China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 15, 2015

Japan Jets Scramble at Cold War Levels as Chinese and Russian Incursions Increase. “Japan's air force said on Wednesday said jet fighter scrambles have reached a level not seen since the height of the Cold War three decades ago as Russian bombers probe its northern skies and Chinese combat aircraft intrude into its southern air space. In the year ending March 31, Japanese fighters scrambled 944 times, 16 percent more than the same period the previous year, the country's Self Defence Force said. That is the second highest number of encounters ever recorded over the 12-month period since records began in 1958 and only one less than a record 944 scrambles in 1984. "It represents a sharp increase," an SDF spokesman said at a press briefing. While not a direct measure of Russian and Chinese military activity, the numbers nonetheless point to an increase in operations by Japan's two big neighbors. While coping with the growing military might of a more assertive China which is increasing defense outlays by more than 10 percent a year, Japan is also contending with a military resurgence of a Cold War foe that has gathered pace since Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula from the Ukraine last year. Japan too is upping defense spending, albeit by a smaller margin, to buy new equipment, including longer-range patrol aircraft, cargo jets, helicopter carriers and troop carrying Boeing V-22 Ospreys and Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters. A non-fiscal boost to military capability will also come from plans by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to loosen constitutional constraints on his nation's defense forces that will allow them to operate more freely overseas and to deepen cooperation with U.S. forces. Russian bombers and patrol planes often enter Japan's air space close to Japan's northern Hokkaido island and close to four smaller islands which are claimed both by Japan and Russia. That territorial dispute has prevented Japan and Russia from concluding a formal peace treaty. The Russian aircraft commonly fly circuitous routes around the Japanese archipelago. Chinese fighter incursions are concentrated in the East China Sea, close to disputed uninhabited islets near Taiwan that Tokyo claims as the Senkaku islands and Beijing dubs the Diaoyu islands. In the past year, an increased number of Chinese planes have flown through Japanese air space into the Western Pacific, the SDF spokesman said.” 

Chinese ASAT Test Was ‘Successful’.
“We’ve known for some time that China conducted an anti-satellite test July 23 last year, but we learned today that that test was “successful” even if it didn’t destroy anything. China has successfully placed low earth orbit satellites at risk, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond told an overflow audience at the annual Warfighters Lunch at the Space Symposium here. “Soon every satellite in every orbit will be able to be held at risk,” the head of the 14th Air Force said. China has claimed the test was for missile defense and noted that nothing was destroyed in the test. Raymond clearly wanted to dispel that impression and make certain everyone in the space community knew that China had executed another ASAT test and that it had worked. In other news, Raymond told the lunch that, for the first time, a foreign military officer has been placed in command of US troops at the highly classified Joint Space Operations Center, the nerve center of America’s military and spy satellites. (The NRO operates America’s spy satellites, but the JSPOC watches all.) Until the last decade, foreign officers were not incorporated into most of America’s space facilities. Then we began bringing in Canadian, British and Australian officers to Strategic Command and Air Force Space Command, culminating in the appointment of a Canadian officer as head of a shift at the JSPOC. Raymond told me after the lunch that he didn’t want to oversell the importance of the move, but he did call it “significant.” This is part of a longer term commitment by the United States to work with allies on space issues. Last year, Australia, Britain, Canada and United States signed a symbolically important Memorandum of Understanding committing them to “a partnership” on combined space operations. “We have got to develop the partnership with our allies. We can’t do this alone,” Raymond said.” 

China Wants U.S. to Drop Tech Export Limits, Or It Will Shop Elsewhere.
“Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged U.S. officials to drop limits on high-technology exports or it would seek alternatives from Russia or other countries, said people with knowledge of the discussions, in a reminder of technology tensions between Washington and Beijing. Mr. Li raised the issue on Monday with U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker during her visit to Beijing, these people said. Mr. Li said China was determined to secure technology it needed with or without U.S. cooperation, one participant said. “They specifically said they would look elsewhere if they couldn’t get the deals,” the person said. Mr. Li named Russia specifically, according to this person. Ms. Pritzker on Tuesday defended U.S. export controls, which cover a range of technologies that Washington believes could be used for military purposes. “Export controls are not an impediment to U.S. trade in high technology,” she told reporters, citing U.S. policies on nuclear nonproliferation. “We have to remember why export controls exist, and it’s really for our national security.” Mr. Li’s comments came after Washington in February blocked U.S. companies from supplying equipment for use in the Tianhe-2, China’s powerful supercomputer. The Commerce Department said the supercomputer and a predecessor “are believed to be used in nuclear explosive activities.” Mr. Li didn’t single out the supercomputer limits in his comments, according to the people. The U.S. decision has been a blow for U.S. chip maker Intel Corp., which has supplied microprocessors that power the computer. Intel declined to comment on Mr. Li’s remarks. Technology is a growing area of mistrust between the two countries. China has accelerated efforts to develop local versions of essential technologies following disclosures by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that U.S. agencies used American technology for espionage. Foreign technology companies have complained that Beijing’s banking rules and a proposed counterterrorism law are too invasive and could limit their business in China.” 

