China Caucus Blog

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | August 07, 2014

China to build lighthouses on five isles in defiance of U.S. call.  China plans to build lighthouses on five islands in the South China Sea, state media reported on Thursday, in defiance of calls from the United States and the Philippines for a freeze on such activity to ease tension over rival claims.  At least two of the islands upon which China said it will put up lighthouses appear to be in waters also claimed by Vietnam.  Overlapping claims in the South China Sea have fueled confrontation in recent months with China, which claims 90 percent of the sea, at odds with Vietnam and the Philippines in particular.  The state-run China News Service said Chinese authorities had been surveying sites for lighthouses on five islands, known in English as North Reef, Antelope Reef, Drummond Island, South Sand and Pyramid Rock.  The survey began on July 27, and "as of Aug. 4 construction sites and alternative locations for lighthouses on the five islands and reefs had been initially decided upon", the news service said, quoting a Chinese navigation official.  Drummond Island and Pyramid Rock are in the China-controlled Paracel Islands - more than 100 small coral islands and reefs also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.  It was not clear whether the other three islets where lighthouses will be built are also in disputed waters.  The proposal to freeze activities that could stir tension in the sea, such as building installations and exploiting resources, was put forward by the United States last month and taken up by the Philippines.

China says Japan fighter jets shadowed its planes over disputed waters
.  Japanese fighter jets shadowed Chinese aircraft patrolling over disputed waters, China's Ministry of Defense said on Thursday, in the latest flare-up of a spat over air space that has deepened a rift between the two countries.  Tension has been high between Asia's two largest economies in recent months, with each accusing the other of flying military aircraft too close to its own jets in a long-running territorial dispute.  Both sides claim a string of Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Beijing declared an air defense zone covering most of the East China Sea last year, sparking protests from Japan and the United States.  China took "necessary measures" when numerous Japanese planes entered its East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone during China's routine air patrols on Wednesday to safeguard "order and security", the Ministry said on its website.  "Japanese F-15 fighter jets twice attempted to shadow Chinese patrol planes. China's air force took reasonable, fair and restrained measures to respond to the threat," the Ministry said, citing air force spokesman Colonel Shen Jinke.  Japan's Ministry of Defense told Reuters it had no information on the incident.

It's Not About the Oil -- It's About the Tiny Rocks
What everyone gets wrong about Beijing's bullying in the South China Sea.  China jousts with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other neighbors over contested maritime territory, the conventional wisdom is that energy concerns are a motivating force. China claims virtually the entire South China Sea -- a claim disputed by its neighbors (most notably Vietnam and the Philippines) -- and there have been an increasing number of conflicts in recent years over who has the right to exploit the energy resources under the seabed in disputed waters. China's introduction of a deep-water drilling rig into contested waters around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea -- an unprecedented effort by China to unilaterally move forward with energy development in these areas -- has reinforced the notion that energy is at the core of these disputes.  In reality, however, the pursuit of oil and gas in the East and South China seas is simply one manifestation of the more fundamental conflict over sovereignty in the region. China has a multipronged strategy to assert its dominance over the disputed maritime areas, including enhancing its military capability, research to show the historic basis for China's claims, and diplomacy to ensure that the Southeast Asian claimants do not unite against China. A tactic that China has been utilizing more recently has been to act as if China is the unquestioned sovereign in the contested areas, by doing what a country does in its own territory -- exploring for energy and building infrastructure. This is clear in the Aug. 4 comments by Yi Xianliang, deputy head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Boundary and Ocean Affairs departments regarding building activities in the South China Sea: "The Spratly Islands are China's intrinsic territory, and what China does or doesn't do is up to the Chinese government." In other words, China has sovereign control over the disputed territory -- and intends to exercise it.  Why isn't energy the key to the disputes? One regularly sees the words "vast" or "huge" applied to the hydrocarbon endowment of the South China Sea, and "resource-rich" has become a ubiquitous adjective when describing these waters. But the truth is, nobody knows: The contested areas around the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea have seen little exploration -- and without seismic soundings and experimental drilling, there is really no way of knowing how much oil and gas lies below the seafloor. That said, there's probably not all that much of it there. One of the most definitive sources of information on these topics is the U.S. Energy Information Agency's (EIA) 2013 report, entitled "Contested areas of the South China Sea likely have few conventional oil and gas resources." The EIA estimates that in disputed areas around the Spratly and Paracel islands, there is likely no oil and less than 100 billion cubic feet of gas -- a miniscule amount roughly equivalent to one week of China's gas consumption. The East China Sea -- where China and Japan spar over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands -- is even more negligible in terms of hydrocarbons. The EIA estimates it contains 60 million to 100 million barrels of oil -- roughly two weeks of oil for China -- and between one and two TCF (trillion cubic feet) of natural gas, or about three to six months' worth of gas consumption in China.
Indian Warship Visiting Vietnam on 'Goodwill Trip'.  An Indian warship is to take part in exercises with the Vietnamese navy this week in the tense waters of the South China Sea, where maritime disputes between China and its neighbors have intensified.  The guided-missile stealth frigate INS Shivalik also made a port visit at Haiphong in northern Vietnam as part of a three-day "goodwill trip" to the Southeast Asian country, the Indian navy said Tuesday.  Indian navy spokesman D.K. Sharma said the visit, as well as maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean last month by India, the U.S. and Japan, is a "fine demonstration of the operational reach" of India's armed forces.  Worried about an increasingly assertive and stronger China, New Delhi has sought greater cooperation with Beijing's rivals and has been bolstering its navy, which recently took delivery of its second aircraft carrier.  But India, wary of provoking instability in the region and along its own disputed border with China, has generally moved cautiously and tried to avoid any appearance of working with the U.S. or others to contain China's rise.  In May, India expressed concern over a dispute between China and Vietnam over China's deployment of an oil rig in a disputed area, prompting a curt response from Beijing that Indians "may not worry too much about the current situation in the South China Sea," according to the Press Trust of India.  Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, an expert in maritime affairs at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the Indian navy's Vietnam visit is part of an effort to deepen India's engagement in East Asia.  "In terms of China's assertive actions, there's certainly a feeling in India that it should build on some of its traditional relationships in the region," Mr. Roy-Chaudhury said.  Some Indian experts and officials have argued India should build close ties with Vietnam like those China has with India's neighbor and rival, Pakistan. But successive Indian governments have taken a more measured approach.  India and China, which fought a brief 1962 war over their Himalayan border, have in recent years grown increasingly suspicious of the others' activities in waters they consider their own strategic backyards.

