China Caucus Blog

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 25, 2014

The Real U.S.-China War Asia Should Worry About: The "Range War.”  The United States and China have found themselves engaged in a “range war” in the western Pacific, a competition over the distances their missiles and aircraft can attack targets. The fielding of new technology by one side is resulting in responses by the other, with the dimensions of the potentially contested space in the Asia-Pacific region growing with each move in this competition. Although the subject of weapons performance and missile tactics may seem tediously arcane, these details will substantially influence the policy options available to both sides during a hypothetical crisis. And the limits of those options may in turn influence the grand strategies of players across the region.  Technical and arcane expositions on weapon performance and tactics cause many eyes to glaze over. Yet what seems like trivia will have implications for the plans military staffs assemble, for the advice these staffs provide to policy makers, and for the assumptions and decisions those policymakers make during crises. As we saw a hundred years ago this month, those decisions can quickly sum to a disaster. U.S. policymakers need to reckon with the ongoing range war in the Pacific and consider some new and better ways to stay in the fight. –

Controversial Chinese Deep-Water Rig Drifts Into Calmer Seas
.  A Chinese deep-water oil rig at the center of one of the tensest maritime standoffs between China and Vietnam in recent memory has finally moved closer to home.  China’s Maritime Safety Administration confirmed this week that the rig, HYSY 981, had taken position about 70 nautical miles southeast of China’s southern island province of Hainan. The statement, posted Thursday on the agency’s website, says the rig is scheduled to operate in the area until the end of September.  HYSY 981 is operated by a unit of China National Offshore Oil Corp., the country’s main offshore energy company. When the rig turned up around the disputed Paracel Islands in May, it prompted a two-month standoff involving dozens of Chinese and Vietnamese government vessels as well as deadly anti-China riots in Vietnam. Companies involved announced earlier this month the rig was withdrawing from the disputed area.  The new position of the Cnooc rig may provide for a de-escalation of tensions between China and Vietnam, and between China and the U.S. Washington had criticized the decision by Beijing to send the rig to hotly disputed waters as a “provocative” move.  Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the location of the new rig. China Oilfield Services Ltd., the Cnooc unit responsible for the rig, said previously the new location would not be in disputed waters. —

Time India stopped looking at Taiwan through Chinese prism
.  India and Taiwan do not share a very long historical relationship. Their ties go back to the colonial era when president Chiang Kai-shek visited India in 1942 and met Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.  With the establishment of Communist rule in mainland China, the relationship became complex. India recognized the People’s Republic of China, and thus had no diplomatic relations with Taiwan for a long time. Formal ‘unofficial’ relations were established between the two countries in 1995. India set up the India-Taipei Association (ITA) in Taipei in 1995, and a few months later Taiwan opened the Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre (TECC) in New Delhi. India took this initiative as part of its Look East Policy and Taiwan took the opportunity to strengthen its position and end its isolation through a pragmatic foreign policy.  The two countries are also looking at signing a Free Trade Agreement. The Chung-Hua Institution of Economic Research (CIER) and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) conducted a joint feasibility study on a FTA/ECA (economic cooperation agreement). China Airlines started a direct flight between New Delhi and Taipei in 2003. It has symbolic value as it established direct air contact between Taiwan and India.  However, despite this the relationship between the two countries has not progressed much due to the inherent problems in its foundation. China is the major hurdle --- neither India nor Taiwan wants to antagonize China. India in fact has been more cautious than Taiwan; In the words of former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, “Establishing a relationship with Taiwan should not spoil our relationship with PRC, which is far more important than the ROC (Republic of China) to the Indian establishment.”—

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 Congressional China Caucus | July 22, 2014

China Pushes Limits to Closer Ties With U.S. Military. “China is seeking greater access to U.S. aircraft carriers and guidance on how to operate its own first carrier, the Liaoning, testing the limits of a newly cooperative military relationship the two sides have tried to cultivate in the past year. The latest Chinese request came last week when U.S. Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations, visited China to explore new areas of cooperation, despite recent maritime tensions and the presence of an uninvited Chinese spy ship at naval drills off Hawaii. China's navy chief, Adm. Wu Shengli, suggested the U.S. should bring the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier based in Japan, to a mainland Chinese port and allow the crew of the Liaoning to take a tour, according to Adm. Greenert. "Admiral Wu wants to work on that," Adm. Greenert told The Wall Street Journal in an interview at the end of his trip, which included a tour of the Liaoning. "He'd like his crew to get a tour of the George Washington and have the George Washington crew, a gaggle of them, come to the Liaoning," he said. "I'm receptive to that idea." A U.S. carrier's visit to China—possibly Shanghai—could happen within a year if Adm. Wu formally proposed it and won support for the idea from policy makers on both sides, he said. China's defense ministry didn't respond to a request for comment. The carrier discussions highlight a counterintuitive trend in China-U.S. relations: Military ties are improving, especially between the navies, even as China seeks to enforce maritime claims in Asia that are contested by neighbors, including U.S. allies.”

China Says Spy Ship Operations at RIMPAC ‘In Line With International Law”.
“Beijing has defended its dispatch of a spy ship to international waters off Hawaii, near where Chinese vessels are taking part in a US-led naval exercise for the first time, reports said Monday. The defense ministry said the vessel’s activities are in line with international law, reported the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party. Reports in the US quoted the US Navy saying that a Chinese surveillance vessel had been found operating near the location of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises, viewed by analysts as one step toward potentially repairing ties at a time of heightened US-China tensions. Four ships of the People’s Liberation Army Navy with an estimated 1,100 sailors on board — a missile destroyer, missile frigate, supply ship and hospital ship — are officially taking part in the RIMPAC exercises, which began last month. But China and the US have found themselves increasingly at odds as Beijing seeks to assert its claim to disputed territory in the East and South China Seas and as Washington seeks to shore up its influence in the region. China’s dispatch of the surveillance ship is a reminder that relations remain fraught between the Asian giant and western superpower.”

China’s Secretive Military Cracks Open Door For Glimpse Inside.
“With dancing robots and smiling soldiers and to the strains of British singer George Michael, China cracked open the door on its secretive armed forces on Tuesday during Beijing's annual attempt to assuage worries about its growing military might. China has jangled regional nerves over the past few months with an increasing assertiveness over territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas, set against the backdrop of rising defense spending. But on a yearly trip for foreign reporters to a Chinese military base, this time to an engineering academy in Beijing's southwestern suburbs, officers went to great lengths to put a non-threatening face on the world's largest military. "It is not necessary to pick an enemy or an opponent for combat while developing ones military. I think the People's Liberation Army's development is in line with China's overall development," base commander Xu Hang told reporters. During a carefully escorted tour of the leafy base, soldiers stopped to chat and patiently answer questions about everything from their salary to why they wanted to join up. At one point a group of cadets proudly showed off miniature dancing robots they had designed, as piped Western pop music played in the background, including a musak-version of George Michael's "Careless Whisper".”

