China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | October 09, 2014

Gauging China’s Role In A North Korean Surprise. How significant was China’s role in the surprise visit of an exceptionally senior North Korean delegation to the South Korean capital, Seoul, last weekend? What did the appearance of Hwang Pyong-so, considered to be the top-ranking figure in the country after Kim Jong-un, achieve? Was the visit just a PR gambit to show support for the North Korean sports team at the closing of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea’s third-largest city, on Saturday? Or did it portend more serious negotiations? Those were the unexpected questions being asked at a long-scheduled conference on North Asia held in Seoul early this week, hosted by the South Korean media group JoongAng Ilbo and the British think tank Chatham House. The main speaker, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia, now a man-about-the-globe who gives talks on China and Asia, put his view plainly: ”Our good friends in Beijing have been very active on this.” Mr. Rudd, a Mandarin speaker who once hosted President Xi Jinping in Australia (Mr. Xi was vice president at the time) and is considered well informed about China, did not offer specifics. But he suggested the reasoning: “The Chinese leadership desires a good relationship with South Korea. They know that South Korea’s bottom line for future improvement in that relationship lies in what our Chinese friends can do to induce a more cooperative attitude on the part of those in the North.” Kim Heungkyu, a professor of political science at Ajou University in South Korea, held that Beijing almost surely played no direct role in the visit but that the cool attitude Mr. Xi has shown toward North Korea – a marked change from the business-as-usual relationship that prevailed under his predecessor, Hu Jintao – laid the groundwork. Mr. Kim said China had faithfully abided by the United Nations sanctions that were imposed on North Korea after its third nuclear test last year. Indeed, he said, China has gone further in squeezing the regime by tightening the flow of cash that Chinese traders have traditionally taken into North Korea for business deals.

In Kim Jong-un’s Absence, Rumors About Him Swirl in North Korea. In most countries, footage showing the leader with a limp might have generated some curiosity. But in tightly controlled North Korea, those images — coupled with the disappearance of the country’s ruler, Kim Jong-un, from public view for five weeks — have generated endless debate among foreign officials and analysts always on the lookout for upheaval in one of the world’s most dangerous police states. The disappearance is especially notable because Mr. Kim, like his father and grandfather before him, has used public appearances accompanied by fawning subjects as a key tool of the propaganda machine that has long held the state together.For now, American and South Korean officials say that while they think the young leader might be ailing, there is no sign that there has been a coup. After three generations of Kims, any shift away from dynastic rule would probably involve unusual movements of the country’s million-plus military or its people, and none have been detected by the South. And the fact that North Korea sent three officials widely seen as the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in the country’s hierarchy to attend the recent closing ceremony of the Asian Games in South Korea, and that during their visit they agreed to resume official dialogue with Seoul, suggests that Mr. Kim remains in control, according to officials and analysts in South Korea. In Washington, officials have waved off coup rumors as the wishful thinking of people who have spent years looking for signs of regime collapse and been serially disappointed.

U.S., Japan Offer Interim Report on Expanded Defense Pact. The U.S. and Japan will expand cooperation in several areas including missile defense, surveillance and maritime security under new bilateral-defense guidelines to be adopted as early as this year. The two allies are currently reviewing the guidelines for the first time since 1997, with the aim of giving Japan a greater role in maintaining peace in East Asia—where China’s military expansion and North Korea’s growing weapons program are keeping tensions high. On Wednesday, they released an interim report on the revision, though few new details were provided. The revision follows the decision of the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July to allow an expansion of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces activities. The revised guidelines will reflect this change in Japan and “strengthen the alliance and enhance deterrence,” the two governments said in the report. For Washington, the revision will adjust bilateral cooperation to reflect its policy to “rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region,” the report said. “The updated guidelines will equip the U.S.-Japan security alliance to respond to the modern threat environment,” a U.S. State Department official said. The guidelines will also detail how the two nations would work together in case of an armed attack against a country that is in a close relationship with Japan. Such cooperation became possible as a result of Japan’s latest move to reinterpret its constitution that limits the role of its military to self-defense. However, Wednesday’s report provided few new examples for how the domestic change in Japan affects the security alliance between Tokyo and Washington. Getting in the way of any substantial changes is the Japanese government’s decision to delay the passage of necessary but politically sensitive domestic defense-related laws during the current parliamentary session. The Abe administration cited the revision of the guidelines as one of the reasons to rush its controversial decision to allow the SDF troops to engage in “collective self-defense”—coming to the rescue of allies even when Japan itself isn’t under attack. Mr. Abe has regularly pointed to the need for Japan to step up its military role to maintain an effective and stable alliance with the U.S., its most important ally. But opposition parties are critical of his hawkish stance, saying the change could pull Japan into war in other parts of the world.

Maritime Piracy On The Rise In Southeast Asia. Maritime piracy continues to be a major threat to global supply chains, though the pirates have moved to different oceans. The number of pirate attacks has declined sharply in waters off Somalia as countermeasures taken by Japan, China, South Korea and other countries have paid off. But piracy is becoming increasingly rampant in waters around Southeast Asia, where surveillance activities against them are lax. The region's countries will have to cooperate and take effective measures if this new wave of piracy is to be defeated. In a coordinated effort, the naval forces of Japan, China, India and South Korea are protecting merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden. The four Asian countries' naval escort ships lead merchant vessels while watching for suspicious vessels. Shipping companies pay nothing for these escorts. But pirates appear to have found more bountiful seas. The number of piracy incidents in waters surrounding Indonesia surged 31% in 2013, to 106. These are now the world's most pirate-infested waters. Piracy also takes pace in waters off India, Bangladesh and Singapore. In late August, a Thai-registered tanker carrying oil products was attacked by a group of six armed pirates near Tioman Island, off the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. The pirates boarded the oil tanker from the stern, locked the crew in the engine room and transferred the oil products to two other tankers 10 nautical miles (about 18.5km) away. The pirates also destroyed the Thai-registered ship's nautical instruments and telecommunications equipment as well as robbed the crew members of their personal effects. They fled the following morning. Pirates operating in Southeast Asia are suspected to be selling their booty on the black market. "The number of hijacking cases, especially those targeting lubricant oil and fuel oil, are increasing," said Toshihiro Tanaka, head of the Japanese Shipowners' Association's maritime division.

China angered after FBI head says Chinese hacking costs billions.  China accused the United States on Thursday of faking facts, after the head of the FBI said that Chinese hacking likely cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars every year. Charges over hacking and internet spying have increased tension between the two countries. In May, the United States charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into U.S. companies, prompting China to suspend a Sino-U.S. working group on cyber issues. China has denied wrongdoing. Speaking on CBS' 60 Minutes program on Sunday, FBI Director James Comey said Chinese hackers were targeting big U.S. companies, and that some of them probably did not even know they had been hacked. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked about Comey's remarks at a daily news briefing, said China banned hacking and "firmly strikes" against such criminal activity. "We express strong dissatisfaction with the United States' unjustified fabrication of facts in an attempt to smear China's name and demand that the U.S.-side cease this type of action," Hong said. "We also demand that the U.S. side cease its large-scale systematic internet attacks on other countries. The United States tries to divert attention by crying wolf. This won't succeed." Many in China view the United States as being hypocritical following revelations about its own extensive spying by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

A Teachable Moment in Hong Kong. In spite of the lackluster international response to the protests in Hong Kong, there is still a lesson to be salvaged. “Japan strongly hopes that Hong Kong’s free and open system will be kept under the principle of ‘one nation, two systems.’ ” Thus read Tokyo’s only official comment on China’s largest pro-democracy demonstrations in a quarter century. Washington’s response was hardly more encouraging, noting only that it supported a “genuine choice” of candidates for the city’s controversial 2017 chief executive elections. As the student protests there enter a new and more uncertain phase, the reaction of other countries to Hong Kong’s yearning for freedom has been disappointingly muted. As some in the U.S. government might say, this has been a “teachable moment,” and the lesson—a sobering one—is that no serious opprobrium will likely be forthcoming. This will only embolden President Xi Jinping to crack down on any future calls for liberalization from inside his country. So far, of course, there has been no bloodshed at the Hong Kong protests, no deployment of Chinese tanks to crush innocent demonstrators. This is no Tiananmen Square. Yet it is worth remembering the world’s response to the massacre in 1989: much handwringing and criticism, with a return to business as usual just a few months later. The only slap on Beijing’s wrist was an arms embargo by America and some European nations, which did nothing to stop China from soon becoming the world’s second-largest military power. Back then, China was far less important an economic player than it is today, but the fear of destabilizing future trade relations was enough to stop democratic nations from offering more than token criticism. Today, with China now the world’s second-largest economy, those same nations have all but fallen silent. To many observers, this makes eminent sense: Countries are adopting a realpolitik stance of disinterest in “internal” affairs. Yet there is a difference between recognizing the limits of a foreign response and being acquiescent to China’s illicit behavior.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | October 08, 2014

U.S., Japan Eye Closer Security Ties In Japan Defense Pact Update. Japan and the United States agreed on Wednesday to map out how they will work together if Tokyo needs to use force to help protect a friendly country under attack, as they update defense cooperation guidelines for the first time in nearly two decades. The development follows Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's historic step away from Japan's post-war pacifism in July, when the Japanese government reinterpreted pacifist Article 9 of the constitution to end a ban that has kept its military from fighting abroad. The interim report on the update, which is intended to give general direction of the revision, is attracting close attention from China and South Korea, which suffered from Japan's aggression before and during World War Two. Tokyo and Washington also said they would build a seamless security framework to better defend Japan and extend the areas of cooperation to space and cyberspace. "The two governments will take measures to prevent the deterioration of Japan's security in all phases, seamlessly, from peacetime to contingencies," the interim report said. The United States is obliged to defend Japan under their bilateral security treaty. The first guideline update in 17 years comes as Japan faces tough security challenges from an island spat with China and North Korea's missile and nuclear projects, and as the United States tries to shift its diplomatic and security focus to Asia. When defense and foreign ministers from the U.S. and Japan, the world's largest- and third-largest economies, met in Tokyo last October, they agreed to update the defense cooperation guidelines by the end of 2014 to respond to the changing security environment in the region and beyond.

