China Caucus Blog

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.


Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | September 17, 2014

China Pushes 'Maritime Silk Road' In South, Southeast Asia. The MSR is embraced by Sri Lanka and the Maldives, but may hit a snag over South China Sea tensions. Xi Jinping is three countries into his four country tour of Central and South Asia. After a stop in Tajikistan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, Xi visited the Maldives and Sri Lanka. As Ankit pointed out yesterday, cooperation on the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) was a centerpiece of Xi’s visits to the latter two countries. As island nations in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives and Sri Lanka are both crucial to the initiative and also stand to reap benefits from being situated as stops on a larger maritime trade route. Accordingly, leaders from both countries were enthusiastic about joining the project. In an interview with Xinhua, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed his country’s eagerness to join in the process of building the MSR. Actually, Sri Lanka is already part of the initiative. The island received $1.4 billion from China to build the “Colombo Port City,” part of a bid to mold the island country into a rival to thriving ports in Singapore and Dubai. Xi is expected to attend an inauguration ceremony at Port City during his brief stay in Sri Lanka. Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen was similarly supportive of the MSR project, telling Xi and reporters that “the Maldives is honored to now feature among China’s partners in building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.” The Maldives has not enjoyed Chinese investment on the same level as Sri Lanka has, but that is beginning to change. During Xi’s visit, China and the Maldives signed agreements for China to upgrade the Maldives’ airport and to build a bridge from Male, the capital, to the island hosting the Maldives’ international airport. President Yameen suggested that the new bridge could be called “the ‘China Bridge’ to symbolize the friendly ties between the two countries.” The Indian Ocean states are interested in the project – even India has expressed interest in joining, although there are few specifics at the point (something likely to be on the agenda for Xi’s visit this week). Ironically, the MSR may prove to be a tougher sell closer to home. The concept of the Maritime Silk Road first emerged in the context of Southeast Asia. Xi Jinping presented the idea in a speech to Indonesia’s parliament in October 2013. Southeast Asia will be in effect the first stop on the MSR outside of China itself and thus is crucial to the success of the project. But increased tensions in the South China Sea have made the idea of maritime cooperation between China and Southeast Asia a hard sell for Beijing.

Chinese Leader Visits Sri Lanka, Challenging India’s Sway. President Xi Jinping of China arrived in Sri Lanka on Tuesday for a 23-hour trip to this island nation to sign a raft of agreements as China chips away at India’s traditional dominance in the region. Mr. Xi’s plane traveled from nearby Malé, the capital of the Maldives, where he signed an agreement to upgrade the airport and build a bridge, a housing project and a road. The airport project had been given to an Indian construction giant, GMR. But the Maldives abruptly canceled that contract in 2012 and instead gave it to China. In Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, on Tuesday, Mr. Xi inaugurated the final phase of a coal-fired power plant financed by Beijing and built by China Machinery Engineering Corporation. And he and the Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, agreed to cooperate on the Colombo Port City project, a $1.3 billion plan to build an artificial island off Colombo. On Wednesday, Mr. Xi is expected to visit the Colombo South Container Terminal, in which the Chinese government has a controlling stake through the state-run China Merchant Holdings. Mr. Xi was given a grand welcome at Colombo’s airport, with decorated elephants and traditional dancers on hand to greet him. Mr. Xi then traveled to the capital along a Chinese-built expressway. In a letter published on Tuesday in a Sri Lankan government newspaper, Mr. Xi wrote that China “resolutely opposes any move by any country to interfere in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs under any excuse.” The statement was an obvious reference to growing pressure on Sri Lanka from the United States and other Western countries to investigate the killing of civilians during its civil war. In his remarks, Mr. Rajapaksa said that China’s investments in Sri Lanka had provided every resident with cheap electricity. Mr. Rajapaksa, who is campaigning for his party’s candidates in provincial elections, announced that electric bills would immediately be cut by 25 percent.

Xi sees factory China and back office India as global engine
. A combination of the "world's factory" and the "world's back office" will drive global economic growth, Chinese President Xi Jinping said ahead of a rare visit to India on Wednesday, playing down mistrust that has kept the Asian giants apart. India's new prime minister, Narendra Modi, is determined to build closer relations with the world's second-largest economy, whose leader arrived on Modi's 64th birthday armed with pledges to invest billions of dollars in railways, industrial parks and roads. "As the two engines of the Asian economy, we need to become cooperation partners spearheading growth," Xi wrote in a column in The Hindu newspaper. He said China's strong manufacturing base and India's software and scientific skills had massive potential both as a production base and for creating a consumer market. Xi flew straight to Ahmedabad, in Modi's home state of Gujarat, where the prime minister gave him a bouquet of lilies. The visit coincides with a slowdown in China's economy, with Chinese companies looking abroad for growth opportunities.