China Warns Taiwan Opposition As It Names Presidential Candidate.
“China warned Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Wednesday to heed the lessons of the last time it was in power and not push for independence, as the party announced its candidate for next year's presidential election. The DPP's Chen Shui-bian infuriated Beijing during his time as president from 2000 to 2008. The Chinese accused him of trying to push for the island's independence and weaken its Chinese cultural heritage. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province, to be put under Beijing's control by force if necessary. China's Taiwan Affairs Office, asked about the stance on China of the DPP's presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, said the crux of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait was to oppose independence for Taiwan. "If (the DPP) upholds the Taiwan independence splittist position of 'one country on either side of the strait', then it will be hard to find a way out for cross-strait relations," spokesman Ma Xiaoguang told a regular news briefing. "This is not a new talking point - this is what happened between 2000 and 2008. One need not look far for a lesson," he added. Ma would not comment directly on the presidential election. Speaking in Taipei, Tsai said the development of cross-strait relations had to be subject to the will of Taiwan's people and could not be undertaken as party-to-party negotiations. "The basic principle of our party in cross-strait relations is to maintain the status quo," Tsai, who is also the DPP's chairwoman, said. Tsai, 58, a fluent English speaker educated at Cornell and the London School of Economics, ran uncontested in the DPP primary. She will face an unknown contender from the Nationalist Party, which currently holds the presidency and has a majority in the legislature. Faced with sinking popularity, the Nationalists will have to battle hard for the presidency against a resurgent DPP, which is skeptical of the warming ties with China championed by the Nationalist's President Ma Ying-jeou.” 

China Expands Islands in Disputed Waters, Photos Show.
“China is expanding two islands it controls in the disputed Paracel Islands, east of Vietnam, satellite imagery shows, even as Beijing builds seven new islets in the South China Sea. Woody Island and Duncan Island have both expanded significantly as a result of recent land-reclamation work undertaken by China, according to images taken a month ago by satellite-imaging company DigitalGlobe and published Tuesday by the Diplomat, an Asian current-affairs website. Vietnam says it owns both islands, though Woody Island is home to China’s largest South China Sea settlement—Sansha City, which has a population of 600 people. China claims about 90% of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. All the claimants apart from Brunei have populated settlements on disputed islands under their control, but China has expanded its footprint in the contested region, drawing persistent complaints—but little collective action—from its neighbors. The South China Sea is a fishing ground used by fleets from China and Southeast Asia. It is rich in energy resources and home to important shipping lanes that carry around $5 trillion in seaborne trade each year. The claimants have agreed to abide by a nonbinding code of conduct under which they have undertaken to refrain from provocative actions in the disputed region, but the Philippines and Vietnam have accused China of breaking the deal through its recent activities. Satellite pictures published by the Philippines and others have charted the speedy construction of at least seven islands by China in the Spratly Islands group through the use of dredgers to dump sand on top of shallow reefs. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said earlier this month that the artificial islands would be used for “military defense” and a range of civilian purposes. Hong Lei, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, said Tuesday that “the Paracels are an inherent part of China,” when asked about the reclamation projects there.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 14, 2015

A New U.S. Grand Strategy Towards China. “The United States needs to fundamentally change its grand strategy toward China. One need look no further than the recent Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) debacle to understand how China’s ascent is aimed at challenging American global reach. The China-led international financial institution is poised to undermine the influence of the U.S.-led World Bank and International Monetary Fund while institutionalizing China’s geoeconomic coercion in the Asia-Pacific. Italy, France, Britain, Germany, South Korea, Denmark, and Australia have signed on as members of the AIIB, with Thailand and even Taiwan eyeing imminent entry. Meanwhile, the U.S. remains on the outside looking in as its influence is directly challenged by China’s rise. Along with the AIIB, China is also pursuing a number of additional initiatives to expand its strategic reach in Asia and beyond. China has announced plans to advance a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)—trade agreements that link the economies of China, Japan, and India along with Southeast Asian countries. Beijing is simultaneously promoting the creation of a New Silk Road, which would open trade routes through Central Asia and maritime routes around Southeast and South Asia, better connecting China geopolitically to growing Asian economies and, through them, to the Middle East and Europe. Add to these projects the ongoing discussions over the creation of a new BRICS Development Bank between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. China’s sustained economic success over the last thirty-odd years has enabled it to aggregate formidable power, making it the nation most capable of dominating the Asian continent. Beijing’s economic rise has been staggering; its economy has grown at 10 percent annually for 35 years, and overall gross domestic product (GDP) has exploded from just $147 billion in 1979 to $9.24 trillion in 2013. The meteoric growth of the Chinese economy, even if PRC per capita income remains behind that of the United States, has already provided Beijing with the resources necessary to challenge the security of both its Asian neighbors and Washington’s influence in Asia, with potentially dangerous consequences. Even as China’s overall GDP growth slows considerably, its relative growth rates are likely to be higher than those of the United States for the foreseeable future.” 