Japan-China Hotline Indispensable To Avert Accidental Military Clashes. Efforts must be stepped up to establish a hotline between Japan and China to prevent accidental clashes. Tokyo and Beijing will resume negotiations before the end of this year to establish a maritime liaison mechanism between the two countries’ defense authorities. The agreement to resume talks came during the bilateral working official-level talks held in late September to discuss maritime issues. The mechanism is aimed at preventing accidental clashes between naval vessels and aircraft of the two countries in and over the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. The mechanism will consist mainly of regular conferences between the defense authorities of the two countries, establishment of a hotline between their senior defense officials and direct radio communications between naval vessels and aircraft. The Japanese and Chinese defense authorities reached a broad agreement in June 2012 on the establishment of the mechanism incorporating these plans. China, however, unilaterally discontinued talks in protest against Japan’s nationalization of the Senkakus in September that year. A Chinese Navy vessel locked fire-control radar onto a ship of the Maritime Self-Defense Force in the East China Sea in January 2013. In May and June this year, Chinese fighter jets ventured abnormally closed to Self-Defense Forces planes. If a multilayered liaison system is in place, it will help prevent an incident, whether accidental or not, from escalating into a military clash. The system will benefit both countries in light of crisis management.

Taipei Sets Sights On Home-Grown Submarine Plan. Taiwan is seeking support from Washington to build its own submarines after failing to get the military hardware from either the United States or other countries. But analysts warn the move could irritate Beijing and affect warming cross-strait relations. At the U.S.-Taiwan Defence Industry Conference in the United States on Monday, Chiu Kuo-cheng, the island's deputy defence minister, called on Washington to supply Taiwan with the technology and weapons it needed to defend itself, especially diesel-electric submarines and advanced fighter jets. "[But] in addition to acquiring submarines from abroad, Taiwan is aggressively developing defensive weapons on its own and is preparing to build its own submarines," the Taipei-based Central News Agency reported Chiu as saying. Chiu, who led a delegation to the conference, said the mainland's aggressive military build-up in the air and at sea was a serious threat to Taiwan. Sales of submarines are a highly sensitive issue and Washington has not followed through with a 2001 deal to sell eight diesel-electric submarines over fears it could hurt mainland-U.S. relations. The U.S. has said it will help Taiwan build submarines in other countries, but so far none have expressed interest in building the warships, despite the potentially lucrative contracts. Wang Jyh-perng, a navy captain and associate research fellow at the Association for Managing Defence and Strategies, told the Central News Agency that Taiwan could best hope to realise its submarine ambitions by first building smaller vessels.

China-Iran Joint Maritime Exercises Could Threaten Progress in Ongoing P5+1 Negotiations. Any military support given to the Iranian government enhances its ability to protect its investments, deter oversight of its activities and, in turn, degrade the current sanctions regime imposed on the country. This calculation is as clear to those in Beijing as it is to the rest of the P5+1, which suggests that the Chinese government may be acting on ambitions not shared by fellow negotiators. Traditionally, the Chinese government has had few reservations about providing arms to Tehran and its recent actions continue this trend. Beijing’s tacit support of the sale of weapons materials from private Chinese businessmen to Iran, and recent joint military exercises appear to represent a significant step by Beijing in support of Iranian military capacity. A Chinese People’s Liberty Army Navy (PLA-N) guided missile destroyer and a guided missile frigate of the 17th Chinese naval escort taskforce departed from the Bandar Abbas Port in southern Iran on September 24 after five days of joint maritime exercises with Iranian military counterparts. The “friendly visit,” as it has been dubbed by PLA-N officials was, in fact, an unprecedented step in China–Iran military cooperation. The stated goal of the visit was to improve cooperation and understanding, but specifically focused on “enhancing maritime exchange of information and intelligence, relief and rescue operations, operational capabilities and power sharing between the two countries navies,” according to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency. As military relations between the two regional powers continue to improve, the United States and others working to keep Iran at the negotiating table must consider the possibility that these types of exercises could represent a substantial escalation in Beijing’s willingness to risk undercutting sanctions in order to further secure economic ties with Tehran. If sanctions on Iran were to be ramped up, as added pressure for the ongoing P5+1 negotiations, the Chinese government stands to potentially lose, among various other trade benefits, a significant share of its current crude imports. Iran supplies around 10 percent of China’s total oil imports and this figure is increasing daily. This considerable dependence on Iranian energy exports has come about as a result of temporary exemptions carved out of the sanctions regime for the Chinese government, but leaves both countries vulnerable to a reassertion of trade restrictions. Increasingly unwilling to accept this cost of business, Beijing may be seeking new ways to protect its interests, including through military means. Enhanced joint maritime capacity combined with basing capabilities and increased technology transfers that could result from continued military to military cooperation would further insulate China’s economic interests in the region from sanctions by raising the cost of outside intervention. At the same time, this would serve to strengthen a lifeline for Iran and deflate the negotiating posture of the P5+1.

China last again in global aid transparency index. China took last place in an aid transparency index listing 68 donors released on Wednesday, which said the majority of the world's donors were not sharing enough information about their activities. The Asian country took last place for the second year in a row in the index compiled by Publish What You Fund, followed by Greece, Cyprus, Lithuania and Malta, all of which were in the bottom 10 last year. The United Nations Development Programme topped the index, followed by 2012's top performer, the UK Department for International Development, and the U.S. Millenium Challenge Corporation, which held the number one position last year. The index assessed transparency among 68 aid-giving organizations worldwide, from countries including the United States and Germany, to organizations such as the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. Rachel Rank, director of Publish What You Fund, said progress had stalled on a promise to publish aid information to an internationally agreed common standard by the end of 2015. "The ranking shows that no matter how many international promises are made, and no matter how many speeches there are around openness, a startling amount of organizations are still not publishing what they fund," Rank said in a statement accompanying the release of the Aid Transparency Index. Her report said that while a leading group of organizations were making continuous improvements to the information they published on current aid activities, more than half had made no significant progress over the past year.

Japan, Russia leaders to meet on APEC sidelines in November. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet Russian President Vladmir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing in November, the two leaders decided on Tuesday, a Japanese government official said. The decision comes as Abe tries to walk a fine line between joining the West in sanctions over Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict and forging closer economic and energy ties after five summits with Putin last year. During a 10-minute phone conversation the two leaders also discussed Japan-Russia ties and Abe urged Russia to fulfil its role in stabilizing the situation in Ukraine, Noriaki Ikeda, of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Reuters. "During the phone call the two sides agreed to make arrangements for a summit on the sidelines of APEC," Ikeda said. In a coordinated move with Western nations, Japan has imposed sanctions on Moscow for its annexation of the Crimea peninsula in March and its involvement in a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies sending troops and arms to the area. However, Tokyo's measures against Russia have been lighter than those of the United States or the European Union, and Abe has continued to try to court Moscow despite ties already being strained by a long-running territorial dispute. Tokyo has also repeated it would maintain its policy of dialogue with Moscow and seek a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine conflict.

Two Koreas Exchange Fire at Sea Border. South and North Korean navy patrol boats exchanged fire at a disputed western sea border on Tuesday, three days after the two rival nations raised hopes for a thaw in their long-tense relations by agreeing to resume high-level dialogue this year. No vessel from either side was hit in the exchange of heavy machine guns, said the South Korean military’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff. But the brief skirmish served as a reminder of how fragile the peace on the divided Korean Peninsula remained. The episode was set off when a North Korean patrol boat breached the disputed sea border and sailed half a nautical mile into waters controlled by South Korea, military officials said. Kim Kwan-jin, left, the top national security adviser for President Park Geun-hye of South Korea, met Hwang Pyong-so, second from right, the top political officer of the North Korean military, and other top officials from the North in Incheon on Saturday. It was the highest-level talks in years, fueling hopes of a breakthrough in the nations’ troubled ties. A South Korean navy ship first broadcast a warning to the intruder to return to the North and fired five warning shots. The North Korean vessel responded, firing an unknown number of warning shots in return. Then, the South Korean ship unleashed a barrage of 94 machine-gun rounds, a Defense Ministry official said, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity. The encounter, in the Yellow Sea about 75 miles west of Seoul, ended in about 10 minutes as the North Korean ship retreated, he added. Armed standoffs along the western sea border, commonly known as the Northern Limit Line, or N.L.L, are not unusual.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | October 03, 2014

US State Department Opens Door to Maritime Defense Weapon Sales To Vietnam. The United States will allow the sale of lethal equipment and weaponry to Vietnam for maritime defense purposes, the US State Department announced Thursday. The executive decision, which ends an overall ban on lethal weapon sales to that country and which has been in place since the end of the Vietnam War, begins immediately. It also comes at a time of growing tensions in the South China Sea, including a situation over the summer where China set up an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam. The definition of what maritime security assets are is nebulous and will be decided on a case-by-case basis, as are all potential sales of military equipment. That will ensure the US maintains control and prevents Vietnamese military forces from gaining assets that could be used to quell internal dissent. It also leaves wiggle room for Vietnam to procure aviation assets, State Department officials said. The country is likely to have an interest in helicopters or planes that can be used for maritime surveillance, opening up the possibility of Vietnam pursuing a range of platforms, from prop planes like the A-29 Super Tucano to Boeing’s large P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft. However, immediate sales are not expected. A State Department official, speaking on background to reporters, said Vietnam does not have any equipment on order at this moment. Officials told reporters the decision is the result of increased cooperation between the US and Vietnam, including Vietnam’s improvements in the human rights arena. That includes the release of 11 political prisoners over the last year and improved religious freedoms within the country. However, they acknowledged that China’s growing aggression in the region also played a part in putting the focus on maritime assets.