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | August 06, 2014

Japan concerned Pacific security situation getting worse.  Japan’s annual defense white paper says the country’s security environment is becoming increasingly severe amid challenges posed by China, North Korea and Russia.  The report, released Tuesday, details national security developments in the past year such as moves to lift a ban on arms exports and expand the role of Japan’s Self Defense Forces. It also lays out plans to strengthen those forces by acquiring new equipment and creating an amphibious brigade and a cyber-defense group.  The efforts have been greeted with suspicion by some of Japan’s neighbors, however, former U.S. Pacific Command chief Dennis Blair said last week that Washington welcomes a greater role for Japan’s military.  “We strongly support a more normal, more active, more responsible role for the SDFs of Japan,” Blair told a group of Japanese reporters during a visit to Tokyo to discuss the U.S.-Japan Alliance.  “Over the past 70 years, Japan has been one of a very small number of the most peaceful and responsible countries in the world,” he said. “Japan has a lot more to contribute to security.”  In North Asia, that task is becoming more challenging, according to the white paper’s authors.  “National security decision-making is more complex than ever before as some nations have important economic relationships despite differences in fundamental values and strategic interests,” they wrote.  The report details a series of “assertive measures” taken by China, which is involved in territorial disputes in the South and East China seas – including one with Japan over the Senkaku/Daioyu islands.  Japan is deeply concerned about China’s establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea, which occurred in November. The white paper describes it as a dangerous act that unilaterally changes the status quo.  “China has been rapidly expanding and intensifying its activities in the seas and airspace,” the report states. “These measures include dangerous acts that could cause unintended consequences and raise concerns over China’s future direction.”  The Chinese national defense budget has quadrupled in the past decade, the report notes.  Richard Myers, a former U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman who was visiting Tokyo with Blair, said trying to isolate China would not help address security concerns.

Taiwan, China to restart talks on goods free-trade agreement
.  Representatives from China and Taiwan have reached an agreement to restart formal negotiations on a free-trade pact that would eliminate tax on the vast majority of goods flowing between the two, Taiwan officials said Tuesday.  The negotiations, which have been underway for years, will resume at the end of the month, according to representatives from the Straits Exchange Foundation, which oversees the talks.  They will include government officials from both sides and are expected to produce a wide-ranging pact that could potentially affect up to 85 percent of traded goods, analysts estimate.  Taiwan and China are historical foes that have seen an unprecedented softening in relations under Taiwan's China-friendly president Ma Ying-jeou.  In recent years the two sides have signed a slew of agreements on everything from finance to tourism.  But China still regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has not ruled out the use of force should the island formally declare independence.  A separate, but related, agreement for trade in services remains stalled in Taiwan's parliament following fierce protests against its passage a few months ago.  The head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office was also forced to cut short his first-ever visit to the island in June following heated public opposition.

