China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | August 31, 2015

U.S.-China Economic Relations: The Propeller Needs Oil “When Xi Jinping was China’s vice president visiting the United States in 2012,  he declared that U.S.-China economic relations provide the ballast and the propeller for the entire bilateral relationship. President Xi is coming to visit the United States again in September. The ballast needs adjustment, and the propeller needs oil. Given the realities of our globalized economy, we are rowing in the same river with China, if not in the same boat. And both countries exert a major influence on how quickly and effectively the global economic flotilla moves forward. As Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker noted earlier this year, our two markets together account for nearly 35 percent of global GDP, and combined U.S.-China trade in goods and services represents about one-fifth of all international trade. China is our third-largest export market, and its imports of U.S. services have doubled since 2010. Expanding these U.S. exports would help rebalance our economic relationship to the benefit of both our countries. That means it really matters to us how well China is doing in growing and reforming its economy. Of course, no one cares more about China’s healthy economic growth than China. President Xi has underlined his agreement with the view expressed by China’s great leader of reform and opening up, Deng Xiaoping, who said: “not developing the economy and not improving the people’s livelihoods can only be a dead-end road.” Xi has emphasized the need to reform the economy comprehensively, including having the market play the decisive role. He also has warned his compatriots that it will not be sufficient to mouth the words of economic reform. Real measures must be taken; “actions are the most persuasive.” While China has been roiling global markets with what it says are progressive policy changes on exchange rates and efforts at financial system reform, China’s real economy—including trade and investment—cries out for comprehensive action. China’s prospects for future economic growth require opening its market to competition. But this is no easy task, given the many vested interests in China’s bureaucracy and state sector that do not want this and the misplaced nationalist appeal of protecting domestic champions. It is also difficult to let the market work out issues, whether deciding economic winners and losers or allocating resources to new ventures, when leaders have relied for decades on government intervention to address industry development challenges.”

Here comes the China-Iran alliance “The main pillar of the economic and strategic partnership between Iran and the China lies in Iran’s abundance of energy resources, an important asset for Beijing’s energy security strategy. The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) demand for energy has risen dramatically in the last two decades, transforming the country from a net oil importer to the world’s second largest oil consumer. In the past years, economic growth and industrial expansion has played a major role in ensuring political and social stability in the country and strengthening relations with a country rich in resources, like Iran. As already experienced in Central Asia, with the enhancement of relevant economic and energy partnerships with the Central Asia Republic, China envisions the creation of extended infrastructural networks based on the Silk Road initiative inaugurated by President Xi Jinping in 2013, in which Iran, given its strategic position, plays critical role. Across the region, Iran is expected to grow as an oil supplier. Evan as it was economically isolated from the rest of the world, Iran established ties with Chinese state-owned enterprises such as the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). From 2003 till 2014, China was not only an important economic partner, but also the most important provider of investment and technology transfer, vital for the Iran’s modernization and economic development.”

U.S. developing sanctions against China over cyberthefts “The Obama administration is developing a package of unprecedented economic sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals who have benefited from their government’s cybertheft of valuable U.S. trade secrets. The U.S. government has not yet decided whether to issue these sanctions, but a final call is expected soon — perhaps even within the next two weeks, according to several administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Issuing sanctions would represent a significant expansion in the administration’s public response to the rising wave of ­cyber-economic espionage initiated by Chinese hackers, who officials say have stolen everything from nuclear power plant designs to search engine source code to confidential negotiating positions of energy companies. Any action would also come at a particularly sensitive moment between the world’s two biggest economies. President Xi Jinping of China is due to arrive next month in Washington for his first state visit — complete with a 21-gun salute on the South Lawn of the White House and an elaborate State Dinner. There is already tension over a host of other issues, including maritime skirmishes in the South China Sea and China’s efforts to devalue its currency in the face of its recent stock market plunge. At the same time, the two countries have deep trade ties and the administration has sometimes been wary of seeming too tough on China. But the possibility of sanctions so close to Xi’s visit indicates how frustrated U.S. officials have become over the persistent cyber plundering. The sanctions would mark the first use of an order signed by President Obama in April establishing the authority to freeze financial and property assets of, and bar commercial transactions with, individuals and entities overseas who engage in destructive attacks or commercial espionage in cyberspace. The White House declined to comment on specific sanctions, but a senior administration official, speaking generally, said: “As the president said when signing the executive order enabling the use of economic sanctions against malicious cyber actors, the administration is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to confront such actors. That strategy includes diplomatic engagement, trade policy tools, law enforcement mechanisms, and imposing sanctions on individuals or entities that engage in certain significant, malicious cyber-enabled activities. The administration has taken and continues to introduce steps to protect our networks and our citizens in cyberspace, and we are assessing all of our options to respond to these threats in a manner and timeframe of our choosing.”

China and Russia are cross-indexing hacked data to target U.S. spies, officials say “Foreign spy services, especially in China and Russia, are aggressively aggregating and cross-indexing hacked U.S. computer databases — including security clearance applications, airline records and medical insurance forms — to identify U.S. intelligence officers and agents, U.S. officials said. At least one clandestine network of American engineers and scientists who provide technical assistance to U.S. undercover operatives and agents overseas has been compromised as a result, according to two U.S. officials. The Obama administration has scrambled to boost cyberdefenses for federal agencies and crucial infrastructure as foreign-based attacks have penetrated government websites and email systems, social media accounts and, most important, vast data troves containing Social Security numbers, financial information, medical records and other personal data on millions of Americans. Counterintelligence officials say their adversaries combine those immense data files and then employ sophisticated software to try to isolate disparate clues that can be used to identify and track — or worse, blackmail and recruit — U.S. intelligence operatives. Digital analysis can reveal "who is an intelligence officer, who travels where, when, who's got financial difficulties, who's got medical issues, [to] put together a common picture," William Evanina, the top counterintelligence official for the U.S. intelligence community, said in an interview. Asked whether adversaries had used this information against U.S. operatives, Evanina said, "Absolutely."

Taiwan conducts first live-fire drill with Apache helicopters “Taiwan's army conducted a live-fire drill earlier this week to test the combat capabilities of its recently acquired AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, marking the first time the US-made choppers fired missiles in Taiwan, the army confirmed Thursday. The drill, conducted at a military base in southern Taiwan, was part of the army's preparation for formally commissioning the most advanced attack helicopters in its fleet, the army said. Weapons fired from the participating Apache helicopters included the air-to-surface Hellfire missile and the Stinger missile, the army said. This was the first time the Apaches were used in a live-fire drill in Taiwan since the country began to take delivery of the helicopters in November 2013. Taiwan has purchased a total of 30 Apaches, with the last batch of six such helicopters arriving in Taiwan last October.”

Military parade to lift curtain on China's 'game-changing' missiles, fighter fleet “China's development of more, better and a wider variety of ballistic and cruise missiles is of particular concern for the U.S., Japan and, especially, Taiwan, at which IHS Jane's estimates approximately 1,100 Chinese short-range ballistic missiles are targeted. Indeed, the 2014 U.S. Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review asserted that "growing numbers of accurate conventional ballistic and cruise missile threats represent an additional cost-imposing challenge to U.S. and partner naval forces and land installations" across the Western Pacific. This missile threat complicates U.S. power projection efforts while also raising the possibility that current missile defense systems of regional allies and partners could be overwhelmed by clusters of Chinese cruise and ballistic missiles fired from land, air and sea. Given their strategic and operational importance, missiles are certain to play a prominent role in the parade. State news agency Xinhua, has already noted that "the scale and number of missiles (on display) will surpass any previous outing." Speculation about specific systems that may appear in the parade has concentrated on the DF-16, a newly developed short-range ballistic missile and the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), known as the 'carrier killer', among others. The operational status of the DF-21D is uncertain outside the PLA, but the ASBM capability, especially when targeted against aircraft carriers, is novel and potentially game-changing. The JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missile, thought to be nearing deployment, enhances the range of China's strategic at-sea deterrent and plausibly changes the calculus of U.S.-China nuclear deterrence. Whatever the final mix of missiles included in the parade, observers will be looking closely at the contour and dimensions of missiles to determine improvements in range, speed, mobility and survivability of the systems. Military aviation platforms will also be of interest to observers in Washington and across the Western Pacific. China's two most well-known fifth generation fighter development programs, the J-20 and J-31 (the latter of which will eventually be made available for export) are likely to feature. News outlets have speculated that a third fifth generation platform, the J-18, a carrier based vertical takeoff and landing fighter jet about which little is known, may make an appearance as well, emphasizing the diversity and sophistication of China's future stealthy attack fleet and its ambitions to develop a carrier strike wing over time.  In addition, the possible inclusion of new indigenously developed capabilities such as the Y-8GX6 maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft --based on the design of China's Y-9 transport aircraft-- will reflect the importance of efforts to rebalance the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) fleet structure away from an overwhelming reliance on combat aircraft to a more balanced and mature combination of combat, surveillance and support aircraft.”