Fighter Jets Land On Taiwan Highway In 'China Attack' War Games. Taiwan displayed how its fighter jets and early warning aircraft could land, refuel and take off on a closed motorway on Tuesday, in a scenario simulating a Chinese attack that wiped out the island’s air force bases. The exercise — the first of its kind since 2011 — was a reminder of lingering Chinese hostilities towards the island despite warming ties between the two rivals. “The scenario of the drill was that the air bases were severely damaged after intensive bombings of ballistic and cruise missiles by the Chinese communists,” Maj. Gen. Hung Kuang-min told reporters. Three jet fighters — an F-16, a Mirage 2000-5 and a home-made Indigenous Defence Fighter — practiced landing on a freeway in southern Chiayi County, where they refuelled and loaded missiles and other ammunition before taking off again. Tuesday’s maneuvers were the first to feature an E-2K, a US-made early warning aircraft. Around 1,200 soldiers were mobilized for the drill, part of war games codenamed “Han Kuang 30” which are designed to evaluate the island’s ability to defend itself against a Chinese invasion.

Report: Japan Interested In Aegis Ashore For Ballistic Missile Defense
. The Japanese Defense Ministry is interested in acquiring Lockheed Martin’s Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense (BMD) battery, according to an August report from the Japanese newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun. The paper reported the Defense Ministry is expected to spend “tens of millions of yen” as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 state budget for research into Aegis Ashore – which combines the Lockheed Martin SPY-1D radar with a battery of Raytheon Standard Missile-3 missiles. “The ministry intends to introduce new ground-based SM-3 missiles, in addition to the sea-based SM-3s that the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) already possesses, to enhance Tokyo’s readiness to intercept ballistic missiles heading toward Japan,” according to the report. When contacted by USNI News, representatives of Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) did not elaborate on the Mainichi story. The only MDA effort ongoing in Japan is the installation of a Raytheon Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2) BMD radar, an MDA spokesman told USNI News on Friday. Currently, Japan uses a combination of four Kongo-class Aegis-equipped guided missile destroyers armed with SM-3s for longer-range ballistic missile threats and Lockheed Martin Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) mobile ground based interceptors for missiles closer to their targets. “There are concerns that PAC3s could not respond if a massive number of ballistic missiles were to be simultaneously launched toward Japan,” read the Mainichi report. Japan intends to double the amount of BMD destroyers to eight by 2018, according to local press reports.

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 16, 2014

Philippine Base For U.S. Ships Draws Mixed Reactions Amid China Tensions. The Philippines and China are locked in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea. In recent years, Beijing has sent forces to occupy reefs claimed by Manila and boats from both countries have engaged in stand offs in those waters. The island of Palawan in the west Philippines is at the forefront of these tensions. Now, Manila is considering allowing the United States to base some of its own forces there. As boats from the small fishing village of Macarascas head out into the waters of the South China Sea, off Palawan’s west coast, they pass by the Philippines’ Ulugan Bay navy base. Village council leader Jane Villarin said she worries about the tensions between her country and China in what is known here as the West Philippines Sea. And for that reason, she does not mind having the base so close by. “It’s protection for us. We live here in the West Philippines Sea, so that’s our fear. That’s why the naval, the Philippines navy is welcomed here because of that,” said Villarin. Villarin added that she would welcome the American navy too. Following the April summit between President Barack Obama and Philippines leader Benigno Aquino, that could become reality. “Today I’m pleased that we are beginning an important new chapter in the relationship between our two countries and its starts with our security with the new defense cooperation agreement that was signed today,” said Obama during that trip. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA, opens the door for American forces to rotate through existing Filipino military bases. That includes facilities at Oyster Bay, which is located within Palawan’s Ulugan Bay base. Oyster Bay is located 160 kilometers from the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea. Manila says the Chinese military is building outposts on Filipino reefs in these waters and harasses its naval forces. Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, chief public affairs officer for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the presently undeveloped Oyster Bay base is a promising site for American and Filipino forces to work together as outlined in the new defense pact. “The very purpose of that base is to enhance our defense capabilities westward to the West Philippines Sea. Oyster Bay is one of those that we want to offer to the United States so we can develop it,” said Zagala. Zagala added that if Washington accepts the offer, Oyster Bay would still be a Philippines’ military base and not an American one. He said the development of the Ulugan or Oyster Bay facilities with U.S. help is not meant to provoke China.