Japan Imposes New Sanctions on Russia but Keeps a Diplomatic Door Open
.  Torn between maintaining solidarity with Washington and keeping a diplomatic door open with Moscow, Japan imposed new sanctions on Russia on Tuesday but kept them more limited than those recently ordered by the United States.  The new sanctions indicate that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe felt he needed to fall in line with the United States, his country’s longtime protector, analysts said, especially as he tries to fend off territorial claims by an increasingly powerful China.  Still, Mr. Abe appeared to be trying to strike a delicate balance not only by limiting the sanctions, but also by indicating that he had not canceled an invitation to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to visit Japan in the fall. Mr. Abe has been pursuing warmer relations with Moscow, in part, analysts say, to ensure that Japan does not lose out on Russia’s bounty of natural gas.  “Japan is sending the message that we are not enthusiastic about these sanctions,” said Yoshiki Mine, a research director at the Canon Institute for Global Studies in Tokyo and a former high-ranking Japanese diplomat. “Japan needs to show it shares the same values as the West, but it also wants to keep an opening with Russia.”  The Japanese sanctions will freeze any assets in Japan belonging to two organizations and 40 individuals connected with Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. The people named by Japan had already been targeted by the Americans and Europeans for being involved in Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, or in what the West calls Russian-backed efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine, according to a government spokesman.  Japan will also restrict imports of products made in Crimea.  Analysts called the measures largely symbolic since Japan does not import much from Crimea, and it is unclear how many, if any, assets the targeted people hold in Japan.

Crunch Time for UCLASS: USD Kendall, Rep. Forbes, & The Requirements Fight
.  August is the month of decision for UCLASS, the Navy’s controversial program to build armed drones that fly off aircraft carriers. At stake: whether the “Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance & Strike” aircraft will be primarily a scout (surveillance) or a bomber (strike). The new Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work, delayed the Navy’s release of an official Request For Proposals (RFP) while he studied the question, with a crucial meeting in the new few weeks.  “UCLASS is one of our new starts, so we want to make sure we get the requirements right,” said Under Secretary Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, to reporters after a speech this morning. “The deputy secretary’s asked to take a look at it before we let the RFP out, and we’re going to do that.”  How hard a “look” will they take? The man who is simultaneously Congress’s leading champion of UCLASS and its leading critic has no confidence that Pentagon leadership will seriously challenge the Navy’s current requirements. “I do not have those signs that they are doing that,” said House seapower subcommittee chairman Randy Forbes in a recent interview. “I have no reason to believe,” he told me, that the Pentagon is conducting a genuine “relook” rather than a pro forma exercise.  Forbes has championed UCLASS as a potential solution to the growing problem of “anti-access/area denial” defenses that could keep out conventional forces. He has sharply criticized the Navy’s plan for the program as falling far short of that potential.  “The question is, what is the mission that we’re going to need these platforms to perform?” Forbes told me. If UCLASS’s primary role is ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), and the ability to strike targets is secondary, “then I think you can say they’re headed in the right direction,” he said. But the military has plenty of long-range surveillance aircraft already, he argues: the Navy alone is buying two new systems, the unmanned MQ-4C Triton and the manned P-8 Poseidon, although neither can fly off a carrier as UCLASS will. By contrast, only the twenty aging B-2 bombers have the combination of range, bombload, and stealth required to strike deep into well-defended airspace, and they lack the speed to escape if an enemy does detect them.

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | August 05, 2014

Editor’s note:  Sorry for the lack of an update yesterday folks.  Here is an extra-long brief today to make up for it.

Chinese Assertiveness Has Asia on Edge: How to Respond
.  A recent Pew Research Poll made clear that publics in East Asia are increasingly uneasy about the destabilizing effects of China’s maritime assertiveness. Among the eight countries surveyed—including China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam—majorities in each country said they were concerned that territorial disputes between China and its neighboring countries could lead to a military conflict.  Rather than “China threat theory,” an oft-used phrase in Beijing to deride anxieties about China’s rise, it appears we’re now seeing “China threat reality.”  Though difficult to poll with similar fidelity, there is little question that governments in the region are at least as concerned as their publics and have already begun taking measures to prepare for, and if necessary defend against, further Chinese attempts at economic, military and diplomatic coercion.  Strategies for responding to Chinese assertiveness certainly differ from capital to capital, but all can be characterized as portfolio strategies that simultaneously pursue multiple avenues to deal with a country that has overwhelming advantages in size and wealth.