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 Randy | August 28, 2015

Chinese firm unveils new sensors for J-20, J-31 “A privately-owned Chinese sensor company has unveiled a suite of air-to-air and air-to-ground sensors in development for the latest Chinese and Russian fighters. Wang Yanyong, technical director for Beijing A-Star Science and Technology, confirms that two systems – the EOTS-89 electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) and the EORD-31 infrared search and track (IRST) – are in development for China’s J-20 and J-31 fighters. Marketing brochures on A-Star’s booth suggest that the J-20 could use the passive sensors to detect and aim missiles against the Northrop Grumman B-2 bomber and Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter, even while its radar is being being jammed by a Boeing EA-18G Growler. It lists detection ranges for the B-2 at 150km and for the F-22 at up to 110km. Both systems have completed ground testing in a laboratory, and are now ready to enter flight testing, he says. Chinese combat aircraft manufacturer AVIC is considering integrating the sensors on a testbed aircraft, then could decide to test them on the J-20 and J-31, he says. Operational status is at least a year away for both sensors and possibly longer, Yanyong adds. A-Star exhibited the systems at MAKS in hopes of attracting buyers from Russian and Commonwealth of Independent States countries, he says.”

Russia and China are developing drones that could make stealth aircraft obsolete “The US and its allies continue to invest heavily in the F-35 and other stealth-capable aircraft. But Russia and China are rapidly developing systems that would negate the benefits that stealth offers. According to Zarchary Keck writing in The National Interest, both Beijing and Moscow have begun development of unmanned aerial vehicles that have the goal of finding, detecting, and possibly even eliminating enemy stealth aircraft. China's stealth detection drone, called the Divine Eagle, is believed to be specially built to counter stealth aircraft while they are still far from the Chinese mainland. Popular Science notes that the drone's "long range anti-stealth capabilities can be used against both aircraft, like the B-2 bomber, and warships such as the DDG-1000 destroyer ... the Chinese air force could quickly intercept stealthy enemy aircraft, missiles and ships well before they come in range of the Mainland." The Divine Eagle features multiple different radar systems, including X/UHF low band radar systems, according to Popular Science. These systems could be used to track stealth aircraft like the F-35 at long distances, as most stealth technology is created to avoid high band radar systems, thereby eroding one of the key advantages of the fifth-generation plane. The Divine Eagle has apparently undergone multiple redesigns which sought to limit the plane's infrared signature — something that would help ensure the drone's own purported stealth capabilities. Russia has been working on its own stealth-detection drone. Flight Global writes that the Russian military subcontractor KRET debuted a stealth drone prototype at the MAKS air show in Moscow in August. The unnamed drone, Flight Global notes, will also come outfitted with UHF and X-band radar systems that could be used to detect stealth aircraft. Additionally, the drone is outfitted with an electronic warfare system that would both cloak the drone and make it difficult to target with air-to-air missiles.”

Japan launches second Izumo-class helicopter carrier “Japan's second and final Izumo-class helicopter carrier was launched at the Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama on 27 August. Named Kaga (the first Japanese naval ship to take the name since the Second World War aircraft carrier that took part in the Pearl Harbor attacks and was lost at the Battle of Midway), the ship is due to be commissioned in March 2017. Kaga is almost identical to JS Izumo , which was launched in August 2013 and commissioned in March 2015. The only differences from specifications released for Izumo is a draught of 7.1 m rather than 7.3 m, and a complement of 520 rather than 470, according to details provided by Japan Marine United. Both displace 19,500 tonnes (24,000 tonnes at full load) and, like Izumo , Kaga is likely to be armed with two Raytheon Sea RAM RIM-116 systems and two Mk 15 Vulcan Phalanx close in weapon systems.”

China to hold drills with Malaysia in Malacca Strait “China will hold joint military drills next month with Malaysia in the strategic Strait of Malacca, and will also hold training exercises with Australia and the United States in Australia, China's Defence Ministry said on Thursday. China's rapidly modernizing armed forces have been increasing their global reach and carrying out exercises in ever more distant locations, as the government seeks to protect its interests around the world. But China has jangled nerves, especially in its territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas with a growing assertiveness. Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the Malacca Strait drill would involve 1,160 Chinese personnel, two Chinese warships, helicopters and transport aircraft. It would focus on disaster relief, search and rescue and hijack rescue, he said. Piracy is a problem in the strait, between Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia's Sumatra island, through which most of China's crude oil imports pass from the Middle East and Africa. Malaysia's image in China was battered after the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people on board, most of them Chinese nationals, last year. Malaysia's response to that disaster came under fire in China from the public and state media. Separately, Yang said that China would take part in survival training and activities like canoeing and mountaineering in Australia with Australian and U.S. forces.”

China dumping Treasurys? Here's what you must know “Despite gloomy predictions and concerns over spiking bond yields, analysts have struck a fairly sanguine tone over China's acceleration in the selling of its dollar-denominated debt reserves. China is the world's largest holder of U.S. debt, but Societe Generale analysts estimate that the People's Bank of China (PBoC) has sold at least $106 billion of reserve assets since its currency devaluation this month. A Bloomberg report on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter, confirmed that China had cut its holdings of Treasurys to raise the U.S. dollars needed to support the yuan. Logically, this would be seen as bearish for U.S. bond prices - which have an inverse relationship with yields – but the rates strategy team at Rabobank believe the impact is less than clear cut. "The obvious conclusion here is that PBoC (People's Bank of China) selling is bearish. However, this could be wrong in precisely the same way investors tend to mistakenly believe QE (quantitative easing) purchases are bullish," the bank said in a note on Friday morning. China is the biggest holder of reserve assets in the world, holding a combination of bonds, currencies and commodities like gold. It held $1,271 billion in U.S. Treasurys at the end of June, according to data from the Treasury Department. Chinese officials have been busy trying to manage the downward pressure on the yuan since Beijing announced a currency devaluation on August 11. The typical method to do so would be to sell foreign exchange reserves in order to depress their price, thus pushing up the price of its own currency. Selling Treasurys would be one way of raising enough dollars to then sell and try to balance the currency. Rabobank argued that Beijing's selling of Treasurys probably reflected capital flight out of China, which would push the yuan down. This in turn would reflect concern over the Chinese economy which would "very probably result in falling inflation expectations globally." What would falling inflation expectations do? It would probably underpin demand for U.S. Treasurys, with fixed income traditionally performing well in an environment of low inflation.”

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews warns rise of China a ‘military risk “Australia’s defence white paper will warn of the consequences of continued uncertainty in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as the threat that situation poses to Australia and why a very capable, hi-tech defence force is needed to deal with it. The Defence Minister, Kevin Andrews, told the American Chamber of Commerce in Canberra yesterday that the security blueprint would set out a strategy to deal with the economic rise of China, India, Indonesia and other nations that would bring ­increased military capability and greater risk of conflict. He said the increase in defence spending to be announced in the white paper would take the level above the government’s promised 2 per cent of GDP by 2023-24. “Over time, we expect world economic and military power to continue its shift to the Indo-­Pacific,” he said. “But growth in the region will be uneven and competition to exert more influence could generate instability. Competing claims for territory and natural resources in the South China Sea would continue to be a source of tension in the region. Combined with growth in military capability, this backdrop had the potential to destabilise the region and threaten Australia’s interests, he said. Mr Andrews said the defence white paper, covering the next two decades, would be the most robust in Australia’s history and the first to be fully externally costed. The Australian has been told separately that it will include plans to equip the Australian Defence Force with armed “drones” or “unmanned aerial vehicles” such as the US Reaper. “This white paper will deliver a future Australian Defence Force that is potent, agile and ready to respond whenever our interests are engaged across the world,” he said. The government would enhance co-operation with the US with increasing numbers of ­Marine rotations through Darwin and increased co-operation with the US Air Force.”

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 The Congressional China Caucus | August 27, 2015

Russian Su-35 Fighter Jets Sale to China At Approval Stage “Russia’s contract for supplying China with Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets (NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) is at an approval stage, the first deputy director general of Russia’s arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, said on Monday. “We are holding talks with our Chinese partners on agreeing a draft contract for the supplies of fighter jets,” Ivan Goncharenko told TASS ahead of the MAKS-2015 air show held near Moscow. There is a growing interest for the Su-35 multirole fighters, including in Latin America and Southeast Asia, he said. There is a growing interest for the Su-35 multirole fighters, including in Latin America and Southeast Asia, he said. “Su-35, like the new MiG-29M/M2, allows Russia to hold leading positions steadily on the market of combat aircraft in the future,” Goncharenko said. Russia’s Rosoboronexport expects to sign the contact with China for the supplies of 24 Su-35 fighter jets by late 2015.”

