China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 04, 2014

U.S. to Skip China Fleet Review After Japan Shunned. “The United States is scrapping plans for a Navy ship to join a fleet review in China after key ally, Japan, was not invited, U.S. officials said on Thursday, in a move that came just ahead of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's trip to Japan and China. The United States had been invited to participate in the fleet review - essentially a parade of ships - as part of activities linked to the Western Pacific Naval Symposium, which is being held this month in Qingdao, an eastern port city. The United States will still participate in the naval symposium and will observe the review, one official said. "We're not going to put a ship in the actual parade. We'll observe the parade," the U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding the decision was taken last week and came after a request by ally Japan. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told a news conference on Friday that Japan would take part in the regularly held naval symposium but confirmed that it had not been invited to the fleet review. "Japan is responding calmly but it is unfortunate that China took such approach," he said. The U.S. decision was another sign of troubled Sino-Japanese ties, chilled by a territorial dispute over a group of East China Sea islets. It also shows the tricky balancing act facing Hagel over the next week as he moves to reassure Tokyo of Washington's commitment to its security while seeking better ties with Beijing. Hagel leaves on Friday on a trip to Japan, China and Mongolia.”

 Drive A Wedge Between Russia and China. “There’s no question that Russia’s annexation of the Crimea is a blatant violation of international law. However, talk of a new Cold War and of “containing” Russia take our eyes off of more pressing threats and potential opportunities, namely cutting a deal with Iran and driving a wedge between a (potentially) revisionist Kremlin and a rising China. The Obama White House should do three things. In the short-term, reach a settlement that Finlandizes Ukraine. Next, reassure NATO allies in Eastern Europe that Russia will be kept out of their backyards. Finally, reengage the Kremlin in order to prevent it from getting closer to Beijing. Obama got it right when he said that Putin’s behavior is driven by weakness. Russia is in a state of relative economic, military and demographic decline, having squandered the nearly decade-long oil boom to reposition itself on the international stage. The best and brightest that aren’t Kremlin insiders already voted with their feet and moved to the West—and show little interest in returning home. In prospect theory-speak, states that are in the domain of losses tend to be more risk acceptant, and, therefore more aggressive, than rising powers that have time on their side.”

 South Korea, China Condemn Japan Over Textbooks in Latest Fight. “South Korea and China on Friday condemned new Japanese textbooks that say that islands at the centre of separate territorial disputes belong to Japan, the latest in a series of disputes between Tokyo and neighbors Seoul and Beijing. The elementary school textbooks describe islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese as Japan's "sovereign territory" and say South Korean occupation is unlawful. The books also say China's claims to islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyus in China in the East China Sea are unfounded. South Korean First Vice Minister Cho Tae-yong called in Japan's ambassador to Seoul to protest and the ministry warned of worsening ties. "If (Japanese) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who declared just three weeks ago he stands by the 'Kono Statement' now tries to conduct education for elementary school children that distorts and hides its history of colonial invasion, he is not only breaking his own promise but also committing the mistake of isolating its next generation from international society," the ministry said. The statement refers to an apology made by former cabinet secretary Yohei Kono in 1993 which recognized the Japanese government involvement in taking women, mostly Korean, to work in military brothels as sex slaves during the war. Both China and Korea suffered under Japanese rule, with parts of China occupied in the 1930s and Korea colonized from 1910 to 1945. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Japan had to take a "sincere attitude" towards facing up to history.”

 China’s Former Leaders Tell Xi To Halt Anti-Corruption Campaign. “Xi Jinping’s much vaulted anti-graft campaign appears to have hit a major roadblock with China’s two living former presidents reportedly urging Xi to halt it. According to a report in the Financial Times, both President Jiang Zemin and President Hu Jintao have sent word to Xi in recent weeks telling him to rein in the anti-corruption campaign he has made a cornerstone of his presidency. Citing three sources with familiar with the matter, FT reported that President Jiang recently sent Xi a message warning him that “the footprint of this anti-corruption campaign cannot get too big.” The UK newspaper also cited a Chinese official implementing the anti-graft campaign as saying that former President Hu has expressed a similar sentiment to Xi. The report comes as speculation is intensifying that former domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang will soon be arrested and formally charged with corruption. Throughout much of Xi’s tenure in office, Zhou’s loyalists and family members have been arrested, while Zhou himself is reportedly being held under informal house arrest. According to Reuters, which cited two unnamed Chinese officials: “More than 300 of Zhou’s relatives, political allies, proteges and staff have also been taken into custody or questioned in the past four months.” The same report said that the Chinese government has also seized about 90 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) from Zhou’s associates and family members. Zhou was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC), China’s highest decision-making body, until stepping down at the 18th Party Congress. If formally charged, Zhou would be the highest-ranking official to be formally charged with a crime in the People Republic of China’s (PRC) entire history.”