Does China Care About Air Power?
“Over at Air Force Magazine, Rebecca Grant has compiled a rather helpful list of “10 things Americans need to know about the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.” Given China’s moves to police its near seas in recent years, it is important to understand the role that air power might play in China’s military playbook. Since it seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines, China has grown increasingly provocative in the South and East China Seas. However, it has generally done so with the use of non-naval maritime assets, including coast guard ships. The PLAAF has played a more limited role in China’s provocative episodes. With the exception of too-close-for-comfort flybys over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, the PLAAF has generally sat on the sidelines. One of the points worth emphasizing from Grant’s ten points is number four: the PLAAF is a secondary element within the PLA, comprising just 17 percent of China’s total military. The PLA, staying true to its origins as the Chinese Communist Party’s coercive arm, remains largely a ground force. As such, the PLA continues to have a “ground force-dominated culture,” says Kenneth W. Allen, a retired USAF officer and expert on the PLAAF. Another important aspect of why air power doesn’t feature at the top of the PLA’s agenda is due to the bureaucratic path dependencies of Chinese military leadership. The PLA falls under the purview of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party itself. As such, not only is the PLA the largest military force in the world by the number of active duty personnel, but it is the largest militant arm of a political army. Furthermore, given the PLA’s overwhelming focus on ground forces, the CMC’s leadership tends to be primarily comprised of former army officers.”

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 Congressional China Caucus | July 21, 2014

Chinese Ship Spies on U.S.-Led Drills. “China has sent an uninvited surveillance ship to international waters off Hawaii to monitor U.S.-led naval exercises, even though the Chinese navy is participating in the biennial drills, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Saturday. China's debut at the monthlong Rim of the Pacific, or Rimpac, exercises has been hailed by Chinese and U.S. officials as evidence of an improving military relationship, despite escalating tensions over territorial disputes in Asia. But the presence of the surveillance ship, which can monitor other vessels' electronic signals and communications, underlines the tensions between the two sides, and could harden political opposition in the U.S. to closer military ties with China. "The U.S. Pacific Fleet has been monitoring a Chinese Navy surveillance ship operating in the vicinity of Hawaii outside U.S. territorial seas," Capt. Darryn James, chief spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement. "It has not entered the territorial seas of the U.S. and it is in accordance with international law regarding freedom of navigation," he told The Wall Street Journal. "It's not been disruptive to Rimpac and we don't expect it to be." A Chinese navy spokesman at Rimpac and the Chinese Defense Ministry didn't respond to requests for comment. Capt. James said the surveillance ship was in international waters but within an exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, which according to an international maritime law extends 200 nautical miles from the U.S. coast. He said some of the Rimpac exercises were being conducted in international waters.”

Asia’s Most Dangerous Rivalry Heats Up: China vs. Japan.
“Japan has taken a fateful step toward becoming a “normal” power by adopting the doctrine of “collective self-defense”, paving the way for Tokyo to play a more direct role in ensuring stability in international waters as well as in aiding allies in times of crisis. It took a combination of iron-willed leadership, under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and deepening territorial disputes with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea to force Japan to take greater responsibility for its own national defense. Uncertainties over Washington’s commitment to rein in China’s territorial ambitions and growing concerns over the strategic impact of long-term defense-budget cuts at the Pentagon have only encouraged Japan to become more self-reliant. Washington has welcomed Tokyo’s decision to adopt a more flexible defense doctrine, facilitating broader efforts to upgrade U.S.-Japanese bilateral defense guidelines, which were last revised back in 1997. Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing regional-security environment, the aim is to create a more dynamic U.S.-Japanese alliance, where Tokyo contributes more proportionately to regional stability in East Asia. After all, throughout the post–Cold War era, the U.S. has repeatedly sought to mitigate “free riding” by well-endowed allies, such as Japan.”

Chinese Businessman Charged With Hacking Boeing, Other Arms Companies.
“Boeing was hit hard by a Chinese cyber intrusion into one of the US company’s most protected files on the C-17 Globemaster program, according to a 50-page criminal complaint filed by the FBI in a June 27 affidavit that revealed the extent of a three-man group’s alleged hacking activities. Data on “dozens of US military projects,” including the F-35 and F-22 stealth fighters, also was stolen in intrusions into other companies’ networks. The alleged perpetrators are Chinese citizens Su Bin (Stephen Su), owner of Lode-Technology, and two unidentified cohorts. Lode-Technology is mainly engaged in the aircraft cable harness business, but US and European company websites also indicate the company serves as an agent and distributor of aviation tooling and UV-laser products in China. Su was arrested June 28 in Canada and is facing extradition to the US. News of the arrest did not become public until July 10 when the charges were unsealed in California. Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-35 and F-22, declined to comment. Details of other aircraft and US companies are sketchy. Su is alleged to have obtained F-35 test plans and “blueprints” that would “allow us [China] to catch up rapidly with US levels ... [and] stand easily on the giant’s shoulders,” according to Su’s emails.”

China Will Not Fill U.S. Void in Afghanistan: Official.
“China does not seek to fill a void left in Afghanistan by the withdrawal of U.S. troops but will play a "huge" commercial role in helping rebuild the country, a newly appointed Chinese special envoy said on Monday. China, which is connected to Afghanistan by a narrow, almost impassable mountain corridor, has been quietly preparing for more responsibility there after the bulk of U.S.-led troops pull out by the end of this year. Some Western officials have said China is likely to emerge as a strategic player in Afghanistan but Sun Yuxi, who was appointed special representative to the country on Friday, said China's involvement would remain largely commercial. "This idea about filling a void after the withdrawal of troops, I think it doesn't exist," Sun told reporters in Beijing before heading to Afghanistan on Tuesday for talks. Some Western officials have criticized China for piggy-backing off the U.S.-led security operation that has eliminated an al Qaeda enclave on China's door-step and opened up Afghanistan's resources to international exploitation. China's commitment to Afghan reconstruction since the ouster of a hardline Islamist regime in 2001 has been a relatively paltry $250 million and its security support has been mostly limited to counter-narcotics training.”

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 Congressional China Caucus | July 17, 2014

In Pacific Drills, Navies Adjust to New Arrival: China. “An unusual experiment in military diplomacy is under way in the waters off Hawaii, as the U.S. incorporates China into the world's biggest naval drills for the first time. The U.S.-led Rimpac drills—involving 22 nations this year—are always a huge logistical task. But with China joining, even as it tries to enforce maritime claims in Asia, organizers faced additional political and legal challenges.  Among them: Would China allow its ships to be under Japanese command? Would the U.S. allow China to stage a commando raid on a ship? And could Chinese ships legally fire on an inflatable red target known as a "killer tomato"? These and other delicate questions were thrashed out during months of talks between U.S. military officials, Chinese officers, U.S. allies and Pentagon lawyers that reflected the complex dynamics of U.S.-China relations. The U.S. has been the dominant military power in the Asian-Pacific region since 1945. Now it is gambling that the way to deal with an increasingly assertive Chinese military is not to exclude or penalize, but to encourage cooperation with other Pacific powers. The Rimpac, or Rim of the Pacific, drills began in 1971 to help U.S. allies confront the Soviet threat. They have since grown to include most Pacific nations in an effort to foster interoperability and international norms. This year's maneuvers, from June 26 to Aug. 1, involve some 48 ships, six submarines and 25,000 sailors. Including China was controversial partly because the drills also involve Japan and the Philippines, two U.S. treaty allies whose territorial disputes with China have threatened to flare into military clashes in the past two years. Then there is U.S. law, principally the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000, which forbids cooperation with China's armed forces that could give away U.S. military know-how.”