Protest Camp in Hong Kong Comes Under Assault. Protesters occupying one of Hong Kong’s most crowded areas came under assault on Friday from men seeking to break apart their pro-democracy sit-in, tearing down their tents and surrounding demonstrators who said their attackers were pro-government gangs. A week after the pro-democracy protests started at a student rally, the movement was increasingly strained both by external blows and by internal discord and exhaustion. Some feared it was close to unraveling, and the two student groups and pro-democracy movement supporting the “Occupy” protests issued a warning that it could call off proposed negotiations with the government. “If the government does not immediately prevent the organized attacks on supporters of the Occupy movement, the students will call off dialogue on political reform with the government,” they said in a statement. Even before skies over Hong Kong darkened in the afternoon and released downpours, some of the protesters’ sit-ins on major roads shrank as the city returned to work after a two-day holiday. In the Mong Kok neighborhood, a hive of shops, apartment blocks and hotels that is one of the world’s mostly densely populated places, bitter skirmishing broke out between occupying protesters and men who tried to clear them and their makeshift shelters away.

North Korea Ready to Start Nuclear Talks. A senior North Korean envoy said Thursday that his country was ready to resume six-party talks on its nuclear program, but must maintain its readiness in the face of joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea. In an interview, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, So Se-pyong, also said that his country was not planning a nuclear test and that reports that its leader, Kim Jong-un, was ill were “fabricated rumors.” The negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program have stalled, but in Geneva, Mr. So said, “We are ready,” adding, “I think China and Russia and the D.P.R.K. are ready,” referring to his country, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He continued: “But America, they don’t like that kind of talks right now. Because America does not like that, so that’s why the countries like South Korea, Japan also are not ready for those talks.” North Korea promised to abandon its nuclear program in 2005, but it appeared to renege on the agreement when it tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009. In light of American and South Korean military exercises, Mr. So said, “We have to be alert; also, we have to be prepared to make countermeasures.” Asked whether North Korea was preparing a nuclear test or to fire a missile, he replied, “No, no.”

Showdown: The Trans-Pacific Partnership vs. Japan's Farm Lobby. Last week, ministerial negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between Japan and the United States ended abruptly after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on key sticking points, including the removal of tariffs on sensitive Japanese farm products. The failure of the talks disappointed both sides, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has long upheld TPP as a fundamental component of his structural reform agenda. Few, however, were surprised. Japan after all, has always had trouble cracking open its farm sector thanks to opposition from its powerful farm lobby. While it is tempting to assume that this is yet another case of Japanese leaders succumbing to the demands of vested interests, it is important to note that more is going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. Japan’s farm lobby is still a potent force in Japanese politics, but its influence is decreasing, and in ways that should bode well for agricultural liberalization. Until recently, Japanese agricultural politics were dominated by a web of interconnected institutions. At the center of that web was the partnership between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA). The latter delivered votes and campaign workers to conservative politicians in return for a protected agricultural market. JA also nurtured a close relationship with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), functioning as the ministry’s semi-official arm in the implementation of farm-related policies, including the infamous rice acreage reduction (gentan) program. All the while, JA exercised a near monopoly over the provision of agricultural inputs to farmers and even controlled their access to financial services through its powerful banking and insurance arms. Although by no means omnipotent, this agricultural regime was notoriously unresponsive to demands for policy reform.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | October 02, 2014

Near Flight Collision Prompts China-U.S. To Start Talks.  China and the U.S. have agreed to talks on avoiding perilous encounters between their military aircraft, more than a month after a Chinese fighter came within 20 feet of a Navy plane flying at more than 400 miles an hour. The move to defuse tensions comes after the Pentagon labeled as “unsafe and unprofessional” the Chinese intercept of a Navy P-8 surveillance aircraft near Hainan Island -- one of several recent close calls. The talks, to start this month, will occur as China prepares to host President Barack Obama and 18 other heads of state in November for an Asian-Pacific summit. “We are trying to prevent -- both sides are trying to prevent -- accidents, miscalculations, quick escalations of problems,” said Robert Work, deputy secretary of defense, describing a growing web of military ties. “We’re looking for a China that accepts that the United States is a Pacific power.” The surveillance flight showdown raises a central question about China’s rise: Will the world’s second-largest economy be content to play by the current rules of the global system or will it seek to rewrite them? The core of the dispute is what activities are permitted within a country’s 200-mile (322-kilometer) offshore exclusive economic zone, where coastal states enjoy sovereign rights over marine resources. The U.S. says international law permits such flights, which have been a standard practice for decades. China objects, claiming such freedom is reserved for civilian aircraft. Work, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations on Sept. 30, said both China and Russia are seeking to change aspects of the international system that has emerged since World War II.

China Conducts Flight Test of New Mobile ICBM. China’s military has conducted the first flight test of a new variant of one of its road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles in a sign that Beijing is increasing its strategic strike capability against the United States. The test of a new DF-31B missile was conducted Sept. 25 from a missile test range in central China. A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to provide details of the test. “We continue to monitor China’s military modernization, including its missile tests,” Cynthia O. Smith, the spokeswoman, told the Washington Free Beacon. No details of the missile test could be learned, but the test was believed to have been carried out from China’s Wuzhai test facility. Nongovernment military analysts said the new missile likely is an increased-range or improved performance weapon, and possibly a multi-warhead version of the ICBM. A Chinese military enthusiast website has identified the DF-31B as a mobile missile variant designed specifically for travel on rugged terrain or other difficult road conditions. Mobile missiles are considered a greater strategic threat because tracking their location and targeting them in a conflict is very difficult. The missiles can be hidden in garages or caves to avoid detection by satellites and other sensors. China has made clear in its state-run media that its nuclear forces are being developed for use against the United States. The Global Times reported Oct. 28 that a submarine-launched missile attack on the United States would kill between 5 million and 12 million Americans.

What's at Stake in Hong Kong? Its people want democracy as a defense against Beijing's values. The size of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong this week surprised even their organizers. Some 10,000 people were expected to take part, but protesters from all ages and incomes have emerged by the hundreds of thousands. And their numbers continue to swell. Why? For 30 years Hong Kong residents have asked for a say in their system of government. And for just as long China has told them to focus on business and be patient. The desire for self-government is natural when a society becomes as affluent as Hong Kong. But talk to the protesters and another theme emerges: saving the qualities that make their city unique. They want democracy as a bulwark against the influx of mainland authoritarian values. The experience of Hong Kong under Chinese rule shows that the subsidiary institutions of a free society—rule of law, civil liberties, an independent civil society, free markets—can't survive long in the face of authoritarian assault. The British colonial government bequeathed the software of freedom to the city. After the handover in 1997, some of us hoped that China would emulate Hong Kong. Instead China is slowly bringing Hong Kong down to its level.

India reacts cautiously to PLAN submarine visit to Sri Lanka. India has reacted cautiously to the docking of a People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarine in Sri Lanka from 7-14 September. The Type 039 (Song)-class boat, on long-range deployment to escort PLAN warships conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden, docked at the Colombo International Container Terminal, which China funded and helped to build. "We continuously monitor them [the PLAN], see their deployments, and what challenges they pose for us," Indian Navy (IN) Chief of Staff Admiral Robindra Dhowan told reporters in New Delhi on 25 September. "Our warships, submarines, and aircraft are always ready to face any challenge," he added at a function to mark the 50th anniversary of the Directorate of Naval Design.

How the U.S. and India Can Move From Rhetoric to Reality. In Washington, communiques that purport to cover everything usually, in reality, address nothing. This is the sense conveyed by the “vision statement“ issued in the wake of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the White House. It describes the U.S.-India relationship as a “joint endeavor for prosperity and peace,” the aims of which include promoting nuclear disarmament, mitigating climate change, eradicating poverty, and collaborating “in every aspect–ranging from particles of creation to outer space.” This ambitious but abstract communique evades any mention–much less resolution–of the differences that exist between the United States and India on a range of issues. This is undoubtedly intentional because other communiques, including one issued by the two powers on Tuesday, read like laundry lists of thorny bilateral issues, a reflection perhaps of the extent to which U.S.-India ties have drifted from their high point following the signing of a bilateral civil nuclear accord in 2008. The brief “vision statement” appears meant as a reaffirmation, with the election of a new, determined Indian prime minister, that the bilateral relationship is strategic, not merely transactional. This, however, is a false choice. Certainly, the thorny issues dividing the U.S. and India will be resolved more easily if the relationship is seen as more than the sum of its transactional parts. Yet the reverse also holds true: The partnership cannot be held out as strategic, much less “a model for the rest of the world,” unless it proves productive and yields compromises on issues important to both sides. On foreign policy, efforts at cooperation should emphasize Asia, where U.S. and Indian interests and strategies are generally aligned on China, Afghanistan, and strengthening regional alliances. The U.S. would also like to see India lead more on regional security.

Deputy PM Minh: ‘No Two Countries Have Worked Harder’ To Repair Relations Than U.S. And Vietnam. Throughout his address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, Pham Binh Minh stressed, “vibrant growth in all area” — trade, people-to-people exchanges and security that allows his nation and the region to grow economically and peacefully Vietname and the U.S. only established diplomatic relations in 1995. “People could not believe how fast our relationship developed,” he said. It is relationship that began in an unusual way following a long war — the search for Americans missing in action years after the fighting ended. What followed was Vietnam’s removal of its troops from Cambodia and the closing of the so-called re-education camps where thousands of supporters of the fallen Saigon government were confined. But one sticking point in the new relationship has been the executive branch’s embargo on the sale of lethal arms to Vietnam. The ban was imposed primarily on human rights grounds. Minh called the continuation of the ban, “abnormal” in an address to the Asia Society in New York last week, reported Voice of America. That ban maybe softening. Last week, Reuters reported the U.S. was considering selling Vietnam unarmed Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft. In a panel discussion following Wednesday’s address, Scot Marciel, a principal deputy assistant secretary of state, said recent agreements have sent humanitarian assistance to Vietnam but the military-to-military contacts “have gone a little bit more slowly” and lethal arms sales are banned by executive policy.

