side, the Japan Times reported. Still, Japan worried that the close proximity to Japan’s exclusive economic zone, about 16 miles west from the median line, meant China’s gas project could be siphoning gas from Japan-claimed seabeds. “Our country has repeatedly lodged protests with China’s unilateral development and urged it to stop the construction work,” the defense paper said. The paper also specifically noted concern over military activity in the East China Sea. “Activities by Chinese naval and air force aircraft, which apparently gather information about our country, have been observed frequently,” the paper said, adding that a Japanese “self-defense” fighter jet made a record 464 flights last year in response to Chinese aircrafts that neared Japanese airspace.”

Chinese Navy Starts Drills in S. China Sea. “
China said Wednesday its navy has begun 10 days of military exercises in the South China Sea, a move that comes amid concerns over Beijing's large-scale land reclamation projects in the region and its heavy-handed approach to territorial disputes. Ships are "prohibited from entering" the "designated maritime areas where the military drills are being held," the country's Maritime Safety Administration said in a statement published on its website. China claims most of the South China Sea, believed to be rich in oil and natural gas deposits, despite overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. In staking its claims, it has engaged in the construction of artificial islands, combined with aggressive maritime patrols intended to keep other claimants out. The exclusion zone is off the southeastern coast of China's island-province of Hainan and includes some of the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by China and Vietnam. The exercises are meant to "test the navy's tactics and weapons," state-run Xinhua News Agency said in an article quoting Chinese Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu, a professor at the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army. The drills come as the international community has stepped up its criticism of China's activities in the South China Sea. On Tuesday, Japan released a defense white paper calling China's approach to the region "high-handed." Over the weekend, the new commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Scott Swift, joined a surveillance flight over the region, underscoring the importance Washington places on the issue. The decision to hold the drills is unrelated to recent actions by other countries, Xinhua quoted Zhu as saying. "A military drill of this scale will take at least three to four months of preparation," he said, adding that "there is no evidence to subjectively link an ordinary drill to a third party." Last year, China sent an oil-drilling platform into waters off the Paracels, setting off months of discord with Vietnam, in which Chinese and Vietnamese ships sparred at sea and anti-Chinese sentiment in Vietnam boiled over into deadly riots. Although Sino-Vietnamese relations had since improved, China returned a drilling platform to the area last month. Farther south, in the area of the Spratly Islands, China has reclaimed at least 2,000 acres and is believed to be working on runway, port and other infrastructure. The United States says China's large-scale reclamation work poses a threat to regional peace and stability. China says it is aimed at safeguarding its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, as well as better performing its international responsibilities in maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, environmental protection and navigation safety. The Chinese drills follow exercises in the South China Sea last month involving the Philippines, the United States and Japan.”

Philippines Hikes Defense Budget 25%.
The Philippines is planning a 25 percent hike in its defense budget next year, mainly to bolster its claims in the disputed South China Sea, officials said Tuesday. The proposed 2016 national budget, which President Benigno Aquino is to present to parliament for approval on Monday, would reserve a record 25 billion pesos (US $552 million) for defense spending. Funds would be used to acquire navy frigates and patrol aircraft, budget and defense officials told AFP. "We need to protect what is clearly within our territorial jurisdiction," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said, when asked if the increase was due to the Philippines' maritime row with China. "Certainly, we need to at least be able to effectively monitor the developments in the area, particularly those in disputed zones," he added. Under the 3 trillion peso budget bill, defense spending would be up from a 20 billion peso military budget last year and five times bigger than in 2013, the officials said. The proposed 2016 defense budget is part of a five-year, 75 billion peso military modernization program approved by Aquino in 2013, Abad said. The amount would still be dwarfed by China, which claims most of the South China Sea, including areas close to the shores of its Asian neighbors. Beijing budgeted US $142.9 billion for its military this year. One of the region's most poorly equipped, the Philippine military relies on half-century-old ships and aircraft keeping watch over the South China Sea, where tensions have flared recently. The Philippines is catching up on military modernization after spending was held back to just 5 billion pesos in 2013 as the government shifted resources to recovery from Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the country that year leaving 7,350 people dead or missing. The Philippine military's mission to protect the country's territory is complicated by long-running communist and Muslim insurgencies that force it to devote troops and equipment for internal security. While China has gone on an island-building frenzy to reinforce its claims on South China Sea reefs and waters, the Philippines has set repairs on a crumbling World War II ship that serves as its lonely outpost there. The BRP Sierra Madre, emblematic of the Philippine military, was deliberately grounded on Second Thomas Shoal in 1995 in a desperate move to check China's advance in the Spratly islands. The South China Sea chain is also disputed in whole or in part by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. "This budget will allow us more latitude in acquiring new assets for the Armed Forces of the Philippines," Defense Department spokesman Arsenio Andolong said. "We are pushing hard on modernization and we will need all the help we can get.... This includes the purchase of frigates and patrol aircraft." Two of 12 fighter jets that the Philippines had bought from South Korea are expected to be delivered as early as November, he said.”

Analysts See Cambodia Bolstering Military Ties With China.
Cambodia is strengthening its military ties with China, and analysts say it is likely to continue doing so for the forseeable future. Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh made a five-day trip to China last week, meeting with high-ranking military officials and receiving pledges of assistance from the Chinese military In a recent interview, he told the VOA Khmer service that the visit was successful in bringing military cooperation between the countries even closer. That relationship is closer than Cambodia’s military ties with the U.S., he said Analysts say Phnom Penh is likely to look more and more to Beijing for support because of growing tensions with its old patron, Vietnam, over border issues Cambodia and China have traditionally enjoyed close relations, and they became noticeably closer after 2012 when Cambodia, as host of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, sided with China over the contentious South China Sea issue. The following year, Beijing provided Phnom Penh with a $195 million loan, which bought 12 Chinese Z-9 military helicopters. In May of this year, China pledged military trucks, spare parts, equipment and unspecified chemicals. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has often touted the relationship. During the inauguration of a Chinese-funded road in Kampong Som province last month, he told a group of farmers that Cambodian-Chinese relations were at an all-time high, and that the two were moving toward a “comprehensive” partnership. China’s development fund for Cambodia for 2015 amounted to $140 million, up from $100 million the year before, he said. Tea Banh defended the bilateral relationship, saying Chinese aid came with no strings attached and that China had never interfered in Cambodian affairs. He declined to disclose how much aid Cambodia would receive from his latest trip. Yet analysts warn that China is getting more out of the deal than Cambodia. Chheang Vannarith, a visiting professor at the University of Leeds in England, said China needs Cambodia as a partner in Southeast Asia, where competition is rising. “The region is full of complicated competition” between China and Japan and China and the U.S., he said. “China takes Cambodia in Indochina and the Mekong region to strengthen its sphere of influence in the Asia-Pacific.” In the end, he said, Cambodia is playing a riskier game than China. “Once we rely on China so much, we will lose what is called self-determination in foreign policy,” he said. Paul Chambers, a professor at Thailand's Chiang Mai University, called China “a growing superpower” that uses Cambodia for influence within ASEAN in what he characterized as a “growing cold war” between Beijing and Washington. “I believe that Hun Sen has shown himself in the past and present to be a very good balancer among allies,” he said. “Hun Sen will increasingly welcome Chinese defense sector assistance to Cambodia.” Hugh White, a professor of strategic studies at Australian National University in Canberra, told VOA Khmer that the growing military cooperation between Cambodia and China would counter U.S. influence in the region while bolstering Cambodia’s military capabilities.”