Stealth bombers back in Guam “Radar-evading, bat-looking B-2 bomber aircraft have returned to Andersen Air Force Base at a time of renewed tension between the two Koreas. Three B-2s and about 225 airmen from the 13th Bomb Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, in Missouri, deployed to Guam on Aug. 7 for what the Air Force’s Pacific command called “familiarization training activities” in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. B-2 aircrew and the maintainers and support personnel on the ground will be involved in the training, according to the Air Force. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III also announced at a Pentagon briefing Aug. 24 that three B-2s are being scheduled for rotational deployment to Guam. “We are in the process right now of deploying three B-2s on a scheduled rotation to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. That’s coming up in the near future,” Welsh said, according to a transcript of the briefing. He didn’t specify the timing of the rotational deployment because it’s considered classified information.The latest B-2 stealth bomber presence in Guam followed the recent land mine explosion in the demilitarized zone that divides North and South Korea. North Korea also recently repeated threats against the United States as U.S. and South Korean military forces were conducting joint training.”

China, Russia Land 400 Marines in First Joint Pacific Amphibious Exercise “Chinese and Russian forces conducted a first-ever joint amphibious exercise landing 400 marines on Russia’s Pacific Coast about 300 miles away from Japan’s home islands, according to a description of the exercise and photographs released from the Chinese Ministry of Defense on Wednesday.The exercise marks not only the first time People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Russian Navy have drilled together in an amphibious exercise but also the first time China has landed troops on foreign territory as part of the ongoing Joint Sea 2015 II, the ministry said. “For the first time, we shipped tanks and armored vehicles, and landed soldiers directly into an overseas drill area after a long-distance voyage,” said Liang Yang, assistant to the Chinese director of the drill in the Chinese statement on the amphibious component of the exercise “Such a drill will fully test the performance of our weapons in terms of adaptability to local weather and topographical conditions.” The PLAN landed about 200 marines attached to the from Type 071 amphibious warship Changbaishan parked a little more than half a mile off the Russian Pacific coast in pictures dated Aug. 25.”

China Reveals Guest List for Big Military Parade “China released the guest list for its World War II Victory Day parade, providing a snapshot of its growing clout in many parts of the world while showing the strains the event is placing on relations with the U.S. and its allies. The military parade through Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Sept. 3 marks the first time China is commemorating the allied victory with such a high-profile event. Top leaders from 30 countries, including Russia, Venezuela and Sudan, will attend, and 17 countries will contribute troops to the spectacle, senior Chinese officials told a news conference Tuesday. Absent from the guest list are leaders or troops from the U.S. or other major Western powers that fought alongside China in World War II. It also doesn’t include Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, China’s only military ally. The low Western turnout reflects concerns that China will use the parade to showcase its expanding military firepower and to discredit Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, whose spokesman has said he isn't attending.”

China-Sudan Financial, Military Relations At Risk Amid Beijing's Economic Woes “For decades, China has provided Sudan with billions of dollars in financial, diplomatic and military support in exchange for the African country’s vast oil reserves. But as war-torn Sudan sinks deeper into financial and civil crisis, Khartoum soon might not have Beijing to fall back on. Fears over a Chinese economic slowdown escalated this week after the Shanghai Composite index logged its sharpest single-day drop in eight years Monday. China’s market slump pounded commodity-linked currencies in Africa, including the Sudanese Pound, which is at an all-time low. For Sudan, that could mean less cash and arms from Beijing, which could exacerbate the country's food insecurity, fragile economy and civil unrest, experts said. “You have a Sudanese economy that is relentlessly being run into the ground. It can’t survive,” said Eric Reeves, a Sudan researcher and analyst at Smith College in Massachusetts. “The Sudanese economy is crumbling with or without Chinese support.” Sudanese government forces and allied militias have fought a raging rebellion in Sudan’s western Darfur region since 2003, after rebels took up arms and accused President Omar al-Bashir's regime for neglecting the region. In the oil-rich South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions, Bashir’s government is also battling an active insurgency by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, a pro-South Sudan militant group. At the same time, government forces have been accused of targeting civilians with killings, rape and abuse. More than 2.3 million people have been displaced throughout the country and 6.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to U.N. figures.”

U.S. says respects S. Korea's decision to attend Chinese military parade “The United States said Wednesday it respects South Korean President Park Geun-Hye's decision to attend a massive military parade China plans to hold to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. "Participation in these events is the sovereign decision of each country. We respect the Republic of Korea's decision," a State Department spokesperson said on background in response to a Yonhap News Agency's request for comment. The Chinese parade, set for Sept. 3, is seen as a show of force amid Beijing's increasingly assertive actions in territorial disputes with its neighbors. In an apparent expression of unhappiness, the U.S. has decided to have its ambassador to China, Max Baucus, attend the ceremony, rather than sending a high-level official from Washington.”

Philippines seeks U.S. help to protect troops in disputed sea “The Philippine defense chief said he asked the visiting U.S. Pacific commander on Wednesday to help protect the transport of fresh Filipino troops and supplies to Philippine-occupied reefs in the disputed South China Sea by deploying American patrol planes to discourage Chinese moves to block the resupply missions. The Philippines has protested past attempts by Chinese coast guard ships to block smaller boats transporting fresh military personnel, food and other supplies to a Filipino military ship outpost at the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, which is also being claimed and guarded by Chinese coast guard ships. The tense standoff at the shoal has lasted two years. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the commander, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., assured him of U.S. readiness to provide assistance, adding that the U.S. military has flown an aircraft at least once when a Philippine boat delivered supplies last year to Filipino marines marooned on a rusty naval ship that ran aground years ago at the disputed shoal. AP journalists witnessing a resupply mission last year saw a U.S. military plane hovering above a Filipino supply boat, which a Chinese coast guard ship tried but failed to block. Such U.S. military flights deter Chinese moves, Gazmin said, adding that Philippine resupply boats have been harassed less by Chinese coast guard ships after the deployment of the U.S. patrol plane. "If there are Americans flying around there, we won't be troubled," Gazmin told The Associated Press in an interview. "We need to be helped in our resupply missions. The best way they could assist is through their presence." ”

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 The Congressional China Caucus | August 26, 2015

New CNO Richardson Invited To Visit China “Adm. Wu Shengli, commander in chief of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, extended an invitation Tuesday to incoming chief of naval operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson to visit China, according to outgoing US CNO Adm. Jon Greenert. Wu and Greenert, joined by Richardson, took part in a 90-minute video teleconference Tuesday morning, the second in a quarterly series of VTCs begun in April. Greenert told a luncheon audience outside Washington he introduced Wu to Richardson, and that Wu was complementary of the working relationship established between the US and China during Greenert’s time in office. Wu, Greenert said, is “very interested in RIMPAC 2016 and making it work,” referring to the Rim of the Pacific exercise, held every two years in Hawaii. China took part for the first time in the 2014 exercises. “He views the exercises as a positive step in dealing with challenges,” Greenert said, noting later that no commitments have been made. “He really wants to come to RIMPAC,” Greenert said. “He wants that to work out. But we all have bosses.” ”

U.S. Outlines Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy “The United States has spelled out its maritime security strategy so that all nations understand the American position, David Shear, the assistant secretary of defense for Asian-Pacific security affairs, said during a Pentagon news conference today. The U.S. will continue to use diplomacy, multilateral institutions and continued engagement to protect free and open access to maritime Asia, while focusing on safeguarding the freedom of the seas, deterring conflict and coercion, and promoting adherence to international law and standards, Shear said. And he reemphasized previous statements by U.S. officials that the United States takes no position over competing claims for land claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. “We have a vested interest in ensuring that the claims are resolved peacefully and without conflict or coercion,” Shear said, adding, “however, there are several trends -- including rapid military modernization growing resource demands and territorial maritime disputes -- which have the potential to create instability in this vital region.” China’s expansion of disputed features and artificial island construction in the Spratly Islands is a concern, he said. “While land reclamation is not new, and China is not the only claimant to have conducted reclamation, China’s recent activities outweigh other efforts in size, pace and nature,” he said.”
Tailoring the Global Network for Real Burden Sharing at Sea “The U.S. Navy’s requirement to implement a longstanding rhetorical commitment to partnerships at sea was articulated in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, confirmed in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, and was most recently reiterated in the new Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready. As a means to offset the risks inherent in divesting some maritime presence requirements and being challenged to ensure operational access, however, the Navy’s current efforts fall short of the requirement. As an unclassified, service-specific look at an increasingly important defense policy area, Tailoring the Global Network for Real Burden-Sharing at Sea looks at what the Navy can do from the bottom up to provide for deeper, more structured partnerships as part of a federated approach to defense.”

UN: China arms firm sold $20M in weapons to South Sudan “A U.N. panel of experts said that a major Chinese state-owned arms supplier sold more than $20 million of weapons to South Sudan’s government last year, several months into the country’s deadly internal conflict. The experts’ first-ever report, made public Tuesday, says China North Industries Corp., or Norinco, sold South Sudan’s government 100 anti-tank guided missile launchers, 1,200 missiles, about 2,400 grenade launchers, nearly 10,000 automatic rifles and 24 million rounds of various types of ammunition. The report also says South Sudan’s military has somehow obtained four attack helicopters since the start of the conflict. It had none before then. South Sudan has been at war since December 2013, when a split within the security forces escalated into a violent rebellion led by Riek Machar.  Kiir’s ethnic Dinka people are pitted against Machar’s Nuer, and the ethnic nature of the violence has alarmed the international community.”

