China Caucus Blog

Posted by | October 13, 2015

China's Master Plan To Win a War Against Taiwan: Dominate the Skies? “In 2017, immediately defeating a surge of Chinese warplanes attacking Taiwan will require around 2,200 combat-ready U.S. fighter jets — a full two-thirds of all fighters in the American inventory. That’s the main conclusion of a new briefing paper from RAND, a California think tank. RAND points out that the Pentagon has more and better fighters than China—and superior pilots, too. But over Taiwan, geography favors the People’s Liberation Army. “China does not need to catch up fully to the United States to challenge the U.S. ability to conduct effective military operations near the Chinese mainland.” As RAND notes: “Historically, PLA air forces have not posed much threat to neighboring countries. In the past two decades, however, China has rapidly modernized its air power. Whereas in 1996 China had just taken delivery of its first batch of 24 fourth-generation fighters, it now operates more than 700. The United States, in the meantime, has added fifth-generation fighters to its inventory, and its fleet remains both more advanced and larger than China’s. Balanced against the aggregate U.S. advantage, however, are geographic and situational factors: China would enjoy the advantages of proximity in most Asian conflict scenarios. It would be able to operate from far more bases, allowing it to bring more aircraft to bear in a conflict, and its vital assets would be both dispersed over much greater areas and hardened against attack. Moreover, the few U.S. air bases within close proximity would likely face Chinese missile attack, degrading their ability to support operations.””

U.S. Patrols to Test China’s Pledge on South China Sea Islands “The U.S. determination to challenge China with patrols near Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea will test Xi Jinping’s recent pledge that Beijing doesn’t intend to “militarize” the islands, an announcement that took U.S. officials by surprise. The Chinese leader made the commitment during a news conference with President Barack Obama at the White House late last month, though he left it unclear how the pledge would affect China’s activities in the disputed area of the South China Sea. If Mr. Xi’s goal was to discourage the U.S. from conducting patrols near the artificial islands, he doesn’t appear to have succeeded. After months of debate in the U.S. government, there is now a consensus that the U.S. Navy should send ships or aircraft within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands to challenge China’s territorial claims there, according to people familiar with internal discussions. A U.S. official confirmed Sunday that a decision had been made to conduct such patrols but said it was unclear when that might happen or where exactly. “It’s just a matter of time when it happens,” the official said. Another U.S. official indicated that the operation could come within days. The question now is whether China will respond to such operations by reining in its plans to develop the islands or backing away from the commitment not to militarize them, pointing to the U.S. patrols as a provocation. The Pacific Fleet has been ready to conduct “freedom of navigation operations,” or Fonops, around China’s artificial islands for months after being asked to draw up options by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter earlier this year. The decision to begin the patrols appears to have been delayed to avoid disrupting the summit, people familiar with internal discussions say.”

North Korea's Military Parade: Major Takeaways “On Saturday, October 10, North Korea celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of Korean Workers’ Party. At the center of the celebrations was a major national parade through Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung Square, which featured everything from goose-stepping Korean People’s Army (KPA) troops and slow-rolling jungle camouflaged transporter erector launchers (TELs) for North Korea’s latest and greatest missiles. For Asia observers who’d watched China’s September 3 parade a little over a month ago, the spectacle was familiar in its form but clearly different in its details. Adding that classically North Korean touch to the entire event, Kim Jong-un delivered remarks, expressing his gratitude and admiration for the KPA and notifying the world that North Korea’s soldiers were “ready for any kind of war against the United States.” Kim’s speech brought to life the words that traditionally flow from the regime’s state media outlet Rodong Sinmun, which regularly calls for war against South Korea and the United States. Notably, Kim’s remarks did not include any references to the country’s nuclear weapons program or threaten nuclear weapon use. For Kim, the parade was a rousing propaganda success. Clad in black and there to be seen by all, the event was an opportunity for the young leader, rumored to have been beleaguered by factionalism and opposition within his own government, to emphasize his command over the country’s armed forces. As Shannon Tiezzi noted ahead of the parade, Liu Yunshung arrived in Pyongyang on Friday on a four-day visit. Liu is the first member of the Politburo Standing Committee, to visit North Korea since Kim Jong-un became the country’s leader after his father’s death. On Friday night, shortly after his arrival Liu presented a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping into Kim Jong-un’s hands, suggesting that, despite the optics of the past 16 or so months, China and North Korea may finally be ready to move toward a thaw of sorts. China has historically been North Korea’s closest partner and benefactor. Liu wasn’t tucked away during the parade. In fact, the fact that he stood on the podium along with Kim during the parade was taken by many North Korea observers and analysts as an attempt by the regime to highlight that all was well between Pyongyang and Beijing. Liu’s presence on the podium was unmistakable: he was the lone man in a western suit and tie, surrounded by a Kim’s usual coterie of KPA generals (who made sure their many medals of valor were seen at this event). For observers of North Korean military hardware, a widely broadcast parade such as this one provided a unique opportunity to take a look at the normally closed-off country’s equipment. The KPA paraded TELs carrying the KN-08/Hwasong-13 inter-continental ballistic missile, the country’s most advanced long-range ballistic missile. Also on display were some of the older systems, including the Nodong, Musudan, and Scud-C missile systems. The KPA even put on display submarine-launched ballistic missiles, including its SS-N-18 Vysota variant.”

Admiral: North Korea Can Hit U.S. With Long-Range Nuclear Missile “North Korea is capable of hitting the United States with a long-range nuclear missile, the commander of the U.S. Northern Command said last week. “I agree with the intel community that we assess that they have the ability, they have the weapons, and they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can range the homelands,” said Adm. William Gortney, the Northcom commander who is also in charge of defending the United States from long-range missile attack. “And as the defender of North America, the United States officially, in the ballistic missile defense, I think the American people expect me to take the threat seriously,” he said Wednesday at the Atlantic Council. The comments by Gortney were made days before North Korea held a military parade in Pyongyang marking the anniversary of the founding of the ruling communist Worker’s Party of Korea. Military analysts say the parade showcased a new variant of a long-range road-mobile missile built with Chinese assistance. The parade showed what state-run North Korean media claimed was a variant of the KN-08 road-mobile missile, first shown several years ago in another military parade. The missile was shown carried on a Chinese-made transporter erector launcher. “With the vengeful desire to turn the citadel of our enemies into a sea of fire, our powerful tactical rockets loaded with diversified and miniaturized nuclear warheads are on the move,” a North Korean commentator said during the parade as several columns of the mobile missiles were shown on television. Mobile missiles are considered a greater strategic threat than silo-based missiles because they are more difficult to track and can be set up and launched with little or no warning.”

China Challenges Army With Realistic Training Scenarios “China has greatly increased the realism of its Army training, attempting to improve readiness and interoperability, and unearth operational weaknesses. These trends demonstrate the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) rising self-confidence in dealing with a variety of scenarios beyond its traditional focus of a conflict with Taiwan, analysts said. Since 2006, the PLA has increased the number of trans-regional exercises, particularly units moving from one military region (MR) to another for training, said Roy Kamphausen, senior vice president for research at the National Bureau of Asian Research. China has seven military regions, but is expected to reduce that number to five in the near future. While rail still serves as the predominant means of moving troops, more trans-regional exercises suggests higher priority is being placed on road mobility, Kamphausen said. The PLA has made three key improvements in land warfare exercises, said Li Xiaobing, author of the book “A History of the Modern Chinese Army.” First, the PLA has moved the exercises out of their training fields like the one in the Beijing region and into actual battlegrounds, including some remote, frontier areas like those in Tibet and Xinjiang. Second, the exercises have become more practical in terms of real war conditions, such as command, communication and long-distance logistics. “They even traveled long distance to Russia for a joint land exercise,” he said. Third, the blue army or enemy force is now better prepared and stronger than the red army or PLA. “The red army has to fight harder and smarter rather than expecting a guaranteed victory,” Li said. Li once served in the PLA and is now a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. To keep things interesting, units deploy in scenarios where China is already under attack and their movements to the training areas are monitored by enemy intelligence and reconnaissance and are subject to attack by long-range air precision strike, including chemical and biological, and interdiction by special operations forces, said Dennis Blasko, author of the book “The Chinese Army Today.””

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 | October 09, 2015

CHINESE HYPERSONIC ENGINE WINS AWARD, RESHAPES SPEED RACE? “"The Chinese nation is no longer satisfied with living like a farmer who eyes nothing but his own piece of land and a family to raise. We are looking up into space now." This is what China's state owned Global Times newspaper declared Upon NASA's discovery of liquid Martian water last week. And thanks to Professor Wang Zhengou of the National Defense Science and Technology University, China has a critical piece of technology not just to get into space, but also into the global hypersonic arms race. Scramjet engines mix together air and liquid fuel at supersonic speeds, to result in the rapid combustion that propels aircraft and missiles at hypersonic speeds over Mach 5. In September 2015, Professor Wang received an award from the Chinese Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics (CSAA) for the successful development of China's first scramjet engine over the past decade. In fact, Professor Wang took the top billing at the 2nd China Aeronautical Science and Technology Conference (CASTC2015) Feng Ru Aviaion Science & Technology Elite Awards (Feng Ru was an early 20th century Chinese aviation pioneer). CSAA took pains to mention that the kerosene-powered scramjet engine has successfully conducted flight tests, which makes China the second nation in the world, after the American X-43 and X-51 test vehicles, to develop a working scramjet engine for sustained atmospheric hypersonic flight. While China's seemingly sudden success in hypersonic flight may be surprising to outside observers, hypersonic technology is a key part of the national security 863 research initiative. In spite of longstanding Chinese difficulties in building turbofan engines, scramjet engines are a vastly different and emerging field that China has a opportunity to build a lead in. Along with the successful hypersonic glider vehicle WU-14 tests (which demonstrated Chinese capability in working high strength, thermal resistant aerospace materials), China has the world's largest hypersonic wind tunnel, the JF-12. The JF-12 can produce speeds of up to Mach 9 (NASA"s hypersonic wind tunnel reaches to only Mach 7). The JF-12 would provide Chinese scientists with a convenient way to observe supersonic airflow of different scramjet configurations, in addition to directly testing material durability in laboratory conditions, rather than having to make difficult and expensive high-altitude engine test flights. Professor Wang's award comes after an interesting rumor making the rounds about Chinese supersonic flight. On September 18, 2015, China Aviation News, a respected source on Chinese aerospace developments, posted an article on the successful test flight of a Mach 4+ reusable UAV testbed that used a variable cycle turbo-ramjet engine (the engine uses a turbofan/turbojet at lower speeds, but redirects air to the ramjet at speeds above Mach 2.0). In comparison, the SR-71 only flew at speeds of about Mach 3.2. However, China Aviation News quickly yanked the article in a matter of hours, suggesting that they may have inadvertently (or deliberately as a signal) posted restricted information.”

Chinese Newspaper: Spy Satellites Will Target US Carriers “China’s military is getting its ducks in a row for what many experts see as a realistic competence at destroying US aircraft carriers during a confrontation scenario over Taiwan. In a recent issue of the Chinese-language state-run China Youth Daily newspaper, a report claims that the Gaofen-4 geostationary earth observation satellite will be launched by the end of this year with the express purpose of hunting US aircraft carriers. The satellite is equipped with a visible light imager at 50 meters and infrared staring optical imager at 400 meters. During the 1996 Taiwan Strait missile crisis, the Chinese military was flustered by the presence of two US aircraft carriers sent to protect Taiwan during missile exercises designed to intimidate the island. Since then, the military has created the means of holding at risk US aircraft carriers with two new anti-ship ballistic missiles, the DF-21D and the new DF-26. However, locating US aircraft carriers is not easy, and China has developed a variety of airborne and space-based sensors to ease the search. “The Gaofen series of satellites, as the first series of satellites developed under the Medium and Long-term Development Plan for Science and Technology, plays an important role in building this system,” Kevin Pollpeter, senior research analyst on China at Defense Group Inc., said. “As China develops and deploys long-range, precision strike assets, it recognizes the need for an effective C4ISR [Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] platforms, to take imagery of large swaths of the ocean to attempt to locate targets such as aircraft carriers.” Pollpeter said that during the time that it would take to process the imagery, the aircraft carrier would have moved, but its general location would have been fixed. Hans Kristensen, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Nuclear Information Project, agrees that the Gaofen-4 will have limitations, but “China does not need to track every single US aircraft carrier around the globe — only those within striking range of China.” For knowledge of a carrier’s location to be useful for operators of the DF-21D, the satellite would have to be able to relay that information, more or less, continuously to the guidance system for a DF-21D to be able to strike the carrier. The Gaofen appears to be another important piece in China’s evolving space-based monitoring capabilities — a network that will work together to locate, target and destroy aircraft carriers and destroyers.”