Why Russia's President Is 'Putin the Great' in China. Like Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin Is Seen as a Strong Leader Who Isn't Afraid to Confront the West. In the recommended-reading section of Beijing's Wangfujing bookstore, staff members have no doubt which foreign leader customers are most interested in: President Vladimir Putin, or "Putin the Great" as some Chinese call him. Books on Mr. Putin have been flying off shelves since the crisis in Ukraine began, far outselling those on other world leaders, sales staff say. One book, "Putin Biography: He is Born for Russia," made the list of top 10 nonfiction best sellers at the Beijing News newspaper in September. China's fascination with Mr. Putin is more than literary, marking a shift in the post-Cold War order and in Chinese politics. After decades of mutual suspicion—and one short border conflict—Beijing and Moscow are drawing closer as they simultaneously challenge the U.S.-led security architecture that has prevailed since the Soviet collapse, diplomats and analysts say. The former rivals for leadership of the Communist world also increasingly share a brand of anti-Western nationalism that could color President Xi Jinping's view of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Beijing accuses Western governments of stirring unrest there, much as Mr. Putin blamed the West for the pro-democracy protests in Kiev that began late last year. Russia has begun portraying the Hong Kong protests, too, as U.S.-inspired. Russian state-controlled television channels this week claimed that Hong Kong protest leaders had received American training. The Pew Research Center says China is one of the few countries where popular support for Russia has risen since Moscow's confrontation with the West over Ukraine—rising to 66% in July from 47% a year earlier. A poll by In Touch Today, an online news service run by China's Tencent Holdings Ltd., put Mr. Putin's approval rating at 92% after Russia annexed Crimea in March. "Putin's personality is impressive—as a man, as a leader. Chinese people find that attractive. He defends Russia's interests," says Zhao Huasheng, an expert on China-Russia relations at Shanghai's Fudan University. "Russia and China can learn a lot from each other."

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | October 01, 2014

Top DoD Official: US Will 'Respond' if Japan-China Dispute Escalates. The US will respond with military force if allies in the Pacific region are threatened, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said on Tuesday in response to questions about Japan’s dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands. Japan and China both claim ownership of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, located east of China and south of Japan. US officials have been on Japan’s side, stating that Article 5 of the US-Japan Defense treaty created in 1951 lists the territory under Japan’s control. During his talk at the Council on Foreign Relations, Work discussed defense strategies toward the Asia-Pacific region. “While the Senkakus are under Japanese control, Article 5 applies, and we would respond if there was an attempt to take the Senkakus,” Work said. He later added, “We would definitely respond militarily to certainly any engagements against our allies.” The Pentagon official called Japan the “cornerstone of our alliances in Asia.” In 1997, Japan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Pentagon crafted defense guidelines on how the countries would cooperate in times of conflict. Japanese and US officials announced last year that they would revise the guidelines to close any “gaps” in collaboration. US forces have recently poured into Japan as the country attempts to expand its defense posture. Work said that by 2020, the Navy and the Air Force will have stationed 60 percent of its forces in the Asia-Pacific region, a total of 100,000 troops, and that the department will continue to expand its reach regardless of the defense budget.

A renewed U.S.-India partnership for the 21st century. By Narendra Modi and Barack Obama
.  As nations committed to democracy, liberty, diversity and enterprise, India and the United States are bound by common values and mutual interests. We have each shaped the positive trajectory of human history, and through our joint efforts, our natural and unique partnership can help shape international security and peace for years to come. Ties between the United States and India are rooted in the shared desire of our citizens for justice and equality. When Swami Vivekananda presented Hinduism as a world religion, he did so at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. When Martin Luther King Jr. sought to end discrimination and prejudice against African Americans, he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent teachings. Gandhiji himself drew upon the writings of Henry David Thoreau. As nations, we’ve partnered over the decades to deliver progress to our people. The people of India remember the strong foundations of our cooperation. The food production increases of the Green Revolution and the Indian Institutes of Technology are among the many products of our collaboration. Today our partnership is robust, reliable and enduring, and it is expanding. Our relationship involves more bilateral collaboration than ever before — not just at the federal level but also at the state and local levels, between our two militaries, private sectors and civil society. Indeed, so much has happened that, in 2000, then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee could declare that we are natural allies.

The Pivot to India. Why the U.S.-Indian partnership is at the heart of America's future in Asia. By John McCain. The May election of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has transformational potential. Indians are hungry for bold change, and they gave a once-in-a-generation mandate to a leader eager to deliver it. This change is already extending to India's foreign policy, including the strategic partnership between our countries. How to take full advantage of this unique moment will be the key question when Modi meets with President Barack Obama this week in Washington. I met Modi in July, and my impression is that he sees a strategic partnership with the United States as integral to his goal of economically and geopolitically revitalizing India -- and that India's revitalization can, in turn, help reinvigorate our partnership. Modi and I agreed that this goal is much needed, because recently, our partnership has not lived up to its potential. Too often, our relationship has felt like a laundry list of initiatives that amounts to no more than the sum of its parts. Too often, we have been overly driven by domestic politics and overly focused on extracting concessions from one another, rather than investing in one another's success and defining priorities that can bring clarity and common purpose to our actions. Our strategic relationship has unfortunately devolved into a transactional one. My sense is that Modi wants India to do its part to change this -- and that he wants India and the United States to think bigger and do bigger things together once again. I fully agree. And to realize these ambitions, India and the United States first need to recall why we embarked on a strategic partnership in the first place. It was not for run-of-the-mill reasons. We affirmed that India and the United States, two democratic great powers, can and should lead the 21st century in sustaining a liberal, rules-based international order, supported by a favorable balance of power.

China, Russia & the Great Game in Central Asia. One of the main criticisms against Washington's attempt to sanction and otherwise punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his aggressive actions in Ukraine is that this is driving Russia and China closer together in an anti-American axis. Such concerns are unfounded, first because the two are already close strategic partners, but more importantly, because neither really trusts the other ... nor should they. The truth is, when Russia and China get in bed together, they both sleep with one eye open! This is not to say that Sino-Russian cooperation has not been significant. Last year Russia's Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation signed a $400 billion contract to jointly build a gas pipeline. They further agreed to do their transactions in their own currencies, rather than the US dollar. Later that month, in a joint statement at the 4thSummit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building measures in Asia (CICA) - a reinvigorated Asia-Pacific security group in which the United States and Japan are only observers - the two leaders pledged to cement their strategic partnership. Both countries have regularly vetoed or significantly watered down US-sponsored UN resolutions regarding Syria and North Korea. Moreover, China has been noticeably quiet regarding Russia's intervention in Ukraine. And while Beijing is particularly sensitive to questions of sovereignty and territorial integrity - "non-interference" being one of its most sacred principles - and despite close defense ties with Ukraine, thus far, Beijing has refrained from publicly criticizing Moscow. Fears of a Russia-China condominium are exaggerated, however. Beneath the surface, a creeping competition will erode the foundation of the partnership. The two countries may be enjoying a honeymoon but this is a marriage of convenience. No other place will provide more fertile ground for their geopolitical competition than their shared periphery, Central Asia, a.k.a Russia's "near abroad."

Why China won't condemn Russia over Crimea. A revealing shift in China's official attitudes to foreign policy lies in Beijing's lack of criticism over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Its silence has been conspicuous in light of China's longstanding pronouncements on the inviolability of state sovereignty and the dangers of what it calls "splitist" movements that undermine a country's territorial integrity. To be clear, Beijing has not endorsed Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and, in general, has called for restraint and negotiations among the parties. When China's foreign ministry spokesman was asked if the government would recognize Crimea as part of Russia after its residents voted to secede from Ukraine, he stated: "China always respects all countries' sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The Crimean issue should be resolved politically under a framework of law and order. All parties should exercise restraint and refrain from raising the tension." This noncommittal response was, in some respects, unsurprising. One doubts that Beijing wants to set a precedent of recognizing a mechanism by which parts of a country vote to stay "in" or "out" -- lest it be applied within China itself. Yet while the Chinese government has not supported Russia's behavior, neither has it condemned it. In mid-March, when it came time to vote on a United Nations Security Council draft resolution judging the Crimean referendum as illegal, the Chinese abstained. They did so again later that month, when the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling upon states "not to recognize the changes in status" of the Crimea region.

Is China Sending a Stealth Fighter to Sea? A full-scale model of China’s J-31 stealth fighter prototype has appeared on the flight deck of the Chinese navy’s aircraft carrier mock-up, fueling speculation that the radar-evading jet could become part of China’s carrier air wing. If so, China would enter the race alongside the United States to be the first to deploy a stealth jet on a flattop. The U.S. Navy is struggling to develop the F-35C stealth fighter to fly from the American fleet’s 10 large carriers starting no earlier than late 2018. A photographer has spotted a model of the J-31 fighter on the mock-up carrier’s deck. Chinese engineers could be testing the plane to see whether it can safely maneuver on Liaoning’s 1,000-foot-long flight deck. Liaoning lacks catapults and instead launches planes by way of a bow ramp.