India-Australia submarine drills expected to rattle China “India and Australia will focus on anti-submarine warfare in their first ever joint naval exercises, signaling a growing strategic relationship to counter China's increased activity in the Indian Ocean. The war games starting September 11 off India's Visakhapatnam port in the Bay of Bengal will include exercises to protect a tanker from a hostile attack submarine. The area is near waters where China deployed a nuclear-powered submarine for the first time last year, as well as the Sri Lankan port where another unit surfaced twice. That caused a diplomatic uproar. There's the "potential for increased security tensions in the Indian Ocean," said Captain Sheldon Williams, defence adviser at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi. "We sit right in the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. We have a significant responsibility for its security. That's how we're looking at it now." The drills -- first discussed a decade ago -- come as global powers vie for greater influence. The Indian Ocean's sea lanes account for nearly half of the world's container trade, including 80 per cent of China's oil imports.”

U.S. Seeks to Expand China Navy Code to Coast Guard, Swift Says “The U.S. is seeking to expand the use of protocols agreed with China to avoid flare-ups during unexpected naval encounters to include Chinese coast guard vessels, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said. The U.S. and China have agreed to a naval code of conduct that is “working quite well,” Admiral Scott Swift said on a conference call from Kuala Lumpur. “The U.S. is interested in expanding this mechanism to the Chinese coast guard, as well.” Including China’s so-called white-hulled fleet would be recognition of the role the coast guard plays in executing China’s foreign policy. It’s the world’s largest deep-water coast guard, according Ryan Martinson, a researcher at the China Maritime Studies Institute of the U.S. Naval War College. China has been using its coast guard to help enforce its claims to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea. China has reclaimed more than 2,900 acres of land to expand seven of its eight outposts in the waters as of June this year, according to a Pentagon report released this month. Southeast Asian foreign ministers this month warned that competing territorial claims in the South China Sea risk upsetting regional stability.”

New USPACFLT Commander addresses SEA “THE newly-appointed commander of the United States Pacific Fleet has called on South China Sea claimants to reconcile their differences amid deepened concerns over China’s controversial land reclamation in the Spratly Islands. Speaking to Asia Pacific journalists in a teleconference yesterday, Admiral Scott Swift urged countries embroiled in the territorial dispute to seek a positive approach in a bid to allay flaring tensions. “Approach the reconciling of these differences and claims within the region in a positive way, and not allow the use of coercion or force as a lever to resolve differences to the benefit of one party or the other,” he said, stressing the importance of holding dialogue. Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, but China claims 90 per cent of the islands including major shipping lanes and rich natural resources. Tensions between the claimants were aggravated following reports of China building a runway in one of the disputed islands, while the Pentagon believes the communist nation has reclaimed more land in the Spratly Islands than previously known.”

Pentagon: Modernize military on Guam “The Pentagon's new maritime security strategy in the Asia-Pacific region includes modernizing the military's Guam-based assets as territorial disputes in the South China Sea remain unresolved. The Guam modernization, according to the military's recently released strategy, includes:
   ·forward-stationing a fourth attack submarine to Guam this year;
   ·deploying a Joint High Speed Vessel by 2018; and
   ·making investments in the resilience of the infrastructure supporting these capabilities.
The U.S. military expects to have 10 Joint High Speed Vessels, which cost about $185 million apiece. The high-speed ship bridges the gap between low-speed sea transport and high-speed air transport capabilities for the military. The Air Force also continues a program to modernize hangars and other support structures to augment those and other U.S. military capabilities, according to the strategy. Guam serves as the regional hub for the Air Force's Global Hawk fleet. The Navy will operate a new unmanned surveillance aircraft called MQ-4C Triton from Andersen Air Force Base by 2017, according to the report.”

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 The Congressional China Caucus | August 25, 2015

Scott Walker Calls on Obama to Cancel Chinese State Visit. “SPARTANBURG, SC — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is calling on President Barack Obama to cancel the upcoming state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping next month in retaliation for recent cyberattacks and currency manipulation.In a statement to TIME, Walker said it was time for the Obama administration to hold China “accountable” amid accusations that the country was behind the hack of the U.S. office of personnel management in which more than 20 million records were breached.“There’s serious work to be done rather than pomp and circumstance,” Walker said, encouraging Obama to show “backbone.” The White House is facing bipartisan pressure to get tougher on China. The president last hosted Xi at the Sunnylands retreat in Palm Springs, CA in an informal meeting in June 2013. Obama met with Xi in China last year when they announced a major climate accord. Earlier Monday, Walker blamed much of the recent drop in the financial markets on China’s recent currency devaluation.”

China to Showcase Never-Before-Seen Weapons and Equipment in Military Parade.
“China’s military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender to end World War II is rapidly approaching, and new details are emerging every day. In addition to the question of who will be marching in the parade – 10 countries, including Russia, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, will send troops to participate – the big question is what military technology will China display to the world on September 3.” On August 21, a Chinese military officer provided some details on that front. According to Qu Rui, deputy chief of the Operations Department of the General Staff Headquarters (and deputy director of the Office of the Parade Leading Team), 84 percent of the arms that will be displayed in the parade will be in their first public showcase. Qu said that all branches of the military – the People’s Liberation Army, Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Corps, plus the People’s Armed Police – will debut new equipment, all of which is indigenously produced. Qu said the parade would include 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of equipment, and almost 200 aircraft. According to another military official, Wang Shun, all of the armaments in the parade are currently in active service. The weapons and equipment to be displayed in the parade “represent the new development, achievement and image of the building of China’s armed forces,” Qu said. There were no details on which new technologies will be on display, but Xinhua noted that “China has typically unveiled its most advanced weapon systems during military parades, including the debut of Dongfeng 31, an intercontinental ballistic missile, at the 1999 military parade.”

Experts Say China’s J-10s Would Benefit Iran.
“The China-made J-10 multi-role fighter jet is a suitable choice for Iran if the Middle East power decides to upgrade its aging military aircraft fleet, Chinese aviation experts said. “Once the sanctions against Iran are completely lifted, the country will definitely renovate its civilian and military aircraft fleets. The J-10 is a good option for the Iranians because it can fulfill all operations they want to conduct,” said Wang Ya’nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine”. “In addition to air combat, our J-10 is also capable of performing air-to-surface strikes and anti-ship operations,” he added. “Moreover, the Iranians must have known that China, among other major weapon exporters, is the most reliable supplier when it comes to arms deals. China is also very flexible in payment issues.” Furthermore, with the development of China’s next-generation fighter jet progressing well, it is highly possible that the Chinese aviation industry will transfer technologies used on the J-10 to buyers, Wang said. Wang’s remarks came after two weeks of widespread speculation in foreign media that China and Iran are discussing a deal for 150 J-10 fighter jets.”

Chinese Navy: ‘So Long As It Is Blue, There We Will Be On Guard’ (New PLAN  Recruiting Video).  
“In an intriguing and potentially significant declaration, the Chinese military declares: “Regardless of what corner of the earth, so long as it is blue there we will be on guard.” The declaration comes in an impressive recruiting video for the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). “It’s beautifully done; really tugs at the heartstrings,” says Dean Cheng, the Heritage Foundation’s respected Chinese military expert.  “It’s also a piece of public opinion warfare.” The video was produced by the PLA’s General Political Department, responsible for political loyalty, psychological warfare and all related human factors. But the real target of the recruiting ad — like any recruiting ad– is those whom the PLAN wants to recruit. And that is the really interesting inside story here. Cheng believes this is part of a long attempt by China to build a professional army, albeit one that still relies largely on conscripts. “What does that tell us? It tells us the Chinese are looking to support more technically oriented services,” he says, noting this has been a Chinese goal for the last 30 years. The key to this is recruiting likely candidates for a career as a noncommissioned officer to provide the Chinese with the solid rock upon which the British, Australians and Americans have built their armies and navies, the NCO. The ad is also targeted at officer candidates who possess needed skills but who may not be thinking about a military career. Cheng notes that the Chinese face a “fundamental problem” in building their professional conscript military. Their officers are all Communist Party members but their NCOs are not: “How does an NCO interact with an officer, when all officers are all members of the party and the NCOs aren’t.”

