China Caucus Blog

Posted by | November 24, 2015

Why Russia needs China to buy its weapons “The deal, announced last week by Russian defense conglomerate Rostec, makes China the first foreign contractor of the multi-role Sukhoi Su-35 (main picture), an upgraded and highly maneuverable fighter jet. While the deal has yet to be confirmed by Beijing, Russian daily newspaper Kommersant quoted Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov on November 19 as saying: "The protracted talks on Su-35 deliveries to China have ended. We have signed the contract." The agreement reportedly includes not only the supply of 24 jets to the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) for a total of $2 billion ($83 million per unit) but also the delivery of ground support equipment and reserve aircraft engines. The first batch of the planes, with the NATO reporting name Flanker-E, is expected to be delivered next year. Russian sales of advanced weapons to China, including modern combat aircraft, are not new. Indeed, throughout the post-Soviet period, China has been one of Russia's most important customers for arms exports. The Chinese have been purchasing systems, such as the Su-27 fighter jet, and advanced surface-to-air missiles, from Russia for over a decade. "The arms relationship serves both countries, as Russia has depended on foreign sales to maintain parts of its defense industrial base, and China, with a steadily growing military budget, has been in search of advanced weapons that Western nations are unwilling to sell it," David Ochmanek, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, told DW. What makes the latest deal particularly noteworthy, however, is that the Su-35 is one of Russia's most advanced military aircraft, and had not been previously sold to any foreign buyers. Until recently, Russia was actually quite reluctant to sell China the very most sophisticated of its weapons systems. James D. Brown, an expert on international affairs at Temple University's campus in Tokyo, explains that the reason behind this has been Moscow's concern that China would copy the technology and begin to produce its own rival weaponry which would then compete with Russian arms on world markets. "Many in the Russian defense industry had complained that this is what happened when Russia sold China the Su-27 fighter jet," said Brown. Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the Arms and Military Expenditure Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), has a similar view. He told DW that while China has imported significant numbers of weapons from Russia in recent years, it has also moved towards developing and producing its own advanced weapons, in part by copying Russian and sometimes Ukrainian technology or components such as engines for combat and other aircraft. The Chinese had been interested in purchasing the Su-35 for several years, with experts pointing to Beijing's particular interest in the aircraft's engine technology, an area in which China still lags behind.”

Why Did China's Navy Gain Use of a Malaysia Port Near the South China Sea? “Over the past few days, some alarmist reports have surfaced about Chinese navy receiving access to a Malaysian port near the South China Sea. As is the case with much sensationalist reporting, caution is warranted and perspective is needed. The brouhaha can be traced back to an agreement reached on November 10 between Admiral Wu Shengli, the commander of the People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLAN), and Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar who until last week was the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief. Wu was leading a goodwill visit by a 12-member Chinese military delegation to Malaysia as part of a broader three-nation visit which also included Indonesia and the Maldives. The trip itself was significant: as Abdul Aziz noted, it was the first ever-visit by a PLAN commander to Malaysia. Few specifics have been made publicly available about the pact itself. But Malaysian media reports indicate that an agreement was made by the two sides to give China stopover access to the port of Kota Kinabalu to strengthen defense ties between both countries. First, it is important to stress that this kind of port access is a pretty routine affair. In general, allowing a ship to dock at a port for a break to load or unload, obtain supplies, or undergo repairs is a fairly standard process. The idea of a Chinese ships at Kota Kinabalu is also not new. Back in August 2013, the Zhenghe, a PLAN training vessel, had already docked at the harbor in Kota Kinabalu to begin a five-day goodwill visit to the country. So, if anything, the agreement represents the formalization of access rather than some sort of groundbreaking entry. Second, such port access is not equivalent to basing rights, contrary to what some reports have suggested. An access agreement would allow the Chinese navy to dock for a break in Kota Kinabalu for the various reasons cited above – nothing more. Equating this as part of some Chinese ‘basing strategy’ is rather dubious. In addition to being out of step with Malaysian foreign policy which avoids too close of an alignment with any major power, it would also be a tad bit strange to allow a foreign country who has outstanding disputes with Malaysia to have a base there since Kota Kinabalu also houses Malaysia’s regional naval headquarters and the country’s submarine base (See: “Malaysia Eyes Submarine Base Expansion Near South China Sea”). Third, this port access is not something that has only been given to China. As Abdul Aziz, the then-Malaysian naval chief, emphasized to Malaysia’s national news agency Bernama, a number of other countries including the United States and France have already previously docked in the Malaysian port In fact, before conducting the recent U.S. freedom of navigation operation within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s controversial man-made islands in the South China Sea on October 27, the USS Lassen had docked in Kota Kinabalu for a regular port visit on October 19 after a routine South China Sea patrol. How, then, should we read Malaysia’s granting of port access to China? According to Abdul Aziz himself, the move was part of a broader effort to enhance defense relations between the two countries’ navies to “overcome problems and issues relating to overlapping border claims.” He was no doubt referring to the South China Sea disputes, in which both China and Malaysia are claimants.”

McCain to Obama: Sanction Chinese Hackers “The chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee said President Barack Obama should take a hard line on China over cyber espionage against the US, and that the ability of a Washington-Beijing cyber accord inked in September to curb hacking is unclear. Sen. John McCain, in two Nov. 18 letters, said he wants the White House to use tougher tools to combat foreign hackers. He and accused the administration of dawdling on a cyber deterrence strategy and blasted the administration for not taking advantage of its power to sanction China over a spate of recent cyber attacks. "This administration has so far refused to articulate a robust strategy to deter cyber attacks against the United States," McCain, R-Ariz., said in one of the letters. "Repeated attacks demonstrate the potential cost of a weak cyber strategy and the national security price we must pay for refusal to utilize available tools to deter further cyber attacks." In letters to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, McCain highlighted measures in the 2015 defense policy bills that grant the president new authorities to sanction individuals who benefit from cyber espionage — a potential deterrent against "the further theft of American economic, military, and political secrets," and "a more powerful tool than the symbolic steps this administration has taken to date." McCain also pointed to an executive order Obama signed April 1 in which the president asserted that he can sanction not only countries and corporations whose cyber activities threaten national security, but also individuals. "The theft of economic data means the United States is footing the bill for the research and development of our enemies to acquire tools to be used against us," McCain said. "And this will continue until our adversaries understand that attacking and pilfering the United States in cyberspace is no longer a low-cost endeavor, but instead will carry real consequences, in the form of sanctions or otherwise."”

US Cyber Command’s Veiled Threat: China ‘Vulnerable’ in Cyberspace “Speaking at this year’s Halifax Security Forum, the head of U.S. Cyber Command, who also is the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), Admiral Michael Rogers, issued a vicious warning to China should it not change its behavior in cyberspace. The U.S. admiral pointed out that China is as vulnerable to cyberattacks as any other nation, according to Defense News. “To my Chinese counterparts, I would remind them, increasingly you are as vulnerable as any other major industrialized nation state. The idea that you can somehow exist outside the broader global cyber challenges I don’t think is workable,” he said. By openly pointing to Chinese vulnerabilities, the admiral issued a veiled threat cautioning that China itself may be target of cyber intrusions in the future should Beijing not change its behavior in cyberspace, although Rogers cautioned: “None of us wants behavior on either side that ends up accelerating or precipitating a crisis. That’s in no one’s interests.” Despite the September 25 joint statements, issued in parallel by the Chinese government and the White House, on how to strengthen bilateral relations in cyberspace–the most positive development between the two countries in this field since the June 2013 Sunnylands summit—tensions between the two countries remain. As a result, the United States has increasingly toughened its stance vis-à-vis alleged Chinese state-sponsored cyberattacks. For example, in April 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing the first-ever sanctions program specifically designed to deter state-sponsored malicious activities in cyberspace on a strategic scale, declaring such activities a “national emergency.” In addition, already in March 2015, Admiral Mike Rogers said that the United States will step up its active cyber defense postures in order to deter attacks on U.S. critical information infrastructure. He emphasized that hackers will “pay a price” that “will far outweigh the benefit” should they target U.S. critical information infrastructure. Rogers’ remarks correspond with the Pentagon’s new cyber strategy, published in April 2015, which notes that “the U.S. military may conduct cyber operations to counter an imminent or on-going attack against the U.S. homeland or U.S. interests in cyberspace.” In July, the White House decided against publicly “naming and shaming” Chinese hackers despite convincing evidence that Beijing was behind cyberattacks on the networks of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that compromised personal information of more than 20 million former and current federal employees.”

S. China Sea feud highlights Japan-U.S. alliance, Asian partnerships “Traveling in the space of a week from Turkey to Southeast Asia in mid-November, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has painstakingly painted a picture of an ever stronger Japan-U.S. alliance and a tight network with Asian friends, at a time when U.S.-China rivalry is playing out in the hotly contested South China Sea. Defying China's objections to raising the South China Sea issue multilaterally, Abe expressed during a series of regional summits in Kuala Lumpur his "serious concerns" over massive land reclamation activities and building of outposts, and pointed to unilateral attempts to change the status quo at sea, in a veiled criticism of China's moves to fortify its territorial claims in the disputed waters. Beijing's muscle-flexing in the South China Sea, which is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and believed to be resource-rich, has highlighted the need for Japan and the United States to be more engaged in the Asian region, especially in light of Japan's new security laws, furthering their partnership in upholding freedom of navigation and the rule of law, Japanese officials said. "I want to create a network (with like-minded countries), with the Japan-U.S. alliance as the cornerstone, to ensure peace and stability" in the region, Abe was quoted by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko as saying in his talks with U.S. President Barack Obama in Manila. Pushing his policy of rebalancing Asia, Obama said he welcomes Japan's posture, which also includes further promoting ties with India and Australia, and said his meeting with Abe is a way to "examine how we can work with some of the regional organizations like ASEAN in order to maintain the stability that has been the hallmark of this region." In past years, Japan has been proactively promoting a foreign policy that maintains its alliance with the United States, while attaching increased importance to its engagement in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and with India and Australia, one of the officials said.”

Japan's defense minister meeting military leaders in Hawaii “Japan's defense minister is in Hawaii to meet with senior U.S. military officials for the first time since his country's parliament approved legislation loosening post-World War II constraints on its military. Defense Minister Gen Nakatani was scheduled to meet with U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris on Tuesday. The Pacific Command said Nakatani's discussions were expected to cover security in the region, including in the East and South China Seas. Ballistic missile defense was also on the agenda. Japan's parliament passed legislation in September allowing Tokyo's military to defend its allies even when the country isn't under attack. The law will enable Japan to work more closely with the U.S. and other nations. Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank, said the two allies need to determine how the law will work when it comes to operations. That's likely to be a topic of Nakatani's discussions in Hawaii, he said. "People are still curious as to what the two are going to be able to do together," Cossa said. Ballistic missile defense is one area where increased cooperation is expected. "With the new legislation, presumably now if the North Koreans shoot a missile toward Hawaii, and the Japanese detect it, they can shoot it down. Before they just had to just sort of wave to it as it went by," Cossa said. Japan has invested heavily in missile defenses since North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile over Japan's main island in 1998. Nakatani's schedule in Hawaii included a visit to the Sea-based X-band Radar — which is used to detect ballistic missiles — at Pearl Harbor. The new law would also allow Japan to help defend a U.S. ship under attack. The U.S. has long been able to help a Japanese ship in the same situation, but Japan's prohibitions against collective self-defense didn't allow the reverse. The legislation sparked protests and debate in Japan about whether Tokyo should shift away from its pacifist ways to face growing security challenges.”

China, Thailand joint air force exercise highlights warming ties “Thailand's military held an air show with China on Tuesday ahead of joint maneuvers in a sign of warming ties, but Thailand said it was not distancing itself from the United States which downgraded their military relationship following a 2014 coup. Five Thai and Chinese military planes performed aerobatic demonstrations for assembled media, flying some 3,000 feet (900 meters) above ground at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, around 260 km (161 miles) northeast of Bangkok. On Thursday and Friday, Chinese and Thai air forces will conduct their first joint exercises that China has said are aimed at increasing "mutual trust and friendship." Since a May 2014 coup, Thailand's military generals have sought to counterbalance the country's ties with Washington and launched a charm offensive toward their neighbor to the north. "Thailand has been pushing for this for quite some time," Air Marshal Bhanupong Seyayongka, director of operations for the Royal Thai Air Force, told Reuters. "We've been studying this plan for a long time." The U.S. was critical of the coup and downgraded joint military exercises and training with Thailand saying they would be restored once a general election is held. Recent deals between China and Thailand include a plan by Thailand's navy to buy submarines worth $1 billion from China and an ambitious project to build rail links from southern China through Laos to Thailand. Chinese tourism to Thailand is expected to be a record 7 million this year, up from 4.63 million last year, despite a deadly bomb attack at a major tourist spot in Bangkok in August. But senior Thai government officials say Thailand has not turned 180 degrees toward China, despite a chill in ties between Bangkok and Washington following the 2014 coup. Major-General Werachon Sukhondhapatipak, deputy government spokesman, said Thailand's foreign policy was to be friends with everyone, including the U.S.”

U.S. naval forces Korea's move to Busan gives 'day to day' collaboration with S. Korea: commander “The recent relocation to the southern port city of Busan by the United States' naval forces stationed in South Korea will enable them to collaborate daily with South Korean partners on issues like North Korea's emerging missile technologies, the forces' commander said. Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK), which maintains about 90 naval forces in South Korea, officially moved its home base on the first of July to inside the South Korean Navy's base in Busan along the southern coast. With 50 of them relocated to Busan, the majority of the remaining 40 forces will be moved to the southern city of Pyeongtaek under the U.S. Forces Korea's broader plan to relocate its bases in Seoul and its adjacent areas to an expanded hub base in Pyeongtaek next year. "The whole purpose of the move is for us to work side by side with our Republic of Korea navy partners," CNFK Commander Rear Adm. William Byrne said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Monday. He assumed the current position in August. "The fact that we are neighbors and that we work right across a street from one another increases the frequency of interactions so that we can plan and execute together," the rear admiral said. The proximity will also allow closer South Korea-U.S. cooperation in monitoring North Korea's development of nuclear or missiles capabilities, the commander noted. "Hand in hand with our ROK partners, we keep an eye on it (the North's developing capabilities), which makes it even more important that we work shoulder to shoulder," he said. "That is a good example of the value of the move from Seoul to Busan to be good neighbors."  Asked to assess the prospect of North Korea's nuclear or missile launch in the near future, he said "I don't want make any guesses on the intent of North Koreans ... but we watch it (North Korea) closely." North Korea has recently declared a no-sail zone in the East Sea area near Wonsan, effective from Nov. 11 to Dec. 7, sparking wild speculations over a possible test launch of Scud or ballistic missiles. "It's not highly unusual for us to see no-sail zone, which may be a part of operations or testing," Byrne said.”

South Korea stages live-fire drill near sea border “South Korea on Monday staged a major live-fire exercise near the disputed inter-Korean sea border despite North Korea's warning of possible "merciless" retaliation, military officials said. The drill was carried out around front-line islands in the Yellow Sea to mark the anniversary of North Korea's deadly shelling of one of them five years ago, the South's defence ministry said. The attack on Yeonpyeong Island on November 23, 2010 killed four South Koreans including two civilians and sparked brief fears of full-scale war. It was one of the most serious border incidents since the 1950-1953 Korean War. South Korea has in the past staged live-fire exercises near the Yellow Sea border around the time of the anniversary as a show of strength. On Sunday North Korea's military threatened to retaliate "mercilessly" if South Korean artillery shells fall into North Korean waters. Pyongyang, known for its habitual warnings of attacks on the South, rarely follows through with such threats. Seoul declined to disclose details of its drill but vowed to hit back immediately if North Korea launches any provocations. "I want our military to build up a perfect combat-readiness posture so they can deal with any kind of threat or provocation without hesitation," President Park Geun-Hye said in a video message at a ceremony marking the anniversary. The ceremony at a war memorial in Seoul was attended by thousands of government officials, soldiers and others. The two Koreas will on Thursday hold rare talks aimed at setting up a high-level dialogue that might provide the foundation for a sustainable improvement in relations.”

China’s alarming behavior “Missing from Lawrence Summers’s Nov. 9 op-ed column, “The reality of China’s rise,” was discussion of choices China must make beyond the economic realm. Its behavior has raised security alarms: its military buildup, threats of force against Taiwan, sweeping maritime claims and aggressive actions in the East and South China seas, and support for regimes hostile to the West. China’s economic growth has fueled its military objectives, and the military buildup has served its economic expansion. The “mount[ing] global threats” China now poses evoke Imperial Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in the 1930s and 1940s. The world has come to a darker view of China’s rise belatedly and reluctantly and only after China’s economic success revealed a latent and aggressive anti-Western animus. The Communist Party’s worldview sees the West as its natural ideological enemy, even when democracies swallow their moral antipathy to dictatorships for the sake of mutual economic gain and “strategic cooperation” on issues such as North Korea’s nuclear program. Forty years of engagement were premised on helping China “succeed economically as a support for global prosperity and a driver of positive social and political change.” Those hopes have not been realized. Now the West must contain and confront China’s aggressive policies, which are backed by the military capabilities we unwisely helped it develop.”


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 

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Posted by | November 23, 2015

Report: 2015 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Report

Next US Navy South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation: Mischief Reef “The U.S. Navy may be gearing up for its second freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island. Bill Gertz, at the Washington Free Beacon, citing U.S. officials with knowledge of matter, reports that two U.S. Navy warships will sail within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef. The operation is expected to take place in “several weeks.” The U.S. Navy carried out its first freedom of navigation operation within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island on October 27, when an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the USS Lassen, sailed past Subi Reef. The choice of Mischief Reef for a second freedom of navigation operation makes sense and should help the Obama administration assert that it does not recognize any territorial sea claim around these features in the Spratly Islands. As I wrote recently, the October 27 operation left matters ambiguous, causing considerable disagreement among many well-informed South China Sea experts about what precisely the United States asserted with its freedom of navigation operation there. The United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) determines the conditions under which certain features generated maritime entitlements, including 12 nautical mile territorial seas and 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zones. The United States’ policy is to take no position on the sovereignty of individual features in the South China Sea, but to categorically reject excessive maritime claims stemming from those features. Complicating matters further, China has, to date, refused to clearly state what it claims around its occupied features in the South China Sea. It has referred to the airspace and waters around its artificial islands as a “military alert zone,” a term that has no precise meaning in international law. (This is in addition to its already ambiguous nine-dashed line claim, which encompasses around 90 percent of the South China Sea.) Of the seven features where China has been carrying out extensive land reclamation and construction activities, only Subi and Mischief Reefs were wholly submerged at high tide, giving them no entitlement to a territorial sea under UNCLOS. Additionally, under UNCLOS, artificial islands receive no special consideration and their legal entitlements are set by their pre-enhancement status; China’s artificial islands are entitled to a 500 meter safety zone, similar to what oil rigs in international waters would receive. Mischief Reef, in particular, is also an interesting freedom of navigation operation target for other reasons. First, it is, by far, the largest and most developed of the seven features where China has been carrying out construction activities. China has reclaimed 5,580,000 square meters of land at Mischief Reef, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. Mischief Reef has a natural lagoon, which suggests it may be repurposed into an important naval logistics facility for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy. Crucially, unlike Subi Reef, which has other South China Sea features within 12 nautical miles, no South China Sea features fall within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef.”

Malaysia to allow PLA navy use of strategic port “Malaysia has agreed to allow the Chinese navy the use of the strategic port of Kota Kinabalu on north-east Borneo, close to the disputed Spratly Islands, despite its own reservations about Beijing's activities in the South China Sea. China has yet to indicate when it might begin docking there. Kuala Lumpur made the offer in order to maintain a neutral position as tensions simmer over territorial disputes in the resource-rich waters, through which US$5 trillion (S$7.1 trillion) of the world's trade passes each year. The agreement between the People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy and its Malaysian counterpart, struck on Nov 10, comes just weeks after a United States warship stopped at Kota Kinabalu after conducting a patrol just 12 nautical miles off the Subi Reef. The reef was one of several sites where China has conducted reclamation and building works despite the overlapping territorial claims that it has with several South-east Asian countries as well as Taiwan in the area.”