Beijing on alert for U.S. Navy 'incursion' near artificial islands in South China Sea “Beijing yesterday expressed concerns that the US Navy was reportedly preparing to send ships "within days" inside the 12 nautical-mile territorial zones China has claimed around its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had long made clear its position on the South China Sea. "We hope the United States can look upon the current situation of the South China Sea from an objective and fair perspective and play a constructive role together with China in keeping the peace and stability in the South China Sea," Hua said. US-based military newspaper Navy Times reported that Washington was leaning towards sending warships to the waters. It said China's reclamation projects had become a growing source of tension and posed serious threats to freedom of navigation. Citing Pentagon officials, the report said the ships would set off "within days" of the mission getting the final approval from the Obama administration. Navy officials said they believed the approval was imminent. The report came as Indonesian newspaper Kompas published an opinion piece by Indonesian security chief Luhut Panjaitan in which he said the country was considering using drones and submarines to strengthen its grip over the Natuna Islands in response to China's growing military presence in the waters, Bloomberg reported. In remarks seen as underscoring the US presence in the sea, a Washington official said yesterday that the US was helping Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries improve law enforcement in the waters. "Our cooperation will … ensure the Vietnamese coastguard, like all of the others, has the right equipment to perform its maritime missions," US State Department assistant secretary William Brownfield said. "You need the ability to get out there where the laws are being violated, by illegal fishing, by traffickers, by smugglers, or by those who are stealing national resources."”

China will not allow violations of its territorial waters “China said on Friday it would not stand for violations of its territorial waters in the name of freedom of navigation, as the United States considers sailing warships close to China's artificial islands in the South China Sea. A U.S. defense official told Reuters the United States was mulling sending ships within the next two weeks to waters inside the 12-nautical-mile zones that China claims as territory around islands it has built in the Spratly chain. China claims most of the South China Sea, though Washington has signaled it does not recognize Beijing's territorial claims and that the U.S. navy will continue to operate wherever international law allows. "We will never allow any country to violate China's territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly Islands, in the name of protecting freedom of navigation and overflight," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing. "We urge the related parties not to take any provocative actions, and genuinely take a responsible stance on regional peace and stability," Hua said in response to a question about possible U.S. patrols. The United States and its allies in Asia, including Japan, have called on Beijing to halt construction on its man-made islands and the issue is central to increasingly tense U.S.-China relations. Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China has no intention of militarizing the islands, but Washington analysts and U.S. officials say Beijing has already begun creating military facilities there. Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told the Aspen Security Forum in July that China was building hangars on one of the reefs - Fiery Cross - that appeared to be for tactical fighter aircraft.”

India's naval diplomacy aims to contain China: Report “India has launched a naval diplomacy campaign to garner support from Australia, Japan and Vietnam for countering China's maritime expansion into the Indian Ocean, a Chinese official daily said today. State-run Global Times in its report on Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sahyadri's visit to Vietnam's port city Da Nang and Japan, said, "Vietnam and Japan are currently embroiled in territorial disputes with China in the South China and East China seas, respectively, and are very willing to partner with India to form diplomatic and security ties under the threat of Chinese maritime expansion."  "The three nations together would be able to form a coalition that could surround China from both the northern and southern regions of the Indian Ocean," it said. As part of India's Look East and Act East Policy, indigenously built multi-role stealth frigate INS Sahyadri entered Vietnam's port city Da Nang on October 2 for a four-day visit. The visit of INS Sahyadri was aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and enhancing inter-operational abilities between navies of India and Vietnam. On departure from Da Nang, the ship proceeded to participate in the International Fleet Review at Sagami Bay in Japan. The daily also highlighted Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R K Dhowan's visit to Australia to consolidate existing maritime cooperation initiatives, as well as explore new avenues. "To prevent China from expanding its maritime power into the Indian Ocean, New Delhi has launched a naval diplomacy campaign to garner support from Australia, Japan and Vietnam," it said. It said Admiral Dhowan's Australia's visit coincided with the prestigious annual Sea Power Conference organised by the Royal Australian Navy.”

Navy Secretary Approves Strategic Plan for Maritime Domain Awareness “Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the Department of Defense (DoD) executive agent for Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), approved the DoD Strategic Plan for MDA Sept. 23, Brian Leshak, spokesman for the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy, said in an Oct. 8 release. The plan closely aligns with the 2013 National Maritime Domain Awareness Plan, which reaffirms the nation's long-standing maritime leadership role as a source of national power. “We're elated to have the secretary of the Navy's approval of the strategic plan as the DoD executive agent,” said RDML Timothy Gallaudet, oceanographer of the Navy and director of the Office of the DoD Executive Agent for MDA, in the release. “The strategic plan will further advance the department's efforts to enable timely, accurate and informed decision making by accelerating our ability to collect, fuse, analyze and disseminate maritime data, information and intelligence relating to potential threats to the security, safety, economy or the environment of the United States and its people.” The strategic plan provides a departmental vision and common way ahead for advancing MDA. More specifically, the plan will help synchronize DoD's efforts with national policy and investments in MDA; expand and reinforce ongoing efforts with interagency and international partners; guide future MDA investments while minimizing redundancies; and provide a basis for enhanced decision-making across the maritime community. The plan was a joint effort with partnering agencies that include the Offices of Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff and the Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy. “In the coming weeks, my office will continue to engage with Navy, DoD, U.S. government and international partners to implement the goals and objectives outlined in the strategic plan,” Gallaudet said. “Working together with our close partners in the MDA community, we will collectively advance our shared capabilities which support our collective abilities to defend the homeland, engage our partners, ensure access, sustain presence and, if necessary, to project power within the maritime environment.””

U.S. mulls sailing near disputed South China Sea islands: Pentagon official “The United States is considering sailing warships close to China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea to signal it does not recognize Chinese territorial claims over the area, a U.S. defense official said on Thursday. The Financial Times newspaper cited a senior U.S. official as saying U.S. ships would sail within 12-nautical-mile zones, that China claims as territory around islands it has built in the Spratly chain, within the next two weeks. The Navy Times quoted U.S. officials as saying the action could take place "within days," but awaited final approval from the Obama administration. A U.S. defense official declined to confirm that any decision had been made, but referred to remarks in congressional testimony last month by U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary David Shear, that "all options are on the table." "We are looking at this," the official said, on condition of anonymity. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said last month, in reference to China's South China Sea claims, that the United States would "fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as U.S. forces do all over the world." The White House declined to comment on potential classified naval operations. In May, the Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the crew of a U.S. P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft when it conducted flights near China's artificial islands, according to CNN, which was aboard the U.S. aircraft.”

Indonesia Mulls Drones In Response To China's Maritime Flexing  “Indonesia is considering using drones and submarines to strengthen its grip over the gas-rich waters around the Natuna Islands in response to China’s growing military presence in the South China Sea. These comments by Indonesia’s security chief Luhut Panjaitan in an opinion piece Wednesday in the Kompas newspaper represent some of the most direct yet by the nation over China’s claims in the water. They highlight unease in the government even as it maintains it is not a party to regional disputes over the waters. “Only a few people were predicting the imaginary nine-dash line raised by China since 2009 would have a strong military and political affect,” wrote Panjaitan, the coordinating minster for security, politics and law. “This is on the back of the speedy economic development which automatically has given China a large military budget. Such a massive military spending has enabled the Chinese armed forces to have a presence in the South China Sea that is worrying the United States.” Panjaitan, a confidant to President Joko Widodo and a former general, said Indonesia needed to realign its defense posture with the “projected threats” from those dynamics as well as those posed by a small band of Islamic State followers in the east of the country. He said the country’s military hardware procurement program had to “answer the question of how we can project our power in the Natuna archipelago” perhaps by strengthening its airbase there, putting a drone squadron on one of the islands or purchasing a Kilo-class submarine.”

US targets Chinese companies in cyber feud “Three state-owned Chinese companies benefited from trade secrets stolen in a Chinese military hack on American companies, the authorities in Washington have concluded, heightening the tension between the two countries over cyberespionage. People familiar with last year’s US indictments of five People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers named the companies as Chinalco, the biggest aluminium company in China, Baosteel, a large steelmaker, and SNPTC, a nuclear power company. The companies had been unnamed parties in those cases, which accused the Chinese officers of launching cyberattacks, these people said. US President Barack Obama’s administration has threatened to slap sanctions on companies that benefit from such hacks, saying economic cyberespionage was “an act of aggression that has to stop”. If the US were to include the three companies in cybersanctions, it would represent an escalation, given their central role in the Chinese economy. Chinalco spokesman Yuan Li said he was unaware of US commercial espionage allegations against his company. “Chinalco is a very responsible firm in these matters,” he said. Baosteel and SNPTC were not immediately available on Wednesday, the last day of a week-long national day holiday in China. The US has several options when imposing sanctions, from travel bans on executives to requiring US banks to freeze the assets of sanctioned entities. The latest claims come at a time when China’s government is trying to allay US concerns about economic cyberespionage. Last month, during his first state visit to the US, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised that China would not engage in commercial cyberspying. In April, Mr Obama issued an executive order allowing for the first sanctions based on cyberattacks that threaten the US economy or national security. The willingness to punish cyberattacks comes after an alarming rise in hacks, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently attributing a 53 per cent jump in cybereconomic espionage cases to China. US law enforcement officials say many Chinese firms rely on stealing information from US rivals to help sell goods more cheaply, produce products more quickly or accelerate innovation, which hurts US companies.”

Why the US-China Summit Failed on the South China Sea “At the joint press conference on 25 September 2015 during Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States. President Obama spent 110 words in his speech on the East China Sea and South China Sea, while President Xi used 233 words to present his position only on the South China Sea issue. Obama conveyed his significant concerns over freedom of navigation and overflight, land reclamation, construction and the militarization of disputed areas, and encouraged a peaceful resolution among claimants. Mr. Xi reiterated the sovereignty of China over islands in the South China Sea since ancient times, as well as Chinese lawful and legitimate maritime rights and interests.  He pledged not to pursue militarization in the South China Sea, and stressed that the countries directly involved should address their dispute through negotiation, consultation and peaceful means. From those speeches, a few observations can be made: Firstly, President Xi used the word “islands” in two contexts: “islands in the South China Sea since ancient times are China’s territory” and  “construction activities that China are undertaking in the island of South — Nansha Islands do not target or impact any country”. That raises the question: does China intend to equate artificial islands with natural islands, and, by extension, does that mean that they also enjoy the legal status of a 12 nautical mile territorial sea instead of a 500 meter security zone? President Obama indicated the right of the United States to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows. However the interpretation of international law by each side is different.  China insists that any foreign military ship or aircraft willing to enter 12 nm limits around maritime features must have permission. The United States, however, has the opposite view that vessels and aircraft can sail or fly up to the 500m security zones around the artificial islands. Recent harassment of American flights by China near the 12 nm limit only reinforces these different views.  The Chinese activities have created a fait accompli if the United States is unwilling to take any countermeasures of its own. In all harassment cases, from the USNS Impeccable case in 2009 to recent case in 2015, the Chinese have taken the initiative. Given this, one might argue that the new air to air encounters agreement is more necessary for America’s military rather than China’s.”

A China-Vietnam Military Clash “The risk of a military confrontation between China and Vietnam is rising. Although the two countries have enjoyed close party-to-party ties for decades, since 2011 they have both asserted conflicting claims to the South China Sea. Beijing claims 90 percent of the sea as its exclusive economic zone. China has repeatedly moved oil rigs into disputed areas, dredged and occupied parts of the disputed Paracel Islands, and constructed at least one and potentially multiple airstrips, possibly for military use, in the Spratly Islands. Vietnam has also tried to use oil explorations to claim disputed areas of the sea and reportedly has rammed Chinese vessels in disputed waters. Vietnam has cultivated close military ties to the United States, to other Southeast Asian nations like the Philippines, and to regional powers such as India, all to the consternation of China. In addition, Vietnam and China increasingly compete for influence in mainland Southeast Asia, where Vietnam had dominated between the 1970s and late 2000s. China has become the largest aid donor and investor in many mainland Southeast Asian nations, as well as an important military partner to Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. Rising nationalism in both Vietnam and China fuels this race for regional influence and makes it harder for leaders in each country to back down from any confrontation, whatever the initial genesis. These growing sources of friction could lead to a serious military confrontation between the two countries in the next twelve to eighteen months, with potentially significant consequences for the United States. Accordingly, the United States should seek to defuse tensions and help avert a serious crisis.”