In Hong Kong, an Opportunity for Beijing to Get It Right. With the protests in Hong Kong, Beijing faces a moment of truth. As does Washington. The burgeoning pro-democracy protests on the streets of Hong Kong present a unique do-over opportunity for Beijing and a much-needed wake-up call for Washington. If it acts wisely and generously in Hong Kong, China’s Communist Party has within its grasp the possibility to undo in part a tragic and historic mistake, a chance dictatorships don’t often get. It can expunge part of the shame of June 4, 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army turned its tanks and guns on the Chinese people at Tiananmen Square and cities across China. That was the day Deng Xiaoping, China’s Paramount Leader and the architect of sweeping economic reforms, lost his nerve, decided that the people he freed to “get rich” could not be trusted with parallel political freedom, and gave the fatal order. The mere possibility that the Communist Party might one day have to share power with a competitive political force within China panicked Deng and his colleagues and they brutally cast the hopes of the population onto the trash heap of history. In Hong Kong, Beijing has the opportunity to get it right at last. Four decades earlier in Taiwan, the CCP’s sister dictatorship, the Kuomintang, had similarly acted to crush a popular uprising. February 28, 1947, turned out to be the low point in the KMT’s harsh reign, and after Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek passed from the scene, his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, put Taiwan on a path to democratic governance. The once authoritarian political party redeemed itself and ushered in a system under which it could be, and was, voted out of power in favor of its political opposition, and just as peacefully returned to power.

Momentum for the Trans-Pacific Partnership needs to be revived. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed free-trade agreement that will knit the United States and 11 nations of South America, North America and Asia more closely together, while providing a geopolitical counterweight to a rising China. The pact would be especially valuable because Japan is willing to join, which would require a long-overdue opening and restructuring of its protected but lackluster economy. Indeed, without Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, the TPP loses much of its strategic significance. So it was disappointing to learn that a Sept. 24 meeting between American and Japanese trade negotiators in Washington broke up after only an hour over the same old issue, Japanese resistance to U.S. farm exports, that has plagued the two nations’ dealings for decades. The Japanese departed without touching a sandwich buffet that had been laid out in anticipation of an extended working session, according to the Wall Street Journal. This is only the latest troubling development for the centerpiece of what was once meant to be President Obama’s foreign policy “pivot” to Asia. As 2014 began, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was promising to join the U.S.-led free-trade agreement as a spur to his own structural economic reforms. A bipartisan, bicameral group of senior U.S. lawmakers had agreed on a plan for “fast track” legislative authority to expedite a congressional vote on the TPP, once the 12 would-be members hammered out a final deal. Bucking resistance from trade skeptics in his own party, Mr. Obama had offered a friendly reference to that proposal in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | September 30, 2014

Modi’s Visit A Chance For Obama To Improve Relationship, Enlist India In His Asia Policy. President Obama welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House on Monday for their first face-to-face meeting as the administration seeks to revive the stagnant relationship between the nations and enlist Asia’s largest democracy in its broader regional strategy. Modi was received by the president at a lavish working dinner on Monday night even though the prime minister was on a religious fast, and their agenda includes discussions Tuesday on economic investment, regional security and climate change. But the specter of what many think will be left unspoken — human rights and civil society issues — hangs over the visit. The administration’s renewed interest in India — Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have visited since Modi’s landslide victory in May — comes as Obama seeks to reinvigorate his Asia policy ahead of a trip to the region in November. Rekindling the relationship with India is part of a U.S. effort to hedge against the broadening economic and military clout of China, whose President Xi Jinping recently met with Modi in New Delhi. In remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Monday, Modi asserted that India, the world’s second-most-populous country, will challenge China for primacy this century.

For China, Limited Tools To Quell Unrest In Hong Kong. China’s Communist Party has ample experience extinguishing unrest. For years it has used a deft mix of censorship, arrests, armed force and, increasingly, money to repress or soften calls for political change. But as he faces swelling street demonstrations in Hong Kong pressing for more democracy in the territory, the toolbox of President Xi Jinping of China appears remarkably empty of instruments that could lead to palatable long-term solutions for all involved. Hong Kong is already a mature, prosperous enclave that has grown relatively immune to the blandishments of mutual prosperity that helped keep it stable during 16 years of Chinese rule. And because it is a former British colony with its own laws and traditions of liberty, a severe crackdown on mostly peaceful protests would almost certainly backfire, especially under the glare of international attention. “On the mainland, as long as you can control the streets with enough soldiers and guns, you can kill a protest, because everywhere else is already controlled: the press, the Internet, the schools, every neighborhood and every community,” said Xiao Shu, a mainland writer who is a visiting scholar at National Chengchi University in Taiwan. “In Hong Kong, the streets are not the only battlefield, like on the mainland.” After demonstrators defied a police crackdown on Monday and took over vast areas of the business districts of the city, the protests have become an epic standoff that Mr. Xi has few obvious ways of defusing.

China launches latest of military, 'experimental' satellites. China launched a Long March-4B rocket carrying the Yaogan-21 remote sensing satellite and an experimental satellite, Tiantuo-2, from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre on 8 September. Tiantuo-2, which was designed and built by the National University of Defence Technology (NUDT), "will be used for scientific experiments, natural resource survey, estimation of crop yields, and disaster relief," according to Xinhua news agency. This is the function China ascribes to most of its remote sensing satellites, but analysts believe that the Yaogan constellation is used for ocean surveillance. The launch was the latest in a series by China. On 9 August a Long March-4C rocket launched the Yaogan-20 mission into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. While Xinhua reported the payload to be a satellite with the same purposes as the Yaogan-21, other sources indicate that the payload comprised three satellites, which were deployed in such a way that would make them suitable for operating as an ocean surveillance system.

The President's Trade Deals Are Wildly Popular. So Why Don't They Pass? These are daunting times for those pursuing megaregional trade deals. Although the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) lie at the heart of both commercial and foreign policy, each has encountered troubling obstacles this week. The TTIP is teetering. The European Union's top trade official said yesterday that the TTIP is in danger of never concluding. The agreement was initially supposed to wrap up around now, as we are within a month of a changeover in EU leadership. There is no chance of that, and European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht, who will step down with the change, warned that if no deal is reached in 2015 it could fall prey to the U.S. presidential election. He blamed a lack of political leadership in the United States and Europe. The TPP had an equally rough week. According to reports in Inside U.S. Trade (paywall-protected), the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, issued a similar, but earlier, deadline for its conclusion. "We have promised to conclude about three years in a row, so I think this is our last chance to fulfill our promise. ... And if you don't fulfill your promise this year, you'll be running into the American presidential elections in two years' time. And I think that's further delays of an indefinite nature." This fit uncomfortably with a recent report that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had no plans for legislation to provide President Obama with greater trade negotiating powers -- called trade promotion authority (TPA), it would fast track negotiations by preventing Congress from amending any deal -- in the lame duck session after the elections. Then, to make matters worse, a ministerial meeting between the United States and Japan this week reportedly failed to break the negotiating stalemate between the two on TPP issues.

U.S. and Philippines Hold Joint Military Exercises. Joint military exercises between the United States Navy and its Philippine counterpart kicked off on Monday in Palawan, the island closest to contested areas of the South China Sea. The war games, involving thousands of sailors and marines, will go on for 11 days at the former United States naval base at Subic Bay, which is now a commercial port, as well as in other areas in the northern and western part of the country. Such exercises between the United States and its former colony have been taking place since 1954 but are now being conducted amid a tense dispute over islets and rocky outcroppings in the South China Sea claimed by both the Philippines and China. The Philippines has filed a case with a United Nations arbitration panel seeking to stop China from occupying the areas in the South China Sea. China claims most of the South China Sea, and the Philippine government has released aerial photos purportedly showing Chinese reclamation of land to build islands and runways in the disputed areas. In April, the United States and the Philippines signed an agreement to expand military cooperation that would involve stationing American military ships, planes and troops in the country on a rotating basis. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement would allow the Philippine armed forces, among the weakest in Southeast Asia, to bolster their maritime security in coordination with the advanced capabilities of the United States military.

The Five Weapons Vietnam Needs Most to Take on a Rising China. Military and political disputes with China are nothing new to Vietnam. China and Vietnam have a shared border and shared history that go back thousands of years. And relations haven’t always gone the smaller country’s way. Vietnam has been a vassal state and colony of China four times in the last two thousand years, starting in the 1st Century B.C. Yet Vietnam has been remarkably successful at preserving its national identity from political, economic, and cultural domination, in large part due to its willingness to take up arms against its bigger, stronger neighbor. Vietnam has been watching the rise of China and preparing accordingly. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute data, Vietnam’s defense spending has risen from $796 million dollars in 1994 to $7.8 billion dollars in 2013, a nearly tenfold increase that has paced China’s own defense buildup. China’s newfound political and military strength has emboldened it to reassert dormant claims in the South China Sea that have antagonized its neighbors, including Vietnam. Here are five weapons systems that could go a long way toward Vietnam’s security.
Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | September 29, 2014

China's Deadly Miscalculation in the Making. China thinks it can defeat America without battle. Mr. Axe’s otherwise excellent article (“China Thinks It Can Defeat America in Battle”) starts with one huge non sequitur. The bad news first. The People’s Republic of China now believes it can successfully prevent the United States from intervening in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or some other military assault by Beijing (emphasis mine). Let’s call that assertion—with which I totally agree—the apples.  Here come the oranges: Now the good news. China is wrong—and for one major reason. It apparently disregards the decisive power of America’s nuclear-powered submarines (emphasis mine). The bad news “apples” have to do with American intentions or will, that is, the psychological component of security planning.  The good news “oranges” relate to U.S. military capability, the physical or technological component.  By itself, the latter—the ability to prevail in actual combat—cannot compensate for the absence of the former—the willingness to intervene—or even the perception that it is lacking. Effective deterrence requires both the will and the capabilities—and the proper communication to the adversary that we are armed with both. As for communicating to the People’s Republic that we have the wherewithal to defeat it in a naval battle, say in the Taiwan Strait, Mr. Axe’s article generously lays out the Navy’s underwater prowess: numbers of subs on station, numbers of missiles on each boat, offensive capabilities, etc. Of course, all that information is in the public domain, aside from the more granular secrets that China manages to buy or steal. So it is rather startling for Mr. Axe to conclude that, until the publication of his piece, “the PLA seems to have ignored Washington’s huge undersea advantage.” He even offers an explanation for this apparent major intelligence failure on the part of the Chinese: “It’s not surprising that Beijing would overlook America’s subs," he writes, because they’re under water!  "Unseen and unheard. That why the sub force calls itself the ‘Silent Service’." Cutting to the chase, our superb sub service could doubtless wreak devastation on a Chinese surface fleet if given the order to do so. But would the order be given?  I’m betting that Beijing is betting it would not.