U.S. senators urge Obama to address arms sales to Taiwan “Two heavyweight United States senators have urged U.S. President Barack Obama to address American arms sales to Taiwan even if doing so brings "short-term tensions" to U.S.-China relations. Republican John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said America's long-standing commitment to Taiwan is a multifaceted and bipartisan effort that includes many components, all of which must be exercised as the two U.S. senators seek to support and safeguard the ability of the people of Taiwan to determine their own future. "One critical component is U.S. security assistance and arms sales to Taiwan to help modernize and build the capacity of its armed forces. We believe this support must be more robust," they wrote in a letter to Obama on Nov. 19. "While recent relations between Taiwan and China have been more encouraging, we remain concerned that China's ongoing military modernization, and the threat it poses to peace and security in the Taiwan Strait, is not being adequately addressed," the senators said. McCain and Cardin said they recognize that a great deal of bilateral security cooperation is taking place between the U.S. and Taiwan, including more than US$12 billion worth of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan since the start of the Obama's administration. While these actions have been welcome, McCain and Cardin said they are troubled that it has now been over four years -- the longest period since the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 -- since the Obama administration has notified U.S. Congress of a new arms sale package.”

China warning Taiwan voters on independence “The United States and Europe have spent the last week focused on Islamic State, but the possibility of conflict between China and Taiwan is far more dangerous to the world’s security. An important development took place Nov. 7, when Chinese President Xi Jinping met for a historic summit with Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou. The meeting has been variously interpreted. But the best read is that it was a warning from China to Taiwanese voters not to move toward independence. That’s particularly worrisome, because Ma’s nationalist Kuomintang Party (KMT) is widely expected to lose upcoming elections to the independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Although China and Taiwan have deep trade ties, this was the first public encounter between the leaders of the two countries since Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek met for talks in 1945. It wa therefore calculated on both sides to have maximum public effect. And it matters, in symbolic political terms at least, that Xi is the heir to Mao’s leadership of the Communist Party while Ma is head of Chiang’s KMT. It’s also crucial to understand that while Xi has already consolidated power more than any Chinese leader in 30 years, Ma’s star is on the wane — and the fortunes of the KMT are declining in tandem. Ma isn’t running for a third term, and KMT candidates have been struggling in opinion polls when paired against DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen. In mid-October, with its candidate polling under 16 percent to Ing-wen’s nearly 47 percent, the KMT switched horses, choosing Eric Chu as its new candidate. But a poll later in the month showed Chu’s numbers pretty close to those of his predecessor. And November’s polling has him improving by only a few points. The presidential election is Jan. 16. A big part of KMT’s struggles is the appeal of Tsai. Taiwan’s answer to Elizabeth Warren, Tsai is a sophisticated, progressive former law professor with graduate degrees from Cornell University and the London School of Economics. In the 2012 election, she won 45.6 percent of the vote to Ma’s 51.6 percent — impressive for her first national campaign. In local elections a year ago, she led the party to unprecedented success. If elected, she will be the first female president of Taiwan.”

Quietly, Guam is slated to become massive new U.S. military base “Thousands of Marines will land on this island sometime in the next few years, and their first steps will fall on a sturdy-as-granite pier in a sheltered Pacific harbor newly rebuilt to carry wave after wave of tank-driving troops. “We’re ready for them,” said Cmdr. David Ellis, the executive officer at a Navy base that’s been swelling with military construction projects to prepare for the new troops. What’s less certain is what the Marines will do when they get here. This U.S. territory in the Western Pacific, long a way station for passing jets and submarines, is about to become a hub for a force of 4,800 Marines who’ll be charged with readying for war and disasters in East Asia. The trouble is the Pentagon has not yet persuaded two nearby islands to accept a proposal that would give the Marines a space to train during their Pacific patrols. And some are suggesting, subtly, that it may be difficult to station so many military service members on Guam if they cannot train nearby. On one island, Tinian, a Marine plan to practice ground maneuvers is setting off fears that the sounds of mortars and rocket blasts will quash a budding Chinese-backed tourism-casino industry. The companies behind the casinos have been hinting they’d pull out if the Marine proposal becomes a reality. On the other, Pagan, a proposal to make a massive international military training zone on an island known for its namesake volcano is hitting a nerve among people who dream of returning to it three decades after an eruption forced their evacuation. Both islands are governed by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a separate U.S. territory that revealed its concerns when it hired an attorney known for fighting Pentagon plans in the Pacific. “Having a place to fire cannons and practice obviously is essential, but this just isn’t the right place,” said Nick Yost, the San Francisco attorney hired by the commonwealth. It’s another clash in the Defense Department’s campaign to find new places for the U.S. and its allies to practice military exercises near the scene of brewing conflicts in East Asia. They’re drawn to Guam and the Mariana Islands because they’re American territories that would offer reliable space without worries of a foreign government suddenly revoking a partnership with the U.S. military. That’s been a concern for military planners since the Philippine government booted the Navy from its base at Subic Bay in 1992. In Guam and the Marianas, the Defense Department wants to create a space for large-scale exercises involving every branch of the American military and its Pacific allies. It would be adjacent to the Navy’s underwater training range in the Mariana trench, providing a rare location for the military to integrate sea and land warfare. It also would help the military draw down its ranks on the Japanese island of Okinawa, where a dense concentration of Marine bases has motivated popular public protests for decades. Japan, which hosts most of the troops who would be sent to Guam, is paying for more than a third of the estimated $8.7 billion cost of creating the new Marine facilities. Japan likely would participate in joint exercises if the training grounds are built, and Marines on Guam would be expected to respond to a disaster in Japan, 1,400 miles to the west.”

Japan Backs US South China Sea Operations “Japan on Sunday backed the United States sailing warships close to disputed land in the South China Sea but said it had no plans to send its own maritime forces to support the operation. Last month Washington infuriated Beijing when the USS Lassen guided missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of at least one land formation claimed by China in the disputed Spratly Islands chain. Chinese authorities monitored and warned away the vessel, but did not otherwise intervene, although Beijing later summoned the US ambassador and denounced what it called a threat to its sovereignty. Reports last week said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Manila he would consider sending his country's ships to back up American operations in the area. But Defense Minister Gen Nakatani played down the suggestion after bilateral meetings with Australian counterpart Marise Payne and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Sydney. "We have actively been trying to contribute to stability in the region but as far as we are concerned there is no plan to be a part of the freedom of navigation operation of the United States," he said. "At the US-Japan summit (in Manila), I believe Prime Minister Abe conveyed this stance to President Obama." Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida appeared less decisive, saying "nothing has been decided yet, no decision has been taken." "The international community must work in concert to respond to the situation," he said, speaking immediately before Nakatani. "For the US, conducting operations to ensure the freedom of navigation, this is strictly based on international law ... and Japan is supporting the US in this regard."”

China 'Vulnerable' in Cyberspace, US Cyber Chief Warns “The head of US Cyber Command said China is as vulnerable to cyber attacks as any other nation, offering a veiled suggestion that further malicious hacks by the Chinese could result in reprisals in the cyber realm. Speaking Saturday at the Halifax Security Forum, National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers, who also heads US Cyber Command, hinted that China might find itself the target of unwelcome cyber intrusions. “To my Chinese counterparts, I would remind them, increasingly you are as vulnerable as any other major industrialized nation state. The idea that you can somehow exist outside the broader global cyber challenges I don’t think is workable,” Rogers said. China uses state capabilities to hack private companies and steal intellectual property, then shares the stolen information with Chinese companies, something the US doesn’t do, he said. As head of the NSA, Rogers tries to learn what he can about foreign capabilities, but he doesn’t turn around and share them with Boeing or Lockheed Martin, he said. “None of us wants behavior on either side that ends up accelerating or precipitating a crisis. That’s in no one’s interests,” he said. Adm. Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command, also served notice that the US will continue its decades-long practice of navigating international waters, even as China continues to build what he termed its “Great Wall of Sand” on artificial islands in disputed waters in the South China Sea. “We will not simply agree to disagree with destabilizing actions taken by China. That’s why the United States will continue to sail, fly and operate anywhere international law allows. The South China Sea is not and will not be an exception,” Harris said. “There is one global standard for freedom of navigation, not a double standard where China can fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows while other nations cannot. International seas and airspace belong to everyone, and not the dominion of any single nation.””

Beijing Says Military Facilities in the South China Sea Are Needed for China’s Defense “Regional tensions have escalated over the matter of the islands, located in waters also claimed by several smaller Aoutheast Asian nations, including the Philippines and Vietnam. Despite calls from President Barack Obama and other leaders to cease the land-reclamation exercises, the BBC reports that China says it will “expand and upgrade” facilities — which at present include airstrips of unclear purpose — on the islands. “Building and maintaining necessary military facilities, this is what is required for China’s national defense and for the protection of those islands and reefs,” Bloomberg quoted Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin as saying during a briefing on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, where global leaders had gathered for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). However, he also said: “One should never link such military facilities with efforts to militarize the islands and reefs and militarize the South China Sea.” Liu’s comments echo those of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who, at a meeting with Obama in late September, publicly pledged to not “militarize” the islands. “It is new language,” Bonnie Glaser, an expert on China’s military, told the Wall Street Journal at the time, saying it was “unclear” what was meant by militarization and asking if it meant “no fighters using the airstrips? No deployment of missiles?”

The Men and Women Who Fight China’s Shadowy ‘Anti-Terrorist’ War “In the aftermath of the Paris ISIS attacks, the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai lit up in blue, white and red, to mark the French tricolor. It was a heartfelt symbol in a metropolis that was once dubbed the Paris of the East—and the light display quickly provoked Chinese social media chatter as to why similar memorials were not made when Muslim assailants slaughtered innocent Chinese over the past couple years. The most notable of those was a rampage at a train station in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming last year, in which around 30 people were slashed to death by cleavers and others knives, and a bomb and car attack at a food market in the northwestern city of Urumqi, in which an equal number of civilians perished. Soon after the Paris horror, China’s President Xi Jinping gave global import to the violence emanating from Xinjiang, a largely Muslim territory in northwestern China that has long chafed under Beijing’s rule. “China is also a victim of terrorism,” said Xi, blaming a group called the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for unleashing terror in China. Uighurs, a Turkic ethnicity native to Xinjiang, have long complained of repression at the hands of China’s ethnic Han majority. In the early 20th century, Uighurs proclaimed an independent republic called East Turkestan but, like Tibet to its south, the vast region was absorbed into the People’s Republic. Beijing maintains that Xinjiang—which is now China’s largest region by geography, rich in natural resources and still famed for its Silk Road history—was long part of the Chinese orbit. Still, in recent years, Uighur separatists have stepped up attacks on symbols of the state, such as police stations and military barracks. In a chilling escalation of bloodshed, militants have also massacred ordinary Chinese congregating in public places. Hundreds of people have been killed over the past couple of years. But one reason for the understated public mourning for any Xinjiang-related violence is that news of attacks is often incomplete, delayed and politically fraught. Case in point: on Nov. 20, Tianshan Net, a state media organization that covers Xinjiang, published an online report detailing how an anti-terrorist team spent 56 days tracking members of “violent mobs” who had slaughtered 11 people—many of them migrant Han coal miners—in the remote south Xinjiang region of Aksu. The Tianshan report said that paramilitary forces had killed 28 “terrorists,” as part of their manhunt. Yet no news of the actual Sept. 18 attack appeared in Chinese state media until two months after the bloodshed.”

Japan is using South China Sea tensions to peddle military hardware in Asia “Last year Japan lifted a decades-long ban on military exports, part of a loosening of restrictions on its military power that were put in place after its World War Two defeat. Now, as Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, and Hitachi market their military offerings, one area of geopolitical tension is serving as a particularly effective selling point: the South China Sea. This weekend Japan’s foreign and defense ministers reiterated concerns about China’s strengthening position in the South China Sea as they pressed the case, according to Bloomberg, for their Australian counterparts to buy a new generation of submarines made by Japanese defense contractors. Defense minister Gen Nakatani sought to cast the bid in the context of freedom of the seas. “Both of our nations are maritime nations and we have a key interest in freedom of navigation,” he said on Sunday (Nov. 22), according to Bloomberg. And last week Japan broadly agreed to transfer defense equipment and technology to the Philippines, which has been the most vocal opponent of Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, even taking up a case with an international tribunal in the Netherlands. Beijing claims nearly all of the sea as its own territory, citing a “nine-dash line” that China drew up at the end of World War Two. That claim is considered outrageous by various Asian nations that have conflicting claims, and by the US, which has long viewed the sea—a vital trade route—as international waters. To bolster its claim, China has been busy building artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago, complete with a runway, helipad, and lighthouse. To counter Beijing’s assertiveness, the US has been conducting “right of navigation” exercises in the South China Sea. Since late October it’s sent a warship and B52 bombers near China’s artificial islands. Japan has not joined in such operations. “With regard to activity by the Self-Defense Forces in the South China Sea, I will consider it while focusing on what effect the situation has on Japan’s security,” Japanese prime minister told Shinzo Abe told US president Barack Obama last week, according to Bloomberg. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga was quick to note Abe’s comments did not indicate an actual change in policy, and that Japan is not currently planning to take part in US operations. But Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the UK have all expressed interest in Japan’s military hardware, and there is already a deal pending with India.”

China says won't cease building on South China Sea isles “China said on Sunday it will continue to build military and civilian facilities on its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea and the United States was testing it by sending warships through the area. "Building and maintaining necessary military facilities, this is what is required for China's national defense and for the protection of those islands and reefs," Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur. China planned to "expand and upgrade" the civilian facilities on the islands "to better serve commercial ships, fishermen, to help distressed vessels and provide more public services", Liu said, adding that China rejects the notion that it is militarizing the South China Sea. He said China has mostly built civilian facilities. Liu's comments at the annual East Asia Summit, this year hosted by Kuala Lumpur, were some of the most forceful explanations that China has given regarding its position on the South China Sea. Washington was testing Beijing with its insistence on "freedom of navigation" patrols in the strategic waterway, Liu said. China, which claims almost the entire energy-rich South China Sea, has been transforming reefs into artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago and building airfields and other facilities on some of them. That has prompted concerns in Washington and across the region that Beijing is trying to militarize its claims in the South China Sea. Earlier this month, U.S. B-52 bombers flew near some of the islands, signaling Washington's determination to challenge Beijing's claim. At the end of October, the USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed around one of them. "This time, in a very high profile manner, the U.S. sent military vessels within 12 nautical miles of China's islands and reefs," Liu said. "This has gone beyond the scope of freedom of navigation. It is a political provocation and the purpose is to test China's response." Obama on Saturday called on countries to stop building artificial islands and militarizing their claims and said the United States would continue to assert its freedom of navigation rights in the sea.”

Japan Renews South China Sea Alert, Pushes Aussies on Submarines “Japan’s foreign and defense ministers reiterated concerns about China’s strengthening position in the South China Sea in meetings with their Australian counterparts and pressed the case for Japanese companies to build new generation submarines Down Under. “China is increasing its activities,” Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters in Sydney at the conclusion of the so-called two-plus-two meeting with Australia on Sunday. “To accommodate or condone the current situation, we cannot accept -- we need to ensure the rule of law and freedom of navigation,” he said via a translator. China claims more than 80 percent of the South China Sea based on a nine-dash line drawn on a 1947 map for which it gives no precise coordinates, an assertion that has led to complaints from other claimant states. Under President Xi Jinping, the country has stepped up efforts to assert control of the waters, including building islands that offer possible bases for its ships and planes. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop reiterated Australia’s position that while it doesn’t take sides on the various claims of surrounding nations, it urges “all claimants to settle any disputes pursuant to international law and in accordance with a rules-based international order.” China considers more than 80% of the South China Sea its sovereign territory. Its construction of seven artificial islands in the Sea has raised tensions in a region with overlapping territorial and economic interests.”

India Adds New Anti-Submarine Warfare Planes To Navy “India has added eight Boeing P-81 Poseidon planes to its naval fleet this month. The planes will be housed at the Rajali Naval Air Station and are classified as the Indian Naval Air Squadron 312-A unit. The India-U.S. Boeing deal dates back to January 2009, when India became the first country to purchase the Boeing P-81 aircraft from the United States. The initial contract governed the sale of eight planes, to be delivered over time, and the deal amounted to $2.1 billion. The first of the eight Boeing P-81 planes reached India on May 15, 2013. Since then, the remaining planes have been delivered in graduated milestones, with both sides confirmed that 2015 would witness the delivery of the final two planes. The Indian Navy confirms that all eight of its newest planes are presently functional and have been officially added to the Indian Navy’s fleet. Following the addition of the most recent P-81, the Indian Navy released a press statement stating that the P-81 Poseidon “is equipped for long range anti-submarine warfare, anti -surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of broad area, maritime and littoral operations. Its communication and sensor suite includes indigenous equipment (…)” India is the first international buyer of the P-81 aircraft. The Poseidon was created by Boeing to replace the U.S. Navy’s more traditional P-3 fleet. Inked on January 01, 2009, the contract has served to strengthen defence ties between India and the United States. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar signed an updated defense cooperation framework agreement in May 2015, extending the alliance between the two states for another ten years. The United States has surpassed Russia and is now India’s largest supplier of defense equipment.”

China and rebalancing the world order: a view from Southeast Asia “The Xi-Ma summit in Singapore was a well-kept secret. When the historic meeting finally took place for the first time on 7 November 2015, the effect was cataclysmic. While it was an unprecedented bilateral event between two political rivals, China and Taiwan, there was a broader message: As China’s new leader, President Xi Jinping has a vision of the emerging Asian giant taking its place in the modern world, even influencing the shape of the global order. This will begin with its own backyard – the Asia-Pacific, including Southeast Asia. In thawing with Taiwan, Xi is signalling he is prepared to take untrodden paths, through mutual accommodation, at a time when Beijing is realising that its rapid rise is beginning to generate widespread regional unease. Beijing is now softening its image to defuse tension and resistance, even as it controversially asserts itself on key strategic issues, the latest of which is its territorial claims in the South China Sea. On the broader canvas, what Southeast Asia is witnessing is a new China, one that is more assertive, employing a three-pronged strategy – diplomacy, growing economic might, and military muscle. All the major global platforms are being exploited, from the United Nations to regional forums – even initiating new ones, such as the Xiangshan Forum to rival the Singapore-based Shangri-La Dialogue. The priority now is clearly Beijing’s Asia-Pacific neighbourhood, the emerging epicentre of the 21st century world. It is against this backdrop that we should view Xi’s latest diplomatic foray into Southeast Asia, beginning with his recent visit to Vietnam and then to Singapore, on his way to this past week’s crucial regional summits – for APEC in Manila and the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Kuala Lumpur – where China was the player to watch. Xi’s latest strategic push appears to have two inter-related objectives: The first is to counter what Beijing sees as a developing containment by the United States, which most in the region see as provoked by Beijing’s highly controversial territorial claims in the South China Sea. Equally alarming is Beijing’s building of artificial islands on reefs in disputed waters. The second, broader objective is to expand China’s political, diplomatic, and economic space through the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. At the global strategic level, OBOR forms part of China’s counter-response aimed at rebalancing a US-dominated world order. OBOR revives the ancient silk routes with a 21st century twist – the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) in a westward overland link towards Central Asia and Europe; and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR), passing through the South China Sea to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. There are two significant features of OBOR to note – the first is the strategic role of Southeast Asia and the South China Sea; the second is the conspicuous lack of connectivity with the Americas. Xi’s first major diplomatic engagement was the APEC Summit where the battle is to reorder the global international trading and economic system. At issue is the tussle between the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its rival China-dominated Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The thing to watch is whether Xi repositioned the RCEP as a complement, rather than a competitor, to the TPP so that APEC’s ultimate goal of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) can be realised. It is a sign of the times that FTAAP, long an APEC goal, has been co-opted by China as its own vision when Beijing hosted the APEC Summit last year. Following the APEC Leaders’ Meeting (18-19 Nov) in Manila, the power game shifts to Kuala Lumpur for the crucial ASEAN-China Summit, and then the EAS involving also the US and other powers where a key agenda will unavoidably be the South China Sea.”