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 | October 08, 2015

Navy will challenge Chinese territorial claims in South China Sea “The Navy is preparing to send a surface ship inside the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit China claims for its man-made island chain, an action that could take place within days but awaits final approval from the Obama administration, according to military officials who spoke to Navy Times. Plans to send a warship through the contested space have been rumored since May, but three Pentagon officials who spoke to Navy Times on background to discuss future operations say Navy officials believe approval of the mission is imminent. If approved, it would be the first time since 2012 that the U.S. Navy has directly challenged China's claims to the islands' territorial limits. The land reclamation projects in the vicinity of the Spratly Islands have been the focus of increasing tensions between China and the United States along with its regional allies, including the Philippines, since reports of the land reclamation project began surfacing in 2013. However, the U.S. and other nations have disputed the legitimacy of the islands built by China in what is viewed as an act of regional aggression. A spokesman for the National Security Council deferred questions regarding the Navy's plans to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, but drew attention to President Obama's remarks before the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 28, where he said the U.S. has "an interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce, and in resolving disputes through international law, not the law of force." OSD spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban declined to comment on future operations, but referred to Defense Secretary Ash Carter's comments from Sept. 1, when he said that the "United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world." The news of the pending maneuver comes just a day after Pacific Fleet boss Adm. Scott Swift told a maritime conference in Australia that "some nations" were behaving in a manner inconsistent with international law, a clear reference to the ongoing dispute with China.”\Users\Nhatcher\Documents\Department of the Navy Secretariat.docx

Randy Forbes: U.S. Needs Ways to Talk About China Strategically “The Chinese “have got a right to talk about” their destiny to be a powerful nation, but “what about our destiny,” the chairman of a key House Armed Services Committee asked Tuesday. Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think-tank, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said, paraphrasing a recent discussion he had with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the United States’ “destiny is to do good around the world.” The chairman of the House seapower and projection forces subcommittee added, “The most dangerous thing is to have two world orders.” He acknowledged the power of trying to influence events by shaping the discussion as important. “How do we talk about Chinese competition?” in open forums such as the Naval War College. He also recalled an Armed Services Committee hearing during the George W. Bush administration when the attorney general “wouldn’t even talk about the Chinese as being the top espionage threat” to the United States until the chairman signaled that he would allow that line of questioning continue past the five-minute limit until the attorney general gave an answer. “Words do matter.” Similarly, the Chinese have taken to identifying coral reefs where they have been building airstrips and landing spots as islands and claiming them as their territory. Likewise, they are disputing passage of ships through waters near those reefs as violating their economic zone. He noted that the Chinese coast guard is “only 60 ships short of what we have in our Navy” and is used to influence political events in the region. Forbes said that the Chinese used “controlled friction” to get their way. “What we need to do is more strategic thinking.” Forbes said that the Chinese have developed metrics to determine the progress or failures in their strategic planning, while “we’ve become more reactionary” to events, he said. But it’s not just the Chinese who use narrative to gain their way, he said. “Putin is not a strategist; he is an opportunist.” As an example, later in answer to a question, Forbes said because of Putin’s tight control of Russian media, “literally, there are people in Russia who think we invaded Ukraine.” But “influence warfare” also has to be coupled with modernized armed forces. “We have to be thinking of new capabilities.” Forbes said he is concerned that the United States is not demonstrating the kind of leadership around the world that allies and partners expect and potential adversaries respect. He cited the divide between America and “one of our best allies—Israel,” the freeing of $100 billion in frozen accounts to Iran “one of our worst enemies” as part of the nuclear agreement with Iran and the threatened veto of the defense authorization bill as raising questions about the United States’ ability to lead.”

China-Russia relations: alignment without alliance “Western assessments of the China-Russia relationship generally reach one of two conclusions: hyperventilation about a Beijing-Moscow alliance that aims to upend the existing international order or a blithe dismissal of a temporary meeting of minds and interests. Neither position accurately characterizes the current relationship, which is best understood as a genuine convergence of national interests despite powerful centrifugal forces. From a Chinese perspective, at least, a third option – alignment without alliance – can endure, especially if both sides agree to align themselves while maintaining a safe distance from each other, so that the competitive elements of their relationship can play themselves out without derailing their partnership. China-Russia relations have been on a very positive trajectory since Xi Jinping assumed the supreme leadership in Beijing in 2013. He and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet frequently – 12 times in two and half years – in bilateral settings and in the expanding number of multilateral venues in which the two countries have membership, such as the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). When they meet, the two men see the world through similar prisms and reach similar conclusions about their country’s strategic position. They both believe themselves to be in a strategic disadvantage relative to the United States and the West. Putin believes Russia’s great power ambitions are thwarted by the West and he is seizing every opportunity to reassert Moscow’s interests. China sees the US rebalance to Asia at best as a denial of strategic space and access to the western Pacific and at worst an attempt to contain China. The Ukraine crisis and Russia’s annexation of Crimea provided additional momentum for close ties. For China, the crisis forced the US to refocus on Europe. Beijing enjoyed more leverage within their relationship as Russia’s vulnerability and isolation increased. In addition to strengthening China’s hand in energy negotiations, Moscow now seems ready to cooperate in sectors previously seen as off limits or restricted, such as arms sales, cyber security, aerospace industries and hydro sectors. Finally, Beijing anticipates the new bilateral dynamic will encourage Moscow to be more accepting of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt across the Central Asia, rather than hostile to an initiative in what is traditionally regarded as Russia’s sphere of influence.”

Harris says North Korea, Russia and China pose challenges in Pacific “The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies “plays a vital role” in developing solutions to regional security challenges, U.S. Pacific Command leader Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., said Tuesday during a ceremony marking its 20th anniversary. Harris ticked off some of the top priorities facing the region. “From North Korea‘s unstable, aggressive leader who’s on a quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them internationally, to a resurgent, revanchist Russia — the security environment out here remains dynamic,” he said. “We’re attempting to build a mature relationship with China, but Beijing continues to act aggressively and coercively to assert its outrageous territorial claims in the South and East China Seas.” APCSS has become the “go-to” venue for the education and understanding that is the beginning of answering those challenges, he said. The event also marked the think tank’s change of name to the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, a tribute to Hawaii’s long-time senator who ushered in funding for the center, located on Waikiki Beach. Inouye, a World War II veteran, died in 2012. “DKIAPCSS is a mouthful,” Irene Hirano Inouye, the senator’s widow and president of the U.S.-Japan Council, joked during an address to the audience of about 400. “So I’m sorry for those of you who are going to work here, but it is a great name.” Turning more serious, she said, “I’m sure he’s smiling down on us this morning.” The late senator seemed omnipresent during the hour-long ceremony, with speakers making numerous references to his Senate record and heroic actions with the storied 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy, out of which he was awarded the Bronze Star and Medal of Honor, as well as a Purple Heart for injuries that cost him his right arm. His biography is “probably taught in Hawaii’s schools before students even learn the multiplication tables,” Harris said. Inouye argued that Hawaii was of great strategic importance for the Pacific region, and he kept the funding flowing for the military in the state during the almost 50 years he served in the Senate.”

Confirmed: Chinese Submarines Will Be Built in Karachi “Earlier this year, Pakistan and China concluded a deal for Islamabad to purchase eight modified Type 41 Yuan-class diesel-electric attack submarines from China (export designation is the S20, which excludes the air-independent propulsion system). Specifics about the deal have been slow to emerge, but today Dawn, a major Pakistani newspaper, reports that China will build four of the eight submarines it is selling to Pakistan in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and most important port city on the Arabian Sea. Pakistan’s minister for defense production, Rana Tanveer Hussain, announced the arrangement at the inauguration of Pakistan’s Defense Export Promotion Organization (DEPO) Displayer Center in Islamabad. The announcement is significant because it confirms that China will transfer technology for the construction of the S20 submarines to Pakistan. Furthermore, according to Hussain’s comments, construction on the submarines will begin simultaneously in both countries. The Pakistan minister did not indicate a time frame for the start of construction. Karachi is no stranger to submarines. The Pakistani Navy’s Agosta 90-B submarines have all been through work in Karachi. One submarine, the PNS Hamza, was entirely assembled at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works. The French Agosta-class submarines are similar in many ways to the Yuan-class submarines that China will be selling Pakistan. In fact, the choice to construct at Karachi also indicates that the S20s will likely include the air-independent propulsion module add-on since Pakistan has experienced assembled and maintaining AIP on its existing Agosta-class submarines. The Yuan-class submarines operated by China’s People’s Liberation Army-Navy all include AIP. The choice to assemble the S20s in Karachi also has interest implications for China’s Indian Ocean strategy in general. In late June this year, a Chinese Yuan-class submarine docked at Karachi port, raising eyebrows in India. As Benjamin David Baker recently noted in The Diplomat, by selling S20s to Pakistan, China can ensure that its own PLAN Yuan-class submarines have a facility in the western Indian Ocean that can be used for maintenance, upgrades, and crew rotations. Pakistan, China’s “all-weather” ally, is a logical host to this sort of facility. For Beijing, selling S20s to Pakistan is more than a commercial arrangement with an ally–it’s another way to buttress the PLAN’s ability to operate in far-flung waters in the western Indian Ocean, where China regularly conducts anti-piracy operations. Last year’s U.S. Department of Defense report on China’s military confirms that the PLAN is regularly deploying submarines, including its Shang- and Song-class, to the region.”

U.S. says ready to defend against North Korean nuclear threat “The U.S. government believes North Korea has the capability to launch a nuclear weapon against the U.S. homeland and stands ready to defend against any such attacks, a high-level U.S. military official said on Wednesday. Admiral Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said he agreed with U.S. intelligence assessments that North Korea had nuclear weapons, as well as the ability to miniaturize them and put them on a rocket that could reach the United States. "We assess that they have the capability to reach the homeland with a nuclear weapon from a rocket," Gortney told an event hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank. Gortney said it was very difficult to predict the behavior of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but the U.S. military was prepared to respond if he were to use a nuclear weapon. "We’re ready for him, and we’re ready 24 hours a day if he should be dumb enough to shoot something at us," Gortney said. "I'm pretty confident that we're going to knock down the numbers that are going to be shot." North Korea's space agency said last month Pyongyang was building a new satellite and readying it for launch, with any use of a long-range rocket suggesting that the secretive state has made advances developing a ballistic missile. North Korea says its rocket launches are part of a legitimate space program aimed at putting satellites into orbit. It has in the past conducted missile tests in defiance of international warnings and sanctions. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said in March North Korea could achieve the ability to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile this year.”


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 | October 07, 2015

THAAD is China’s only concern about Park-Obama summit: Chinese professor “The only concern China has about the upcoming summit between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and U.S. President Barack Obama is the possibility of the two leaders discussing the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system to the South, a Chinese expert said Tuesday. Beijing has voiced vehement opposition to the U.S. desire to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery to South Korea, claiming it could be used against the country, despite repeated assurances from Washington that the system is aimed only at deterring North Korean threats. “China’s government explicitly opposed the implementations of THAAD systems on the Korean peninsula no matter in the US military base, or on the ROK’s military base,” Cheng Xiaohe, a professor of Renmin University of China, said during a seminar at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. China perceives a THAAD deployment not only as a threat to its military activities on its territory, but also as efforts to further strengthen the trilateral military-to-military ties among the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, which Beijing has long opposed. “So, the deployment of the THAAD systems will yet inevitably strengthen the military relationship among the three nations. I think that’s probably the only serious concern that China worries about during Park Geun-hye’s visit to Washington next week,” Cheng said. The U.S. wants to deploy a THAAD unit to South Korea, where some 28,500 American troops are stationed, to better defend against ever-growing threats from North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.” 

US fleet sends message to China: we’ll maintain freedom of seas “Admiral Scott Swift used a major navy conference in Sydney to warn that if coercion worked at sea, those responsible were likely to become a great threat and “seek us out in our supposed sanctuaries ashore”. Admiral Scott told the Royal Australian Navy’s Seapower conference that freedom of navigation and overflight was the golden rule of the system that was making the region one of the most economically powerful in the world. “There is no more direct path to unravelling the foundation on which this region has been built and has grown in amazing prosperity, than one based on ‘might makes right’,” he warned.He said freedom of navigation and overflight was central to US Pacific Fleet operations. “That isn’t going to change. It’s my sense that some ­nat­ions view freedom of the seas as up for grabs, as something that can be taken down and redefined by domestic law or by reinterpreting international law. “Some nations in this region continue to impose superfluous warnings and restrictions on freedom of the seas in their exclusive economic zones and claim territorial water rights that are inconsistent with the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea. “This trend is particularly egregious in contested waters. If even one of these restrictions were successful, it would be a major blow to the international rules-based system with ramifi­cations well beyond the maritime domain.” Admiral Swift said in recent weeks, Indo-Asia-Pacific security issues were front and centre in talks with Pentagon and State ­Department officials. That ­included rising tensions and ­regional equities in the South China Sea.” 

Revealed: Japan's Secret Weapon to Destroy China's J-20 and J-31 “Japan is set to acquire four Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes airborne early warning aircraft that would nullify the threat of Chinese stealth fighters and afford it a potent missile defense capability. The new aircraft is equipped with a powerful hybrid mechanical/electronically scanned UHF-band radar that will be able to tie into the U.S. Navy’s state-of-the-art Naval Integrated Fire Control—Counter Air (NIFC-CA) battle network. Japan’s purchase of the E-2D is significant because the capabilities of those two key features. The E-2D’s Lockheed Martin AN/APY-9 UHF-band radar is the central feature of the Advanced Hawkeye. Both friend and foe alike have touted UHF radars as an effective countermeasure to stealth technology. One early public example of that is a paper prepared by Arend Westra that appeared in the National Defense University’s Joint Forces Quarterly academic journal in the 4th quarter issue of 2009. “It is the physics of longer wavelength and resonance that enables VHF and UHF radar to detect stealth aircraft,” Westra wrote in his article titled Radar vs. Stealth. UHF-band radars operate at frequencies between 300MHz and 1GHz, which results in wavelengths that are between 10 centimeters and one meter long. Typically, due to the physical characteristics of fighter-sized stealth aircraft, they must be optimized to defeat higher frequencies in the Ka, Ku, X, C and parts of the S-bands. There is a resonance effect that occurs when a feature on an aircraft—such as a tail-fin tip— is less than eight times the size of a particular frequency wavelength. That omnidirectional resonance effect produces a “step change” in an aircraft’s radar cross-section. Effectively what that means is that small stealth aircraft that do not have the size or weight allowances for two feet or more of radar absorbent material coatings on every surface are forced to make trades as to which frequency bands they are optimized for. That would include aircraft like the Chengdu J-20, Shenyang J-31, Sukhoi PAK-FA and indeed the United States’ own Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and tri-service F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Only very large stealth aircraft without protruding empennage surfaces — like the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit or the forthcoming Long Range Strike-Bomber — can meet the requirement for geometrical optics regime scattering. Effectively, that means the E-2D’s AN/APY-9 radar can see stealth aircraft like the J-20 or J-31.” 

