China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 18, 2015
Is Xi Following Putin’s Lead in Waging War By Stealth? The Chinese are notorious for copying Western products and adapting them to serve the Chinese market. Look at Alibaba, often described as China’s answer to eBay. Or Weibo, a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. Plus, thanks to weak intellectual property protection laws in China, these companies often get away with it. Yet there is nothing inherently immoral or illegal about governments copying geopolitical strategies from other governments, and China’s northern comrade, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, may be setting a dangerous precedent. The apparent success of Putin’s misadventures in Ukraine could serve as an attractive geopolitical militaristic strategy for other nations with territorial disputes, such as China. But if Putin’s strategy in Ukraine is so dangerous and widely condemned, why would Chinese President Xi Jinping bother copying Putin? Some political analysts argue that when a nation’s leaders face economic difficulties, the public’s preoccupation with day-to-day problems can be alleviated by focusing on broader concerns like nationalism and the protection of the state’s interests. Economic growth in China is a serious concern, as overcapacity in real estate and heavy industry took gross domestic product (GDP) from the 9 percent average from 1989 to 2015 to an expected 7 percent first-quarter year-over-year growth rate this last quarter. Russia is also facing an economic slowdown. Its GDP is expected to shrink by 3 percent in 2015 as $50 a barrel oil and capital outflows of $115 billion harm growth prospects. Despite an economic crisis in Russia, Putin’s popularity has soared, largely the result of increased nationalism. In May 2013, a little less than a year before Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, Putin’s approval ratings stood at 64 percent. Following further intervention by Russia, which stands accused of providing arms and forces in the east of Ukraine, Putin’s latest approval rating rocketed to 86 percent. Some have questioned the legitimacy of the poll numbers, but many do concede a marked increase in Putin’s popularity among ordinary Russians.”

China Seen as Launching Plan to Revamp Global Economic Order.
  “China's leaders have embarked on a conscious strategy to reshape the economy of Asia and the world to their advantage, according to two top scholars at the Council on Foreign Relations, who warned Tuesday the restructuring could occur at the expense of U.S. economic interests if American policymakers fail to develop a comprehensive response. "China has a very clear, broad, proactive and well-thought out-regional strategy," one that is "more expansive than any other country in the world," said former Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats, who spoke on China's long-term economic strategy in a session with former Treasury Department China envoy Olin Wethington. The current drift of events are also playing to China's strengths, Mr. Wethington said in a briefing Tuesday for reporters. "The status quo will not continue to serve us well," he said. Both Washington and Beijing have said they are trying to accommodate China's emergence as a global economic superpower without disrupting the Asian economic boom, but there have been clear signs of competition as China challenges the U.S.-authored rules of the road. China is not a party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal President Obama has called one of his top priorities, and an International Monetary Fund reform program that would give China, India and other rising powers a greater say in decision-making has broken down because of its failure to pass the U.S. Congress. The U.S. was also one of the few major powers to decline an invitation to participate in China's $100 billion new infrastructure development bank for Asia. Both speakers agreed that China's initial explosion of economic growth will be impossible to maintain, and that the nation will need to adjust to lower growth rates in order to make its economic progress sustainable. Like the U.S., Chinese leaders are now confronting such delicate political problems as growing income inequality and the balance between economic growth and protecting the environment. But it was the nature of China's international and global economic plans that should be cause for concern, the report said.”

China Approves Plan for Civilian Ships to be Used by Military
. The Chinese government has approved a plan requiring civilian shipbuilders to ensure that new ships can be used by the military during an emergency, a state-run newspaper said on Thursday. The plan will "enable China to convert the considerable potential of its civilian fleet into military strength", said the China Classification Society, a shipping industry association, reported the official China Daily. It will also improve the People's Liberation Army's "strategic projection and maritime support capabilities", the report added. "Modern naval warfare often requires the mobilization and deployment of a large number of ships while the mass production of naval ships in peacetime is not economically sensible," said Cao Weidong, a researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute in the newspaper. "Therefore, it is a common practice that shipbuilders reserve some military application platforms on their civilian vessels so they can serve the navy in wartime."  The Technical Standards for New Civilian Ships to Implement National Defense Requirements is the result of a five-year research project by the shipping body and the military, the paper said. It includes five types of ship - container, roll-on/roll-off, multipurpose, bulk carrier and break bulk, the paper said. Other countries have in the recent past used their civilian shipping fleet to help in military emergencies, including Britain during the Falklands War in 1982. China has ramped up defense spending to modernize its forces, the world's largest, which are gaining experience in operating far from its coast, especially the navy. In a defense strategy paper last month, China vowed to continue growing its "open seas protection" and criticized neighbors who take "provocative actions" on its reefs and islands. China's increasingly assertive moves to press sovereignty claims in the East and South China Sea have rattled the region and aroused concern in Washington, although the country says it has no hostile intent.”

New U.S.-Philippine Military Deal, Already on Ice, Could Face Further Delays.
“A U.S.-Philippine defense agreement that would help counter China's growing naval power in the disputed South China Sea has yet to be implemented more than a year after it was signed, and could now face a fresh political hurdle in Manila. The deal gives U.S. troops wide access to local military bases and approval to build facilities to store fuel and equipment for maritime security, but it was effectively frozen after left-wing politicians and other opponents challenged its constitutionality in the Philippine Supreme Court last year. The court is expected to issue a ruling before U.S. President Barack Obama visits Manila for an Asia-Pacific summit in November. The deal, called an Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), was signed just days before Obama last traveled to Manila in April 2014.  In another complication, 13 senators in the 24-member Philippine Senate have signed a draft resolution insisting the upper house scrutinize the deal before it takes effect. "In this resolution, we are saying we will not allow the power of the Senate to be eroded," Senator Miriam Santiago, the principal author of the measure, said in a statement last week. The proposed resolution will be lodged in late July, when the Senate reconvenes after a recess. While a Senate resolution would not be binding on President Benigno Aquino, it would put pressure on him to allow senators to debate the agreement, which would delay it further, Philippine political experts told Reuters.  With national elections due in May 2016, politicians are already focusing on who will contest the presidency when Aquino steps down, possibly putting some congressional business on the back-burner. The Philippine constitution allows presidents to only serve a single six-year term. "Aquino is increasingly losing his power to influence Congress," said political expert Ramon Casiple. Further delays might raise eyebrows in Washington, experts said, given Manila has been the most vocal critic of Beijing among the claimants to the South China Sea and has urged the United States to be more assertive in pushing back against China's rapid land reclamation in the waterway. Senators have said they also want to review an agreement to be negotiated with Tokyo that would allow Japanese military aircraft and naval vessels to use bases in the Philippines for refueling and picking up supplies. The Senate has ratified previous Philippine defense agreements, including a decades-old security treaty with the United States. Aquino has said the EDCA only needs executive approval because it's an addition to existing security arrangements. To be sure, U.S.-Philippine military ties are already robust.”

US Deploys Powerful Guided-Missile Cruiser To Japan, Vessel Equipped With Latest Aegis Combat System.
“The USS Chancellorsville arrived at the American base in Yokosuka, Japan, on Thursday. The warship, described as one of the most capable guided-missile cruisers in the U.S. Navy, is armed with the latest Aegis combat system, and will be permanently deployed at the base, which is located at the entrance to Tokyo Bay. The USS Chancellorsville's Aegis Baseline 9 combat system is designed to track and guide missiles to destroy enemy targets, Russia’s TASS news agency reported, and the ship is the first of three U.S. military vessels, equipped with integrated naval weapons systems, to be deployed in the region by late 2017. Noah Brier, co-founder of one of the best-regarded content marketing start-ups, provides his perspective to help you achieve more. According to officials at the Yokosuka base, the deployment of three additional Aegis-equipped missile cruisers is part of a broader strategy by the U.S. government to shift its focus toward the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, the U.S. will also send 14 more ships -- led by a Ronald Reagan Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier -- to Yokosuka in the second half of this year, TASS reported, adding that the move will be the most significant one for the U.S. Navy since the end of World War II. Japan, a close U.S. ally, said last month that it would retaliate against North Korea if Pyongyang launched a missile attack on the U.S. In April, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited Japan to highlight the two countries' security alliance in the region. During his visit, Carter also expressed concerns over China's move to reclaim land in disputed areas of the South China Sea. The U.S. and Japan have stepped up military cooperation in the face of increasingly aggressive territorial moves by China in the region. “We are concerned by the scope and pace of China's land reclamation activities, which are inconsistent with China's own past commitments to ASEAN countries,” Carter told Japan's Yomiuri newspaper at the time.”

Why the Vietnamese Military Wants to Buy American.
“The Pentagon plans to give Vietnam millions of dollars to buy American-made patrol boats. It's a huge milestone, 40 years after the bloody and divisive American war in Vietnam. On May 31, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter pledged $18 million just to help Washington's former enemy expand its coast guard. Carter made the announcement while visiting the Southeast Asian country as part of a visit to boost security cooperation between Washington and Hanoi. The vessels are just the latest addition to Hanoi's growing wish list of Western weapons, which also includes more ships, warplanes, and drones. In April, Vietnam hosted a defense symposium organized by the U.S. embassy. The conference in Hanoi brought in representatives from American defense giants Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell International, and more than a dozen others. "Any defense related sales to Vietnam will follow development of U.S. government policy on Vietnam," Boeing spokesman Jay Krishnan told Bloomberg. Nearly three weeks earlier, the U.S. and Vietnamese navies conducted a joint training mission to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations. This is the sixth such exercise in what's become an annual event between the two navies. It's part of a trend toward broader cooperation between the former enemies. The Oregon National Guard has hosted delegations of Vietnamese military personnel through the Guard's State Partnership Program. Growing distrust between Hanoi and Beijing has played a central role in hastening this reconciliation. Vietnam wants a better arsenal to counter an increasingly assertive China. It's even come to blows. In May 2014, the Vietnamese coast guard got into a scuffle with China over HD-981, an oil rig owned by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation — a.k.a., CNOOC..”

Failure of Obama’s Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Could Hurt U.S. Influence in Asia.
“With President Obama’s trade agenda in jeopardy in Congress, the nations of Asia are weighing the potential impact of a failed deal on local jobs and exports, but also something else: American influence in the region. For many here, the defeat of a sweeping trade and investment pact being negotiated between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations would weaken Washington’s already strained claim to leadership in Asia and undermine a commitment by Mr. Obama to devote more attention and resources to a group of countries contending with the growing power of China. Congress rejected legislation on Friday that is crucial to completing the trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, throwing its future — and its potential to bind together countries friendly to American interests — into doubt. “If this collapses, Pacific Rim countries will be aghast,” said Shunpei Takemori, a professor at Keio University in Japan, the largest economy in the would-be trade zone after the United States. “China is pushing, and if the U.S. just stands aside, it would be a tragedy.” The White House and its Republican free-trade allies in Congress are searching for ways to revive a bill that would extend aid to workers displaced by global trade agreements. By rejecting that measure on Friday, Mr. Obama’s fellow Democrats in the House effectively scuttled legislation granting him the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress. Without such trade promotion authority, analysts in the region said, it may be impossible for Mr. Obama to persuade governments to make the concessions needed to close a deal that would affect 40 percent of the global economy. The death of the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be a new setback for American economic diplomacy in Asia after a failed attempt to thwart a Chinese state-run infrastructure investment fund that some see as a competitor to American-dominated institutions like the World Bank. The Obama administration has also struggled to respond to blunter assertions of Chinese power, such as Beijing’s efforts to strengthen its territorial claims by building islands out of reefs in the South China Sea.”