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 21, 2015

America-China: Heading for South China Sea Clash? “In an ill-advised abundance of caution, the Obama administration may be establishing a dangerous precedent and setting the stage for an unnecessary confrontation with China in the South China Sea.The issue is China’s artificial island-building and militarization, and its entirely unfounded maritime sovereignty claims based on those manmade “land features.” China’s actions are directly contrary to the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, which it has signed but whose provisions it flouts. (Conversely, the U.S. has not ratified UNCLOS, but honors its standards as consonant with customary international law.) China’s excessive maritime claims are precisely the kind of unilateral actions the U.S. Navy’s Freedom of Navigation (FON) program was designed to counter. Periodically, the Navy sends ships through international waters unlawfully claimed by one coastal nation or another in order to preclude any misunderstanding regarding universal navigational rights or any semblance of acquiescence in the offending nation’s claims. The principle applies as well to the right of overflight in international airspace where China and others have tried to exclude U.S. aircraft from conducting normal reconnaissance missions that are clearly outside the country’s 12-mile territorial limits. U.S. aircraft routinely conduct such flights despite those objections. Similarly, when Beijing unilaterally declared an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea, Washington immediately asserted its overflight rights by dispatching (unarmed) B-52s through the space. (Unfortunately, it diluted its message by simultaneously advising U.S. civilian flights to comply with China’s notification demands.) The South China Sea has been a different story. Despite numerous statements by U.S. officials that China’s island reclamation program and related territorial claims violate UNCLOS and customary international law, no U.S ships have entered the contested waters. The administration, and even experts who criticize it for lacking a strategy to counter Chinese expansionism, worry that U.S. action will be seen by China, and perhaps others, as provocative. But continued inaction – for example, while long-term diplomatic negotiations pursue shared use of regional resources – can produce unintended adverse consequences. Experience with America’s intermittent presence in the Taiwan Strait is instructive. In the postwar period, long before there was a FON program, Washington saw little strategic value in the status of Taiwan and the U.S. Navy was largely absent from the area. When Secretary of State Dean Acheson seemed to write off Taiwan and South Korea as periperal US strategic interests, the Korean War erupted.”

Japan Annual Defense Paper Shows Heightened Worry over China.
“Japan emphasized China as a threat in escalating regional tensions in this year’s annual defense report as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government tries to convince the public of the need to pass legislation to give Japan’s military a greater role. The report, approved Tuesday by the Cabinet, was delayed for more than a week as Abe’s ruling party panel demanded mention of additional examples of China’s “one-sided” maritime activities, such as undersea gas and oil development in the East China Sea. Abe’s ruling coalition has been pushing to pass highly contentious legislation allowing Japan’s Self-Defense Force to fight for foreign militaries even when it is not under attack, while expanding its role in international peacekeeping. Many Japanese are wary of expanding the military because of bitter memories of Japan’s World War II defeat. Opposition lawmakers have said Abe’s party might be exaggerating the threats to drum up support for unpopular legislation that many experts have also called unconstitutional. The 429-page white paper underscored that Japan’s security risk had worsened overall and cited continuing missile and nuclear threats from North Korea and terrorist threats from the Islamic State group as examples. China by far topped Japan’s list of security concerns, taking up one-third of a chapter on global security trends covering eight countries and regions. “China, particularly over conflicting maritime issues, continues to act in an assertive manner, including coercive attempts to change the status quo, and is poised to fulfill its unilateral demands high-handedly without compromise,” the report said. “Japan is strongly concerned about China’s actions, which we need to keep watching closely.” The report also raised concerns over China’s recent reclamation work in the South China Sea, saying it had escalated regional tensions. The Defense Ministry report also added a new section that also refers to maritime activities elsewhere. China has been building artificial islands in the vast, resource-rich area, alarming neighboring nations. Japan has increased defense cooperation with the Philippines and has conducted joint exercises in the area. Defense Minister Gen Nakatani has suggested that Japan could send reconnaissance aircraft to the region if the legislation is approved, though he denied any specific plans.”

Strategy Games, War, and Asia’s New Map.
“I noticed a slight change in focus before leaving the Pentagon last year. When the Obama administration introduced new initiatives as part of its policy of “rebalancing to Asia,” it increasingly involved the South China Sea, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Myanmar. India was becoming a larger strategic priority. And people began a discursive shift from Asia as a “Pacific theater” to Asia as a “maritime theater.” Since leaving government, I’ve seen the change become more acute, accentuated by ritualism and entrenched positions in Northeast Asia. China and Japan are in a kind of stalemate in the East China Sea, while China and Taiwan are, for now, both vested in preserving the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. Relations between North and South Korea remain frozen in time, and, 50 years after normalization, Japan-South Korea relations show no signs of sustainable improvement. Northeast Asia is a garden that needs continuous tending. It remains crucial to the global economy and U.S. interests, and a conflict there could be civilization-ending. But policymakers on all sides have been largely boxed in by the strategic choices of their predecessors. The lines of competition are clear and heavily militarized, and the stakes unmistakably high. In other parts of Asia, the potential benefits of access and influence are also great, but the dynamics of competition are less direct and more opaque. There is a rigidity to Northeast Asian geopolitics, while the rest of the region is more like the geopolitical Wild West. Asia’s strategic center of gravity, it seems, is shifting toward the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. The shift matters, among other reasons, because it affects where and how strategic competition among nations plays out. Not too long ago, Robert Kaplan predicted that Asia’s future would increasingly converge on the Indian Ocean and the surrounding territories, as it had hundreds of years ago. He’s not wrong. South Asia and Southeast Asia are becoming more important for everyone due to crucial sea lines of communication for trade, global energy flows, and as a basis for power projection. The U.S. Navy and Air Force now routinely refer to Asia not as the “Asia-Pacific,” but as the inappropriately wordy “Indo-Asia-Pacific” (which thankfully has not fully caught on inside the Pentagon). Friends from the defense community in Australia have been nudging the United States toward the moniker “Indo-Pacific” region for years. Through various cooperative military exercises with local militaries, Japan is extending its naval reach for the first time in the 21st century to the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. And after millennia of geographic separation, China and India are contesting one another’s spheres of influence. India not only looks east, but is increasingly acting in that direction, while China is shifting its strategic initiatives south and west, competing with India for local access, presence, and resources. Different competitive logics are at work in different parts of the region. Every call for taking greater risks to confront China in the South China Sea or to deliberately introduce friction to force a choice on China shows a failure to understand that the incentives for certain types of behavior vary by location.”