China to Strengthen Surveillance, Security in Anti-Terror Push.
“China will establish a national population database linked to ID information and credit records, state media reported late on Monday, as part of a larger push to beef up surveillance and security in response to violent unrest. China has already taken a series of measures to prevent attacks by extremists, including plans for an anti-terrorism law that would give the government broader surveillance powers and offering to pay for tips about violent plots.  The latest steps also include assigning more security forces to public transport, including buses, trains and subways, as well as to schools, financial institutions and hospitals, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement issued by the ruling Communist Party's Central Committee and the State Council, China's cabinet. In addition, China will require identification when registering at hotels, for trade of second-hand goods, for motor refitting and for "recreation services", Xinhua said, without specifying the type of recreation. The measures will help "prevent violence, terrorist attacks or extreme events", the report said. The statement calls for a "security network that covers all grassroots communities", using more surveillance cameras. China was rocked last year by a string of knife and bomb attacks that it has blamed on separatists from the western region of Xinjiang, which has been plagued by unrest. Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur people, who have chafed under growing restrictions from China, including on their religion, language and culture. Rights activists have criticized the government, saying the crackdown only serves to exacerbate tensions and breed extremism.” 

China Thwarts Taiwan’s Bid to Be Founding Member of AIIB.
“China rejected Taiwan’s bid to become a founding member of the new Chinese-led infrastructure bank for Asia in a difference over the title the island uses, which could portend how Beijing will run the new institution. In rebuffing Taiwan, Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement Monday that the island may apply for membership later and that further consultations are likely to yield an “appropriate name” under which Taiwan can join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Beijing’s decision effectively quashes Taiwan’s request to join the multilateral lender as a founding member of the bank, while holding out the prospect of regular membership. Taiwan didn’t disclose the name it used in its application. But nomenclature is always a sensitive issue in relations between China and Taiwan, which split in a civil war 65 years ago. The two governments routinely spar over such issues as part of their larger tussle over Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China. Should the bickering over Taiwan’s participation persist, analysts said it could highlight a deeper issue about the bank: Will it be a professionally run financial institution, as Beijing says it will be, or will it be a tool of China’s geopolitical ambitions, as some critics have warned? “Beijing’s insistence in setting the conditions for Taiwan’s participation is just one of the ways that China could use the bank for political purposes,” said Hao Pei-chih, a public-policy professor at National Taipei University. Ms. Hao said the infrastructure bank is seen as China’s attempt to redesign the world’s economic order from being western-centric to Asia-centric, with China being the core leader. Beijing has received an enthusiastic reception in setting up the bank, which it hopes will have $100 billion in initial capital. More than 40 countries applied to be founding members, despite Washington’s initial misgivings about the institution. China set an end of March deadline for applications and is expected to release a list of founding members Wednesday. Though the structure has yet to be finalized, Beijing is expected to be the bank’s largest shareholder. Even so, China has said that with more countries participating, each country’s share in the bank will decline. Top financial officials from Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia have expressed confidence Beijing won’t use the bank to pursue narrow political interests.” 

China’s Island-Building is Ruining Coral Reefs, Philippines Says.
“China’s island-building activities have destroyed about 300 acres of coral reefs and are causing “irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance” of the South China Sea, a spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday. “China has pursued these activities unilaterally, disregarding people in the surrounding states who have depended on the sea for their livelihood for generations,” the spokesman, Charles Jose, said during a news briefing in Manila. He said China’s neighbors in the South China Sea could lose up to $100 million a year because of the loss of the coral reefs, which are breeding grounds for high-value fish harvested by countries surrounding the sea. China has been undertaking land reclamation projects on the sand spits, islets and submerged reefs of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, according to satellite images released in the last year. United States and Philippine officials have said the newly constructed islands could serve as military outposts in the area, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and other governments. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said last week that the construction was focused on building maritime aids for China, its neighbors and international vessels in the South China Sea. The islands will host “typhoon shelters, navigation aids, search-and-rescue centers, marine meteorological forecasting stations, fishing services and civil administration offices,” she said. United States military officials have used strong language in the past month to protest China’s island-building activities, noting that the construction work is decreasing the chances of a diplomatic resolution to the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Last week, the Philippines and the United States announced that their annual joint military exercises would be the largest conducted in 15 years and would include war games in coastal areas facing the South China Sea. The exercises, which are to begin next Monday, include more than 11,000 soldiers and sailors from both countries. That is twice the number of troops involved in last year’s exercises, officials said. The joint operations will be conducted throughout the country, including on the west coast of Luzon Island and in the western coastal areas of the province of Palawan, both of which face the South China Sea. Some of the military drills will be held at the former United States naval base in San Miguel in the province of Zambales, which is less than 150 miles from Scarborough Shoal, a Chinese-controlled reef that is also claimed by the Philippines. Philippine military officials said last week that the expansion of the war games was not intended to send a message to China. A Philippine military spokesman, Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, said the activities, called Balikatan, were part of regular annual exercises and would be focused primarily on disaster response.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 13, 2015