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.
Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 17, 2015
China’s Land Reclamation Announcement: A Change in Tone, Not in Policy. “Q1: What has China announced about its land reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands? A1: On June 16, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang announced that “as planned, the land reclamation project of China’s construction on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha (Spratly) Islands will be completed in the upcoming days.” He noted that after land reclamation was complete, China would continue to construct facilities on its islands. Kang indicated that China’s position on its island building remained largely consistent. He reiterated that “the construction activities on the Nansha islands and reefs fall within the scope of China’s sovereignty, and are lawful, reasonable, and justified.” Kang also restated that the artificial islands have defense purposes, as well as civilian purposes, including search and rescue, scientific research, ecological conservation, and fishing. Kang declined to offer specific details on which islands were close to complete. Q2: Does this represent a resolution of the land reclamation issue? A2: Today’s announcement does not break new ground with respect to China’s activities or overall position, but it likely reflects subtle diplomatic messaging as senior figures from both the United States and China prepare for high-level meetings. Beijing has already finished its land reclamation activities at some locations in the Spratly Islands, including Johnson South and Fiery Cross Reefs. At other locations, it is putting minor finishing touches on its reclamation work. At two features, Mischief and Subi Reefs, land reclamation is still very much under way. If China were to halt reclamation activity at Mischief and Subi, this would constitute a major change in policy, but this recent announcement appears only to confirm what analysts already knew: Beijing has almost finished its planned land reclamation activities in the Spratlys. More than anything else, Beijing’s announcement is a shift in its public diplomatic position. Since April, Chinese statements have insisted that other countries have no business interfering with or opining on China’s building activities.”

China’s Place in U.S. Foreign Policy.
“China’s remarkable aggregation of national power over the past 35 years has been a source of wonderment: to economists, who have been surprised by that country’s consistently high rate of growth; to political scientists, who are at a loss to explain the persistence of authoritarian Communist Party rule despite its more open market order; and to historians, who describe China’s meteoric rise as unprecedented. But to the U.S. national security community, China’s swift climb up the international power ladder has been a source less of wonderment than of increasing concern. How should America evaluate the risks that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) poses to its current and future interests? It is a crucial question, since sound strategy depends on an accurate assessment of the capabilities and intentions of potential rivals. Significantly underestimating China’s ambitions and its future means to advance them could render the United States strategically vulnerable. Exaggerating those same factors risks an inefficient use of America’s diplomatic, military, and economic resources, while counterproductively stimulating more vigorous PRC investments in hard power than would otherwise be the case. Much literature has appeared in recent years speculating on future Sino-American cooperation, competition, or conflict. While there is no shortage of theories of international relations to inform conjecture on likely future scenarios, two in particular highlight the sharp contrasts in approach and perspectives that characterize this debate. The first is realism, which assumes an evolving international environment in which fierce competition between leaders and challengers is the norm. The realist dynamic is sometimes called the “Thucydides Trap”, a term inspired by Thucydides’ famous account of the seemingly inevitable conflict between the rising city-state of Athens and the status quo power Sparta as they struggled for dominance of Ancient Greece in the fifth century BCE. Realists who embrace the Thucydides Trap metaphor argue that the risks of hegemonic wars between rising states (such as China) and status quo states (such as the United States) are high. A second and contrasting theory framing this discussion is neoliberalism, which assumes that open-access political systems (which China is not) and market-based economic exchange create opportunities for the realization of positive sum gains between competing powers.”

Why Democracies Dominate: America’s Edge over China.
“China’s enormous population and rapid rate of economic growth mean that Beijing could soon dislodge Washington from its standing as the most dominant power in Asia. The Economist, for example, predicts that China could overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy—an important measure of national power—in the year 2021. Moreover, we know that military might tends to follow economic heft. Beijing’s ongoing military buildup is already constraining America’s ability to project power in the Asia-Pacific region. If China follows Washington’s lead in investing in global power-projection capabilities, decades from now it could conceivably usurp global military supremacy from Washington. Or will it? The place to look for an answer to whether China really will become the globe’s most dominant power is not primarily in the economic or military realm. The more pertinent area of interest is China’s domestic political institutions, and they suggest that a more equivocal answer is warranted to the question of whether China will emerge as number one. Many Western political theorists have held that states ruled by democratic institutions perform better in long-run political competitions, and contemporary social-science research concurs. It is no accident that the most dominant states for the past several centuries, the United Kingdom and the United States, were also among the most democratic, or that their autocratic challengers, Imperial (and then Nazi) Germany and the Soviet Union, eventually imploded. Similarly, America’s institutions are its key competitive advantage in the coming contest with China. Far from China emerging supreme, there is every reason to believe that the American era will endure—and there is even reason for Washington to fear, not welcome, the possibility of a future democratic transition in China. The notion that states with representative forms of government can accumulate power more effectively than unrepresentative regimes is an enduring one. Classical theorists often drew a distinction between democracy, a degenerative form of government characterized by “mob rule,” and republicanism, a “mixed” system characterized by popular participation and rule by representatives, which more closely matches contemporary models of democracy.”

Claimant Tactics in the South China Sea: By the Numbers.
“In 2012 the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University embarked on a year-long effort to examine the tactics of the rival claimants to the South China Sea maritime dispute. NDU collected data on and categorized the types of tactics being employed by the various claimants between 1995 and 2013 through an extensive open source internet search. The data was then entered into a comprehensive data base and the results analyzed to discern patterns of claimant behavior. The results provide important findings as tensions in the South China Sea continue to be acute. The first noteworthy finding is that China is the most extensive user of the tactics identified by this research. In terms of sheer volume of numbers of actions, China accounted for over 500 actions dating back to 1995. The Philippines registered just over half of that number with just over 300 actions. Vietnam undertook about 150 actions, and Taiwan, about the same, whereas Malaysia took just over fifty and Brunei registered the smallest number of actions with fewer than twenty. China is also the most active user of both military and paramilitary actions to protect its maritime territorial claims. The research found 89 and 59 uses of military and paramilitary actions respectively in support of China's maritime territorial claims between 1995 and 2013. This comprised 55% of the total incidents of the use of military and paramilitary actions in support of maritime claims in the South China Sea. The Philippines registered 43 and 17 uses of military and paramilitary actions in the same period and Vietnam registered under 15 combined uses of military and paramilitary actions in the same time period. We recorded Malaysia as using military and paramilitary actions 9 times and Brunei 5 times. Taiwan was recorded to have used paramilitary actions 10 times and the military 22 times. In evaluating this data it is important to recall that this is unclassified data. It is likely that many more military and paramilitary actions have taken place and these have not been publicly recorded.”

Chinese Military Modernization: Implications for Strategic Nuclear Arms Control. “
China’s political and military objectives in Asia and worldwide differ from those of the United States and Russia, reflecting a perception of that nation’s own interests and of its anticipated role in the emerging world order. Its growing portfolio of smart capabilities and modernized platforms includes stealth aircraft, antisatellite warfare systems, quiet submarines, “brilliant” torpedo mines, improved cruise missiles, and the potential for disrupting financial markets. Among other indicators, China’s already deployed and future Type 094 Jin-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), once they are equipped as planned with JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missiles, will for the first time enable Chinese SSBNs to target parts of the United States from locations near the Chinese coast. Along with this, China’s fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines supports an ambitious anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy to deter US military intervention to support allied interests in Asia against Chinese wishes. China’s diplomacy creates additional space for maneuver between Russian and American perceptions. While China may lack the commitment to arms control transparency, the nation’s current and future military modernization entitles Beijing to participate in future Russian-American strategic nuclear arms control talks. Entering China into the US-Russian nuclear-deterrence equation creates considerable analytical challenges, for a number of reasons. To understand these challenges one must consider the impact of China’s military modernization, which creates two follow-on challenges: escalation control and nuclear signaling. Military Modernization China’s military modernization is going to change the distribution of power in Asia, including the distribution of nuclear and missile forces. This modernization draws not only on indigenous military culture but also on careful analysis of Western and other experiences. As David Lai has noted, “The Chinese way of war places a strong emphasis on the use of strategy, stratagems, and deception. However, the Chinese understand that their approach will not be effective without the backing of hard military power. China’s grand strategy is to take the next 30 years to complete China’s modernization mission, which is expected to turn China into a true great power by that time.”

China's Military Practices Invading Taiwan.
“China’s military is practicing invading Taiwan, IHS Jane’s notes. In a new analysis by Richard Fisher and James Hardy, IHS Jane’s reports that “A series of Chinese military exercises between late May and early June showcased the ability of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to project land, air, and naval power into the area around Taiwan.” The exercises demonstrated the People's Liberation Army’s plan to use civilian ships during emergencies to help boost its forces. “To compensate for the relatively small size of its formal naval amphibious transport fleet the PLA has co-funded construction of a large number of ferries used by civilian companies. They will be made available to the PLA during emergencies and are a frequent element in civil-military transport exercises,” Fisher and Hardy write. Included in these drills, for example, was a 20,000-ton roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ferry that was assigned to the Transportation Department of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). During the drill, the ferry helped transport troops and trucks from the Bohai Sea to the South China Sea. Fisher and Hardy, citing an Asian government source, assess that in the event of an invasion, a combined military and civilian effort could transport between 8-12 PLA divisions to Taiwan. The National Interest had previously reported on the drills, noting last week that China announced that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) were conducting a joint exercise near the Bashi Channel. The channel sits near islands owned by the Philippines and Taiwan, and the drills were conducted near both of those countries’ Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ). TNI noted at that time that as part of that exercise, the PLAAF had sent its most advanced H-6K bomber near the channel, along with other aircraft like the H-6G and J-11 air superiority fighter.”

Former CIA Chief Says Government Data Breach Could Help China Recruit Spies.
“Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, who once led the National Security Agency and later the Central Intelligence Agency, said the theft of millions of U.S. government personnel records could allow China to recruit U.S. officials as spies. “This is a tremendously big deal,” he said at The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Network meeting in Washington. “My deepest emotion is embarrassment.” China has denied involvement in the breach of data from the Office of Personnel Management, which was first announced June 4. But several senior U.S. lawmakers and several people familiar with an investigation into the breach have said the computer intrusion that seized the records appeared to have ties to Chinese hackers. Gen. Hayden took it a step further Monday evening, saying the hack appears to have signatures of China’s Ministry of State Security, a secretive group within the Chinese government that collects intelligence in ways similar to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He said the personnel records were a “legitimate foreign intelligence target.” “To grab the equivalent in the Chinese system, I would not have thought twice. I would not have asked permission...This is not ‘shame on China.’ This is ‘shame on us’ for not protecting that kind of information.” The White House hasn't said how many records were compromised, but it is expected to have been millions of files dating back more than a decade. Gen. Hayden said he doubted the information would be used to blackmail people, as any past drug use or financial problems listed on the scores of background checks would have already been known to the U.S. government. Rather, he said hackers who obtain the information could use details from the records to try to cultivate unsuspecting U.S. officials as spies, leveraging details in the records to cozy up to midlevel U.S. officials and later develop information-sharing relationships. He described this as “honorable espionage work. All countries do it, including our own.”

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 | June 16, 2015

China Says South China Sea Island Building to Finish Soon. “China will complete land reclamation projects on its disputed South China Sea territorial claims as planned within days, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, in an apparent bid to reassure its neighbors over moves seen as sharpening tensions in the strategically vital region. However, in a sign that developments were far from over, a statement posted to the ministry's website said China would follow up by building infrastructure to carry out functions ranging from maritime search and rescue to environmental conservation and scientific research. "It is learned from relevant Chinese competent departments that, as planned, the land reclamation project of China's construction on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands will be completed in the upcoming days," the statement said, using the Chinese term for the Spratly islands, which lie at the heart of the South China Sea territorial dispute. Apart from satisfying defense goals, it said the main purpose of such projects was civilian in nature and not targeted at any third parties. It said the projects fell within the scope of Chinese sovereignty and were "lawful, reasonable and justified," while causing no harm to the marine environment. The statement, attributed to ministry spokesman Lu Kang, said the projects "do not affect the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in accordance with international law in the South China Sea." That assertion will likely be scrutinized by the U.S. military following an incident last month during which a U.S. Navy plane flying near one of the reclaimed islands was repeatedly challenged by the Chinese military and told to leave the area. The disputed islands lie amid some of the world's busiest shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds and a potential undersea wealth of oil, gas and minerals. China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, while Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan also they own parts or all of it.”