Archaeology and the South China Sea.
“Recently, Vietnamese and Western media resumed reporting on China’s HD-981 oil rig, after it was redeployed to disputed waters, dredging up memories of the intense anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam and the diplomatic standoff that occurred last year when the rig was moved to waters between Vietnam and China for the first time. The HD-981 oil rig gives China a mobile, economic platform from which to project its sovereignty in disputed waters, but what about a cultural-historical platform? Well, “they have a ship for that,” too, and its recent deployment in the Paracel Island chain went relatively unnoticed. The vessel in question is China’s first domestically designed and developed archaeological ship, and its deployment reflects China’s ability to rapidly introduce dedicated ships for virtually every function it desires. In 2014, China officially launched its first archaeological vessel, the 950-ton, 56 meter-long Kaogu-01. Originally commissioned by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) in 2012, primary construction on Kaogu-01 was completed by Chongqing Dongfeng Shipbuilding Corporation on January 24, 2014 at a total end cost of around 80 million yuan ($12.9 million). According to the Chongqing Youth Daily, the deployment of this ship marks the end of Chinese maritime archaeologists conducting their research from rented fishing vessels. The ship’s high price tag is reflected in its facilities and tools, which are sufficiently plentiful and advanced for the local news in Qingdao to describe Kaogu-01 as “armed to the teeth.” The ship boasts an A-frame crane capable of hoisting up to 3 tons, a folding arm crane that can extend up to 6 meters past the edge of the ship, a dive workroom, a decompression chamber, an “air-lock chamber for excavated cultural relics,” and two food storage rooms. Some reports even claim that it boasts a submersible to facilitate underwater searches. While it remains unclear which submersible, if any, Kaogu-01 might be equipped with, China’s deep-water submersible technology is quite advanced. In 2010, China became only the fifth country, after Russia, France, Japan, and the United States, to have a manned submersible capable of descending past the 1,000 meter mark. In 2012, China’s Jiaolong-01 7,000 meter manned submersible underwent its second round of tests, descending to a depth of 6,000 meters over 10 hours. China has also used submersible to execute underwater archaeological tasks in the past, using the Osprey-01 four-man submersible to explore underwater ruins in Fuxian Lake, Yuxi City, Yunnan Province in 2001. Kaogu-01 is powered by an electric motor capable of reaching speeds up to 12 knots. In addition, the ship can carry supplies sufficient for up to 30 days’ continuous operation. To increase stability and thereby minimize strain on the crew, the ship’s center of gravity has been lowered.”

China: Closing the Gap in Anti-Submarine Warfare.
  “China needs to defend itself from hostile submarines. Its goals of gaining regional power while protecting the mainland require a maritime strategy in the Western Pacific, especially in the areas Chinese military planners call the two island chains. The first island chain encircles the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea. The second stretches from Japan to Indonesia. Beijing thus needs to develop robust anti-submarine warfare capabilities to keep submarines out of the first island chain, where many mainland and naval targets would be in range of attack. The People's Liberation Army Navy, however, does not have the means to counter U.S. submarines — the critical threat — or even those of nearby powers, including Japan and South Korea. Consequently, Beijing is devoting considerable resources to enhance the navy's anti-submarine warfare capabilities and correct one of its greatest military weaknesses. China's navy will improve, but it is still many years of effort and investment away from achieving the level of capability Beijing requires. At the moment, the People's Liberation Army Navy does not have the equipment, training and institutional knowledge necessary to effectively counter most submarine threats. Until recently, for example, the military relied on Type 037 submarine chasers, armed only with hull sonar and anti-submarine warfare rockets, mortars and depth charges. These are only adequate in certain cases against shallow diving submarines or in littoral water. They are largely ineffective against fast and deep diving nuclear submarines. With effort and investment, Beijing has begun to adopt more advanced patrol craft, such as the Type 056A corvettes in 2014. China's nuclear submarines, however, still lag behind, not quiet effective enough to hunt submarines, and certainly not able to challenge more advanced U.S. nuclear submarines Although Beijing began developing anti-submarine torpedoes in the 1980s, the navy did not have dedicated anti-submarine warships to carry them. The military also had inadequate numbers of anti-submarine helicopters — mostly lightweight Z-9Cs and somewhat more capable Ka-28 types. Until recently, the shortage of helicopters forced the navy to rotate them between ships. Instead of state-of-the-art equipment, China continued to rely on outmoded means such as naval mines to hinder submarine operations. Beijing even planned to string these mines across chokepoints and deploy them close to enemy harbors to hinder unfriendly surface and submarine vessels alike, though the tactic never needed to be implemented. At the beginning of the 21st century, Chinese anti-submarine capabilities began to improve. The navy's multi-role surface vessels were equipped with variable depth sonar, anti-submarine torpedoes and greater numbers of helicopters. But it was not until the rollout of the Type 052C destroyer in 2005 that any Chinese vessel was equipped with a towed sonar array. China also continued to lack dedicated anti-submarine patrol aircraft, with only a few aging Harbin SH-5s in service. Now China's anti-submarine warfare requirements are growing as the People's Liberation Army Navy steps up operations in the South and East China Seas. Beijing's dearth of vessels, patrol aircraft, helicopters and equipment means that anti-submarine warfare coverage is not always available.”