Philippines tells China: No country can claim an entire sea “No matter how big or powerful a country is, it can never justify staking claim over an entire sea or use force to assert such claim, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in an address before the United Nations General Assembly in response to China’s insistence that the West Philippine Sea is theirs. “The world cannot allow a country, no matter how powerful, to claim an entire sea as its own nor should it allow coercion to be an acceptable dispute settlement mechanism,” Del Rosario told the 70th UN General Assembly last Oct. 2. He also asked China to join the deliberations on the case filed by Manila with The Hague-based UN arbitral tribunal contesting Beijing’s massive claim in the West Philippine Sea. “With the growing support from the international community in peacefully resolving disputes in the South China Sea, including   through arbitration, the Philippines believes that the final outcome of this arbitration process would pave the way for a settlement of the maritime disputes,” Del Rosario said. He said Manila hopes to finally see Beijing’s actions match its declarations so there would be real easing of tensions in the West Philippine and South China Sea. In reply to Del Rosario, the Chinese delegation said that while China wanted peaceful settlement in accordance with international law, it reiterated its preference for direct negotiations and consultations.” 

Deal with China on cyber attacks is losing proposition: Gertz “Recent reports the Obama administration sought to conclude an unprecedented cyber arms control agreement with China governing digital attacks are “erroneous” and there are no plans to negotiate limits on cyber weaponry. Painter’s comments were focused on a sensational New York Times report Sept. 19 asserting that urgent negotiations had been underway in the weeks leading up to President Obama’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The goal was to conclude a cyber arms agreement at the summit. The agreement reportedly would have focused on preventing cyber attacks on critical infrastructures, like power stations, banking systems, cellphone networks and hospitals. Painter said there were never plans for a cyber arms accord but instead praised what he called the “significant” informal agreement announced at the summit with great fanfare. China promised to swear off cyber economic espionage in exchange for the United States putting off plans for economic sanctions against Beijing for past cyber spying. The one-sided deal on Chinese cyber is meeting with wide skepticism within US national security circles based on China’s track record of aggressive across-the-board cyber attacks against both government and private sector networks. The pilfering of trade and other secrets has netted Beijing valuable intellectual property estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. Additionally, the accord is one-sided considering China – and not the US — engages in the widespread theft of US and foreign economic and trade secrets and provided them to Chinese state-owned companies. US intelligence agencies are prohibited for helping American companies with similar clandestinely gathered foreign trade secrets.” 

The Asia-Pacific Power Balance: Beyond the US–China Narrative “The simplistic US-China focused narrative of the future of the Asia-Pacific does not sufficiently take into consideration other regional actors such as Japan and India, new instruments of leverage in the region, or the extent and complexity of changing relationships. In making the situation appear simpler than reality, Asia-Pacific countries and the United States risk narrowing the aperture through which they evaluate policy choices regarding major regional challenges. At the same time, the bipolar perspective, potentially invoking Cold War-type mentalities, could exacerbate tensions rather than relieve them. Seeing US–Chinese competition as the main variable in the region could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This paper seeks to go beyond this perception by laying out the major narratives of the region’s power distribution currently in play in its four principal powers – the United States, China, India and Japan. Building on a review of the main instruments of power and the current regional trends, this paper argues that the Asia-Pacific region in 2030 will have at least four principal characteristics:" 

Moving Beyond the US-China Narrative “The visit to the United States of Chinese President Xi Jinping is once again focusing attention on the prospects for US-China relations and their wider implications. Many in the US and in the region seem to focus on the US-China relationship at the expense of anything else. But as we argue in a new Chatham House research paper, we need to move beyond narratives which reduce developments in the region to a two-dimensional US-China dynamic. The reasons are important. Seeing US-Chinese competition as the main variable in the region could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And a simplistic focus on the US-China relationship could even re-invoke Cold War-type bipolar mentalities that exacerbate tensions rather than relieve them. We need to widen the aperture through which we evaluate policy choices. The tendency to focus excessively on the US-China nexus is a result of the rapid increase in Chinese economic scale and influence. But the 'rise of China' is just one of a number of narratives of regional power distribution which feature across Asia. Other narratives include what we call 'global flux', the idea that the main shifts in power distribution are between the developed West and emerging economies more broadly, or alternatively a process of ‘power diffusion’ whereby regional changes are fostering multiple centres of power in Asia-Pacific with none dominant. After one takes a comprehensive look at the main instruments of influence in the region, from military power to diplomacy, economic strength, development assistance, and control over natural resources, this latter narrative appears to be more accurate than the others.”

China’s 3,000-Acre Aircraft Carriers Could Change the Balance of Power in the Pacific “The Great Wall, as President Richard Nixon so elegantly said on his first trip to Beijing in 1972, was indeed a “great wall.” Nearly half a century later, a new Great Wall is under construction by China — what Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. military forces throughout the Pacific, has famously called a “Great Wall Of Sand.” That wall, unfortunately, is not so great. Instead of stone, brick, and wood, this new wall consists of artificial islands strung out across the South China Sea — a region Beijing claims by virtue of historical right. China’s claim is encompassed by what it terms the “nine-dash line,” a radical demarcation of maritime sovereignty that takes an enormous bite out of the legitimate territorial claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, and other countries ringing the South China Sea. The crucial context of this behavior is that the South China Sea — Asia’s “cauldron,” as geostrategist Robert D. Kaplan calls it — is bubbling like the witches’ kettle in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The South China Sea matters not only because it is contested territory, but because it’s hugely important to the smooth operation of the global economy. More than $5 trillion of the world’s annual trade passes through the South China Sea, all under the watchful eyes of the (oddly named) People’s Liberation Army Navy. China’s aggressive behavior in building these artificial islands tracks with its disregard of other norms of international law. Some of these provocations include lack of clarity on the claim itself — a claim that international lawyers widely regard as preposterous; an air-defense identification zone over the East China Sea directed at the United States, Japan, and South Korea; the placement of a mobile oil platform in Vietnam’s coastal waters; and the widely reported (and massive) cyberthefts of U.S. intellectual property, industrial secrets, and personal data. The specifics on the construction of these artificial islands are staggering. Thus far — and construction continues — China has created nearly 3,000 acres of land out of the ocean. Just consider that the highly touted and massive U.S. aircraft carriers (from which can launch a wing of more than 70 jets and helicopters) are only about 5 acres of flattop. Are these artificial islands similar to hundreds of unsinkable aircraft carriers in the South China Sea? Think that shifts the balance between the two competing militaries? You bet it does. Besides the obvious geopolitical and military issues, significant ecological damage is also underway, according to many scientists. One expert from the University of Miami, John McManus, called China’s building of man-made islands “the most rapid rate of permanent loss of coral reef area in human history.” Add to this the internal tension under which President Xi Jinping’s regime is operating: falling real estate prices, an aging population, misbalance of men (too many) and women (too few), terrible ecological damage requiring significant mitigation, and, above all, a sputtering economy that is stunting growth.” 

The U.N. Bribery Allegations and Macau “What is happening"? “According to a complaint filed last month in federal court in the Southern District of New York, Ng Lap Seng and his assistant since 2013 have brought to the U.S. a total of more than $4.5 million in cash, which they told customs officials was for such purposes as buying art, antiques or real estate or for gambling at casinos. The complaint doesn’t specify what officials believe the men actually intended to do with the cash, but the two were arrested and charged with lying to U.S. customs officials. A lawyer for Mr. Ng said the legal team’s position is that Mr. Ng “committed no crime.”

• Who is Ng Lap Seng? Also known as David Ng, he is a billionaire Macau real-estate developer and chairman of the privately held Sun Kian Ip Group. Largely based in Macau, it has a foundation arm in New York City. 

• What’s next? Charges are expected to be announced as early as Tuesday against a number of other people, including current or former U.N. officials.

• What are Ng’s connection to China? He’s a member of the Chinese government’s top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and has held prominent political appointments in Macau, which is a Chinese territory. 

• How is he tied to the U.N.? Both individually and through his Sun Kian Ip Group Foundation, he has worked with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, a U.N. arm that focuses on economic and political partnerships among developing countries.”

*(Report) U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission Monthly Analysis Of U.S. China Trade Data*


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 | October 06, 2015

Chinese Colonel’s Hard-Line Views Seep Into the Mainstream “ONE cloudless morning last month, Col. Liu Mingfu watched on his home television as tanks, troop carriers and ballistic missiles rolled past a waving President Xi Jinping in Tiananmen Square. The Communist Party was putting on a military parade, billed as one of the largest in party history, to commemorate the defeat of Japan seven decades earlier. “I felt inspired and proud, since the parade demonstrated a major power’s determination and strength to safeguard peace,” Colonel Liu said in an interview. “Japanese militarism, the world hegemon and global terrorism have been threatening the peace.” “The world hegemon” refers, of course, to the United States, which the colonel has been studying for years. For many Chinese, Colonel Liu, 64, is the most prominent warrior-scholar in the People’s Liberation Army. His fame rests on “The China Dream,” a book published in 2010 that became a best seller. It dissected American global dominance and advocated the need for China to overturn that to secure peace not just in the region but also worldwide. “Becoming the strongest nation in the world is China’s goal in the 21st century,” the colonel wrote. At the time, the colonel and other hard-line military thinkers were dismissed as marginal voices by many foreign analysts. But two years after the book’s publication, Mr. Xi took power and proclaimed his own “China Dream” of restoring the nation’s greatness, a critical part of which is expanding the nation’s military presence in Asia. Now, the military hard-liners are looking more mainstream.”

U.S. defense official said to urge technology transfer to Taiwan “A U.S. defense official attending a U.S.-Taiwan defense conference in Virginia encouraged American companies on Monday to transfer technology to Taiwan so that it can assemble its own weapons, according to a participant at the conference. Abraham Denmark, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, was cited as having made the appeal during a speech at the three-day U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference 2015, which opened Sunday in Williamsburg, Virginia. The participant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Denmark opened his speech by stressing the United States' security commitments to Taiwan but that U.S. promises alone were not enough to guarantee Taiwan's security, and he suggested that Taiwan needed to bear its own share of responsibility. Denmark advised Taiwan to pay more attention to defense matters, saying that Taiwan's military spending should be sufficient to support military operations and training, according to the participant. Denmark also encouraged American arms companies to transfer their technologies to Taiwan so that Taiwan can build its own weapons, arguing that much of the large and expensive military equipment produced by these companies was no longer meeting Taiwan's needs, the participant said. He also advised Taiwan to make its military more flexible and mobile and to phase out its old military equipment, saying that doing so would not affect Taiwan's overall military strength, the participant said.” 

Face Off: How America Can REALLY Stop China's Navy “It’s dangerous to live by the unexamined assumption. Exhibit A: the oft-heard claim that U.S. sea and air forces sporting precision-guided arms will make short work of military facilities on South China Sea islets. “So what?” says one Pentagon official of Beijing’s island-building project. “If China wants to build vulnerable airstrips on these rocks, let them—they just constitute a bunch of easy targets that would be taken out within minutes of a real contingency.” RAND, too, softpedals the islands’ longevity in combat. In a generally estimable report on the correlation of forces between America and China, RAND researchers maintain that South China Sea outposts could host only “a handful of SAMs and fighter aircraft.” It’s doubtful, they say, that People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces forward-deployed to “reclaimed” reefs or atolls would comprise “a significant factor in high-intensity military operations beyond the first hours of a conflict.” Nothing to see here, move along. The syllogism behind such wartime prognoses seems to go like this: Island fortresses can’t stand against assault unless they’re entirely self-sufficient. China’s manmade islands aren’t self-sufficient in terms of defenses or logistics. So why fret about them? To start with, a fundamental point: assuming away a foe’s ingenuity, martial skill, and thirst for victory ranks among the most egregious sins a strategist or tactician can commit. As military sage Carl von Clausewitz counsels, the enemy isn’t some lifeless, inert mass on which we work our will. Instead war involves a “collision of two living forces,” both intent on getting their way. “So long as I have not overthrown my opponent,” he adds, “I am bound to fear that he may overthrow me.” “Thus,” concludes Clausewitz, “I am not in control: he dictates to me as much as I dictate to him.” Or, in simpler terms, respect the adversary. No serious competitor is a potted plant.” 

Experts: North Korea's Not Preparing for a Satellite Launch “Despite recent rumors, North Korea is not preparing for a satellite launch on October 10, when Pyongyang will celebrate the 70th anniversary of its Korean Workers’ Party. Recent satellite imagery does not show any launch preparations underway at the Sohae launch facility, said analysts with 38 North, a website providing analysis of North Korean affairs and a program of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Internationals Studies. A bit of background first: the idea that North Korea would conduct a satellite launch – regarded by the United States and South Korea as an excuse to test ballistic missile technology – on October 10 emerged in the aftermath of North-South tensions this August. Speculation ramped up when North Korea’s KCNA published an interview with the director of North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration, who said that Pyongyang was in the “final phase” of developing a new earth observation satellite. Analysts at 38 North, however, said satellite imagery analysis tells a different story.  “[A]ll these reports about a possible long range rocket or nuclear test on or before October 10 are just all wrong,” Joel Wit, a co-founder of 38 North and a senior fellow at the U.S.-Korea Institute, told reporters on Monday. There’s “no evidence to support it whatsoever,” Wit said. As of September 27, satellite imagery obtained by 38 North wasn’t showing anywhere near the level of activity that would precede an imminent satellite test. In particular, it was clear that there was no rocket on the gantry, and there was no noticeable uptick in activity at the fuel and oxidizer buildings. It’s “too late now” for North Korea to begin prepping for a launch on October 10, Wit said. According to past precedent, analysts would begin seeing a “significant increase in activity” at Sohae between four to six weeks ahead of the launch. At least one week before, satellite imagery should show fuel being brought to the rocket. Without those signs of preparation, Wit said that he is “95 percent sure it’s not going to happen.””

