China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 01, 2015

U.S. Navy Alarmed at Beijing’s ‘Great Wall of Sand’ in South China Sea. “China is building “a great wall of sand” through an unprecedented program of land reclamation in the South China Sea, raising concerns about the possibility of military confrontation in the disputed waters, according to the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Admiral Harry Harris Jr. told a naval conference in Australia late Tuesday that competing territorial claims by several nations in the South China Sea are “increasing regional tensions and the potential for miscalculation,” the Associated Press reported. “But what’s really drawing a lot of concern in the here and now is the unprecedented land reclamation currently being conducted by China,” he said. Satellite images show rapid construction on various coral reefs and rocks controlled by China within the disputed Spratly Islands, including harbors and piers, helipads, buildings and potentially at least one airstrip, experts say. Last month, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed concerns that the program was an attempt to “militarize outposts on disputed land features.”  Harris said China had now created 1.5 square miles of artificial landmass in recent months. “China is building artificial land by pumping sand onto live coral reefs — some of them submerged — and paving them over with concrete,” he said. In a region known for its beautiful natural islands, he said, “China is creating a great wall of sand with dredges and bulldozers over the course of months”. China claims almost all of the South China Sea as its territorial waters, but its claims overlap with those of Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. Last month, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the country was merely carrying out “necessary construction on its own islands and reefs,” and said it would continue to uphold freedom of navigation in the busy shipping waters of the South China Sea, as well as resolve disputes through “direct dialogue” and consultation.” 

What Yemen’s Crisis Reveals About China’s Growing Global Power.
“On Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported that more than 500 Chinese nationals who were evacuated from Yemen had arrived safely in the city of Djibouti. The evacuees had been picked up by a Chinese fleet Sunday and Monday, fleeing an increasingly dangerous situation in the Middle Eastern state. In the chaotic web of alliances in Yemen's new conflict, China's relatively meek intervention might be overlooked. But it's a noteworthy sign of China's growing geopolitical power, which has gained a lot of attention in Sub-Saharan Africa but also extends to the Middle East. And while the evacuation may look like they are cutting their losses, it may actually serve an important strategic purpose to extend China's reach. China's interest in Yemen goes back decades, with Beijing helping with infrastructure developments in Yemen as far back as the 1950s. In recent years, however, the relationship clearly deepened: In 2013, President Xi Jinping welcomed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to Beijing on an official visit and the two nations even vowed military cooperation. Beijing announced a $507 million loan to help develop the port of Aden that year, though some local media reports said that the loan had been suspended this year before it was due to commence. For China, the logic behind the relationship was clear. Firstly, Yemen oil production could provide energy for China's booming economy, and China has spent over a decade investing heavily in Yemen's oil industry. Just as important, however, was Yemen's geographical location. Not only was Yemen close to the Horn of Africa, where China has a substantial economic footprint, its location by the Gulf of Aden made it a strategic location for the Suez Canal: In fact, the ships that rescued the Chinese nationals this week were part of an international anti-piracy operation in the region that China had been a part of since 2008. Ever since Yemen fell into chaos in early 2015 and Hadi was forced out, Beijing has kept its economic interests going in Yemen. Oil shipments continued flowing from the country – Reuters reports that oil shipments in the first two months of 2015 were up 315 percent up from the same period in 2014. The Chinese government showed a pragmatic side, with recent reports that they met with the Houthi rebels who took over the capital of Sanaa earlier this year to discuss economic partnership. The pragmatism extends to the mass evacuation of almost all the Chinese citizens in Yemen. As Jane Perlez of the New York Times notes, the swift work of China's navy would play well with an audience at home – serving as a reassurance that Chinese nationals would be protected all around the world – and China's ambassador to Yemen has vowed to keep its embassy in Sanaa and consulate in Aden open.” 

China Sharply Boosting Cyber Warfare Funding.
“China’s government is sharply increasing its investment in cyber warfare programs in what U.S. intelligence officials say is a major attempt to compete with superior U.S. military cyber capabilities. The new spending priority was described by U.S. officials as a long-term, large-scale reallocation of resources by the Chinese, considered along with Russia to be among the most capable cyber warfare nation states. “There is now data we have that suggests that they have redirected as much as 20 to 30 percent more funding to cyber than they have in previous years,” said a U.S. official familiar with details of the Chinese cyber warfare program. The official said new intelligence reports indicate Beijing has “made a long term strategic commitment” to bolstering cyber warfare efforts. According to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, the major increase in Chinese efforts was set off after the Chinese concluded that their military cyber programs lag behind U.S. strategic cyber warfare efforts in significant ways. The increased investment highlights China’s aggressive cyber activities that have been highlighted by both government and private sector security reports in the U.S. Details of the amount being spent on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cyber program could not be learned. But private analysts said the up to one-third percentage funding increase could be valued anywhere from the hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) said that China, through the PLA, has developed one of the most sophisticated cyber capabilities in the world. “They have stolen hundreds of billions of dollars of intellectual property from U.S. businesses and continue to commit this theft,” Pompeo said. “The Chinese have now increased their capacity to conduct massive attacks and continue to consider this weapon as a primary tool in there arsenal.” A CIA spokesman declined to comment. Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhu Haiquan declined to directly address China’s increased cyber spending. “China advocates for the peaceful use of cyberspace. Efforts should be made by the international community to prevent militarization of cyberspace and a cyber arms race,” Zhu said.” 

Japan, Sticking With U.S., Says It Won’t Join China-Led Bank.
“Japanese leaders indicated on Tuesday that their nation would not become a founding member of a new Chinese-led Asian development bank but instead remain loyal to the United States, which has urged its allies to refrain from joining. The officials cited concerns about the management of the new lender, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, that echoed objections raised by Washington, which sees the bank as a challenge to American-led institutions like the World Bank. Local news reports quoted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as saying it was important for strategic reasons that Japan stick with the United States even when other allies like Britain and Germany have announced they will join the new bank. “The United States now knows that Japan is trustworthy,” Mr. Abe was quoted by Kyodo News as telling a meeting of his governing Liberal Democratic Party. The finance minister, Taro Aso, told a news conference that Japan would not contemplate joining until the new bank demonstrated that it had strict lending standards, including assessments of the environmental and social impacts of development projects. “We have no choice but to be very cautious about participation,” Mr. Aso said. Despite American objections, dozens of nations signed up ahead of the March 31 deadline set by China to become founding members of the new bank, to be based in Beijing. The most recent countries to join included Australia and South Korea, two of the United States’ closest military partners in the region. South Korea’s decision reversed earlier expressions of agreement to American requests to avoid the bank. The decisions by so many allies to break with Washington have been seen as a sign of the growing financial clout of China, which has become the largest trading partner of many countries in the region. The new bank will confirm its founding members in April and aims to begin operating by the end of this year.” 