China’s Military Presence in the Gulf.  Little noticed amid the tumult in Syria, two Chinese naval ships–a guided missile destroyer, the Changchun, and a frigate, the Changzhou–visited the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on Monday and began a four-day joint exercise with Iranian naval forces. According to China’s navy, this was the first visit by Chinese warships to Iran. It was not, however, the first modern-day port call in the region by Chinese naval vessels; in March 2010, Chinese vessels docked at Port Zayed in the United Arab Emirates. Those vessels and the ones that arrived in Iran this week had been participating in counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. A few months after the Port Zayed visit, Chinese jets refueled in Iran en route to exercises in Turkey–the first visit to Iran by foreign warplanes since its 1979 revolution. In 2011, observers noted that the Chinese military’s evacuation of thousands of Chinese nationals from Libya demonstrated the military’s expeditionary capabilities. This growing security presence in the region is just one element of China’s deepening involvement in the Middle East, which has also included stepped-up diplomatic visits and ambitious new economic projects, such as a just-inked deal to build a port in Israel. While Beijing’s interest in the Middle East is largely motivated by its thirst for markets and resources–China’s dependence on foreign oil is increasing as fast as the U.S.’s is decreasing–economics is not the whole story. Reliance on oil imports compromises China’s energy security, which paired with its desire to exercise greater global influence has led it to seek out not just commercial but also strategic partnerships.

Western economic involvement in China isn’t promoting freedom there. For the United States other democratic capitalist nations, trade with and investment in the People’s Republic of China always posed a dilemma: how to ensure that economic engagement benefits the people of that nation without fortifying the repressive political regime under which they live. The response from supporters of Western economic engagement has been that the dilemma, essentially, will resolve itself, because the more interdependent China and the West become, the more the former will have to play by the rules of the latter. Growth and prosperity will gradually promote freedom and the rule of law. Recent events must give pause to even the most optimistic believers in capitalism’s power to induce more transparent government in China. Beijing is in the midst of not only an intensifying crackdown on its own citizens but also in what appears to be systematic harassment of U.S., Japanese and European multinational companies in the form of stepped-up enforcement of a 2008 antitrust law. In late July, investigators raided Microsoft offices in four Chinese cities. In August, China fined 12 Japanese auto-parts manufacturers roughly $200 million for alleged price-fixing. In September, the price-fixing police slapped Volkswagen and Chrysler with a combined $46 million in fines. Chip-maker Qualcomm, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover also are reportedly under investigation. All of this comes on top of China’s ongoing clampdown on the Internet, which has recently intensified to the point of hindering routine document sharing via Google and other non-Chinese firms. Both the American Chamber of Commerce in China and its European Union counterpart have protested what they regard as arbitrary treatment. We sympathize — even though these businesses are to some extent reaping what they sowed. The rule-of-law risks of doing business in China have always been evident, as Western firms knew even as they forged ahead in pursuit of a vast market and in the belief that Beijing needed them as much, or more, than they needed Beijing.

In Creating ‘Martyrs’ Day,’ China Promotes a Vision of the Past. Eager to bolster patriotism at a time of growing tensions with neighboring countries, China will celebrate a new holiday for the first time on Tuesday to memorialize people who died in battle against foreign powers. Government officials insist the holiday, called Martyrs’ Day, is no different from holidays honoring the war dead in other countries, like Memorial Day in the United States or Remembrance Day in many countries of the Commonwealth. “It’s a normal thing to commemorate those who sacrificed partfor their country,” said Li Zongyuan, vice curator of the Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression or, as historians call it, the Second Sino-Japanese War. “The holiday should help people remember their history.” But some analysts see the holiday as part of an effort by the Communist Party to enshrine itself as the nation’s guardian against invaders and as the arbiter of who is considered a martyr. Some 80 Japanese politicians, including three cabinet members, visited Yasukuni, the large shrine in central Tokyo that honors the nation’s war dead, including convicted war criminals. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, did not offer prayers there. The holiday was added to the calendar on the heels of two other new war-related commemorations. Last February, Parliament ratified Dec. 13 as a memorial day for the 1937 Nanjing Massacre and Sept. 3 as the day China commemorates Japan’s surrender in World War II. Martyrs’ Day falls on Sept. 30, the day before China’s National Day holiday. The date was selected because on that date in 1949, construction started on the iconic Monument to the People’s Heroes in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The 125-foot obelisk memorializes the sacrifices made to achieve the founding of the People’s Republic that year.

When Obama Meets Modi: The Superpower and the Global Swing State. As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in late September, in the wake of Chinese President Xi Jinping's grand tour of South Asia, the world will be watching for clues about the future strategic triangle between its three biggest nations. A China-India axis would tilt the balance of power against the United States, calling into question the future of its alliances with nations like Japan, and the ability of the U.S. to lead globally. By contrast, a U.S.-India partnership would make it more difficult for China to challenge American leadership in Asia and the world. An international order anchored by strong democracies would be fundamentally different from one led by an authoritarian superpower. Both Obama and Xi will therefore cultivate Modi's India as the key global "swing state" -- just as prime ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan and Tony Abbott of Australia have recently done. When Modi visited Tokyo in early September, Abe announced a "special" strategic partnership and an impressive $35 billion in new Japanese investments in India. Abbott, on an official visit to New Delhi, announced that Australia would strengthen military ties and supply India with uranium for its civil nuclear reactors. Not to be outdone, Xi committed to $20 billion in new investments during his visit to India from Sept. 17 to Sept. 19, clearly attempting to reverse the momentum of New Delhi's growing strategic ties to Tokyo, Washington, and Canberra. As one Chinese observer put it: "China is eager to win India over and ensure that it will not gravitate rapidly to the emerging anti-China coalition" led by the U.S. and Japan.

Analysts: Air-Sea Battle concept carries risks in possible conflict with China. While the United States may welcome China’s peaceful rise, last week’s Valiant Shield exercise over the western Pacific Ocean plainly showed that Washington is hedging its bets on the “peaceful” part. The U.S. military training brought 18,000 U.S. servicemembers together to fight a sophisticated enemy trying to block U.S. access to international waters and airspace. Exercise officials scrupulously avoided any indication that this imagined enemy was any particular nation. Such is the diplomatic dance involved with China, America’s second- largest trading partner behind Canada. However, China is the only nation in the Asia-Pacific region building the large-scale type of “anti-access, area-denial” capability that exercise participants fought against. The exercise tested the Air-Sea Battle concept, a set of tactics that first blinds an enemy’s communications in space and cyberspace, then destroys land- and sea-based weapons platforms. Combatants also attempt to shoot down or otherwise defeat the enemy’s deployed weapons. The Defense Department’s 2013 unclassified summary of Air-Sea Battle never mentions China explicitly. However, the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China’s military makes it clear that Beijing is developing the weapons its war planners believe will prevent the U.S. from safely sending its ships into the international waters of the East and South China seas. That would potentially complicate U.S. efforts to defend Taiwan, which China claims.

Japan, China agree to resume talks on mechanism to avoid military confrontation. Japan and China agreed on Sept. 24 to resume talks on launching a bilateral "maritime communication mechanism" designed to avoid accidental military confrontation. The agreement was reached at a meeting between senior Japanese and Chinese government officials in the Chinese city of Qingdao. The two countries reached a basic agreement during working-level talks in June 2012 to operate a bilateral maritime communication mechanism, but no further talks had been held since Japan nationalized the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture in September the same year. China's agreement to resume bilateral talks has raised the possibility of the two Asian neighbors launching a bilateral maritime communication mechanism at an early date. Japan is keen to resume working-level talks between Defense Ministry officials from the two countries on finalizing specific methods of operating the maritime communication mechanism ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting to be held in Beijing in November. The Japanese government hopes that such working-level negotiations will pave the way for the first summit between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two countries are expected to discuss the timing of the working-level talks.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | September 24, 2014

China Thinks It Can Defeat America in Battle. The bad news first. The People’s Republic of China now believes it can successfully prevent the United States from intervening in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or some other military assault by Beijing. Now the good news. China is wrong—and for one major reason. It apparently disregards the decisive power of America’s nuclear-powered submarines. Moreover, for economic and demographic reasons Beijing has a narrow historical window in which to use its military to alter the world’s power structure. If China doesn’t make a major military move in the next couple decades, it probably never will. The U.S. Navy’s submarines—the unsung main defenders of the current world order—must hold the line against China for another 20 years. After that, America can declare a sort of quiet victory in the increasingly chilly Cold War with China.

Courting Vietnam, U.S. prepares to ease arms embargo. Nearly 40 years after the United States helicoptered its last soldiers out of Vietnam in an ignominious retreat, Washington is moving closer to lifting an arms embargo on its former enemy, with initial sales likely to help Hanoi deal with growing naval challenges from China. Senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the initiative said Washington wants to support Vietnam by strengthening its ability to monitor and defend its coastline, and said unarmed P-3 surveillance planes could be one of the first sales. Such aircraft would also allow Vietnam to keep track of China's increasingly assertive activities in the South China Sea, a potential flash point because of interlocking claims from many countries to its islands and reefs. Two senior Obama administration officials said discussions on easing the embargo are taking place in Washington and could result in a decision later this year.