China Plans to Build New Base for Keeping an Eye on Senkaku Islands.
“China plans to build a large-scale coastal base in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, aiming to step up its monitoring activities in the seas around the Senkaku Islands, it has been learned. The China Coast Guard has been conducting monitoring activities in the East and South China seas. It likely plans to use the new base to dock government vessels en route to waters around the Senkaku Islands, Okinawa Prefecture. The base is also expected to be a site for conducting maintenance and repair work on such ships and training crew members. While tensions between China and Japan appear to be easing, as seen in the resumption of private-sector exchanges, the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping has maintained its sovereignty claim in the East China Sea and intends to continue sending government ships and reinforcing such moves. The project came to light as a topic on the agenda at a meeting of the Wenzhou city government and such organs as the coast guard. Information regarding the content of the discussion was briefly posted on the Zhejiang provincial government’s website earlier this month. Known as “Wenzhou command general security base,” the envisaged base will encompass a land area of 500,000 square meters and feature a 1,200-meter pier, according to the information posted online. It will be capable of accommodating as many as six ships, including a large vessel with a displacement of up to 10,000 tons. Aircraft hangars and a large training facility will also be built on the base. The total construction cost will be 3.34 billion yuan (about ¥67 billion), to be entirely shouldered by the central government. The website states that Wenzhou, which is about 350 kilometers from the Senkaku Islands, is the closest major city in China. “It is advantageous for the now routine patrol activities needed to protect maritime interests on the Diaoyu Islands [the Chinese name for the Senkakus],” it said. All information related to the base had disappeared from the website by Friday.”

Commander of U.S. Pacific Command: 'U.S. reserves right to withdraw RIMPAC invitation to China.'
“As long as China does not change its aggressive stance in the South China Sea, the United States reserves the right to withdraw its invitation to multilateral naval exercises in the Pacific, RIMPAC 2016, according to the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. Adm. Harry Harris explained in a recent media briefing in Tokyo that China’s continued land reclamation in the South China Sea “increases the challenge for all of us and makes it more important than ever that we continue to confront China on the issue.” He further criticized China’s actions by saying, “You don’t build sovereignty on ‘castles of sand.’ Sovereignty must be based on rules, norms and international law.” When asked if China's continued land reclamation on reefs in the disputed Spratly Islands, in spite of U.S. repeated demands that it desist, would lead to a retraction of the invitation to RIMPAC, Harris said, “ I don’t want to tell you exactly what those conditions are, because China might come right up to those conditions.” He only added, “Currently the invitation is extant. We’ll see how it goes.” RIMPAC, the world's largest naval exercise, is hosted biannually by the United States in the Pacific around Hawaii. China was first invited to the last round in 2014 and the invitation has already been extended to the next one in 2016. With regard to the land reclamation and construction work, concerns have been expressed in the region that China might declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea to demonstrate its control over the airspace. “They introduce the air defense identification zone over the East China Sea, and that doesn’t worry me,” Harris said. Referring to the unilateral establishment of the ADIZ by China in the East China Sea in 2013, the admiral emphasized: “We ignore the air defense identification zone completely. So, it has not hindered our operations at sea or in the air by our reconnaissance flights and whether they’re done by the Navy or the Air Force or anybody.”

Fortifying the Great Wall of Sand.
A drumbeat of reporting in recent months has cast a sudden spotlight on China’s aggressive actions aimed at expanding its influence in the South China Sea. Numerous accounts have highlighted China’s frenetic efforts to construct artificial islands in the Spratlys, a tiny cluster of islets 660 miles from mainland China. China is building a large airfield on the biggest of these reclaimed isles that will have significant military utility once finished. Moreover, in April, U.S. surveillance satellites detected two Chinese motorized artillery pieces on one of the islands. The combination of these developments should raise red flags. Almost all of the other countries with claims in the South China Sea have built outposts there, including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia. But China has “gone much further and much faster” than any other country, according to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. The other states in the region have not pursued their goals with such vigor, scale, and clear military characteristics. China has reportedly reclaimed more than 2,000 acres, which one U.S. official described as “more land than all other claimants combined over the history of their claims.” Admiral Harry Harris, who was recently confirmed as the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, colorfully described China as building a “great wall of sand” in the South China Sea. China’s ultimate intentions for these islands have not been entirely clear. Chinese officials emphasize that their land reclamation efforts are for civilian purposes, such as maritime search and rescue, disaster response, and scientific research. But they also stress their long-standing claim that the islands are Chinese territory, and that they can be used to protect Chinese territorial sovereignty and maritime claims. The detection of the Chinese artillery marks a major development because it is the first time that Chinese long-range weaponry has been observed on any of China’s rapidly growing islands.”

Checking China’s Military Build-Up in the South China Sea.
“China intends to ignore the Obama administration’s demand that it halt its military base-building in the South China Sea. It is time for Washington to face a new reality: Either it leads the way to a new “armed peace” in this region, or China will soon commence a war for domination. First, it is important to understand why China will continue to ignore Washington, as it has rebuffed nearly 20 years of regional diplomacy seeking to avoid conflict over this crucial maritime region, now used annually by 40 percent of the world’s merchant ships. Simply put, for China’s Communist Party leadership, control of the South China Sea is essential to protect Hainan Island as a base from which it intends to project global military and space power, and which it views as essential to ensuring the survival of its political dictatorship. Already, Hainan Island has become a base for projecting nuclear power from China’s growing fleet of nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines. In the late 1990s, China started building a new underground base there to protect these submarines. Hainan will also host one or two aircraft carrier and large amphibious assault ship groups. These can be used to protect the submarines and to project Chinese military influence to the Middle East and beyond. From 2016, a new space launch center on Hainan for Chinese heavy space-launch vehicles will support China’s military ambitions in low earth orbit and on the moon. Most of these launches will be vulnerable as they pass over the South China Sea, so China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is militarizing this region to better impose eventual control. Perhaps as early as next year, China could start basing up to 30 combat aircraft and a squadron of combat ships at its new base at Fiery Cross Reef. Similarly sized PLA forces could follow on new bases being built on Subi Reef and Mischief Reef — a mere 134 nautical miles from the Philippines but 800 nautical miles from mainland China and the vital commercial sea lanes of the Palawan Trench. There should be no doubt that China will impose military control when it is able and unchallenged. China used deadly force to take the Paracel Islands away from South Vietnam in 1974, and in 1988 massacred Vietnamese troops on reefs in the Spratly Island group.”

Why America Should Fear China's Hypersonic Nuclear Missile.
“China all but confirmed it tested its hypersonic missile delivery vehicle a fourth time. On Friday, China’s Defense Ministry seemed to confirm U.S. reports that Beijing tested its Wu-14 hypersonic vehicle on Sunday, June 7. Responding to an inquiry by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, China’s Defense Ministry said, “The scheduled scientific research and experiments in our territory is normal, and those tests are not targeted at any country and specific goals.” The statement was eerily similar to the one China’s Defense Ministry issued following the January 2014 test of the Wu-14. At that time, the defense ministry said: “It is normal for China to conduct scientific experiments within its borders according to its plans. The tests were not aimed at any nation nor any specific target.” Last week’s test was the fourth one China has conducted in just 18 months, suggesting it is a priority of China’s military. The Wu-14, which can carry nuclear or conventional warheads, can travel at ten times the speed of sound, or 7,680 miles per hour. Its maneuverability enables it to bypass U.S. missile defense systems. This point was underscored by He Qisong, a defense expert at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. Speaking to the SCMP, He said that “The Wu-14 … is designed to penetrate US missile defence systems, meaning the PLA is capable of defending China's territorial sovereignty." He added: "But such a test is only a nuclear deterrence. Neither China nor the U.S. wants to declare war over the South China Sea issues." Richard Fisher, an expert on China’s military, has previously explained that “The beauty of the HGV [hypersonic glide vehicle] is that it can perform hypersonic precision strikes while maintaining a relatively low altitude and flat trajectory, making it far less vulnerable to missile defenses.” Unlike the previous three tests, the U.S. report on last week’s test said that the Wu-14 practiced “extreme maneuvers” designed to evade U.S. missile defense systems, which are only capable of destroying missiles that use predictable ballistic trajectories. Thus, the Wu-14, when officially fielded, will be a huge to boost to China, which has a small nuclear arsenal compared with the United States and Russia.”

Obama's Pivot to Nowhere.
There's more than President Barack Obama's legacy, or his wounded pride, on the line in the showdown with Congress over a huge pan-Pacific trade deal. As lawmakers appear ready to thwart Obama's renewed effort this week to secure the power to conclude pacts such as the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, the implications for U.S. global power and prestige could linger long after he leaves office in January 2017. With U.S. regional allies anxious about China's rise and willingness to project military power, Obama has made what is known as his "Asian pivot" -- an increase in U.S. economic, military and diplomatic resources to the region -- a central foreign policy priority. The TPP is a cornerstone of that process and is meant ensure the world's most dynamic emerging market evolves into a rules-based system that benefits all nations, and it's meant to check China's ability to bully smaller ones, such as America's friends in Southeast Asia. But if the TPP is thwarted, U.S. credibility in Asia will suffer, and allies will again wonder whether Obama's assurances that the United States will remain an essential Pacific power and guarantor of security in the region will be fulfilled. On Monday night, House Republicans appeared to be buying time as they planned to add an extension for a vote on trade adjustment assistance until July 30. "You are either in or you are out," stressed Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on Monday, assessing the implications of a busted trade agreement for the U.S. role in Asia. It's very, very serious. The President wants it, everybody knows this is important, and you can't get it through. How credible are you going to be? The world doesn't wait. Not even for the United States." Shanmugam's remarks, coming from a senior official of an influential ally fully invested in Obama's policy of rebalancing U.S. power toward Asia, represented a stunning warning to the United States. His comments came after Democrats in the House of Representatives mounted a revolt against their own President on Friday, refusing to back a Trade Adjustment Assistance program that compensates workers harmed by global trade.”

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 | June 15, 2015
China’s Nuclear Subs Aim to Probe South China Sea. “China has been accelerating land reclamation on reefs around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, heightening tensions with neighboring countries and the United States. China has been expanding its effective control of the disputed islands by constructing artificial islands and establishing a military base. What changes will these moves by China bring to the security environment around Japan? China began reclamation work around January last year, after gaining effective control of seven reefs around the Spratlys. The largest-scale artificial island is on Fiery Cross Reef, where a 3,000-meter-class runway is being built, with the U.S. Defense Department anticipating its completion in 2017 or 2018.Possessing a 3,000-meter-class runway in the vast South China Sea would be very significant. If operated in combination with port and fuel storage facilities, the runway could serve as an operation and supply base for bombers. The entire area of the South China Sea could be covered by operating China’s military mainstay Su-30 fighters and H-6 bombers, which have operational ranges of about 1,500 kilometers and 1,800 kilometers respectively. This would make it easier to secure air superiority. If the artificial island were to become a base for fighter jets, China would be able to increase pressure on the U.S. military, among others. Fiery Cross Reef, it may be said, is the main stronghold in the “Great Wall of sand,” which consists of several artificial islands. Concern is mounting in the international community that China will set an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) centering on the artificial island. China insists on a territorial claim for a U-shaped area extending from the northern area of the South China Sea. A Japanese Defense Ministry official predicts.”

For Military Aviation, China Not Yet Rising.
 “Despite much handwringing in the US about China's next-generation aircraft technology, analysts don't expect the Pacific power to expand its grip on the global military aviation market. The obvious niche for China to target is the market filled during the Cold War by Russian equipment. For nations outside of Europe, Russia represented an alternative supplier to the US, one which was generally cheaper to procure than American equipment. Doug Berenson, an analyst with Avascent, said Russian firms need to be aware of the threat to traditional customers. "If I were the Russians, I would know exactly which way the wind is blowing. Chinese firms are going to grow into a certain level of excellence, and if the Russians think they can control the flow of Chinese exporters from there, they are fooling themselves," he said. However, that market is limited for China, in part due to geopolitical reasons. A series of aggressive moves by China to expand its territory in the South China Sea has angered neighbors in the region, including some who have purchased Russian equipment that now may be falling behind newer technologies put forth by China. Speaking in Hawaii on May 27, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter warned that China was isolating itself in the Pacific through its actions, in particular the creation of 2,000 acres of new islands in the sea that Beijing is claiming as territory. The US and its allies have rejected those claims. "China's actions are bringing countries in the region together in new ways," he said. "And they're increasing demand for American engagement in the Asia-Pacific. We're going to meet it." Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with Teal Group, points out that politics plays a huge role in any decision to buy military gear.”