U.S. to press South China Sea freeze despite China rejection
.  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, at a meeting with Southeast Asian nations this weekend, will press for a voluntary freeze on actions aggravating territorial disputes in the South China Sea, in spite of Beijing's rejection of the idea.  Daniel Russel, the State Department's senior diplomat for the East Asia region, said ahead of Kerry's trip to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) that the call was not new and was "not rocket science," but "common sense."  A priority for Kerry would be to lower tensions in the South China Sea, where about $5 trillion of maritime trade passes annually, and China and four members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have rival claims.  "The regional economy is too important and too fragile for any country or any claimant to use the threat of military force or paramilitary force in retaliation, for intimidation, or as a coercive effort," Russel told a news briefing on Monday.  He said there was room for rival claimants "to take some voluntary steps, and to identify actions they find troubling if not provocative on the part of other claimants, and to offer, if everyone will agree, to renounce those kinds of actions."  Such steps could include abiding by an existing agreement not to seize unoccupied land features, or more significantly, a moratorium in land reclamation efforts, Russel said.  Earlier on Monday, China, which will also participate in the ARF meeting, rejected the idea of a freeze, saying it could build what it wanted on its South China Sea islands. China claims 90 percent of the sea, which is believed to contain oil and gas deposits and has rich fishery resources.  "What China does or doesn't do is up to the Chinese government," said Yi Xianliang, deputy head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Boundary and Ocean Affairs Departments.

The U.S.-China Race for Trade Ties in Latin America
.  As China seeks out both the commodities and export markets that it needs to fuel its economic growth, Beijing is looking more and more to Latin America.  It’s natural for a rising economy like China to search for new trade partners.  But if the United States does not do more to concretely advance its own serious agenda for expanding trade in the 21st century, America’s regional economic leadership will diminish as China’s grows.  Witness Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent appearance at a high profile summit in the coastal Brazilian city of Fortaleza.  His immediate purpose was to meet with his counterparts from Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa—collectively known as the “BRICS” nations—to endorse new initiatives that will challenge the influence of the Washington-based World Bank and International Monetary Fund.  Yet Mr. Xi also visited nearby countries to improve China’s economic and diplomatic ties with Latin America, sometimes in very visible ways.  China and other BRICS nations—which together represent 3 billion people and hold a combined GDP of $16 trillion, or roughly 20 percent of global GDP—are moving to assert themselves.  At the Fortaleza summit, they finalized plans to create a New Development Bank (NDB).  Framed as a potential rival to the World Bank, the NDB will provide financing for infrastructure and social development projects in Latin America and other emerging regions.  Beijing is also angling to gain greater influence over the NDB’s management.  China, with one of the world’s largest economies, negotiated with BRICS members to establish the bank’s headquarters in Shanghai.Although the United States is still overall the top trading partner to Latin America, China is catching up.  Since 2000, trade between China and Latin America has jumped from $12 billion to $261 billion.  China has already displaced the United States as one of Brazil’s top trading partners, with total bilateral trade leaping from $3.2 billion in 2002 to $83.3 billion in 2013.  While Washington still dominates exports to Argentina, Beijing’s share is growing at a faster rate.  Whereas Chinese exports to Argentina totaled $447 million in 2003, they amounted to $8.8 billion in 2013—a nearly twenty-fold increase.  Compare that to U.S exports to Argentina, which totaled $2.4 billion in 2003 and $10 billion in 2013.

China Developing Capability To Kill Satellites, Experts Say
.  US defense experts and the US State Department are describing China’s successful July 23 so-called “anti-missile test” as another anti-satellite test (ASAT). It is the third such kinetic strike ASAT launch by China and raises fears the US will be unable to protect its spy, navigation and communications satellites.  “This latest space interceptor test demonstrates a potential PLA [People’s Liberation Army] aspiration to restrict freedom of space flight over China,” said Mark Stokes, a China missile specialist at the Project 2049 Institute.  China’s first two anti-satellite tests, 2007 and 2010, involved the SC-19 (DF-21 ballistic missile variant) armed with a kinetic kill vehicle. Though the first two involved the SC-19, only the 2007 ASAT actually destroyed a space-based platform. The 2010 and July 23 test successfully struck a ballistic missile.  With the destruction of the weather satellite came international complaints that China was unnecessarily creating a debris field that would endanger other nations’ space platforms. This could explain the reason China chose to shoot down ballistic missiles rather than hitting orbiting platforms.  It is still too early to declare whether the third test used an SC-19 or a different missile system. Stokes said it was a “speculative guess,” but it could have been a test of a new solid motor being developed for a space intercept system, possibly designated as the Hongqi-26 (HQ-26). “Engineering research and development on the new solid motor seems to incorporate some interesting capabilities [that] began early last year.”  Richard Fisher, a China military specialist with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said after the 2007 test the Army may be trying to mask its anti-satellite program by conveying the impression that it is also testing a lower altitude anti-missile capability. “It is also possible that the SC-19 has ASAT and ABM [anti-ballistic missile] capabilities.”