Chinese State Media to Pacific Fleet: We Won’t Be Pushed Around in South China Sea. 
"The temperature in the South China Sea’s testy waters may just have risen a degree or two. On July 18, the website of the U.S. Pacific Fleetposted an image (above) showing Scott Swift, the fleet’s new commander,onboard a U.S. P-8A Poseidon spy plane for a seven-hour-long flight over the South China Sea. Chinese official statements on Swift’s flight have thus far been moderate; the country’s Ministry of Defense has responded with relatively anodyne and boilerplate language, expressing “hope that the Americans fulfill their promise not to take sides in the South China Sea question, and do more that advantages peace and stability in the region, rather than the opposite.” In a signal China is treating the flight as a military and not diplomatic matter, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stayed mum. But Chinese state media has sent a signal of its own that’s considerably less restrained. On July 20, the website of People’s Daily, which almost exclusively runs content given prior sanction within the government, ran an interview with Zhang Junshe, a frequent commenter on military affairs in Chinese state media who works at the China Naval Research Institute. The article’s colloquial title says that other countries won’t be able to take advantage of China in the event of a conflict. In the piece, Zhang tells the Daily that while the U.S. has been patrolling the South China Sea with spy planes for “several decades,” it was unusual to see public reports of the same. In words that echo the Defense Ministry’s statement and aren’t directly attributed to Zhang, the article characterizes Swift’s actions as “completely contrary” to U.S. assurances that it’s not choosing sides in China’s South China Sea-related territorial disputes with its neighbors, including the Philippines and Vietnam. The article asserts that “the true American motivation is spreading the ‘China threat theory’ to create an excuse to raise the temperature in the South China Sea and to pivot to Asia.” The presence of American spy planes near China has been a highly sensitive subject within China for some time. An April 2001 U.S. spy plane crash landing on the Chinese island of Hainan marked a recent low point for U.S.-China relations and required a high-level detente. More recently, China has exchanged fierce rhetoric with its neighbors in the South China Sea, and views stated U.S. policy of a rebalance to Asia as part of an effort to contain Chinese influence in its own backyard. Like many in China, Zhang blames the United States for upsetting a “previously tranquil” South China Sea. “The controversy over islands and reefs in the South China Sea isn’t as tense as the United States says it is, [but] the U.S. is encouraging trouble from border countries in order to maintain its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific,” Zhang is quotes as saying."

Why Can’t We Be Friends? Assessing the Operational Value of Engaging PLA Leadership.
“U.S. military flag officer/general officer (FOGO) engagement with counterparts from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is valuable for strengthening both military-to-military and diplomatic relations. Such engagement is not valuable, however, because it builds trust-based relations or yields significant operational value. For the purpose of this study, operational value is defined as limited crisis resolution, greater interoperability, and increased safety of operations over a three- to four-year time frame. Out of eleven retired three- and four-star FOGOs with active duty experience engaging with the PLA who were interviewed for this study, none had established trust with their active duty counterparts or generated operational value as a result of engagement. Instead, this study finds that FOGO personal relations have minimal operational value due to numerous individual barriers that prevent the building of trust between counterparts and institutional barriers that prevent the translation of FOGO relationships into operational value. U.S. expectations of large operational returns on significant resources invested in FOGO engagement with PLA counterparts may prove ill-founded if these expectations are not grounded in an understanding of the individual and institutional barriers that exist to prevent those relationships from yielding tangible operational value. If the U.S. were to adopt a misplaced faith in the value of personal relationships with PLA counterparts as a primary means to de-escalate future crises, U.S. policymakers would be placed at a disadvantage for quickly or effectively resolving future crises with China.”

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 20, 2015

Tokyo to Challenge China on Fiery Cross Reef. “In what may turn out to be the first step in a dangerous game of chicken, Japan's upcoming annual defense white paper will accuse China of belligerency in its dealings with neighbors as it becomes clear that China is laying the foundations of a military base on Fiery Cross Reef, one of seven artificial islands China has created in the disputed Spratly Islands. In the outline of the white paper, to be released in late July, on top of the usual statements citing North Korea's nuclear and missile development as issues of concern, the paper will directly call China's reclamation work on the Spratlys, "high handed."  In the last 18 months, China has added about 800 hectares to seven reefs in the area, including an airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef, along with the makings of a military radar base. All of this is seen as a significant escalation in a dispute over the islands, part of a huge swath of territory in the South China Sea (SCS) over which China claims undisputed sovereignty. While the Fiery Cross Reef development has been condemned by the US, Japan's accusation raises the ante and more directly challenges perceived Chinese expansionism, supporting the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam in their dispute over China's claims on the islands. Japan's assertiveness is relatively new and bold, and comes just as the Japanese Diet this month is passing legislation that will enable the country to engage in collective self-defense (CSD) for the first time in its postwar history. The statement also builds on an assertion made in last year's defense white paper that accused China of attempting to change the status quo in the region through force. Japan's latest assertion led to predictably robust responses from Beijing, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accusing Japan of trying to "smear China to create tensions in the region." "The Chinese construction on the reefs has nothing to do with Japan's security situation. Japan is neither a claimer state or a nearby country in the South China Sea area. It's deliberate show of unnecessary worrying shows that Japan wants to be involved in the SCS affair," said Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director of the Center for National Strategy Studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. "China's reconstruction on the reefs has its historic and current need for various purposes and Japan has no right to criticize others while Japan deploys warships and increases patrolling radius over SCS areas to show its ambitious aim. History will show that China will be non-aggressive and no threat to other Asian countries while it will remain firm in defending its sovereignty and legitimate right," he said.”