Taiwan’s Largest Missile Ship Goes Into Service.
“Taiwan's largest-ever missile ship went into service Tuesday after a ceremony presided over by President Ma Ying-jeou as the island strives to modernize its military in response to a perceived threat from China. Ma praised the corvette's "stealth and speed" at the ceremony involving hundreds of naval officers and said it "reflects the determination by the military to defend national security". Armed with 16 missiles, the ship will strengthen Taiwan's defense capabilities. China still considers the island part of its territory waiting to be reunited — by force if necessary. The 500-tonne corvette, named 'Tuo Chiang' ('Tuo River'), will be deployed following the ceremony at the southern Tsoying naval base. It is the prototype for up to 11 others to be built for the navy. The sleek twin-hulled ship uses stealth technology to reduce the reflection of radar waves, making it harder to detect. Taiwan in December announced a new project to produce advanced homegrown surface-to-air missiles from 2015 as part of efforts to build an air defense shield. It has also announced a move to build its own submarines, which Ma said Tuesday were "crucial" to its defense. The Taiwanese navy currently operates a fleet of four submarines, but only two of them can be deployed in the event of war. The other two were built by the United States in the 1940s and are too old for combat. Relations between Taiwan and China have improved since 2008 when Ma, of the China-friendly Kuomintang party, came to power. However the perceived threat remains — according to Taiwan's defense ministry China has more than 1,500 ballistic and cruise missiles trained on the island.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 31, 2015

As China Expands Its Navy, the U.S. Grows Wary. “China’s navy chief, Adm. Wu Shengli, strolled the Harvard University campus in a tweed blazer and slacks during a visit to the U.S. last fall, joking with students and quizzing school officials about enrolling some of his officers. A few days earlier, he became the first Chinese navy chief to attend a 113-nation naval forum in Rhode Island, where he hailed U.S.-China military ties and discussed working together on global maritime challenges. Shortly after his U.S. visit, Adm. Wu took another trip—this time to the Spratly Islands, an archipelago in the South China Sea where his country appears to be building a network of artificial island fortresses in contested waters. It was his first known visit to facilities U.S. officials fear could be used to enforce Chinese control of nearly all the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. As Adm. Wu seeks closer exchanges with the U.S. in his quest to build a modern global navy, Washington faces the dilemma of dealing with China as both a partner and a potential adversary challenging U.S. naval dominance in Asia. “I would say that he doesn’t want to build a navy that’s equivalent to the U.S.,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, the retired U.S. Chief of Naval Operations. “He wants to build a navy that surpasses the U.S.” Adm. Wu, navy chief since 2006, is one of the architects of China’s maritime expansion, sending ships and submarines deep into the Indian and Pacific oceans, launching China’s first aircraft carrier and overseeing operations to assert control of waters claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and other nations. He also has become China’s point man for cinching closer U.S. military ties, a priority of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Adm. Wu met his counterpart, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, four times over the past two years, forging guidelines on how Chinese and U.S. vessels can safely interact. Adm. Wu now wants deeper exchanges, including help developing aircraft carrier operations and improving education for his naval officers. He says such exchanges would allow China to better work alongside the U.S. to maintain global security, according to people who have spoken with him.” 

China’s ‘Great Wall of Sand’ Raises U.S. Concerns.
“Unprecedented land reclamation by China in contested islands of the South China Sea is raising serious questions over whether Beijing intends confrontation or cooperation with other regional powers, America’s top Pacific commander said Tuesday. In his most direct criticism yet of apparent Chinese efforts to build a network of fortifications on the contested Spratly Islands archipelago of the South China Sea, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris Jr accused Beijing of building a “great wall of sand” over areas claimed by several nations. “When one looks at China’s pattern of provocative actions towards smaller claimant states—the lack of clarity on its sweeping nine-dash line claim that is inconsistent with international law, and the deep asymmetry between China’s capabilities and those of its smaller neighbors—it’s no surprise that the scope and pace of building man-made islands raises serious questions about Chinese intentions,” Adm. Harris told a naval security conference in Australia. Adm. Harris said China has created four square kilometers (1.5 square miles) of artificial land mass and construction is continuing. “How China proceeds will be a key indicator of whether the region is heading towards confrontation or cooperation,” he said. Increasing muscle-flexing by China over territorial claims is stoking apprehension in nations including the Philippines and Vietnam, which earlier this month lodged a diplomatic protest with Beijing. Australia, a longtime U.S. ally, has also expressed concern and last year signed a deal with Japan to bolster military cooperation and exercises as a hedge against China’s fast-growing military clout.” 

Taiwan Seeks Strong Cyber Security Ties With U.S. to Counter China Threat.
“Taiwan wants to join a major anti-hacking drill conducted by the United States to strengthen cyber security ties with its staunchest ally, its vice premier said on Monday, a move which would help safeguard against constant targeting by hackers in rival China. Many hacks into Taiwan systems have been traced to sites belonging to China's People's Liberation Army, Vice Premier Simon Chang told Reuters in an interview, without elaborating on the locations. "Taiwan has no enemy in the international community except you-know-who. Who in the world would try to hack Taiwan?" Chang, a former director of Asia hardware operations for internet giant Google Inc, said. China has vehemently denied accusations of cyber theft. Making the case for Taiwan's inclusion in the "Cyber Storm" drill, Chang reiterated the long-held view that China's 'cyber army' regularly uses Taiwan as a 'testing ground' for its most advanced hacking attempts. "The U.S. has the Cyber Storm drill – we were not invited. We would like to be invited," Chang said. The drill is held biennially, according to the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, though the timing for the next one is unknown. Taiwan had invited U.S. officials to observe its own mock drill against cyber attacks in 2013. Cooperation between Taiwan and the United States would aim to strengthen defenses against hackers looking to steal government, military and industrial intelligence. Taiwan was the most-targeted country in the Asia-Pacific region during the first half of 2014 for hacking attempts aimed at penetrating computer systems to steal data, according to U.S. data security firm FireEye Inc.” 

Rhodes Scholarships Expanding to Include Chinese Students.
“The organization that administers Rhodes scholarships, the prestigious grant program that sends promising students to the University of Oxford, is preparing to expand to the developing world and other countries and will soon begin naming scholars from China. The move into China, announced Monday, is the first step in what the program expects to be its biggest expansion since it made women eligible in the 1970s. It is meant to cultivate a more diverse crop of young people the program hopes will become leaders in their countries, adding to a list that includes Nobel Prize recipients, former President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia. By entering China, the program, which has struggled financially in recent years, is also creating a new platform to raise money. But even among the many alumni who believe that an expansion is overdue and that Chinese students should be a part of it, there is some concern about whether the Communist Party will try to exert pressure on the selection process to exclude university students whom the authorities view as critical of the government. The Rhodes decision comes amid a big push into China by some of the world’s most selective universities seeking new students, new sources of funding, and ways to develop programs and research institutes inside the country. The group includes Harvard, Yale and the University of California, Berkeley. But the move also comes at a time when the authorities are pressuring Chinese universities to limit their use of foreign textbooks, which officials say promote “Western values.” James Fallows, the author and national correspondent for The Atlantic, who was elected a Rhodes scholar in 1970, said he had high hopes for the program’s expansion in China, but he also expressed worries about possible political interference. “Over the decades and around the world, a small but significant proportion of Rhodes scholars have been people protesting their own country’s government or working to change its policies,” Mr. Fallows wrote in an email. “A test of the quality of the Chinese program is whether it would be able to consider such candidates.” 

China Appears to Attack GitHub By Diverting Web Traffic.
“The Chinese government has long used a sophisticated set of Internet filters known as the Great Firewall as a barrier to prevent its citizens from obtaining access to foreign websites with information it deems threatening. But in a recent series of attacks on websites that try to help Internet users in China circumvent this censorship, the Great Firewall appears to have been used instead as a weapon, diverting a portion of the torrents of Internet traffic that flow through it to overload targeted websites. In doing so, the Chinese government is taking advantage of and damaging one of China’s own Internet companies: Baidu. The attacks appear to hijack advertising and analytics traffic intended for Baidu, China’s largest search company, and then send that traffic to smaller websites in what is known as a distributed denial of service or DDoS attack. The huge flow of traffic has the effect of crashing the sites. The aggressive new strategy shows vividly how Beijing is struggling to balance its desire to control the flow of information online with the aim of encouraging the growth of its tech sector. The main target of the recent barrage is GitHub, a popular website that acts as a library of code for programmers. While it is indispensable for tech companies in China, it also hosts several pages that enable users to view sites blocked in the country. Because GitHub is fully encrypted, China’s domestic web filters cannot distinguish between pages that host code useful to programmers and code that circumvents censorship. In 2013, when the government fully blocked GitHub, it caused an outcry among China’s many computer engineers, leading to the site’s subsequent unblocking. The new attacks take more of a siege approach, hitting the site with a costly and difficult-to-manage barrage of traffic in the hopes it will remove two pages, one with code from — a nonprofit organization that runs mirrors of blocked sites including Google, the BBC and The New York Times — and another that hosts links to mirror sites of the Chinese version of The Times.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 30, 2015