Japan Restates Concerns About China's Defense Posture
.  Japan continues to keep a close eye on China's defense posture as one of the major challenges to the region's security environment, even as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attempts to smooth the way for a possible face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November.  Japanese defense officials said that the annual defense white paper released Tuesday had some "major additions" in its 20-page section on China, "given the various new developments in the past year."  Such developments include China's announcement in November it would set up an air defense zone in the East China Sea over islands whose ownership is disputed between Beijing and Tokyo. In the months following the announcement, Mr. Abe went on a campaign around the region to gather international support for a condemnation of China's escalation of tensions.  "Japan is deeply concerned" about the establishment of ADIZ, the paper said, calling it "profoundly dangerous." Such acts "unilaterally change the status quo, escalate the situation, and may cause unintended consequences in the East China Sea," the report said.  This year's white paper also mentioned China's military activities in the Indian Ocean, concluding China' navy "is enhancing its capability to execute missions in distant oceans."  In his forward to the paper, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera reiterated the Abe administration's concerns about the "intensifying severity of the security environment surrounding our country," and emphasized the "increased importance of the Self-Defense Force's activities to protect our people's lives, assets, land, sea and skies."  The 506-page white paper is the first to be issued since major shifts in defense policy under Mr. Abe. These include the lifting of a ban on arms exports and a controversial reinterpretation of the constitution to greatly expand the rules of engagement for the SDF—moves regarded with suspicion by China and South Korea.

China says can build what it wants on South China Sea isles
.  China can build whatever it wants on its islands in the South China Sea, a senior Chinese official said on Monday, rejecting proposals ahead of a key regional meeting to freeze any activity that may raise tensions in disputed waters there.  Southeast Asian foreign ministers this week hold security talks with counterparts, including those from the United States and China, in Myanmar, with escalating tensions over maritime disputes in Asia likely to be a major issue.  The Philippines will propose a freeze on all activity that raises tension in disputed waters in the South China Sea as part of a three-part plan at the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting, Manila's foreign minister said last week.  The United States, a close ally and former colonial power in the Philippines, has also called on all parties to halt activity in the disputed sea to ease tension.  Manila has accused China of carrying out reclamation work on at least three shoals in the Spratly Islands, where most of the overlapping claims lie, especially between China and the Philippines.  Yi Xianliang, deputy head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Boundary and Ocean Affairs Departments, told reporters that China had every right to build on its islands as a way of improving basic living conditions there.  "The Spratly Islands are China's intrinsic territory, and what China does or doesn't do is up to the Chinese government. Nobody can change the government's position," Yi said.  It was a double standard to bring this issue up now when other countries had been doing similar things for years, he added.  "Why is it that when other countries wantonly build airports, nobody says a word? But China has only this year started small and necessary construction, to raise living conditions on the islands - and so many people raise doubts."  Hong Kong media have reported that China is planning to build an air base on Fiery Cross Reef, though Yi said he was unaware of any such plans.’s Epic Fail in the South China Sea.  By whatever metric you choose, China’s recent oil-drilling adventure in the South China Sea was a disaster. No new oil will reach Chinese consumers, no new maritime territory has been gained and regional advantage has been handed to the United States. ASEAN solidarity has held firm and the positions of ‘pro-Beijing’ forces in crucial countries, particularly Vietnam, have been seriously weakened. China’s foreign-policy making has proven to be incompetent. How did it all go so wrong?  We can’t know what the Chinese leadership hoped to achieve when it approved the deployment of the country’s largest oil rig and a small armada of protecting vessels into waters also claimed by Vietnam. It seems unlikely that the operation was simply an attempt to find oil. There are many better places to go prospecting. On March 19, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) announced it had discovered a mid-sized gas field in uncontested waters closer to Hainan Island. Exploitation of that field was delayed while the Paracels adventure unfolded farther south.  The two areas of seabed explored by the giant drilling rig HS-981 are not good prospects for hydrocarbons. A 2013 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggested the Paracels’ energy potential is low. It seems significant that CNOOC, China’s most-experienced offshore operator, was not involved in the expedition. Although CNOOC’s subsidiary COSL was operating the rig, the overall operation was directed by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) which has much less experience of exploration in the South China Sea.  HS981 ended its mission a month early, in the face of the impending arrival of super-typhoon Rammasun. CNPC declared that the rig had found hydrocarbons, but was very unspecific about details and amounts. It is almost certain that they will never be commercially exploited for both technical and political reasons. This operation was not really about oil.