Philippine Military Upgrade Stalls. “
A push by the Philippines to overhaul its obsolete military has ground to a halt just as the U.S. ally is striving to deter China in the disputed waters between them. A string of programs collectively valued at $1 billion stalled early last year, according to military officials and executives involved in Philippine defense deals. The delay underscores how the government’s efforts to transform the country’s derelict navy and air force have become mired in red tape, funding problems and corruption allegations. The delays leave long-held plans to build a “minimum credible deterrent”—comprising small but capable air and naval fleets—at least a decade from completion, said Jose Antonio Custodio, a Manila-based defense consultant. Even with a basic deterrent in place today, Manila would likely still lack the means to check Beijing’s assertiveness. “We’re still at square one,” said Mr. Custodio. “With China building all these new bases [in the South China Sea], I’d say it’s already too late.” Securing secondhand equipment from allies like Japan and the U.S. may now be the Philippines’s only chance of quickly upgrading its forces, sources familiar with the country’s procurement process said, with presidential elections due in May next year making it unlikely that any big contracts will be signed before then. President Benigno Aquino III has promised to rejuvenate the military, degraded by decades of underinvestment. A pledge to spend $1.7 billion on new equipment initially bore fruit, as the administration signed a flurry of defense contracts valued at $834 million in late 2013 and early 2014, including deals for 12 Korean fighter jets, three Airbus transport planes, and a new fleet of combat helicopters from Canada and the U.K. “The record will show that the Aquino administration has stepped up the pace of [military modernization] considerably, surpassing the procurement program undertaken by three previous administrations combined,” presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said. However, Mr. Coloma also confirmed that Mr. Aquino has still not signed a law earmarking a further $2 billion for defense procurement that was passed by congress in February 2013. Mr. Coloma didn’t explain the delay. Government finances have been stretched thin after spending billions on reconstruction after Supertyphoon Haiyan in 2013, a fact Mr. Custodio, the defense consultant, cited for the spending delay. Spending has also slowed after a recent scandal in which prosecutors charged three senators with corruption for their alleged involvement in the use of dummy NGOs to steal around $220 million in public money. All three senators deny the charges. Already strict government procurement rules have been further tightened since then, putting the brakes on a range of spending programs.”

China, Russia Planning 20-Ship Naval Exercise in the Sea of Japan in August. “
China and Russia will conduct their largest joint Pacific exercise in August near Japan, Russian Navy planners announced on Friday. Announced last year, Joint Sea Exercise 2015 will occur in both the Sea of Japan and off the cost of Russian region of Primorsky — about 250 miles away from Japan. “These maneuvers will for the first time involve a joint amphibious assault drill in Russia’s Primorsky territory with the participation of carrier-based aircraft,” Russian Pacific Fleet spokesman Roman Martov said, reported the Russian TASS wire service. “Representatives of the headquarters of the Russian Pacific Fleet and the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army of China have carried out major work for the planning of the Chinese warships’ visit to Vladivostok port, the cultural program, sports competitions and all the tactical events of the sea, land and air parts of the maneuvers.” Since 2011, Russia and China have conducted regular joint exercises. Last year was the largest series of exercises, the Russian Navy and the PLAN drilled with 14 surface ships, two submarines, aviation assets and special operation forces (SOF), according to Chinese media. The Pacific drills follow the first ever joint Chinese-Russian exercise in the Mediterranean sea earlier this year. The much smaller exercise featured three Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and six Russian. In November, said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the combined military-to-military between China and Russia partnership was growing. “We believe that the main goal of pooling our effort is to shape a collective regional security system,” Shoigu said. “We also expressed concern over U.S. attempts to strengthen its military and political clout in the [Asia-Pacific Region].”

US Pacific Fleet Chief Joins Surveillance of South China Sea.
In a move likely to irk China, the new U.S. commander of the Pacific Fleet joined a seven-hour surveillance flight over the disputed South China Sea over the weekend on board one of America's newest spy planes. Adm. Scott Swift joined the surveillance mission on board a P-8A Poseidon plane on Saturday to witness the aircraft's full range of capabilities, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Sunday. Territorial disputes involving China, the Philippines and several others have flared on and off for years, creating fears that the South China Sea could spark Asia's next major armed conflict. Beijing has asked the United States to stay out of what it says is a purely Asian dispute, but Washington has said that ensuring freedom of navigation in the disputed waters and the peaceful resolution of the conflicts are in the U.S. national interest. The Chinese Embassy in Manila had no immediate reaction to the Pacific Fleet commander taking part in the surveillance flight. The Navy has acquired and plans to purchase more of the versatile P-8A Poseidon aircraft to replace its aging P-3 Orion fleet. The plane can be used for a range of undertakings, including anti-submarine warfare, and surveillance and reconnaissance missions. A picture posted by the Pacific Fleet in its website shows Swift intently looking on as U.S. officers demonstrate the P-8A's capabilities. In another, Swift, wearing headphones with a microphone, looks out the window at the blue sky over the South China Sea. U.S. Navy Capt. Charlie Brown, a Pacific Fleet public affairs officer who flew with Swift on board the P-8A, said by telephone that the admiral "was pleased with the capabilities of the Poseidon." Brown did not provide other details on the flight, like whether the plane flew over disputed areas where China has undertaken massive island-building that Washington has asked Beijing to stop. In May, a U.S. Navy P-8A was shooed away by radio callers, who identified themselves as being from the Chinese navy, when the surveillance aircraft flew over a disputed area where China has been undertaking island-building works. A CNN reporter who was on board the plane, which had taken off from the Philippines, reported the incident. Swift took part in the surveillance mission on Saturday after a visit to Manila, where he met top Philippine military officials. He flew to South Korea over the weekend and will visit Japan before returning to Hawaii, where the U.S. Pacific Fleet is headquartered. He assumed command of the fleet, among the world's largest, in May. Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin welcomed Swift's move, saying it showed America's commitment to come to the aid of allies locked in territorial disputes with China.”

Sri Lanka and China Wrap Up Silk Route 2015 Military Exercise.
“China and Sri Lanka concluded their second-ever joint military exercise last week. Exercise Silk Route 2015, likely named so for its concordance with China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative, in which Sri Lanka is a partner, incorporated a 43-member Chinese People’s Liberation Army contingent and soldiers from the Sri Lankan army. According to a statement released by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense, the Sri Lankan Army’s Commando Regiment and Special Forces participated in the exercises, which ran from June 22 to July 13, 2015. The exercise demonstrates the continuing deepening of security ties between Beijing and Colombo, despite the election of a new government in Sri Lanka in January which appeared to be less receptive to Chinese influence on the island that the previous government, which was led by Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Ministry’s statement noted a focus on primarily tactical exercises, including on “weapon handling, VVIP protection study, live firing, lane firing, sniper firing, body protection drills, backup vehicle movement and training, body protection formation, ambush drills, reconnaissance techniques, skill firing, special mission planning, combat tracking techniques, situation training exercise, jungle warfare and basic battle skills, vehicle ambush drills, aircraft and building option training, etc. China’s growing relationship with Sri Lanka has caused concern in New Delhi, which perceives any Chinese military activity in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as a prelude to encirclement. When Maithripala Sirisena came to power in a surprise election victory over Rajapaksa, it appeared that Sri Lanka may reevaluate its relationship with China. Sirisena’s campaign manifesto contained some particularly damning passages toward China, including one where he criticized the previous government’s handling of contracts that were awarded to Chinese firms: “The land that the White Man took over by means of military strength is now being obtained by foreigners by paying ransom to a handful of persons,” his manifesto noted In his first six months in office, however, Sirisena has remained cordial with Beijing, despite freezing some development projects and reviewing contracts awarded by the previous government. In fact, as Silk Route 2015 came to a close, reports emerged that Sri Lanka was actively looking to substitute Chinese funding and investment with other sources. This development would mesh with another statement Sirisena had made on foreign policy in his election manifesto. He noted a desire to have balanced and well-diversified foreign relations: “Equal relations will be established with India, China, Pakistan and Japan — the principal countries of Asia while improving friendly relations with emerging Asian nations such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Korea without distinction.”