Could America Lose Its Superpower Status? The Road to "Regional Power with Some Global Reach." At last week’s Air Force Association annual conference, I was privileged along with other defense analysts to have a series of conversations with senior Air Force leaders, many of whom are responsible for conducting a wide range of day-to-day operations in complex and at times dangerous parts of the world. They see the evolution of threats to U.S. global interests and the rapid rise of military competitors up close. Every one of these military leaders told the same story of being required to do more with less. This is before sequestration will cut nearly $100 billion from the proposed FY 2016 defense budget. If that happens, the impact on U.S. national security will be nothing short of catastrophic. One Air Force officer said it best: If sequestration takes effect, the United States will stop being a global superpower and become “a regional power with some global reach.” Today, the United States faces rising security challenges on no fewer than four continents. Europe faces the specter of a Russia willing to use force to redraw national boundaries, something that has not occurred there for more than 60 years. Moscow has threatened the West with the specter of nuclear attack and claims a special right to protect those it deems to be Russian even if they are citizens of foreign lands. In Asia, North Korea is testing a family of ballistic missiles as it continues to build nuclear weapons. China has asserted unlawfully the right to control large swathes of the international air and sea environment between it and neighboring countries. Its fighter jets have repeatedly “buzzed” U.S. surveillance aircraft operating in international airspace. It is building a modern military that in a few short years could be sufficiently lethal so as to deter U.S. military intervention in the event of Chinese aggression against one of our allies in the region.

The U.S. Needs a New Foreign Policy Agenda for 2016 (Part Two of Four). In our first installment on the need to lay out a new foreign policy agenda for the 2016 presidential race, we described how the world has become a more dangerous place. We explained that while our current policies cannot be blamed entirely for the rising threats to American security, they have aggravated them and have even created new threats and problems. In this installment we will discuss specifically how U.S. policies have contributed to new and potentially dangerous shifts in America's strategic posture. We'll also explain how the current travails afflicting U.S. policy are the result of a series of misguided assessments of the state of the world, including of the nature and severity of the terrorist threat, the characters of China and Russia, and the relationship between hard and soft power. Under the Obama administration, the United States has undertaken a provisional experiment: How would the world look if the United States pulled back from its traditional role as guarantor of global stability and underwriter of the international liberal order? The reasons for this shift in U.S. policy are well known. The administration came into office vowing to undo a strategy of overreach that it believed was the root cause of America's foreign policy problems. But in doing so it has created the opposite problem. By going too far in the opposite direction -- by under reaching, if you will -- it has contributed to shifts in the strategic environment that are quite dangerous for American security. As Senator Marco Rubio observed in an important speech last week on defense policy, "the trend of declining American strength had been largely incidental among previous administrations, but now it is an active priority. Previous presidents had merely taken their foot off the gas pedal of American strength, but President Obama has stomped on the brake."

A Plutonium-Rich Asia. Given the current military and territorial disputes between China, Japan, and South Korea, the last thing anyone should want is to have these states make more nuclear explosives that could blow the whole region apart. Yet, that is precisely what the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) is encouraging in a misguided effort to develop new types of “fast” reactors offshore. DoE is actively collaborating with these countries on fast-reactor research and commercial fast-reactor demonstrator programs to get around its own lack of funding to conduct such programs in the U.S. Unlike power reactors now operating and being built, these new fast reactors require large amounts of plutonium fuel to start with. This entails prior production and stockpiling of quantities of plutonium enough — in the cases of Japan and China — to make tens of thousands of bombs. The good news is that there is still time to sideline these programs before they do any lasting damage. To accomplish this, though, the Hill, the White House — and China, Japan, and South Korea — must recognize now just how frightening, and unnecessary, a plutonium-based energy future would be.

Opening Asia to Foreign Direct Investment. Asia has more restrictions on foreign direct investment than any other region. Asia is at a crossroads. After years of heady growth, the engine needs retuning. Debt is no longer a recipe for sustained growth, and it is unclear if it ever was. With the Fed likely to tap the monetary brakes next year, credit will become more expensive, exposing the shaky foundation of the region's recent advance. Productivity growth, the key to lasting prosperity, has slowed as easy gains stunted any sense of urgency for reform. Challenging times lie ahead for Asia. This doesn't mean officials should sit idly by, letting events take their course. Adjustments can be made to avoid a bigger slump. And there are signs that the message is settling in: Across the region, reforms are being talked about.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | September 22, 2014

Mideast Flare-Up, Budget Cuts Could Affect Pacific Pivot. President Barack Obama’s decision to step up military operations against Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria raises fresh doubts about the “Pacific pivot” – a shift of military and diplomatic resources to a region Washington feels is the highest U.S. priority in decades to come. Defense experts say it’s too early to know whether the new U.S. commitment in the Middle East – from where resources were being shifted to the Pacific – will stunt the ongoing rebalance. The boost in America’s economic, diplomatic and military presence is well under way in the Pacific, a “whole-of-government” approach that the analysts say likely won’t diminish with months of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. But the military already has been dealing with force reductions with the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan amid deep budget cuts including across-the-board reductions imposed under sequestration. Without a major reversal of such cuts, the military is already headed toward tough decisions on what it can afford to do. In his Sept. 10 speech to the nation, President Barack Obama seemed to be preparing the country for another long slog, calling the escalating U.S.-led military campaign against the jihadist Islamic State in Iraq a “steady, relentless effort” that he likened to the slow process of eradicating cancer. No one, including Obama, really knows what that will end up entailing. An air campaign is one thing. If down the road the campaign fails, involvement almost certainly would have to be stepped up, regardless of “no boots on the ground” statements today. Obama came around reluctantly to military reengagement in Iraq, particularly since he spent his first three years in office pulling the last U.S. troops out of the country to make good his campaign promise. America’s partners, allies and adversaries in Asia could interpret the move in Iraq in dramatically different ways, experts say, regardless of reality.

Chinese Ship Spies On Valiant Shield, And That’s OK With U.S. A Chinese surveillance ship has been detected observing the Valiant Shield military exercise from within the United States’ exclusive economic zone – a move the U.S. actually doesn’t mind. One Chinese auxiliary general intelligence vessel has been watching most of Valiant Shield since it began Sept. 15 in and around Guam, military officials said Monday. The exercise, which ends Tuesday, involves 18,000 servicemembers from the Navy, Air Force, Marines and Army simulating combat against each other. Valiant Shield comes in the midst of tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, much of which involve China’s rapidly modernizing military and its territorial ambitions. China stakes an ambiguous claim to about 90 percent of the South China Sea, including areas that the most nations consider international waters. In recent years, Chinese ships have harassed U.S. ships operating in the international waters that compose China’s exclusive economic zone, or EEZ – mostly notably in 2009, when the USNS Impeccable was surrounded by five vessels. Chinese ships have repeatedly been observed within United States EEZ borders in the past year. U.S. officials have stated they hope the moves will persuade China to shift its position against foreign military movements in its EEZ. “We’d like to reinforce that military operations in international commons and outside of territorial waters and airspace is a fundamental right that all nations have,” Valiant Shield spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Kim Dixon said Monday. “The Chinese were following international norms, which is completely acceptable.” The United States and most other nations interpret international law to allow militaries to conduct surveillance in EEZs, but China and about 20 other nations generally see things differently.

China and Iran to Conduct Joint Naval Exercises in the Persian Gulf. Two Chinese warships have docked at Iran’s principal naval port for the first time in history, Iranian admirals told state television on Sunday, adding that both countries would conduct four days of joint naval exercises. On Sunday, Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, reported that Chinese Navy ships involved in protecting shipping in the Gulf of Aden stopped at an Iranian port on Saturday for a “friendly visit.” One of the vessels was the Changchun, a guided-missile destroyer, the report said. The news agency posted images of one of the destroyers docking in the port of Bandar Abbas, where it was given a military welcome. The Iranian and Chinese Navies were scheduled to start joint exercises on Monday, focusing on rescue missions, Iranian news media reported. China has been expanding the areas where its navy operates, most recently joining the effort to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. The visit to Bandar Abbas is an example of the growing ties between China and Iran. China is already the principal buyer of Iranian oil, and Iran uses much of the profit to buy Chinese products, deals complicated by the international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.

Taiwan Previews Major Naval Acquisition Plan. Taiwan’s Navy plans to build new destroyers, frigates, corvettes and submarines in a 20-year force modernization program that will replace all the US and French-built warships in the fleet. Details of the program will be released in November, but Navy officials provided some information about the scope of the massive build plan during the live-fire field training event during the annual Han Kuang exercises off the east coast of Taiwan on Sept. 17. None of the new ships and submarines will be built by the US. Instead, Taiwan will rely on the combined efforts of its Ocean Industries Research and Development Center for design, the Taiwanese military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) for systems and integration, and the Taiwan-based China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. for construction. The Navy hopes to finish the design and development stage in five to 10 years, depending on the budget and complexity of each vessel, a Navy official said. Taiwan will seek Western assistance on various components and systems, but their determination to build the ships in Taiwan remains firm. Producing them in Taiwan creates jobs and skills, reduces reliance on restrictive US government export policies, and reduces corruption, the Navy official said. US and European defense companies have a history of hiring local agents with ties to organized crime and Beijing’s intelligence apparatus.