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | August 01, 2014

China takes step at openness, allows foreigners at defense briefing.  China's Defense Ministry allowed foreign media for the first time on Thursday to attend its monthly news conference in another step towards increasing transparency, though the briefing yielded little concrete news.  The ministry started the briefings in 2011, first restricting attendance to Chinese reporters, unlike other government departments, like the Foreign Ministry, where access is generally extended to the foreign press.  Growing military spending - slated at 808.2 billion yuan ($131 billion) this year - along with increasing assertiveness over territorial rows - has worried the region over China's intentions, especially over a perceived lack of openness by the armed forces.  "We hope that attending the regular Defense Ministry press conference will help you in your reporting in China and hope that you can help the world understand more objectively and more truthfully China and China's military," ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said as the outset of the briefing.  The ministry has invited eight foreign reporters from different foreign news organizations to attend, including Reuters, for an initial six-month period. Officials will then assess the briefings and decide whether other foreign reporters may be allowed in.

China is complicit in North Korea’s human rights abuses
.  Among the abuses recounted is the punishment for North Koreans who are repatriated after having escaped to China. Beijing's longstanding policy is to deny refugee status to the North Koreans. Rather, Chinese authorities track down; arrest and send back North Koreans who are hiding there. Since the late 1990s, Beijing has forcibly returned tens of thousands of refugees to North Korea. Their only crime was to have sought a better life outside of the repressive country, and many seek to live across the border in South Korea, one of Asia's most vibrant and prosperous democracies.  The fate of North Koreans whom Beijing repatriates is documented in a new publication: the 2014 report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on North Korea. The commission was tasked with investigating the "systematic, widespread, and grave" human rights violations of North Korea against its own people. Its 400-page report implicates China, which, in the words of chairman Michael Kirby, could be "aiding and abetting crimes against humanity" by forcibly repatriating North Koreans who flee to that country as well as allowing North Korean security agents to operate on Chinese soil.

In India, Kerry to Meet New Prime Minister and Seek Improved Relations
.  In the first high-level American visit to India since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the Obama administration was seeking a “new relationship” with India.  The goal of Mr. Kerry’s trip is to lay the basis for expanded cooperation before Mr. Modi travels to Washington in September.  But after a day of talks, it was clear that the two sides still needed to overcome grinding differences before concrete agreements can be announced at the White House meeting.  “The United States and India can and should be indispensable partners,” Mr. Kerry said. “The words are easy. It’s the actions we need to take that will really define the relationship in the days ahead.”  With Mr. Modi championing the need for economic growth and better governance, the Obama administration has cast his election as an opportunity to bolster economic ties and work more closely on security and climate change issues.

Japan Should Buy the Mistrals: Tokyo could help Paris oppose Putin's aggression and enlarge Japanese naval forces at the same time
.  As the West fails the test of Russia's military assault on Ukraine, one nation can step in to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin and at the same time bolster its own defenses—Japan. Tokyo should work out a way to buy the Mistral-class amphibious attack ships that France has agreed to sell to Russia. That would relieve Paris of an embarrassing agreement and also help fulfill Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plan to upgrade Japan's maritime defenses.  Back in 2009, before Ukraine but after Russia invaded Georgia, Paris and Moscow concluded a deal to sell up to four of the helicopter-carrying ships in a deal worth more than $1.5 billion dollars. Since then, as Russia's aggressions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have consumed Western capitals, Paris has been at pains to uphold the deal. The French position, of course, encapsulates much of the Western confusion over how to deal with Mr. Putin's aggression. Only in the last week, in response to the destruction of MH17, has the West enacted more robust sanctions to show its displeasure with Mr. Putin.  Since the atrocity in the skies over Ukraine, the danger of Russian aggression has become clear to the world. Yet still European leaders are hamstrung by their military weaknesses while President Barack Obama has done almost everything possible to avoid confrontation with Mr. Putin. The West's inaction has helped Moscow steadily achieve its strategic goals.  One way to punish Vladimir Putin is to cut off Russia's access to the global arms market. Russia is the world's second largest arms dealer, after the United States, having sold $5.6 billion worth of military equipment so far through 2014. Western capitals should be putting as much pressure as possible on sellers to stop Moscow's naval buildup.
Japan offers vessels to Vietnam to boost its sea strength.  Japan will give six navy boats to Vietnam to boost its patrols and surveillance in the South China Sea, Japan's foreign minister said on Friday, in the latest sign of a strengthening of alliances between states locked in maritime rows with China.  The used vessels, worth 500 million yen ($4.86 million), would be accompanied by training and equipment to help the coastguard and fisheries surveillance effort, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said after talks with Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh.  The deal represents a notable shift in the two countries' close diplomatic and investment ties towards defense, a move likely to irk an increasingly assertive China that is pressing hard on claims to nine-tenths of the potentially energy-rich sea, and worrying much of the region.  "International security is getting more complicated... prosperity only comes with stability in the South China Sea and the East China Sea," Kishada told a news conference in Hanoi.  "I hope this equipment will strengthen the ability of Vietnam's coastal enforcement authorities."  Vietnam enjoys tight business ties with Japan, its biggest investor, but relations with Hanoi's largest trade partner, China, are at their worst in three decades and analysts believe that has sharpened the debate within Vietnam's secretive Communist Party over long-term foreign policy strategy.  Beijing's May 2 deployment of a drilling rig in waters Vietnam claims as its exclusive economic zone lit the fuse on simmering anti-China sentiment in Vietnam, worsened by accusations that the southeast Asian country's fishing boats were deliberately rammed by Chinese vessels.