An Opportunity to Reenergize U.S.–India Relations
. If ever there were a time to expect U.S.–India relations to improve, many would say it is now. The new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has promised to open the economy to more private investment, improve the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate, create jobs for the rapidly growing youth population, and quicken the pace of India’s defense modernization. If the new government sticks to this agenda, it will present numerous opportunities for expanded Indo–U.S. cooperation on a range of issues. New Delhi and Washington share similar strategic objectives, whether they involve countering terrorism, maintaining open and free seaways throughout the Indo–Pacific region, or hedging against China’s rise. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made clear during his recent visit to India that Prime Minister Modi will receive a warm reception when he visits Washington in September. The U.S.–India joint statement issued after the fifth round of Strategic Dialogue talks detailed an ambitious agenda to take the relationship to the next level. Before the end of the year, for example, they are committed to holding a meeting of the Counterterrorism Joint Working Group, ministerial-level Homeland Security and Trade Policy Forum dialogues, and a CEOs Forum, as well as the next round of the High Technology Cooperation Group. The U.S. also will participate for the first time in India’s Annual Technology Summit in November. It is heartening that both sides are seeking to turn over a new page in relations, but their ability to keep the positive momentum going is already being tested. India’s position at the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade talks would have been disappointing under any circumstances, but it was especially disheartening coming from the Modi government, which has been projecting an image of India as a dynamic economy open to global trade and investment.

Xi’s India visit highlights changing power dynamic
. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to India this week highlights subtle shifts in the regional power dynamic that are bringing warmer ties between the two Asian giants, challenging China’s traditional relationship with Pakistan, and opening a new chapter in Beijing’s ongoing competition for influence with arch-rival Japan. Xi is due in New Delhi on Wednesday for a three-day visit focused on trade, investment and the resolution of decades-old border disputes. With the world’s second-largest economy and a proven track record at building highways, railways, and industrial zones, China has much to offer India as it seeks to upgrade its creaky infrastructure. The visit is the latest sign of easing suspicions between the two huge countries - which between them have 2.6 billion people - dating from a month-long border war in 1962 that left around 2,000 soldiers dead. That conflict ended in a standoff with both sides accusing the other of occupying its territory. Xi’s visit “will definitely enhance the bilateral political mutual trust,” Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing last week. While ties have been steadily growing for years, they’ve been given a major boost under new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’s signaled he wishes to pursue a more vigorous foreign policy. Xi is the first Chinese head of state to visit in eight years, while the country’s prime minister, Li Keqiang, made India his first overseas visit shortly after taking office last year.

India says to defend China border after standoff ahead of Xi visit
. India said on Tuesday it would firmly defend its 3,500-km- (2,200-mile-) long border with China after domestic media reported a new face-off on the disputed frontier, just days ahead of a visit by President Xi Jinping. More than 200 soldiers of the People's Liberation Army crossed into what India considers its territory in Ladakh in the western Himalayas last week, and used cranes, bulldozers and a Hummer vehicle to build a 2-km (1.2-mile) road within it, the Hindustan Times said. Indian soldiers challenged the Chinese troops and asked them to withdraw, the newspaper said. Then, on the night of September 10, soldiers demolished a temporary track built by Chinese forces. There was no immediate comment by India's defense ministry. Both China and India are trying to put a positive spin on Xi's first summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the Indian leader took office in May. He arrives on Wednesday after touring the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The two countries are expected to ramp up commercial ties and open the way for Chinese investment in Indian infrastructure, including railways, but the contested border remains a stumbling block to better political ties. Both lay claim to vast tracts of territory and after two decades of talks are no closer to a resolution of a border dispute over which they went to war in 1962. They have not even been able to agree on the Line of Actual Control where the two armies are deployed, leading to frequent reports of border violations.

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 11, 2014

Asia Arms Up To Counter Growing Chinese Might. Vietnam has nearly doubled its military spending, Japan is requesting its biggest-ever defense budget and the Philippines is rushing to piece together a viable navy. Several Asian nations are arming up, their wary eyes fixed squarely on one country: a resurgent China that's boldly asserting its territorial claims all along the East Asian coast. The scramble to spend more defense dollars comes amid spats with China over contested reefs and waters. Other Asian countries such as India and South Korea are quickly modernizing their forces, although their disputes with China have stayed largely at the diplomatic level. Asian countries now account for about half of the world's arms imports, with China leading the way by quadrupling its annual military budget over the past decade. The growth in military spending has largely kept pace with economic expansion, although it's been pulling ahead in China, Vietnam and several other countries this year. China's goal is to dislodge the U.S. as the dominant power in the Pacific, said Robert D. Kaplan, chief geopolitical analyst for the U.S.-based intelligence research firm Stratfor. Among the stakes are vital shipping lanes in the South China Sea and potentially lucrative pockets of oil and natural gas under East Asian waters.