The Real Reason for China’s Massive Military Buildup. “Over several different articles, I have been exploring the dynamics of the budding U.S.-China security dilemma—a high-tech drama pitting anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) against what we used to refer to as Air-Sea Battle (ASB)—and have offered several different ways to lessen the possibility of such a dynamic from becoming cemented into the Asia-Pacific’s security architecture. However, China’s development and implementation of A2/AD clearly has various origins. One such origin that deserves to be explored is the “historical nightmare” of China’s subjugation at the hands of various colonial and Asian powers. In many respects, China is trying to solve a centuries-old problem that never went away: how to defeat in battle military forces that are at least in a symmetrical sense superior to its own and will be for some time to come. If we alter our perspective and take a much longer view of Beijing’s own military obsolescence, a strategy that emphasizes anti-access makes tremendous sense. According to Admiral Wu Shengli, former commander of the PLA Navy, “in China’s modern history, imperialist and colonists initiated more than 470 invasions of China, including 84 large ones, from the sea.” If China’s military were to deter or halt the deployment of superior military forces into areas of Chinese territory or areas Beijing perceives as a core interest, another period of what leaders in China might see as a new form of subjugation could theoretically be avoided. A2/AD allows Beijing to compete with the United States asymmetrically—an important point when one thinks through how many years away China is from competing with America ship for ship or plane for plane. The following serves as an account of what many Chinese consider their own historical nightmare at the hands of foreign forces and why A2/AD would protect China from being subjugated yet again.” 

Philippines Dismisses China Concerns Over South China Sea Military Repairs.
“The Philippines dismissed concerns by China over its plan to repair military facilities in South China Sea, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Saturday, insisting Manila has sovereign rights over territories in the disputed areas. The possible repair "is no way comparable to China's massive reclamation activities, which not only violate international law...but also unnecessarily raise regional tensions", spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement. "China's recent statement expressing concern over what the Philippines plan to do should not distract us from the real issues in the South China Sea, which are China's illegitimate 'nine-dash line' claim," Jose said. Maritime lawyers note Beijing routinely outlines the scope of its claims with reference to the so-called nine-dashed line that takes in about 90 percent of the 3.5 million square kilometers South China Sea on Chinese maps. The South China Sea is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the sea, where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year. The territorial dispute is seen as one of Asia's hot spots, carrying risks that it could spiral out of control and result in conflict as countries aggressively stake their claims. On Friday, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said it was "seriously concerned" by the remarks by Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario on the possible resumption of repairs on an airstrip on Thitu Island. "This is not only a serious infringement of China's sovereignty, but it also exposes the Philippines' hypocrisy," she told a daily news briefing, calling on the Philippines to withdraw from the islands. Manila had halted activities last year over concerns about the effect on an international arbitration complaint it filed against China in 2013. A decision is expected in early 2016. Hua repeated that China would not participate in the case.” 

Australia to Join Regional Development Bank Led by China.
“Australia plans to join an Asian infrastructure bank led by China, the government announced on Sunday, reversing an earlier decision taken at the urging of the United States not to become a member. The move made Australia the latest of a list of major American allies to sign up. The office of Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement that Australia still had concerns about the management of the bank but recognized the pressing needs for infrastructure in Asia. The decision will allow Australia to “participate as a prospective founding member in negotiations to set up the bank,” the statement said. Australia said it wanted to ensure that the board of directors had authority over crucial investment decisions and that “no one country,” a reference to China, controls the bank. Among Washington’s main objections to the China-led bank have been concerns that it would seek to undermine the authority of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, established after World War II with the United States in the leadership role. The administration has also suggested that, given China’s record on the environment and lack of transparency, the new bank would not meet the standards of existing institutions. The Chinese have countered that bureaucracy at the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which is based in Manila and led by Japan, has slowed their capacity to meet demand. The Obama administration publicly criticized Britain for joining this month, saying it was a sign of “accommodation” with China. But as allies including Britain and then France, Italy and Germany announced plans to join the bank this month, Australia — which counts China as its biggest trading partner — came under increased pressure to sign on. South Korea, another major trading partner with China, said last week that it would join the Beijing-based bank, reversing its decision last year to go along with the United States’ requests that major Asian allies stay aloof from the plan. Australia’s move leaves the major Asia Pacific allies, the United States and Japan, China’s biggest competitor in Asia, outside the bank. While some in Washington have said the United States should consider joining, that is an unlikely prospect.” 

Seaplane Could Advance Chinese South China Sea Claims.
“A new Chinese-built seaplane could help seal Beijing's control over its claims in the South China Sea (SCS), say military specialists on China. The Jiaolong (Water Dragon) AG600, under construction by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA), will be China's largest operational seaplane. CAIGA did not respond to inquiries after the company's announcement on March 17 that it had completed the front fuselage assembly for the prototype. According to brochures obtained at the 2014 Airshow China in Zhuhai, the aircraft is powered by four turboprop WJ-6 engines and has a range of 5,500 kilometers, which would provide substantial movement within the SCS. In the Spratly Islands, China is currently constructing artificial islands on Hughes Reef, Johnson South Reef and Gaven Reef. Despite the lack of direct mainland access to Beijing's strategic claims in the SCS, the aircraft are seen as a boon to solidifying control of the area by China's military and maritime enforcement agencies for island hopping within the crowded clusters of the 750 reefs, islets, atolls and islands in the Spratly Islands archipelago. "Amphibious planes like the AG600 would be perfect for resupplying the new artificial islands that the Chinese are building in the SCS," said Richard Bitzinger, coordinator of the Military Transformations Program at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. "At the same time, these islands would be excellent bases of operations for the AG600 to engage in maritime patrols of claimed territories." The AG600 will also serve as political leverage, said Ching Chang, a research fellow at Taiwan's ROC Society for Strategic Studies. "States need effective governance to support their territorial claim" and the AG600 will enhance China's capability in "law enforcement, fishery patrol, anti-poaching activity on coral reefs, pollution prevention, search and rescue, medical rescue transportation, meteorological and seismic survey, namely, all the government functions that may signify its substantial governance in the South China Sea." 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 27, 2015

China’s Next Move: A Naval Base in the South Atlantic? “I recently returned from Walvis Bay, Namibia, the country's sole deep water port and former South Atlantic home to the Royal and South African Navies.  Also in port were two of the three ships of the Royal Navy's Atlantic Patrol Tasking South.  A Daring-class Type 45 air warfare destroyer and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary small fleet tanker were both pier side.  (The task force's third ship, HMS Clyde, was presumably on station patrolling the Falklands.)  While Walvis Bay enjoys a 138-year history with the Royal Navy, it could soon be home to a powerful Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy surface squadron. In Jan. 2015, The Namibian reported the existence of a "confidential letter from Namibia's ambassador to China, Ringo Abed, to Namibia's foreign minister stat[ing] that 'a [Chinese] delegation will visit Namibia ... for discussions ... on the way forward regarding plans for the proposed naval base in Walvis Bay'.”  According to the letter, a Chinese delegation, including technical staff and naval architects, will meet with Namibian officials sometime after March 21, 2015 to discuss a field feasibility study for the base.  Beijing has told Namibian diplomats that a "Chinese naval presence will deter any would-be illegal trawlers and smugglers.”  China's Indian Ocean-based "string of pearls" naval base strategy to protect the country's 21st Century vision of a "maritime silk road" looks like it may now extend all the way to the South Atlantic.  If such a development came to fruition, it would have major strategic implications for the West. During my visit to Walvis Bay, China's plan to build a naval base was the talk of the town.  Several Namibians pointed out that China already has a major satellite tracking installation in-country.  China is developing key uranium mines.  Chinese immigrants are opening shops in every corner of the land.  A Namibian told me he would not be surprised if Namibia soon elects its first Chinese member of parliament.  One local, who works at the harbor, said he has heard the PLA Navy will deploy four to six warships to the prospective base.  Once that happens, he said, Namibia becomes, in essence, a Chinese colony.  That estimate is consistent with a reported PLA Navy call on Walvis Bay last year, "PLAN's 16th escort task force consisting of the Taihu, a Type 903 replenishment ship, Yancheng, a Type 054A guided-missile frigate and Luoyang, a Type 053H3 frigate, anchored in Walvis Bay during a mission to the Gulf of Aden." 