China’s Hackers Run 10-Year Spy Campaign in Asia, Report Finds. “State-sponsored hackers in China are likely behind a sophisticated, decadelong cyberespionage campaign targeting governments, companies and journalists in Southeast Asia, India and other countries, a U.S. cybersecurity company said in a report released Monday. FireEye Inc. says the attacks have been designed to glean intelligence, likely from classified government networks and other sources, pertaining to political and military issues such as disputes over the South China Sea. Beijing’s claims in the contested South China Sea overlap with those of Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines—a U.S. treaty ally. Recently released satellite images show a dramatic expansion in China’s construction of artificial islands on disputed reefs, intensifying concerns about Beijing’s territorial ambitions. The Milpitas, Calif.-based FireEye said the hacking efforts are remarkable because of their duration—noting some elements have been in place since 2005—and stand out because of their geographic focus. Some of the cyberattacks have taken the form of specially crafted emails, written in recipients’ native languages, with documents that appear legitimate but contain malware, the report said. Other attacks are intended to penetrate isolated networks, cut off from the Internet for security purposes, by tricking their administrators into downloading malware on their home computers. The malware is then implanted on the administrators’ portable drives, such as USB sticks, that are later plugged into the secure networks, infecting them, it said. Teams of hackers appear to work in shifts and have developed malware in a consistent fashion over the years, indicating a high level of organization, FireEye said. “Such a sustained, planned development effort, coupled with the group’s regional targets and mission, lead us to believe that this activity is state sponsored most likely by the Chinese government,” FireEye said in the report. Asked to comment on the report, China’s Ministry of National Defense referred to its previous public remarks, without elaborating. In the past, it has dismissed the accusations that China is behind cyber hacking as groundless and cited disclosures by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts as proof that Washington is a major offender.” 

ONI Reveals Massive Chinese Naval Buildup.
“China has deployed a new high-speed anti-ship cruise missile and is sharply expanding an armada of advanced guided-missile warships and submarines, according to a naval intelligence report made public Thursday. The Office of Naval Intelligence, in its first unclassified assessment of the Chinese navy in six years, revealed deployment of the new YJ-18 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile on warships and submarines that analysts say poses a major threat to U.S. and allied vessels. China’s current naval force of 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships, and missile-armed patrol craft is rapidly expanding, the report says. According to the report, China began building or launched more than 60 naval ships and vessels last year, and a similar number of warships are under construction or deployed for 2015. “Major qualitative improvements are occurring within naval aviation and the submarine force, which are increasingly capable of striking targets hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland,” the report said, adding that despite some shortfalls, “it is emerging as a well equipped and competent force.” The key focus of the Chinese navy is anti-surface ship warfare through deployment of large numbers of advanced destroyers, frigates, and submarines, supported by long-range range over the horizon radar. The new YJ-18 cruise missile is deployed on the newest class of destroyer called the Luyang III, and on diesel attack submarines known as the Song/Yuan class, and nuclear-powered Shang-class attack submarines. “This supersonic missile could be extremely difficult for U.S. and allied ships to defend against,” Erickson said. The YJ-18 reportedly has a maximum range of 111 miles at a speed of Mach .08 and a higher speed range of 24 miles. The new missile is more capable and has a longer range than the current anti-ship cruise missile arsenal. Additionally, the report reveals that China’s coast guard now has more ships and vessels than the combined coast guard forces of countries in the region. It was the first time the U.S. government has acknowledged China’s deployment of the supersonic missile, which appears based on the Russian SSN-27/Klub cruise missile. The report also says deployment of DF-21D long-range anti-ship ballistic missiles will expand the attack range of the Chinese military “further into the Philippine and South China Seas.” 

China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Strategy.
“China's "one belt and one road" initiative could usher in a new era that sees China as the undisputed geopolitical powerhouse in the region, experts say. The initiative will establish new routes linking Asia, Europe and Africa. It has two parts — a new "Silk Road economic belt" linking China to Europe that cuts through mountainous regions in Central Asia; and the "maritime Silk Road" that links China's port facilities with the African coast and then pushes up through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. Chinese President Xi Jinping revealed during a speech at the Boao Forum on March 28 in Hainan, China, that China intends to push forward on the initiative that many are comparing to the ancient Silk Road. "The idea of one belt and one road is based mainly on the economy, but has political and strategic components and implications," said Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director of Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Center for National Strategy Studies. "It aims for the joint development, common prosperity and for energy security, too." Since improving the region's economy could weaken the root cause of terrorism and help stabilize Central Asia and the Middle East, Zhuang said the US should be more positive about the initiative as a stabilizing force for good in the region. Many experts question how China will establish security for these new routes, since many of them snake through potentially dangerous areas such as Africa's coast (maritime piracy) and the "wild west" of Central Asia (Islamic extremism). The routes will require logistics hubs, communication networks, airports, railway lines, modern highways, ports and a military component that allows for a rapid response to a crisis. For the military, this means long-range, fixed-wing cargo aircraft, littoral combat ships capable of operating in the narrow and shallow areas of the Strait of Malacca and Suez Canal, hospital ships, and an enhanced capability to conduct Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW). The "belt and road" concept is still in the planning stages, said James Holmes, a China naval specialist at the US Naval War College, and does not have any direct military implications, per se, but "it could help China ease America out of Asia over the long haul while weaning our allies away from us." 