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 

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Posted by | November 20, 2015

Analyst: China Expansion Fueled By Perception Of U.S. Military Weakness “China’s attempted territorial expansion in the South China Sea is fueled by a belief that the United States is no longer the superior military force in the region, not by China’s economic growth, a conservative foreign policy analyst said Nov. 19. “You wouldn’t see China building islands if the United States had anywhere near the fleet it needs,” John Bolton, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for former President George W. Bush, said at the American Enterprise Institution (AEI). That perception of military weakness creates “the increasing risk of inadvertent crisis,” and the next president will have “the difficult task of rebuilding the structure of deterrence” in the Asia-Pacific region, Bolton said during a forum on the U.S.-China balance of powers. Speaking at the same forum, Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, agreed the United States needs a “significant increase” in defense spending, but emphasized that “we have an incredible number of allies in region. Most still look to the United States as the key country in the region.” Sullivan recalled that during a recent meeting in Singapore of other Senate Armed Services Committee members with senior regional officials, “it occurred to me that the rise of China, the island building, was not creating some gravitational pull toward China by countries in the region, but a pull toward the United States.” He cited not only the traditional allies, such as Japan, South Korea and Australia, but countries previously not considered close partners, such as Vietnam and Indonesia. “We do have allies in the region looking to us,” he said. Although the Obama administration has “no long-term strategy” in the region, Sullivan said, “we do have the capacity to put forward a long-term strategy. We need to do that.” Sullivan also noted the allied support for the movement of U.S. forces in Pacific, including the permanent move of Marines from Okinawa to Guam and the rotational deployments to Australia. “There is an enormous amount of work” underway in Guam and on Okinawa, where he had served as a young Marine officer. Of the estimated $38 billion cost for the U.S. relocation and improvements in the region, $31 billion is being paid by Japan and South Korean, he said. “Our critical allies in the region are stepping up.” That support is counter to the overall loss of credibility in foreign affairs the United States faces in the rest of the world, Sullivan said. Bolton said he agreed with Sullivan on the important role of our allies in the Pacific region, which he called “a classic offshore balancing” strategy. Bolton, a foreign policy advisor at AEI, also said there is “a credibility problem in the international community in this administration, which will only get worse.” He sharply disputed the prevailing view in the Obama administration and in the US business community that “China is pursuing a peaceful rise and will be a responsible player.””

China Is Trying to Warn Taiwan Voters “The U.S. and Europe have spent the last week focused on Islamic State, but the possibility of conflict between China and Taiwan is far more dangerous to the world’s security. An important development took place Nov. 7, when Chinese President Xi Jinping met for a historic summit with Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou. The meeting has been variously interpreted. But the best read is that it was a warning from China to Taiwanese voters not to move toward independence. That's particularly worrisome, because Ma’s nationalist Kuomintang Party (KMT) is widely expected to lose upcoming elections to the independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Although China and Taiwan have deep trade ties, this was the first public encounter between the leaders of the two countries since Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek met for talks in 1945. It was therefore calculated on both sides to have maximum public effect. And it matters, in symbolic political terms at least, that Xi is the heir to Mao's leadership of the Communist Party while Ma is head of Chiang's KMT. It's also crucial to understand that while Xi has already consolidated power more than any Chinese leader in 30 years, Ma’s star is on the wane -- and the fortunes of the KMT are declining in tandem. Ma isn’t running for a third term, and KMT candidates have been struggling in opinion polls when paired against DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen. In mid-October, with its candidate polling under 16 percent to Ing-wen’s nearly 47 percent, the KMT switched horses, choosing Eric Chu as its new candidate. But a poll later in the month showed Chu’s numbers pretty close to those of his predecessor. And November's polling has him improving by only a few points. The presidential election is Jan. 16. A big part of KMT's struggles is the appeal of Tsai. Taiwan's answer to Elizabeth Warren, Tsai is a sophisticated, progressive former law professor with graduate degrees from Cornell University and the London School of Economics. In the 2012 election, she won 45.6 percent of the vote to Ma’s 51.6 percent -- impressive for her first national campaign. In local elections a year ago, she led the party to unprecedented success. If elected, she will be the first female president of Taiwan.”

China Is Angling for a Strategic Outpost on the Horn of Africa “In an ongoing effort to expand its global reach, China is looking to establish an outpost in the tiny nation of Djibouti, strategically located on the Horn of Africa. In the geopolitical world, this latest development falls into the category of big things coming in small packages, and as usual, it raises questions about the nature of China's expansion.  "At the same time that China is a coastal power, it is moving outward," said Bonnie Glaser, a senior advisor for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It is essentially developing a more active global presence, although its primary focus is still to deter threats that are closer to China." That line of thinking was articulated in a defense policy white paper released by the People's Liberation Army in May, outlining policies that, while not exactly new, were newly put to paper. According to the report, China plans to "gradually shift its focus from 'offshore waters defense' to the combination of 'offshore waters defense' with 'open seas protection.' " The news of the possible outpost follows a recent visit to Djibouti by People's Liberation Army Chief of Staff General Fang Fenghui. Nevertheless, China is insisting that its interest not be misinterpreted as a sign of military expansion. China does have a considerable commercial presence in Africa that it needs to protect, and Djibouti is already a major hub for military options. Not only does the country host the French military, it's home to the US military's headquarters for operations throughout East Africa — counter-piracy and the ongoing fight against al Shabaab in Somalia. The nation also sits on the Bab-el-Mandeb straights, just across from a rapidly disintegrating Yemen. This outpost would be China's first foray into the Indian Ocean, the means by which China can get access to East Africa.”

China outlines priority areas for civil-military integration “China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) - the government agency that oversees the development of the country's defence industry - has issued a new directory to local companies intended to spur greater civil-military integration (CMI) in the country. According to a 19 November statement by the MIIT's State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), the 2015 directory aims to "broaden the channels for CMI resource sharing, promote CMI depth, and upgrade and transform industry". SASTIND said the directory, which has not been publicly released, outlines the priority areas for CMI, the concept for which is centred on encouraging the defence industry to source from the commercial sector technologies, techniques and competencies that can be applied in military programmes.”

Japan to mull SDF dispatch to S. China Sea: Abe “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday that Tokyo will consider dispatching its Self-Defense Forces to the South China Sea while examining the impact of the situation there on its own security, a Japanese official said, as Japan and the United States discuss cooperating to defuse tensions in those waters.  In step with the United States, Japan's close ally, on the South China Sea row, Abe said during his meeting with Obama on the fringes of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Manila, "I am opposed to all unilateral attempts to change the status quo and escalate tensions." Abe expressed "concerns" over the escalation of the situation in the South China Sea, in light of China's land reclamation work in the disputed Spratly Islands, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said in a briefing after the longer-than-expected Abe-Obama meeting.  At the beginning of the meeting that lasted more than one hour, Obama said he and Abe "share an interest in continuing to foster rule of law and supporting international norms in areas like freedom of navigation and maritime law." Seko said Abe also expressed "support" for the passage late last month of a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built by Beijing in the South China Sea, where competing territorial claims are laid among China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. After the USS Lassen sailed in the area, China expressed "resolute opposition" to moves that threaten Chinese sovereignty. Keen to play a vital role in maintaining security in the Asia-Pacific region, the United States has said it will continue its freedom-of-navigation operations.”

China's navy 'restrained' facing U.S. provocations: admiral “China's top admiral said his forces have shown "enormous restraint" in the face of U.S. provocations in the South China Sea, while warning they stand ready to respond to repeated breaches of Chinese sovereignty. Beijing, which claims almost the entire energy-rich South China Sea through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes yearly, has stepped up a program of land reclamation and construction in disputed islands and reefs there that has sparked concern in the Asia-Pacific region. The United States has called for a halt to China's artificial island building, and in recent weeks has tried to signal its determination to challenge Beijing over the disputed sea by sending military ships and planes near the islands. "The Chinese navy has closely monitored the provocative actions of the United States and issued several warnings, while exercising enormous restraint in the interests of safeguarding the overall situation in bilateral relations," said Wu Shengli, commander of the People's Liberation Army Navy, according to a report on the defense ministry's website late on Thursday. "If the United States carries out repeated provocations despite China's opposition, we have the ability to defend our national sovereignty and security." Wu made the comments in a meeting in Beijing on Thursday with Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the United States' Pacific fleet, the report said. Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also claim parts of the South China Sea. China's Defence Ministry said on Friday that the navy had recently carried out anti-submarine drills in the South China Sea, with submarines, warships and ship-born helicopters. State television showed warships conducting live-fire drills and troops deploying from amphibious vehicles on to beaches. It did not say when the exercises happened, nor where exactly. Such drills are not uncommon.”

China building its own uncrackable smartphone “China is seeking to construct its own uncrackable smartphones in an attempt to evade U.S. surveillance programs, The Wall Street Journal reported.The effort is part of the Asian power’s efforts to develop homegrown technology to replace foreign products. The majority of the smartphone operating systems and processors in China rely on either Apple or Google technology. Hackers frequently infiltrate phones through these components, and China fears that American companies are compromised by U.S. intelligence agencies. In response, Beijing and leading Chinese tech firms are working together to build a secure smartphone for government officials that relies on a domestically built operating system and processor chip, according to the Journal. The efforts include smartphone maker ZTE, chip-design company Spreadtrum Communications and e-commerce giant Alibaba, which last year had its initial public offering on the U.S. stock market. The goal is to build a phone for government agencies and state-owned enterprises that keeps out foreign cyber spies. China has stepped up its work on protecting data from American intelligence agencies since government leaker Edward Snowden revealed a number of clandestine U.S. surveillance programs. Technology experts and U.S. lawmakers have accused Beijing of striking back with its own digital espionage campaign targeting U.S. government agencies and private businesses. In particular, Chinese hackers are suspected in the devastating hacks this summer at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which exposed the personal information of more than 20 million people involved in federal background checks. It’s thought to be the most extensive government data breach of all time. But China has also worried that its reliance on American technology leaves it vulnerable to hackers. The country lags in the development of microchips and has been making aggressive moves in recent months to catch up.”

China is officially honoring a reformer today whose death sparked the Tiananmen Square protests “Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hu Yaobang, the reformist Chinese official whose death triggered the wave of student protests in Tiananmen Square that ended in the deadly June 4, 1989 crackdown. Rather than ignoring the occasion, though, China is officially remembering Hu with speeches and symposiums. China’s president and general secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping attended an official commemoration (link in Chinese) for Hu at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing today as he returned to the capital Thursday (Nov. 19) after attending the APEC summit in the Philippines. Although Hu now commands respect from the highest level of government, the party earlier condemned him for tolerating “bourgeois liberalization.” His legacy on economic reforms and anti-corruption are in tune with Xi Jinping’s own. But as a liberal and non-dogmatic leader, Hu is hardly a perfect political symbol for Xi’s government to promote, as it continues to exert tight controls on ideology and freedom of speech. This contradiction is reflected in how the party has spoken of him since he was forced to resign from the position of general secretary in 1987. After having clashes with Deng Xiaoping and other Party elders on economic and political reforms, Hu’s political opponents claimed Hu’s “laxness” and “bourgeois liberalization” led to and worsened a 1986 student pro-democracy protest in Tiananmen Square. At the time he confessed to so-called “mistakes on major issues of political policy,” but the party has never reiterated his mistakes ever since then.”

New Study: America Too Dependent On Chinese Ships “In future conflicts, America's merchant fleet could find itself outnumbered and outmaneuvered on the high seas, say the authors of a new paper on U.S. maritime security. The paper, released November 19 and entitled “Sea Strangulation: How the United States Has Become Vulnerable to Chinese Maritime Coercion,” highlights the defense risks of a reduced American merchant fleet and the need to improve its capability. The authors – Captain Carl Schuster, former Director of Operations at the U.S. Joint Intelligence Center Pacific, and Dr. Patrick Bratton, Associate Professor of Political Science at Hawaii Pacific University – claim that “the United States has adopted an 'abandon ship' policy towards the crucial merchant maritime industry,” and has let it shrink to its smallest size since the Spanish-American War. Bratton and Schuster point to the gap in fleet size between the U.S. and China. “Only about 80 of the ships engaged in international trade across the world's oceans are U.S.-flag carriers,” compared with a Chinese deep sea merchant fleet of 3,900 ships. “China does not need to blockade foreign ports to cut off the flow of goods . . . Chinese authorities could do this by controlling the price of goods entering or leaving United States ports through manipulation of shipping rates or ocean carrier service.” The authors describe this potential threat as “Sea Strangulation.” In the absence of a large U.S. merchant fleet, even allied nations' cargo ships might not be willing to fill the U.S.-China gap. The five largest container shipowners are headquartered in nations with American mutual defense treaties, and these companies carry nearly a third of global volume by TEU. But if China or any other nation should create a naval blockade or “no-go zone” at sea, foreign-flagged vessels could choose to remain neutral and avoid danger, stranding American cargoes. “Would foreign ship owners and crews take the risk of standing up to [another military power]?” ask the authors. American allies have joined in military sealift efforts before; 22 percent of cargoes for the buildup to Operation Desert Storm went aboard foreign-flagged vessels of allied nations. But foreign-flag carriage of military cargo has also created problems for American forces in the recent past. In 1965, shipments of military supplies for Vietnam were held up for months due to neutrality issues. That year, Mexican government authorities ordered the Mexican-flagged merchant vessel El Mejicano to offload its Vietnam-bound American cargo. Mexico claimed neutrality, and it refused to let a vessel under its flag carry military supplies. But “loading the cargo on a Greek-flag ship did not solve the problem because the Greek crewmen also refused to sail the cargo to Vietnam,” the authors say. In all, a total of seven ships in three months refused American cargoes bound for Vietnam. As an example of the type of sealift capacity America might need in the future, the authors estimate that in a conflict in the South China Sea, the deployment of two carrier strike groups would require the shipment of 100,000 tons of ordinance and 300,000 tons of fuel in the first 30 days. The plan would require large sustained deliveries every day thereafter, transported over a distance of more than 6,000 nm. They add that outlying American territories like Guam and Hawaii would be vulnerable to a blockade if American ships were not available to carry goods to them in time of war. Bratton and Schuster conclude that the security of the supply chain for military operations and territorial protection requires a strong government commitment to the U.S.-flagged merchant fleet. They “recommend strengthening the Maritime Security Program and maintaining the Jones Act . . . an overdependence on flag of convenience carriers and ships belonging to China or other nations that may test the U.S., [and] could lead to hardship for those who live and serve under the flag of the United States.””

The Myth of a ‘Strategic Imbalance’ in the South China Sea “Even as the world is facing a clear and present danger in the form of globally mobilized Salafist terrorism and a resurgent and spiteful Russia invading its neighbor, there is a new round of alarmism in Australia about disputes in the South China Sea. With the high profile U.S. freedom of navigation operation behind us, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s hawkish tones less audible for now, the issue of strategic imbalance in the South China Sea is gaining currency in Australia. Concern about a strategic imbalance in the semi-enclosed South China Sea stems in part from the mathematical comparison between Chinese and U.S. forces normally stationed in or near the South China Sea. China’s order of battle in the area far outweighs that of the United States. This should be no surprise, given that China borders the sea area in question and has legitimate claims to millions of square kilometers of maritime resource jurisdiction based on Hainan Island and mainland territory (Guangdong province has 4,000 km of South China Sea coast). In addition, China has claimed several other island groups there since before 1945. In comparison, the United States is not a littoral state and has no claim on territory or resources jurisdiction in the South China Sea. But the other part of the concern is that China is, in the words of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), “the most motivated actor” and that “other powers either lack the capacity or are reluctant to directly engage in the dispute.” The Institute observed that the international community therefore lacks “options for a solution to strategic competition in the South China Sea because of this asymmetry of motive and capability.” The concept of strategic balance is a slippery one. It could be understood to mean anything between a comparison of orders of battle (a nearly useless analytical tool) and the much broader, highly political concept of balance of power.”

China Acknowledges Killing 28, Accusing Them of Role in Mine Attack “The Chinese authorities acknowledged on Friday that they had killed 28 people suspected of taking part in an attack on a coal mine in the country’s turbulent western frontier, several days after news of the killings first emerged. Officials in Xinjiang, a sparsely populated swath of desert and mountains near China’s border with Kazakhstan, said the people were terrorists who had helped orchestrate an attack on a Chinese coal mine in September, which they said killed 16 people, according to a report by Tianshan, a state-run news website. “All terrorists — no matter if they are from China or abroad, no matter what they do or where they hide — will be wiped out resolutely, completely and thoroughly,” the article said. Violence has escalated in Xinjiang in recent years amid clashes between the government and Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking minority who are mostly Muslim and make up 40 percent of Xinjiang’s population. Chinese leaders have severely restricted freedoms for Uighurs amid concerns that some are using violence to achieve independence from China. The details of the operation, which took place last week, were first revealed on Wednesday by Radio Free Asia, a news service financed by the United States government. The outlet reported that the Chinese authorities had killed 17 people in the raid, including several women and children.”

China's limited options exposed by Islamic State killing “he killing of a Chinese citizen by Islamic State has shone the spotlight on China's paucity of options when its people are kidnapped abroad, despite its growing military prowess and international profile. With its forces untried abroad and its diplomatic influence limited in the Middle East, it is handicapped when faced with cases like Fan Jinghui, whose killing militants announced this week. China has previously obtained the release of workers kidnapped in places like Pakistan and Africa, though diplomats say it is often by paying ransoms. On social media, some users urged a more combative response. "China should have sent troops and joined the international coalition against IS to take real steps to fight terrorism," wrote one person on Weibo, China's answer to Twitter. To address the vulnerability of its growing global commercial and diplomatic interests, Beijing is currently considering a law that would create a legal framework for sending troops abroad on counter-terrorism missions. Article 76 would authorize the military, as well as state and public security personnel, to conduct counterterrorism operations abroad with the approval of the relevant country. The draft law was made public late last year, but it's not clear when it may be passed. China's security chief said this week in the wake of the Paris attacks that the government needed to get on with it. Japan is speeding up the creation of a unit dedicated to gathering intelligence about terror attacks after Islamic State killed Japanese hostages. China's ability to deal with security issues at home was in evidence on Friday in the western province of Xinjiang, where it said it killed 28 "terrorists" from a group that carried out a deadly attack at a coal mine in September. But a legal framework wouldn't compensate for its inexperience overseas. "We can certainly deal with terrorism at home, but it's totally different if you talk about sending people abroad to do this. Our experience is here, not abroad. And there are so many diplomatic issues to consider," said Pan Zhiping, a terrorism expert at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences. "You'd need permission from so many countries to fly people there. It would be terribly complicated."”


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 

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Posted by | November 19, 2015

Australia port lease to China sparks tensions inside and out “Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday defended the lease of a commercial and military port in northern Australia to a Chinese firm said to have close ties to the Chinese military. The Landbridge Group, owned by Chinese billionaire Ye Cheng, was announced in October as the winning bidder for a deal to operate Darwin's port in a deal worth A$506 million ($362.65 million). Australian media said that at the recent G20 meeting in Turkey, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed anger at Turnbull for not having informed him of the deal. Darwin is a hub of cooperation between a rotation of U.S. Marines, as well as the terminus for a critical underwater data cable. Turnbull sought to dismiss rumors of a rift with Obama, telling reporters that the deal had not been secret and in no way impacted on either the operation of the Australian military or U.S. vessels moving through the port. "It was announced publicly early last year. It was very, very well known. The fact that Chinese investors were interested in investing in infrastructure in Australia is also hardly a secret," Turnbull told reporters. "Under our legislation, under our law in Australia, the Department of Defence or this Federal Government can step in and take control of infrastructure like this in circumstances where it's deemed necessary for purposes of defense." The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, however, has raised serious concerns about the Landbridge Group, which it called in a recent paper a "front" for China's People's Liberation Army. Although it is officially listed as a private company, chairman Ye is a delegate on the advisory body to China's rubber stamp parliament, a high-profile but largely ceremonial position handed out to Communist Party backers. Australia's main opposition Labor Party last week wrote to Treasurer Scott Morrison asking why further attention wasn't applied to the deal under the Foreign Investment Review Board, which scrutinizes purchases by state-owned enterprises. "It is unclear whether a full Foreign Investment Review Board process was undertaken to assess the impact of the lease arrangement", Shorten said. Turnbull and the government have defended the lease process. Myles Caggins, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, declined to comment on whether Obama had expressed concern on the subject during a meeting with Turnbull. “Australia alone determines its criteria for foreign investment projects related to its infrastructure," he told Reuters.”

APEC Leaders Silent on South China Sea “Asia-Pacific leaders called for greater cooperation to thwart global terrorism at a summit here on Thursday, but were silent on territorial disputes in the South China Sea that have fueled tensions in the region. The 21 leaders gathered for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, jointly stressed “the urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism” in light of recent atrocities in Egypt and Paris, in a draft statement seen by The Wall Street Journal. A final joint declaration is due later on Thursday when the summit concludes. “Economic growth, prosperity and opportunity are among the most powerful tools to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalization,” the leaders said, and pledged to work together to boost financial inclusion and to support small businesses. The group hedged its bets when it came to backing competing visions for regional trade set out by China and the U.S. The leaders’ statement said APEC viewed both the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership and the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as potential routes to a comprehensive free-trade agreement for the entire Asia-Pacific region. On the sensitive matter of the South China Sea, the joint statement made no mention of the regional disputes widely seen to be endangering Asia-Pacific stability. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III had promised to be the “perfect host” to Mr. Xi ahead of the summit, and appeared to have acquiesced to Chinese demands for the South China Sea disputes to be left off the APEC agenda. Sino-Philippine relations have been at rock bottom for the past three years because of tensions over the two countries’ competing claims in the South China Sea. However, Mr. Aquino met Mr. Xi with a warm handshake at the summit Thursday morning and the two leaders swapped pleasantries.”