FBI: Chinese Hacker Accessed Gold Mine of Data on F-22, F-35 and 32 U.S. Military Projects.
“A Chinese hacker allegedly broke into the network of world’s largest aerospace company and other defense contractors to steal sensitive information on the United States’ F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, as well as Boeing’s C-17 cargo plane. The FBI believes that Su Bin, formerly of the Chinese aviation firm Lode Technologies, and two Chinese-based co-conspirators accessed a gold mine of information from Boeing and other contractors in Europe. The plan was to gather enough information so that the communist nation might “stand easily on the giant’s shoulders,” The Register reported Monday. Mr. Su was arrested by Canadian mounties June 28 at the FBI’s request. The crimes are alleged to have occurred between 2009 and 2013, the paper reported. “Emails between Su and (a co-conspirator) in January 2010 contain at least one lengthy C-17 directory file listing that matches in extensive detail the files and folders hosted on Boeing’s computer systems,” FBI special agent Noel Neeman wrote in a criminal complaint, The Register reported. “These facts show that the C-17 data was ex-filtrated directly from Boeing’s computer systems.” A total of 32 projects are thought to have been compromised by the group, including 220MB relating to the F-22, the paper reported. The FBI believes 630,000 digital files relating to the C-17 cargo plane were stolen, amounting to 65GB. Mr. Su is scheduled to appear in a Vancouver court this month, The Register reported.”

China to Continue Outward Push, Task Force Captain Says.
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will continue to maintain and expand its overseas missions and exercises, says Senior Capt. Zhao Xiaogang, who is charge of the task force of ships participating in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) exercises off the Hawaiian coast. PLAN also will continue to invest in improving its naval capabilities, such as developing more robust communications between its own ships and those of other navies, Xiaogang told Aviation Week during an exclusive interview that followed a tour of one of China’s most advanced destroyers, the DDG 171 CNS Haikou. The CNS Haikou is one of the ships taking part in Rimpac. This year marks the first time the Asian giant has participated in the largest international maritime exercise. Fielding questions and answering through an interpreter, the Chinese senior captain noted that China and PLAN have participated in several international maritime missions with other foreign navies — including the effort to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons, provide humanitarian aid in the Philippines and search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Developing a more capable and international navy, he says, provides stability and peace in home waters; it also sets the stage for China, the U.S. and other navies to continue to conduct missions and exercises together and build further understanding and trust. This, he says, will help prevent miscommunication and foster harmony — even in tense regions like the Asia Pacific.”

China and Brazil Seek to Boost Ties.
“Xi Jinping is seeking to boost ties with Brazil with a state visit to the country this week. While in the country for the BRICS summit, Xi is making a state visit to Brazil where he will meet with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. This is Xi’s first visit to Brazil since becoming president (he visited the country as vice president in 2009), and comes as China and Brazil celebrate their 40th anniversary of bilateral ties. Before leaving for Brazil, Xi stated in a written interview that he attaches “great importance to growing the global strategic partnership with Brazil” and believes “China is ready to work with Brazil under the principle of mutual benefit to promote sustained two-way trade.” He explained that during his trip, he and Brazilian leaders will be discussing to further strengthen exchanges and cooperation in all aspects of Sino-Brazilian relations. Xi reiterated his goal of improving China-Brazil relations shortly after landing in the country, when he told reporters that he is “looking forward to conducting wide exchanges with Brazilian leaders and people from all walks of life, focusing on common development, boosting practical cooperation and accelerating the development of China-Brazil comprehensive strategic partnership.”

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 Congressional China Caucus | July 16, 2014

China Withdraws Oil Rig From Waters Disputed With Vietnam, But Warns It Could Return. “China said it was towing away a giant oil rig from waters disputed with Vietnam on Wednesday, ahead of the onset of the typhoon season and after finding signs of oil and gas, but insisted it stood firm on maritime claims that have sparked a bitter dispute between the neighboring countries — and warned it could be back. China deployed the $1 billion rig in early May in waters close to the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, in waters Vietnam considers to be within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. That move sparked deadly riots in Vietnam, and a tense standoff in the waters themselves, with Vietnamese and Chinese ships ramming each other on a regular basis, and one Vietnamese fishing boat sunk in May. China occupies the disputed Paracel Islands, and says it has “historical claims” to around 90 percent of the South China Sea, including waters much closer to other nations, but has refused to submit those claims to international arbitration. China’s assertion of its maritime claims in the South and East China Seas has provoked a significant deterioration in relations with the United States, which counts many of the rival claimants to the waters as allies and friends.”

In Disputed Sea, Vietnam and China Play High-Stakes Cat and Mouse.
“Crewmen in blue camouflage uniforms pour out onto the deck of a Vietnamese coastguard ship as an imposing Chinese vessel guarding a giant oil rig gives chase, gathering steam by the second.  A plume of smoke billows out as the engines of the Vietnamese ship rev up. A message of warning in Chinese language blares out across a loudspeaker. "You must remove all vessels immediately. This is the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam," it says. The Vietnamese ship and several others on either side begin to retreat.  "Withdraw your ships and remove the Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig."  A group of Chinese ships join the pursuit, peeling away from a flotilla of about two-dozen vessels surrounding HD-981, the $1 billion rig that China deployed without notice in early May, triggering the worst breakdown in ties between the communist neighbours in three decades.  Vietnam says this stretch of the South China Sea is in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and accuses China of bullying and trying to ram Vietnamese fishing vessels in the potentially energy-rich waters.  Vietnamese coastguard ship 8003, with a small group of foreign journalists on board, came within 10 nautical miles of the rig on Tuesday, but that was as far as it was willing to go. And it lingered for just half an hour.  It is a cat-and-mouse game that has been going on for two months and the crew of CG 8003 has seen it all before. Outnumbered and out-gunned, they turn back and the Chinese ships eventually give up their chase.”

The Case for U.S. Arms Sales to Vietnam.
“When Beijing built a deep-sea drilling platform squarely in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone earlier this summer, it once again flouted widely accepted rules and sought to extend its reach far into the South China Sea. Washington and its Asian partners are struggling to calibrate an appropriate response. The United States has an interest in resisting Chinese coercion in the Pacific and in bolstering the open, rules-based regional system that has permitted Asian economies to flourish. But with China defending its platform with patrol circles of military, coast guard and fishing vessels, the danger of escalation is clear. Ramming enemy ships is a common tactic, and one Vietnamese fishing vessel has already been sunk. How should the U.S. respond to China's coercive efforts in an effective and measured way?  One answer lies in relations with Vietnam. Vietnam's capacity to resist creeping assertions of sovereignty is outmatched by Beijing's superior might. While Washington and Hanoi have taken modest steps to normalize military relations through joint exercises and strategic dialogue, the U.S. should take additional steps to bolster Vietnam's ability to defend itself. Most importantly, the U.S. should lift the existing ban on lethal arms sales to Vietnam.  The scope and sort of direct U.S. military support to Vietnam should be linked to demonstrable improvements in human rights. It should also be limited to the types of defense articles that are most useful in deterring external coercion, such as maritime domain awareness systems, frigates and other vessels, and anti-ship weapons. Given Hanoi's record of domestic repression, Washington should exclude from any sales the types of weapons that can be used for domestic security purposes.”