China Slams Philippines for South China Sea ‘Hypocrisy’.
“China slammed the Philippines for its hypocrisy on the South China Sea after Manila said that it would resume repair and reconstruction works there, news outlets reported Friday. While the Philippines had halted such activities last year and suggested other countries do so as well because it was concerned about potential effects on its ongoing legal case against China, Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario had said Thursday that it would resume some activities. The move came amid massive Chinese land reclamation efforts there which Philippine officials say is designed to bolster Beijing’s territorial claims and alter the status quo before any legal verdict is even reached by the arbitral tribunal at The Hague. But on Friday, China used del Rosario’s comments as an opportunity to turn the tables on the Philippines. According to Reuters, foreign policy spokesman Hua Chunying said China was now “seriously concerned” by Manila’s decision to resume works in the South China Sea, which was both an infringement of Beijing’s sovereignty and hypocritical. “On the one hand the Philippines makes unreasonable criticism about China’s normal building activities on its own isles, and on the other announces it will resume repairs on an airport, runway and other illegal constructions on China’s Spratly Islands, which it illegally occupies,” Hua said. “This is not only a series infringement of China’s sovereignty, but it also exposes the Philippines’ hypocrisy,” she noted at a news briefing. She also called on the Philippines to withdraw from the islands. Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario had emphasized Thursday in his remarks that the Philippines would only be proceeding on repair and maintenance in the South China Sea, and such works – which would include repairs on an airstrip – would not violate the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea because it did not alter the status quo dramatically. “We are taking the position that we can proceed with the repair and maintenance,” del Rosario said according to Reuters. This was in stark contrast to China’s massive land reclamation activities, which del Rosario said aimed to change the status quo and enforce its infamous nine-dash line claim to control almost the whole South China Sea.” 

Hidden Dragon: China’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ Military Posture.
“Every year at the beginning of March, China convenes the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference to listen to the premier’s government work report, consider new laws and discuss China’s future. The so-called “Two Meetings” also include a large contingent of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) delegates, who play up the legitimacy of China’s approach to security and justify the security budget. Compared to previous years, the PLA contingent downplayed the military’s deterrent role and avoided any “peace through strength” talk. On policy, President Xi Jinping reiterated the importance of military-civil integration as the way for China’s military to develop the human and technical expertise to achieve the goal of “fighting and winning local wars under informatized conditions.” On March 4, National People’s Congress (NPC) spokeswoman Fu Ying announced that the official military budget would rise roughly 10 percent, setting off the annual coverage of Chinese defense spending and what the figure means for the PLA’s modernization. As always, Chinese government voices pushed back and pointed out how little the budget increase buys the PLA—something that cannot be verified on the information China makes publicly available. Beijing’s propaganda attacked Western concerns about Chinese intentions, making a fourfold argument about why the increase does not speak to nefarious intent. First, the defense-budget increases have been forced on an isolated China, because it must be self-reliant in the face of an arms embargo “groundlessly forced on China by the European Union and the United States. In this sense, the West is a catalyst for China’s relatively ‘big’ military budget.” Second, defense spending is increasing to support more realistic training, as well as more international training, which Chinese media claimed almost doubled between 2013 and 2014. Third, Peng Guangqian, one of the lead authors on previous editions of The Science of Military Strategy, observed that armaments and equipment becoming more expensive is a “universal practice and trend in every country,” explaining increases in the defense budget.” 

South Korea Plans to Join Regional Development Bank Led by China.
“South Korea on Thursday became the latest American ally to announce its intention to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite Washington’s qualms about the Chinese-led regional development bank. The South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance said in a statement that Asia needed a new regional source of development money like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank because the existing multilateral lenders, like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, could not meet the demand for infrastructure investment funds in the region. The United States has expressed misgivings about the proposed regional lender, which it sees as a threat to the Washington-led World Bank. American officials have also worried that the new bank would lack governance and transparency in enforcing lending, environmental and labor standards. But in its statement, the South Korean ministry said a founding membership in the regional bank would help expand the country’s influence in the international banking sector. It also said membership would help its companies win deals in large-scale construction, telecommunications, transportation and other development projects in the region. “Our government, together with its allies, has been urging China to improve its plans for the bank so that its governing structure and safeguards will meet international standards,” the ministry said. “We have seen significant progress in that regard.” The question of whether to join the bank has presented South Korea with a tricky balancing act between the United States, its most important security ally, and China, its largest trading partner.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 26, 2015

Conquering the South China Sea. “China is building military bases on artificial islands hundreds of miles off its coast, in waters claimed by six other countries. These new fortresses in the South China Sea raise the risk of war, yet Washington seems to have no strategy to address them. Are the U.S. and its allies ceding the nearly 1.35 million square miles claimed by China without legal merit, including some of the busiest sea lanes on the planet? Over the past year Chinese dredging and other landfill techniques have transformed tiny reefs into potential homes for military aircraft, ships, radar facilities and other assets. Formerly underwater during high tide, Johnson Reef is now a 25-acre landmass. Nearby Hughes Reef has grown big enough to host two piers and a cement plant. Gaven Reef is now 28 acres, with a helipad and antiaircraft tower. Fiery Cross Reef has grown 11-fold since August, with what appears to be a three-kilometer airstrip under construction. All are part of the Spratly islands, a cluster of rocks between the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam, often some 650 miles from China. U.S. Senators John McCain, Jack Reed, Bob Corker and Bob Menendez last week wrote a bipartisan letter asking Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry not to overlook China’s behavior. At stake, the Senators note, is the security of U.S. allies in Asia, the continued free flow of $5 trillion a year in oil, iPhones and other trade through the South China Sea, and the principle of “peaceful resolution of disputes.” U.S. executive officials have done little more than politely ask Beijing to stop, citing a 2002 pledge by China and its neighbors to avoid provocative actions. Some in Washington don’t even see a problem. Former Obama Pentagon official Shawn Brimley has quoted an unnamed former colleague dismissing China’s Spratly fortresses as “a bunch of easy targets that would be taken out within minutes of a real contingency.” That is hardly comforting since the purpose of the bases is to change the status quo during peacetime.” 