The Rapid Expansion of China’s Navy in Five Charts.
“With tensions mounting over China’s island-building in the South China Sea, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence has published its first report on the Chinese navy since 2009. The report, released late Thursday predicts: “In the next decade, China will complete its transition from a coastal navy to a navy capable of multiple missions around the world.” The report says that in 2014, China reclaimed hundreds of acres of land at the seven features it occupies in the disputed Spratly Islands and “appears to be building much larger facilities that could eventually support both maritime law enforcement and naval operations.” It also confirms that China’s newest destroyers have been fitted with a new kind of vertically launched supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, called the YJ-18, which could significantly enhance their capacity to threaten U.S. ships. Here are five graphics that illustrate some its other key findings.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 10, 2015

A ‘Great Wall of Sand’ in the South China Sea. “A year ago, China appeared to be pursuing a more aggressive policy toward its Pacific maritime disputes with a half-dozen nations. It engaged in some high-stakes jockeying with Vietnam over disputed maritime claims in the South China Sea, moving an oil drilling rig to the Paracel Islands and declaring an exclusion zone around it. That followed its declaration in 2013 of an air defense exclusion zone over islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by Japan; the United States and Japan promptly flew planes through the zone to demonstrate they did not recognize it. But in recent months, Beijing quietly — and significantly — shifted tactics. It toned down its confrontation with Japan, agreeing to a handshake between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last November, and pulled back the drilling rig that infuriated Hanoi. Instead, China is digging in — literally. Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivered a speech in Canberra, Australia, on March 31 that offered a revealing and unusual description of how China is dredging its atolls, turning coral reefs into more permanent and larger islands. He said China is engaged in “unprecedented land reclamation,” an effort to build artificial lands by “pumping sand on to live coral reefs — some of them submerged — and paving them over with concrete.” “China has now created over four square kilometers of artificial landmass,” he said. “China is creating a Great Wall of sand, with dredges and bulldozers, over the course of months.” In effect, China seems to be fortifying these specks of land for something in the future. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said March 8 that China was just “carrying out necessary construction on its own islands and reefs,” and insisted that it “does not target or affect anyone.” China, he added, seeks “to bring harmony, stability and prosperity to the neighborhood.” Nice words, but pay attention to deeds. What is the purpose of the digging? Are these reinforced outposts going to be used someday for military forces that would attempt to enforce China’s vaguely drawn “nine-dash line” territorial claim that encompasses most of the South China Sea? As Admiral Harris put it, “the scope and pace of building man-made islands raise serious questions about China’s intentions.” 

How U.S. Navy Intel Sees China’s Maritime Forces.
“In its first unclassified report on the subject in six years, the Office of Naval Intelligence depicts a powerful trajectory for China’s maritime forces. Titled “The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century,” the document and accompanying videos also cover the China Coast Guard—precisely the right approach, since the world’s largest blue water civil maritime fleet serves as “China’s Second Navy” and is on the front lines of island and maritime “rights protection” in the East and South China Seas. This focus on both the PLA Navy (PLAN) and the China Coast Guard is also especially appropriate given their role as the principal institutions charged with furthering regional sovereignty claims. The PLAN is also responsible for safeguarding Chinese interests much farther afield, and is gradually developing power projection capabilities to do so. Looking towards 2020, the Office of Naval Intelligence sees China’s maritime forces on a trajectory of major improvement through hardware acquisition and accrual of operational proficiency. Chinese shipbuilding capabilities and resources allow both forces to replace old ships with new, far more capable ones. Last year alone, China’s navy laid, launched, or commissioned more than 60 vessels; the report expects a similar figure for 2015. More naval ships emerged from Chinese shipyards than from those of any other country in 2013 and 2014. The Office of Naval Intelligence expects China to lead in naval ship launching in 2015 and 2016 as well. Chinese naval development remains more a quality improvement swap than a Soviet-style numerical buildup. PLAN ships include 26 destroyers, 52 frigates, 20 corvettes, 85 missile patrol craft, 56 amphibious vessels, 42 mine warfare ships, more than 50 major auxiliaries, and more than 400 minor auxiliaries. Beyond the numbers, though, what is most noteworthy is (1) the increasing number of vessels with multi-mission capabilities and their ability to operate both near to and far from China, and (2) growing numbers of specialized ships. Examples of geographic versatility include four-and-counting Yuzhao-class landing platform docks. They can support South China Sea island seizures and potentially even overseas expeditionary warfare. In other revelations, the Office of Naval Intelligence explains that China can deploy heretofore publicly-unknown remote-controllable Wonang-class inshore minesweepers. China has four Dongdiao-class intelligence collection ships, which support growing surveillance operations in the Western Pacific. Three cutting-edge Dalao-class submarine rescue ships augment Chinese undersea warfare ability, which is relatively strong in the proximate waters that China cares most about.” 

China is Rapidly Adding Coast Guard Ships, U.S. Navy Says.
“ China is rapidly building Coast Guard ships, the vessels that China most commonly uses for patrols in the South China Sea, and in the last three years has increased the number of ships in that category 25 percent, a new report by the United States Navy says. China has the world’s largest Coast Guard fleet, with more such ships than its neighbors Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines combined, the report shows. The unclassified assessment of the Chinese Navy, the first in nine years by the United States Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence, says the rapid modernization over the last 15 years is yielding dramatic results. The Chinese Navy is “on track to dramatically increase its combat capability by 2020 through rapid acquisition and improved operational proficiency,” the report says. In 2014, China began construction on, launched or commissioned more than 60 vessels, and a similar number of ships were planned in 2015, it said, adding: “In 2013 and 2014, China launched more naval ships than any other country and is expected to continue this trend through 2015-16.” The United States Navy faces growing competition from China in the Pacific Ocean, and Washington has become increasingly concerned about China’s maritime power as it undertakes massive reclamation works to create artificial islands in contested areas of the South China Sea. The new islands were to serve a variety of purposes, among them the establishment of defensive military capabilities in the waterway, one of the busiest trade routes in the world, China’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday. The Navy report noted that despite its slowing economy, China had continued its double-digit increases in military spending, announcing in March a military budget of $141.5 billion, a rise of 10 percent. In keeping with President Xi Jinping’s goal to make China a great maritime power, China will have a much more robust navy with far greater reach in the coming decade with multiple aircraft carriers (China has only one so far), ballistic missile submarines and, potentially, a large-deck amphibious ship. At the moment, the report says, the Chinese Navy is built around destroyers, frigates and conventional submarines.” 