Turning the ‘Asia Pivot’ Into Reality. “
On his recent tour through Asia, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter had a message for America’s allies and partners, as well as one for China. He promised to double down on America’s “pivot to Asia” while refusing to acknowledge Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. But his strategy of deeper engagement with Asian countries remains incomplete. Speaking before the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Mr. Carter reaffirmed that Washington would not recognize China’s land-reclamation activities in the Spratly islands. This was coupled with a demand that all parties stop such actions. He made clear that U.S. military planes would continue to fly through the islands’ airspace and that U.S. Navy ships would continue to sail through waters claimed by the Chinese. Relying on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Obama administration has rightly refused to accept as legitimate land forms any man-made features built on top of reefs. The goal is to negate any legal protection for China’s 2,000 acres of new land. Unfortunately, when pressed for specifics on how Washington would prevent China from building more islands or fortifying the ones already completed, Mr. Carter had few to offer. This raised concerns that, like his predecessors, Mr. Carter was offering little more than rhetoric, which so far has had no discernible deterrent effect on China. Asian nations realize that when Beijing feels strong enough to ignore American warnings, they have little hope of influencing China’s actions. Yet later on in his tour of Asia Mr. Carter did offer some glimmers of how the U.S. would respond to China’s expansionism. In Vietnam, where he was feted by America’s erstwhile enemies, he promised to help Hanoi purchase American patrol vessels and generally expand defense trade. The two sides signed a Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations. In New Delhi, Mr. Carter promoted greater defense-industrial cooperation.”

Japan Pursues Rearmament, Despite Opposition.
“Efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to normalize Japan's security posture and bolster its US alliance against China hit an obstacle when the Lower House Commission on the Constitution declared Abe's moves unconstitutional. Still, Japan is expected to pass legislation around August to expand the nation's ability to better support the US in the defense of Japan. In a minor bombshell, on June 4, Setsu Kobayashi, professor emeritus of Constitutional Law at Keio University and member of the Lower House Commission on the Constitution, said provisions allowing limited rights of collective self defense as promoted by the Abe administration are unconstitutional. "Paragraph 2 of Article 9 does not grant any legal standing for military activities abroad," Kobayashi is reported to have said. "Going to war abroad to help a friendly nation is a violation of Article 9," he said. Article 9 of the 1947 US-imposed Japanese Constitution outlaws war as a means to settle international disputes involving the state. In its text, the state formally renounces the sovereign right of belligerency and aims for international peace based on justice and order. In its own interpretation, the legislation put forward by the Abe administration this spring mostly deals with provisions about how Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) can legally support the US in certain situations. Composed of two bills, the legislation was put before the Japanese Diet following an historic July 1, 2014, decision by Abe's Cabinet to reinterpret the 1947 "Peace Constitution" that forbids Japan to even have a military. Opposition to the current legislation is echoed in some popular opinion polls that show about 80 percent of the Japanese public feels ill-informed on the issue, with opinion roughly divided pro and con.”

China Picks 'Military Heavyweight' for High-Level US Talks amid South China Sea Spat.
“Beijing has sent a military heavyweight and one of President Xi Jinping’s most trusted right-hand men to handle high-level talks in the United States, amid strained relations between the two countries over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, according to Chinese analysts. Fan Changlong, a vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, is on a week-long visit to the US and has met US Defence Secretary Ash Carter in Washington. State media on Friday said the invitation came from Carter, but analysts have suggested that the US politician’s natural counterpart in China was Defence Minister Chang Wanquan and it was significant that Fan was sent instead. “Chang is just a symbolic figure to take care of military diplomatic issues, but Fan is the top official who commands the army’s battle strategies, weapons build-up and other key issues,” said Beijing-based retired PLA senior colonel Li Jie. “As the army’s biggest heavyweight, Fan is the most practical and efficient man to help Xi manage current tensions in the South China Sea issue, which are aimed at avoiding any possible military confrontation between Chinese and US forces”. The US has repeatedly called for China, and other nations, to stop creating artificial islands in disputed South China Sea areas, arguing it stokes tensions. During their meeting on Thursday, Carter called on China and all rival claimants to halt land reclamation and militarisation of disputed territory, and to pursue a peaceful resolution in accordance with international law, the Pentagon said in a statement. Carter also reaffirmed his commitment to reach a consensus by September on a memorandum of understanding aimed at reducing the risk of accidents when the two countries’ aircraft operate in close proximity, the statement said.”

Comrade Xi’s Purge.
China’s internal power struggle continues. That’s the meaning of Thursday’s announcement that former Politburo Standing Committee Member Zhou Yongkang was sentenced to life in prison for corruption. After taking power in 2012, Party General Secretary Xi Jinping had former rival Bo Xilai sentenced to life the following year. Then Mr. Zhou disappeared from public view, and his associates were arrested one by one. He is the highest-ranking Party official to be purged since the days of Mao Zedong. That is no coincidence. Mr. Xi has championed a return to Maoist rhetoric and political mobilization. His propaganda organs sometimes claim that the “ongoing anticorruption campaign” is a sign of the rule of law. But they give the real game away with attacks on Mr. Xi’s enemies for building factions within the Party. Nobody in China will be surprised to learn that Mr. Zhou was corrupt. His conviction for taking $118,000 in bribes is laughable compared to the $14.5 billion in assets investigators seized from his family, according to Reuters. Yet all of China’s recent leaders have enriched themselves and their relatives. Like Bo Xilai, Mr. Zhou’s true crime was political. As a former head of the security apparatus and the state petroleum monopoly, Mr. Zhou built an empire so powerful that even after his retirement it threatened Mr. Xi and the Party center. Because he once controlled China’s police, spies and courts, Mr. Zhou knows where all the regime’s skeletons are buried. That explains why the prosecution case against him proceeded slowly. His guilty plea and contrite acceptance of the verdict suggests that a deal was cut to spare his life and protect his family. The purge continues, with former Politburo member Ling Jihua also now in the cross hairs. At the lower levels of the Party, frightened cadres are keeping their heads down. This rectification campaign has made Mr. Xi arguably the most powerful leader since Mao.”

China-Linked Hackers Get Sensitive U.S. Defense and Intelligence Data.
“China-linked hackers appear to have gained access to sensitive background information submitted by U.S. intelligence and military personnel for security clearances that could potentially expose them to blackmail, the Associated Press reported on Friday. In a report citing several U.S. officials, the news agency said data on nearly all of the millions of U.S. security-clearance holders, including the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and military special operations personnel, were potentially exposed in the attack on the Office of Personnel Management. It said more than 2.9 million people had been investigated for a security clearance as of October 2014. The OPM did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but a senior U.S. official confirmed that U.S. investigators had discovered a separate attack on the OPM that targeted sensitive information about government employees similar to a hacking incident revealed last week. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, could not confirm that the information obtained was from U.S. intelligence and military personnel but did say it was "a different set of OPM systems and data" to that of the hack disclosed last week and did involve background data and security clearances. A source familiar with the investigation said U.S. investigators suspected a similar Chinese link to the other hacking incident. Earlier on Friday, the White House said it could not confirm another AP report that as many as 14 million current and former U.S. government employees had their personal information exposed to hackers in the other OPM breach. The government said last week that the records of up to 4 million people had been compromised, making it one of the biggest known attacks on U.S. federal networks. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the investigation was continuing into this breach.”

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 | June 12, 2015

Beijing’s New Nuance: Xi Meets With Suu Kyi. “The visit of Aung San Suu Kyi to Beijing this week illustrates a new willingness among Chinese leaders to engage with opposition figures in other countries, part of a more nuanced foreign policy to better protect China’s interests abroad.The five-day trip is the first to China for Myanmar’s pro-democracy icon, who was kept under house arrest for more than seven years by a military junta that maintained close relations with Beijing. The Nobel Peace laureate arrived in Beijing on Wednesday and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Thursday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. “Usually opposition leaders wouldn’t get to meet the president,” said Kerry Brown, a former British diplomat and expert in Chinese politics at the University of Sydney. “It’s pretty huge.” Xinhua didn’t say what the two discussed but quoted Mr. Xi as saying that China looks at its relationship with Myanmar “from a strategic and long-term perspective.” China, which professes a policy of noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries, has traditionally shied away from public meetings with opposition political leaders. But beginning with a surprise invitation to representatives of the Libyan opposition in 2011, China has arranged visits for opposition leaders from Syria, Japan and Taiwan. In a 2011 visit to Thailand, when he was vice president, Mr. Xi paid a call on Thai opposition head Abhisit Vejjajiva. The shift reflects Mr. Xi’s desire to make China a more active player internationally, analysts say, as well as an growing sense in Beijing that the old foreign policy wasn’t flexible enough to adequately protect China’s interests abroad. “This is a massive breakthrough for China’s foreign relations. In the past, for example in Myanmar, [the party] would only interact with ruling parties and governments. We didn’t dare have dealings with opposition parties or opposition figures,” said Qu Jianwen, an associate professor of international relations at Yunnan University in southwestern China. “Both as a major power and as a neighboring country, we need comprehensive diplomacy.”

Zhou Yongkang, Ex-Security Chief in China, Gets Life Sentence for Graft.
“President Xi Jinping of China vowed to hunt “tigers” as well as “flies” in his drive to rid the ruling Communist Party of corruption, and on Thursday he defanged the most dangerous tiger yet — Zhou Yongkang, the nation’s former chief of domestic security. Mr. Zhou was convicted of abuse of power, accepting bribes and revealing state secrets, and was sentenced to life in prison. With the verdict, which has been expected since the party first announced last summer that Mr. Zhou was under investigation, Mr. Xi has taken the Chinese political system into uncharted territory. Only three years ago, Mr. Zhou sat with Mr. Xi on the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, which governs the country. Now he is the most senior leader to be jailed for corruption in more than 65 years of Communist rule. His downfall, announced on national television with footage of him pleading guilty in one of the courtrooms he once controlled, follows the purge of a number of other leaders who were once considered untouchable in China, including some of the highest ranking generals in the People’s Liberation Army. With thousands of party officials investigated or jailed in the past two years, there can be little doubt now of the scope or severity of Mr. Xi’s crackdown. Yet Mr. Xi’s ultimate goal, and his next move, remain uncertain. Is he determined to press ahead with his popular campaign to cleanse the party of corruption, and risk a backlash from the powerful men and women of the party elite, in the cause of better government for China? Or is he trying to consolidate his hold on power, sidelining old enemies and intimidating potential new ones, after what now appears to have been a bruising succession battle? “This is the point of decision, when he decides whether Zhou Yongkang is the last or the first great tiger,” Roderick MacFarquhar, a professor at Harvard University who focuses on Chinese elite politics, said of Mr. Xi. “I think it’s too early to tell.” The life sentence is a final blow for Mr. Zhou, who was once seen as the second most powerful figure in the party because he controlled the police and the criminal justice system. He was found guilty of accepting about $118,000 in bribes, including money and property from Jiang Jiemin, the jailed former head of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation.”

China Conducts Fourth Test of Wu-14 Strike Vehicle
. China this week carried out the fourth test of an ultra high-speed nuclear delivery vehicle that conducted what intelligence officials say were extreme maneuvers. The test of the Wu-14 hypersonic strike vehicle was carried out Sunday, launched atop a ballistic missile fired from a test facility in western China. It was the fourth successful test of the Wu-14 in the past 18 months and the frequency of tests is being viewed by U.S. intelligence analysts as an indicator of the high priority placed on developing the weapon by the Chinese. Earlier tests took place last year on Jan. 9, Aug. 7, and Dec. 2. The Washington Free Beacon first reported the tests. The new strike vehicle is considered a high-technology strategic weapon capable of delivering nuclear or conventional warheads while traveling on the edge of space. One of its key features is the ability to maneuver to avoid U.S. missile defenses. The Wu-14 was assessed as traveling up to 10 times the speed of sound, or around 7,680 miles per hour. Unlike earlier tests, the latest test demonstrated what one official called “extreme maneuvers” that appeared to analysts designed for penetrating through missile defense systems. Current U.S. missile defenses are limited to knocking out missiles and their warheads with predictable ballistic trajectories that can be tracked with relative ease by satellite sensors and ground and sea radar. However, the Wu-14 threatens to neutralize U.S. strategic missile defenses with the unique capability of flying at ultra high speeds and maneuvering to avoid detection and tracking by radar and missile defense interceptors. The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has repeatedly declined to comment on whether current U.S. missile defenses can defeat maneuvering targets. A congressional China commission stated in a report published in November that China is working on hypersonic arms as “a core component of its next-generation precision strike capability.”