New Chinese Nuclear Sub Design Includes Special Operations Mini-Sub.
“China’s latest nuclear submarine design appear to include a shelter capable of holding a miniature submarine for special operations forces (SOF) not unlike vehicles used to deliver Navy SEALs to shore from U.S. nuclear attack boats, according to an image in wide circulation in Chinese online networks. The Chinese boat — a Type-93T or Shang-class nuclear attack submarine — features a hangar for the SOF submersible that would allow People’s Liberation Army troops to discrete deployment much like U.S. forces, according to a translation of a March 17 story in the state-run Reference News. The image was first reported in English by Jane’s Defence Weekly on Tuesday. Reference News said unlike hangars for U.S. SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDV), the hangar on the improved Shang-class attack boat could only accommodate the first two-thirds of the vehicle so “it enters [the] dock space as simple as an ink pen cap.” The description implies some limitations on the capability. “Consequently, as transfer of personnel to the SDV cannot easily be achieved with the submarine dived, the graphic shows SF personnel being transferred to the submarine by helicopter,” read the Jane’s report. The Chinese report on the delivery vehicle follow a consistent trend in Chinese ship design, according U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World author Eric Wertheim. “It shows that they are really looking at Western designs and take lessons learned and look at how we use our subs and incorporate some those features into their own,” he told USNI News on Wednesday. That trend is also evident in the PLA Navy’s (PLAN) latest guided missile destroyer (DDG) designs which bear striking resemblance to Western DDGs. Aside from the SOF capability, the revelation of the improved Shang sheds some light on the otherwise secretive PLAN submarine program. The first Shang-class attack boat was launched in 2002, but the Chinese paused production after launching the second boat in 2003, according to a 2014 U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence assessment of Chinese shipbuilding.” 

China Markets Attack Drone to Foreign Customers.
“A brochure from a Chinese state-run company reveals new details about one of Beijing’s attack drones — called the Cai Hong-3 (CH-3), or Rainbow-3 — being offered for sale to foreign customers. A catalog obtained by the U.S. government from China Aerospace Long-March International reveals details of the CH-3 and a missile-firing variant called the CH-3A. The catalog provides a rare inside look at China’s drone arsenal. The CH-3 is one of nine drones being offered for sale around the world, ranging in size from very small to large-scale unmanned aerial vehicles. Several drones appear to be knockoffs of U.S.-designed remotely piloted aircraft, including the Predator strike drone and Global Hawk long-range spy drone. “Featuring high reconnaissance effectiveness, high anti-jamming capability, diversified payloads, integrated reconnaissance/attack, easy operation and simple maintenance, the UAVs can be used for such military operations as battlefield reconnaissance intelligence collection, anti-terrorism combat, no-fly zone patrol, firing calibration, data relay and electronic warfare,” the catalog states. The drone has been sold to Pakistan and Nigeria, where an armed CH-3A was photographed after it crashed during a mission to hit Boko Haram terrorists. The CH-3 appears to be a copy of the Jetcruzer small civil aircraft that was built by U.S. company Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures Inc., which sold 30 Jetcruzer 500s to China in 2000. The Chinese company also is selling two types of missiles to be fired from what it calls an “advanced medium-range UAV system.” The package includes three aircraft and a vehicle-mounted ground control system. The drone can take off and land via a remote pilot and has a retractable nose landing gear. “The advantages of this UAV system are high reliability, high efficiency and low cost,” the catalog states. “It can be used for various flight missions such as battle zone reconnaissance, artillery fire adjustment, data-link relay, intelligence collection and electronic warfare, etc.” 

China Says Probing if More Myanmar Bombs Strayed Over Border.
“hina's Defense Ministry said on Thursday that it investigating whether more stray bombs had fallen in Chinese territory during fighting between Myanmar's government and rebels, after five people were killed earlier this month. Those deaths, in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan, infuriated Beijing, which promised a "decisive" response if there was a repetition. Pictures have since surfaced on Chinese websites which appear to show more bombs from Myanmar fell in Yunnan last week. "At present we are organizing a verification process to look into this incident," Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng told a regular monthly news briefing. A joint Chinese and Myanmar has just finished a three-day probe into the bombing which killed five, he added, without giving details. Tens of thousands of people, many of them ethnic Chinese, have fled the fighting in northeastern Myanmar's Kokang region into China. On Wednesday evening, two grenades were fired into a Myanmar military base in Lashio, the largest city in Shan state, located some 130 km (81 miles) from the Kokang border region where the military is battling at least three ethnic rebel militant groups, said an officer with the Lashio police. "There are no reports of casualties," said the officer who asked not to be named, as he was not authorized to speak to media. Myanmar has said Chinese mercenaries were fighting with the rebels, and it has urged China to cooperate to prevent "terrorist attacks" being launched from Chinese territory.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 25, 2015

China Gives ‘Priority List’ of Wanted Officials to U.S. “The Chinese government has provided a "priority" list to the United States of Chinese officials suspected of corruption and are believed to have fled there, a top state-run newspaper said on Wednesday. Last year, Chinese officials said more than 150 "economic fugitives", many of them described as corrupt government officials, were in the United States. Xu Jinhui, head of the anti-graft bureau at the state prosecutor, told the official China Daily that "a priority list of alleged Chinese corrupt officials" believed to be at large in the United States has been provided to U.S. authorities. Most suspected corrupt officials overseas either worked for the government or state-owned enterprises and took bribes or embezzled public funds, Xu said. The report did not elaborate. Senior U.S. officials will meet their Chinese counterparts in August to discuss the possibility of repatriating Chinese officials who have fled to America with billions of dollars of allegedly stolen government assets, a U.S. official said last month. Xu added that Chinese authorities will start legal procedures to confiscate assets overseas, the newspaper said. "Once in possession of solid evidence, we will initiate confiscation procedures according to the law," he said, again without elaborating. The United States may deport to China the ex-wife of a fugitive Chinese official indicted on money laundering and immigration fraud charges, a U.S. prosecutor said last week. But there is no extradition treaty between the two countries and Western governments have long been reluctant to hand over suspects because of a lack of transparency and due process in China's judicial system. Liu Dong, head of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security's economic crimes division, told the China Daily that U.S. authorities are prejudiced against China's legal system and "mistakenly believe we would undertake unfair prosecution of suspects.” 

China Missile Test Highlights Space Weapons Threat.
“China’s recent test of a missile designed to shoot down satellites in low-earth orbit highlights a growing threat of space weapons, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command said on Tuesday. Adm. Cecil D. Haney, head of the Omaha-based nuclear forces command, also voiced worries about the strategic nuclear forces buildup by Russia and China, and said as commander he must assume North Korea is correct in claiming to have miniaturized a nuclear warhead for its missile forces. Haney also warned about the use of sophisticated cyber attacks by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS or ISIL. “And clearly in the case of that group, being able to use it to recruit, use cyber to threaten, and those kind of things… we see more and more sophistication associated with that,” he said. The U.S. Cyber Command, which is part of Stratcom, is looking “very, very closely” at the terrorist cyber threats, “on a day-to-day basis,” he said. Asked about a recently released list of 100 U.S. military personnel targeted by IS, Haney said the list of names did not originate from Defense Department networks. He suggested the information may have been culled from social media. “We do have a campaign where we practice and train on operational security, but not just with the members, but also alert the families, in terms of this business of using social media,” Haney said. On China’s space weapons buildup, dubbed “counterspace” arms by the Pentagon, Haney said the United States needs to be ready to deal with attacks on satellites in a future conflict. “The threat in space, I fundamentally believe, is a real one. It’s been demonstrated,” Haney said, noting China’s 2007 anti-satellite missile test against an orbiting satellite that created tens of thousands of debris pieces. “They’ve repeated this kind of test last summer, and during that test, fortunately, they did not do a hit-to-kill kind of thing,” he said, noting that no further debris was created. “But just seeing the nature of these types of activities show how committed they are to a counter-space campaign,” Haney said. “So we have to be ready for any campaign that extends its way into space.” 