U.S. Admiral in China For Top-Level Navy Talks.
“The chief of the US Navy met his Chinese counterpart Tuesday for talks aimed at improving cooperation between their fleets following concerns over regional territorial disputes and potential armed conflict. Adm. Wu Shengli, commander in chief of China’s navy, welcomed Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the US chief of naval operations, with a red-carpet ceremony and an honor guard at his headquarters in Beijing. They did not speak to reporters but a US Navy official said the visit was meant to “look at ways to increase the cooperation between our navies.” It was the two men’s “fourth interaction” over about the past year, he said, adding: “It obviously improves our understanding of each other also.” Greenert’s trip is set to last until Friday and will include a visit to China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. Tensions are mounting over maritime disputes in the East China Sea between Beijing and Tokyo, as well as in the South China Sea between Beijing and Hanoi, Manila and others. The official, who demanded anonymity, said it was “hard to say” if specific instances of regional tensions would come up in the talks. “Those things exist but the intent of these meetings is to look at ways that we can work better together so we can improve the understanding between our navies,” the official said.”

Chinese Hackers Extending Reach to Smaller U.S. Agencies, Officials Say.
“After years of cyberattacks on the networks of high-profile government targets like the Pentagon, Chinese hackers appear to have turned their attention to far more obscure federal agencies. Law enforcement and cybersecurity analysts in March detected intrusions on the computer networks of the Government Printing Office and the Government Accountability Office, senior American officials said this week. The printing office catalogs and publishes information for the White House, Congress and many federal departments and agencies. It also prints passports for the State Department. The accountability office, known as the congressional watchdog, investigates federal spending and the effectiveness of government programs. The attacks occurred around the same time Chinese hackers breached the networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which houses the personal information of all federal employees and more detailed information on tens of thousands of employees who have applied for top-secret security clearances. Some of those networks were so out of date that the hackers seemed confused about how to navigate them, officials said. But the intrusions puzzled American officials because hackers have usually targeted offices that have far more classified information.”

The Implications of China’s Anti-Corruption Drive.
“Clean, transparent government is a basic tenet of Western political liberalism, so we are naturally inclined to support government reform efforts elsewhere. But in the case of the People’s Republic of China, should we be rooting for Xi Jinping’s version of an anti-corruption campaign to succeed, or to fail, in its intended purposes? Or should we hope it succeeds spectacularly in ways not intended by Communist Party leaders, as glastnost and perestroika did under Mikhail Gorbachev? Xi’s campaign is designed to accomplish multiple Party objectives, none of which necessarily serve Western interests in regional peace and stability. His first goal is to expand and consolidate his personal power over any challengers in China’s political and military bureaucracies. Targeting political rivals as financial miscreants, bribe-takers, or power-abusers is a time-tested way of dealing with them (and not just in China). Would a more powerful and potentially more autocratic Xi be more or less likely to confront the West? Given the aggressive predilections he has demonstrated since taking China’s helm, there is little reason to be sanguine about a further accretion of Xi’s political, and military, power. The broader aim of the current crackdown – as with past efforts – is to refurbish the tarnished image of the CCP and restore some of its lost legitimacy as the moral guardian of the Chinese people. Communist ideology has long ceased to motivate ordinary Chinese, or even many Party leaders. Instead, they rely on economic success – ostensibly distributed fairly across society – and their default position: enhanced military power and virulent nationalism against the United States and Japan. The economic fairness pillar of domestic legitimacy has been crumbling in recent decades. The nation’s remarkable growth in wealth, combined with the CCP’s ongoing monopoly on power and opaque governance, has spawned massive corruption at all levels of political and military authority. Every year, China experiences almost 200,000 public protests against land seizures, environmental degradation, bribery, and other official misconduct.”

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 Congressional China Caucus | July 15, 2014

Asian Nations’ Fears of War Elevated as China Flexes Muscle, Study Finds. “Large majorities in many Asian countries fear that China's territorial ambitions could lead to war, according to the Pew Research Center, in a finding with implications for U.S. foreign policy in a region that increasingly looks to America for protection. A widespread worry that military conflict over territorial disputes may disrupt the region is among the findings of a public-opinion survey of 44 countries by the Washington-based Pew. Another global trend is building opposition to U.S. eavesdropping following revelations of spying by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. U.S. drone strikes also elicit strong misgivings. However, those controversies don't appear to have done too much damage to America's generally positive global image, outside the Muslim world, the Pew report said. The survey, conducted from March to June, comes after China has muscularly pressed its claims over disputed islands, sending ships, planes and, in one case, an oil rig into areas held or contested by several neighbors. Fears of armed conflict are at high levels among those countries locked in these standoffs with China, according to responses to a question introduced this year in Pew's spring survey of global attitudes. In the Philippines, 93% of respondents are concerned about an outbreak of hostilities. In Japan, the figure is 85%, and in Vietnam, 84%. Yet worries about China's threat to peace are almost as strong in South Korea, a close neighbor that has warm relations with China, where 83% of respondents fret about war. Even in China, 62% are anxious.”

Asia and 1914.
“One hundred years after the beginning of World War I, many Asians fear history is repeating itself. The source of concern is China's growing power and its demonstrated willingness to use that power coercively. While China's claims on Taiwan and the uncertainty about its long-term aims on the Korean peninsula remain key regional flashpoints, China has also turned its gaze to the South and East China Seas. So far this year, tensions have grown between China and Vietnam and China and the Philippines. But it is Sino-Japanese tensions that have the most potential for conflict. The two Southeast Asian nations are weak and can be coerced if the United States does not offer them its support. But Japan has both the strength and the will to stand up to Beijing on its own. What's more, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is showing real leadership in organizing a counter-balance to China's ambitions and assertions. It was Abe who evoked the 1914 parallel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year, stating that China and Japan must avoid the fate of Britain and Germany. The analogy is imperfect but astute. China's ambitions, particularly in the maritime sphere, bear some resemblance to those of the Kaiser's Germany. Like Germany then, China now feels bottled up by its rivals' navies, has increasing overseas interests to protect, and believes that great powers should have great navies.”

A Great War in the East China Sea: Why China and Japan Could Fight.
“Few people believe that either China or Japan would deliberately start a war in the East China Sea. Most analysts assume that an armed clash could only occur through accident, misunderstanding or unauthorized acts by junior officers acting without, or even against, orders. These are not remote possibilities, of course. They already make the risk of war dangerously high. But we underestimate how high that risk really is if we think this is the only way a war could begin. I think there is a real possibility that fighting might be started deliberately by one side or the other, and unless we understand the circumstances that might prompt that step from either side, we will not be able to take steps to avoid them. First, we must be clear that neither side is at all likely to deliberately start a fight over possession of the disputed islands themselves, or even of the resources that might lie around them. They are not worth a military conflict to anyone. But the dispute has never been about territory. The islands are simply tokens in a contest to define the roles and status of Asia’s great powers over coming decades. These are issues over which states might well choose to start a war. Let’s start with China. As I have argued elsewhere, China’s primary aim is to strengthen its leadership in Asia and undermine America’s. The best way to do that without confronting America too directly is to weaken the alliances and partnerships that underpin U.S. regional leadership. It therefore wants to persuade U.S. allies that Washington is no longer willing to stand up for them against the growing power of China. (Whether Beijing would be right to assume that without U.S. support they would more willingly accept Chinese leadership is a separate question, of course. As far as Japan is concerned, I think they are probably wrong, but that is a separate issue.)”