China and Japan's Battle for Influence in Southeast Asia “On his inaugural visit to Southeast Asia as president of China, Xi Jinping announced a plan to build a “maritime silk road.” In November of the following year, the Chinese government established the Silk Road Fund, and contributed an initial $40 billion, which will be used to invest in both overland transportation infrastructure and in “expanding ports and industrial parks in Asia, the Mideast, Africa, and Europe.” Given Southeast Asia’s market size, economic potential, and location, it is a key link in China’s maritime silk road plans. Earlier this year, with significant international participation, China established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or AIIB. The bank “will focus on the development of infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia, including energy and power, transportation and telecommunications, rural infrastructure and agriculture development,” among other areas. Much of Southeast Asia is in need of such investment, and countries in the region may be first in line for loans when the bank formally opens it doors. Both the maritime silk road and the AIIB are aimed at tying China’s economy more closely to those of its neighbors. China here aims not only to accrue economic benefits, but to expand its economic penetration of Southeast Asia, with associated increases in influence and power. Such is a potentially troubling outcome, both for Southeast Asians—who desire stronger economic ties with China, but would rather not find themselves under Beijing’s thumb—and for external powers, including the United States, that have interests in the region. Although these developments have caused some heartburn in Washington and among U.S. allies, at least one of those allies has refused to sit still. Indeed, Japan, which is an important source of foreign direct investment for Southeast Asia, has long had ambitious plans for infrastructure investment in the region. Tokyo is acting on them.” 

U.S. warns against 'egregious' restrictions in contested South China Seas “Some countries appear to view freedom of the seas as "up for grabs" in the South China Sea, imposing superfluous warnings and restrictions that threaten stability, a U.S. Navy commander said on Tuesday in comments apparently aimed at China. Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a strongly worded address in Australia the United States remained "as committed as ever" to protect freedom of navigation through the region. "It's my sense that some nations view freedom of the seas as up for grabs, as something that can be taken down and redefined by domestic law or by reinterpreting international law," Swift told a maritime conference in Sydney. "Some nations continue to impose superfluous warnings and restrictions on freedom of the seas in their exclusive economic zones and claim territorial water rights that are inconsistent with (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). This trend is particularly egregious in contested waters." China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims. Japan and China also have conflicting claims in the East China Sea. The United States has called for a halt to China's artificial island building in the area. China says it has irrefutable sovereignty over the sea and no hostile intent. China has also accused the United States of militarizing the South China Sea by staging patrols and joint military drills.” 

Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Reached, but Faces Scrutiny in Congress “The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday reached final agreement on the largest regional trade accord in history, teeing up what could be the toughest fight President Obama will face in his final year in office: securing approval from Congress. The conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, after years of negotiations and a series of sleepless nights here, was merely “an important first step,” conceded Michael B. Froman, the United States trade representative, as he and other weary officials announced their accord. Now the deal faces months of scrutiny in Congress, where some bipartisan opposition was immediate. That debate will unfurl against the backdrop of a presidential campaign in which populist anti-trade talk against the deal is already prominent. Still, for Mr. Obama the accord could be a legacy-making achievement, drawing together countries representing two-fifths of the global economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia, into a web of common rules governing trans-Pacific commerce. It is the capstone both of his economic agenda to expand exports and of his foreign policy “rebalance” toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa. “When more than 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment.””

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 | October 01, 2015

China’s First Domestic Aircraft Carrier Almost Certainly Under Construction “China has quietly begun construction on its first domestic aircraft carrier in the same northern Chinese shipyard that refurbished the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s current Soviet-era carrier, USNI News has learned. Several sources confirmed to USNI News that an unknown shipbuilding project — first noticed publically by Jane’s in late February — is almost without a doubt the bones of the PLAN’s first domestically-built carrier. Sources pointed USNI News to an April photograph that emerged on the Chinese language Internet of a ship under construction at the Dalian yard believed to be the super structure PLAN’s second carrier. Further late September satellite photographs published by Jane’s last week show a ship that corresponds to the dimensions of the refurbished Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Liaoning — a ship with a beam of about 115 feet and a length of 886 feet. Jane’s stopped short of a definitive determination that the mystery ship at Dalian was a new carrier — the Type 001A — but did compare the construction methodology of the ship to Soviet-era builds on the original Kuznetsov in the 1980s. The interest to what is in the Dalian dry dock — once the home for Liaoning’s refit after China purchased the carrier — has been a hot topic of conversation for international naval watchers. One, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Chris Carlson, told USNI News given how quickly the Dalian yard builds commercial ships the timing of construction pointed toward a military platform. “We’re talking eight months from March when they say the initial sections began going up,” he said on Wednesday. “If it was commercial ship it would be done already.” Carlson said the Jane’s photographs indicate the ship is being built without a well deck which would likely rule out a big deck amphibious warship.”

China navy calls for United States to reduce risk of misunderstandings “China hopes the United States can scale back activities that run the risk of misunderstandings, and respect China's core interests, the Defense Ministry on Thursday cited a senior Chinese naval commander as saying. Each country has blamed the other for dangerous moves over several recent incidents of aircraft and ships from China and the United States facing off in the air and waters around the Asian giant. Last year the Pentagon said a Chinese warplane flew as close as 20 to 30 feet (7 to 10 m) from a U.S. Navy patrol jet and did a barrel roll over the plane. The Pacific is an important platform for cooperation, Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army, told Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. "The prerequisite for win-win cooperation is mutual trust," Sun said, according to China's Defense Ministry. "(We) hope the U.S. side can pay great attention to China's concerns, earnestly respect our core interests, avoid words and actions that harm bilateral ties, and reduce activities which cause misunderstandings or misjudgments," he added. The two officials were meeting in Hawaii on the sidelines of a gathering of Asia-Pacific defense officials.” 

Why the ‘New’ US Trilateral Dialogue With Japan and India Matters “On September 29, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the foreign ministers of Japan and India for the first ever trilateral ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The event was no doubt a significant development. While the United States, Japan, and India have been meeting at the assistant secretary level over the past few years, this meeting between their foreign ministers represents an official elevation of the trilateral dialogue. For close observers of Asian security affairs, this was a long-anticipated development. Though the idea of elevating the trilateral dialogue has been discussed since 2011, the seventh iteration of the U.S.-Japan-India trilateral dialogue held in Honolulu in June was still at the assistant secretary of state level. But as I reported for The Diplomat in July, Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech at a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that Washington was “looking to schedule a ministerial level trilateral” this fall (See: “US Will Hold Elevated Trilateral Dialogue with India and Japan”). That this has finally occurred is testament to the growing role that all three democracies – which represent a quarter of the world’s population and economic production power – have played individually in the Indo-Pacific region as well as the convergence between them. As Kerry alluded to in his remarks to reporters before the meeting, the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific under the Obama administration, India’s new Act East Policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Japan’s reinvigorated role as a ‘proactive contributor to peace’ under its premier Shinzo Abe, have all been powerful indicators of the importance these players attach to the region (See for instance: “Modi Unveils India’s ‘Act East Policy’ to ASEAN in Myanmar”). All three legs of the triangle have also been strengthened recently, with positive momentum seen in U.S.-India, U.S.-Japan and India-Japan ties over the past year (See for instance: “Modi in Japan: Great Expectations”). The ministerial meeting itself also provided a venue for all sides to make advances on a range of important security, economic and diplomatic issues. On maritime security, it is worth noting that all three countries have already stepped up efforts to boost the capacity of individual Southeast Asian states to tackle various challenges, including China’s growing assertiveness (See for instance: “Japan Gifts Vietnam Patrol Vessel Amid South China Sea Tensions”).”

Red China's new blue helmets “There is something pleasurable about watching powerful men and women give detailed speeches on a topic that they know very little about. On Monday afternoon, President Obama convened a summit on strengthening United Nations (U.N.) peace operations in the margins of the annual General Assembly meeting in New York. Leaders including China’s Xi Jinping and India’s Narendra Modi turned up to pledge new military forces for the U.N.’s overstretched operations in trouble spots such as South Sudan. It soon became clear that while President Obama takes U.N. missions seriously, quite a lot of his global counterparts have never given them much thought. The Obama administration has set out its reasons for valuing the blue helmets in a new presidential memorandum, released to coincide with the summit. “There are currently dozens of fragile and conflict-affected states,” the paper notes, and threats ranging from transnational terrorism to pandemic disease are likely to plunge more of them into crisis in the future. The United States cannot handle all of these flash points alone. U.N. operations, the paper underlines, are “among the primary international tools that we use to address conflict-related crises.” Kicking off the summit, President Obama adopted a hardheaded tone, eschewing idealistic rhetoric about the U.N.’s timeless virtues. “This is not something that we do for others,” he argued, “it is something that we do collectively because our collective security depends on it.”  Many of the fifty-odd leaders and foreign ministers who spoke after him were less disciplined. A lot meandered back to the origins of the U.N. and the love of peace.”

On China’s National Day, Hong Kong Protesters Say That They Are Not Part of China “On an overcast Thursday morning, twin red flags — one belonging to Hong Kong and the other to China — were hoisted at the Golden Bauhinia Square on Hong Kong’s picturesque harbor front. The raising was part of the celebrations for China’s National Day — the 66th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China, to be precise — but the two flags weren’t the only ones visible at the event. About a block away from the square, small groups of protesters waved the blue colonial flag — a combination of Hong Kong’s coat of arms and Britain’s Union Jack — that was the territory’s emblem until the British returned it to China in 1997. The protesters — part of a marginal but growing localist movement that calls for greater autonomy, or even full independence — waved banners that read, “Hong Kong Independence” and “Hong Kong Is Not China.” That sentiment was reiterated a little later across the harbor on the waterfront in Kowloon, where around 200 people gathered with yellow umbrellas — a symbol of last year’s pro-democracy Umbrella Revolution. The prevailing message, along with demands for a preservation of Hong Kong’s “core values” and “true democracy,” was much the same: Hong Kong is very different to China. While many observers thought that the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 would see the city become culturally more Sinicized, the reverse has happened, with many Hong Kongers feeling sharply distinct from mainland Chinese. Over a century and half of Western-style education, along with free communications, relative affluence, metropolitan sophistication and pride in the regional Cantonese language and culture has seen to that.”

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 | September 30, 2015

Top U.S. spy says skeptical about U.S.-China cyber agreement “The top U.S. intelligence official said he was skeptical that a new U.S.-China cyber agreement would slow a growing torrent of cyber attacks on U.S. computer networks, adding that his approach will be to "trust but verify." Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the agreement did not include specific penalties for violations but that the U.S. government could use economic sanctions and other tools to respond if needed. Clapper and other officials said they viewed last week's cyber agreement between China and the United States on curbing economic cyber espionage as a "good first step" but noted it was not clear how effective the pact would be. President Barack Obama said on Friday that he had reached a "common understanding" with China's President Xi Jinping that neither government would knowingly support cyber theft of corporate secrets or business information. Asked if he was optimistic the agreement would eliminate Chinese cyber attacks, Clapper said simply: "No." Clapper said he was skeptical because Chinese cyber espionage aimed at extracting U.S. intellectual property was so pervasive, and there were questions about the extent to which it was orchestrated by the Chinese government. He said the United States should "trust but verify," a reference to former President Ronald Reagan's approach to nuclear disarmament with the former Soviet Union. Clapper and other top U.S. military officials said cyber threats were increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication and severity, and the United States needed the same kind of deterrent capability in cyberspace that it maintains for nuclear weapons.”

CIA pulled officers from Beijing after breach of federal personnel records “The CIA pulled a number of officers from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing as a precautionary measure in the wake of the massive cybertheft of the personal data of federal employees, current and former U.S. officials said. The move is a concrete impact of the breach, one of two major hacks into Office of Personnel Management computers that were disclosed earlier this year. Officials have privately attributed the hacks to the Chinese government. The theft of documents has been characterized by senior U.S. officials as political espionage intended to identify spies and people who might be recruited as spies or blackmailed to provide useful information. Because the OPM records contained the background checks of State Department employees, officials privately said the Chinese could have compared those records with the list of embassy personnel. Anybody not on that list could be a CIA officer. The CIA’s move was meant to safeguard officers whose agency affiliation might be discovered as a result of the hack, said officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. The disclosure comes as senior defense and intelligence officials on Tuesday tried — not always successfully — to explain to a committee of frustrated lawmakers their policy on deterring foreign governments, such as China, from carrying out cyber-intrusions. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, sought to make a distinction between the OPM hacks and cybertheft of U.S. companies’ secrets to benefit another country’s industry. What happened in OPM case, “as egregious as it was,” Clapper said, was not an attack: “Rather, it would be a form of theft or espionage.””