Taiwan Activists Fan China Fears As Protest Trial Opens.
“Anti-China activists told a court in Taiwan that their weeks-long protest campaign last year saved the island from further economic colonization by Beijing, in defense statements given at the start of their trial on Wednesday. The protests, dubbed the "Sunflower Movement", marked the largest display of anti-China sentiment seen in Taiwan for years and followed nearly a decade of rapprochement between the two historical foes. Some 119 activists stand accused of stirring public unrest and attacking police during protests aimed at blocking a controversial trade deal that Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou had signed with China. "What would Taiwan be like now if we hadn't organized those protests?" Chen Wei-ting, one of eight main protest leaders on trial, told the court. "All these industries - publishing, telecoms, tourism - would have been bought up by large Chinese interests." President Ma, who is in the final year of his second four-year term, has overseen the signing of several pacts aimed at building economic ties in sectors ranging from finance to tourism. Opponents launched the protest movement after accusing Ma of trying to ram through legislation for a far-reaching services-trade pact without public consultation in March of last year. Before the pact could become law hundreds of protesters led by Chen and others forced their way into Taiwan's parliament and repelled police efforts to evict them. The pact, which has still to be ratified, would have opened 64 of Taiwan's service sectors to China and 80 of China's sectors to Taiwan. Opponents say it would have accelerated political reconciliation, a key goal of China's foreign policy. Last September, China's President Xi Jinping reiterated the "One Country, Two Systems" principle for bringing Taiwan back under Chinese rule.” 

How China Used More Cement in 3 Years Than the U.S. Did in the Entire 20th Century.
“China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the U.S. used in the entire 20th Century. It’s a statistic so mind-blowing that it stunned Bill Gates and inspired haiku. But can it be true, and, if so, how? Yes, China’s economy has grown at an extraordinary rate, and it has more than four times as many people as the United States. But the 1900s were America’s great period of expansion, the century in which the U.S. built almost all of its roads and bridges, the Interstate system, the Hoover Dam, and many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. And China and the U.S. are roughly the same size in terms of geographic area, ranking third and fourth in the world, respectively. The statistic seems incredible, but according to government and industry sources, it appears accurate. What’s more, once you dive into the figures, they have a surprisingly logical explanation that reveals some fascinating differences between the two countries, and some ominous realities about China. Gates plucked the statistic from the historian Vaclav Smil, who calls cement “the most important material in terms of sheer mass in our civilization.” (In case you need a refresher, cement is a powdery lime-and-clay substance that is combined with water and gravel or sand to make concrete.) Smil got his estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey, whose figures for the American use of cement in the 20th Century are below.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 24, 2015

What’s Wrong With China’s Army? “In the “century of humiliation” that President Xi Jinping often evokes for his goal of turning China into a great power, one particular episode resonates: The defeat of China’s navy by Japan in 1894. The Battle of Yalu in the Yellow Sea was a mortifying defeat in the first Sino-Japanese war, a conflict that China’s leaders assumed they would win against a smaller, if recently modernized opponent. China had better, newer guns. But its navy was furnished with shells that were either filled with cement or porcelain, or were simply the wrong caliber, S.C.M. Paine writes in “The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perceptions, Power, and Primacy.” To blame? Ordnance officials on the take. Now, Xi is seeking to transform the military into a modern outfit that can “fight and win wars,” acknowledging the effect of corruption on the People’s Liberation Army -- the world’s largest ground force -- alongside decades of patchy training and tolerance of underperformers. At an annual meeting of lawmakers this month, he said stamping out graft would make for better troops. Xi has embarked on a sweeping anti-corruption campaign that has seen 30 generals named this year as under investigation, as part of a broader purge to root out a problem he has said threatens the future of the Communist Party. “The Battle of Yalu has an earthshaking influence on both Chinese people and Chinese military forces,” Major General Zhu Heping said on the sidelines of the legislative meeting in Beijing. “The primary cause for China’s failures is because the corruption was deeply rooted in the military and the government at the time,” said Zhu, the vice-president of the Air Force Command Academy.” 

China Confirms, In Roundabout Way, Japan Invite For War Memorial.
“China's Foreign Ministry confirmed, in a roundabout way, on Tuesday that it had issued an invitation to wartime enemy Japan to attend events in China to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two later this year. Sino-Japan relations have long been poisoned by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war, and it rarely misses an opportunity to remind its people and the world of this. In the last two years, ties have also deteriorated sharply because of a dispute over a chain of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, though Chinese and Japanese leaders met last year in Beijing to try to reset relations. Beijing's commemorations, likely to be held in September, will include a military parade, but the government has been coy about exactly who it has invited, though Russian President Vladimir Putin for one is expected to turn up. "As to which countries leaders have been invited, we have said this many times: China has already issued invites to all relevant countries' leaders and international organizations," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing. Pressed on whether this included Japan, she said: "I've just said that China has already issued invites to all relevant countries' leaders and international organizations. Do you think that Japan has a connection to World War Two and the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, or not?" She did not elaborate, and the government has so far released few details about the events. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier this month said the government would welcome all national leaders to the war events, as long as they came in sincerity. While China has continued to remind Japan it expects them to face up to their wartime past, the foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan and China agreed on Saturday that a summit meeting of their leaders should be held soon to mend ties.” 

India, China to Meet on Border Dispute
. “Indian and Chinese officials are meeting in New Delhi this week for talks on a border dispute that has for decades strained relations between the neighbors — the first such negotiations since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office last year. The two Asian countries are separated by a nearly 2,200-mile border whose exact location is a subject of bitter dispute. China claims India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls southern Tibet. India claims a Chinese-controlled region it calls Aksai Chin as part of its northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir. India periodically accuses Chinese troops of “transgressions” across the two countries’ ill-defined boundary, known as the Line of Actual Control. Officials on both sides say such incidents are likely to continue – and perhaps escalate as India further develops its border lands – until the boundary is properly marked and settled. The dispute cast a shadow over Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India last year – and on Mr. Modi’s efforts to improve relations with China. As Mr. Xi held his first official talks with Mr. Modi in September last year, their countries’ armies were locked in a tense face-off in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Roughly 1,000 troops were called in on both sides, making it the biggest border confrontation between the two nations in decades. Such episodes have interfered with the two countries’ efforts to deepen commercial relations as India seeks foreign investment to modernize its infrastructure. Mr. Modi is scheduled to visit China in May as part of those efforts. Talks this week between China’s representative on the boundary question, Yang Jiechi, and India’s national security advisor, Ajit Doval, are aimed at giving momentum to the border talks. Indian analysts say China may be more willing to negotiate given Mr. Modi’s steps to strengthen India’s ties with the United States.” 

Unstoppable: China’s Secret Plan to Subvert Taiwan.
“Mao Zedong reportedly once said that warfare is 70 percent political. Arguably, no conflict in recent times has adhered to this concept more faithfully than China’s ongoing campaign to “reunite” Taiwan with the “Mainland.” While analysts have tended to focus on the threat which an increasingly powerful People’s Liberation Army (PLA) poses to the democratic island-nation, the political warfare component of Beijing’s “reunification” strategy has received much less attention, perhaps because cross-strait symposia on tea and culture are far less “newsworthy” than the latest missile boat or combat aircraft. Given Beijing’s preference for “nonkinetic” solutions to the impasse (war would be costly and unpredictable), it makes perfect sense that its leadership would explore alternative means by which to win the war in the Taiwan Strait. Political warfare (or the “Three Warfares,” 三战), targeting both Taiwan and its supporters in the international community, is a favored instrument. There has been a growing number of interactions between Taiwan and China since 2008. And what with rapidly expanding cross-strait travel, academic exchanges and investment, the opportunities for China to engage in political warfare have increased exponentially. Art and culture, benign as they may sound, are at the heart of China’s political-warfare strategy against Taiwan. But don’t be fooled by the innocuous façade provided by the cushy conference halls and beaming university students: Behind all this lies the PLA’s General Political Department Liaison Department (GPD/LD), “an interlocking directorate that operates at the nexus of politics, finance, military operations, and intelligence.”   Although the GPD/LD’s remit extends well beyond Taiwan, a large share of its resources is nevertheless committed to resolving the Taiwan “question” on terms that are favorable to Beijing.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 23, 2015