China's Lone Aircraft Carrier Conducts Drills as Sea Disputes Fester.
China's sole aircraft carrier conducted exercises on Friday, the navy said without specifying its location, amid escalating disputes over maritime territory with some of China's Asian neighbors. The Liaoning conducted drills and tests in the "relevant sea" along with carrier-based fighter jets after setting sail from the coastal city of Qingdao, the navy said. China wants to develop an ocean-going "blue water" navy capable of defending the growing interests of the world's second largest economy as it adopts a more assertive stance in territorial disputes with neighbors in the South China and East China seas. China had worked to boost its pilots' skills with fighter jets, including the Shenyang J-15, in recent years, the statement added, saying the navy had tested the power, war-readiness and technological capabilities of its aircraft. The Liaoning, a Soviet-era ship bought from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China, has long been a symbol of China's naval build-up. Successfully operating the 60,000-tonne Liaoning is the first step in what state media and some military experts believe will be the deployment of domestically built carriers by 2020. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims. China also disputes sovereignty of islands in the East China Sea with Japan.”

Planned Japanese Self Defense Force Aircraft Buys, Destroyer Upgrades Could Tie Into U.S. Navy’s Networked Battle Force.
Changes in Japan’s defense posture, pending aircraft buys from the U.S. and planned combat system modification to Japanese ships will give the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) the practical and political ability to fight as a part of the U.S. Navy’s new networked carrier strike group concept — which would expand the lethal power and range of both forces, USNI News has learned. Last week, the State Department notified Congress of a potential $1.7 billion foreign military sales (FMS) case for Japan to buy four Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye information surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF). In late May, the Pentagon announced a $70 million contract to Lockheed Martin to upgrade the Aegis combat system on its two Atago-class destroyers to the so-called Baseline 9 standard that would allow the two ships to simultaneously to target and track aircraft and ballistic missiles. In 2011, Japan selected the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as its next generation fighter. In the U.S. Navy, E-2Ds, JSFs and Baseline 9 Aegis destroyers and cruisers are a key elements in the service’s emerging Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air concept (NIFC-CA pronounced: nifk-kah). A NIFC-CA capable carrier strike group would allow — for example — a Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye to provide targeting information to a guided missile destroyer or cruiser’s Aegis combat system or Boeing F/A-18E/F fighters for a threat well outside the range of onboard sensors. The concept also plans to use the F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter to route targeting data to E-2Ds and then to the rest of the CSG and the carrier air wing.”

Pentagon Chief Urges China to Stop Island Building.
“US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter called Thursday on Beijing to stop building artificial islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, as he hosted a top Chinese general. The visit to the Pentagon of General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, was relatively low key amid simmering tensions over the maritime dispute and a massive hack of US federal employees. China insists it has sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, a major global shipping route believed to be home to oil and gas reserves, but rival claimants accuse it of expansionism. "Carter reiterated US concerns on the South China Sea and called on China and all claimants to implement a lasting halt on land reclamation, cease further militarization and pursue a peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in accordance with international law," the Pentagon said in a statement. Carter had previously accused China of being out of step with international rules in its conduct in the South China Sea. Unlike previous trips, including one last year, there was no joint press conference. "The Chinese did request that there not be a lot of media attention around this trip," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said. Also raising tensions is this month's revelation by the US government that hackers accessed the personal data of at least four million current and former federal employees. The vast cyberattack is suspected to have originated in China, though Beijing has said the charge was "irresponsible" and stressed that Chinese laws prohibit cybercrimes. Prior to visiting Washington, Fan went to California and Texas. His trip is part of a years-long effort to build a regular dialogue between the American and Chinese armed forces to defuse potential tensions and avoid miscalculations.”

Ashton Carter’s Remarks Suggest an Obama Policy Shift on China.
“The Obama administration appears to be in the early phase of a policy shift on China. Tougher rhetoric and policies, most recently demonstrated by remarks in Asia from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, coincide with the departures of two key officials long known for advocating more conciliatory policies toward Beijing. Paul Heer, who for years held the influential post of national intelligence officer for East Asia, retired recently, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said. From his position as the most senior intelligence official on China, Mr. Heer was known for a steadfast bias that sought to play down the various threats posed by China in favor of more conciliatory views. His influence also is said to have extended to personnel appointments within the CIA's analytical section, which critics say resulted in "groupthink" on China. A second major personnel change was the departure last week of the White House's senior China specialist, Evan Medeiros, who left after a reported dispute with White House National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice. Ms. Rice has a reputation as a prickly manager known for swearing profusely at subordinates. Mr. Medeiros was regarded by critics as among the most pro-China policymakers in the White House's highly centralized foreign policy and national security power structure. Congressional Republicans have said Mr. Medeiros was behind the White House decision several years ago to deny sales of advanced U.S. F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan to bolster its flagging air forces. Mr. Medeiros, in academic writings before his White House posting, has asserted that the Chinese military posed little or no threat and that Beijing's policies are generally benign.”

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 | June 11, 2015

Diplomacy by Force: China's Quest for Military Partners. “China’s new defense white paper, issued amid growing concern about Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea, made headlines for its emphasis on projecting naval power well beyond its coastal waters. That’s for good reason—China’s expansive claims, rising assertiveness, and land reclamation have together prompted worries in the region and beyond. Yet the final chapter of the white paper, which addresses Beijing’s efforts to deepen its security cooperation, has attracted decidedly less attention. That’s unfortunate, because in its efforts to boost foreign military ties, China reveals both its ambitions and its constraints. The policy document outlines the armed forces’ goal to deepen military-to-military relations with countries in every part of the world, on a “non-aligned, non-confrontational” basis that is not directed at any third party. It highlights the importance of ties with two countries in particular: Russia, with which Beijing hopes to enhance exchanges and cooperation, and the United States, with which it seeks an undefined “new model of military relationship.” The People’s Liberation Army hopes to extend its exercises and training with foreign partners from a focus on nontraditional security areas (such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) to a focus on more traditional ones. These are not merely aspirations. As my colleagues at the Center for a New American Security have documented, consonant with Beijing’s rising sense of global interests and the means to pursue them, it has over the past decade deepened its security partnerships across the board. The PLA has conducted exchanges with militaries in more than 150 countries and trained thousands of foreign personnel. Having never engaged a joint exercise before 2002, it has since conducted exercises with more than twenty countries, ranging from Russia and Pakistan to American allies and the United States itself.”

A New Diplomacy to Stem Chinese Expansion.
“China’s aggression is pushing the South China Sea to a boiling point. Beijing’s massive island-building project is militarizing the territorial disputes, changing the territorial status quo and shifting the region’s balance of power. The U.S. response has been reactive, rhetorical and confused. To stop and reverse Chinese expansion, the U.S. needs a bold and comprehensive strategy. So far, Washington’s approach has consisted of strong remonstrations that call upon China to respect “norms,” exercises of military power in the South China Sea to protect these norms, and the shoring up of alliances and partnerships in Asia. Missing is a clear explanation of U.S. interests and a diplomatic approach that defends them. Washington doesn’t just have an interest in maintaining respect for abstract norms. It has a vital interest in keeping the South China Sea an open maritime commons free of Chinese coercion, as well as in stopping Beijing’s changes to the territorial status quo. To date Washington has played a behind-the-scenes diplomatic role, encouraging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take the lead in managing maritime tensions. This approach has outlived its usefulness. For one thing, only five of Asean’s 10 states are parties to the disputes (Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam all make claims to physical features; Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone overlaps with China’s “nine-dash line”). Asean also has had little success in recent years acting in a united manner: Members still argue among themselves over maritime territory; meanwhile China actively sows divisions within the institution. And Washington has no assurance that Asean’s efforts will result in a solution that is in line with U.S. interests. Thus the U.S. needs to play a far more active role in addressing the territorial disputes. A new diplomacy should have three prongs.”

China Military Exports: When It Comes To Tanks, China Says It’s Better Than Russia.
“As China builds its military, it is also boosting its profile as an arms exporter. China continues to fund and develop its homegrown military technology, and domestic arms dealers say it's now better than that of its former military mentor, Russia. China’s state-owned North Industries Corporation, known as Norinco, has taken aim at Uralvagonzavod, the Russian heavy machinery company behind the T-14 Armata, the country’s new main battle tank that's been touted as revolutionary by some arms experts. Posting on Norinco’s official social media account on popular texting platform WeChat, the Beijing company offered a review of the T-14 Armata and Norinco’s own VT-4 tank and a comparison of the two. “The T-14’s transmission is not well-developed, as we saw through a malfunction taking place during a rehearsal before the May 9 parade,” the Norinco post said, accompanied with a promotional montage video of its own. “The VT-4 has never encountered such problems so far. Our tanks also have world-class fire-control systems, which the Russians are still trying to catch up with.” The post goes on to explain that when it comes to buying a tank, the go-to markets are generally in China and Russia, but it declares China the clear winner between the two: “China product lines have low-end products like the VT-2, and high-end like the VT-4, covering almost all the customer’s needs.” Additionally, Norinco says it is able to offer vehicles at much lower prices than its Russian counterparts. The criticism of Russian tank technology comes after multiple allegations that China copied and rebranded Soviet fighter jet technology. Not so long ago China actually relied on Russian technology and military imports for things it wasn’t able to make itself.”

Planned Japanese Self Defense Force Aircraft Buys, Destroyer Upgrades Could Tie Into U.S. Navy’s Networked Battle Force. “
Changes in Japan’s defense posture, pending aircraft buys from the U.S. and planned combat system modification to Japanese ships will give the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) the practical and political ability to fight as a part of the U.S. Navy’s new networked carrier strike group concept — which would expand the lethal power and range of both forces, USNI News has learned. Last week, the State Department notified Congress of a potential $1.7 billion foreign military sales (FMS) case for Japan to buy four Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye information surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF). In late May, the Pentagon announced a $70 million contract to Lockheed Martin to upgrade the Aegis combat system on its two Atago-class destroyers to the so-called Baseline 9 standard that would allow the two ships to simultaneously to target and track aircraft and ballistic missiles. In 2011, Japan selected the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as its next generation fighter. In the U.S. Navy, E-2Ds, JSFs and Baseline 9 Aegis destroyers and cruisers are a key elements in the service’s emerging Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air concept (NIFC-CA pronounced: nifk-kah). A NIFC-CA capable carrier strike group would allow — for example — a Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye to provide targeting information to a guided missile destroyer or cruiser’s Aegis combat system or Boeing F/A-18E/F fighters for a threat well outside the range of onboard sensors.”

How the US Can Spend $425 Million in the South China Sea.
“It’s not often that I praise Congress or any of its members.  But the recent decision by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) to allocate $425 million to maritime security in Southeast Asia puts America’s money where its mouth is on commitments to regional stability and order.  Whether this paltry sum (in Pentagon jargon, $425 million would be described as “budget dust”) can make a difference depends on how it’s spent, and how quickly. Maritime Southeast Asia is ripe with friction among competing disputants, most of whom are incapable of defending their claims with military force—except, of course, for China.  As I argued in testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in February, the region’s fragmented maritime domain allows China to engage in land reclamation and various forms of gray zone coercion largely unchallenged.  After spending most of the Cold War focused primarily on internal security, ASEAN militaries are beginning to look outward, reorienting their focus on air and maritime capabilities.  But no ASEAN state can mount a meaningful challenge to China alone, and there are currently stark limits on intra-ASEAN maritime cooperation. This is a growing problem that the U.S. policy of rebalancing to Asia—and an extra $425 million—can actually do something to remedy.  Anyone can “arm the locals”; indeed, there’s a regional arms bazaar happening across the Asia-Pacific.  But no one other than the United States can offer the mix of resources, organizational capacity, and know-how to responsibly build the capacity of regional partners to cooperate and keep a stable order. $425 million dispensed over several years, and spread across the likes of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, is certainly a thin investment.  It can’t buy fighter upgrades, aircraft carriers, strategic airlift, or military bases and ports.  It can’t bring a screeching halt to China’s land reclamation, or immediately change the calculations that lead to China’s next salami-slicing move in the South China Sea.”