China is Said to Use Powerful New Weapon to Censor Internet.
“Late last month, China began flooding American websites with a barrage of Internet traffic in an apparent effort to take out services that allow China’s Internet users to view websites otherwise blocked in the country. Initial security reports suggested that China had crippled the services by exploiting its own Internet filter — known as the Great Firewall — to redirect overwhelming amounts of traffic to its targets. Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Toronto say China did not use the Great Firewall after all, but rather a powerful new weapon that they are calling the Great Cannon. The Great Cannon, the researchers said in a report published Friday, allows China to intercept foreign web traffic as it flows to Chinese websites, inject malicious code and repurpose the traffic as Beijing sees fit. The system was used, they said, to intercept web and advertising traffic intended for Baidu — China’s biggest search engine company — and fire it at GitHub, a popular site for programmers, and, a nonprofit that runs mirror images of sites that are blocked inside China. The attacks against the services continued on Thursday, the researchers said, even though both sites appeared to be operating normally. But the researchers suggested that the system could have more powerful capabilities. With a few tweaks, the Great Cannon could be used to spy on anyone who happens to fetch content hosted on a Chinese computer, even by visiting a non-Chinese website that contains Chinese advertising content. “The operational deployment of the Great Cannon represents a significant escalation in state-level information control,” the researchers said in their report. It is, they said, “the normalization of widespread and public use of an attack tool to enforce censorship.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 07, 2015

Should America Really Fear China’s Military? “China’s military is growing in terms of raw power and basic power projection. Many of Beijing’s defense investments over the last two decades are aimed at limiting Washington’s ability to intervene in areas that China describes as being of “core interest.” But just how much should Washington worry about it? A good question, for sure. The answer, however, is as not as black and white as many might want it to be. And just how much should America prepare to duel with such anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) forces in the future? Let’s start with the obvious: While various A2/AD combat scenarios can paint a decidedly bleak picture for America and its allies in Asia in the event of a conflict with China, there are a number of reasons such a war will never come to pass in the first place. While large trade flows have not stopped conflicts in the past, with U.S.-Chinese bilateral trade now valued at over $550 billion and growing, this vital statistic would likely be an important factor in both sides’ strategic calculus on a path towards some sort of large-scale kinetic conflict. However, as history has shown us, the rise of a new regional great power with the potential to wield hegemonic dominance can spark a security competition, even war. This is one of the key reasons nations in the Asia-Pacific have looked to Washington to provide a hedge or a “buffer” against a rapidly rising China. One must also consider the simple fact that there have been many so-called “revolutions” in military affairs dating back to the beginning of human history. While China’s version of the A2/AD strategy boasts weapons that have headline-grabbing names, like “carrier-killer,” and are certainly cause for concern, one must look back to the past at how other nations have worked to negate potential changes in how wars are conducted and how new technologies impact modern warfare. One example is China’s DF-21D, the “carrier-killer” itself. The U.S. Navy has faced challenges to its dominance of the global commons at various times in the past. How will America deal with such a challenge this time around?” 

China Evacuates Foreign Nationals from Yemen.
“As Yemen grows increasingly dangerous following the start of Operation Decisive Storm, a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign against the Houthi rebels who have overrun large swathes of the country, several countries have initiated operations to evacuate their citizens from the increasingly unstable state. In an unprecedented move, the Chinese government dispatched a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy frigate to help evacuate 225 nationals from 10 countries. According to a report in Xinhua, citizens from Pakistan, Ethiopia, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Britain, Canada and Yemen were evacuated aboard the Type 054A Linyi frigate. Chinese military officials confirmed that this was the first time that a Chinese military vessel evacuated non-Chinese citizens in a humanitarian assistance mission. Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying confirmed China’s involvement in the evacuation efforts: On April 2, the Linyi frigate of the Chinese navy, carrying 225 nationals of 10 countries in Yemen including Pakistan, departed from the port of Aden in Yemen and arrived in Djibouti safely. Initial calculation shows that among the evacuees, 176 are from Pakistan, 29 from Ethiopia, 5 from Singapore, 3 from Italy, 3 from Germany, 4 from Poland, 1 from Ireland, 2 from the UK, 1 from Canada and 1 from Yemen. This operation follows China’s evacuation of its own nationals from Yemen, in which 8 foreigners from Romania, India and Egypt were also safely evacuated along with Chinese citizens. The evacuated citizens were ferried across the Gulf of Aden, a regular area of operation for Chinese vessels involved in anti-piracy operations, to the small African nation of Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa. Amid the Linyi‘s evacuation efforts, the Associated Press reports that China dispatched an additional naval squadron to the Gulf of Aden to conduct anti-piracy patrols. The squadron comprises “three ships with their 800 sailors and a team of special forces soldiers.” Earlier in the week, China’s Weifang missile frigate and Weishanhu supply vessel evacuated 449 Chinese citizens and six non-Chinese employed by Chinese companies from Yemen’s Hodeidah port to Djibouti, according to Xinhua. Overall, as the conflict escalates in Yemen between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis, China’s navy remains ever-present off the coast.” 