China Tells U.S. to Stay Out of South China Seas Dispute.
“China told the United States on Tuesday to stay out of disputes over the South China Sea and leave countries in the region to resolve problems themselves, after Washington said it wanted a freeze on stoking tension. Michael Fuchs, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Strategy and Multilateral Affairs, said no country was solely responsible for escalating tension in the region. But he reiterated the U.S. view that "provocative and unilateral" behaviour by China had raised questions about its willingness to abide by international law. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to contain oil and gas deposits and has rich fishery resources. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the sea, where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year.  China's Foreign Ministry repeated that it had irrefutable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, where most of the competing claims overlap, and that China continued to demand the immediate withdrawal of personnel and equipment of countries which were "illegally occupying" China's islands. "What is regretful is that certain countries have in recent years have strengthened their illegal presence through construction and increased arms build up," the ministry said in a statement. China would resolutely protect its sovereignty and maritime rights and had always upheld resolving the issue based on direct talks with the countries involved "on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law", it added.”

China Invites India’s Modi for APEC Summit But Rivalry Simmers.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping invited India on Tuesday to attend a summit of the APEC trade group in November, sending a message of cooperation during the first meeting between the new leaders of the world's most populous countries. But behind the smiles at Xi's 80-minute meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Brazil, India's rivalry with its powerful neighbor bubbled up as the two nations argued over who would host the headquarters of a proposed BRICS joint development bank. Xi and Modi met soon after their arrival at a summit of the BRICS group of emerging powers. Xi said the two countries should join hands in setting global rules and suggested he attend the November meeting of the 21-nation APEC in Beijing, as well as take part in Chinese-led regional initiatives. India has never attended an APEC summit, and has long sought to become a member to help boost its economy. The bonhomie was partially overshadowed by news that the BRICS groups - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - had not yet decided on where to locate the headquarters of the development bank they were expected to launch on Tuesday. The frontrunners to host the bank have been China and India.  "It will be every country's desire, and so will it be India's, to have it in India, because Delhi or any city in India has its natural advantages, English-speaking, very skilled manpower, and if you look at the geographical position of all the BRICS countries, the five of them, India is very centrally located," Nirmala Sitharaman, India's trade minister, and part of Modi's entourage in Brazil, told TV network Times Now.”

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 Congressional China Caucus | July 14, 2014

China’s Top Paper Says No Place For A ‘New Cold War’ With U.S. “China and the United States must avoid a "new cold war" in their international relations, China's top newspaper said on Saturday, in the wake of high level talks in Beijing between senior leaders of the world's two largest economies. China and the United States agreed on Thursday to boost military ties and counter-terrorism cooperation during annual talks in Beijing, but there was little immediate sign of progress on thorny cyber-security or maritime issues. "Both China and the United States realize that today's world has already undergone profound changes, and there is no longer a market for a "new cold war", the People's Daily, the ruling communist party's official paper, said in a commentary. It was published under the pen name "Zhong Sheng", meaning "Voice of China", often used to give views on foreign policy. The commentary said that the gravest risk to relations between the two countries was "misunderstanding", and called for both sides to strengthen channels of communication as they looked to shake off a "hazy" period of bilateral relations. The U.S. Department of Justice charged a Chinese businessman on Friday with hacking into the computer system of airplane maker Boeing Co and other companies to obtain data about military projects, the latest in a string of spying allegations between the two countries. The commentary added that complex Sino-U.S. ties were unlikely to get easier to manage any time soon. Positive steps would include boosting bilateral investment, deepening cooperation on environmental issues, strengthening military ties and making travel easier between the two countries.”

Japan Vows ‘Firm’ Response Should China Disrupt Order in Contested Waters.
“Japan's defense minister said Friday that Tokyo would "respond firmly" if China "disrupts the order" in waters contested by the two countries, taking a tough line as his country loosens long-standing restrictions on its military. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, speaking at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, stressed that Japan isn't seeking a confrontation with China, citing efforts to make a hotline between Tokyo and Beijing operational and improve maritime communication—an effort that China has put on hold amid rising tensions between the two nations. While Japan wishes to prevent confrontations that create "unintended situations," Mr. Onodera said Japan wouldn't ignore confrontations. He added Japan had made clear it won't accept an attempt to change the status quo in the region by force. China and Japan are locked in an escalating argument over control of disputed islands in the East China Sea. The U.S. has said it recognizes Japanese administration of the islands and the defense treaty with Tokyo covers them. "Our door is always open to dialogue," Mr. Onodera said. "But if against the background of force there is unilateral behavior that disrupts the order, we must respond firmly." Before his remarks, Mr. Onodera met at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The men discussed the efforts between Washington and Tokyo to revise the defense guidelines that govern the military interactions between the two countries to give Japan a greater role.”

How to Stop the Scary Slide in U.S.-China Ties.
The upbeat tone at the biannual bureaucratic gathering last week on U.S.-Chinese ties known as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) did not mask the troubling reality: the U.S.-Chinese relationship is more at risk than any other time since 1989, as Beijing’s assertive actions on disputed territories in the South China incrementally changes the status quo. And about the only certainty is that this elaborate bureaucratic exercise checked all the boxes on issues from climate change to currency manipulation, yet the relationship will continue its downward spiral. The core issue of whether the world’s two largest powers can find a modus vivendi remains unanswered. The trajectory of U.S.-Chinese relations—whether they become predominantly cooperative, predominantly competitive, or remain a mix of both indefinitely—will likely remain a key question around which much of the global order of the twenty-first century will revolve. And to a considerable degree, the answer to that question turns on whether a framework for strategic stability is possible. As was learned in August 1914, economic interdependence does not necessarily prevent nations from going to war. In part, an effort to avoid 1914 analogies, Beijing has recently been promoting the idea that the United States and China should forge a “new type of great-power relations,” an aspiration that President Obama embraced at the 2013 Sunnylands Summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, though it lacks any mutually agreed definition.”

China Develops Mature, Broad-Based UAV Sector.
“Over the past five years, China has built a formidable unmanned aircraft sector that has reached beyond traditional defense companies and displayed unique capabilities while also replicating advanced Western products, experts say. China “has gone out of its way to reach beyond conventional aircraft companies to encourage cruise missile makers, universities and model aircraft concerns to actively develop unmanned aircraft,” said Richard Fisher, senior fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center. One renowned UAV specialist receiving a lot of attention is Robert Michelson, principal research engineer emeritus at Georgia Tech Research Institute. Michelson is one of the rare experts who has served as an “International Referee” and “Innovation Forum” keynote speaker at China’s 2011 and 2013 UAV Grand Prix. Michelson said the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics organize the UAV Grand Prix. It was in 2011 that the event demonstrated a “stopped-rotor” vehicle by Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an, China. Earlier efforts to create such a vehicle in the US failed. During the 1980s, both the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA funded the Sikorsky X-Wing project, which involved a rigid helicopter rotor that could be stopped in flight to act as a wing, Michelson said. After significant expenditure, and never having demonstrated conversion from hover to forward flight and back, the X-wing project was canceled.”