Russia inks contract with China on Su-35 deliveries “Russia and China have inked a contract on purchases of 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, with an estimated sum of the deal topping $2bln, the Russian daily Kommersant said on Thursday citing defense sources. "The protracted talks on Su-35 deliveries to China have ended," Director General of the Russian high-technology state corporation Rostec Sergey Chemezov told the daily. "We have signed the contract." "China has officially become the first foreign contractor of the Su-35 aircraft. The contract has no precedents in the history of military aircraft deliveries," he said. Until the deal, Russia was the only country whose Air Force is equipped with Su-35 fighter jets (NATO reporting name Flanker-E). The Gagarin Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association in Russia’s Far East, which is part of Sukhoi Company, Russia’s largest aircraft manufacturer, will produce 24 Su-35 fighters for the Chinese Air Force, a high-ranking official in the Khabarovsk Territory government told TASS on Thursday. "Closed talks between representatives of China and Russia were held on Sunday in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. These negotiations were in progress for several years, the Chinese military was interested in Su-35 fighters and the possibility of putting them into service in China. The contract was concluded on purchasing 24 Su-35 fighters," the source said, adding that this was the first foreign customer of the 4++ generation aircraft. The government’s press service reported that Governor of Khabarovsk Territory Vyacheslav Shport would comment on Thursday on the order to be fulfilled by the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association. The cost of one Su-35 fighter is estimated at $83-85 million, which means that the total value of the contract may reach $2 billion. The Su-35 is a long-range 4++ generation fighter capable of flying a speed up to 2,500 kilometers per hour. Its flying range is 3,400 kilometers.

Air Force general: Bomber flight in South China Sea 'routine' “The commander of the U.S. Air Force in the Pacific pushed back Wednesday on reports that a B-52 bomber flew within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the South China Sea, saying the conversation with Chinese air traffic control is routine. “That conversation happens not just in the South China Sea, but happens in other places where people want to know, ‘Hey, who are you?'” Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces, told reporters at a roundtable hosted by the Defense Writers Group. “It’s not the first time that that’s happened.” Though Robinson said any flight through international airspace could be considered “freedom of navigation,” she added the flights that made headlines last week were not within 12 nautical miles of China’s artificial islands and that the Air Force has yet to fly directly over the islands. Earlier this month, two B-52 bombers took off from Guam on what Robinson described as routine training flights. They flew around the Second Thomas Shoal and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, she said. When one of the flights got within range of Chinese air traffic control, a controller issued the warning: “You have violated my reef. Change your course to avoid misjudgment,” Robinson said, reading from a transcript of the conversation. A couple of minutes later, Robinson said, Chinese air traffic control issued a second warning: “You’re violating the security of my reef. Change course to avoid misjudgment.” At that point, according to Robinson, the U.S. pilot responded, “I’m a United States military aircraft conducting lawful military activities in international airspace, and exercising these rights is guaranteed by international law. In exercising these rights as guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard to the right and duties of all states.”  There was no more communication after that, Robinson said, and the U.S. aircraft continued on its way.”

China's 'Carrier Killer' Missile Strikes the 2016 Presidential Debate “At the next Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, the CNN moderator asks this two-part question: Can China really hit an American aircraft carrier zigzagging at 30 knots with a missile launched from a thousand miles away? And if China’s anti-ship ballistic missile is a true “carrier killer” – as the Chinese openly call it – wouldn’t that capability completely upset the balance of power in Asia by obliterating the linchpin of American naval strategy in the Western Pacific? How Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders answer these missile-tipped questions may well depend on the experts they listen to. In the companion video to this article, we see that even the best experts in the world have significantly different assessments of the accuracy of China’s carrier killer. Professor Toshi Yoshihara of the US Naval War College and Free Beacon Senior Editor Bill Gertz will walk us through the stark mechanics of the anti-ship ballistic missile – from initial firing to possible mission kill. Dean Cheng of the Heritage Foundation together with Bernard Cole and T.X. Hammes from National Defense University then fascinatingly illuminate the various difficulties of hitting a carrier at sea – says Cheng “even at a hundred tons, it’s ‘big sea, small ship.’” Richard Fisher of International Assessment and Strategy concludes with a chillingly logical explanation of the strategic challenge the “pernicious” anti-ship ballistic missile poses for any new leader in the White House. Says Fisher in Crouching Tiger: “We are less able to deter attacks from this conventional weapon with our nuclear forces” and therefore “China will be more tempted to use this weapon against our forces because it has less of a fear of American retaliation. This is how wars start.” Ultimately, the real question may have nothing to do at all with how accurate China’s carrier killer may be but rather why America’s largest trading partner is building such a weapon to begin with – one of a larger suite of anti-access, area denial weapons explicitly designed to drive US forces out of the Asia-Pacific. Here, the CNN moderator at the next Republican presidential debate in Nevada may reasonably ask: “Why are we trading so heavily with China when it is using the profits from that trade to build weapons to sink our aircraft carriers? And shouldn’t we respond by restricting China’s access to American markets if it continues its aggression? GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is likely to tackle these questions head-on given his tough stand against Chinese currency manipulation and promise to stand up to China. In contrast, both Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have histories that suggest they may be reluctant to link the China trade with national security – no matter how many missiles China points at American carriers.”

As ISIS Strikes, China Rises (And America's Pivot Seems on Hold...Again) “The Crouching Tiger Project: Terrorism Once Again Hits the Pause Button on America’s Pivot to Asia from Peter Navarro on Vimeo. As our hearts go out to Paris, Washington’s collective head will once again pivot away from Asia and focus singularly on the war on terrorism.  As this spectacle of angst unfolds, cable news shows will see ratings spike.  The Situation Room will turn off the lights on every map but those of Syria, Iraq, and Europe.  Presidential candidates will thump their chests – even as debate moderators toss Rising China questions in the trash. And as fear reigns over the West, a revisionist Beijing will quietly continue its expansionism in the East. In truth, no country has benefited more from the rise of terrorism than a Rising China.  Since 9/11, and under the cover of Al Qaeda and now ISIS, China has steadily assembled one of the finest militaries in the world – even has Beijing has accelerated its aggression in the East and South China Seas. On the eve of 9/11, Washington had already begun its first pivot to Asia as seasoned hands within the fledgling Bush Administration clearly understood China posed the greatest long-term threat.  However, a handful of suicide bombers commandeering several passenger jets changed all that, and off U.S. forces went to the hills of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq.   Over time, the seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and now Syria have bled our treasury dry even as we have left untold blood and treasure in the region.  To the delight of Beijing, both the length and inconclusiveness of these wars have left an America public war-weary and without the stomach to handle yet another challenge in Asia.  The high cost of America’s war on terrorism has also contributed to a policy of budget sequestration – the poster child of partisan dysfunctional.  Severe, across-the-board military budget cuts, in turn, are now calling our readiness into question. Today in Asia, we may talk more loudly at times but with each passing day, we carry a smaller and smaller stick and fleet.”

U.S. counterintelligence chief skeptical China has curbed spying on U.S. “U.S. counterintelligence chief Bill Evanina said on Wednesday he was skeptical China had followed through on recent promises to curb spying on the United States. Evanina told a briefing that he had seen "no indication" from the U.S. private sector "that anything has changed" in the extent of Chinese espionage on the United States. He said 90 percent of private sector and government data systems intrusions are enabled by "spear-phishing," adding that spear-phishing played a role in the massive hack of security clearance data from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). He said, however, he was unaware of any evidence that any parties had so far tried to use personal data hacked from OPM for nefarious purposes. U.S. investigators have privately attributed the OPM hack to Chinese government operatives. Evanina's comments come ahead of planned ministerial-level talks between the United States and China on Dec. 1-2 to discuss an anti-hacking accord brokered between the two nations in September. That agreement, reached during Chinese President Xi Jinping's official state visit to Washington, included promises that neither country would knowingly carry out hacking for commercial advantages. Earlier this week, the G-20 pledged to comply with a similar set of cybersecurity rules barring commercial espionage. Evanina heads a branch of the U.S. National Intelligence Director's Office called the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, which on Wednesday published a 2016 "National Counterintelligence Strategy" plan. He said the plan was the first U.S. counterintelligence report to outline measures for dealing with threats and vulnerabilities created by the proliferation of computer databanks and smartphone technology.”

Gunboat Diplomacy in the South China Sea “Two events in recent days have turned the tables on Chinese initiatives since 2009 in taking control of the vast waters of the South China Sea. On October 27, a U.S. guided missile destroyer passed within 12 miles of the Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea (SCS) on a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FNO) which China condemned as a threat to its national sovereignty. Two days later the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejected China’s argument that the Court had no jurisdiction over the Philippines’ challenge to Chinese territorial claims in SCS. Since 2009, China has effectively been one step ahead of other claimants and the U.S. in getting what it wants through a deliberately confounding mix of rhetoric and actions. While reiterating its commitments to peaceful resolution and joint development, Beijing has demurred at signing on to a Declaration of Conduct and Code of Conduct with ASEAN nations, provoked skirmishes with Philippines and Vietnamese vessels, set up oil rigs in disputed waters, reclaimed land on shallow reefs on an astounding scale, and continually projected an expansive historical claim while abstaining from defining it to meet the legal requirements of international maritime law. The success of these encroachments – often termed the salami-slicing approach – hinges on no one calling the Chinese military presence bluff and taking a counter-stance in disputed waters. In 2012, the Philippines Navy pulled back from a military standoff against Chinese maritime surveillance ships in the Scarborough Shoal, only to have China renege on reciprocal withdrawal and thus gain exclusive control of the shoal. This failed deal was brokered by the U.S. The FNO of the USS Lassen was a change in momentum, but not primarily in the sense of American brinkmanship thwarting Chinese advances. There is no indication that coercion will be applied to roll back de facto Chinese control over features and maritime areas, or to compel Beijing to make concessions on historical claims, or to bring in a U.S. military show of force of the scale seen during the Taiwan Strait Crises of 1955, 1958, and 1996. In fact, in the short-run, the inevitable diplomatic vitriol and militarization by China may seem counterproductive to the aim of peacefully resolving disputes. China would surely augment its infrastructure and military capability over specific islands and ocean zones. However, we believe the U.S. warship in disputed water makes a strong political statement on the future Sino-American relations and sends a clear operational signal to U.S. allies in the region. The gunboat diplomacy tests Beijing’s resolve in keeping its word following an affront to its national face. Would China adhere to its professed principle of peaceful resolution of conflicts? Would it revoke its reassurance at the last ASEAN Summit that land reclamation projects were completed and in any case do not affect freedom of navigation by air and sea?”

APEC leaders: Urgent need for increased international cooperation in fight against terrorism “Asia-Pacific leaders called Thursday for governments to urgently increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism as they wrapped up annual talks haunted by the Paris attacks. "Under the shadow cast by the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and against Russian aircraft over the Sinai, and elsewhere, we strongly condemn all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism," the leaders said in a summit declaration. The statement was a departure from convention for the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which normally focuses on trade and business issues. The APEC bloc groups the United States and China with middle powers such as Australia and developing nations in Asia and South America. It accounts for about 60 percent of the global economy. In their declaration, the leaders stressed the "urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism." "We will not allow terrorism to threaten the fundamental values that underpin our free and open economies," they said. President Barack Obama, China's President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were in the Philippine capital for the summit, as France and Russia were pursuing resolutions in the U.N. Security Council, seeking to unite the international community in combating the Islamic State group. Reacting to reports of the killing of a Chinese hostage by IS that underscored the threat of terrorism across the globe, Xi called the group the "common enemy of humankind" in comments quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency. IS said in its magazine Wednesday that it had killed former school teacher and self-described "wanderer" Fan Jinghui, 50, and a Norwegian who it was holding for ransom.”

‘Absolute Nightmare’ As Chinese Destroy South China Reefs; Fish Stocks At Risk “China is destroying swaths of coral reefs in one of the most important fisheries in Asia and causing enormous environmental damage as it builds the fake islands it is putting up in the South China Sea, To get some idea as to just how extensive China’s ruination of the reefs is, I went through some of the statistics gathered by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. Fiery Cross Reef has had 2.74 million square meters built up with sand and cement. The before and after shots are shown here. The photo below shows the reef before the Chinese had made much progress building on it. The photo above shows the latest satellite photo of the reef. You can see how completely the reef has been smothered in sand and concrete. Little of the original living reef can still be seen. “There are global security concerns associated with the damage. It is likely broad enough to reduce fish stocks in the world’s most fish-dependent region,” John McManus, a professor of marine biology and ecology at the University of Miami’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, says in an email. “Reduced fisheries will increase regional tensions.” McManus, who has dived on the reefs the Chinese are destroying in the Spratlys, said the Chinese dredging and sand vacuuming on the reefs is devastating. “The worst thing anyone can do to a coral reef is to bury it under tons of sand and gravel. There is actually a lot more area of less-permanent damage, but I am unable to release the figures until a submitted journal paper gets accepted,” he says. Part of the reason the world has heard little about the damage inflicted by the Peoples Republic of China to the reefs is that the experts can’t get to them.”

Chinese navy flotilla to stop off in Hawaii “Three Chinese navy ships will stop in Hawaii on the final leg of an around-the-world deployment meant to show China’s expanding global military capability, but also highlighting ongoing relations between the United States and People’s Liberation Army despite disagreement in the South China Sea. Chinese media reported the destroyer Jinan, frigate Yiyang and oiler Qiandaohu will stop in Acapulco, Mexico, and then Hawaii following a port call in Cuba. The flotilla also made China’s first navy visit to the East Coast earlier this month, visiting Naval Station Mayport in Florida and conducting a passing exercise with U.S. Navy ships.”


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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Posted by | November 18, 2015

Hong Kong defies China in 2018 World Cup Asian qualifying match “Hong Kong citizens used a soccer match with China on Tuesday night to express their ill will towards Beijing, including booing and jeering the Chinese national anthem, which is also Hong Kong's. The match, a qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, was held in a Hong Kong stadium in the dense, working-class Mong Kok district which during the so-called Umbrella Revolution protests last year was the scene of violent clashes between police, demonstrators, and pro-Beijing counter-protesters. Three key city intersections were crippled for more than two months. Hong Kong sentiment towards the mainland has continued to sour amid fears of Beijing's encroaching political influence on the semi-autonomous territory which returned from British rule in 1997. The lingering tensions from last year's pro-democracy movement have spilled over onto the football pitch. The Chinese Football Association added to the resentment when it was accused of racism for releasing a publicity poster describing Hong Kong's players as "black-skinned, yellow-skinned and white-skinned" – a dig at the team's contingent of naturalised foreign-born players.FIFA has fined the Hong Kong Football Association after fans booed the national anthem in what are believed to be the first sanctions against a crowd jeering their own national anthem.”

U.S. and Chinese Air Superiority Capabilities “The United States continues to maintain unparalleled air-to-air capabilities. Even in the most challenging cases examined, the United States does not "lose" the war in the air. However, continuous improvements to Chinese air capabilities make it increasingly difficult for the United States to achieve air superiority within a politically and operationally effective time frame, especially in a scenario close to the Chinese mainland. These developments also raise the probable cost of a war in terms of lives and equipment. In both scenarios examined, the United States could improve its results and reduce force requirements by attacking Chinese air bases, thereby reducing the number of adversary aircraft that can reach the fight. However, the decision to launch such attacks would require executive approval and, depending on circumstances, permission might not be forthcoming. Certainly, such attacks would be potentially escalatory. Regardless of U.S. action, China may also pursue a similar strategy against U.S. air bases, employing its large and sophisticated force of conventionally armed ballistic and cruise missiles. Overall, the results indicate that, in the face of PLA Air Force modernization, achieving air superiority early in a conflict is becoming increasingly difficult. Consequently, U.S. and partner ground and naval forces may have to operate with only limited air support for some period after the commencement of hostilities, should a conflict occur.”

Obama Calls on Beijing to Stop Construction in South China Sea “President Obama called on China on Wednesday to halt its construction on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea, raising the contentious issue at the start of a two-day economic summit meeting at which he and other Pacific Rim leaders also discussed trade and climate change. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines, Mr. Obama directly confronted the disputed Chinese claims over islands in the critical waterway. He urged the Chinese to stop military activities there and endorsed a process of arbitration to settle differences between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbors. “We agree on the need for bold steps to lower tensions, including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea,” Mr. Obama said. The United States takes no position on the territorial claims in the region of various Asian governments, but Mr. Obama has aggressively sought to defend the right of free navigation through the South China Sea, a vital route for commerce and trade. On Tuesday, he announced $250 million in military contributions to several Asian nations to support their efforts to stand up to China. The president’s comments on Wednesday came at the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting, at which leaders from 19 regional economies have gathered for a series of discussions about growth and trade. The centerpiece of those discussions on Wednesday was the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which was reached recently by a dozen countries, including the United States. Mr. Obama hailed the deal at a meeting with other leaders. “This is the highest standard and most progressive trade deal ever concluded,” he said, standing beside Michael Froman, the United States trade representative, who helped negotiate the pact. “It includes strong protections for workers, prohibitions against child labor and forced labor. It has provisions to protect the environment, to help stop wildlife trafficking, to protect our oceans.” The agreement still faces an intense debate in the United States as Congress considers it. But Mr. Obama expressed confidence that it would be approved.”

China and US Hold Joint Naval Exercise “China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy and the U.S. Navy will conduct a joint naval drill this week involving communication exercises and a surface rescue operation, Defense News reports. According to a U.S. Navy press release, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) arrived in Shanghai this Monday for a scheduled five-day port visit. The visit is meant to promote “maritime cooperation and reinforces a positive naval relationship with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) East Sea Fleet,” the press release said. The East Sea Fleet was the first naval force created by the People’s Republic of China. Its area of operation includes the East China Sea. While U.S. sailors stood at attention when entering the port, around 70 Chinese sailors held up a bilingual sign that said “Welcome US Navy Destroyer USS Stethem to Shanghai.” “We look forward to this opportunity to strengthen the existing relations between our navies,” said Stethem’s commanding officer, Commander Harry L. Marsh. “Our ship had the honor of being hosted by the PLAN just last July in Qingdao. This port visit will give our sailors and those of the PLAN a chance to foster the relationship that began at our last visit and share their experiences and cultures with one another.” The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Scott Swift, arrived as well this Monday and held consultations with the commander of the East Sea Fleet, Admiral Su Zhiqian. This is the USS Stethem’s first visit to Shanghai. According to China Military Online, U.S. sailors will have the opportunity to visit Chinese warships docked at Wusong naval port, and Chinese military personnel will be able to tour the American guided missile destroyer. The USS Stethem’s crew consists of 365 men and women, including 26 officers, 24 petty officers and 315 enlisted personnel. A basketball match and a visit to the Shanghai School for the Blind Children is also on the agenda, as are visits to some of Shanghai’s tourist sites. After the port visit, the USS Stethem will hold naval drills with the People’s Liberation Army Navy, including a joint rescue operation with Chinese warships near the estuary of the Yangtze River, as well as communications exercises involving the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).”

China's army phases out tank destroyers “The People's Liberation Army's armored forces have begun to phase out their tank destroyers, as they now rely on weapons that are more powerful and effective, such as anti-tank missiles and attack helicopters. PLA Daily, the Chinese military's flagship newspaper, recently published a photo showing a line of 18 self-propelled guns traveling out of a military base of the PLA Shenyang Military Command's 39th Group Army. A ceremony was held by the army's artillery regiment on Nov 3 to mark the guns' withdrawal after 24 years in active service, according to the newspaper. Though PLA Daily did not identify the weapon, military experts said it was the Type-89 tank destroyer and that it is being replaced with missiles and helicopters. "With its good mobility and a high automation level, the Type-89 tank destroyer can easily pierce the armour of enemy tanks using a 120-mm smoothbore gun," Senior Colonel Wang Kai, a land armaments expert at the PLA Academy of Armored Forces Engineering in Beijing, said on Tuesday. "It was brought into service by the PLA around the early 1990s to close the loopholes in the PLA's anti-tank capability that existed in the 1970s and 1980s," he said. Many weapons researchers said that the Type-89 was once the most lethal anti-tank weapon in the world, as it had the strongest smoothbore gun and most powerful armour-piercing shell in the 1990s, capable of destroying every type of tank in use at that time. However, the weapon has some shortcomings: Its firing range is short, the armour is thin, the maintenance costs are comparatively high and it can only be used against tanks, according to Wang.”