China Deports American Jailed on Spy Charges.
“An American geologist who was imprisoned for more than seven years on a vague charge of “illegally procuring state secrets” has been deported by China and arrived home in Houston on Friday, according to a human rights organization in the United States. Senior American officials, including President Obama and three American ambassadors to China, had for years urged top Chinese Communist Party and government officials to release the American, Xue Feng. But China showed little leniency, and Mr. Xue served all but 10 months of his eight-year prison sentence. Through most of the past decade, Mr. Xue’s case has been a frustrating one for the American government and has been cited by human rights groups as an example of the vagaries of the Chinese legal system. The fact that the Chinese government refused to release Mr. Xue ahead of or during Mr. Obama’s visit to Beijing in November 2009 despite intense behind-the-scenes diplomatic talks revealed at the time how little leverage the United States has had in recent years in human rights advocacy in China. Mr. Obama personally lobbied for Mr. Xue’s release during the visit, to no avail. The case also underscored China’s unwillingness, in legal proceedings, to recognize the status of Chinese who have given up their Chinese citizenship and become citizens elsewhere. Mr. Xue was born in China but was a naturalized American citizen and had lived in the United States since earning a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. Other Chinese-born Americans, including Hu Zhicheng, an automotive engineer, have suffered similar fates as Mr. Xue. At the time of Mr. Xue’s release, no other American was serving a prison sentence for endangering state security, according to the human rights organization, the Dui Hua Foundation, which is based in San Francisco and often works for the release of political prisoners. In November 2012, Chinese officials granted Mr. Xue a 10-month reduction in his sentence for good behavior. He was first detained in Beijing on Nov. 20, 2007, and placed in a detention center under the watch of the Ministry of State Security, which oversees espionage and counterespionage matters. This status, “residential surveillance,” lasted for more than one year and was not counted in the eight-year sentence, Dui Hua said. Mr. Xue was formally detained in February 2008, tried in July 2009 and then sentenced on July 7, 2010. His years in formal detention before the sentencing were counted in the time served, as is normally the case in China.” 

Key China Paper Calls Hong Kong Elections People’s ‘Ardent Expectation’.
“The 2017 election for Hong Kong's chief executive is the "ardent expectation" of the Chinese territory's people and the only way for it to make progress on achieving democracy, a top China newspaper said on Saturday. China has ruled the former British colony since 1997 through a "one country, two systems" formula which allows wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland and specifies universal suffrage as an eventual goal. But the National People's Congress (NPC), China's largely rubber-stamp legislature, said last August it would screen candidates who want to run in the city's 2017 election for a chief executive. Democracy activists said this rendered the notion of universal suffrage meaningless. The NPC's ruling lead to weeks of protests in Hong Kong last year, some of which turned violent. Beijing has said repeatedly that there is no room for negotiation. In a front page commentary, the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily said that the election was an "important mission" under Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law. "Universal suffrage in accordance with the law for (choosing) the chief executive is the ardent expectation of mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong," the newspaper said. This is also the consistent position of the central Chinese and Hong Kong governments, it added. "Only if all Hong Kong residents strictly comply with the constitution and rules of the Basic Law, have a rational discussion on the basis of the Basic Law and the NPC's decision and agree to differ, can there certainly be historic progress on Hong Kong's democratic development," the paper said. China's parliament chief said last month that the ruling on screening candidates who want to be chosen as Hong Kong's top official in 2017 was the correct one, in a further signal Beijing has no intention of backing down. Frustration in Hong Kong with mainland tourists crowding into shopping centers has also sparked protests in malls across the territory.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 03, 2015

U.S. Misses Real Threat of China’s Fake Islands. “The Barack Obama administration has been very busy dealing with nuclear negotiations with Iran, a war against the Islamic State, a new conflict in Yemen and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Yet the understandable focus on these other crises has obscured China's efforts to speed up its militarization of the South China Sea. Now, Chinese progress has reached the point that senior Pentagon officials and Congressional leaders are demanding the administration do something about it. There is no shortage of evidence of China’s rapid buildup of infrastructure and armaments in disputed territory far from its physical borders. Satellite photos released last month show that in the past year, China has built several entirely new islands in disputed waters using land-reclamation technology, and then constructed military-friendly facilities on them. In the Spratly Islands, new Chinese land masses have been equipped with helipads and anti-aircraft towers, raising regional concerns that Beijing is using thinly veiled military coercion to establish control in an area where six Asian nations have claims. Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, sounded the alarm in a speech in Australia on Wednesday, calling the Chinese project “unprecedented” and saying that the construction is part of a larger campaign of provocative actions against smaller Asian states. "China is creating a 'Great Wall of Sand' with dredges and bulldozers over the course of months,” he warned, adding that it raised "serious questions about Chinese intentions." For example, satellite photos taken by Airbus Defence and Space and published by Jane's in February, show that over the past year China has built an 800,000-square-foot island on top of Hughes Reef in the Spratly Islands, where no island existed before. China also began a reclamation and construction project at nearby Gavin’s Reef. Both islands now have helipads and anti-aircraft towers. China has also expanded its already created islands on the Spratlys' Johnson South Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef and Fiery Cross Reef -- the last of which can accommodate an airstrip, according to the U.S. military. Harris said China has created more than 1.5 square miles of “artificial landmass” in the South China Sea. China’s claims are based on what’s known as the nine-dash line, which if implemented would grant China 90 percent of the entire Sea.” 