Violence at Myanmar Border Puts Beijing in a Bind. “When warplanes involved in fighting over northern Myanmar streaked across the border into China, an errant bomb killed Chinese farmers and put Beijing in a bind over a conflict it has tried to avoid. The explosion a week and a half ago came after jets had circled the frontier for days, occasionally bombing targets in the Myanmar region of Kokang. Yang Jinrong and other Chinese farmers living along the border had looked on from afar with little concern. Fighting between Kokang rebels and Myanmar government troops has ebbed and flowed for years, with little violent spillover. On March 13, however, ordnance fell in a sugar cane field where Mr. Yang and two-dozen other farmers were working. Mr. Yang saw his younger brother crumple onto the ground, blood pouring from wounds on his left torso. Yards away, his mother grabbed the mangled remains of her left leg. “I was terrified. People all around us were scampering for cover,” Mr. Yang said. The blast killed five Chinese nationals and injured eight others, including Mr. Yang’s mother and brother, who were eventually taken to a hospital in the city of Lincang, more than five hours’ drive away. “Those lot fighting in Myanmar, why did they bring the war to us ordinary folk in China?” his mother, 48-year-old Zhang Xiaowu, said from her hospital bed this week, after her left leg was amputated. “Our military hasn’t offended you. We ordinary folk haven’t offended you. What grievances do you have against us?” Beijing’s quandary lies in trying to balance its commitment to protecting Chinese lives around the world with its aim to avoid exacerbating an already rocky relationship with Myanmar.” 

China’s New Development Bank Bodes Poorly for the U.S.
“The Obama administration suffered a foreign policy setback last week when three European allies — Germany, France and Italy — decided to join a fourth, Britain, as shareholders in a new Chinese-sponsored multilateral development agency for Asia. When Beijing first proposed the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2013, Washington viewed it, not unreasonably, as a Chinese attempt to set up a rival to the U.S.-led World Bank, with the goal of expanding the influence of the People’s Republic across the region. A foreseeable negative consequence of a successful AIIB could be project funding ungoverned by the environmental and anti-corruption safeguards that World Bank borrowers must meet. The fact that four key European allies found it advantageous to join, despite U.S. insistence, speaks volumes about the ebb and flow of American influence in a region toward which President Obama had promised to “pivot.” Indeed, the Europeans’ moves make it more likely that South Korea and Australia will feel compelled to join the Chinese-led agency, leaving the United States and Japan on the outside looking in. For now, the AIIB is more about symbolism than substance. With an initial capital of just $50 billion, one third that of the Japan-led Asian Development Bank, and none of the World Bank’s expertise or institutional heft, it’s unclear how much of a dent the new bank could make in the region’s multi-trillion-dollar needs for roads, dams, bridges and ports. Its governance structure remains ill-defined and, potentially, a subject of controversy if and when the projects it backs start to have negative environmental or social consequences. (Here’s hoping that the myriad nongovernmental organizations that regularly criticize the World Bank’s practices and procedures do not give China’s bank a pass.)” 

Chinese, Japanese and South Korean Ministers to Resume Three-Way Talks.
“In their first trilateral meeting in three years, the foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan and China recognized on Saturday the urgent need to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, South Korean officials said. South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, and his Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Wang Yi and Fumio Kishida, wrapped up a three-way meeting, as well as a series of bilateral talks, in Seoul on Saturday with a joint statement in which they said they would try to reopen six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons development. The six-nation talks, which also involved the United States, Russia and North Korea, have been dormant since 2008. The United States, South Korea and Japan have been deeply skeptical about resuming negotiations with North Korea unless it shows a willingness to bargain away its nuclear weapons, while the North insists on talks without conditions. Analysts and officials in the region fear that while the six-nation talks are suspended, North Korea may be progressing toward building nuclear warheads small enough to fit onto its missiles. North Korea is also believed to be increasing its stockpile of nuclear fuel through a newly disclosed uranium enrichment program, as well as through its recently restarted reactor that produces plutonium. “We agreed to continue to exert our joint efforts to urgently stop the advancement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities and resume talks that can make concrete progress toward the denuclearization of North Korea,” Mr. Yun said during a joint news conference with his Chinese and Japanese counterparts. In their statement, the three foreign ministers said they hoped their meeting in Seoul, which was intended to try to improve ties that have been strained by territorial and historical disputes, would open “a path for restoring a cooperative system” among the three neighbors.” 

Indonesian President Says China’s Main Claim in South China Sea Has No Legal Basis.
“Indonesian President Joko Widodo says one of China's main claims to the majority of the South China Sea has no legal basis in international law, but Jakarta wants to remain an "honest broker" in one of Asia's most thorny territorial disputes. Widodo's comments in an interview with a major Japanese newspaper come as he embarks on a visit to Japan and China and is the first time he has taken a position on the issue since coming to power in October. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the sea, where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year. The territorial dispute is seen as one of Asia's hot spots, carrying risks that it could spiral out of control and result in conflict as countries aggressively stake their claims. "We need peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. It is important to have political and security stability to build up our economic growth," Widodo was quoted as saying in an interview with the Yomiuri newspaper published on Monday. "So we support the Code of Conduct (of the South China Sea) and also dialogue between China and Japan, China and ASEAN." But in a Japanese version of the interview published on Sunday, Joko rejected one of Beijing's main claims to the South China Sea. "The 'nine-dashed line' that China says marks its maritime border has no basis in any international law," said Widodo.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 19, 2015

China Gloats as Europeans Rush to Join Asian Bank. “China’s state media indulged in a bit of gloating Wednesday, as Europe’s most powerful nations announced they planned to join a Chinese-led Asian regional bank, ignoring objections from the United States. In a commentary piece titled “Washington, what are you waiting for?” state news agency Xinhua described the United States as “petulant and cynical” for declining to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). It said the bank was open to all nations but said Washington’s “sour grapes” left it looking “isolated and hypocritical.” On Tuesday, Germany, France and Italy said they planned to join the bank, following Britain’s decision to do so last week.  Officials from Australia and South Korea also have indicated they are considering joining the bank in recent days, after initially declining to do so. The United States was sharply critical of Britain’s decision last week, with an unnamed administration official telling the Financial Times that it had been made with “virtually no consultation with the U.S.” and accusing London of “constant accommodation” of China. China proposed the bank in 2013 to finance investment in infrastructure across Asia and had pledged to put up most of its initial $50 billion in capital. Earlier this month, China said 27 nations had signed up to be founding members. The United States has denied that it lobbied its allies not to join the bank. It says that it welcomes the idea of an infrastructure bank but “strongly urges it meet international standards of governance and transparency.” Fearing that the AIIB will become a rival to the World Bank, it is worried that its lending programs will not include adequate safeguards over issues such as the environment and labor rights. But the European decision to break ranks with Washington represents a significant diplomatic setback for the United States.”

China, Japan Agree to Keep Momentum Alive for Better Ties.
“China and Japan held their first security talks in four years on Thursday and agreed to keep alive and foster a nascent recovery in bilateral ties plagued by the legacy of Japan's wartime aggression and a territorial dispute. The world's second- and third-largest economies, however, failed to set a timetable for the implementation of a scheme designed to ensure real-time communication between their armed forces.  Sino-Japanese relations have chilled over what China views as Japan's reluctance to properly atone for its wartime past as well as a dispute over a group of tiny East China Sea islets. Patrol ships and fighter jets from both countries have shadowed each other regularly near the uninhabited islands that are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China, prompting fears that an accidental collision could spark conflict.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's moves to ease the constraints of Japan's pacifist constitution on its military have unnerved China. Japan says China's defence policy lacks transparency. Abe held formal talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping last November. In the meeting, hailed by Xi as the first step toward improved ties, the two agreed to work for the implementation of a bilateral crisis management mechanism. "Both sides agreed that the tide is beginning to turn for the better regarding relations between Japan and China following the summit meeting," a Japanese Foreign Ministry official told a media briefing after the one-day meeting. "They also agreed that it is important to keep on taking positive steps in various areas and at various levels to firmly establish this trend." In a sign of a thaw in Sino-Japanese ties, foreign ministers of Japan, China and South Korea are set to meet on Saturday in Seoul for the first time in nearly three years.”