Is liberal internationalism taming the Chinese dragon? “ News reports have already moved on from the historic meeting earlier this month in Singapore between China’s President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou. The summit may have been notable as the first encounter between the leaders of the two countries since Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan in 1949, but it also raised questions in scope far beyond the China-Taiwan relationship. Above all, Asia watchers should be intrigued whether Xi’s presence at the meeting indicates that Chinese foreign policy finally is evolving toward adoption of more liberal norms of international behavior on questions of core national interest. After all, it was only 19 years ago that Beijing tried to influence the first direct Taiwanese presidential election by launching ballistic missiles near the island. That came after prior missile launches in 1995 over then-leader Lee Teng-hui’s visit to Cornell University, his alma mater. The blatant attempt the following year to intimidate Taiwan’s voters not to elect Lee, a pro-independence candidate, in the first open election in the island’s history prompted Bill Clinton to send two U.S. aircraft carriers through the Taiwan Strait. The effects of this crisis set the stage for the subsequent era of Chinese foreign and security policy. To the United States and many Asian regional states, a China that in the mid-1990s had just begun its economic and military ascent suddenly appeared both threatening and diplomatically immature, and therefore a potentially uncontrolled danger. Beijing’s response to the U.S. Navy’s intervention, on the other hand, was to embark on a major military buildup, fueled by annual double-digit increases in its defense budget, designed in no small part to field weapons that could target U.S. forces operating in Asia, and thus prevent a similar humiliation from ever taking place again.”

Can’t Anybody Play This Game? US FON Operations and Law of the Sea “The United States has been unable to synchronize successful air and sea freedom of navigation (FON) operations in the South China Sea with an erratic diplomatic message and a legal case that is too clever by half. Our colleagues Bonnie Glaser and Peter Dutton tried to reconnect these dimensions when they wrote in the The National Interest that while the administration has not done a “stellar job of explaining its actions,” the U.S. approach was still a sophisticated signaling mechanism. But their laudable effort to square the circle is not supported by the law of the sea. Here’s why. The past two FON operations in the South China Sea – the USS Lassen (DDG 82) surface navigation on October 27 and the flight of B-52s on November 8-9 – are models in how to squander flawless operational execution with confused, inconsistent, and ultimately damaging messaging that in some ways left the United States in a worse position than it would have been had it not done the operations. After more than a month of dithering, the United States ordered the USS Lassen to challenge something – many are still unsure what – in the South China Sea. Some American officials characterized the operation as “innocent passage,” while others described it as “not innocent passage.” As confusion over the true nature of the FON challenge mounted, Senator John McCain requested the Department of Defense to “publicly clarify…the legal intent behind this operation.” Just days later, the U.S. did it again. Air Force B-52 bombers from Guam overflew the South China Sea. A U.S. official told The Hill that the aircraft did fly within 12 nm of China’s artificial islands, whereas another U.S. official said it did not. The confusion in both cases appears to be a mixture of politics combined with a lack of understanding of the law of the sea, presenting the United States with two unforced errors that should not be repeated.  The legal implications of the Lassen operation are inexplicable to this day. The Lassen could not have transited near Subi Reef in innocent passage because the feature is a low-tide elevation (LTE) that does not generate a territorial sea. High seas freedoms apply around low-tide elevations. Although Subi Reef is a an LTE, it is located within 12 nautical miles (nm) of Sandy Cay, an uninhabited rock that is entitled to a 12 nm territorial sea. Under article 13 of UNCLOS, an LTE located within the 12 nm territorial sea of a “mainland or island” may generate a territorial sea as though it were itself a rock. Accordingly, Glaser and Dutton conclude that Subi Reef was used “as a baseline to ‘bump out’ the territorial sea” of Sandy Cay. Under this theory, the USS Lassen was compelled by law to transit the territorial sea of Sandy Cay/Subi Reef in innocent passage. There are four reasons why this rationale is unsupported by the law of the sea. First, article 13 of UNCLOS clearly states that an LTE within 12 nm of a “mainland or island” may extend out the territorial sea of the primary feature as though it were a rock. This is called a “parasitic” LTE, since its territorial sea depends on an adjacent mainland or island. But Sandy Cay is neither a mainland nor an island – it is a rock, so it may not be used by Subi Reef to generate a territorial sea. Our colleagues appear to suggest that “mainland or island” includes mere rocks – that islands are just a form of rock.”

China and America, a Tale of Two Navies “On a summer evening in 1904, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany hosted a dinner aboard the royal yacht Hohenzollern. The Kaiser’s guest of honor was King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria, ruler of the British Empire — and the Kaiser’s uncle. As Robert Massie details in Dreadnought, his masterful account of how the Imperial German Navy’s race with the British to build battleships helped lead to World War I, the Kaiser had a story for his guests. “When as a little boy, I was allowed to visit Portsmouth and Plymouth in hand with kind aunts and friendly admirals,” the German emperor slyly recounted, “I admired the proud English ships in those two superb harbors. Then there awoke in me the wish to build ships of my own like those someday, and when I was grown up to possess as fine a navy as the English.” The Kaiser’s building spree took Germany from the sixth largest navy in the world to number two. “The [German] navy,” writes Massie, “hitherto an object of contempt, would become a powerful weapon in the hands of German admirals and an effective instrument in the hands of German diplomats.” Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, agreed. In a speech to the House of Commons just a few months before the outbreak of the war in August 1914 he said “Our diplomacy depends in great part for its effectiveness upon our naval position, and our naval strength is the one great balancing force which we can contribute to our own safety and to the peace of the world.”One hundred years later, China is rapidly and steadily building up its blue water fleet. Yes, Chinese President Xi Jinping bears no resemblance to Kaiser Wilhelm II and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is not Winston Churchill. Furthermore, the U.S. today is not exposed to a cross-channel invasion by a massive army as Britain was for about a thousand years. No one is talking about Chinese marines storming the shores of Long Island. But according to a RAND study, “Since 1996, the [Chinese Navy] has … invested heavily in both its surface and submarine fleets, building or purchasing from abroad significant numbers of modern destroyers, frigates, and diesel or nuclear submarines.” One report by the Center for Naval Analysis states that by 2020 China “will be the second most capable ‘far seas’ Navy in the world.” Though still well behind the United States in numbers, China would, according to an article in The Diplomat about the report, “have as many aircraft carriers as Britain and India, more nuclear attack submarines than either Britain or France, and as many AEGIS-like destroyers as all the other non-US navies combined.” Chinese submarines, in particular, now pose a significant threat to U.S. carrier strike groups. In less than 20 years China has gone from two modern diesel submarines to 37, and RAND says “the effectiveness of the Chinese submarine fleet rose by roughly an order of magnitude between 1996-2010 and will continue to improve through 2017.” What are China’s goals in building its navy up and out? First, it seeks to avoid humiliation in any conflict with Taiwan. In 1996 the U.S. sent two carrier battle groups to stop the Chinese from sending missiles over Taiwan. China was forced to back down. Secondly, the Chinese want to take on “new and historic missions,” as former president Hu Jintao said in 2004.”


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Posted by | November 17, 2015

China launches anti-spy campaign as secrecy system breaks down “China is engaged in a major domestic propaganda program to deter and counter the activities of foreign spies. Recent reports in official Chinese publications that are reflective of official but secret Beijing policies indicate China is targeting foreign intelligence operations, carried out by both human agents and sophisticated cyber attackers. The Chinese government long has held that foreign forces are working to subvert the communist system and steal its secrets. Chinese commentators frequently rail against the CIA and the United States for their alleged role in fomenting “color revolutions” in China, and have blamed Hong Kong’s independent pro-democracy movement as one example of the subversion effort. Beijing’s counterspy program was prompted in part by disclosures of secret documents made public by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The NSA official revealed extensive US and allied electronic intelligence gathering against China, both from government and state-run corporation networks. Outspoken Chinese commentator and noted hardline nationalist Dai Xu, an air force colonel and professor at the National Defense University, has called Snowden “one of the greatest international warriors of the 21st Century” for his exposure of the spying activities of what he called the US “evil empire.” Dai has stated in online postings that Chinese who “lick the US boot” have been left ashamed by revelations of US cyber espionage. The outspoken colonel also has criticized the former director of Google in China as “hacker for the United States.” A feature of the counterspy program was disclosed on Nov. 1, the one-year anniversary of the imposition of a new PRC counter-espionage law. A tip line was opened that will be used by the Chinese to report foreign spying activity. The reporting channel was set up by the Communist Party’s Jilin Province national security department in a notice posted online. The notice says all Chinese are required to report to authorities through the telephone tip hotline. The goal: To “assist national security organs in legally and promptly defending against, preventing, and punishing espionage activities.” Types of activities to be reported provide clues to the spy problems the Chinese are facing. The hotline should be used to report on “espionage organizations,” their agents and affiliated domestic and foreign institutions. Also, authorities should be notified about people who order, carry out or fund activities threatening China’s security through “stealing, spying, purchasing, or otherwise illegally obtaining state secrets or intelligence.” The notice also defines spying activities as inciting, luring or bribing state employees to provide secrets “on behalf of enemies.” Also to be reported is anyone providing attack targets to foreign powers. To spur counterspy reporting, Chinese authorities are offering unspecified “rewards” for those who provide truthful and accurate information. The amount will be based on the importance of the report.”

China to Receive Russia’s S-400 Missile Defense Systems in 12-18 Months “China will receive its first batch of S-400 Triumph long-range anti-aircraft missile systems within the next 12 to 18 months, TASS reports. “Supplies are planned no earlier than in a year, or more likely, in a year-and-a-half,” a Russian defense industry source told TASS last Thursday. The signing of the contract for four to six S-400 Triumph (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) missile defense systems was officially announced this April, although the deal was likely already concluded in the first quarter of 2014. The contract value is estimated at about $3 billion. Additional details on the Sino-Russia arms deal, however, are difficult to come by. Back in April, Director General of arms exporter Rosoboronexport Anatoly Isaykin merely told reporters that he “would not disclose the contract details, but yes, China has indeed become the first buyer of the Russian newest air defense system, which only emphasizes the strategic level of our relations.” One of the major outstanding questions remains what type of missile Russia will sell to China for the S-400 Triumph missile defense systems. As J. Michael Cole pointed out in a piece for The Diplomat, the much discussed 40N6 missile is said to have an operational range of 400 km (248.5 miles) but it is not clear whether the weapon is even operational in Russia yet. “An alternative to the 40N6 would be the 48N6 series, whose range is much more limited, at 250 km,” Cole notes. The system can purportedly fire three types of missiles and simultaneously engage 36 targets.”

CNNC clinches $4.7 billion nuclear deal in Argentina “China National Nuclear Corp has clinched deals with Argentina, opening the doors for exports of nuclear equipment which might amount to 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) to the South American country. The State-owned CNNC has inked contracts for work related to Argentina's fourth nuclear reactor and an agreement for a fifth nuclear power plant. Qian Zhimin, its general manager, said the agreement exemplifies the deep friendship, mutual trust and extended cooperation between the two countries since 2010. "We would like to share our experiences and advances with Argentina as the country develops its nuclear industry. At the same time, we hope that the mutual cooperation will provide us with more market opportunities in Latin America and also boost the local economy," he said. The firm has exported six nuclear reactors, five miniature neutron source reactors, two nuclear research facilities and one experimental reactor, said a statement from CNNC. The agreement was signed over the weekend during the 10th summit of the G20 major economies in Antalya, Turkey between CNNC and Nucleoelectrica, the state-owned nuclear operator of Argentina. The fifth rector will use China's homegrown pressurized-water nuclear technology, known as Hualong One, CNNC said. The fourth reactor, Atucha 3, built on the Atucha Nuclear Power Plant Complex in Buenos Aires province, will use heavy-water technology developed by Canada's Candu Inc. The project is likely to cost about $6 billion, earlier reports said. Many of the technology's other possible export destinations are along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, two key trade routes to Europe, an initiative of which proposed by President Xi Jinping to strengthen regional economic integration. More than 60 of the countries along the Belt and the Road are either developing a nuclear industry or planning to start nuclear power programs, said the statement, adding that the number of nuclear power plants under construction in those countries is expected to reach 200 by 2030.”

China nearly triples number of supercomputers, report says “The country has 109 high-performance computing systems on the biannual Top500 list of supercomputers, up 196% from 37 just six months ago. The most powerful supercomputer, China's Tianhe-2, also retained the top spot for the sixth consecutive time. In contrast, the US has seen the number of its supercomputers decline. The US has 200 machines in the rankings, which is the largest number from a single country. But, that total number has fallen to the lowest level since computer scientists started compiling the list 22 years ago. Tianhe-2 was created by China's National University of Defense Technology and is being used at a supercomputer centre in the southern coastal city of Guangzhou. It is capable of performing 33.86 quadrillion calculations in one second, which is almost twice the speed of the second most powerful supercomputer on the list - the US energy department's Titan. Supercomputers are developed to perform complex simulations or applications to help scientific research in a wide range of industries such as predicting weather forecasts to making drug discoveries and DNA sequencing. Rajnish Arora, vice president of enterprise computing at market research firm IDC Asia Pacific, said China's rise does not necessarily mean the US is under-investing, but is more to do with the evolution of China's economy and businesses. "When China started off appearing on the centre stage of the global economy in the 80s and 90s, it was predominately a manufacturing hub," he told the BBC. "All the IP (intellectual property) or design work would happen in Europe or the US and the companies would just send manufacturing or production jobs to China. "Now as these companies become bigger, they want to invest in technical research capabilities, so that they can create a lot more innovation and do basic design and engineering work." The Chinese government and companies want to become the creators and not just producer of products that are being designed elsewhere, he added.”

U.S. Navy, PLA Plan Exercise as South China Sea Gets Less Focus “The U.S. navy will participate in an exercise with a People’s Liberation Army vessel during its visit to China as increased tensions in the disputed South China Sea haven’t set back a “cordial” relationship, an American naval commander said. “Sometimes countries may have some disagreements, yet our navies are able to operate safely at sea,” Harry Marsh, commanding officer of the USS Stethem, the first navy ship to dock in China since last month’s freedom of navigation patrols by a U.S. warship, said during a visit to the port of Shanghai on Monday.  “We have a very good relationship with the Chinese navy at sea. It’s a cordial relationship.” Tensions between the U.S. and China rose last month after the U.S. conducted a freedom of navigation operation by sailing the USS Lassen, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer like the Stethem, within 12 nautical miles of an island China has built on a previously semi-submerged reef in the Spratly islands. The U.S. was effectively challenging China’s claim to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea based on a nine-dash line drawn on a 1940s map lodged informally with the United Nations in 2009. China considers more than 80% of the South China Sea its sovereign territory. Its construction of seven artificial islands in the Sea has raised tensions in a region with overlapping territorial and economic interests. “Freedom of navigation operations are things that we do routinely all over the world to enforce the rights and lawfulness of our international air and seas,” said Marsh. “Although we don’t talk specifically about future operations we do freedom of navigation operations nearly every single day.” The Stethem’s visit to China had been planned before the USS Lassen’s patrol in October, Marsh said. The exercise with the PLA vessel would consist of a simulated rescue of a swimmer in the water and the navies would use the protocols agreed under the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, known as CUES, he said.”

In Signal To China, Obama To Give 2 Ships To Philippines “With a towering warship behind him, President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that the U.S. will hand over two ships to the Philippine Navy to boost its maritime security capabilities, in a bid to show the U.S. and its allies won't be cowed by China in disputed waters far off its coast. Obama said the pair of ships — one U.S. Coast Guard cutter, one research vessel — were part of a broader American plan to scale up assistance to naval forces in Southeast Asia, where coastal nations feel threatened by China's aggressive moves to assert control over the South China Sea. Obama said the U.S. had an "ironclad commitment" to the Philippines — a U.S. treaty ally — and a mutual commitment to free and safe navigation at sea. "More capable navies, in partnership with the United States, are critical to the security of this region," Obama said as he opened a six-day tour of the Philippines and Malaysia. He said the ships would help the Philippines navigate and patrol its territorial waters. Obama never mentioned China by name as he stood in front of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a onetime U.S.-owned frigate, but the intended recipient of his message was clear. As regional tensions with China have simmered in recent years, the U.S. has sought out symbolic ways to counter Beijing's claims in the region without putting itself in direct confrontation with the powerhouse nation.”

Obama Aims to Shore Up Asian Allies Against Chinese Might  “President Obama’s arrival in the Philippines on Tuesday morning will kick off five days of presidential diplomacy aimed at bolstering America’s allies in the region against China’s economic and military might. White House officials said on Monday that Mr. Obama would continue consultations with world leaders about the terror attacks in and around Paris last week, which had already overshadowed the planned economic discussions at the Group of 20 meeting here. But Mr. Obama is eager to press the case for what his administration calls a “rebalance” in Asia that aims to empower countries in the region to compete with China by developing closer diplomatic ties and pushing for more open trade. “We’re strengthening relations with our treaty allies. We’re building ties to new partners and strengthening regional institutions,” said Susan E. Rice, the president’s national security adviser. Central to that effort is the president’s yearslong push for the adoption of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a trade pact involving a dozen countries, including the United States. Mr. Obama will arrive in the region with the agreement in hand, though not yet approved by Congress. In meetings with more than a half-dozen world leaders and in a speech to business executives, Mr. Obama plans to make his case that passage of the pact is critical to the region’s economic health. “They will celebrate the achievement of that agreement,” said Matthew P. Goodman, a specialist in Asian economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Economics is strategy. And if that’s true, then the president is heading out on this whirlwind trip in a very strong position.” But any celebration of the trade deal — as well as talks with other nations about the possibility of joining the partnership in the future — may be overshadowed by discussions about how to confront China’s activities in the South China Sea. China’s broad territorial claims over islands and waters in the sea have riled its neighbors, many of which have similar claims. In recent months, the Chinese have been creating seven new islands in the sea, and building ports, military facilities and airstrips on the land. Although the United States has not taken a formal position on the competing territorial claims, Mr. Obama has sought to defend the right of ships to navigate freely through international waters. In late October, the United States Navy sent a destroyer into waters within 12 miles of the islands.”

China says has shown 'great restraint' in South China Sea “China has shown "great restraint" in the South China Sea by not seizing islands occupied by other countries even though it could have, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Tuesday ahead of two regional summits where the disputed waterway is likely to be a hot topic. Beijing has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Reclamation work and the building of three airfields and other facilities on some of China's artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago have alarmed the region and raised concern in Washington that China is extending its military reach deep into maritime Southeast Asia. But China was the real victim as it had "dozens" of its islands and reefs in the Spratlys illegally occupied by three of the claimants, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a news conference in Beijing. He did not name the countries, but all claimants except Brunei have military fortifications in the Spratlys. "The Chinese government has the right and the ability to recover the islands and reefs illegally occupied by neighboring countries," Liu said. "But we haven't done this. We have maintained great restraint with the aim to preserve peace and stability in the South China Sea." Tensions over the South China Sea are likely to dominate the East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur later this week. While not on the formal agenda of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on Wednesday and Thursday in Manila, the South China Sea is expected to be discussed on the sidelines. U.S. President Barack Obama, who arrived in Manila on Tuesday, will attend both meetings. Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Manila for APEC while Premier Li Keqiang will represent China in Malaysia. Liu said China did not want the South China Sea to be the focus of the East Asia Summit. But he noted it would be hard to avoid and that some countries would raise it.”

Obama puts South China Sea dispute on agenda as summitry begins “U.S. President Barack Obama put tensions over Beijing's claims to the South China Sea squarely on the agenda ahead of an Asia-Pacific summit on Tuesday, pointedly visiting the main warship of close ally the Philippines shortly after he landed in Manila. While Obama affirmed a commitment to the Philippines' security and to freedom of navigation in regional waters, a senior official in Beijing said China was the real victim of the waterway dispute because other countries had illegally occupied islands there. The verbal jousting could cast a shadow over the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit of about 20 heads of state and government, including Chinese President Xi Jinping. Manila has said it will not bring up the maritime dispute to avoid embarrassing Xi, but could not prevent others from doing so. Xi also arrived in Manila on Tuesday, but did not make any public comments. Shortly after Air Force One touched down in Manila, Obama boarded the Gregorio del Pilar, a Philippines navy frigate that was a U.S. Coast Guard cutter until 2011 but on Tuesday flew the flags of the two allies. "We have a treaty obligation, an iron-clad commitment to the defense of our ally the Philippines," he said, flanked by about two dozen U.S. and Philippines uniformed navy personnel. "My visit here underscored our shared commitment to the security of the waters of this region and to freedom of navigation." He did not mention China but the symbolism of his visit was hard to miss: the ageing vessel is now a mainstay of the Philippine Navy, operating around the Spratly islands in the South China Sea that are claimed by both Manila and Beijing. Obama also announced two more U.S. ships would be transferred to the Philippines as part of a two-year $250 million package to enhance regional maritime security - a research vessel to help navigate territorial waters and a coast guard cutter for "long endurance patrols".”

Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group Kicks Off Annual Exercise with JMSDF to Increase Readiness “Sailors and units with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (RRCSG) along with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) began their Annual Exercise (AE) 16, Nov. 16. AE16 is a bilateral field-training exercise to increase interoperability between the United States Navy (USN) and JMSDF. AE16 is designed to allow the USN and JMSDF to practice and evaluate the coordination and tactics required to mutually respond to the defense of Japan or to a regional contingency, while building bilateral relationships. "The Annual Exercise underscores the strength of the close, long-standing relationship the United States has with Japan and the JMSDF," said Rear Adm. John Alexander, commander of RRCSG. "This exercise demonstrates our continuing commitment to deepen our mutual support and friendship." USN and JMSDF units will conduct maritime training in the air, surface and subsurface warfare areas. Participating U.S. Navy units include: Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) the guided-missile destroyers USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USS Mustin (DDG 89), maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft and a U.S. submarine. "The U.S., Japan relationship remains the most important key to the security, stability, peace and prosperity of the Pacific region in the 21st century," said Alexander. "Our two navies and nations working together demonstrate our combined resolve to ensure a bright future." Planning for AE16 began more than a year ago. AE training between the United States and Japan is a routine and has a history of more than 20 years.”

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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Posted by | November 16, 2015

China is using the Paris attacks to tout its anti-terror efforts at home “Condolence and support from heads of state across the globe poured in to France after Friday’s terror attacks in Paris. China’s president Xi Jinping told French president François Hollande by telephone that his country is ready to join France in combating terrorism. But despite the kind words, China’s real anti-terrorism focus seems to be within its own borders. At the G20 summit in Turkey on Sunday (Nov. 15), China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said the international community should cooperate with China to fight Uighur separatists in its far west territory of Xinjiang, state news agency Xinhua reported (link in Chinese). There should be no “double standards” in fighting terrorism, Wang said, and the United Nation should play a leading role to form a “united front” for it. “China is also a victim of terrorism. The fight against the ‘East Turkestan Islamic Movement’… should become an important part of the international fight against terrorism,” Xinhua reported Wang saying. China has expressed concerns about the rise of ISIL, fearing it will stir up unrest in Xinjiang, where some Muslim Uighurs seek an independent state called East Turkestan. State-backed media reports (link in Chinese) Uighur separatists are fleeing the country to join ISIL in Syria, Iraq, or its branches in Southeast Asia, though Beijing has said the situation isn’t entirely clear. In recent years, China has been home to dozens of terrorism attacks and violent clashes, which have spread from the northwest to the whole nation, as Quartz has reported. Chinese media often blames Uighur separatists, but other reports say Chinese authorities are brutally cracking down on the local community—in one incident killing dozens of protesters this year. The international community remains skeptical, because independent reporting in the area is difficult. China’s government has also long been criticized for its heavy-handed, draconian treatment of its largely Muslim Uighur population, including banning religious holidays like Ramadan, and making it illegal for women to wear burqas in some places.”

After Paris, China calls for world's support in Xinjiang “China has appealed for international help in the battle it says it is waging against Islamist militants in its far western region of Xinjiang, as Beijing seeks Western support for its own "war on terror" in the wake of the Paris attacks. Hundreds of people have died in unrest in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur people, and other parts of China over the past three years or so. Beijing has blamed much of the violence on Islamist militants, led by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group it says has ties to al Qaeda and wants to establish an independent state called East Turkestan. More recently China has reported that some Uighurs have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamic State and other groups. Speaking in Turkey on Sunday on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on the international community to form a "united front to combat terrorism" in the aftermath of Paris attacks, state news agency Xinhua said on Monday. "The UN's leading role should be brought into full play to combat terrorism, and a united front in this regard should be formed," Wang said. "China is also a victim of terrorism, and cracking down on ETIM should become an important part of the international fight against terrorism," he added. Many foreign experts doubt ETIM exists as the coherent group China portrays, or even exists at all. Western countries have long been reluctant to share intelligence with China or otherwise cooperate, saying China has provided little evidence to prove ETIM's existence and citing worries about possible human rights abuses in Xinjiang. One Beijing-based Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was inevitable China would try to use what happened in Paris to seek Western support in Xinjiang, much as it did after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Then, China was able to get both the United Nations and Washington to place ETIM on lists of terrorist organizations.”

Turkey Scraps $3.4B Air Defense Contract “Turkey's government scrapped a $3.44 billion program to construct the country's first long-range air and anti-missile defense system. Procurement officials said that a decision for the cancellation of a three-way, Chinese-European-US race was looming already. "The decision will be formalized at the next meeting of the committee." The committee is the Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Senior government officials said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushed for the cancellation of the program at a meeting early in November. The officials said the cancellation will not mean that Turkey will not take foreign know-how; some systems can also be purchased from a partner as a bridge-gap solution. The contract will now most likely become indigenous as the government considers commissioning the work to military electronics specialist Aselsan, Turkey's biggest defense firm, and missile maker Roketsan. Both companies are state controlled. Only a few weeks ago, Turkey's top procurement official, Ismail Demir, said that Ankara reached a "certain clarity" in its pending decision on the air defense system. "We are reviewing several parameters. We want to make a decision without a further extension," Demir said. In September 2013 Turkey selected China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. for the program, dubbed T-LORAMIDS. CPMIEC's offer came at $3.44 billion.”

Chinese presence softens Philippines' view of U.S. Navy “A quarter of a century ago, it was the United States that the Philippines was fed up with. Angry at rowdy American troops and nursing a lingering sense of colonization, Manila ordered the U.S. military out of Subic Bay, then its largest overseas naval base. But now it's China that's in Manila's doghouse, as Beijing increasingly asserts control over South China Sea waters and islets that also are claimed by the Philippines. "If you ask me, 90% of Filipinos like Americans, and not just here in Subic," said Mar Amil, 45, a vendor of cellphones in Olongapo, a city of 220,000 that stretches out along the rugged bay known for its deep water, safe anchorages and ship repair facilities. Like many here, Amil wants American military personnel back; he expresses concern about the Chinese vessels that are coming with increasing frequency to fish, explore for resources and build artificial islets. "My opinion is that it's OK that the U.S. troops are here in the Philippines," said Lance Gboy, a 26-year-old chauffeur. "It's a big help for us, especially with the issue of the South China Sea and the Chinese. Most of my clients are American guys. I don't have problems with them." On Tuesday, President Obama will arrive in the Philippines for a regional economic summit, but will also use the visit to underscore resurgent military ties between the two nations. Washington and Manila resumed military cooperation last year, and Obama is expected to announce additional U.S. maritime resources during his visit, in which he will talk one-on-one with President Benigno Aquino. "In Manila, there are a lot of people both in and out of the government who think it is critical to build up the U.S. presence to counter China," said Carl Baker, director of programs at the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Honolulu. Manila and Washington last year signed a 10-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that lets the U.S. Navy deliver materiel and personnel for annual joint military exercises, and not only at Subic Bay. The agreement could see the U.S. again station troops, planes and ships here.”

US Navy ship visits China in wake of recent tensions “A U.S. Navy destroyer docked in Shanghai on Monday in a sign that contacts between the U.S. and Chinese militaries are continuing despite tensions over the South China Sea. The visit by the USS Stethem follows Chinese protests over the sailing last month of the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of disputed Subi Reef. The reef has been transformed by Beijing into an island over the objections of other claimants. The U.S. maintains that such man-made islands do not qualify for territorial waters. The Stethem's commanding officer, Cmdr. Harry Marsh, told reporters that U.S. freedom of navigation operations were routine and shouldn't complicate relationships with the armed forces of other countries. "Sometimes countries might have some disagreements, yet our navies are able to operate safely at sea," Marsh said. The visit by the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer to China's financial center followed a stop in the northern port of Qingdao. The two countries are also planning a combined search and rescue exercise at sea.”

Australia Defends Port’s Lease to Chinese Company With Military Ties “A decision by Australia to lease part of a port to a Chinese company became the subject of controversy on Friday after a report by a well-regarded research institute questioned the wisdom of the transaction and highlighted the firm’s links to China’s military.The Chinese company, Landbridge Group, signed an agreement last month to lease the facilities in Darwin, in the country’s tropical north, for 99 years in a deal worth 506 million Australian dollars, or $361 million. More than 1,000 United States Marines deploy to Darwin each year as part of an initiative announced by the Obama administration in 2011 to shore up America’s presence in the region as China rapidly expands its military power. On Friday, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which was set up by the Australian government and is led by a former top defense official, published an article saying the Chinese could use the port to spy on theMarines. The organization said the country needed to overhaul the way it evaluated foreign acquisitions of important national assets. The chief minister in the Northern Territory, where Darwin is the capital, and officials from Landbridge, whose interests include petrochemical operations and real estate, said that the report was misleading and that the lease had been reviewed by Australia’s military, which found no reason to block it. Geoff Wade, a scholar at Australian National University, had translated a report on Landbridge’s Chinese website that detailed a visit by military officials to the headquarters of the company, which was setting up a paramilitary unit. Mr. Wade posted his translation on a website run by the research institute. The newspaper The Australian cited Mr. Wade’s translation andreported that Landbridge’s Communist Party secretary, He Zhaoqing, was a former military officer. Company filings show that Mr. He, who will turn 64 this month, was an officer in the branch of the military assigned to the railroads, serving as a chief of staff in one unit. That corps was merged into the Ministry of Railways in 1984. Landbridge’s billionaire owner, Ye Cheng, was named one of the “top 10 individuals caring about the development of national defense” by the government of Shandong Province in 2013, the company’s website says. “A strong enterprise does not forget to repay the country, while a prosperous enterprise does not forget national defense,” the Landbridge post stated. Landbridge’s deal with the local government was reviewed by military officials before it was approved. The defense minister, Marise Payne, said in a statement, “Defense does not have security concerns about the lease of the port to Chinese interests.””

China Showcases Military Hardware to Gulf States at 2015 Dubai Air Show “China’s global arms push continues. As my colleague Franz-Stefan Gady reported last week, China is showcasing some of its military hardware to potential buyers in the Persian Gulf at the ongoing Dubai Air Show. The jewel in China’s crown at the Air Show is the FC-31 stealth fighter, basically a replica of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter–supposedly constructed with designs stolen from Lockheed-Martin back in 2009. Another interesting piece of news from Dubai is that China and Pakistan apparently have found an unnamed buyer for their jointly developed JF-17 “Thunder” fighter. China has several other interesting items on show in Dubai. Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation has been promoting its venerable Y-8C and its modern Y-9 (basically the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s version of a C-130 Hercules). According to Vasiliy Kachin at the Moscow Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technology, Iran has apparently ordered an undisclosed number of these aircraft. Iran has already airlifted troops to battlefields in Syria and has a requirement for more heavy transport aircraft. But when it comes to promoting advanced defense products, China faces challenges in trying to sell to this part of the Middle East. In an interview with Defense News, Richard Bitzinger, a military transformation specialist at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, says that items like fighter jets and helicopters are just too complicated, and few countries will want to “take a chance on Chinese products, when it comes to performance and quality.” “Keep in mind, too, that Russia is really coming back as an arms exporter, and it is going to compete head-to-head with China in many of these third-world markets,” Bitzinger said. “In that regard, Russia has a leg up, since it has long-term relationship with many of the countries in places like the Middle East and Central Asia.” Perhaps Beijing’s most popular platforms on sale are its Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV.) As both Franz and I have described, Chinese drones are finding buyers in many places throughout the world, including the Gulf States. The Wing Loong I and II (which are basically knockoff versions of General Atomics’ MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones) as well as the Caihong CH-4B Rainbow are potentially attractive platforms for Gulf buyers. Drones are proven weapons in counterinsurgency operations, a probable use case for many of these Gulf buyers.”

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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Posted by | November 13, 2015

100 Percent of Targets Destroyed: Japan Is Testing New Missile in US “The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) has successfully test-fired the Chu-SAM Kai surface-to-air missile, destroying 100 percent of its targets at the White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, the United States Army website reports. Over the summer of 2015, the JGSDF conducted ten flight tests intercepting various targets, including a GQM-163A Coyote target system used to simulate supersonic cruise missiles. The Chu-SAM Kai is an advanced version of the Chu-SAM medium range surface-to-air missile system domestically developed and produced in Japan. It is a multi-segment propellant missile launched from a road-mobile vertical launch container and has been undergoing evaluation and testing since 2014. “Development of Chu-SAM(KAI) is aimed at increasing the capability against threats such as cruise missile. By applying advanced sensor and network technologies, Chu-SAM (KAI) increases a defense area against cruise missile, while reduces acquisition cost,” Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) explains [sic]. Like the Chu-SAM, the Chu-SAM Kai air defense system is based “on 8×8 cross country trucks, including command center, radar unit, launcher, and transloader. The trucks are not armored and the system is not protected in any way,” according to the website Each unit is equipped with six missiles. The Chu-SAM can track up to 100 targets simultaneously and target 12 at the same time. With a speed of about Mach 2.5, it can engage fighter jets, helicopters, and cruise missiles.  The exact capabilities of the Chu-SAM Kai, however, remain unknown.”Kai is a complex system in which each sensor is networked to intercept anti-aircraft threats,” said Kazuhiro Tobo, Chu-SAM Kai test commander with the Technical Research & Developmental Institute. ”We don’t have the kind of ranges in Japan needed to satisfy the requirements of the Chu-SAM Kai tests.” Overall, 15 JGSDF batteries (each consisting of about 30 soldiers) are participating in the drills known within the Japanese military as Annual Service Practice (ASP). The ASP is scheduled to last until the end of November.  Since the summer, new JGSDF units have been rotating in and out of the practice ranges every week.”

Indonesia is the next challenger to Beijing in the South China Sea “Claim almost an entire sea for yourself and you’re bound to stir things up. That’s especially true when it’s the South China Sea, arguably the world’s most important body of water for international trade and potential future military conflicts. Citing a “nine-dash line” it drew up at the end of World War Two, China says almost all of the sea counts as its territory. To solidify that claim—considered outrageous by various Southeast Asian nations that also claim territory in the sea—Beijing has been busy building manmade islands atop reefs in the Spratly archipelago, complete with a runway, helipad, and lighthouse. Challenges to Beijing’s claims are growing. This week, the US flew B52 bombers near the artificial islands, the Pentagon said on Thursday (Nov. 12), on what officials called a “routine mission” in international airspace. Last month, the US sent a warship close to the manmade islands, in an area that it’s long considered international waters. (Beijing issued verbal warnings but otherwise not much happened.) On Oct. 29, an international arbitration court in the Netherlands ruled it has the authority to decide whether China is violating international law with its claims in the South China Sea, two years after the Philippines first lodged a complaint. (Beijing refuses to recognize the case.) Indonesia is the next country stepping in. This week, Indonesia’s chief security minister, Luhut Pandjaitan, indicated the nation could turn to an international tribunal over disputed claims involving the Natuna archipelago, parts of which intersect with the China’s nine-dash line. That follows a confirmation last Sunday (Nov. 8) that Indonesia deployed seven warships to the archipelago, saying the move is “a routine patrol program carried out by the navy to safeguard Natuna waters.” And yesterday (Nov. 12) Indonesia’s foreign ministry said it had asked China to clarify its claims in sea. “The position of Indonesia is clear at this stage that we do not recognize the nine-dash line because it is not in line with… international law,” noted ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir. “We asked for clarification on what they mean and what they mean by the nine-dash line. That has not been clarified.””

U.S. Military Aircraft Flew Close to China-Built Artificial Islands in South China Sea “Two U.S. B-52 bombers flew near a cluster of Chinese-built artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea this week, U.S. officials said, in the latest of a series of American challenges to Beijing’s maritime claims. The aircraft took off from Andersen Air Force Base on the Pacific island of Guam and flew around the Spratly Islands on the afternoon of Sunday, November 8, said U.S. Army Major Dave Eastburn, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command. The operation came less than two weeks after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of the Chinese-built artificial islands in what U.S. officials described as a demonstration of the right to freedom-of-navigation there. China described that as a dangerous violation of its sovereignty and warned that it would take “all necessary measures” if the U.S. conducted more such patrols. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter also visited a U.S. aircraft carrier in the South China Sea last week. Beijing has built seven artificial islands in the past year or so on rocks and reefs that it controls in the Spratlys, where its claims overlap with those of Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines – a U.S. treaty ally. China says its construction is mainly for civilian purposes, such as weather monitoring, but U.S. officials say Beijing could use them to enforce its territorial claims as well as control over one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. China’s foreign and defense ministries didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday’s operation. Chinese air-traffic controllers on the ground warned one of the U.S. aircraft by radio, speaking in English, that it had “violated the security of my reef” and instructed it to change course “to avoid misjudgment,” Major Eastburn said. The U.S. aircraft was more than 12 nautical miles away from the Spratlys at the time, he said. That means it was beyond the limits of any territorial waters that can be claimed around the islands under international law. He said the U.S. aircraft responded: “I am a United States military aircraft conducting lawful military activities in international airspace. In exercising these rights as guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard to the right and duties of all states.” He and other U.S. officials declined to comment on whether either aircraft went within 12 nautical miles of the Spratlys during their operation.”

Essex Amphibious Ready Group Operates in South China Sea Ahead of Amphibious Exercise “The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) transited the Straits of Malacca and conducted routine operations in the South China Sea as part of a deployment to the Western Pacific Nov. 7-10. The ARG's flagship, the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), conducted the patrol as the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) prepared for bilateral training exercises with Brunei and Malaysia. On Nov. 10, Rushmore began offloading troops for the 2015 iteration of Malaysia-U.S. Amphibious Exercise (MALUS AMPHEX 2015), in which U.S. personnel will train with Malaysian amphibious units ashore to instruct and develop core competencies and enhance interoperability with a key partner nation in the region. "Only the flexible, scalable and responsive force structure of the Amphibious Ready Group-Marine Expeditionary Unit team allows for participation in three critically important, concurrent events in the region," said Capt. Clint Carroll, ARG Commander. "While having the three-ship composite unit sailing together delivers a wide range of capabilities that can be sustained longer-term, independent operations make it possible for Essex ARG Sailors and Marines to meet three theater objectives concurrently." "That's one of the primary value-added characteristics of the amphibious ready group construct - an adaptable, flexible, mobile force able to meet mission requirements when and where amphibious forces are needed," continued Carroll. Routine patrols like this one support security and stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Other U.S. Navy ships performed similar operations in the 7th Fleet area of operation in recent months, including the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Lassen (DDG 82) and USS Preble (DDG 88), the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), and the Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3). The Essex ARG includes the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), as well as various supporting elements from Assault Craft Unit 5, Beachmaster Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 1, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21. The Essex ARG is assigned to Combined Task Force 76 (CTF 76) during its time in the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR.”\Users\Nhatcher\Documents\1MC Nov 2nd.docx

‘Indian Machiavelli’ Urges Confronting China “ Forget Gandhi and satyagraha. India needs to be more strategically assertive and take China on, a longtime national security advisor to New Delhi said today. And if the US doesn’t like it, then “screw you.” But Washington should like a more aggressive India, said the American-educated Bharat Karnad, because it’s the only thing that can hold the line against a rising China. “A very strong, pugnacious India is going to help you guys in some sense breathe easy, which you won’t be able to do otherwise,” Karnad told me after his remarks this morning at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “How are you going to manage China? You can’t without India’s help,” Karnad continued. “They’re rivaling you and very soon… they’re going to take you apart, [because] you don’t have the resources anymore to have even 12 carrier task groups.” (The US currently has 10 carriers, with an 11th being completed, leading to potential gaps in carrier presence in key regions). India can be particularly helpful in the South China Sea, Karnad said, where Chinese territorial claims overlap almost every neighboring countries’ and where Beijing is building bomber-capable airstrips on artificial islands. In fact, the South China Sea is the one area Karnad thinks the Indian government is being almost assertive enough already. “The Indian government has finally found a voice,” he told the Carnegie audience I asked about the South China Sea. Just months ago, India signed a security cooperation agreement with the Philippines — the biggest target of Chinese provocations — and Indian warships regularly visit Philippine ports. India is building ties with Australia, Singapore, and Thailand. In addition, “we have a burgeoning relationship with Taiwan,” he said. “The Chinese seem to be aware of it and they’re getting increasingly worked up.” Overall, “we are beginning, I think, to appreciate that we need to be more vocal and more visible in our support of the Southeast Asian nations who have in the past looked to India and been frustrated,” Karnad said. “We’re a lot more active now. That doesn’t mean we’re going to go full pell-mell proactive — we should — but we’re getting there.” But, I asked Karnad after the panel, aren’t there limits on what the Indian navy can really do in the South China Sea? “They’re essentially self-imposed,” he said. For example, the military’s old “Far Eastern Command” was renamed the “Andaman Command,” after islands in the Indian Ocean, a mental pull-back from the Pacific. The command needs its old name back, a new attitude, and, on top of that, bases in Vietnam.”