China Objects After Two U.S. F-18s Land in Taiwan.
“China protested on Thursday after two American jet fighters landed at an air base in Taiwan, which Beijing regards as its own territory, reportedly for the first time in 30 years. Two US F-18 fighter jets made an emergency landing at an air force base in the southern city of Tainan on Wednesday, with US authorities saying one of the planes had developed a mechanical failure. "We have launched solemn representations with the US," Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, told a regular briefing in Beijing. "We require the US to abide by the 'One-China Policy' and the three joint communiques between China and the US and to prudently deal with the relevant issue," she added, referring to agreements between the two that recognize Beijing as the sole government of China. Taiwanese media described the landing as the first of its kind since the mid-1980s and speculated that it could have been a US reaction to an unprecedented People's Liberation Army Air Force exercise over the western Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan. Several Chinese aircraft on Monday flew over the ocean for the first time via the Bashi Channel, which runs between Taiwan and the Philippines, Beijing's official Xinhua news agency said. Mark Zimmer, spokesman for the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) — the de facto US embassy — said the planes had been on a "routine flight" when one encountered a mechanical problem and requested an emergency landing. The incident "again highlights the close ties between Taiwan and the United States," according to Taiwanese MP and military expert Lin Yu-fang of the ruling Kuomintang party, who sits on the parliament's diplomacy and defense committee. The two planes were flying over waters east of Taiwan escorting an EA-6B Prowler, an electronic warfare aircraft, on its way to the Philippines, he said, citing government sources. "Taiwan must have been considered by the United States a trusted place to make the emergency landing," he told AFP. The US does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, but has strong economic links with it and is a key military supplier. Beijing regularly proclaims the importance of its "One China" policy, seeing Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, and often curtails the island's involvement in international agreements. The two split in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war, with defeated Nationalist forces retreating to the island as Mao Zedong's victorious Communists set up the People's Republic.” 

Stampede to Join China’s Development Bank Stuns Even Its Founder.
“The sudden rush to join China’s new Asian development bank by this week’s deadline, including last-minute applications by countries hardly considered Beijing’s best friends, astonished even the Chinese. Few in Beijing had believed that Taiwan, still considered a breakaway territory by China, would want in. Same for Norway, whose relations with the Chinese have been chilly since its decision five years ago to award the Nobel Peace Prize to a dissident Chinese writer. But after the deadline, China announced that it had attracted 46 founding members for its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Among the surprises: While China had expected to be joined by its neighbors, the final tally of countries looking to participate included 14 advanced economies of the Group of 20, many of them, like Brazil, France and Germany, from outside Asia. “Such wide and warm support was unexpected,” said Jin Canrong, professor of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing. The last-minute surge to join the bank was considered a major victory for China in a rare public showdown with the United States, which opposed the bank, as the two powers try to outmaneuver each other for influence in Asia. It was also a recognition of economic reality. China has deep pockets, and the institutions backed by the United States have not met the growing demands for roads, railroads and pipelines in Asia. American officials seem to see the new institution as an effort to undercut the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, international financial institutions dominated by the United States and Japan. Obama administration officials have also expressed concern that the new bank, under China’s leadership, would ignore lending protections created to ensure, for instance, that vulnerable populations are not pushed from their land in the rush for development.” 

Tibet Party Boss Says Temples Must Be Propaganda Centers.
“Buddhist temples and monasteries in Tibet must become propaganda centers for the ruling Communist Party, where monks and nuns learn to "revere" science and appreciate the party's love, the troubled region's top Chinese appointed official said. Rights groups and exiles say the officially atheist party tramples on Tibetans' religious and cultural traditions and seeks to co-opt religious figures for its own ends. China, which "peacefully liberated" Tibet in 1950, says it guarantees freedom of religion and its rule ended serfdom and brought development to a backward, poverty-stricken region. Writing in the influential fortnightly party magazine Qiushi, Tibet's Communist Party boss Chen Quanguo said the more than 1,700 temples and monasteries and 46,000 monks and nuns had to be seen by the government as "friends". "Let the monks and nuns in the temples and monasteries have a personal feeling of the party and government's care and warmth; let them feel the party's benevolence, listen to the party's words and follow the party's path," Chen wrote in Qiushi, which means "seeking truth". He called for temples and monasteries in the region to be outfitted with radios and televisions, as well as newspapers and reading rooms. "Monks and nuns should not have to go out of their temples or monasteries to understand the party and government's policies and social progress, or Tibet's peace, stability and good fortune, so as to be guided to follow a path of revering scientific culture." Subscribers received the latest issue of the magazine on Friday. Chen has struck a similar line before, writing in late 2013 that Chinese officials in Tibet must build an "impenetrable defense" against separatism and befriend monks and nuns, who are generally revered by the devoutly Buddhist Tibetans.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 01, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 31, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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