Joint Intel Chief Says US Must ‘Better’ Understand China Strategy. We’ve got bus-sized satellites that can probably see any blemishes on Chairman Mao’s badly rebuilt face from space (didn’t know about that, did you?). We’ve got U-2s with their superb sensors watching the Chinese coast (for now). We’ve got P-8s scanning the seas for Chinese submarines and testing their radar. Our subs — hopefully — cruise within their harbors and along their coasts. Our diplomats and spies collect rumint, humint and huge quantities of documents about China. But that doesn’t mean we really understand what China is doing, plans to do, or why it’s doing what it’s doing. The man responsible for indicators and strategic warnings at the Pentagon, the so-called J-2, told an audience of intelligence experts and industry types that the US suffers from a “data glut but an information deficit” about China. “We need to understand their strategy better,” Rear Adm. Paul Becker said this afternoon at the annual Intelligence and National Security Summit here. Our intelligence analysts need to come to closer grips with China’s grand strategy (if it has one), “interim objectives” and their “main campaigns” so they can better serve commanders and other senior leaders, he said.

Report: Japan Wants Its Own Early-Warning Planes. Japan’s Defence Ministry wants to develop its own early-warning aircraft, replacing US-made planes as the Chinese and Russian air forces grow more assertive, a report said Sunday. The ministry has asked for an initial ¥80 million ($642,000) from the finance ministry for the next fiscal year starting April to produce a mock aircraft, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported. It said that military planners want to complete the development program for planes featuring advanced surveillance radar by the mid-2020s, to replace Japan’s US-made E-2C Hawkeye planes, which are based on a 1960s design. Japan says it scrambled fighter jets more than 800 times in the last fiscal year to shadow intruding aircraft, mostly from China and Russia. That was the highest number of deployments since the final year of the Cold War in 1989. Fears of a military clash have heightened since China last November declared an “air defense identification zone” over the East China Sea, which overlaps a similar Japanese zone and covers territory disputed by the two countries.

China's war on terror becomes all-out attack on Islam in Xinjiang. The month of Ramadan should have been a time of fasting, charity and prayer in China’s Muslim west. But here, in many of the towns and villages of southern Xinjiang, it was a time of fear, repression, and violence. China’s campaign against separatism and terrorism in its mainly Muslim west has now become an all-out war on conservative Islam, residents here say. Throughout Ramadan,police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs: women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say. Students and civil servants were forced to eat instead of fasting, and work or attend classes instead of attending Friday prayers. The religious repression has bred resentment, and, at times, deadly protests. Reports have emerged of police firing on angry crowds in recent weeks in the towns of Elishku, and Alaqagha; since then, Chinese authorities have imposed a complete blackout on reporting from both locations, even more intense than that already in place across most of Xinjiang.

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | September 19, 2014

Xi’s Great-Power Drive A Dilemma For Obama As APEC Nears. When U.S. President Barack Obama meets Xi Jinping in Beijing in November he may want to steer clear of a line that has become a favorite of the Chinese president: “new model of great power relations.” After using similar phrasing in discussions with Xi in September last year in St Petersburg, the words “great power” were absent when Obama met Xi in The Hague in March and again in a July speech, as they were when National Security Adviser Susan Rice visited Beijing this month. By avoiding Xi’s slogan the U.S. is signaling its reluctance to accept a world that sees China increasing its influence while weakening that of the U.S. and its allies in Asia. Xi is using the lure of trade and investment alongside the firepower of a more confrontational military to make inroads after decades of U.S. preeminence in the Pacific, to meet his stated goal of China reclaiming great power status. “The Americans are realizing that it doesn’t work for them to use that language because the Chinese too willingly take that as indicating that America is actually prepared to see a significant shift in the nature of their respective roles in Asia,” said Hugh White, a professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. “The Americans don’t buy that.” The U.S. dilemma on how to describe its relations with China reflects the broader question of how it responds to that country’s economic, military and strategic rise: Cede dominance to China, resist its challenge or somehow share power in Asia. If any U.S. officials have uttered the phrase in recent weeks, they’ve added that it’s undefined. “We are busy trying to define a new great power relationship,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in an August speech. Robert Wang, the senior U.S. State Department official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, said Aug. 27: “That’s a term that the Chinese came up with, not the U.S. so I’m not sure whether we subscribe completely to the exact interpretation of that.”

How Should America Respond to China’s Deadly Missile Arsenal?
Washington should consider modifying the INF treaty to permit the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Asia while continuing to bar their deployment in Europe—despite the alternatives. How should the United States respond to Russian noncompliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty? For more than twenty-five years, this landmark arms-control agreement has prevented both nations from fielding surface-to-surface ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5500 kilometers, whether they carry conventional or nuclear warheads. In late July, the State Department publicly revealed what the press had been reporting for some time, namely that Russia has violated the treaty by testing a prohibited weapon. Suspicions of Russian cheating, along with official confirmation of Moscow’s transgression, have led to a flurry of articles outlining what the United States should or should not do in response. For instance, I have suggested that Washington consider modifying the treaty to permit the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Asia, while continuing to bar their deployment in Europe. Unconstrained by INF, China has amassed a large arsenal of missiles that would be captured by the agreement if it were a signatory—missiles that pose a significant threat to U.S. theater bases and forward-operating forces in the Western Pacific. By pursuing similar weapons of its own, the United States could bolster conventional deterrence and enhance crisis stability. In a modern twist on the original “dual track” approach that characterized the deployment of intermediate-range missiles to Europe several decades ago, it might even gain leverage over China to negotiate limits on its offensive forces.

Troops face off at India-China border as nation’s leaders meet.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping preside over two of Asia’s biggest economies, each with a population well over 1 billion. But when the two leaders met for a summit this week in India, their handshakes and pledges of cooperation were overshadowed by a mere 1,000 soldiers and a group of yak herders miles away on a windswept Himalayan plateau. There, in a remote region called Ladakh, soldiers and civilians had been engaged in two border disputes that lasted for days. The incidents overcast a visit that was trumpeted by both sides as a “historic” occasion, the first by the Chinese president since Modi became prime minister in May. Since then, Modi has faced the dual challenge of strengthening his country’s relations with other neighbors, especially Japan, while pressing for greater investment from the Chinese, crucial to his plan to modernize and expand India’s infrastructure. On the second day of talks Thursday, leaders for the two countries announced a partnership to improve Indian railways and China’s $20 billion investment in two industrial parks in the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Xi, in his remarks, said that Chinese companies would partner with India to improve railway speeds and open market access in China for India products such as pharmaceuticals, agricultural goods and fuel. The two trade more than $66 billion annually, the majority in Chinese exports. Modi, for his part, lauded the economic partnerships but said he had “raised serious concern over repeated incidents along the border” during the 90-minute meeting with Xi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

US OFFICIAL: CHINESE WANT NSA CYBER SCHOOLS. Chinese universities are welcome to adopt the U.S. National Security Agency's cyber education program, the top U.S. computer security education official said, after a recent trip to Beijing. Entrepreneurs in China have voiced support for improving the notoriously spotty relations between the U.S. and China in cyberspace by patterning Chinese courses on NSA-approved curricula, said Ernest McDuffie, head of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education. The offer of shared cybersecurity training comes at a time when both countries are exchanging accusations of hacking each other’s trade secrets. Both parties have denied these allegations. "It’s not like we’re giving away some deep, dark secret that they didn’t know before," McDuffie said during an interview. "And it gives you the chance to put ethics into the mix.” Through the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance program, launched in 1998, more than 180 U.S. public and private universities have mapped their curricula to NSA standards involving faculty, training and facilities. The Department of Homeland Security joined the initiative in 2004.

Future Bombers Under Study In China And Russia. While the U.S. Air Force pursues development of the Long-Range Strike Bomber project, striving to launch full-scale development next year, both Russia and China are also proceeding with bomber plans. In the case of Russia, the PAK-DA (perspektivnyi aviatsionnyi kompleks dal’ney aviatsii, or future long-range air system) is the first all-new bomber to start development since the Tupolev Tu-160, in 1977, while China’s prospective new system would be the nation’s first indigenous bomber. PAK-DA is under development by the Tupolev unit of United Aircraft Corp. (UAC), which has been responsible for almost all of Russia’s long-range bombers since the end of World War II. The basic decision to pursue development of a new bomber was taken in 2007. At that point, the Russian military started to define upgrades to the existing bomber force, which would bridge the gap until a new aircraft could be ready, alongside an analysis of alternative configurations and approaches. Out of dozens of potential candidates, including supersonic and hypersonic technologies, four finalists emerged, and a preferred design—featuring a subsonic all-wing or blended-wing body with stealth characteristics—was submitted to the customer in early 2012. It is likely to be the first Russian aircraft designed with all-aspect, broadband stealth—the key feature introduced by the B-2 when it entered service in 1997.

Collective Defense: Abe’s New Security Plan. Since the end of World War II, Japan has relied on the United States for its security, an arrangement enshrined in the US-written Japanese Constitution of 1947 and augmented by subsequent agreements between the two allies. Article IX of the Constitution prohibits Japan from taking part in any conflict or building a traditional military. (When President George H. W. Bush organized the “coalition of the willing” against Iraq in 1991, Japan was able only to offer financial assistance because of this stipulation.) But with the rise of China and its assertion of sovereignty in regions Japan claims as its own, Tokyo has begun to expand its military capability. Some government officials wonder how these moves will affect relations with the United States, Japan’s protector for the last half-century. Ties between the two allies go deeper than security. The countries are each other’s fourth-largest trading partner, and Japan sends many of its best students to American universities. As of 2012, Japanese companies had more than $300 billion invested in the US, while US private investment in Japan was $134 billion. One result of this ingrained relationship is that Japan has historically been strongly pro-US, ranking as the most pro-US country in the world as recently as 2011, according to an annual Pew survey. Yet by 2013, as Tokyo sensed a new vulnerability in its own neighborhood and a new sense of uncertainty in American foreign policy, Japan fell to fourteenth on the list of most pro-US countries, its lowest position since this question began being asked in 2006. Japan, like many allies of the United States in the region, is increasingly skeptical of America’s willingness to execute its commitments to protect Japan in particular. I heard this from a wide array of Japanese government officials and foreign policy experts I spoke with in a visit to the country in May.


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