Senate Frowns on China’s Behavior.
“The Senate passed a bipartisan resolution late Thursday aimed at altering China's behavior toward U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region, members announced Friday. “The United States is an Asia-Pacific nation and we have an abiding national security interest in the maintenance of regional stability, as recent events have demonstrated,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who co-sponsored the legislation. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.), condemns "coercive and threatening actions or the use of force to impede freedom of operations in international airspace by military or civilian aircraft, to alter the status quo or to destabilize the Asia-Pacific region."  The bill comes after a surprise decision by China in December to declare an Air Defense Identification Zone around China, which would require other nations flying through the zone to announce flights to China ahead of time. Pentagon officials opposed the move at the time, saying they did not receive advance notice. The bill urges China to refrain from implementing the defense zone, which includes airspace over the East China Sea where several nations, including Japan and Taiwan, have competing territorial claims. The legislation also urges all parties to refrain from "efforts to unlawfully assert administration over disputed claims." Menendez's statement said there have been a series of "alarming developments" over territorial dispute in the region, that have created real tension and the potential for conflict "that could easily spill over into a broader regional conflict." The bill also commends Japan and Korea — two U.S. defense treaty allies who opposed China's move — for their "restraint."

Reports: Taiwan Starts Using Drones To Spy on China.
“Taiwan has started using unmanned surveillance aircraft to spy on China to reduce the risk to its pilots from an increased deployment of Chinese missiles, media reported Sunday. The army in March commissioned a fleet of 32 unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, developed by the military-run Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology. Initially the drones, based in the eastern county of Taitung, were watching airspace in the east and south but lately they had extended their range to the Taiwan Strait, the Liberty Times said. “Now they can effectively monitor China’s military movements in the southeastern coastal area,” an unnamed senior officer at the defense ministry was quoted as saying. The paper said the operation has attracted interest from the United States which has been using the sophisticated high-altitude Global Hawk drone to collect military intelligence on China. The US raised the topic during a recent military exchange program with Taiwan, it said. Taiwan’s defense ministry declined to comment on the report. Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since President Ma Ying-jeou’s China-friendly administration came to power in 2008 on a platform of strengthening trade and tourism links. He was re-elected in January 2012.”

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 Congressional China Caucus | July 11, 2014

U.S., China Spar on Cyberspying, Maritime Issues Even As They Stress Cooperation. “The United States and China ended two days of talks Thursday, sparring over cyber-espionage and Asian maritime tensions but insisting that they are still actively cooperating on a broad range of other issues. Washington and Beijing have been trading complaints about cyberspying after accusations that Chinese military hackers were stealing trade secrets from American companies and Edward Snowden’s revelations of extensive U.S. spying on foreign governments. “The loss of intellectual property through cyber means has a very chilling effect on innovation and investment,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said at a news conference at the end of the sixth annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing. “I emphasized that incidents of cybertheft have harmed our businesses and threatened our nation’s competitiveness.” In May, the Justice Department charged five members of the Chinese military with cyber-espionage against U.S. firms. Beijing responded by calling off talks on cybersecurity. While the United States has been appealing for that dialogue to resume, China put the ball squarely back in Washington’s court Thursday. “Cyberspace should not become a tool for damaging the interests of other countries,” Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat, said. “China hopes the U.S. will create the conditions for the two sides to have a dialogue and cooperate on cyber issues.”

China Plays the South Korea Card.
“After Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to South Korea last week, "Beijingology" is in full swing. Analysts are trying to interpret the tea leaves of his visit. Is he showing anger toward North Korea? Driving a wedge between Japan and South Korea? Is he responding to U.S. pressure?  Such speculation is as unhelpful as it was during the dark days of the Cold War, when Americans studied Soviet leaders' every move in an attempt to understand their motives and goals, a strategy known as "Kremlinology." As with the Soviet Union, today's China is often a blank palimpsest to its readers, who impose whatever interpretation of Beijing's motives and goals suits them. The very existence of Beijingology is a healthy reminder that even as China has become the world's second largest economy, the Chinese Communist Party continues to control information and limits its cooperative relations with outside states. Still, analysts should refrain from reading too much into President Xi's trip to Seoul last week. They are undoubtedly right that Mr. Xi wants to use his relationship with South Korean President Park Geun-hye to further pressure and isolate Japan. Yet there is very likely a limit to how far Ms. Park will go in her outreach to China. Seoul remains committed to the U.S. alliance, in no small part because Washington is the only realistic counterweight to Beijing's growing strength.”

U.S. Republican Warns of ‘Death By A Thousand Cuts’ From China.
“The United States must respond more aggressively to China's territorial claims in Asia, an influential U.S. Republican said on Thursday, warning that failure to do so would bring "death by a thousand cuts." Mike Rogers, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' intelligence committee, said Washington should be less concerned with Chinese sensibilities when dealing with Beijing. The congressman's comments came as China and the United States concluded two days of talks in Beijing aimed at managing an increasingly complex and at times testy relationship. "We need to be more direct; we need to be more aggressive," he told a conference at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. "We need to empower our friends and our allies in the region to be more direct and more aggressive," he added in comments reflecting Republican frustration with Democratic President Barack Obama's cautious approach to China, a country that is both a strategic rival and major economic partner for the United States. Rogers said China was taking advantage of security distractions elsewhere in the world to pursue its territorial claims incrementally, at the expense of weaker neighbors. "It's really death by a thousand cuts ... when you start adding the totality of it and looking at those brewing clouds of conflict, this is as serious as it gets." Rogers accused China of "gluttonous, naked aggression" in pursuit of its territorial claims and said he expected to see as a response, "a serious escalation of our ability to expand cooperation" with U.S. allies and partners in Asia.”

Chinese Hackers Go After U.S. Workers’ Personal Data.
“Federal authorities are investigating a breach of the computer networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which stores detailed data on up to 5 million U.S. government employees and contractors who hold sensitive security clearances. Authorities have traced the intrusion to China, but it is not clear whether the hackers worked for the government, said a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. So far, no personal data appears to have been stolen, according to OPM spokeswoman Nathaly Arriola. A U.S. official said the data is encrypted. Arriola said that the OPM and the Department of Homeland Security were alerted to the breach in mid-March through an automated monitoring system. The intrusion apparently was detected early enough that a DHS computer emergency readiness team, working with the agency, was able to block the intruder and minimize the harm. The Chinese military has waged a persistent, more than decade-long cyber-campaign to steal all manner of information — from military weapons designs to proprietary data on advanced technologies to insight into government policies — from the computer networks of the U.S. government and its contractors as well as other from other western governments and companies.”