China Dominates the Scramble for the South China Sea.
“Far from revisiting its assertive posturing in adjacent waters, China is seemingly determined to consolidate its position in the South China Sea at the expense of its smaller neighbors. The latest satellite imagery, released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, indicate extensive Chinese construction activities in highly contested areas, particularly the Spratly Islands, which have been actively claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Though Vietnam has occupied the greatest number of contested features in the Spratlys, China is the most capable, ambitious (and geographically distant) claimant in the area. Given the magnitude of the power asymmetry between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbors, China has the wherewithal to unilaterally dictate the tempo and trajectory of maritime disputes in the South China Sea. Despite being a relative late-comer, China has rapidly augmented its position, artificially transforming highly strategic features such as the Fiery Cross Reef, which has been enlarged to eleven times  its original size. The reef is a formidable military garrison, with up to two hundred Chinese troops stationed there. It is expected to host its own airstrip in the near future, a crucial prelude to what could become a de facto Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea. This would complement China’s ADIZ in the East China Sea, paving the way for China to dominate the skies above the entire first chain of islands in the western Pacific. Some analysts have argued that China has been simply fortifying its position in features it has taken control of since the latter decades of the 20th century. Therefore, according to these observers, there should be no cause for alarm, since Beijing is supposedly just fortifying rather than expanding its presence in the Spratly chain of islands.”

China is Getting Ready to Surge Troops Into Africa.
“Chinese activities in Africa have expanded massively during the last decade. To be sure, most of this has been purely economic — such as bartering access to natural resources in exchange for loans. But these money-making activities have grown so much in recent years, China is realizing it can't keep relying on African governments to protect them — and the thousands of Chinese nationals who've moved to the continent. Beijing isn't giving up on making business deals in Africa. Far from it. It's just that protecting those economic ties is turning into a job for the Chinese military. David Shinn, a former American ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso — and an expert on China-Africa relations — believes Chinese investment in Africa will slow down over the next 15 years. But there's a catch. China's military will grow to take a more prominent role. "The other sectors are pretty well advanced at this point, and the security connection is still relatively modest," Shin tells War Is Boring. "Although it's grown a lot, particularly since the Chinese got involved in 2008 in the anti-piracy operation off Somalia," he adds. "That has significantly increased ship visits to Africa — and not just on the east coast — but throughout Africa." China's economic growth and internal stability relies on free and open trade routes. In 2008, when Somali pirates began abducting merchant ships on a weekly basis — and jacking up insurance costs — China joined the international naval mission to stop the hijackers. Since China's initial contribution to anti-piracy activities, the country greatly increased maritime cooperation in with Africa, holding exercises with Tanzania and providing warships to the Nigerian navy.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 18, 2015

China Reveals Its Cyberwar Secrets. “A high-level Chinese military organization has for the first time formally acknowledged that the country’s military and its intelligence community have specialized units for waging war on computer networks. China’s hacking exploits, particularly those aimed at stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies, have been well known for years, and a source of constant tension between Washington and Beijing. But Chinese officials have routinely dismissed allegations that they spy on American corporations or have the ability to damage critical infrastructure, such as electrical power grids and gas pipelines, via cyber attacks. Now it appears that China has dropped the charade. “This is the first time we’ve seen an explicit acknowledgement of the existence of China’s secretive cyber-warfare forces from the Chinese side,” says Joe McReynolds, who researches the country’s network warfare strategy, doctrine, and capabilities at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. McReynolds told The Daily Beast the acknowledgement of China’s cyber operations is contained in the latest edition of an influential publication, The Science of Military Strategy, which is put out by the top research institute of the People’s Liberation Army and is closely read by Western analysts and the U.S. intelligence community. The document is produced “once in a generation,” McReynolds said, and is widely seen as one of the best windows into Chinese strategy. The Pentagon cited the previous edition (PDF), published in 1999, for its authoritative description of China’s “comprehensive view of warfare,” which includes operations in cyberspace. “This study is a big deal when it’s released,” McReynolds said, and the current edition marks “the first time they’ve come out and said, ‘Yes, we do in fact have network attack forces, and we have teams on both the military and civilian-government sides,’” including inside China’s equivalents of the CIA and the FBI. The acknowledgment could have political and diplomatic implications for China’s relationship with the United States and other Western powers.”

Australia, Vietnam Boost Security Ties. “
Australia and Vietnam agreed to expand security ties after talks during which the leaders of both countries expressed alarm over China’s muscle-flexing in the South China Sea. Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Nguyen Tan Dung, his Vietnamese counterpart, said they had concluded a deal to support and consult one another on regional defense and security affairs, while also looking to forge closer military ties. Mr. Dung is on an official visit to Australia. The agreement complements growing economic links between the countries and two-way trade valued at seven billion Australian dollars (US$5.3 billion) last year. It also puts the nations on a path to negotiating a formal security pact, an idea rejected by Australia’s previous Labor government.  The new security arrangements come as Vietnam, like several other countries, becomes increasingly troubled by Beijing’s readiness to assert sovereignty over disputed territory in the Asia-Pacific region—including the Spratly Islands, which Vietnam also claims.  “We agreed on the importance of the assurance of peace, stability, maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation, and of flight in the South China Sea, in accordance with international law,” Mr. Dung said at Australia’s Parliament building at the end of the talks. The two countries’ defense ministers also struck an agreement Wednesday for a small number of Vietnamese troops to be trained in Australia and hold joint military exercises. Australia, a longtime U.S. ally, also has expressed concern over Beijing’s perceived rising military assertiveness. Last year, Australia and Japan signed a deal to bolster military cooperation, including joint exercises. Without naming China, Mr. Dung said nations in Asia should “refrain from action that may escalate the tension in the region, including coercion and the use of force to unilaterally change the status quo.”

3 European Powers Say They Will Join China-Led Bank.
“Ignoring direct pleas from the Obama administration, Europe’s biggest economies have declared their desire to become founding members of a new Chinese-led Asian investment bank that the United States views as a rival to the World Bank and other institutions set up at the height of American power after World War II. The announcement on Tuesday by Germany, France and Italy that they would follow Britain and join the Chinese-led venture delivered a stinging rebuke to Washington from some of its closest allies. It also called into question whether the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which grew out of a multination conference in Bretton Woods, N.H., in 1944 and established an economic pecking order that lasted 70 years, will find their influence diminished. The announcement by Germany, Europe’s largest economy, came only six days after Secretary of State John Kerry asked his German counterpart, Frank Walter-Steinmeier, to resist the Chinese overtures until the Chinese agreed to a number of conditions about transparency and governing of the new entity. But Germany came to the same conclusion that Britain did: China is such a large export and investment market for it that it cannot afford to stay on the sidelines. American officials have fumed that China never approached the Group of 7 — the consortium of economic powers that the United States has led — but rather decided to pick off individual members, setting a deadline of the end of March for them to decide whether to join the new organization, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which many refer to by its initials, the A.I.I.B. China, in turn, has long chafed at the idea that the World Bank’s president is traditionally an American, and that France appoints the head of the I.M.F. “This has been a power struggle,” one senior European official said. “And we have moved from the world of 1945.”

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