Twenty-two naval ships to take part in second phase of large-scale Russia-China exercise.
“VLADIVOSTOK, August 20. /TASS/. Twenty-two combat ships of Russia and China will take part in the second phase of a large-scale naval exercise Joint Sea 2015 off the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, a deputy commander of the Russian Navy, Vice-Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov, said on Thursday. "This year the scope of the exercise is unprecedented," Fedotenov noted, saying that 20 aircraft, more than 500 amphibious soldiers and 40 pieces of armored vehicles would also take part. "After this exercise, we will get to a new level of operational coordination, compatibility of headquarters and exchange of experience," the deputy commander said. Seven Chinese naval ships led by Shenyang destroyer arrived on Thursday at Vladivostok, where the Chinese and Russian navies are gearing up for the second phase of a joint naval exercise that will run through August 27. The naval ships will simulate action in antisubmarine and anti-aircraft warfare. "This is the eighth visit of Chinese naval ships to Vladivostok in contemporary history of relations between Russia and China," Roman Martov, spokesman for the Eastern Military District, said. Martov said the first day in Vladivostok would be devoted to protocol visits to the city administration and the headquarters of the Pacific Feet. August 21 will see a ceremony launching the exercises, and on August 24 the ships will take to the sea. A parade of the naval ships in Peter the Great Gulf will be held after the exercise, on August 28.”

China Military Expansion And Stock Market Meltdown: Economy Won't Stifle Beijing's Record Defense Spending.
“China saw the biggest one-day fall in its stock market in eight years Monday. But it's unlikely the country's weakening economy will affect its record defense spending or its ambitions to expand into the South China Sea, military analysts predicted. “If the Chinese economy were to collapse, we would probably see a military slowdown, but let’s remember that the economy is still growing,” said Bonnie Glaser, an expert on Chinese foreign and security policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C. “The amount of money they have been putting into the military has been so substantial. The rate at which they have been producing ships for use in the South China Sea, for example, really demonstrates the ramping up of its capabilities and should dispel any belief that they are about to cut back. While Monday’s stock market slide -- which initially knocked more than 1,000 points from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, before a rebound later in the day, and lopped 8.5 percent from the Shanghai Composite Index -- could be seen as indicative of an economy headed for collapse, China has not shown any signs of slowing its military modernization and expansionist plans. China's defense budget now stands at more than $200 billion, placing it behind the United States ($610 billion), but ahead of Russia ($80 billion). China recently finished the first stage of a project to build fake islands in the South China Sea. The fake islands are designed to give the country a military base to bolster its claims for a number of disputed island chains in the region, while also helping it monitor its military rivals in Asia. In July, China sent more than 100 Chinese ships to the South China Sea for military drills.”

Analysts: China's Missile Program the Greatest Long-Term Threat to U.S. Security.
“The advancement of China's ballistic missile modernization program may pose the greatest risk to the United States' long-term security, analysts said Aug. 19. "Deterrence of China is absolutely critical," said Mark Schneider, a senior analyst for the National Institute for Public Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. "It's not the largest current threat to the United States but it will in the foreseeable future become that." According to the Pentagon's annual report to congress, "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2015," the current Chinese arsenal includes 1,200 short-range ballistic missiles and 50 to 60 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). A 2013 report from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center found the Pacific nation has the most "active and diverse ballistic missile development program in the world," expected to expand in both size and variety. Within the next 15 years the number of Chinese ICBM nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States could grow to more than 100, it said. Currently the nation boasts four types of ICBMs and two types of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The nation is also developing MIRV, or multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle, variants of its ballistic missiles, Schneider said. These variants have a payload containing several warheads, each capable of being aimed at separate designated targets.”

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 The Congressional China Caucus | August 24, 2015

Less TV, No Smog and Other Edicts for China’s Military Parade. “It’s a familiar pattern to any Beijing resident who lived through the Summer 2008 Olympics and a summit of world leaders last year: Anxious for big-ticket events to go off without a hitch, China halts factories, orders cars off the roads and closes offices and schools. The Communist Party is rolling out a long list of such measures for a Sept. 3 military parade commemorating the World War II victory over Japan. It will go even further this time, banning TV content that may be too frivolous, shutting the airport and closing off much of the city’s downtown during the parade. “In such a large scale public event, the Chinese leaders want to display Chinese power politically, and then the organizers become highly nervous,” said Qin Qianhong, a law professor at Wuhan University, based in Hubei province. Here are some measures imposed for the parade: A nationwide public holiday was declared for Sept. 3 and 4 and markets ordered closed on those days; Pedestrian and traffic controls: Vehicles and people on foot were prohibited from the Tiananmen Square area on Aug. 22 and 23 for rehearsals. The same restrictions will be in effect on the day of the parade; Broadcasts of some entertainment programs, including talk shows, reality shows and TV series, will be suspended from Sept. 1-5.”

Japan Says PM Will Not Attend Military Parade in China.
“Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not attend a military parade in China next week to commemorate the end of World War II, the government's top spokesman said Monday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters the decision was made because of Abe's parliamentary schedule. The government may also have been concerned about the possible anti-Japanese tone of an event marking the country's surrender in 1945. "The decision was made taking into consideration parliamentary proceedings and other situations," Suga said. But he added that Abe told parliament recently that he hoped the theme of the event "would not be anti-Japanese." Japan invaded China before and during World War II, and Japan's treatment of China during that period still greatly impacts relations. China has said the parade is being held to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender and to demonstrate a commitment to peace. The event, which will include displays of fighter jets and missiles, will showcase the People's Liberation Army's rapidly growing capabilities at a time it is taking a more confrontational stance in territorial disputes with Japan and others. Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj of Mongolia, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic have accepted invitations to attend, along with unidentified leaders from Central Asia, according to Chinese state media. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has said she will attend a ceremony marking the anniversary of victory over Japan, but aides say she has yet to decide whether to attend the military parade. Recent Japanese media reports said that Abe might skip the parade but still visit China next week to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a bid to warm up frosty bilateral relations. But Suga scotched such talk Monday. He said Japan would seek other opportunities for the two to meet, such as on the sidelines of international conferences.”

Fading Economy and Graft Crackdown Rattle China’s Leaders.
“The start to the day was hardly unusual for a senior Chinese leader in a country grappling with an economic slowdown. On the morning of July 24, Zhou Benshun attended a meeting to promote one of President Xi Jinping’s signature projects, a plan to boost growth by building a “supercity” that would integrate Beijing with the region around it. But by 6:10 p.m. that day, Mr. Zhou’s career was over, and he faced years in prison. The Communist Party’s anticorruption agency announced it was investigating him on “suspicion of serious violations of party discipline and the law,” signaling his ouster as the party chief of Hebei Province, one of the nation’s most populous. Mr. Zhou’s sudden downfall — he is the first sitting provincial party chief to be purged by Mr. Xi — underscores the uncertainty that permeates the Communist elite as they contend with two unnerving developments beyond their control: an economic slowdown that appears to be worse than officials had anticipated and that could mark the end of China’s era of fast growth, and a campaign against official corruption that has continued longer and reached higher than most had expected. Driving decisions on both issues is Mr. Xi, who took the party’s helm nearly three years ago and has pursued an ambitious agenda fraught with political risk. Now, weeks before a summit meeting in Washington with President Obama, those risks appear to be growing, and there are signs that Mr. Xi and his strong-willed leadership style face increasingly bold resistance inside the party that could limit his ability to pursue his goals. Mr. Xi has positioned himself as the chief architect of economic policy — usually the prime minister’s job — and has vowed to reshape the economy, exposing himself to blame if growth continues to sputter. At the same time, Mr. Xi is making enemies with an anticorruption drive that has taken down some of the most powerful men in the country and sidelined more than a hundred thousand lower-ranking officials. Senior party officials are said to be alarmed by the state of the economy, which grew at the slowest pace in a quarter century during the first half of the year, and now seems to be decelerating further. In a sign of its anxiety, the leadership this month implemented the biggest devaluation of the Chinese currency in more than two decades, sending global markets into plunges.”

Chinese Radar Strongly Resembles Israeli Product.
“A Chinese avionics marketing and manufacturing firm has put Israeli-US relations under a microscope after marketing an advanced fire control radar identical to Elta’s ELM-2052 active electronically scanned array (AESA). Elta is the same Israeli state-owned subsidiary at the heart of an incendiary chapter in US-Israel relations that continues to reverberate 15 years after Washington forced Israel to cancel a controversial Phalcon airborne early warning aircraft contract with Beijing. Beijing-based NAV Technology  claims in its 63-page product catalog to offer an unnamed AESA radar that is identical to the ELM-2052. The two-page description appears to be identical to current ELM-2052 product brochures distributed by Elta, including a photograph of the radar. Elta is a subsidiary of the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Israel’s Ministry of Defence said it had no knowledge of NAV and its claimed association with Elta. IAI has also denied any association between Elta and NAV “or any other Chinese firm.” Yang Yunchun, NAV Technology chairman and president, did not respond to repeated requests to comment. By phone, NAV Technology’s Mr. Xiong turned down requests for information about the company’s activities. The Chinese-language company website does not list an AESA radar as a product.  Public information indicates that Yang began his career in aeronautical engineering with bachelor and master degrees from Harbin Engineering University (1993/1997) and a doctorate at the University of California (2001). His primary academic focus was global positioning system (GPS) and inertial navigation system (INS) integration, and advanced GPS signal processing. After his doctorate, Yang worked for NavCom Technology and ContainerTrac.  NAV’s product catalog offers to “reverse engineer” an INS system for the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF's) Dassault Mirage III. “Currently the Litton LN-33 INS has reliability problems at PAF and NAV Technology has proposed a comprehensive solution to reverse engineer the problem and provide detailed solution.” A source who worked with Yang in California said that Yang had been under investigation by the FBI for “creating shell companies” and “violating intellectual property” and “export controls.”  However, there are no public US federal judicial records indicating Yang was charged with any crime.”