Don’t Blame the Oil Rigs for Unrest in East China Sea.
“A year ago last month, China moved its oil drilling rig, the HD-981, into waters around the Paracel Islands. China’s exploratory drilling provoked a confrontation with Vietnam, which also claims the area. Both countries deployed coast guard vessels and fishing fleets to the drilling site. Ships collided and turned water cannons on each other, sinking a fishing boat. In Vietnam, the incident sparked popular protests; more than 20 people were killed. The rig withdrew in July, after two months of drilling. But it left an unresolved question in its wake: Is competition over the South China Sea’s oil and natural gas resources a threat to regional security? This question resonates across the region, as the Paracel Islands are not the only area where hydrocarbon exploration could lead to clashes. In addition to its disputes with Vietnam, China is also involved in disagreements over resource authority with Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Could these countries’ attempts to exploit oil and gas spiral into outright conflict? The answer, happily, is probably not. The risk of regional “resource wars” has been overstated. Sure, hydrocarbon competition can inspire international spats, but as the HD-981 incident demonstrated, governments are quick to contain them. When it comes to maritime disputes, islands, not oil, are the greater threat to international stability. Why? Because resources can be shared but islands cannot. In a winner-takes-all environment, leaders have little choice but to dig in their heels. If one country obtains sovereign control over contested territory, the other loses it. But through joint development, resources can be shared.”

China Urges End to 'Microphone Diplomacy' over U.S. Differences.
“Differences between the United States and China over the South China Sea and cyber security should not be addressed by "microphone diplomacy" but in "a proper way" to allow for a successful U.S. visit by President Xi Jinping this year, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday. Wu Xi, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said individual issues should not be allowed to overshadow the overall U.S.-China relationship and that common interests, including bilateral trade volume of $550 billion last year, "far outweigh" differences between the countries. "Resorting to microphone diplomacy, or pointing fingers at each other, will not solve any problems," Wu told a meeting on Capitol Hill to mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Congress's U.S.-China Working Group. "The right choice is to recognize our differences, respect each other and engage in real dialogue," she said. "The choice we make today will decide the future of our two great nations, as well as the entire world." Wu was referring to disagreements between Washington and Beijing over China's increasingly assertive pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea, which have raised fears of military confrontation, and a massive cyber attack on the U.S. government that U.S. officials have blamed on Chinese hackers. China has called the hacking allegations irresponsible and says it has the right to build artificial islands in contested territory. Wu said the two sides should use the annual meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue from June 22-24, and a U.S. visit this week of a top Chinese military official, "to articulate the outcome and deliverables" for Xi's September visit to Washington.”

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 | June 10, 2015

Rethinking the Asian Century. “Since the end of the Cold War, there has been strong bipartisan dedication to the idea that America’s future will be written in the Asia-Pacific. The Obama administration has argued the case most forcefully. Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, wrote: “The Asia-Pacific has become a key driver of global politics. Stretching from the Indian subcontinent to the western shores of the Americas, the region spans two oceans — the Pacific and the Indian — that are increasingly linked by shipping and strategy. It boasts almost half the world’s population. It includes many of the key engines of the global economy, as well as the largest emitters of greenhouse gases.”  In theory, the concept of an “Asian Century” — meaning that the world’s political and economic center of gravity is shifting to Asia in the 21st century — is correct. One in three people on Earth is Chinese or Indian. Northeast Asia — including China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan — has enjoyed astonishing levels of economic growth since the latter part of the 20th century with booming export sectors and emerging middle-class consumer bases. The global production and supply networks that have taken shape in Asia produce much of what we consume so voraciously in the West. The Northeast Asian countries are also major consumers of energy imported from the Middle East, making them geopolitically important powers.Contrary to popular opinion, however, the same Asian countries that are supposed to drive the Asian Century are in the midst of serious economic slowdowns. Asia watchers have known for years that Japan has been largely stagnant economically and rapidly aging, but so are South Korea and Taiwan.”

China is building the most extensive global commercial-military empire in history.
“In the 18th and 19th centuries, the sun famously never set on the British empire. A commanding navy enforced its will, yet all would have been lost if it were not for ports, roads, and railroads. The infrastructure that the British built everywhere they went embedded and enabled their power like bones and veins in a body. Great nations have done this since Rome paved 55,000 miles (89,000 km) of roads and aqueducts in Europe. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Russia and the United States established their own imprint, skewering and taming nearby territories with projects like the Trans-Siberian and the Trans-Continental railways. Now it’s the turn of the Chinese. Much has been made of Beijing’s “resource grab” in Africa and elsewhere, its construction of militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea and, most recently, its new strategy to project naval power broadly in the open seas.” Yet these profiles of an allegedly grasping and treacherous China tend to consider its ambitions in disconnected pieces. What these pieces add up to is a whole latticework of infrastructure materializing around the world. Combined with the ambitious activities of Chinese companies, they are quickly growing into history’s most extensive global commercial empire. China views almost no place as uncontested. Chinese-financed and -built dams, roads, railroads, natural gas pipelines, ports, and airports are either in place or will be from Samoa to Rio de Janeiro, St. Petersburg to Jakarta, Mombasa to Vanuatu, and from the Arctic to Antarctica. Many are built in service of current and prospective mines, oilfields, and other businesses back to China, and at times to markets abroad.”

Response to PacNet #30R “Launch the Perry Process 2.”
“In PacNet #30R, Robert Manning and James Przystup say they disagree with Brad Glosserman’s argument in PacNet #30 “that the Obama administration’s policy of strategic patience and openness to dialogue is not working and that accordingly we must ‘do something.’” Actually, the only part of that thesis they dispute is the call for consideration of a new approach, not the assessment that the Obama policy is ineffective. They describe the equal failures of initiatives launched over the previous 18 years by the Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administrations. Given that accurate and useful history, they conclude that since nothing tried heretofore has worked, further official grasping at a solution would be a futile waste of time and taxpayers’ money. We just have to learn, if not to love the North Korean bomb, at least to accept it as an unpleasant reality of the 21st century. Meanwhile, we should just keep trying to contain the danger and hope that Pyongyang eventually will accept the West’s offer of security guarantees and generous economic benefits in exchange for denuclearization. Yet they also say that North Korea’s nuclear program, “enshrined in its 2012 constitution, has become part of its national identity.” The authors readily concede that “North Korea is dangerous and its increasingly capable missile and nuclear weapons program make them more so, especially under the rule of an erratic spoiled brat.” Henry Kissinger has described a nuclear-armed North Korea in even starker terms, noting that “The spread of these weapons into hands not restrained by the historical and political considerations of the major states augurs a world of devastation and human loss without precedent even in our age of genocidal killings.” Manning and Przystup may be right that an exhaustive and expensive new policy study is not needed, but not as they suggest because everything has already been tried and found not to work. Instead, the solution has been hiding in plain sight all along but has never been seriously pursued by any administration: the pivotal role of China as enabler and protector of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, indeed, as the willing regime preservationist.”

China military says conducted drills near Taiwan, Philippines. “
Chinese warships and aircraft on Wednesday passed through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines to hold routine planned exercises in the Western Pacific, China's Defense Ministry said. China's increasingly assertive moves to press sovereignty claims in the East and South China Sea have rattled the region and aroused concern in Washington, although the country says it has no hostile intent. China has overlapping claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Wednesday's drills could cause alarm because of their location. China claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own and has never renounced the use of force to gain control, while China and the Philippines have one of the most bitter disputes over the South China Sea of all the claimants. The joint drills tested and perfected battle strategies and "achieved their expected aims", navy spokesman Liang Yang said in a ministry statement. The exercises, in the waters east of the Bashi Channel, were routine annual drills, not aimed at any specific country or region and accorded with international law and practices, Liang said. "During the drills there was no impact upon freedom of navigation or fly-through in the relevant seas or air," he added. Such drills involving ships and aircraft far out at sea are common practice in other countries and normal for China's military. "Going forward, similar drills and exercises will keep taking place," Liang said. An official of the Philippine coast guard said it had noticed nothing unusual in the waters to the north of the country, where the Bashi Channel is located.”

China Slams G-7 Criticism on Sea Claims.
“China on Tuesday slammed the Group of Seven (G-7) nations for making "irresponsible remarks" about Beijing's disputed territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. In a statement at the end of a summit in Germany on Monday, G-7 leaders expressed concern about Asian maritime tensions and called on all sides to respect international law. "We strongly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force, as well as any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo, such as large-scale land reclamation," the G-7 statement said. The comments were seen as a criticism of China's efforts to create artificial islands to enforce its claims in the South China Sea. China's Foreign Ministry dismissed the G-7 statement as being "far from the facts." China has been reclaiming land and building airstrips and infrastructure in the Spratly islands, which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The area is rich in natural resources and is a main trade route. The land reclamation is part of China's wider strategy of slowly but steadily cementing its disputed sea claims. Many of China's neighbors have responded by developing closer military ties with one another. The Philippines and Japan have said they plan to hold a fresh round round of naval drills in the South China Sea later this month. Manila and Tokyo last month conducted their first ever bilateral naval exercises.Japan is involved in its own bitter, long-running dispute with China over a series of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Malaysian officials on Tuesday also said they plan to register an official protest with China over the incursion of a Chinese Coast Guard ship off the shore of Borneo Island. The Chinese vessel is anchored near Luconia Shoals, within Malaysia's 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone, according to National Security Minister Shahidan Kassim's Facebook page.”

In Asia, China’s increasingly assertive acts prompt unity among opponents.
“China is showing itself to be a unifying force in Asia – uniting various countries against Beijing’s increasingly assertive actions in the South China Sea. On Monday, Malaysian officials announced they would register a complaint against a Chinese coast guard ship that ventured into their country’s territorial waters north of Borneo. On Tuesday, Japan and the Philippines announced plans for a joint search-and-rescue exercise involving military aircraft later this month. The announcement followed a trip by Philippines President Benigno Aquino III to Tokyo last weekend, which could pave the way for Japanese aircraft and ships to refuel at Philippines military bases. Last week, Reuters reported that Vietnam – amid tense relations with China – was talking to U.S. and European military contractors about possibly purchasing fighter jets, maritime patrol planes and unarmed drones. Over the last several months, China’s expansion of artificial islands in the South China Sea has widely been seen as a blow to U.S. foreign policy, which seems unable to keep Beijing in check. Yet increasingly, China’s actions are prompting its neighbors to explore new security arrangements with each other, which Chinese leaders have long sought to avoid. “For China, it could end up being a Pyrrhic victory in the long run,” Denny Roy, a security analyst at the East-West Center in Hawaii, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. Beijing’s hopes of extracting concessions from other Asian countries could be thrown into doubt “if the result is improved security cooperation, with China as the unstated adversary,” he said. China has made historical claims to about 80 percent of the South China Sea, a claim many analysts dismiss as ludicrous. Until recently, China hadn’t aggressively pursued those claims, but that changed in 2012, when Xi Jinping came to power.”