Chinese flood Tsai page with 80,000 critical posts “Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday welcomed Chinese netizens, after they flooded her official Facebook page with nearly 80,000 messages since late on Tuesday night. “I would rather view this incident positively. We hope Chinese Internet users have the opportunity to browse the Facebook accounts of different people, and I welcome them to visit my Facebook page,” Tsai said in response to media queries about the outpouring as she headed to an afternoon meeting of the DPP Central Executive Committee at the party’s headquarters in Taipei. The messages from Chinese criticized and insulted the DPP, Tsai and Taiwan. Facebook user Zhang Dong (張東) posted a picture of the DPP’s flag surrounded by the People’s Republic of China flag, with the words “green maggots will be annihilated” written above it. A message from Fang Ding (方定) said: “You say that there cannot be high-tech without you, why don’t you assemble your own helicopters? Can you make nuclear bombs? Can you launch satellites? Can you make aircraft carriers? Can you make nuclear submarines? Can you make stealth fighter jets?” The flood of messages from Chinese netizens triggered counterattacks from Taiwanese, with some daring the Chinese to criticize the Chinese government, while others called on “Chinese bastards” to go away. Tsai posted a message on Facebook welcoming “netizens from across the Taiwan Strait.” “In Taiwan, we have many discussions on current issues on this platform [Facebook], the public even organizes civil actions through it,” Tsai wrote. “There are differences in opinion and a variety of voices, but we move toward a better society step by step through exchanges, discussions and debates.” She said she welcomed “new friends” to see a democratic, free and diverse Taiwan. DPP spokesperson Juan Chao-hsiung (阮昭雄) also extended a welcome to Chinese Facebook users on behalf of the party, adding that the DPP, respecting freedom of speech, would not delete any message or take legal action unless there were clear violations of the law.”

US Navy edges back to Subic Bay in Philippines – under new rules “When this Philippine coastal town rid itself two decades ago of a giant US naval base, it wanted to shake off a colonial past and reject the “ugly Americans.” Yet today the town is once again welcoming American military personnel and viewing the US as a vanguard against an increasingly pushy China. The US Navy began using the base in Subic Bay last year to deliver materiel and personnel for annual joint military exercises. Some 6,000 US personnel came to Subic in April, and are set to return for exercises in 2016 in agreement with Philippine authorities, according to a Western diplomat. US ships are using Subic Bay as a resupply port during routine calls, and two towering merchant marine ships flying American flags were docked here in late October. On Nov. 17, President Barack Obama is to visit the capital, Manila, as part of a regional economic cooperation event, and he and President Benigno Aquino III are expected to solidify military ties including use of the 60,000-acre Subic facility that the US formally left in 1992. The return of the Americans follows a deal hammered out with the Philippine military last spring. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement grew out of concern here over China’s spread into waters just off the coast here, and China's claim over more than 80 percent of the South China Sea that extends far below the Chinese mainland. In Olangapo today, a city of 220,000, enthusiasm is strong for a US return. That's due not only to the perceived China threat, but also because the Philippine armed forces, not the Pentagon, will govern the sprawling old base with new rules designed to curb off duty behavior. After World War II, Subic gained prominence as the largest US naval facility in the Pacific, cherished for its deep water, sheltered spots to anchor ships, and elaborate repair infrastructure. Yet during the heyday of Subic, US naval personnel gained notoriety for helping turn the area into a zone of hostess bars and prostitution that fostered local crime. Now, the returning military must stay on approved parts of the base, which has added a well-groomed Harbor Point shopping mall with cinemas and some 200 stores including Starbucks, TGI Friday's, and eventually Gold’s Gym. A midnight to 5 a.m. curfew will be enforced around the base. To short-circuit charges of a new form of colonialism, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, a local governing body, is authorizing Philippine forces to oversee the former base and its returning inhabitants in segments of 15 years.”

ASEAN Calls for Code of Conduct in South China Sea “The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is calling for enforcement of a 13-year-old Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. The call comes less than two weeks before the yearly ASEAN summit. The meeting opens in Kuala Lumpur November 21.   China’s development of islands in the South China Sea has increased tensions between China and ASEAN member countries. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam also have territorial claims to the area. In 2002, ASEAN member states agreed to a document known as the “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.” Its language calls for peace and security in the waterway. Other parts of the declaration express support for the respect of international law and freedom of navigation. The sixth part of the declaration states that ASEAN members should protect the environment and support marine research. That part finishes by asking all to assist in search and rescue operations and to fight crime in the South China Sea. The territorial dispute will take time to resolve said Kung Phoak, a political science professor from Cambodia. He said a code of conduct could decrease tensions. The measure could also prevent conflicts.”

The Rapid Buildup of China’s Military: The 'Intentions' Question “At the next presidential debate, the moderator asks: “How will you as President strategically respond to the rapid buildup and modernization of China’s military?” Each candidate’s answer will likely depend on the experts who have their ear – and what the candidates ultimately believe China’s intentions to be. For example, experts like George Washington University’s Amitai Etzioni counsel accommodation – Etzioni sees China “as a regional, rather than global power” with “neither the capability nor evident desire to establish a new world order.”  In sharp counterpoint, the Hudson Institute’s Seth Cropsey asserts China’s “immediate goal is hegemony – to be the overlord of Asia” and insists on peace through countervailing strength.  Former Assistant Secretary of State and father of the “pivot to Asia” Kurt Campbell attempts to bridge this wide intentions gulf with the observation “it's not clear China itself knows really what it wants.” This question of Chinese intentions is critical to determining appropriate White House policy – and whether any “pivot” to Asia is even necessary. If China seeks only to protect its homeland and guard the trading route its needs to prosper, the world has little to fear.  If, however, China seeks to seize territory and perhaps even drive the U.S. out of the Western Pacific as experts like US-China Commission member Dan Slane and University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer insist, these decidedly bad intentions militate a far firmer presidential response. China can certainly justify a strong military on homeland protection grounds after a Century of Humiliation involving aggression from a long list of foreign powers. There is also little question Trader China must morph from a continental-based power to a global naval force. Indeed, as the world’s factory floor, China must continually feed its manufacturing facilities with massive quantities of natural resources from all over the world – copper from Chile, iron ore from Australia, oil from the Persian Gulf. China’s heavily export-dependent economy must also ship hundreds of billions of dollars of product to markets from Sierra Leone and Bolivia to Detroit, Frankfort, and Vancouver. As Alfred Mahan taught us long ago – and Mahanian scholars like Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes of the U.S. Naval War College teach us today – naval power is the key to preserving one’s trading interests.”

Fall in line: PLA Daily orders Chinese soldiers to obey Communist Party commands “The military’s mouthpiece has ordered officers to toe the Communist Party line in a volley of commentaries apparently aimed at countering internal resistance to personnel cuts. Military analysts said the commentaries indicated President Xi Jinping’s military reform was still meeting some resistance from vested interests. The PLA Daily has published five commentaries in the past two weeks that call for the entire military to obey the party’s order. In September, Xi, who is also chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), announced 300,000 troops would be cut, taking the force to 2 million by 2017. Up to 170,000 officers are slated to be axed. The reduction is part of Xi’s push to turn the army into a nimble, modern force on par with the best of the West. “Our military has endured several rounds of streamlining and restructuring since the 1950s, with one million personnel cut in 1985 … and every time, all officers and soldiers obeyed the arrangement of the CMC with pleasure,” read the fifth commentary, published yesterday. “Today, despite the great changes in social context … obeying the party’s command and central leadership’s order is still the army’s most valuable spirit.” Hong Kong-based based military observer Liang Guoliang said the articles had hinted that some senior officials were trying to challenge Xi’s military reform. “The PLA’s spirit has been fading as many senior officials just care about their personal benefits, with some creating their own interest networks and groups,” Liang said. “It’s very dangerous if those interest groups join together to challenge Xi’s power.” Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said the five articles indicated the PLA’s traditions had been severely undermined over the past two decades by corrupt officials such as former CMC deputy chairmen Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, who were brought down during Xi’s massive anti-graft campaign in the army. Xu died before charges could be brought while Guo is under investigation.”


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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Posted by | November 12, 2015

Chinese Scientists Unveil New Stealth Material Breakthrough “A group of scientists from China may have created a stealth material that could make future fighter jets very difficult to detect by some of today’s most cutting-edge anti-stealth radar. The researchers developed a new material they say can defeat microwave radar at ultrahigh frequencies, or UHF.  Such material is usually too thick to be applied to aircraft like fighter jets, but this new material is thin enough for military aircraft, ships, and other equipment. Today’s synthetic aperture radar use arrays of antennas directing microwave energy to essentially see through clouds and fog and provide an approximate sense of the object’s size, the so-called radar cross section. With radar absorbent material not all of the signal bounces back to the receiver. A plane can look like a bird. “Our proposed absorber is almost ten times thinner than conventional ones,” said Wenhua Xu, one of the team members from China’s Huazhong University of Science and Technology, in a statement. In their paper, published today in the Journal of Applied Physics, the team describes a material composed of semi-conducting diodes (varactors) and capacitors that have been soldered onto a printed circuit board. That layer is sitting under a layer of copper resistors and capacitors just .04 mm thick, which they called an “active frequency selective surface material” or AFSS. The AFSS layer can effectively be stretched to provide a lot of absorption but is thin enough to go onto an aircraft. The next layer is a thin metal honeycomb and final is a metal slab. The good news: the material isn’t locked away in a lab but published openly, so it’s not going to surprise anyone. Stealth is considered by many to be one of the key technologies that enabled U.S. military dominance throughout the last century, effectively neutralizing, or offsetting, technological gains made by rival nations and the Soviet empire.”

McCain calls on Pentagon to clarify South China Sea patrol “The chairman of the influential U.S. Senate Armed Services committee has called on the Pentagon to clarify publicly the legal intent of a U.S. patrol last month within 12 nautical miles of an island China has built in the South China Sea. U.S. officials said last week that the U.S. Navy avoided military drills that could have further inflamed tensions with Beijing during the Oct. 27 patrol by the destroyer USS Lassen in the Spratly islands, an approach experts said could reinforce rather than challenge China's sovereignty claims. Senator John McCain, the Republican head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a Nov. 9 letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter it was vital there should be no misunderstanding about U.S. objectives. "I believe it is critical that the Department of Defense publicly clarify ... the legal intent behind this operation and any future operations of a similar nature," McCain wrote in the letter seen by Reuters on Wednesday. Washington argues that islands China has built up in the South China Sea are not entitled to a territorial limit under international law as they used to be under water at high tide. China reacted angrily to the patrol near Subi Reef, which followed months of U.S. preparation, despite its lack of military drills. But analysts said that if the Lassen failed to conduct military drills, the operation would have resembled what is known as "innocent passage," and could have reinforced China's claim to a territorial limit around the reef. McCain called on Carter to clarify what excessive claims the Lassen was intending to challenge and whether the warship operated under the rules of innocent passage. Innocent passage occurs when a ship quickly transits another country's territorial waters, and can only take place in waters belonging to another country. Pentagon officials have given conflicting descriptions of the Lassen's maneuver. A U.S. official speaking to Reuters at the time described it as an "innocent-passage" operation but later said that had been a mistake.”

China's Strategy For Global Technology Dominance By Any Means Necessary “If you found it unnerving to watch U.S. factory jobs vanish in the last few decades as an overwhelming tide of consumer products were emblazoned with “Made in China,” then now would be an appropriate time to panic again, because China is trying to do the same thing with the kinds of cutting-edge technologies that drive the digital economy. From semiconductors to e-commerce, Chinese President Xi Jinping has unabashedly trumpeted the goal of making China the “master of its own technologies”—and, to do so, the Chinese government is pursuing an aggressive by-hook-or-by-crook strategy that involves serially manipulating the marketplace and wantonly stealing and coercing transfer of American knowhow. The United States can no longer afford to stand idly by as China carries out these plans. The Obama Administration and Congress should push back with a robust policy of constructive confrontation that marshals all the resources of government to make clear there will be severe consequences for China’s brand of innovation mercantilism. The most recent signs of trouble have come in the last few weeks, as China has bought its way into a leading U.S. semiconductor company, Western Digital WDC -1.61%, while surreptitiously testing the backdoor locks of many others. In fact, the Western Digital deal was the latest in a string of 17 other acquisitions that Chinese firms have attempted along the semiconductor value chain. Notably, China’s Tsinghua Unigroup—a state-owned enterprise once headed by the son of former Chinese President Hu Jintao—bid $23 billion this summer for the Idaho-based Micron Technologies. That deal fell apart after U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Schumer raised national security concerns. So Unigroup pivoted, working through its Unisplendour subsidiary to acquire a 15% stake in Western Digital.”

China says Philippines must heal rift over South China Sea as Indonesia speaks out “Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the Philippines' case against China at an arbitration tribunal over rival claims in the South China Sea had strained relations and that it was up to the Philippines to heal the rift. Beijing's claim to almost the entire South China Sea is shown on Chinese maps with a nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia. Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also claim parts of the waterway. The arbitration case against China in the Hague "is a knot that has impeded the improvement and development of Sino-Philippine relations", a statement on the Foreign Ministry's website cited Wang as saying in Manila. "We do not want this knot to become tighter and tighter, so that it even becomes a dead knot," Wang told reporters. "As for how to loosen or open the knot, (we'll) have to look at the Philippines." The nine-dash line also includes parts of the Indonesian-held Natuna islands and Jakarta, which has kept a low profile in the dispute, could take China to the "International Criminal Court" if Beijing's claim was not resolved through dialogue, Indonesia's security chief, Luhut Panjaitan, told reporters on Wednesday.”

Suspicion Rises Of A North Korean Purge “Speculation about a possible new high-level purge in North Korea grew on Thursday after a close aide to leader Kim Jong Un appeared to miss a gathering of the Pyongyang leadership. Since taking the North Korean leadership at the end of 2011, Mr. Kim has executed around 70 officials as part of efforts to solidify his position, according to South Korean authorities who closely monitor their neighbor for signs of instability. Speculation over the fate of Choe Ryong Hae, who has been an emissary for Mr. Kim to China, Russia and South Korea in recent years, began on Sunday when his name was omitted from the list of around 170 names in the organizing committee for the funeral of a senior military figure. A South Korean government spokesman called the omission unprecedented. Then, Mr. Choe wasn’t among the mourners at the funeral on Wednesday, according to analysis from South Korean media of North Korean television footage of the event. The gathering, which footage showed was attended by Mr. Kim and other senior North Korean officials, was a de facto who’s-who of the North Korean political and military leadership. On Thursday, an intelligence official concluded that Mr. Choe was likely sent to an institution for ideological training. The reason wasn’t clear, the official said. All North Koreans receive intensive, life-long instruction about revering the ruling Kim family and serving the goals of the state. Those that fall short in displaying their commitment to the leadership or government-mandated tasks are given additional training or punishment. The absence of any senior official from state media reports in North Korea almost immediately sparks talk among those that monitor the country of new purges because of the high level of churn, sometimes violent, in senior positions. In turn, any confirmed purges raise questions about the stability of the regime. The highest profile purge came in December 2013 when Mr. Kim ordered the execution of his uncle, a top political figure with close ties to China.”

Help Taiwan Get Submarines “The South China Sea remains the most contested region in the world.  If recent signals from the Obama administration are credible, it’s about to become more contested as the U.S. challenges China’s island-building campaign in the international waters of the South China Sea. Many nations dispute claims over groups of islands, reefs, atolls, seabed mineral rights, and large swaths of the South China Sea that are important for economic, navigational, and security reasons.  The disputes continue to increase tension in the region. Vietnam has purchased Kilo submarines; Malaysia is upgrading its coastal navy; the Philippines are weaponizing their AW109helicopters; and Japan continues its naval buildup. In the meantime, China continues to grow its stockpile of missiles across the Taiwan Strait and refuses to disavow force as a means of settling its dispute with Taiwan.  Faced with the possibility of a future blockade or amphibious attack, and unaided by its friends in a decades-long effort to build a defensive submarine force Taiwan has chosen to upgrade its naval capabilities by building its own submarines.  Despite the shadowy security environment where U.S. support for Taiwan flickers according to American administrations’ judgment of the PRC, a robust Taiwanese defense is a strong interest of the U.S.  Taiwan is located at the center of the first island chain that brackets the Asian mainland.  Its population is almost entirely dependent on imported food and energy. A recent Taiwanese Ministry of Defense (MND) Report states the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will exploit this vulnerability in a conflict, likely using a combination of blockades and threats against supporting nations to choke Taiwan’s economy before launching an attack against military and political centers.  According to the Pentagon’s 2014 report on China, if war were to break out Taiwan would face upwards of 34 Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarines. A dozen subs connected with advanced sensors and weapons could contest the PLA for control of the waters surrounding Taiwan. No other Taiwan platform could oppose a maritime blockade as effectively.  The ability of submarines to act autonomously and stealthily would give Taiwan an effective defense against a real threat.  The inability of hostile forces to detect submarines also helps assure the uninterrupted flow of sea-borne commerce.  Taiwan is the U.S.’s 10th largest trading partner.  A modern, deployable fleet of submarines is critical to the sustained defense of Taiwan.”

Australia and the US: great allies but different agendas in the South China Sea “Several posts on The Interpreter have argued recently that Australia should join the US in conducting freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea. This is not a good idea for several reasons, not least of all is how our involvement would be perceived in the region. The regional reaction to the FONOPs has not been what the US might have hoped for. Only the Philippines has come out unequivocally in support. Our closest neighbour Indonesia has strongly criticised the operation, Japan has declined to participate, and Singapore has been ambivalent. Joining the US in FONOPs in the South China Sea would do nothing to help our image in the region. We should be particularly sensitive to the highly critical reaction by Indonesia to the US FONOPs. Law of the sea issues are a tricky part of our bilateral relations with Indonesia. We saw this with the Indonesian response to the intrusion by Australian warships and customs vessels into Indonesian territorial seas in January 2014. Several commentators, including Euan Graham, have pointed out that confusion surrounds just what the US was trying to achieve. This confirms my questioning earlier this year as to whether the US knows what it's doing in the South China Sea. Even two robust defenders of the American position, Bonnie Glaser and Peter Dutton, have admitted that 'the Pentagon should explain the legal basis for its operation and clarify what message it intended to send'. Australia is wise to keep clear of this complex and confused situation. Many of the commentaries on the FONOPs reintroduce the old claim that somehow China threatens the freedom of commercial navigation through the South China Sea. With a large proportion of the seaborne trade flowing through the sea bound for China, this is not going to happen. Implications of a possible threat to commercial navigation also often overstate the amount of national trade passing through this area. Australia has been guilty of this. Our Minister for Foreign Affairs claimed in a recent speech to the Australian Institute of International Affairs that 'about two-thirds of Australia's trade passes through the disputed maritime zone of the South China Sea'. This is way off the mark; it's more like about 20% when we consider the extent of our trade with Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, New Zealand, the Pacific islands and Northeast Asia; cargo that does not cross the South China Sea. It is motherhood to say that freedom of navigation through the South China Sea is important. Few would disagree with that claim but it's only the US that places a premium on the freedom to conduct military activities there. Even then, the major incidents that have occurred between American and Chinese assets have involved US intelligence collection and so-called 'military surveys' in China's EEZ (exclusive economic zone). The right to conduct these activities in the South China Sea is not a great concern of Australia's.”