Japan Military Chief Says South China Sea Surveillance Possible.
Japan's top military commander, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, said on Thursday he expected China to become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea and it was possible Japan would conduct patrols and surveillance activities there in the future. Speaking in Washington, Kawano said there had been "talk" of Japan conducting such patrols in the South China Sea, including anti-submarine activities. "But our position on this is that we consider this as a potential future issue to be considered depending on how things pan out,” he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. Kawano earlier met with his U.S. counterpart, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and discussed implementation of updated bilateral defense guidelines agreed this year, a joint statement said. Tensions have been rising in the South China Sea, home to important international shipping lanes, due to overlapping territorial claims and rapid building of artificial islands by China that has been criticized by Tokyo and Washington. China claims most of the South China Sea and has territorial rivalries there with several Southeast Asian states. It also has competing claims with Japan in the East China Sea, further to the north. Kawano said he expected China to become more assertive and seek to expand its reach. “My sense is that this trend will continue into the future where China will go beyond the island chain in the Pacific,” he said in translated remarks. “So if anything, I would believe that the situation will worsen.” China has ramped up defense spending in recent years and is aiming to develop a navy capable of defending its growing interests as the world's second-largest economy. Its pursuit of sovereignty claims has rattled neighbors, although it says it has no hostile intent. Kawano said the number of aircraft Japan scrambled in response to territorial incursions last year was in line with Cold-War levels and one reason was Chinese activity. Kawano’s comments come after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed legislation through parliament's lower house on Thursday that could see Japanese troops sent to fight abroad for the first time since World War Two. Abe's moves have been met with protests, but Kawano said he was confident the JapanSelf Defense Forces (JSDF), as the military is known, would win over public opinion.”

China's Xi Tells Army to Learn from Uncorrupt Past. “
China's military must learn from the glorious, uncorrupt example of its revolutionary forebears and thoroughly banish the deep-rooted, pernicious influence of the army's worst corruption scandal in decades, President Xi Jinping has told officers. Xi, who heads the military, has made weeding out corruption in the armed forces a top goal. Several senior officers have been felled, including one of China's most senior former military officers, Xu Caihou. Xu died of cancer in March. Meeting soldiers in the northeastern city of Changchun, Xi said there can be no ambiguity when it comes to fighting graft. "The damage caused by Xu Caihou's discipline and law-breaching activities is all-encompassing and deep-rooted," Xi said, according to a Defence Ministry statement late on Sunday. Xu, who had been a vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission which Xi leads, died before he could be brought to trial. The government said in October Xu had confessed to taking "massive" bribes in exchange for help in promotions. "Thoroughly clear away the influence of the Xu Caihou case in thinking, politics, organization and work style. Return to, hold on to, and carry on the glorious traditions and excellent working style of the old Red Army," Xi said, using an informal term for Communist forces who won the Chinese civil war in 1949. His remarks were carried in all major state-run newspapers on Monday. The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the Communist Party's official People's Daily, said it was the first time Xi had mentioned Xu in public since the Xu's death. Retired and serving officers have warned that the graft problem in the army is so serious it could affect the military's ability to wage war. China intensified its crackdown on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the People's Liberation Army from engaging in business. But the military has been involved in commercial dealings in recent years due to a lack of checks and balances, military analysts have said.”

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 17, 2015

Taiwan Needs a Strong Ally. “China’s much-touted motto of “peaceful rise” has been exposed as a hollow slogan. Over the past year, Beijing has constructed 2,000 acres of artificial “islands” in the South China Sea, disregarding territorial claims by its neighbors and positioning artillery installations and airfields on these features. China now threatens to declare an exclusive air defense identification zone in the South China Sea, much as it did in the East China Sea in 2013. It regularly harasses its neighbors’ fishing vessels and violates their territorial waters and airspace. Other nations in the region, from long-standing allies like Australia and Japan to former-foe Vietnam, are clamoring for a strong U.S. response and tighter military ties with America. Yet even as the impetus grows for strengthened defense relationships in East Asia, the U.S. is forcing one of its closest regional partners to endure a range of humiliations and difficulties, all for fear of antagonizing China. Thirty-six years after U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the U.S. to sell Taiwan the weapons it needs to ensure its survival, U.S. leaders insist on a series of petty and counterproductive policies toward Taiwan that do nothing to enhance American interests or regional security. Today no U.S. military officer over the rank of colonel (or Navy captain) can visit Taiwan, a country that America is required by law to supply with advanced weaponry. Taiwan’s president and other senior government officials are prohibited from even traveling to Washington for meetings with their American counterparts.Tales abound of Taiwanese officers arriving for training at U.S. facilities in khaki pants and polo shirts, much to the surprise of their U.S. colleagues—who understandably wonder why representatives of a trusted military partner are restricted from wearing their nation’s uniform. Even midshipmen at Taiwan’s naval academy are forbidden from making port calls in Hawaii or Guam on their postgraduation training cruise. These indignities inflicted on a friendly nation are petty, but they reveal a larger truth about U.S. relations with China. American policy makers have consistently responded with meek acquiescence to Beijing’s hypersensitivity about matters ranging from Taiwan to Tibet, religious freedom and the persecution of ethnic minorities. But rather than eliciting appreciation from China, the U.S. has only emboldened Beijing and undermined our allies’ confidence that the U.S. is willing to uphold regional stability and international norms. U.S. policy toward Taiwan should reflect U.S. strategic interests, Taiwan’s decades of security cooperation with the U.S., and Taiwan’s march toward multiparty democracy—not inordinate fears of offending Chinese leaders. The U.S. should not only drop demeaning restrictions on bilateral relations but further integrate Taiwan’s military into the U.S. regional security architecture. To start with, the U.S. should invite Taiwan to participate in critical joint military exercises such as the Air Force’s Red Flag, which is open to numerous U.S. allies with capabilities similar to Taiwan’s. Taipei has been consistently denied participation. Participation in prestigious U.S. exercises would enhance Taiwan’s self-defense and signal America’s enduring commitment to our regional partners.”