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 Congressional China Caucus | July 10, 2014

Kerry Presses China to Abide By Maritime Laws to Ease Tensions. “In a closed-door session at a high-level gathering of Chinese and American officials here on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry urged China to follow maritime law in nearby seas to reduce regional tensions, a senior American official said. Mr. Kerry called on China to support the creation of a legally binding code of conduct that other Asian nations are considering to enforce rules of navigation and inhibit unilateral actions in the South China and East China Seas, said the official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity under standard protocol. The secretary met with Yang Jiechi, a state councilor who deals with foreign policy, on the first day of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, an annual gathering of senior officials from both countries where differences on issues including national security, the economy, climate change and human rights are aired. “The secretary emphasized this is not a situation in which countries should or can be permitted simply to act unilaterally to advance their territorial claims or interests,” said the official, alluding to China’s dispatch of a huge oil rig to disputed waters off the coast of Vietnam in May and the virtual takeover in 2012 of a reef, the Scarborough Shoal, that is claimed by the Philippines. Mr. Kerry also said efforts to create a “new status quo” at the expense of regional harmony were “unacceptable,” the official said. Maneuvers by China to assert claims over islands and waters in the South China Sea, and to slow the efforts of a regional group, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to complete a code of conduct that would govern maritime rules have become a major point of friction between Washington and Beijing. The South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest trading routes.”

Xi Jinping and Mao’s Playbook.
“Beijing's high-profile anticorruption campaign is a tool for supreme leader Xi Jinping to remove his political opponents and consolidate power. That is the conventional wisdom among ordinary Chinese and Sinologists, and there is a certain amount of truth to it. But the purge has wider significance that suggests how the Communist Party reacts to stress by reverting to type. Many of the "tigers" punished so far have been targeted for one reason: They were allies of former Politburo Standing Committee Member Zhou Yongkang. Mr. Zhou was a key supporter of Bo Xilai, the boss of Chongqing who used populism to challenge Mr. Xi's faction for control of the Communist Party. Mr. Bo is now serving a life sentence for corruption, and Mr. Zhou hasn't been seen in public in nine months. Yet this anticorruption campaign has also been far more extensive than any in three decades. Respected Party elder Wang Qishan has expanded the operations of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, sending inspection teams to all regions. The crackdown on graft is so far-reaching that some bank analysts blame it for slowing the economy. The news is full of cadres who have committed suicide to avoid punishment. Even legitimate projects are on hold as officials figure it's safer to hunker down and do nothing. In other words, this movement looks more and more like a Mao-era rectification campaign. Those bouts of internal terror forced officials to biaotai, or make a public declaration of support for the Party line. Mr. Xi has also kicked off a "mass line campaign" in which officials are urged to boost their ties with the people and avoid the evil "four winds" of formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and waste.”

Japan Military Jets Scrambled Record 340 Times in April-June.
“Japan said Wednesday that its military scrambled fighter jets a record 340 times in the three months to June in response to feared intrusions on its airspace, as tensions grow with China. The Joint Staff of Japan Self-Defense Forces said, however, that around 70 percent of the jet launches were in response to Russian planes approaching Japanese airspace. The rest were scrambled in response to approaching Chinese planes, it said, adding that Japanese airspace was not violated on any of these occasions. The latest figure marked a sharp increase on the same quarter last year, when Japanese jets were scrambled 110 times. “The chief factor for the increase was the rise in (the number of launches) in response to Russian planes,” the military said, particularly along Japan’s northern coastline. “Scrambles were often against information-gathering planes from Russia and fighter jets from China.” Russia frequently dispatches jets near Japan, as the two nations continue to negotiate a territorial dispute dating back to World War II. Japan and China, meanwhile, are also locked in a bitter territorial row over islands in the East China Sea administered by Japan as the Senkaku Islands, but which China calls the Diaoyu Islands.”

China’s Xi Calls for Improved Ties With U.S.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Wednesday that confrontation between China and the U.S. would be a "disaster" for the world, as the two sides began high-level talks aimed at reversing a downturn in relations over the past year. The two countries must "break the old pattern of conflict and opposition between great powers," Mr. Xi said at the opening of the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing. "Cooperation between China and the U.S. can help both countries and the rest of the world accomplish great things," Mr. Xi told five of President Barack Obama's cabinet-level officials and a host of other senior U.S. administration officers. "Confrontation between the U.S. and China would be a disaster for both countries and the rest of the world," Mr. Xi said, speaking just over a year after his first presidential summit with Mr. Obama. This year's two-day talks aren't really about resolving long-running disputes over trade irritants and calming geopolitical hot spots, officials and analysts say. They are primarily about ensuring that the world's two largest economies don't fall headlong into hostile conflict, a dynamic that the last century proved can wreak global havoc. "Throughout history, there has been a pattern of strategic rivalry between rising and established powers," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said at the opening of the talks.”

Chinese Hackers Pursue Key Data on U.S. Workers.
“Chinese hackers in March broke into the computer networks of the United States government agency that houses the personal information of all federal employees, according to senior American officials. They appeared to be targeting the files on tens of thousands of employees who have applied for top-secret security clearances. The hackers gained access to some of the databases of the Office of Personnel Management before the federal authorities detected the threat and blocked them from the network, according to the officials. It is not yet clear how far the hackers penetrated the agency’s systems, in which applicants for security clearances list their foreign contacts, previous jobs and personal information like past drug use. In response to questions about the matter, a senior Department of Homeland Security official confirmed that the attack had occurred but said that “at this time,” neither the personnel agency nor Homeland Security had “identified any loss of personally identifiable information.” The official said an emergency response team was assigned “to assess and mitigate any risks identified.” One senior American official said that the attack was traced to China, though it was not clear if the hackers were part of the government. Its disclosure comes as a delegation of senior American officials, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, are in Beijing for the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the leading forum for discussion between the United States and China on their commercial relationships and their wary efforts to work together on economic and defense issues.”

China, U.S. to Boost Security Ties, But No Breakthroughs.
“China and the United States agreed on Thursday to boost military ties and counter-terrorism cooperation during high-level annual talks in Beijing, but there was little immediate sign of progress on thorny cyber-security or maritime issues. The two-day talks, led by Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for the United States and Vice Premier Wang Yang and top diplomat Yang Jiechi for China, were never expected to achieve great breakthroughs. The Strategic and Economic Dialogue, now in its fifth year, is more about managing an increasingly complex and at times testy relationship. After discussions on topics ranging from the value of China's currency to North Korea, Yang said the two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in counter-terrorism, law enforcement and military-to-military relations. He gave few details. On two of the most sensitive issues - maritime disputes and cyber-spying - Yang largely restated Beijing's position on both. "The Chinese side will continue to steadfastly protect its territorial and maritime rights" in the South and East China Seas, Yang told reporters as the talks wrapped up. "China urged the U.S. side to adopt an objective and impartial stance and abide by its promise to not take sides and play a constructive role in safeguarding regional peace and stability."