Did China Just Hit Mach 5? “On a night apparently in early September, at a flight test center somewhere in China, a dark-painted airplane reportedly took off on a momentous mission—to fly faster than five times the speed of sound then return safely to Earth. The airborne experiment, allegedly involving a manned aircraft with a human pilot aboard, marked a huge leap forward for China as it competes with the United States to develop warplanes and missiles capable of so-called “hypersonic” flight—so fast that they’re almost impossible to shoot down or dodge. Yes, the September test was a massive technological step. But only if ... it actually happened. For as suddenly and dramatically as the news of the aerial trial broke, it quickly evaporated. Now it’s not clear what, if anything, actually occurred in the sky over that Chinese airfield. Reporter Qi Shengjun from China Aviation News is, so far, the sole source for the potentially world-changing development, one that could give Beijing an enormous military edge over Washington. In a dispatch dated Sept. 18, Qi breathlessly described the nighttime test—the "roar of the engine," the dark-painted aircraft as it “disappeared in the sky,” the “excitement” and “indescribable emotion” of the test team on the ground. “A few hours after takeoff, the task is complete,” Qi wrote, adding a literary fluorish as he compared the test plane’s landing to the sheathing of a sword. “When the ‘aircraft brake’ instruction is issued, this mission comes to a successful conclusion. The original anxiety and tension is instantly released—applause, laughter sounding in the control room.”” 

How China Is Catching Up on Stealth Technology with a Knockoff F-35 “New technical specs about China’s new J-31 fighter, a plane designed to rival the American-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, popped up on a Chinese blog last week. So who has the advantage — the U.S. or China? China’s twin-engine design bears a striking resemblance to the single-jet F-35. Still, the Joint Strike Fighter is expected to fly slightly farther and carry a heavier load of weapons, according to the data, which was first reported by Jane’s. Military experts say that while the J-31 looks like, and may even fly like, the F-35, it’s what’s under the hood and embedded in the skin that really matters. The U.S. has the better computer software, unique sensors and other hardware, stealth coating, and engines technology—all critical attributes that make fifth-generation aircraft different than the military jets of last century. Exactly how long that advantage lasts is up for debate; senior Pentagon officials and experts believe American technology superiority is shrinking. That means the U.S. military’s weapons will not overmatch adversaries for as long as they have in past decades.” 

China Aircraft Carrier Launch by End-2015 Plausible, Experts Say “A report that China may be ready to launch its first domestically made aircraft carrier by the end of the year is credible, naval experts said, though the warship isn’t likely to enter service for four years. The non-nuclear-powered carrier, known as type 001A, will be launched on Dec. 26 to mark the 122nd birthday of Mao Zedong, according to a report in the Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper Ming Pao, which didn’t cite sources. The carrier would take several years before entering service, the paper said, suggesting Oct. 1, 2019 -- the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China -- as a potential date. China has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of an aircraft carrier-building program, though the Ministry of National Defense website carries an article by China Newsweek speculating that the country wants three. China Newsweek is a current affairs magazine owned by the official China News Service and is unrelated to the U.S. magazine. In February, the government in Changzhou, in eastern Jiangsu province, fueled speculation about progress in the construction of the carrier when it posted on social media that a local company had won a contract to supply electrical cabling for the ship. The post was deleted within hours, along with a similar report in a local newspaper. “Based on these circumstantial reports, I’ll deem the claim by Ming Pao as quite reliable,” said Collin Koh Swee Lean, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “Assuming the carrier is launched on Dec. 26 this year, and fitted out subsequently before entering into a series of harbor and sea trials, the carrier should be ready for service by 2020.” China keeps its carrier program secret, partly to allay concerns about its growing naval might and ability to test the dominance of the U.S. Navy, which has upheld Asian maritime security since World War II. The Pentagon said last week that a Chinese nuclear submarine designed to carry missiles that could hit the U.S. was likely to deploy before year’s end.” 

Overdependence on US weapons weakens military independence “The failure to receive key technologies from Lockheed Martin for the KF-X project to locally develop fighter jets by 2025 has underscored the nation's heavy dependence on United States weapons, analysts said Tuesday. For now, the continuation of the 8.5 trillion won project as scheduled seems almost impossible because the U.S. government refused to allow Lockheed Martin to hand over four core technologies related to the F-35 stealth fighter to Korea. The transfer of a total of 25 technologies including the four -- active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, infrared search and track (IRST), electronic optics targeting pod (EOTGP) and RF jammer -- was agreed as an offset program when Korea signed a 7.3 trillion won deal with Lockheed in September last year to buy 40 F-35s. Kim Dae-young, a senior research fellow at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, said, "What is happening now was predictable from the beginning. The government was too complacent because it has relied on U.S. technologies and did not make efforts to develop its own." Kim said Korea is compared to its neighboring country Japan that has accumulated its own technologies and is developing its own stealth fighter, ATD-X. The absence of the technologies has forced the Korean government to beg for something, even though it has paid an astronomical amount of money to the U.S. to buy the F-35. As for the KF-X project, Defense Minister Han Min-koo sent a letter to his U.S. counterpart last month to ask for cooperation in the smooth transfer of the remaining 21 technologies from Lockheed. Officials said that Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se also plans to ask for cooperation from his U.S. counterpart soon.”

China-US War Over Taiwan and Spratlys: Which Side Would Win? “While the People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) is still far away from catching up with U.S. military aggregate capabilities, Chinese forces can still pose a formidable challenge to American power in China’s immediate periphery. That’s the major conclusion of a new 430-page RAND report written by 14 scholars titled “The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, 1996-2017.” The study notes that China has made progress in most operational areas “with startling speed” while, however, simultaneously emphasizing that “U.S. forces retain some important advantages” in most categories. In detail, the RAND scholars analyze ten different categories of military capabilities deemed crucial in the event of a Sino-U.S. conflict over Taiwan (closer to Mainland China) or the Spratly Islands (farther from Mainland China), looking at these capabilities during four specific different time periods from 1996 to 2017. The analysis pays particular attention to geography and distance in each scenario. The military capabilities in each category are summarized on a scorecard that outlines advantages and disadvantages of Chinese and U.S. military forces in both scenarios and across time. Advantage in this context, according to the study, is defined as one side being “able to achieve its primary objectives in an operationally relevant time period while the other side would have trouble in doing so.” The ten categories (operational areas) include Chinese airbase attack, U.S. versus Chinese air superiority, U.S. airspace penetration, U.S. airspace attack, Chinese anti-surface warfare, U.S. anti-surface warfare, U.S. counterspace, Chinese counterspace, U.S. versus China cyberwar, and nuclear stability. Overall, the Chinese side fares better the closer a potential conflict is to Mainland China and performs less well over longer geographical distances. For example, in the hypothetical 2017 Spratly Islands campaign scenario, the PLA fails to gain a single advantage over U.S. forces and only reaches approximate parity in four operational areas–Chinese airbase attack, Chinese anti-surface warfare, U.S. counterspace, Chinese counterspace–whereas the U.S. side scores advantages or major advantages in six. While the PLA gets slightly better marks in a 2017 Taiwan invasion scenario, it still only manages to score a clear advantage in two categories (Chinese airbase attack and Chinese anti-surface warfare) and parity in four (U.S. versus China air superiority, U.S. airspace penetration, U.S. counterspace and Chinese counterspace).”

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 | September 29, 2015

China may be building first indigenous carrier “Satellite imagery suggests that China may be building its first aircraft carrier at Dalian shipyard in northern China. Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 22 September suggests that the possible carrier is under construction in the dry dock associated with the refit and repair of Liaoning (CV16), the Soviet-era Kuznetsov-class carrier acquired from Ukraine that is now in People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) service. The new hull, first noted under construction in imagery captured on 10 March, is in an advanced state of assembly. IHS Jane's first noted preparations for a new vessel's assembly at the dry dock in Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 27 February. After the launch of a large commercial cargo vessel, the empty dry dock contained multiple support blocks used to provide a base for keel assembly. On 10 March, further imagery showed the initial stages of hull construction. At the time, the support layout suggested a hull of 150 to 170 m in length with a beam of about 30 m. The hull assembly continued through the summer. Imagery from 22 September shows a lengthened aft section and expanded bow. The hull is currently assessed to have a length of about 240 m and a beam of about 35 m. The incomplete bow suggests a length of at least 270 m for the completed hull. Given the incomplete nature of the upper decks, definitive identification of the Dalian hull as the first so-called '001A' aircraft carrier is not possible.”

Japan, U.S. sign new environment pact allowing municipal checks at U.S. military bases “Japan and the United States on Monday signed a new pact allowing local officials to enter U.S. military bases in Japan to conduct environmental surveys. Under the accord, the U.S. can also give permission for Japan to conduct soil and other relevant surveys about seven months prior to the expected return to Japanese control of land used for U.S. bases. The agreement was signed between Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter when they met Monday during Kishida’s five-day trip to the U.S. that started in Washington. It is the first time a pact of this kind, which supplements the existing Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement governing the use of U.S. bases in Japan, has been drawn up, a senior Foreign Ministry official said. The agreement came into effect immediately. Kishida said at the signing ceremony that the environmental pact “has great significance and will enhance local communities’ trust” in the management of U.S. military bases in Japan. “We are mindful about being good neighbors, which includes realigning our bases and being aware of any concerns that local communities might have about our operations,” Carter said. The agreement “represents a big step forward in our alliance,” he added. The preexisting SOFA had no clause allowing municipalities to conduct environmental surveys on the bases, thereby requiring prefectural and municipal officials to obtain U.S. permission to enter facilities.”

In U.N. Speech, Xi Focuses on Japan “Bringing peace to Syria and defeating the Islamic State dominated the start of Monday’s speeches by world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. Jordan’s King Abdullah II even likened the threat of extremist groups to a “third world war.” Chinese President Xi Jinping, however, focused more on World War II — and on China’s often fraught relationship with the country that invaded it in the 1930s: Japan. Indeed, though he barely mentioned the country by name, a surprisingly large portion of Xi’s relatively colorful maiden General Assembly speech referenced — sometimes obliquely — Japan, China’s neighbor, major trading partner, and antagonist. Xi opened his speech by mentioning China’s victory over the Japanese in the “world anti-fascist war,” Beijing’s preferred name for World War II. He noted that the U.N., founded in October 1945, was created to ensure world peace and stability. It was a subtle dig against Japanese aggression — and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent success at amending Japan’s constitution to allow for a more muscular military role for the country. Such subtext — that China, unlike Japan, is on the right side of history — persisted throughout his speech. China, Xi said, “will never pursue hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence” — three words often used to describe Japan’s behavior during World War II. The other nation that suffused Xi’s speech, in spirit rather than by name, was Syria. U.S. President Barack Obama, in his General Assembly speech earlier in the morning, said that “nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria.” Obama advocated fighting the “apocalyptic cult” of the Islamic State and working together with “any nation” to resolve the Syrian conflict. Xi, who opposes interventionism — in Syria, in China’s domestic affairs, and in the disputed territory Beijing claims in the South China Sea — was far more implicit. “Big countries should treat small countries as equals and take a right approach to justice and interests by putting justice before interests,” he said. Later, he emphasized the “inviolability” of nations’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. Those who use force, he said, “will find that they are only lifting a rock to drop on their own feet.””

THE HOHENZOLLERN CHINESE NAVY? PART TWO “The first part of this series examined the nearly identical origins, and dismal, early combat histories. This second installment compares the equally similar strategy, operational art, and force structure, and concludes with observations on the PLAN can avoid the fate of the High Seas Fleet. Both new fleets entered their identifiable “blue water” eras with similar strategies, operational concepts and tactics. The German High Seas Fleet retained robust coastal defense force structures even as its focus moved to the maritime space outside its own near abroad. This dual aspect of coastal and blue water operations was a key element in German strategy that was designed to defeat Great Britain’s Royal Navy (RN). High Seas Fleet architect Admiral von Tirpitz believed that a German Navy 2/3 the strength of the RN would be sufficient to defeat the British Navy in a battle if waged in German terms. Tirpitz envisioned drawing a portion of the RN into battle in the North Sea, but reasonably coast to German bases where torpedo craft (surface and subsurface), minefields and even shore batteries on advanced locations such as Heligoland Island might support the High Seas Fleet. German naval historian Holger Herwig suspects that Tirpitz never intended to attack Britain, but hoped that “British recognition of the danger posed by the German Fleet concentrated in the North Sea”, would “Allow the Emperor to conduct a greater overseas policy.”[1] The possibility would always exist that if Great Britain still defeated the German Navy in battle that it would be too damaged and perhaps, “Find itself at the mercy of a third strong naval power or a coalition (France and Russia).[2] Herwig also suggests that other would-be maritime powers might be inspired by Germany’s example and perhaps convince those nations to seek Germany as an ally. To achieve these ends, Tirpitz in effect attempted to create the early 1900’s equivalent of an Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) zone in the Heligoland Bight of the North Sea.”