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 The Congressional China Caucus | August 21, 2015

Pentagon Says China Has Stepped Up Land Reclamation in South China Sea. “A new Pentagon report says China’s reclamation of landmass among a string of artificial islands in the South China Sea has grown dramatically in recent months, and that Beijing is aggressively patrolling the waters there to assert its territorial claims. The Pentagon report, issued late Thursday, said that, as of June, China has reclaimed 2,900 acres of landmass across a string of islands in the South China Sea known as the Spratlys, up nearly 50% from May, when the Pentagon said Beijing had claimed about 2,000 acres. Washington fears that the islands will be used for military purposes and could create instability in one of the world’s biggest commercial shipping routes as China lays claim to what several other countries see as international waters. And, as China’s assertiveness grows, the risk of conflict with the U.S. and its allies grows along with it, defense officials have said. The report comes about a month before a high-profile visit to Washington by Chinese President Xi Jinping, where the South China Sea issue, along with cybersecurity and monetary policy are likely to come up. Taken together, the issues portend a potentially difficult visit for Mr. Xi and for the Obama administration. The rate of growth of the islands from China’s development activity has accelerated considerably, according to the report, which is titled “The Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy” and was required by Congress in a 2015 defense bill. The new Pentagon report reflects continuing U.S. skepticism of China’s claims earlier this month that it has halted its land reclamation activity. China said in early August that it had ceased reclamation operations, but U.S. officials questioned whether the actions had been stopped or would remain halted. A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington said late Thursday that China stopped reclamation in June. The spokesman,Zhu Haiquan, said that the facilities being built on the islands include those for the public good. “China stands ready to open these facilities to other countries upon completion,” Mr. Zhu said. “We hope the U.S. side will view this in an objective and balanced way and respect regional countries’ efforts to maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea.” While not directly contradicting the Chinese claim, a Pentagon spokesman challenged Beijing late Thursday to elaborate on its plans.”

Obama Fails to Challenge Beijing’s Island-Building Campaign.
“In the silliness that often characterizes diplomatic discourse, Chinese vice-foreign minister Liu Zhenmin told Reuters on August 4th that China’s transformation of South China Sea shoals and reefs into armed islands “should not be discussed” at the August ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Kuala Lumpur. Why not?  Because, said Liu, “this is a forum for promoting cooperation.”  Correctly, the U.S. State Department answered that Chinese provocations should indeed be discussed.  After all, how can international cooperation be furthered when China makes illegal sovereign claims over international waters that lie within the exclusive economic zones of its neighbors? However, the Obama administration is unwilling to back up diplomacy with action.  Senior U.S. naval commanders have sought permission to uphold freedom of navigation by sailing or flying close to these manmade islands that lie hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland—far from the 12 nautical miles that make up China’s legally sovereign waters.  But even though China is flouting both custom and international agreement—China ratified and is currently violating the U.N. Law of the Seas Treaty—the president has refused this request. This failure to act stems from the belief of the Obama administration that China and the U.S. are not strategic rivals, but partners in maintaining international order.  Therefore, the logic goes, Chinese expansion does not constitute a threat.  This is wrongheaded.  Since its founding the U.S has been a maritime state, supporting freedom of navigation on the high seas.  America’s security and prosperity depends on free access to the world’s oceans. John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the administration’s refusal to protect U.S. rights in international waters “a dangerous mistake that grants de facto recognition of China’s man-made sovereign claims.” The immediate risk comes at the expense of shipping lanes that lie hundreds of miles from coasts around the world.  A feeble response to Chinese aggression sets a dubious precedent.  China has been expanding its naval influence through the Central Asian coast toward Africa.  Beijing financed Pakistan’s deep water port at Gwadar and is currently negotiating to use Djibouti as a naval base.  Djibouti is a tiny African state that sits astride the entrance to the Red Sea through which ships transiting the Suez Canal pass. China and Iran have been working to increase military ties, trade, and nuclear cooperation for years.  A Chinese-supported extension of African and Central Asian partner states’ sovereignty into the Indian Ocean would put Beijing in a position to control the world’s most strategic oceanic space, the approaches to the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.  Unimaginable?  Who would have thought at the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency that Iran would now be pulling the strings in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen?  Iran could establish a naval base in Sudan, threatening Saudi Arabia and Israel, and increasing its control over Suez Canal commerce from Sudan’s Red Sea coast.”

More Than 10 Countries to Join China’s Military Parade
. “More than 10 countries including Russia will join China for a massive military parade through central Beijing next month commemorating the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan in World War II, Chinese officials said Friday. The parade is widely seen as a public display of the People's Liberation Army's fast-growing capabilities, and comes as China is becoming more active in asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Those moves have prompted its neighbors to boost their own capabilities and the U.S. military to renew its commitment to regional allies. The foreign troops joining in the parade are from countries in Asia, Europe, Africa the Americas and Oceana, parade deputy commander Qu Rui told a news conference in Beijing. He mentioned by name only Russia and Kazakhstan and said more information will be released later. "Their participation in the parade is a clear indication of their attitude of commemorating the victory of the world anti-fascist war jointly, and a symbol of the aspiration for and pursuit of enduring world peace," Qu said. Qu said 12,000 troops will take part in the Sept. 3 event, showcasing 500 pieces of equipment of about 40 different types along with almost 200 aircraft of more than 20 types, Qu said. China's last such military parade was in 2009 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. Asked whether there was an anti-Japanese element to the parade, Qu said the war had brought great suffering to both the people of Japan and of Asia, but that the event aimed to look toward the future. "This is not directed at any third parties," Qu said. China says it has sent invitations to numerous heads of state but thus far only Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Czech President Milos Zeman have accepted, along with unidentified leaders from Cental Asian states, according to state media.”

Men Jailed 19 Year for ‘Brazen’ Attack on Hong Kong Newspaper Editor.
“Two men who attacked a former chief editor of a widely respected Hong Kong newspaper with a meat cleaver were jailed on Friday for 19 years in a case that has raised concerns about press freedom in the Chinese-run city. Yip Kim-wah and Wong Chi-wah, both 39 years old, showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down for "grievous bodily harm with intent" in the stabbing of former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau on Feb. 26 last year in broad daylight. Speaking to the court, Justice Esther Toh said the assault was carried out "in cold blood ... for financial gain", and that it was a "brazen attack on the rule of law in Hong Kong." Lau last week urged the police to continue investigating so that the "mastermind" behind the attack could be brought to justice, with the motives for the crime still unclear. The two men told police they had each been paid HK$100,000 ($12,900) to attack Lau but refused to say who paid them. The attack on Lau was cited as the most violent example of how press freedom in Hong Kong has deteriorated, according to a recent report by the Hong Kong Journalists Association. The stabbing came in the months before last year's mass pro-democracy protests, and was widely seen as a warning to Hong Kong's vibrant media that has remained a bastion of critical reporting on China.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | August 20, 2015

China Challenging All Foundations of US Military Power: Ex-US Official. “China is challenging all major foundations of American military power, a former U.S. defense official said in a speech Wednesday. Since the end of the World War II, U.S. military superiority has relied on three major foundations, Trey Obering, the former director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), told an audience at the Hudson Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. These were superior strategic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities (ISR); the ability to project power globally; and an overwhelming dominant technological advantage across a spectrum of conflict. But China, Obering said, was now challenging all three of these major foundations of American power. “I believe that China is challenging the United States, specifically targeting our strategic ISR, our power projection capabilities, and our technological advantages with their missile programs,” he said. Obering, who had a military career spanning 35 years before becoming executive vice-president at Booz Allen Hamilton, addressed China’s threat to each of these three foundations in turn. On the first, China has already demonstrated its capability to destroy low, earth-orbiting satellites with its anti-satellite missile test in 2007, a test that was repeated earlier this year. But, he said, Beijing is already developing a capability to reach even higher orbits which would allow it to target “nearly all of our [American] space assets.” More worryingly, Obering said that while the United States relies heavily on space-based capabilities, the United States “has not chosen to view space in the same way” that it views air, land, and sea when it comes to protecting critical lines of communication. Turning to the second foundation – global power projection – Obering said China was challenging U.S. carrier battle groups, a key capability for deterrence and, if needed, striking an enemy on its soil. For instance, Beijing has developed a medium-range anti-ship missile, the DF-21, which is “clearly and specifically targeted” at U.S. carrier battle groups. “This missile is a formidable threat which represents very advanced technology,” he warned.”