Dissidents and Diplomacy in Beijing.
“John Kerry and other senior U.S. officials are in Beijing this week for the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which involves private jousting over matters such as currency policy and cyberespionage, along with public diplomacy such as Tuesday's tour of the Great Wall. Unfortunately not on the agenda: a U.S. visit to the Beijing home of ailing artist Liu Xia, who is under illegal house arrest for the apparent crime of being married to imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.  Since being cut off from outside contact in October 2010—alone in her one-bedroom apartment without access to mail, email or the phone—Ms. Liu, 53, has battled severe depression and in February suffered a heart attack, for which she initially received one day's treatment in hospital. Yet Beijing insists that she is under "no legal restriction." If so, U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus or another diplomat should be able to visit her. Once a month Ms. Liu is allowed to travel—with security agents—to see her husband at Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province, some 300 miles from Beijing, where he is serving an 11-year sentence for "subversion." A professor and literary critic, he has been in custody since 2008, when he was the lead author of the democracy manifesto Charter 08. Last year Ms. Liu's brother also was sentenced to 11 years in prison, in his case on trumped-up charges of tax fraud.”

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 Congressional China Caucus | July 09, 2014

U.S., China Try to Emphasize Potential For Cooperation. “The United States and China said they were determined to avoid conflict and maintain peace between their nations, despite deep differences over maritime security and mutual recriminations over cyber-espionage, as high-level annual talks between the two governments began on Wednesday. Relations between the United States and China have been on a downward spiral this year, but both sides opened the sixth round of the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing trying to calm fears they would allow a further deterioration in ties, and stressing the potential for cooperation on a broad range of issues from climate change to counter-terrorism. “Confrontation between China and the United States would definitely spell disaster for the two countries and for the wider world,” Chinese President Xi Jinping told delegates as he opened the two-day talks, adding that the two countries needed to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, strengthen their dialogue and promote cooperation. “The immense sea allows fish to leap at liberty, the vast sky lets birds fly freely,” he said. “The broad Pacific Ocean has ample space to accommodate our two great nations.” The talks took place in the same complex of villas — set among lush lawns, trees and water courses in western Beijing — where then U.S. President Richard Nixon met Chinese leader Mao Zedong on a historic visit in 1972. Secretary of State John Kerry said the two countries had a profound stake in each other’s success, but needed actions — not words — if they were to avoid tension. History had often seen strategic rivalry between an established power and an emerging power, he said, but added that such rivalry was not pre-ordained.”

Chinese Leader’s One-Man Show Complicates Diplomacy.
“As Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, joined by a large group of American officials, met with senior Chinese leaders here on Wednesday, they faced an American-Chinese relationship rived by a strategic rivalry not seen before, a situation that neither side appears in the mood to improve. Complicating matters is the one-man leadership style of President Xi Jinping, who appears to make the big decisions on national security — meant to challenge American primacy in the Asia-Pacific region and establish a China-centric alternative — without much consultation with others, Chinese and American experts say. China’s push against two of America’s major allies, Japan and South Korea; its thrust into the South China Sea, which threatens freedom of navigation; and the sudden imposition of an air defense zone near Japan all reflect Mr. Xi’s thinking about China’s rightful place in Asia, analysts say. Both China and the United States have set low expectations for progress on the issues scheduled to be discussed at the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, intended as a setting for the two sides to hash out difficult topics. Mr. Xi opened the dialogue with a speech that stressed the positive, saying China and the United States had more common interests than differences. He also emphasized China’s economic and military strength. "The vast Pacific Ocean has ample space to accommodate two great nations," he said, suggesting as he has previously that China would play a much bigger role in the Pacific.”

From Mountains, Island, Secret Town, China’s Electronic Spy Shop Watches.
“From mountains near Beijing, China's version of the U.S. National Security Agency monitors Russia and tracks missiles. Its military experts analyze Internet phone calls on an island dubbed China's Hawaii, and it eavesdrops on Europe from a secret town hidden behind an array of residential towers. Using Chinese government websites, academic databases and foreign security expertise, The Wall Street Journal assembled an overview of some secret operations of China's global monitoring organization, the Third Department of the People's Liberation Army's General Staff Department. Spy-watchers call it 3PLA and say it is central to China's military strategy, tasked with monitoring and analyzing much of the world's communications—including embassy cables, corporate emails and criminal networks—for foreign threats and competitive advantages. The organization maintains what active and former U.S. officials say are facilities around Shanghai specialized in watching the U.S.—one of them located close to the main transoceanic communications cables linking China to the U.S. Those activities were highlighted in May, when the Justice Department indicted five officers of 3PLA on charges they stole U.S. corporate secrets.  As Beijing modernizes its high-tech defensive arsenal, the Journal backed up on-the-ground views of 3PLA facilities with an examination of the organizational structure of the NSA-like military department, which increasingly rattles governments and corporations around the world while remaining obscure outside security circles.”

Report Reveals Chinese Military Developing New Scramjet-Powered Hypersonic Missile.
“China’s military is working on a jet-powered hypersonic cruise missile in addition to an advanced high-speed glide warhead that was tested earlier this year. A Chinese technical journal disclosed new details of research on what China’s defense researchers are calling a hypersonic cruise vehicle. A line drawing of the scramjet-powered vehicle shows that the concept being studied for eventual construction is nearly identical to an experimental National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scramjet vehicle called the X-43. Publication of details of work on the powered hypersonic cruise vehicle indicates China is pursuing a second type of ultra-fast maneuvering missile capable of traveling at speeds of up to Mach 10—nearly 8,000 miles per hour. Such speeds create huge technical challenges for weapons designers because of the strain on materials and the difficulty of control at high velocities. Large numbers of Chinese military writings in recent years have focused on hypersonic flight. However, few have addressed scramjet powered hypersonic flight.”

Why Are Chinese Cyberspies Targeting US Think Tanks?
“On Tuesday, reports emerged that U.S. Middle East experts at major U.S. think tanks had been hacked by a Chinese cyperespionage group with links to the Chinese government. The hacker group, known as “DEEP PANDA” by security researchers, left few clues as to why specifically it targeted these U.S. targets, but it is likely that the incident could overshadow the looming U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Cyber issues are coming to the fore in U.S.-China relations and the U.S. government is growing increasingly wary of government-sponsored cyberespionage originating from China. According to the Washington Post’s report on the incident, the “latest breach follows a pattern identified by experts of Chinese cyberspies targeting major Washington institutions, including think tanks and law firms.” Following this breach, we are left to speculate on the motive. Security researcher Dmitri Alperovitch, cited by the Post notes that his firm noticed a “radical” change in DEEP PANDA’s activity on June 18, “the same day witnesses reported that Sunni extremists seized Iraq’s largest oil refinery.” Although Alperovitch did not disclose specifically which experts or think tanks were affected, the motive prima facie appears to be interest in learning what U.S. experts know about the ongoing situation in Iraq. The hackers may have been attempting to gain access to to non-public information that these experts were privy to. Additionally, for these hackers, targeting a think tank might make more sense than targeting the U.S. government because the latter would be more sensitive to noticing a breach. As the Post notes, China’s risk exposure in Iraq is relatively large. Chinese state-owned enterprises and private investors have around $14.5 billion invested in Iraq. Furthermore, 8 percent of all Chinese crude oil imports originate in Iraqi oil fields. Given this, China has significant motive to navigate the ongoing crisis in Iraq with care.”

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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