Nancy Pelosi Made Rare Visit to Tibet, China Says “Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, visited Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, this week and met with the Communist Party chief of the region, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman and a report published on Thursday by the official Tibet Daily. Ms. Pelosi, who represents California, and her colleagues are on an official trip to China, and Chinese leaders have allowed her the rare opportunity to make a tightly controlled visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region, which is under Beijing rule and usually off limits to foreign officials and journalists. The administrative region includes Lhasa and the central Tibetan plateau, as well as areas bordering Nepal. On Thursday afternoon, Hong Lei, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, confirmed at a regularly scheduled news conference that Ms. Pelosi and her delegation had gone to Tibet before traveling to Beijing. He did not give details of the Tibet trip but said the delegation had been invited to China by the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, a legislature set up to approve policy and regulations made by the Communist Party. Ms. Pelosi has met on multiple occasions with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader vilified by China, including in Dharamsala, India, where he lives. She has spoken out strongly against Chinese repression in Tibet. Tibet Daily said that Chen Quanguo, the ethnic Han party chief, told Ms. Pelosi in a meeting on Tuesday that the United States should not support any separatist activities and should bar the Dalai Lama from visiting the United States. The article also said that Ms. Pelosi met with monks and nuns and “highly praised” the “progress” in Tibet as well as the Chinese government’s efforts in “guaranteeing religious freedom, protecting ethnic culture and protecting the ecology and environment.” As printed in Tibet Daily, Ms. Pelosi’s remarks are a sharp contrast to many of her earlier, critical statements on the situation in Tibet. Ms. Pelosi was attending official meetings in Beijing on Thursday and could not be reached for immediate comment. In the past, official Chinese news organizations have incorrectly quoted prominent foreigners or selectively quoted them for propaganda purposes.”

Indonesia asks China to clarify South China Sea claims “Indonesia has asked China to clarify its claims over the South China Sea but has yet to receive a response, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, a day after Indonesia's security chief said Jakarta could take Beijing to court over an island dispute. Beijing's claim to almost the entire resource-rich sea is shown on Chinese maps with a nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia. Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also claim parts of the waterway. Last year, the Indonesian armed forces chief accused China of including parts of the Indonesian-ruled Natuna islands within the nine-dash line. Indonesian President Joko Widodo's administration departed from its usual low-profile role in the dispute on Wednesday when security chief Luhut Panjaitan said Jakarta could take China to an international court if dialogue over the islands failed. But China said on Thursday it did not dispute Indonesia's claim to the Natunas. "The position of Indonesia is clear at this stage that we do not recognize the nine-dash line because it is not in line with ... international law," Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir told reporters. "We asked for clarification on what they mean and what they mean by the nine-dash line. That has not been clarified." Nasir could not say when the request through diplomatic channels was made to China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China did not dispute Indonesia's sovereignty over the Natunas but that there were "some maritime disputes". It was not clear what disputes he was referring to. "We have consistently upheld that China and Indonesia should find a means of appropriate resolution through direct negotiations and consultation, with respect for international law and on the basis of historical fact," Hong said. The Philippines has taken China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, a case Beijing refuses to recognize. For years, China has insisted that disputes with rival claimants be handled bilaterally. When asked if Indonesia could also take China to court, as Panjaitan had said, Nasir responded: "We cannot preempt things before we know how they evolve. But what is clear is that we are not a claimant state and we don't recognize the issue of the nine-dash line, which we have made clear to 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.

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Posted by | November 10, 2015

Editor's Note: On Sunday, Congressman Forbes issued a statement (link) on the meeting between Presidents Ma and Xi, urging that Taiwan's leader be invited for a similar meeting with the U.S. president.

China Displays New 5th Generation Stealth Fighter “China’s first indigenously developed fifth-generation fighter jet had its international debut at this year’s Dubai Air Show, China Military Online reports. According to the website, this was the first time that the FC-31 “Gyrfalcon” (aka J-31) was exhibited overseas. At the air show the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is trying to pitch the FC-31 as an alternative to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, however, with limited success so far. As of now, only the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has expressed interest and is “in negotiations” with AVIC to buy the aircraft, according to an AVIC project manager. Other potential customers include Iran and Pakistan. AVIC representatives at the air show praised the aircraft’s “outstanding situational awareness” and emphasized that the FC-31 is designed for “the demands of future battlefield environments,” Defense News reports. The aircraft design is believed to have been stolen from the American-made F-35 in April 2009 when Chinese hackers breached the networks of U.S. defense contractor Lockheed-Martin and obtained access to the blueprints of the plane. Indeed, the FC-31s airframe resembles that of the F-35. Like the F-35, the FC-31 also has two internal weapons bays that can carry guided and unguided weapons. Overall, the aircraft allegedly can carry 3.600 kilograms of payload–910 kilograms internally and 2,700 kilograms externally under its wings. Other similarities are more subtle. For example, the FC-31s electro-optical targeting system, dubbed EOTS-89, resembles that of the F-35. “The similarity includes the use of two tracking mirrors and a flat-facetted optical window, with bottom fuselage placement just aft the radar radome,” according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly. However, most aircraft experts believe that China’s stealth aircraft, billed as a fifth-generation fighter, cannot compete with the American fighter jet, although any unclassified assessment of the aircraft’s performance is highly speculative at this stage given the sparsity of information publicly available.”

South Korea's KF-X Project “The revelation by South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) in late September that it had been denied crucial technology transfer from the U.S. government for the country's indigenous KF-X (Korean Fighter Experimental) program immediately placed the project in political crosshairs. The roughly $15.5 billion program was designed with the replacement of the Republic of Korea Air Force's aging fleet of 1970s-vintage F-4 Phantoms and F-5 Tiger IIs in mind. The aim was to build off the third phase of the F-X next-generation fighter program (F-X III) by harnessing technologies acquired through offsets related to the purchase of 40 Lockheed Martin F-35A stealth combat aircraft. South Korea planned to procure 120 of the indigenous twin-engine multirole fighters, which are to be replete with high-end avionics systems and stealth features. Under the program outlines, the development stage – valued at $8 billion – will last until 2025, by which point serial production of the new fighters is planned for launch. The problem, however, is that back in April, the DAPA received notice from Washington of its refusal to transfer four core technologies critical to the KF-X project. The technologies include active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, infrared search and track (IRST), electro-optical target tracking devices, and jammers. These technologies are crucial elements in the aircraft's ultimate capability; having to pursue them domestically (or via foreign cooperation) may push the timeline for the plane's development out further past the 2025 goal. Despite this, the country's Agency for Defense Development (ADD) is in the process of attempting to bring forward the development timeframe for locally developed AESA radar from 2020-2024 to 2017-2021. DAPA officials also note that around 90 percent of the integration technology for AESA radar has already been accumulated through the integration of one on an indigenous FA-50 light combat aircraft produced by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). Each of the other three core technologies will be pursued via direct purchase from Europe, collaboration with a partnering country or countries, and/or – again – localized development. But positive spin about developing core technologies on its own aside, the blowback over the 2013 decision to opt for the F-35 has become intense in the wake of the belated announcement of the denial of technology transfer. The office of the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs has now launched a probe into the KF-X program, with former National Security Office (NSO) chief Kim Kwan-jin coming under fire for his role in the decision, first announced on September 24, 2013, to reject a Boeing bid of an advanced stealth version of the F-15 in favor of the F-35. DAPA officials, meanwhile, are left scurrying to find solutions for acquiring the necessary technologies for KF-X, while parrying accusations from the same office that it tried to cover up the tech transfer failure. The presidential office has, in addition, launched a probe that calls into question the ethicality of the selection of Lockheed Martin as the preferred bidder for F-X III and, by extension, playing a major role in KF-X development.”

Will the Philippines Approve a New US Defense Pact Ahead of Obama's Visit? “Over the weekend, local media outlets reported that the Supreme Court of the Philippines may finally decide that a new U.S.-Philippine defense pact is constitutional more than a year after it was signed and before U.S. President Barack Obama touches down next week in Manila for an Asia-Pacific summit. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – a pact inked in April 2014 between Washington and Manila that, among other things, would give U.S. troops and equipment wide access to Philippine military bases on a rotational basis – has been languishing in the face of a constitutional challenge in the Southeast Asian state. Though Philippine officials have been assuring outside observers that EDCA’s approval is a question of when rather than if, many in Washington had hoped a decision would be made before Obama attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting that Manila is hosting November 17-18. Now sources suggest that the court will decide to uphold the constitutionality of the pact before Obama’s trip as many had hoped. Sources close to the judicial proceedings told The Manila Times that the 82-page draft decision of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is expected to declare EDCA “not constitutionally infirm.” These sources also added that the tribunal would discuss and deliberate the draft decision on November 10 and that depending on whether or not there are objections, there could be a vote either then or on November 16 on the eve of the APEC summit. Separately, a government official also told Reuters that the administration expected a ruling in its favor before APEC.”

China to Philippines: No Sea Feud Talk at APEC Summit “China's top diplomat asked the Philippines Tuesday not to raise contentious issues — an obvious reference to the Asian neighbors' territorial spats — in an annual economic summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Manila next week, a Filipino official said. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's request, relayed to his Philippine counterpart Albert del Rosario during talks in Manila, underscored Beijing's objection to any effort to bring the long-raging disputes to an international arena, where rivals like Washington could use it to criticize Beijing. Non-inclusion of the thorny topic would also shield Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is expected to attend the Nov. 18-19 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Manila, from a potentially embarrassing confrontation. "They said they hope that contentious issues will not be raised during APEC," Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in a news conference, when asked if the disputes were discussed in Wang's hour-long talk with del Rosario. Wang also mentioned that his Manila visit was to ensure that Xi's visit "will be smooth, safe and successful," Jose said. Wang also met President Benigno Aquino III in the first visit by a top Chinese official to Manila since the two Asian neighbors' relations soured in the last three years due to overlapping claims in the South China Sea, a regional conflict that involves four other Asian governments, whose leaders are attending the Manila meetings. The last time a Chinese foreign minister visited the Philippines was in 2009 and Jose said Wang's visit in itself "is an indication that we can move the bilateral relations forward." Aquino said he welcomed Xi's decision to join the meetings and promised "the warmth of Filipino hospitality," according to presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma. The Philippines, Jose said, agreed that the meetings in Manila would not be the proper forum to discuss the conflicts, adding that Manila has a pending legal challenge against Beijing's massive claims in the South China Sea before an international tribunal in The Hague.”

China-Thailand joint military exercise shows longtime U.S. ally Bangkok hedging its bets “China and Thailand will conduct their first joint military air exercise with 180 Chinese officers and top pilots starting Thursday at a Thai base that the U.S. Air Force used for bombing missions over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War. The joint action by Chinese and Thai forces, dubbed Falcon Strike, is the latest sign that Bangkok, a longtime U.S. anchor ally in the region, is prepared to hedge its bets between its traditional ally in Washington and the rising regional power in Beijing. “For years, indeed decades, this cooperation would have been not only politically unthinkable, but technically impossible, as the [Royal Thai Air Force] was almost wholly dependent on the U.S., while China’s [support] was significantly less advanced,” Benjamin Zawacki, an American analyst who is writing a book on the U.S.-Thai-China axis, said in an interview. “For the U.S., it spells another zero-sum loss to an engaged and strategic China.” Using its giant economy as a draw, Beijing has both courted and intimidated the smaller nations on its periphery. China has advanced aggressive territorial claims in the battle to control the vital shipping lanes of the South China Sea, but Chinese President Xi Jinping also has reached out to leaders in Southeast Asia. Most recently, he has met with the leaders of Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan. Mr. Zawacki said China is also stealing a march on the U.S. in Bangkok, with the military exercises just one symbol of China’s willingness to work with the authoritarian government of President Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former top army general who came to power in a bloodless May 2014 coup.”

‘Game changer for future battlefields’: Chinese military praises stealth drones that use parachutes after tests in Tibet “Chinese researchers have completed the final field tests of a “paragliding drone” in the western province of Tibet, a milestone seen as a prelude to China soon embarking on its first robotic air cargo fleet for military operations or disaster relief. Instead of using fixed wings or rotors like conventional drones, the newly tested drones rely on a powered parachute for lift. China is a world leader in producing civilian drones, with Shenzhen-based start-up DJI now controlling over 70 per cent of the global market from its base in southern China. However it’s military is still playing catch-up with other world powers in the development of cutting-edge drone technology, experts say. The latest field tests were conducted by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shenyang Institute of Automation, which runs under the supervision of China North Industries Group Corp., the largest arms supplier in the country, according to the institute’s website earlier this week. The results showed that the unmanned parachutes could be deployed in harsh environments such as high-altitude areas with thin air, the statement said. The unique design of these drones offers several tactical advantages, and they have met with interest from a number of militaries around the world. They can “solve the difficult challenge of large-area surveillance and long-distance delivery” for natural disasters such as earthquakes and military operations, according to the statement. Chinese military representatives awarded “high praise” to the drones and anticipated their future deployment in delivering supplies, or for special field surveillance missions, it added. Due to the structural simplicity of the devices and chutes, a large cargo fleet could be put together quickly at relatively low cost. In the recent tests, they were flown at low speeds and at a low altitude. The use of sensors and artificial intelligence improved their performance, enabling a whole fleet to reach its targeted destination and drop goods off automatically or via remote control, the report said. China is currently engaged in a number of territorial disputes with its Asian neighbours in outlying islands in the South China Sea - areas where a robotic air cargo fleet could prove useful.”

Air chief warns ‘China making moves to contain India’ “Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha China’s growing influence in the Indian sub-continent as a major security challenge for India. Delivering the inaugural address at 12th Subroto Mukerjee Seminar at Centre for Air Power Studies, ACM Raha said that Chinese growing influence was with a strategic aim in mind, and it was being factored in India’s foreign and defence policies. “China has increased its economic and military ties with all our neighbours. Rapid infrastructure development is taking place in the TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region). World’s highest airfield at Daocheng Yading, highest railway line from Xiniang, Qinghai province to TAR capital, development of the Gwadar port and Economic corridor through PoK and Pakistan, development of roads in TAR up to Indian border and increasing economic and military ties with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar are all strategic moves by China to contain India”, ACM Raha said. Highlighting Beijing’s other regional moves, ACM Raha added that “China has been making sustained efforts to make its presence felt in the IOR (Indian Ocean Region), including dispatch of submarines in the name of Piracy control, with a strange logic.” “Incidents of border stand-off in the North, issuance of paper visa to the residents of Arunachal Pradesh (AP) and claiming of Aksai Chin and part of AP as part of China have diluted the agreement of five principles, Panchsheel signed way back in 1954,” ACM Saha noted at the seminar organized in the memory of Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee, who was the first Indian Commander-in-Chief and Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Noting that the rise of China, India and ASEAN has shifted the global economic centre of gravity and hence, the strategic centre of gravity to the Asia Pacific Region, ACM Raha said that India faced a unique challenge – it has the dual task of physical security of the borders and maintaining harmonious relations with its neighbours. Talking about Pakistan, ACM Raha observed that the “support of the Pakistan Army to the militant organizations and continuous interference in the internal affairs of Jammu and Kashmir will remain a source of friction between the two countries.””

Fears Grow For Missing Hong Kong Publishers Who Were Critical of China “Four Hong Kong publishers known for their racy texts critical of Communist leaders in mainland China have apparently disappeared, leading some to suspect that they have been detained by authorities across the border. Sage Bookstore, an outlet for politically sensational books about Chinese leaders in Hong Kong’s bustling Causeway Bay district, has been shuttered since October, when Gui Haiming, a Swedish citizen who owns the shop’s parent company, failed to return from a holiday in Thailand. Lu Bo, the company’s general manager, and Zhang Zhiping, an employee, went missing shortly thereafter while visiting family in mainland China, according to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA). The bookstore’s manager, Lin Rongji, is also missing, RFA says. Paul Tang owns a left-wing bookstore nearby that sells works published by the group. “[One of our employees] worked there for two days, and when she went back on the third day, it was closed, with a notice that it was undergoing ‘urgent renovations,'” Tang told TIME on Tuesday. “We then tried to contact the owner, but there was no way to get through to them.” Sage’s catalog, which boasts bold titles like The Collapse of Xi Jinping in 2017, is often sordid in its subject matter and lurid in its prose. But for mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong — a Special Administrative Region of China that officially falls outside the immediate purview of Beijing’s authority — the books offer a rare alternative to the state-dictated media narrative back home. “The [books] are often not true, and Chinese customers know that it’s just gossip — that they can only believe 50% of it — but it’ll catch their eyeballs and they’ll buy one or two,” Tang said.”

China softens tactics in global hunt for corruption fugitives “China has changed tactics in its global man-hunt for fugitives wanted at home for corruption, after complaints from countries that objected to Beijing's practice of sending investigators to track them down, a top Chinese anti-corruption official said. Liu Jianchao, in charge of repatriating Chinese corruption suspects who flee abroad, said in an interview Beijing had deepened cooperation with foreign governments and no longer sent officials abroad without clearance from the host country to try to convince the suspects to return home. China has brought home more than 600 officials this year in a campaign dubbed "Operation Fox Hunt", pursuing them abroad as part of a wider crackdown on deep-rooted graft which Liu called "an arduous task". Seventeen of the top 100 suspects on which China's Interpol office issued a red notice in April have been repatriated, he said. "The Chinese authorities at different levels ... didn't really mean to make any harm to the country that they were visiting, but then we got these complaints, we realized there's room for improvement in doing this job," Liu told Reuters on Monday on a visit to Britain to seek better legal cooperation. "So now we are talking to the authorities of the relevant countries to seek their assistance and their understanding and we tell them in explicit terms that China will ... comply with the legal procedures, with the rules of your country," he said, in an unusually frank admission of the challenges Beijing has faced in trying to repatriate economic fugitives.”

China needs focus on military-industrial complex, officer says “China needs to place greater focus on developing a military-industrial complex, much like the United States has done, to ensure a powerful armed forces commensurate with its place in the world, a senior officer wrote in a new book. Chinese President Xi Jinping has set great store on China's military modernization, including developing an ocean-going "blue water" navy, stealth jets and other advance technologies to better defend the country's growing global interests. In a collection of essays released this week by top officials on the 13th five-year plan, which maps out economic targets up to 2020, Xu Qiliang, a vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, said China needs security to be able to develop its economy. Citing ancient Chinese philosopher Shang Yang, who helped create a powerful military force in one of the early Chinese states, Xu said a country cannot get rich without decent armed forces. "Security is a precondition for development, and development is the material base for security," Xu wrote. Many countries already mesh civilian resources with military development, and this is a necessary choice for China, he added. "The Manhattan Project and the Apollo Program of the United States and China's great undertakings like the Shenzhou space craft and Chang'e moon probe are very good examples," Xu wrote. This will also ensure there are new opportunities for economic development in China, he added, a country where growth is slowing and the government is trying to switch to a more sustainable, consumption-driven model. "It will open up new development spaces, and push the good ship China ahead through the waves," he wrote. However, the journey ahead would not be smooth, and many problems have already been found, such as waste, unnecessary duplication of projects, Xu said. China's military plans have shaken nerves around the region and rung alarm bells in Washington too, though Beijing insists it has no hostile intent and has a genuine need to upgrade outmoded forces to ensure the security of what is now the world's second-largest economy. Xu said China was faced with multiple security threats, though he did not name them.”

Leaders of China and Taiwan set a precedent “A strong, vigorous handshake that lasted more than a minute marked the historic first meeting between the leader of the People’s Republic of China and the leader of Taiwan, which has been the home of the government of the Republic of China since its defeat by the Communists in the Chinese civil war in 1949. “Blood is thicker than water,” declared Chinese President Xi Jinping, using a Western proverb that has become absorbed into the Chinese vocabulary, especially in describing relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. “We are all descendants of the Chinese people,” declared Ma Ying-jeou, the Taiwan leader. “We should cooperate together and rejuvenate the Chinese nation.” The mutual emphasis on Chineseness is understandable. After all, that is what they have in common, despite political separation over the last 66 years. Their people, by and large, share Chinese ethnicity and culture, setting politics aside. But politics cannot be set aside. Beijing insists that there can only be “one China,” namely, the People’s Republic of China. But Taiwan cannot agree that the Republic of China doesn’t exist and so it insists on “separate interpretations” of what “one China” means. Ma, who has to uphold the dignity of his office, explained that his government doesn’t use expressions like “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan” or “Taiwan independence,” because “the Constitution of the Republic of China does not allow that.” True to form, Xi avoided the media and it was Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office, who met the press. Zhang allowed three questions, one of which was from a Taiwan newspaper. Many journalists were upset, with one reportedly yelling: “I’ve never seen a press conference as not-free as this!” The Taiwan side’s press conference was held by Ma himself, who answered well over a dozen questions posed by reporters from China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States.”

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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