Xi Jinping's Great Game: Are China and Taiwan Headed Towards Trouble?
“Taiwan’s presidential election is still six months away, but it seems increasingly likely that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s Tsai Ing-wen is going to win. In the latest TVBS public opinion poll on July 7, Tsai leads the Kuomintang (KMT)’s Hung Hsiu-chu 42 percent to 30 percent. Among those closely watching the possible return of the DPP to power is the People’s Republic of China, which worries that if elected, Tsai will deny that the two sides of the Strait belong to one China and pursue de jure independence. This fear derives from Tsai’s past history as the creator of the “two states theory” in the Lee Teng-hui era as well as her current unwillingness to accept the existence of “one China” even as she pledges to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. Beijing could react harshly if Tsai is elected on January 16 as the next president of Taiwan, including by taking punitive economic measures, suspending communication and cooperation mechanisms, stealing away some of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, or even using military coercion or force. Xi Jinping’s reaction to a Tsai Ing-wen victory should not be underestimated. When it comes to sovereignty issues, the Chinese leader has shown little willingness to compromise. Since becoming General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012, Xi has been sending tough signals to Taiwan, and these warnings have only intensified in the run up to the presidential elections on the island. As he continues to deepen the anti-corruption campaign and maneuvers to put his own supporters on the Standing Committee of the Politburo at the 19th CCP Congress in 2017, Xi is likely to prioritize protecting his flank. Appearing soft toward Taiwan could create a vulnerability for his opponents to exploit at a sensitive time. Early in his presidency, Xi met with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s official representative, former Vice President of Taiwan Vincent Siew, on the sidelines of the 2013 APEC summit in Bali, Indonesia. According to China’s official Xinhua news agency, Xi told Siew that “the issue of political disagreements that exist between the two sides must reach a final resolution, step by step, and these issues cannot be passed on from generation to generation.” Moreover, he insisted that Beijing was “willing to have equal consultations with Taiwan on cross-Strait issues within the framework of one-China,” and would “make reasonable and fair arrangements for this.”

Nuclear Cooperation with China.
The Iran nuclear agreement has all but overshadowed another nuclear deal pending in the Congress – a renewal of peaceful nuclear energy trade with China. The United States first signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with China in 1985 but the agreement was controversial because of China’s proliferation behavior. It was not until 1998 that the necessary waivers for export licenses were issued. Since then, Westinghouse has sold four AP-1000 reactors to China and dozens more are planned. The economic benefits of cooperation seem to be clear, but there are still significant export control concerns. Unless Congress passes a resolution of disapproval, or conditions this agreement like the last one, the new peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement could enter into force as early as the end of July. Q1: Why sign a new 123 agreement with China now? A1: The existing agreement will expire at the end of 2015. Contracts underway now to build U.S. designed nuclear power reactors in China require a framework agreement in place for significant nuclear exports. Of all countries across the globe, China has plans to build the most nuclear power reactors, and after the accident at Fukushima, settled on the AP-1000 for its inland sites. These sales are likely to dwarf the number of AP-1000s that may be built in the United States. China has also entered into an agreement with Westinghouse to develop a Chinese version of the AP-1000 called the CAP-1400, which will be available for export. Although much of China’s nuclear industry will be busy building nuclear power reactors at home (there are 24 under construction now, with plans to double that number in the next 15 years), China now sells power reactors to Pakistan and is discussing other sales with Argentina and Romania. Q2: What are the most important features of the agreement? A2: Although China is a nuclear weapon state, the nonproliferation requirements in the agreement are virtually the same as those the United States signs with non-nuclear weapon states. The requirements under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act help ensure that material, equipment, and technology is safe, secure and not diverted to military uses. A few provisions stand out: the agreement grants China advance consent to reprocess U.S. origin spent fuel and does not contain an ironclad provision that the material will be under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.”

Time for A Stronger U.S.-Australia Alliance? “
Having just read the joint CSIS-ANU 'audit' of the U.S. alliance, published this week, a few of us here in Australia wondered whether the Australian public would support the sort of intensified alliance proposed by the report's authors. It has been said that the finer points of foreign policy don't decide elections here in Australia. So, does it even matter what the great unwashed thinks about the alliance? As one commentator has pointed out, “the last mainstream Australian politician to openly criticize United States policy was Mark Latham, and look what happened to him at the ballot box.” The unpopularity of Australia's participation with its alliance partner in the Iraq war must have contributed to some degree to the Howard government loss in 2007. So, perhaps one shouldn't blithely dismiss the relevance of public opinion on foreign policy generally, and the U.S. alliance in particular. The report, The ANZUS Alliance in an Ascending Asia, has three main policy recommendations for the alliance: 1. It should refocus on the Asia Pacific. 2. It should serve as a 'central hub for Asian regional order and architecture'. 3. It should play a leading role in enhancing maritime security in the region. The sorts of practical measures proposed include working more closely together with partners such as India and Indonesia in 'minilateral' security processes, along the lines of the increased cooperation between Australia, Japan and the U.S. in the past few years (this week, Japan is for the first time participating in the Talisman Sabre exercise with Australian and US military forces). In the maritime arena, the report recommends Australia and New Zealand provide “badly needed strategic operating locations” to compensate for the limited U.S. presence in the South Pacific. Other recommendations include sharing Australia's technological expertise and capability (radars, remote sensing), and more combined maritime operations to ensure open sea lines of communication. None of this should pose much of a problem from the perspective of Australian public opinion. The report's authors note the strong support for the alliance recorded in Lowy Institute Polls (now with 11 years of data on support for the alliance — check it out on our upgraded interactive tool) and from other polls, including those by ANU. Even more persuasive evidence (not picked up in the report) is Australian support for basing U.S. forces here in Australia, regardless of China's condemnation of the 2011 announcement that U.S. Marines would have a permanent presence in Darwin. In 2011, before the Darwin announcement, a majority (55%) of Australians were in favor of “Australia allowing the United States to base U.S. military forces here in Australia.” Asked again in 2013, support was even stronger, with 61% of us in favor. It is the first recommendation in the report – the 'refocus' on the Asia Pacific, which may cause problems for the punters, inoffensive as it sounds. Australians are confident that the U.S. will continue to guarantee Australia's security well into the future, with two-thirds (66%) of the adult population in our 2013 Poll saying it's likely “Australia will still be able to rely on the alliance in 20 years' time.”