China-US Cyber Agreements: Has Beijing Outmaneuvered Washington? “The United States has been focusing much of its cyber diplomacy around criticism of China’s espionage. This U.S. policy effort might be called the “Fort Meade defense,” after the site of NSA headquarters in Maryland. These criticisms peaked this month with U.S. threats to impose sanctions for civil sector commercial espionage committed by China using cyber assets. In his visit to the United States last week, President Xi Jinping of China brilliantly outmaneuvered the United States in the Fort Meade defense by declaring, with all of the diplomatic and international legal authority that a head of state wields, that his government did not collect “commercial intelligence.” After those comments, any conversation with Obama about stopping such practices was bound to be surreal and unproductive. “Commercial intelligence” is defined by the White House as intelligence collected “with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.” This differs from economic espionage, which most states undertake to protect and advance national economic interests. It is declared U.S. policy to undertake economic espionage, especially when it relates to the science and technology (S&T) capabilities of other countries. Thus, when the Washington Post reported that Xi agreed during his meeting with Obama that China would agree to abide by the norm against “economic cyber spying,” it used a clearly incorrect term. China has agreed no such thing. Moreover, there is no international legal norm of any kind against cyber espionage if the act is confined to merely collecting of information. In the case of the United States, the purpose of S&T intelligence (which includes obtaining the design secrets of foreign governments and companies) is to “to provide a comprehensive picture of global scientific and technological advancements.” This is laid out in the 2013 Report of the National Commission for the Review of the Research and Development Programs of the United States Intelligence Community, Unclassified Version. This report on U.S. S&T intelligence (S&TI) called out the high priority to be attached to this: “Failure to properly resource and use our own R&D to appraise, exploit, and counter the scientific and technical developments of our adversaries—including both state and non-state actors—may have more immediate and catastrophic consequences than failure in any other field of intelligence.””

The No. 1 battlefield threat? Cyberattacks “The Army has over 200 years’ experience dealing with the physical threats of the battlefield, and leaders are pretty confident in their ability to overcome them. These days, it’s the other kind of threat that has them concerned. "The greatest threat I face as a brigade commander on the battlefield is not tanks, snipers or IEDs," Col. Chuck Masaracchia said as the Army got started hosting the largest-ever joint forces network exercise. "It's defending the network." The importance of cyber defense on the battlefield reflects two relatively recent developments in military operations. First, just about any enemy can launch cyberattacks, because the cost of doing so is relatively low and the technology is readily available. And second, the Army needs that network to function, because so many systems depend on it and interact with each other through it. "I am more than confident of our force's capabilities to destroy any force on the battlefield—as long as we can provide mission command," Masaracchia, commander of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, said in a release, shortly after the start of Network Integration Evaluation 16.1, which is taking place Sept. 25 to Oct. 8 at Fort Bliss, Texas, and nearby White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base, both in  New Mexico. The Army has been hosting NIEs twice a year since 2011, in order to test the integration and interoperability of new technologies into the battlefield network, the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical. NIE 16.1 is serving as the final proof of concept for a new exercise that will replace one of the NIEs each year, the multinational, innovation-focused Army Warfighting Assessment (AWA). The current exercise includes some 9,000 military and 3,000 civilian participants—nearly three times the total of a typical NIE—from the U.S. military services, the U.K., Italy and 12 other countries.”

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 | September 28, 2015

Why the U.S. Should Be Wary of Chinese Money “Republicans are criticizing President Obama for his willingness to roll out the red carpet for President Xi Jinping of China. They find the planned 21-gun salute for the Chinese leader unbecoming. I’m less concerned with the form of the greeting than the nature of the discussions. Amidst the pomp and circumstance of the state dinner, there is likely to be a conversation about cyber intrusions emanating from China, president Obama is expected to call for a measured course in the South China Sea and the latest devaluation of the Chinese currency will apparently come up. But more worrisome than any of these points of tension between the United States and China is an issue where the two countries’ governments largely agree: trade. What should truly concern Americans is the U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), a secretive agreement likely in the final stages of drafting with the potential to lock in place America’s unequal and imbalanced economic relationship with China. We’ve been importing hundreds of billions of dollars more in goods from China than we send to them. Now, we may be setting the stage to import their non-market economic principles and let them potentially undermine more and more of our free market system. I’m an original and continuing member of the Commission of the U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission, which is instructed to “monitor, investigate and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the U.S. and China.” I also serve as a cleared liaison to two statutory trade advisory committees and am supposed to have access to U.S. proposals and negotiating text. But, so far, my colleagues and I have been denied the ability to review the offers made during the BIT negotiations that will determine what economic sectors are covered by the treaty. And the basic provisions we do know about aren’t appropriate for China, which has proven time and again that it can’t be trusted to follow trade rules.”

Key Takeaways from Today’s U.S.-China Climate Announcement “Today, U.S. president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping used the occasion of their high-level bilateral meeting to once again send a strong message about the two countries’ commitment to address climate change. The two leaders, in a joint statement, outlined a series of domestic actions and financial contributions to implement last November’s historic joint climate announcement. China’s decision to announce its ambitious new policies in Washington rather than Beijing is likely intended to send a message to both the U.S. Congress and climate negotiators around the world that they can no longer use China as an excuse for inaction. Q1: How does today’s announcement build on the bilateral announcement last November? A1: Last year, the leaders unveiled new parallel targets: for the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26–28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and for China to peak emissions around 2030 and increase the nonfossil fuel share of energy to around 20 percent by 2030. These targets served to signal a year ahead of key global climate negotiations that both countries were serious about reducing emissions and committed to the success of global climate talks in Paris at the end of this year. Fast forward to today, China used the joint statement to announce the launch in 2017 of a nationwide carbon emissions trading system that will cover heavy polluting sectors including iron, steel, power generation, paper, aluminum, and chemicals. These industries account for roughly three-quarters of China’s energy-related carbon emissions. If China is successful in launching emission trading, it is likely to be the largest emissions trading system in the world. In addition, China unveiled plans for a green dispatch system that will prioritize low-carbon power generation and help phase out the least efficient and most polluting surplus power facilities. China’s domestic announcements today stand alongside the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, issued in August, to reduce carbon emissions in the power sector by 32 percent by 2030. The two countries will also carry forward parallel programs to improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles. Together, these policies provide the building blocks to help both countries meet their respective climate targets. Q2: What is significant about China’s new financial pledge? A2: Equally noteworthy, China announced a contribution of 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) to help countries address climate change through the China South-South Climate Cooperation Fund. This marks a significant shift in the climate finance landscape by expanding the pool of major donors beyond just industrialized countries. The pledge is likely to flip China from a net recipient to a net donor of climate funds. China’s pledge stands in parallel to the $3 billion pledge the United States has made to the Green Climate Fund, which in turn helped to catalyze over $10 billion to assist the most vulnerable countries address and cope with climate change. China has not specified which projects will qualify and whether the funds will be in the form of grants or loans. Its pledge today to significantly limit official financing for high-carbon projects is viewed by many in the environmental community as a signal that China may be willing to set rigorous guidelines to establish credibility in the low-carbon financing sphere. Climate finance, specifically the ability of countries to deliver on their finance pledges, will still be a contentious issue in the upcoming negotiations, but China’s finance pledge changes the debate in a positive direction.”

The Historic Opening to China: What Hath Nixon Wrought? “When President Obama hosts Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the White House this week, he will do so as the eighth US president, starting with Richard Nixon, to engage with China based on a failed strategy.  In a Foreign Affairs article in October 1967, “Asia After Vietnam,” Nixon burnished his foreign policy credentials in anticipation of the 1968 presidential election.  Softening his notorious anti-Communism, he proposed a dramatic new approach toward the People’s Republic of China which had fought against the United States in the Korean War and was doing so at that time in Vietnam. The article merits revisiting both for its historical interest and for what it teaches about China-United States relations today—and remarkably, almost a half-century later, for what it still predicts about the future relationship.  Nixon used the piece to survey the changing regional dynamic he observed and the future he foresaw; yet his analysis abounds with instructive parallels to contemporary events. As Nixon put it in the parlance of the day: “Red China [has become] Asia’s most immediate threat.”  What he said of Mao Zedong’s “wars of national liberation” in the late 1960’s applies as well to Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the East and South China Seas today:

The common danger from Communist China is now in the process of shifting the Asian governments’ center of concern. .   its threat is clear, present and repeatedly and insistently expressed. The message has not been lost on Asia’s leaders. They recognize that the West, and particularly the United States, now represents not an oppressor but a protector. And they recognize their need for protection.

After welcoming the regional prosperity offered by burgeoning trade and investment, countries around the region now feel the need to hedge their economic bets on China. They welcome a strong American security presence to counter Beijing’s massive military buildup, expanding territorial claims, and escalating naval incursions.  Nixon’s astute observation still resonates: “All around the rim of China nations are becoming Western without ceasing to be Asian.” He attributed the attitudinal change to native indigenous pragmatism.

By and large the non-communist Asian governments are looking for solutions that work, rather than solutions that fit a preconceived set of doctrines and dogmas. Most of them also recognize a common danger, and see its source as Peking . . . [A]ll are acutely conscious of the Chinese threat.

Nixon reaffirmed that “[t]he United States is a Pacific power . . . but other nations must recognize that the role of the United States as world policeman is likely to be limited in the future.” This sounds a lot like America’s present rhetorical “pivot” or “rebalancing” to Asia tempered by both severe budget constraints and public weariness with overseas commitments.”

Obama says he and China's Xi agree on steps to curb cyber spying “U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Friday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had reached a "common understanding" on steps to curb cyber spying and agreed that neither government would conduct economic espionage in cyberspace. The two leaders also unveiled a deal to build on a landmark emissions agreement struck last year, outlining new steps they will take to deliver on pledges they made then to slash their greenhouse gas emissions. Speaking after White House talks during Xi's first U.S. state visit, Obama quickly homed in on the thorniest dispute between the world's two biggest economies - growing U.S. complaints about Chinese hacking of government and corporate databases. "I raised, once again, our rising concerns about growing cyber threats to American companies and American citizens. I indicated that it has to stop," Obama told reporters at a joint news conference, with Xi standing at his side. "Today I can announce that our two countries reached a common understanding on the way forward." The White House said the two leaders agreed to create a senior expert group to further discuss cyber issues, and a high-level group to talk about how to fight cyber crime that will meet by the end of 2015 and twice a year after that. Even as the White House rolled out the red carpet for Xi, behind the pomp and pageantry were tensions over a litany of issues, including Beijing's economic policies, territorial disputes with its neighbors and China's human rights record. Obama greeted Xi on arrival at the White House on Friday morning for an elaborate ceremony on the South Lawn, including a military honor guard and 21-gun salute. The two leaders then sat down for a formal summit. U.S. and Chinese officials sought to cast the talks in a favorable light by showcasing at least one area of cooperation – the global fight against climate change.”

THE HOHENZOLLERN CHINESE NAVY? PART ONE “Recent Chinese pronouncements regarding the shift of their Navy from defensive to potential offensive operations contain a refrain with which naval historians are most familiar. It is a song once sung by another continental military power newly flush with a successful and expanding international economy. China’s shift toward an offensive naval capability sounds very similar to the formation of the Imperial German High Seas Fleet (Hochseeflotte) in 1907. The Chinese and Hohenzollern navies have many commonalities in origin, training and choice of force structure. Their strategy, operational art and tactics are also remarkably similar to Kaiser Wilhelm’s fleet of the late 19th and early 20th century. The Chinese Navy may have also replicated the fatal flaw that left the High Seas Fleet incapable of achieving the victory it came so close to achieving in late 1917. Like the German imperial elite of the late 19th century, the Chinese Communist Party is now also seeking “a place in the sun” through President Hu Jinatao’s “new historic missions” assignment of 2004. China may too think that “its future is on the water” as did the Kaiser’s navy over a century ago. Such visions, however, for a fleet that has not seen battle against a peer opponent since 1894, can be dangerous. Like Imperial Germany, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a continental land power that must look far into its past to find naval virtue. The Kaiser had to search back to the fifteenth century Hanseatic League in order to find heroic German maritime exploits that might be emulated by his own 20th century sailors. The PRC must equally rely on the historically remote Islamic Admiral Zheng He, who served the Ming Dynasty Yongle Emperor in the early 15th century as both a land and ocean-going commander. Both fleets were traditionally led by army officers and designed for coastal or at best littoral operations.”

U.S. admiral signals wider role for powerful Third Fleet in Western Pacific “A top U.S. admiral wants the powerful Third Fleet to expand its engagement in the Western Pacific region from its headquarters in San Diego by operating more closely with the Japan-based Seventh Fleet to focus on areas with the "greatest instability". In two recent speeches that received little media attention, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift questioned the need for an administrative boundary running along the international date line to demarcate operations for the Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific and the Third Fleet to the east. In an early sign of a shift in strategy, U.S. naval officials said Third Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Nora Tyson rather than her Seventh Fleet counterpart would represent the U.S. Navy at the Japan Fleet Review on Oct. 18, a display of Japanese naval power held every three years. "I would not be surprised to see more of Vice Admiral Tyson operating forward as part of this concept development process," Swift said in a speech on Sept. 7 during a visit to the Seventh Fleet headquarters in Yokosuka, Japan. Any change would not mean the relocation of headquarters or home ports, but would allow the two fleets to work together in "areas with the greatest instability", Swift said, without elaborating. His remarks coincide with growing tension over China's territorial ambitions in Asia's disputed waters, especially in the South China Sea, where Beijing is building seven artificial islands that include three airstrips. Swift was away from his headquarters in Hawaii and not immediately available to comment, his office said. A U.S. Pacific Fleet naval official told Reuters the idea was to scrap the administrative boundary but that it was at the conceptual stage. He said the plan revolved around the Third Fleet "operating forward", which is naval terminology for conducting patrols and missions in distant theaters. It would formalize and expand the Third Fleet's role in the Western Pacific from a command and control perspective, said the official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. "We're not sure how often or when that would manifest at this point," he added.”