U.S. Congress Hears of China Building Military Base in Zimbabwe.
“A United States panel on Africa has been told of China building a military base in eastern Zimbabwe, raising alarm in Washington which is increasingly worried about Beijing’s growing influence in Africa. The issue came up for discussion last week during a hearing on Zimbabwe by the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. California Congresswoman Karen Bass sought clarification on the issue from U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Dr. Shannon Smith, who had just returned from a visit in Harare. “In recent years Zimbabwe has strengthened trade and military ties with China, including the construction of a Chinese military base in eastern Zimbabwe.” “What if any, if you could speak to that, I think there are obviously security implications for the United States. What do we know about that development?” Bass asked. Dr. Smith did not provide a direct answer, only commenting that ties between China and Zimbabwe had deepened over the years. “The countries clearly enjoy a close relationship; China is active in much of Africa as you’ve seen in many places I know,” Smith responded, adding that the Chinese investments were mainly in mining. Congresswoman Bass pressed further, asking who was being employed at the said camp – Chinese nationals or Zimbabweans – to which Dr. Smith said, “I couldn’t tell you.” Studio 7 could not independently establish the existence of any such base and its purposes. Zimbabwe National Army spokesman Colonel Overson Mugwisi could not comment, repeatedly telling VOA Studio 7 he was waiting for an appropriate response from his bosses. Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Chris Smith took aim at Beijing, saying its influence in the world was bad for democracy.”

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 | June 09, 2015

Why China Wants Aircraft Carriers. “China’s recent release of its first strategic white paper signals its official emergence as a maritime—and therefore global—power. Little in the document should surprise those who have monitored China’s rise, though it remains to be seen whether China watchers will discern nuance and inscrutability instead of taking Beijing at its word. Simply put, China views the United States as Asia’s hegemon, and its strategy seeks to deprive the United States of this role. In its quest to eject the United States from a position of power and influence in the region, China has embarked upon a naval building and modernization program. At first, this program seemed aimed at rendering U.S. wartime support to Taiwan moot after the 1996 Taiwan Straits crisis.  The effort included weapons and platforms designed specifically to target U.S maritime power projection capability—primarily resident in the air wings of its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier force. Early on, some assigned non-threatening motives for the buildup given the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue to Beijing. Yet over time, China began to develop weapons and sensor architectures far beyond those necessary or even useful for Taiwan scenarios. The Chinese naval program began to lay the foundation for regional maritime dominance and global influence by building modern multi-purpose destroyers, nuclear attack submarines, amphibious vessels, and an improved logistics force. By far the most powerful symbol of China’s design on regional dominance is the development of its own fleet of aircraft carriers. With one flat-top already launched and two to three more in the works, an interesting question arises. Why would a nation that has spent considerable time and effort to deny the U.S. Navy freedom of maneuver by creating the impression that its aircraft carriers were vulnerable embark on the expensive, logistically arduous, and operationally dubious decision to build its own carriers? The answer is that the benefit of a carrier force to achieving China’s strategic goals far outweighs the risks associated with operating them—a lesson that the United States once embraced, and one which must be generationally re-learned.”

Malaysia Toughens Stance With Beijing Over South China Sea. “
Malaysia said Monday it will protest what it called the intrusion of a Chinese Coast Guard ship into its waters north of Borneo, an unusually assertive step by the country amid tensions in the South China Sea. “This is not an area with overlapping claims. In this case, we’re taking diplomatic action,” National Security Minister Shahidan Kassim said in an interview, adding that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will raise the issue directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Malaysia has generally taken a low-key approach in South China Sea disputes, in contrast to the Philippines and Vietnam, which have both railed against perceived Chinese expansionism in disputed areas. The three Southeast Asian countries claim parts of the sea, as do Brunei, Taiwan and China. Last week, Mr. Kassim posted pictures on his personal Facebook page that he said showed a Chinese law-enforcement ship anchored at Luconia Shoals, an area of islets and reefs about 150 kilometers north of Malaysian Borneo—well inside the approximately 400-kilometer exclusive economic zone claimed by Malaysia. The shoals are about 2,000 kilometers from mainland China. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesmen Hong Lei said Monday he was unfamiliar with Malaysia’s claim that a Chinese ship was anchored at Luconia Shoals. China claims about 90% of the South China Sea. Luconia Shoals lie near the southern extreme of the so-called Nine-Dash Line, which China uses to demarcate its territorial claim. Beijing has never defined the precise extent of its claim, however, and the Philippines is attempting to have the Nine-Dash Line declared illegal at an international tribunal in The Hague. The Luconia Shoals are “rich in oil and natural gas,” Mr. Kassim noted in his Facebook post.”

Top Chinese Official to Tour Boeing Facility.
“A top Chinese military official plans to visit a Boeing factory during a US swing next week, Defense News has learned. General Fan Changlong, the vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission, will also visit three military bases and tour an aircraft carrier as part of his travels, which come a week after US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter slammed China for actions he called "out of step" with other nations in the Pacific. A Boeing spokesman declined to comment, directing questions to the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed the visit, which is planned to involve a stop at a non-military facility in the Seattle area. Although the tour will just be for commercial purposes, it is nonetheless notable given China's reputation for attempting to steal industrial information on both military and non-military projects. Two weeks ago, Carter used his keynote address at the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, a gathering of defense officials from around the Pacific, to challenge China over land claims in the South China Sea.” Multiple times during his trip, Carter affirmed that the US does not respect Chinese attempts to broaden their sovereign territory through the development of man-made islands in the region. China has claimed those lands, which the Pentagon estimates to be about 2,000 acres in size, as part of its territory, a move other nations in the region believe is a power grab to increase China's control of the region. About 1,500 of those acres have been developed since January, showing the rapid acceleration of China's activities. Speaking on background Friday, a senior defense official said the issue of the islands will be a major topic of discussion between Fan and Carter when they meet June 11 in DC. "That will be central item on the agenda, and I'm sure we'll have the most candid possible discussion," the official said. Cyber security, including hacking attempts on US military industrial firms, will also be discussed, the official said. US officials have fingered Chinese hackers as the source of a recent attack on the Office of Personnel Management, which exposed four million federal records last week.” 

With a Series of Major Hacks, China Builds a Database on Americans.
“China is building massive databases of Americans’ personal information by hacking government agencies and U.S. health-care companies, using a high-tech tactic to achieve an age-old goal of espionage: recruiting spies or gaining more information on an adversary, U.S. officials and analysts say. Groups of hackers working for the Chinese government have compromised the networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which holds data on millions of current and former federal employees, as well as the health insurance giant Anthem, among other targets, the officials and researchers said. “They’re definitely going after quite a bit of personnel information,” said Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer of ThreatConnect, a Northern Virginia cybersecurity firm. “We suspect they’re using it to understand more about who to target [for espionage], whether electronically or via human ­recruitment.” The targeting of large-scale data­bases is a relatively new tactic and is used by the Chinese government to further its ­intelligence-gathering, the officials and analysts say. It is government espionage, not commercial espionage, they say. “This is part of their strategic goal — to increase their intelligence collection via big-data theft and big-data aggregation,” said a U.S. government official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “It’s part of a strategic plan.” One hack of OPM, which was disclosed by the government Thursday, dates at least to December, officials said.” 

Hungary First European Country to Sign Up for China Silk Road Plan.
“Hungary has become the first European country to sign a cooperation agreement for China's new "Silk Road" initiative to develop trade and transport infrastructure across Asia and beyond, China's foreign ministry said late on Saturday. The countries' foreign ministers signed a memorandum of understanding for what is formally known as the "One Belt, One Road" project in Budapest, according to a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry website. China welcomes more European countries to look East, and strengthen cooperation with China and other Asian countries, and participate in the "One Belt, One Road" in various ways, said Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, according to a separate statement on the website. President Xi Jinping said earlier this year he hoped annual trade with the countries involved in Beijing's plan to create a modern Silk Road would surpass $2.5 trillion in a decade. Hungary hopes to closely cooperate with China and push on with the Hungarian-Serbia railway and other major construction projects, Hungary's President Janos Ader was quoted as saying by the Chinese foreign ministry. China is helping fund and build a railway connecting Hungary and Serbia. Projects under the plan include a network of railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet networks, maritime and other infrastructure links across Central, West and South Asia to as far as Greece, Russia and Oman, increasing China's connections to Europe and Africa.”

China, Sri Lanka Pledge to Strengthen Military Cooperation. “
China and Sri Lanka vowed to strengthen military cooperation, as Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan met with Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Adm. Jayantha Perera Tuesday in Beijing. Hailing the traditional friendship between China and Sri Lanka, Chang said China was willing to work with the Sri Lanka side to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and to continue to advance practical cooperation. During Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Sri Lanka last September, the two heads of states witnessed the signing of an action plan to deepen bilateral ties and strengthen their strategic cooperative partnership. The first China-Sri Lanka defense cooperation dialogue was held in Beijing last year. "China is willing to make full use of the dialogue, expand cooperation and exchanges in various fields and levels, and maintain the smooth development of military-to-military ties," Chang said. Perera expressed gratitude for China's support and assistance to his country's development, adding that practical cooperation between the two navies in such areas as personal training had yielded fruitful results. "I hope my visit will further strengthen friendly ties between the two militaries," Perera said.”, Philippines to Conduct Joint Drill Amid S. China Sea Tensions. “Japan and the Philippines are set to conduct a joint search and rescue exercise in the South China Sea later this month, Japanese government sources said Monday, amid tensions over China's maritime assertiveness in the region. Japan's Defense Ministry is likely to dispatch the Maritime Self-Defense Force's P-3C patrol plane for the exercise, scheduled for June 23 and 24 in high seas off the western coast of the Philippines, the sources said. The joint training is apparently aimed at bolstering coordination between the two countries' forces, as China is engaged in large-scale land reclamation in the South China Sea despite international criticism. Members of the MSDF and the Philippine Navy aboard the P-3C will search for a ship in distress from the sky and rescue those injured during the drill, the source said. China is locked in territorial disputes with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries as it claims sovereignty over much of the South China Sea. Japan is also at odds with Beijing over the ownership of a group of East China Sea islets controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan On Monday, Gen. Kiyofumi Iwata, chief of staff of the Ground Self-Defense Force, and Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri of the Philippine Army met in Tokyo, agreeing to enhance bilateral defense cooperation and promote the exchanges of their personnel, the ministry said, as they shared concern about the Chinese moves in the area. The talks, held at the ministry, came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Philippine President Benigno Aquino agreed Thursday to strengthen their defense ties and start talks for an accord on the transfer of defense equipment and technology between the two countries.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | June 08, 2015

China Military Stresses Party Control in Face of ‘Liberal’ Enemies. “China's military said on Sunday it must be governed by the ruling Communist Party and not succumb to "liberal" voices who wish to challenge the party's control. President Xi Jinping has repeatedly reminded the military to be loyal to the party, as he also steps up efforts to modernize forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, though it has not fought a war in decades. In a front-page editorial, the official People's Liberation Army Daily said that "enemy forces" were trying to infiltrate the ranks to push for the "de-politicisation" of the military and remove the party's leadership role. With a changing society, younger officers are now entering the forces who lack a proper understanding of the party's role and its discipline requirements, the newspaper added. "When political discipline is firm, then the ruling Party prospers; when political discipline is weak, the ruling Party falls... Liberalism has always been the great enemy of strictly maintaining political discipline," said the paper, citing a 1937 warning by the founder of modern China, Mao Zedong. "Still today, political liberalism floats up from the dregs from time to time," the paper added. The "fundamental reason the military constantly moves from victory to victory is the strict maintenance of political discipline and preserving the Party's leadership", it added. China's military, the world's largest, has made similar warnings in the past, including in April when it ordered its forces to be on guard against "liberalism" in order to avoid and purge internal corruption. China's forces have been shaken by Xi's war against deep-seated corruption, which has toppled some of the military's most senior officers. China stepped up a crackdown on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the People's Liberation Army from engaging in business. But the military has been involved in commercial dealings in recent years due to a lack of checks and balances, military analysts have said. Anti-graft advocates say corruption in the military is so pervasive that it could undermine China's ability to wage war.”