South Korea’s Park May Skip Military Parade During China Visit.
“President Park Geun-hye is likely to duck out of attending a huge military parade in Beijing during her upcoming visit to China next month, an event widely seen as a show of force at a time when China's military assertiveness grows in Asia, two diplomatic sources said Thursday. China plans to hold events marking the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan in World War II on Sept. 3, with many analysts expecting that the military parade could highlight a rivalry between China and Japan, instead of a gesture of reconciliation. Park will attend the Sept. 3 events, but it remains undecided whether she will be on the same podium with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the military parade on the same day. Announcing Park's trip to China, Ju Chul-ki, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs, told reporters in Seoul that, "Consultations are under way" between South Korea and China over the matter of whether Park would attend the military parade. An appearance of Park in the military parade could send the "wrong message" to the world that South Korea might endorse China's military assertiveness in disputed seas, including the South China Sea, said a diplomatic source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Most Western leaders are likely to shun the Sept. 3 events because of a wide range of reasons, including the presence of Putin, who has been at odds with the West over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Putin have deepened their military cooperation. In a show of solidarity, Xi attended a May military parade in Moscow hosted by Putin, while Western leaders snubbed the May parade. German Chancellor Angela Merkel skipped the May parade, but visited Moscow a day after the parade and held a meeting with Putin. "To my knowledge, President Park is expected to follow the footstep of German Chancellor Merkel," another diplomatic source said, indicating that Park would not attend the upcoming military parade, but will still meet with Xi during her visit to China. Wang Junsheng, an associate professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also suggested that Park could skip the military parade.”

Is China’s Homegrown Terrorism Problem Behind the Bangkok Bombing?
“Are there links between China’s minority Uighur population and the Bangkok bomb that killed 22 people on Aug. 17? That is one of the theories officials in Thailand are investigating. Thai investigators are “focusing on a revenge motive by Uighur militants,” who may have been retaliating for last month’s forced repatriation of Uighur refugees who fled China, unnamed police sources told the Bangkok Post. Police are now searching for three suspects who were captured on closed circuit television before the blasts, a police spokesman told reporters, including a foreigner. Six of the fatalities in the bombing and 22 of the injured were from Greater China, which includes Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the mainland. The Erawan shrine where the bombing took place was particularly popular with Chinese tourists. The Royal Thai Police distributed a sketch of the main suspect in the bombing—a man seen in a yellow shirt leaving a backpack at the shrine before the blast. Police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri told reporters late on August 19 that the suspect was a foreign man, who was overheard speaking a foreign language. Police suspect he may be a Muslim from South or Central Asia, according to South China Morning Post coverage (paywall) of the press conference: Prawut also gave a description of the suspected ethnicity of the alleged bomber, using the Thai phrase “khaek khao” – a word often used to describe light-skinned Muslims from South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. “His skin is white and he has a high nose. Whether khaek khao or not I don’t know. But from the footage it looked like that,” he said. Some Chinese media reports also reported on suggestions that the attack could be revenge for the Uighur repatriation.”

PLA Aircraft Tread Fine Line Between Copying and ‘Referencing’.
“An internet user recently published a black and white photograph of the "number 2013" prototype of the Chengdu J-20, China's first stealth fighter, on a test flight, according to Sina's military news web portal. The angle of the photograph suggests that the area of the canard wings is quite large and that the body of the plane is long and thin, which suggests that it will have high-speed cruise capability. Many countries have accused China of designing its military aircraft by copying the fighters of other countries. Media outlets in Europe and the US have suggested that the J-20 is a rip-off of the US F-22 stealth fighter, while Japanese media have suggested that the design concept of the J-20 is derived from the MiG-1.44 technology demonstrator developed by the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia, although the project was later abandoned. The website of US magazine Wired previously stated that the Xian Y-20 large military transport aircraft "sports the same wide swept wing and T-shaped tail as the Boeing-made C-17, blueprints of which China obtained several years ago through a spy working for the Chicago-based plane manufacturer." Overseas media outlets have also stated that the Harbin Z-20, a 10-tonne multirole helicopter developed at China's 602nd Aircraft Design Institute, is a clear copy of the S-70C2, the export version of the US Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. Overseas media outlets suggest that all three aircraft with the -20 designation are rip-offs, however, they mainly focus on the external appearance of the aircraft to justify their claims. However, if the outer appearance of aircraft is weighed too heavily, then the aircraft of many countries can be considered rip-offs, including Israel's IAI Lavi, which bears a striking resemblance to the French Dassault Mirage III, and the Soviet Tu-160 strategic bomber, which resembles a larger version of the US B-1B. Even the US F-15 fighter resembles the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25. To establish the degree of creativity, therefore, one has to look beyond appearances, according to the website, particularly the differences in the interior design and weapons systems. These aspects of the J-20, Y-20 and Z-20 demonstrate that they are not just rip-offs, according to the website. The J-20 is a fourth-generation stealth heavy fighter which uses two domestically developed Shenyang WS-10B turbofan engines, with divertless supersonic inlets (DSI) on both sides, an all-moving vertical tail and a canard wing configuration. The J-20 will be the main craft used by the PLA to protect air and marine sovereignty and will reportedly get the NATO designation "Fire Tooth."

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 Randy | August 19, 2015

What Countries Will March in China’s WWII Anniversary Military Parade? “With Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of World War II in the books, those interested in Asia’s “history wars” are turning their focus to the next big event: China’s commemoration of the anniversary of the end of the war, which falls on September 3. The highlight of those celebrations will be a major military parade in Beijing, the first time China has held such a parade to celebrate the end of the war. Ever since China’s Ministry of Defense announced that the parade would be an international one, with soldiers from other countries invited to participate, the world has wondered which countries will take part. Russia’s Victory Day parade on May 9 featured troops from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India, Mongolia, and Serbia. China will be hoping to at least match that tally. China’s Ministry of Defense confirmed in June that Russia and Mongolia would be sending troops to take part in China’s parade. On August 17, China Military Online reported that Kazakh and Russian troops are headed for Beijing, where they will “participate in the joint training for China’s V-Day military parade on September 3.” Kazakhstan reportedly sent a 100-member honor guard, representing “the three services of Kazakhstan’s armed forces,” to participate. Russia, meanwhile, sent 85 troops from its 154th Preobrazhensky Independent Commandant’s Regiment. China Daily said that troops from from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan arrived in Beijing on August 16, and that Mongolia plans to send 75 soldiers to take part in the parade. Meanwhile, India Today reported that China had asked India to send 75 troops to take part in the parade, but that New Delhi was concerned about sending the wrong message to Japan.”

China Lashes Out at US After Claims Beijing is Deploying ‘Covert Agents’.
“China has lashed out at the United States for its “uncooperative” attitude and suggested it is becoming a haven for Chinese criminals, after Washington accused Beijing of deploying “covert agents” on American soil in a bid to snare fugitives wanted as part of president Xi Jinping’s war on corruption. With just weeks to go until Xi makes his first state visit to the US, American officials have reportedly demanded Beijing stop sending undercover Chinese law enforcement agents there to take part in what Beijing calls “Operation Fox Hunt”. The campaign to bring fugitives back to China is a key element of Xi’s high-profile offensive against corruption in the ruling Communist party. China is understood to have handed lists of targets to countries including the US, Australia, France, Canada and the UK. However, there is “escalating anger” in Washington over the “strong-arm tactics” – including intimidation and threats – allegedly being used by Chinese agents to bring fugitives home, the New York Times reported on Sunday. US officials said they had solid evidence the agents were not in the US “on acknowledged government business” and were likely coming into the country on tourist or business visas. The issue has added to tensions between the two countries ahead of Xi Jinping’s trip to the US in September. Already this year, the countries have locked horns over issues including the alleged hacking of millions of US government personnel files and China’s artificial island building campaign in the South China Sea. Among those whose return Beijing is demanding is Ling Wancheng, a rich and well-connected businessman who had reportedly been living in California. Ling’s brother – a former presidential chief-of-staff called Ling Jihua – was arrested and expelled from the Communist party last month and his whereabouts are currently unknown. China’s state-controlled media reacted angrily to US claims that its agents were operating outside the law. “The ‘Chinese secret agents’ are nothing but a fantasy,” the Global Times, a pro-Beijing tabloid, complained in an editorial on Tuesday. “The Chinese police officers set foot on the US soil by legal means and they take actions that are fair and square.”