China Deploys Troops in South Sudan to Defend Oil Fields, Workers.
Deployment Marks Sharp Escalation in Beijing's Efforts to Protect Interests in Africa.  China began deploying 700 soldiers to a United Nations peacekeeping force in South Sudan to help guard the country's embattled oil fields and protect Chinese workers and installations, a spokesman for the African nation's president said Tuesday. The airlift of the Chinese infantry battalion to the South Sudanese states of Unity and Upper Nile, the site of the only operating oil fields still under the control of the central government in Juba, was expected to take several days, spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said. While Beijing's troops will operate under U.N. command, their posting to South Sudan marks a sharp escalation of China's efforts to ensure the safety of its workers and assets in Africa and guarantee a steady flow of energy for domestic consumption. The deployment marks the first time Beijing has contributed a battalion to a U.N. peacekeeping force, U.N. officials said. In March 2013, China sent some 300 peacekeepers to Mali to protect Chinese engineers building a U.N. camp in the town of Gao. China's state-owned National Petroleum Corp. holds a 40% stake in a joint venture that operates in South Sudan's vast oil fields. The company also has a 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) export pipeline that carries crude through neighboring Sudan to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. Before the latest fighting in South Sudan flared, the country accounted for 5% of China's crude imports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Output has since plummeted by a third—to 160,000 barrels a day—following the outbreak of fighting late last year.

China denies reports of pilots killed in J-15 tests
. A Chinese state-owned newspaper has denied international media reports claiming that two People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) pilots were killed during the test phase for the J-15 carrier-borne combat aircraft. Several international news outlets cited a 27 August report by the Xinhua state news agency of a commendation order signed by President Xi Jinping for Liaoning 's J-15 squadron, including Commander Dai Mingmeng, who was honoured as a "Heroic Test Pilot" at a ceremony convened by the Central Military Commission. The reports alleged that the commendation mentioned two pilots from a J-15 squadron who were killed while conducting aircraft trials related to Liaoning 's air operations. This revelation was hailed as rare admission of Chinese operational military fatalities, since such accidents are rarely reported in the country. In a report published on 7 September, People's Daily journalist Yan Jiaqi quoted military sources as saying that the citations are incorrect and that the persons who died were not pilots in the carrier wing but "comrades" who died while working on the J-15 project. The report also emphasised that the deaths were not related to the carrier tests. However the paper has stopped short of elaborating on the fatalities. The report also partially blamed microblogging sites in China for proliferating what it calls the "inaccurate reports". Liaoning recently came out from dry dock after four month's maintenance in the Dalian shipyard and is expected to sail back to its home port near Qingdao in the eastern coastal province of Shandong.

U.S. Military Critic to Run for Okinawa Governor
. A popular local leader in Okinawa and critic of the U.S. military presence there declared his candidacy in a November gubernatorial race, putting in doubt plans for a new American base. The announcement Wednesday by Takeshi Onaga, a four-term mayor of Okinawa's capital of Naha, creates a headache for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants to upgrade Japan's defense alliance with the U.S. to counter China's territorial assertions in the waters near Okinawa. The headquarters of Mr. Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party backs the re-election bid of the incumbent governor, who supports the construction of a new U.S. Marine Corps facility in a rural part of Okinawa. The new base is designed to replace an existing facility in a densely populated section of Okinawa, and it is part of a broader plan to modernize U.S. military facilities in Japan. Getting rid of the old base is popular on Okinawa, but building a big new one isn't. People on the island, which plays host to three-quarters of the U.S. bases in Japan, have long complained about noise, accidents and crimes involving troops. "I have renewed my resolve never to allow the construction of a base that will continue to exist for 100 years into the future," Mr. Onaga said in a speech at a city assembly meeting. "We need to let them know that Okinawa can no longer accept being dumped on like this." The incumbent governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, gave permission last December to reclaim the land for the new base next to an existing facility at Camp Schwab, granting a request of Mr. Abe's government. If Mr. Onaga is elected, he would likely reverse the decision, further delaying a project that was first floated 19 years ago.

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

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