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 29, 2014

Stealth Destroyers, LCS Headed to Pacific.  The Navy will send new stealth destroyers, littoral combat ships and an amphibious ready group to the Pacific, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Monday, reiterating the U.S. commitment to its military "pivot" to the region.  "The rebalance to the Pacific is real," Mabus told sailors gathered at Yokosuka's Fleet Theater for an all-hands call.  President Barack Obama announced plans for the Pacific pivot as the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan were winding down. But conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Gaza have since heated up, raising questions about the best use of forces amid dwindling military budgets. Obama reassured Pacific allies of his support during a recent visit against a backdrop of Chinese expansionism and North Korean threats.  "We are sending our newest and most modern platforms to the Pacific," Mabus said. "What the Navy and Marine Corps give is presence … to reassure allies, deter potential adversaries and be ready for whatever comes over the horizon."  The first of three new stealth destroyers — the $3.3 billion USS Zumwalt — is under construction, and two more ships in its class will follow, Mabus told the sailors, "We don't know exactly where we are going to put them," he said, but added: "at least some of these will come to the Pacific."

Reassurance and Resolve in East Asia
.  James Steinberg and Michael O’Hanlon write—As territorial frictions involving China and many of its neighbors persist in the East and South China Seas, the United States needs a clearer regional strategy. America must simultaneously uphold its interests and alliance commitments and avoid counterproductive confrontation, or even conflict.  Doing so will be difficult, especially because it is not clear whose claims to the region’s disputed islands and outcroppings should be recognized, and the US has no intention of trying to impose a solution. At the same time, the US must modernize its armed forces in response to new challenges – particularly China’s rise. As China develops advanced precision weapons to create a so-called anti-access/area-denial capability, the US must consider how to respond to the growing vulnerability of its bases and naval forces in the region.  There is no easy answer to these challenges. What is needed is a nuanced approach, which is what we develop in our new book Strategic Reassurance and Resolve.  Our approach is an adaptation of America’s longstanding “engage but hedge” strategy, through which the US and its allies have used economic, diplomatic, and sometimes military instruments to give China incentives to rise peacefully, while maintaining robust military capabilities in case engagement proves unsuccessful.

A Closer Look at Hillary Clinton’s Approach to China
.  Lost amid the clamor over Hillary Clinton’s book tour are some of her views on China, where–despite challenges from Ukraine to the Middle East–her legacy as secretary of state is arguably the most consequential. Mrs. Clinton was a key part of the “pivot to Asia,” a process that arguably began with visits to Beijing and Hanoi in 2010 during which she pushed back against China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. She accelerated the effort with a article in October 2011, and President Barack Obama traveled to Asia the next month.

Abe’s Support Dips Below 50% in Fallout Over Easing Pacifism
.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s approval rating fell to less than 50 percent in at least the sixth survey this month after his effort to ease restrictions on the military sapped his popularity.  Support for Abe’s cabinet fell 5 percentage points to 48 percent, the lowest since his election in December 2012, in a poll published today in the Nikkei newspaper. The cabinet’s disapproval rating rose 2 points to 38 percent, the newspaper said. No margin of error was given.  The slide in Abe’s popularity accelerated this month after his cabinet on July 1 passed a resolution to reinterpret the pacifist constitution to allow the military to defend allies. The move prompted rare street protests and added to public discontent over a sales tax increase in April.  “The constitutional reinterpretation inflamed public opinion,” said Liu Jiangyong, professor of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing who specializes in Japan studies. “The poll results serve as a warning, but it won’t do much to undermine Abe’s ruling position.”  Abe, who has been in power less than two years, is the longest serving of the country’s last six leaders.

China Announces War Games Starting Tuesday
.  China has set up alternative flight routes to minimize delays related to military exercises along its southeastern coast that start Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said.  The exercises are part of regularly scheduled drills aiming to improve the military's ability to operate under simulated war conditions, the ministry said in a statement Monday.  It gave no details about where exactly the drills would take place, but said officers had been dispatched to regional airports to facilitate the shifting of civilian flights to alternative routes to reduce the impact on travelers. It said the military had also designated corridors of protected air space to reduce disruptions.  China is the world's second-largest air travel market, but most of its airspace is controlled by the military. Defense-related restrictions are the main reason behind the country having the world's worst record for on-time departures.  China's Civil Aviation Administration warned last week that flights could be disrupted across a wide swath of eastern China through mid-August.