China, Russia to Launch Largest-Ever Joint Navy Exercise.
“The Chinese and Russian navies are gearing up for their largest-ever joint exercises, slated to begin Thursday in the Pacific with more than 20 ships and featuring anti-submarine operations as well as a joint-beach landing. The “Joint Sea 2015 II” exercises will run through Aug. 28 in the Sea of Japan and off the coast of Vladivostok. While analysts say the operations have increased in size and sophistications during recent years, the Chinese and Russian navies have held five such joint exercises over the past decade. But in the current round of exercises, Chinese frigates have reportedly made their first-ever visit to the Russian Novorossiysk naval base in the Black Sea. President Vladimir Putin made headlines in the area Tuesday by joining a Russian navy team aboard a small vessel that plunged into the Black Sea along the coast of the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow. The U.S. Naval Institute’s online news and analysis portal, USNI, said Tuesday that the coming China-Russia exercises will be the second series of joint drills in less than a year. annexed from Ukraine last year. The first “Joint Sea 2015” operation played out in the Mediterranean Sea in April. The USNI report noted that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said late last year that the U.S. was a factor motivating increased China-Russia military training. However, more recent comments by other top Russian officials suggest Moscow is generally in line — rhetorically at least — with U.S. calls for multilateral solutions to any territorial disputes in hotly disputed waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has angered other countries in the region with aggressive sovereignty claims in recent months. Russia Today also reported that the upcoming exercises mark the first time the Chinese Navy has taken part in a joint operation in the Sea of Japan, which borders North and South Korea and Russia, as well as Japan.”

Chinese Police Arrest 15,000 for Internet Crimes.
“Police in China said on Tuesday they had arrested about 15,000 people for crimes that "jeopardized Internet security", as the government moves to tighten controls on the Internet. Since taking over in 2013, President Xi Jinping has led an increasingly harsh crackdown on China's Internet, which the Communist Party views with greater importance and acknowledges it needs to control, academics and researchers say. Police have investigated 7,400 cases of cyber crime, the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement on its website. It did not make clear over what period the arrests were made, but referred to a case dating to last December. China launched a six-month program last month, code-named "Cleaning the Internet". "For the next step, the public security organs will continue to increase their investigation and crackdown on cyber crimes," the ministry said. The campaign would also focus on breaking major cases and destroying online criminal gangs, it added.The sweep targeted websites providing "illegal and harmful information" besides advertisements for pornography, explosives and firearms and gambling. In total, the police said they investigated 66,000 websites. China runs one of the world's most sophisticated online censorship mechanisms, known as the Great Firewall. Censors keep a tight grip on what can be published, particularly material that could potentially undermine the ruling Communist Party. In February, China's internet watchdog said it would ban from March 1 internet accounts that impersonate people or organizations, and enforce the requirement for people to use their real names when registering online accounts.”

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 The Congressional China Caucus | August 18, 2015

Why China’s New Military Recruitment Video is Alarming. “The People's Liberation Army Navy recently released anew recruitment video that is unlikely to assuage growing fears in the region over an increasingly nationalistic and expansionist China. The slick nearly four-and-a-half-minute video opens with the header "Our Dream." Accompanied by a surprisingly restrained soundtrack, this section appeals to China's youth. We see young Chinese graduating from university and engaging in various sports, including snowboarding. This is interspersed with images of Hong Kong's retrocession, all meant to cultivate pride in a "new" China. "We were born in the 1990s," the accompanying text says, in Chinese. "By then, China had already risen. . . with bright dreams, we want to shine like the new century. . . we want to become very strong." It doesn't take long, however, for the video to shift to bombastic music and visuals of a very different nature. The appeal to nationalism -- and to China's territorial claims -- is hard to miss, what with footage of the Diaoyutai/Senkaku islets in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by Japan and Taiwan, as well as various features in the South China Sea, a source of rising tension in recent years. There are a few glimpses of the PLAN's humanitarian role, but this is contrasted with, and overtaken by, unmistakable militarism: endless footage of bombs falling, rockets being fired, things being blown up. There is definitely an element of signaling, and it's not meant to be reassuring. If we put this together with a campaign that included a video, aired on CCTV last month, of exercises ostensibly simulating an assault on Taiwan's Presidential Office, the intention is to scare potential opponents, perhaps to win a war without having to fight. In line with the martial video, the accompanying text shifts to something more troubling. Titled "Call of Duty," part two tells us "71 percent of the globe we depend on is blue water. . . wherever there is blue water, we will be there to secure navigation. . . China's oceanic and overseas interests are expanding rapidly. . . our land is vast but we will not yield an inch of our territory to foreigners." The text then claims that China has 3 million square kilometers of ocean under its jurisdiction, a territory that includes as many as 6,700 islands. "The struggle over our sea rights is not over,' it continues. 'We will not yield even the tiniest speck of our resources."

Deterrence Delayed: Time to Get Tough on China.
“Deferred deterrence is a lot like deferred maintenance—when we finally get around to doing what needs to be done, the cost is almost always higher than it would have been with timelier action. That is happening now with U.S.-China relations, which under the best of circumstances require constant vigilance. The first issue is China's stunningly lawless claim of sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea. When the claim was limited to the rhetorical and diplomatic realm, Washington responded in an appropriately measured manner. It noted the invalidity of Chinese overreach under international law, the need for multilateral negotiations and peaceful mechanisms for dispute resolution, and the inviolability of rights of navigation and overflight. But when Beijing ignored those diplomatic and legalistic appeals and proceeded to implement its territorial ambitions over a year ago by building artificial islands—creating not only facts on the ground but actual new ground—it became necessary to push back by peacefully but firmly exercising navigational and overflight rights. This summer, the United States did send a reconnaissance flight over the area and wisely invited CNN to record the public and transparent challenge in accordance with international norms. But nothing was done to assert navigational freedom, which is the most relevant mode of trade access for countries in the region. That passivity unfortunately continues months later. If the U.S. Navy has made some secret passage through those waters, it would be an ineffective gesture; lack of transparency defeats the international law and public diplomacy purposes of the Freedom of Navigation (FON) program. With each day that passes without U.S. ships steaming within twelve miles of China's man-made islands, and declaring the transits, the perception grows that Chinese claims are being grudgingly accepted by the international community—that is, by the United States, it's most important member. Beijing can only be satisfied with the current state of play. If and when the United States does make its FON challenge, it will carry more confrontational baggage than would have been the case had it occurred at or around the same time as the overflight.”

Get Ready, China: Taiwan’s Navy Has Big Plans.
“Taiwan lives every day with the threat posed by the increasingly capable armed forces of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Taiwanese Navy in particular has to consider both the prospect of a direct attack on the main island and the potential interdiction of its shipping, a critical problem for a country absolutely dependent on imported energy and resources. This creates a constant tension between capabilities, which would prevent or delay an amphibious assault and those required for longer-range sea-control operations. There is, for example, a lively debate on the priority that should be given to mine warfare ahead of more expensive precision-guided weapons and targeting systems, and larger ships. Circumstances are pushing the Taiwanese Navy to a much greater level of autonomous capability development than it would want. Taiwan has long built its own surface combatants, but the difficulty of getting access to high capability designs is forcing it to be even more ambitious. While previous classes have been constructed to American or European designs, it now plans to build indigenous units, with a class of four 8000+ ton guided missile destroyers the centerpiece of the program, supplemented by high speed missile carrying attack catamarans, the first of which is in service. This is not the limit of the Navy's ambitions. Replacement and expansion of the submarine force has probably the highest priority. Taiwan would happily purchase submarines overseas but China's increasing global influence and economic weight have ensured that no submarine-building country has been willing to enter into an agreement with Taiwan, even for licensed manufacture. The only other potential provider, the U.S., has domestic restrictions on the building of non-nuclear submarines. Consequently, after much internal debate and several aborted projects, Taiwan has decided to go it alone, at least with the design and manufacture of submarine hulls and major systems.”

China Investigates Top Work Safety Regulator After Tianjin Blasts.
“Authorities are investigating the head of China's work safety regulator, the Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog said on Tuesday, a week after huge blasts in a warehouse storing hazardous chemicals killed 114 people in Tianjin. State media said the company that operated the warehouse was not licensed to handle hazardous chemicals until two months before the explosions. Protesters have demanded compensation and mourners held memorials for victims earlier on Tuesday. The explosions late last Wednesday in Tianjin, the world's 10th-busiest port in China's industrial northeast, forced the evacuation of thousands of people after toxic chemicals were detected in the air. More than 700 people were injured and another 70, mostly fire fighters, are still missing. The blasts devastated a large industrial site and nearby residences nearby. Investigators have not determined the cause of the blasts but the Tianjin disaster has deepened public concern about work safety regulations. China has struggled in recent years with incidents ranging from mining disasters to factory fires, and President Xi Jinping has vowed that authorities should learn the lessons paid for with blood. Yang Dongliang, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, is "currently undergoing investigation" for suspected violations of party discipline and the law, China's anti-graft watchdog said in a statement on its website. The agency is one of many government departments that regulate companies that operate with dangerous materials. It did not give further details or mention the Tianjin blasts. It was also not possible to reach Yang, a former vice mayor of the city of 15 million people until 2012.”

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

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