China Stages Military Exercises Along Myanmar Border.
“China has launched live-fire air-ground training exercises along the China-Myanmar border, an area where Kokang rebels have been fighting Myanmar's army for months. China’s Foreign and Defense ministries announced that the military exercises were taking place inside the country's Yunnan province. The Global Times, under the auspices of the People's Daily, reported that the Chinese military provided precise coordinates of the area of the exercises but gave no clear indication of when the drill would end. The newspaper said it would be contingent upon the situation and level of effectiveness on the ground. The Global Times called the drill “unusual” while stressing it was “a promised act to protect the safety and properties of the Chinese people.” Eric Shin, coverage chief at Taiwan’s Defense International magazine, agreed. “Isn’t it the goal of the People’s Liberation Army to protect its people, sovereignty and territories?” Shih asked. “The PLA has to have a drill at least to demonstrate to its people, especially after Myanmar has crossed the border multiple times to combat the rebels and its bombs were found within the Chinese border.” June Dreyer, professor of political science at the University of Miami, told VOA only Beijing knows the true intentions of such a drill, which she read as a sign of deteriorating relations between the governments of China and Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. “Since [opposition leader] Aung San Suu Kyi was freed, there have been a number of protests in Burma against Chinese development projects that the local people feel are impacting badly on them," she said. "Also, there are a number of people in Burma who resent so much Chinese economic presence in their country. Relations between the governments of Burma and China have not been as good as they used to be under the old military dictatorship.” In March, the conflict in Myanmar between the ethnic Chinese Kokang rebels and the Burmese army began spilling over into Yunnan, China. Two incidents of reported casualties and damage from bombings by the Burmese inside China drew a sharp reaction from Beijing. Myanmar said the incidents were unintentional, but the Chinese have demanded Myanmar investigate the bombings, apologize and pay indemnities to the victims.”

How China Plans to Run AIIB: Leaner, With Veto.
“A new China-led Asian infrastructure bank aims to differentiate itself from the World Bank and other lenders, with a leaner structure meant to showcase Beijing’s reputation for speed and efficiency in building large projects. Articles of incorporation for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, agreed to at a meeting of its 57 founding member countries last month, call for the bank to be overseen by an unpaid, nonresident board of directors, unlike the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The bank, which will be based in Beijing and use English as its operating language, will open bidding for projects to all, unlike the ADB, which restricts contracts to member countries, according to a copy of the articles reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The bank’s voting structure means that China, as the bank’s largest shareholder, will likely have a veto over major decisions, according to the articles and people close to the bank. It also gives a bigger voice to developing nations—a turnaround from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, in which China lobbied for years for greater representation. Overall, the bank, on paper, attempts to redress perceived shortcomings at the World Bank, ADB and other development institutions that have been criticized by China and other developing countries for being top-heavy and overly controlled by the U.S. and other wealthy nations. “China benefited a lot from existing multilateral organizations, but it was also frustrated in a lot of ways that they didn’t increase the weight of China and other developing markets, that they are often slow and bureaucratic,” said David Dollar, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution and former World Bank and U.S. Treasury official in China who has done unpaid consulting for the new bank. The bank, known in brief as AIIB, has been seen as an ambitious bid by Beijing to expand its international influence and challenge U.S. clout while at the same time bolstering opportunities abroad for Chinese construction and engineering companies. A low-key lobbying campaign by China exceeded expectations, attracting 56 other countries, among them U.S. allies Australia and South Korea that faced pressure from Washington not to join. “China can’t lose from having an economically rational, transparent governing structure at the AIIB that it can showcase in response to the U.S.,” said Leslie Young, an economics professor with Beijing’s Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. “This is going to change the game and expand its soft power,” he said.”

Taiwan Coast Guard Launches New Ships as South China Sea Tensions Rise.
“Taiwan's coast guard on Saturday commissioned its biggest ships for duty in the form of two 3,000-ton patrol vessels, as the island boosts defenses amid concerns about China's growing footprint in the disputed South China Sea. The new vessels will be able to dock at a new port being constructed on Taiping Island, the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, before the end of this year. Taiwan's coast guard has had direct oversight of the 46-ha (114-acre) island, also known as Itu Aba, since 2000. "Taiping Island's defense capabilities will not be weak," said Wang Chung-yi, minister of the Coast Guard Administration, referring to recent upgrading done on the 1,200-metre (yards) long airstrip on Taiping and the building of a new port, which he said could be completed as early as October this year. "As far as Taiping Island is concerned, we still maintain not so much a military as a civil role," Wang told Reuters in an interview in Taipei. Taiwan will not create conflict, but if it is provoked "we will not concede," he said. Unlike the Philippines and Vietnam, Taiwan has largely avoided becoming ensnared in public disputes with China over the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, while the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping claims. Rival claims by Taiwan and China go back to before defeated Nationalists fled to Taiwan after losing a civil war with the Communists in 1949. Beijing sees self-ruled Taiwan as a renegade province to be retaken one day and bans actions that would confer sovereignty, such as negotiating territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou boarded one of the new ships on Saturday, observing rescue drills in waters off the southern Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung. One of the vessels will be sent to the South China Sea, while the other will be assigned to waters north of Taiwan where it has overlapping claims with Japan.”

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 | June 05, 2015

The Big Story Behind China’s New Military Strategy. “As China reemerges as one of the globe’s leading powers, just what type of actor it will be on the world stage has become a subject of intense debate among China watchers and the broader public. With tensions rising to what one eminent China scholar has called a “tipping point” in U.S.-China relations, the Chinese government released its first-ever white paper on military strategy just before the fourteenth annual Shangri-La Dialogue was held in Singapore this past weekend. Since 2012, Beijing has indeed become more assertive in proximate waters, and the paper underscores determination to strengthen Chinese “strategic management of the sea.” Attention has rightly focused on expressions of Chinese resolve with respect to current points of contention such as China’s land reclamation on disputed features in the South China Sea. Most recently – following Pentagon predictions – a China’s Coast Guard appears to be increasing activity near Luconia Shoals, roughly 60 miles north of Borneo in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone. But the strategic thinking just published also reflects a much larger story of profound changes in Chinese foreign policy. The story itself is relatively simple: China’s participation in globalization has catalyzed an irreversible explosion of overseas interests. It has also afforded China greater resources and capabilities with which to advance and defend them.”

U.S. Suspects Hackers in China Breached About 4 Million People’s Records, Officials Say.
“U.S. officials suspect that hackers in China stole the personal records of as many as four million people in one of the most far-reaching breaches of government computers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing the breach, detected in April at the Office of Personnel Management. The agency essentially functions as the federal government’s human resources department, managing background checks, pension payments and job training across dozens of federal agencies. Investigators suspect that hackers based in China are responsible for the attack, though the probe is continuing, according to people familiar with the matter. On Thursday, several U.S. officials described the breach as among the largest known thefts of government data in history. It isn’t clear exactly what was stolen in the hack attack, but officials said the information can be used to facilitate identity theft or fraud. The Department of Homeland Security said it “concluded at the beginning of May” that the records had been taken. At a Chinese Foreign Ministry briefing on Friday, ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, “Cyberattacks are anonymous, cross-border and hard to trace. If you keep using the words “maybe” or “perhaps” without making a thorough study, this is irresponsible and unscientific.”

US Must Hold Firm in South China Sea Dispute.
No sane Chinese or American official wants a major war between the two countries. Nor would anyone in a responsible position on the U.S. side welcome even a limited military conflict with China, for fear of miscalculation, escalation, and unintended consequences, including the significant endangerment of economic relations. American restraint is demonstrable in the South China Sea (SCS) but it has also characterized the U.S. response to China-initiated situations in the East China Sea and across the Taiwan Strait. That prudent approach, however, is not sufficiently shared by Chinese government and military leaders. Some seem willing to push the envelope to see just how much aggressive behavior Washington will tolerate in the region. They appear prepared to risk a direct clash at sea or in the air and expect the U.S. to make the necessary efforts to avoid it – for instanceto back away from exercising full navigational and overflight rights. Beijing’s belief in its new military prowess and in America’s failing will and capabilities emboldens Chinese leaders to persist in their defiance even if planes or ships collide, and potentially, if shots are actually fired. Chinese officials are convinced that Washington fears escalation more than they do and that it will accept a compromise resolution rather than take U.S. resistance to the next level.”

China's Military Might: First, the Good News
. “Every week seems to bring new cause for concern about China's rising military power and assertiveness. Some scholars and pundits worry that the Chinese government is aiming to block U.S. forces from operating in East Asia altogether -- and even plans to replace the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower. While China’s buildup indeed creates security challenges for the U.S. and its Asian allies, the consequences are more subtle and complicated than some alarms would suggest. Despite its quickly increasing defense budgets in the last 20 years, China still lacks the ability to project combat power in a sustained way far from its shores, and the U.S. maintains full-spectrum military superiority, even in East Asia. Chinese forces lag far behind their U.S. counterparts in quality of equipment, experience and training. Unfortunately for the U.S., the good news ends there. China doesn't need to be a peer competitor to pose serious problems in East Asia, a region of great importance to America and the rest of the world. I'll explain why in a second article tomorrow. Meanwhile, however, let's put the arsenals and fighting abilities in context. China’s large military establishment was traditionally a land army for homeland defense against the Communist Party's foreign and domestic foes and was supplemented by a small number of stationary liquid-fueled missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads. In the 1990s China began developing the ability to project military power abroad with its navy, air force and conventionally tipped ballistic missiles. Some of these highly accurate solid-fueled missiles can apparently even strike moving targets at sea.”

This Country Should Fear China's Rising Military (And It's Not America).
“Last week, China's State Council released a new White Paper on Military Strategy. Although somewhat overshadowed by heightened tensions in the South China, the document has deep long-term implications for Australian defense. For the first time since World War II, a regional state is officially developing the full suite of conventional military capabilities, and now also the doctrine, to pose a direct threat to Australia and its vital interests. This is a big change. For more than seventy years, the defining feature of Australia's strategic environment has been the absence of a threat against which to plan its defense. It's been a good problem to have, and one that many countries would be only too happy to trade for their more exacting circumstances. But such a benign environment has also made things tricky when it comes to discerning what kind of military forces to build. The 1987 Defense White Paper offered a clever solution: build a flexible force comprised of different military capabilities; keep a close watch on regional strategic developments, including the lead times on military capabilities and doctrines that could potentially threaten Australia; and if and when a more clear threat emerges, expand the existing force to meet the challenge.”

On Human Rights, No More Free Passes for China.
“Twenty-six years ago this week, student-led popular protests gripped Beijing. Spurred by the death of a prominent reformer, thousands gathered in Tiananmen Square in April 1989 to seek greater political freedom. As the days passed, their numbers swelled not only in the capital but also in cities and universities across the nation until more than a million — including journalists, workers, government employees, and police — joined their ranks, making it the largest political protest in the history of Communist China. Late in the evening of June 3, the army opened fire on peaceful “counter-revolutionary” protesters. The bloodshed continued into June 4. To this day, we don’t know the precise number of resulting casualties; and more than a quarter century later, there has been no public accounting of the events of that week. Rather, those seeking to commemorate the dead are harassed, detained, and arrested. Perhaps the most iconic image to emerge from the Tiananmen Massacre is the so-called tank man — the small lone figure, shopping bags in hand, who jockeyed to position himself in the path of an advancing line of People’s Liberation Army tanks. His actions flew in the face of every human impulse to avoid impending danger."

China tries to censor a disaster.
The tragic sinking of a cruise ship on the Yangtze River on Monday night produced a reflexive reaction from China’s communist authorities: censorship. Within hours of the disaster, which left more than 440 people dead or missing, authorities were scrubbing the Internet of questions or comments about the Eastern Star and its passengers. News media were ordered not to send journalists to the scene, to recall those already there and to rely on the official state news and television agencies for their information. Instead of providing detailed accounts, those outlets focused their coverage on Premier Li Keqiang, who was portrayed as resolutely leading rescue efforts. All of this was reminiscent of China’s handling of previous disasters, ranging from the 2003 SARS epidemic to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake to a 2011 high-speed train crash. In fact, what has been distinctive so far about the cruise ship sinking is the way the regime of President Xi Jinping has outdone its recent predecessors in suppressing independent reporting and commentary. After the earthquake, local and foreign journalists were allowed to report relatively freely for several weeks — until some began focusing on shoddy school construction that could have contributed to the deaths of thousands of children. The train wreck was widely reported on social media, prompting outrage that led to the dismissal of senior railway officials.”

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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