Strengthening U.S. Alliances in Northeast Asia.
“Chairman Salmon, Ranking Member Sherman, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to offer my views about how to strengthen U.S. alliance relationships with Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). U.S. government officials refer frequently to these alliances as “cornerstones” or “lynchpins” for America’s foreign and security policies in the Asia-Pacific, and these metaphors would become tiresome if they were not so apt for describing the value the alliances deliver to U.S. national interests. Indeed, as this Subcommittee well understands, these two countries are among our most important partners in trade and rule making, collaborate closely with us within leading multilateral institutions, host significant forward deployed U.S. forces and train with us at an elite level, and are frequently the first to support U.S.-led efforts to ameliorate international crises (to which they bring valuable technology, finance, and human capital assets). As often as we tend to talk about these bilateral relationships in the same breath, however, it is important to recognize the differences between them (in terms of their structure, their historical and political background, and the trend lines for how they are evolving). In some ways, the two alliances are developing in converging directions and might come to resemble one another more closely, for example in terms of how we seek to govern international trade relations, coordinate development aid in the region, or contribute to regional stability and security. The depth of our shared interests and values helps drive this trend and creates opportunities for more productive trilateral cooperation in the future. But in other ways— in part due to cultural differences, the scars of history, and the competitive nature of free market capitalism— the United States should expect divergent policy approaches by its allies toward such issues as the North Korean nuclear and missile challenge or China’s economic and military rise. In these cases, Washington can strive to bridge policy gaps where possible, but it should also respect the limits of trilateral cooperation and prioritize long-term harmony over short term gains. Most importantly, the United States should never forget that its future prosperity is inextricably linked to Asia’s peaceful adjustment to its growing wealth and power, and America has the means to positively affect this outcome, if utilized wisely. Close collaboration with key U.S. allies in the region is a critical enabler for whatever strategy Washington adopts, particularly if stronger links between our allies can be encouraged. Overall, the U.S.-Japan and U.S.-ROK alliances are in good shape today, thanks in part to consistent bipartisan support from the U.S. government over the years and careful attention paid most recently by both the Bush and Obama administrations. Polls show broad support on each side of these two alliances, and political change (back and forth) in all three countries over the last two decades has not disrupted their relationships. In fact, the alliances are arguably as strong as they have ever been.”

Japan Military Chief says South China Sea Surveillance Possible.
“Japan's top military commander, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, said on Thursday he expected China to become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea and it was possible Japan would conduct patrols and surveillance activities there in the future. Speaking in Washington, Kawano said there had been "talk" of Japan conducting such patrols in the South China Sea, including anti-submarine activities. "But our position on this is that we consider this as a potential future issue to be considered depending on how things pan out,” he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. Kawano earlier met with his U.S. counterpart, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and discussed implementation of updated bilateral defense guidelines agreed this year, a joint statement said. Tensions have been rising in the South China Sea, home to important international shipping lanes, due to overlapping territorial claims and rapid building of artificial islands byChina that has been criticized by Tokyo and Washington. China claims most of the South China Sea and has territorial rivalries there with several Southeast Asian states. It also has competing claims with Japan in the East China Sea, further to the north. Kawano said he expected China to become more assertive and seek to expand its reach. “My sense is that this trend will continue into the future where China will go beyond the island chain in the Pacific,” he said in translated remarks. “So if anything, I would believe that the situation will worsen.” China has ramped up defense spending in recent years and is aiming to develop a navy capable of defending its growing interests as the world's second-largest economy. Its pursuit of sovereignty claims has rattled neighbors, although it says it has no hostile intent. Kawano said the number of aircraft Japan scrambled in response to territorial incursions last year was in line with Cold-War levels and one reason was Chinese activity. Kawano’s comments come after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed legislation through parliament's lower house on Thursday that could see Japanese troops sent to fight abroad for the first time since World War Two. Abe's moves have been met with protests, but Kawano said he was confident the Japan Self Defense Forces (JSDF), as the military is known, would win over public opinion.”

A New Indonesia Military Base Near the South China Sea?
“On July 10, media reports surfaced that the Indonesian government had announced a plan to construct a new military base to guard border areas near the South China Sea. While the plan is still in its early stages, it is important to keep in mind a few things about what it does and does not mean to avoid misunderstanding what Indonesia may be trying to accomplish. As it stands now, the plan is better read as part of Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s increasing focus on safeguarding the country’s sovereignty as part of the country’s foreign policy rather than a new departure or hardening of Indonesia’s South China Sea position per se. While defending Indonesia’s borders is hardly a new goal, the Jokowi administration has made it one of its top foreign policy priorities. Indeed, in Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi’s first annual policy statement in Jakarta in January, she indicated that protecting Indonesia’s sovereignty would be accomplished by responding firmly to any intrusions into Indonesian territory and by settling maritime borders. The Jokowi administration’s ‘sink the vessels’ policy within the global maritime fulcrum concept is yet another manifestation of this. Given this background, it is not surprising that Indonesia would announce a plan to build more military posts in border areas to safeguard its territorial integrity. The focus on sovereignty and territorial integrity does include the South China Sea disputes, since, as I have written previously, China’s nine-dash line overlaps with Jakarta’s exclusive economic zone generated from the resource-rich Natuna Islands chain. But it is not limited only to the South China Sea issue. Indeed, if one examines the Indonesian media reports closely beyond the headlines, the plan as described by the head of Indonesia’s National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), Andrinof Chaniago, is to protect Indonesia’s territory in border areas more generally. Within this plan, the Natuna Islands is also only one of several potential base locations still under construction, along with Sambas, West Kalimantan; Tarakan, North Kalimantan; and the Riau Islands. These are not minor details. It gets to a point often missed: that China and the South China Sea are not the only sovereignty issues Indonesia needs to think about.”

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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