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 28, 2014

Chinese Missile Forces Pose Threat to U.S. in Future Conflict.  China’s advanced cruise and ballistic missiles pose a significant threat in future conflict with the United States, the chief of naval operations (CNO) warned last week.  Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the CNO, also said during a security conference Friday that China is building a second aircraft carrier that could be deployed in the not too distant future.  However, China’s current single carrier force is still under development and the Chinese are incapable of conducting aircraft strike operations from the refurbished Soviet-era carrier now called the Liaoning, Greenert said following a recent visit to China, where he toured the carrier.  Asked what Chinese weapons systems he is most concerned about if the United States went to war with China, Greenert noted Beijing’s growing arsenal of cruise and ballistic missiles.  “They have an extraordinary selection of cruise missiles, and a ballistic missile force that they developed,” Greenert told the Aspen Security Forum.  If the conflict were close to China, the missile forces would pose the most serious threat, he said.  “If it’s in their backyard, I’m a little worried about their ballistic missile [force] because of its reach,” Greenert said.  China has developed several types of advanced missile systems, including a unique DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile that is intended to strike U.S. aircraft carriers hundreds of miles from China’s coast.

US Says China Tested Anti-satellite Missile
.  The U.S. says China has tested a missile designed to destroy satellites and is urging Beijing to refrain from destabilizing actions.  State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the "non-destructive" test occurred Wednesday. She said a previous destructive test of the system in 2007 created thousands of pieces of dangerous debris in space.  Harf said Friday that the continued development and testing of destructive anti-satellite systems threaten the long-term security and sustainability of the outer-space environment that all nations depend upon.  China's state-run Xinhua (shihn-wah) news agency, citing a Defense Ministry statement, reported a successful missile interception test conducted from land within Chinese territory late Wednesday.  Xinhua did not refer to it as an anti-satellite system. It said such tests could strengthen Chinese air defense against ballistic missiles.

Chinese Threat, US Hesitance Drive Taiwan's Munitions Push. 
Taiwan’s efforts to develop and produce a variety of munitions spring from two fears: fear of China and fear that Washington will fail to live up to its promises to provide arms in the event of a Chinese invasion. The weapons efforts also stimulate the economy of the self-governing island, said a Ministry of National Defense (MND) source.  The latest such weapon is the Wan Chien (Ten Thousand Swords), Taiwan’s first joint standoff weapon, which was unveiled in January. Modeled after the US-built AGM-154 and the European-built Storm Shadow, the missile is meant to allow Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) to attack runways. This will allow Taiwan to take any fight with China “downtown,” said one former US defense official. The IDF is currently waiting to begin upgrades of its second wing to handle the Wan Chien. The first wing of IDFs finished its mid-life upgrade program last year, said the MND source.  They also point to US reluctance to sell Taiwan the AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile. Taipei placed the order in 2000, but the US State Department declined to release the missiles until China bought Russian R-77 air-to-air missiles in 2002.  Taiwan’s indigenous efforts include air-to-air missiles, surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, land-attack cruise missiles, and a new joint standoff weapon.

China to hold military exercises in southeast coastal areas.  -
China will hold military exercises in southeast coastal areas beginning on Tuesday, the Ministry of National Defence said on Sunday.  It described the drills as annual and routine in a statement on its website, saying they would test combat readiness and capability. The statement did not give details on where the exercises would be carried out.  Flights to and from Shanghai International Airport Co. Ltd. and 11 other airports in east China will face major delays until mid-August because of military drills, Beijing's Public Security Bureau said last week.  But the ministry said recent military exercises were not the main reason for flight delays - rather weather conditions were to blame.  Authorities will open temporary air routes and take other measures to minimize the drills' impact on civil flights, the ministry added.

Kerry to woo Modi's India, but quick progress unlikely.
  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits India this week as Washington tries to revitalize ties it sees as a counterbalance to China's rising power, but rapid progress is unlikely, despite the reformist reputation of India's new leader.  The visit by Kerry, and a trip by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel next month, follow the resounding election win of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May and are meant to create a good climate for Modi's planned visit to Washington in September. "India will play a much greater role in Asia under the Modi administration, but it will do so for its own reasons and under its own terms," said Ashley Tellis of Washington's Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.  Four years ago, Obama declared the U.S.-India relationship would be "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century" and last week the State Department called it one of "enormous strategic importance."  But while the two countries are in many ways natural allies, as big democracies with shared concerns about Islamist militancy and the rise of China, the relationship falls far short of Obama's rhetorical billing.

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 21, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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