China may be building first indigenous carrier “Satellite imagery suggests that China may be building its first aircraft carrier at Dalian shipyard in northern China. Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 22 September suggests that the possible carrier is under construction in the dry dock associated with the refit and repair of Liaoning (CV16), the Soviet-era Kuznetsov-class carrier acquired from Ukraine that is now in People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) service. The new hull, first noted under construction in imagery captured on 10 March, is in an advanced state of assembly. IHS Jane's first noted preparations for a new vessel's assembly at the dry dock in Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 27 February. After the launch of a large commercial cargo vessel, the empty dry dock contained multiple support blocks used to provide a base for keel assembly. On 10 March, further imagery showed the initial stages of hull construction. At the time, the support layout suggested a hull of 150 to 170 m in length with a beam of about 30 m. The hull assembly continued through the summer. Imagery from 22 September shows a lengthened aft section and expanded bow. The hull is currently assessed to have a length of about 240 m and a beam of about 35 m. The incomplete bow suggests a length of at least 270 m for the completed hull. Given the incomplete nature of the upper decks, definitive identification of the Dalian hull as the first so-called '001A' aircraft carrier is not possible.”

Report: Chinese Complete Runway on Reclaimed South China Sea Island “China has completed a 10,000 foot runway on a reclaimed island in the South China Sea, according to a new round of satellite photos released Friday. The completed runway on Fiery Cross Reef could soon be operational and accelerate additional construction on the reclaimed island, according to a Friday report in Jane’s Defence Weekly. The island in the Spratly chain is in a central location in the South China Sea about 400 miles from Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines and a likely key component of the China’s South China Sea strategy. “Fiery Cross Reef is the most extensive new landmass built by China in the Spratly Islands and is believed to be the future hub for its operations in the southern reaches of the South China Sea,” read the report. “As such, creation of the island’s underlying structure has taken longer than more modest outposts in the area.” In addition the runway, the Fiery Cross installation also appears to have a deep water port and could serve as a logistics hub for the People’s Liberation Army Navy warships. The installations are the practical expression of China’s claim to sovereignty of the South China Sea which is disputed by neighboring countries as well as the United States. “By giving China the means to enforce its expansive ‘dashed-line’ claim, the new islands also challenge international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” according to Jane’s analysis. “The Philippines’ case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague argues that the dashed line has “no basis in international law.” In a Senate hearing last week, U.S. officials expressed concern over China’s island building camping and its potential to change the balance of power in the region and a potential expansion of presence and freedom of navigation missions in the South China Sea.”

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

Posted by | September 25, 2015

The U.S.-China Summit: 10 Questions for President Xi Jinping “Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Washington on Thursday for two days of 21 gun salutes, state dinners, and fervent assertions of Sino-American cooperation and goodwill. But beyond the rhetoric, China's recent behavior across an array of policy areas has been the most openly antagonistic to American interests and values than at any time in at least a generation. China has unilaterally sought to change the status quo in the South China Sea by creating nearly 3,000 acres of artificial formations and making baseless assertions of sovereignty in the surrounding waters and airspace. Just this week, the Pentagon reported that another U.S. plane was nearly hit during an overly aggressive encounter with Chinese interceptors in international airspace, directly contravening the intent of a 2014 memorandum of understanding on unplanned encounters at sea and in the air. By the year's end, China is expected to deploy a ballistic missile submarine carrying nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States. Meanwhile, the hacking of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the personal information of millions of U.S. government employees has focused renewed attention on the threat of Chinese cyber espionage. Far too often in recent years, foreign policy experts have counseled to avoid speaking candidly with Chinese leaders in fear of somehow offending them or making relations worse. The Obama Administration seems to have taken this advice to heart. But despite this conciliatory tone, the competitive aspects of Sino-American relations have become even more pronounced as its military capability and capacity relentlessly grow. A strong bilateral relationship capable of withstanding the ups and downs of international politics is one based on mutual candor and respect for shared international norms. Therefore, I offer the following questions that President Obama should ask President Xi during this week's visit:”

How China’s Generals Already Gamed Xi’s Meeting With Obama “If you look to the photo-ops of Chinese President Xi and Barack Obama, you won’t see any generals by Xi’s side. But China’s military leaders played a major role in drafting the script President Xi is following as he visits Washington, D.C. this week. A few weeks ago in Beijing, many of the officers and what I call “scholar generals” predicted with pride what Xi would do during the summit—and what he had agreed not to do—predictions that they shared with me personally. The People’s Liberation Army has a little-known foreign policy team known as the General Political Department that assesses policy opportunities and often conflicts with the more wooly-headed intellectuals in the Foreign Ministry who resemble diplomats everywhere. My recent book is controversial because I ignored China’s moderates and diplomats. My sources were instead interviews with 34 Chinese “scholar-generals” who have published books and articles about Chinese strategy. Twenty of these generals worked for their entire careers at the prestigious Academy of Military Science in a forbidden zone fifteen miles west of Beijing. They and officers at the National Defense University have invited me to their seminars and conferences on strategy since 1995. The military hard-liners told me they did not passively surrender all the planning of the summit to the Foreign Ministry. Instead, they cleverly used Xi’s weekly meetings with a roomful of generals to reshape the trip. Xi is the chairman of the secretive Central Military Commission. In four or five sessions, the military, with no diplomats in the room, gamed out the military aspects his speeches and meetings with President Barack Obama. Their first recommendation was that no Chinese senior general would accompany Xi and that military issues must be excluded. They succeeded. No agreements or detailed discussion of security issues will occur. The PLA opted out of Xi’s summit visit.”

Aboard a U.S. nuclear sub, a cat-and-mouse game with phantom foes “America's most advanced nuclear submarine was slicing through the water off Hawaii last month, 400 feet under the surface, when a sonar operator suddenly detected an ominous noise on his headphones. It was a faint thump … thump … thump — the distinctive sound of a spinning, seven-bladed propeller on a Chinese attack submarine called a Shang by the Pentagon and its allies. A neon green stripe on his sonar screen indicated that the Shang was only a few thousand yards off the U.S. sub's bow. "Sonar contact!" he yelled to 15 officers and crew in the dimly lighted control room. "All stations, analyze!" Within seconds, the 377-foot-long Mississippi banked right and gunned its nuclear-powered propulsion system for one of the Navy's most difficult maneuvers: sneaking up behind another submarine and shadowing it without being detected. Fortunately, the Mississippi was chasing a phantom, not a real Chinese sub. A digital recording of a Shang's audio signature had been piped through the U.S. sub's sonar system for a training exercise. But the battle drill seemed urgently real: The mock Shang's course and speed were automatically fed into the Mississippi's targeting computers, the first step to launching one of its 27 torpedoes, something no U.S. sub has done against an adversary since World War II. This is the largely unseen effect of the Obama administration's decision to send its newest vessels and warplanes to Asia over the last four years, a strategic rebalance intended in part to reassure Asian allies nervous about China's growing clout. It has increased cat-and-mouse jockeying between the two largest navies in the Pacific, especially their growing submarine fleets. They track each other and train to fight with the same intensity of U.S. subs that once prepared to battle the Soviet Union. When President Obama meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the White House on Friday, they are certain to discuss the growing military rivalry, especially in the South China Sea, where Beijing's buildup of disputed reefs has raised regional tension and sparked direct friction between U.S. and Chinese forces.”

China’s Growing Reach Could Stir Tension In India “While flexing its military muscle to the east and the south, China is pursuing a softer approach toward its western neighbors, using humanitarian aid and investments to expand its influence and to pursue natural resources. In time, that strategy could raise tensions with Asia’s other giant, India. Since 2013, China has been pushing ahead with a raft of ambitious infrastructure projects known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. A $1 billion hydropower plant in Pakistan will be the first major project paid for by China’s new $40 billion Silk Road Fund. Eventually, China hopes to build a 1,860-mile economic belt and trade corridor linking China’s Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region to the Arabian Sea, according to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper. The Chinese economic and diplomatic moves – which included a large and very visible aid effort after Nepal was devastated by a magnitude-7.8 earthquake earlier this year – are being watched closely in India. The rivalry between China and India – the world’s most populous countries, with more than 1 billion people each – hasn’t resulted in armed conflict since a brief border war in 1962. That could change as their needs intensify. China, for instance, is trying to develop a deep-water port in Bangladesh – a largely Muslim nation that borders India to the east – and it recently negotiated an agreement to manage the Pakistani port at Gwadar, according to Alysa Ayers, a former India hand at the State Department during the Obama administration and now a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. India was also deeply concerned when People’s Liberation Army navy submarines started making port calls in Sri Lanka last year. The port calls followed several years of investment by China in roads, ports, roads and railroads in the island nation that also has close economic and historical ties with India, Ayers said. For its part, India imports about one-fifth of its oil and gas from the Middle East. Like China, as its economy grows, it’s searching for alternative energy sources, including renewable energy, and is growing its nuclear industry with U.S. help. However, most of its neighbors are not energy-rich, Ayers said.”

U.S., India See Defense, Technology Ties Deepen  “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi isn’t the highest-profile dignitary visiting the United States this week. But while Pope Francis and Chinese President Xi Jinping are stealing the headlines, Modi’s meetings in Washington are far from insignificant, given his country’s massive population, growing economy and strategic location. Plus, defense cooperation between the U.S. and India has never been brighter. “I think it’s extremely safe to say that our defense relations are better than they ever have been,” said Richard M. Rossow, an India expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington. “We’ve got somewhere between $10 billion to $15 billion in defense sales, and we’ve got joint exercises across all of our forces. We even have some growing cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.” This week, India’s Cabinet approved a $2.5 billion deal to buy 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook helicopters from the U.S., beating out rival arms supplier Russia. And on the distant horizon is the American promise to share with India its top technology for aircraft carriers and jet engines. Next month, India will host a beefed-up exercise that will include ships from the U.S. and Japan. Both Modi and President Barack Obama are fond of noting that their countries are “natural allies” because of shared values, but technology transfer is a key factor in India’s warming to U.S. overtures on defense cooperation, said Phunchok Stobdan, a senior fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. “At the end of the day, what the Indians are looking for is ‘Made in India,’ ” he said. “They want to manufacture everything.” India has long possessed a defense industry, but it’s been dominated by state-owned companies that have not been competitive, Rossow said. “They have not been able to keep an edge over what others in the region have been able to develop.” Several years ago, the U.S. offered India 17 “starter-level” defense technologies – such as the small, tabletop Raven drone and a chemical hazard suit – that could receive quick export approval by the U.S. government, Rossow said. But India was more interested in getting things that were top of the line from the beginning, and the offer languished, he said.”

No More Dangerous Intercepts for US, China Miltary Aircraft? “The Pentagon announced this week that two Chinese fighter jets may have conducted an unsafe intercept of a U.S. surveillance place on September 15. The announcement came just as Chinese President Xi Jinping began his highly anticipated first state visit to the United States. The U.S. Department of Defense was not nearly concerned by this incident as it was by another intercept in August 2014, which U.S. defense officials denounced at the time as “dangerous.” In the incident last year, the Pentagon accused a Chinese fighter jet of having come within 20 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft, then doing a barrel roll over the top of the U.S. plane. The September 15 intercept saw two of China’s JH-7 fighters cross roughly 500 feet in front of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 surveillance aircraft, according to USNI News. Both planes were flying in international airspace over the Yellow Sea, roughly 80 miles off of China’s Shandong peninsula. Pentagon spokesman Bill Urban told USNI News that the Pentagon was still gathering information on the incident, and that “no final characterization of the intercept has been determined at this time.” It was the crew of the RC-135 that described the intercept as “unsafe,” not the Pentagon itself. Urban also stressed that “at this point there is no indication that there was a ‘near collision’.” After the August 2014 incident, the Obama administration placed an emphasis on establishing rules to govern unexpected aerial encounters between their militaries. In 2001, a collision between a U.S. EP-3 aircraft and a Chinese fighter jet wrecked both planes and killed the Chinese pilot. The U.S. and China can ill afford a repeat of the “Hainan Incident.” Obama and Xi announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) On the Rules of Behavior for the Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters during their summit in November 2014. However, the annex guiding air-to-air encounters was still under negotiations for much of this year.”

China’s Copycat Jet Raises Questions About F-35 “New technical specs about China’s new J-31 fighter, a plane designed to rival the American-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, popped up on a Chinese blog last week. So who has the advantage — the U.S. or China? China’s twin-engine design bears a striking resemblance to the single-jet F-35. Still, the Joint Strike Fighter is expected to fly slightly farther and carry a heavier load of weapons, according to the data, which was first reported by Jane’s. Military experts say that while the J-31 looks like, and may even fly like, the F-35, it’s what’s under the hood and embedded in the skin that really matters. The U.S. has the better computer software, unique sensors and other hardware, stealth coating, and engines technology—all critical attributes that make fifth-generation aircraft different than the military jets of last century. Exactly how long that advantage lasts is up for debate; senior Pentagon officials and experts believe American technology superiority is shrinking. That means the U.S. military’s weapons will not overmatch adversaries for as long as they have in past decades. “It’s basically, are they producing weapon systems that have fifth-generation characteristics that potentially nullify some of our planned advantages in the future battlespace,” said Peter Singer, a strategist and senior fellow at New America. “[W]e were depending more so on the [American weapons] having that generation-ahead edge, and if we don’t have that generation-ahead edge, that is incredibly scary for us in various scenarios,” Singer said. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and acquisition chief Frank Kendall have spent much of the past two years warning that the U.S. military’s technology advantage is eroding. “What it does is reduce the cost and lead time of our adversaries to doing their own designs, so it gives away a substantial advantage,” Kendall said of cyber espionage at a 2013 Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing.”

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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