 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 | April 03, 2014

Taiwan’s Takeaway from Russian Annexation of Crimea: We Must Modernize Military. “Taiwan watched Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea from Ukraine very closely. After all, the island nation, which is claimed by China, has long feared Beijing might do the same thing. “We learned a very important lesson that we have to modernize our military by spending [to] develop [weapons and equipment] ourselves or working closely with the Americans,” Andrew Hsia, Taiwan’s deputy defense minister, said Wednesday at a Center for a New American Security event in Washington. Russia’s military faced no resistance from Ukrainian forces as they entered the Crimean peninsula and eventually took over Ukrainian military bases. Many of the Ukrainian air force’s fighter jets are not flyable, and the ones that are can have limited capabilities. The rest of Ukraine’s military also has dated equipment with limited capabilities. Taiwan has had a standing request to purchase new Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters from the US; however, Washington has not approved the deal, instead offering upgrade Taiwan’s existing F-16s. The George W. Bush administration in 2001 offered Taiwan submarines, but that deal never advanced. Thirteen years later there is no “clear indication of how that will happen,” Hsia said Wednesday. “At this moment, I think Taiwan is developing, or trying to develop, our own indigenous submarine. “I think people may have different thinking about submarines, so basically our request is that we should be able to sit down with the United States government to discuss … the system that is suitable for preventing war in Taiwan,” he continued.”

 Xi’s Corruption Crackdown. “Last autumn saw the conclusion of China’s most politically charged trial in decades when former rising political star Bo Xilai was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of “bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power”. Looming on the horizon is an even more sensational tale of official corruption that promises to relegate Bo to a lurid footnote. In pursuing former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, President Xi Jinping has given a demonstration of his power and a popular face-value commitment to cleaning house. In doing so he risks further exposing the rotten core of the ruling Communist Party and establishing a worrying precedent for powerful leaders with skeletons in their closets. Former leaders Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin are reported to have sent Xi a warning not to overreach or do anything to endanger the Party’s capacity to rule and to stay in power. Ever since Mao Zedong’s internal rivalries spilled into the streets as the Cultural Revolution, the unwritten rule in Chinese politics has been that current and former members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of political power in China, are immune to investigation. As Teng Biao puts it, the motto for Chinese officials is “make it to bureau head and you will be spared the death penalty. Make it to the Standing Committee and you will be spared any penalty.” Yet all indications are that we about to witness the breaking of this entrenched Party taboo. The net is slowly closing in on Zhou Yongkang, who served under Hu Jintao until both retired as part of the transition to a new Party leadership in 2012.”

 The U.S. Can Help Calm Taiwan’s Political Storm. “There is increasing concern these days about America's apparently diminishing ability to promote security and liberty overseas, from Syria to Ukraine and beyond. But on Friday U.S. officials will have an unusual opportunity to advance overseas interests with ease—by strengthening bilateral trade relations with Taiwan. At a meeting in Washington, U.S. and Taiwanese officials could announce their intention to launch negotiations on a Bilateral Investment Agreement. Crucially, such an agreement would also position the U.S. to support Taiwan's eventual membership in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade accord that is the centerpiece of Washington's "pivot" to Asia. Taiwan's accession to TPP would add a high-tech export economy to the trade zone while also helping democratic Taiwan offset its creeping overreliance on trade with China. Back in Taiwan this week, President Ma Ying-jeou is facing unprecedented street protests against ratification of a trade agreement he signed last year with China. The protests represent a critical juncture in Taiwan's domestic debate on relations with China. Unless Taipei resolves the dispute soon, tensions across the Taiwan Strait could heighten dramatically—with serious implications not just for Taiwan and China but for the U.S., which for decades has guaranteed stability across the Strait. President Ma has pushed an ambitious set of initiatives to normalize China-Taiwan trade and cultural relations since 2009. Taiwan has seen soaring numbers of Chinese tourists, Taiwanese companies increasingly use China as their primary platform for global production, and China's share of Taiwanese exports is now greater than 40%. Thanks to this massive commercial relationship, cross-Strait tensions have dropped to a historic low.”

 China’s Fifteen-Billion-Dollar Purge. “In less than two years, the Chinese government has brought low one of its most powerful figures: the former oilman and security hawk Zhou Yongkang. Zhou was not the Vice-President, but, as recently as the beginning of 2012, he was “arguably the most powerful man in China,” as the Financial Times put it. Born in a village of beet farmers, he rose through the ranks of the China National Petroleum Corporation and reached the highest levels of the Communist Party: the Standing Committee of the Politburo, where he gained control of domestic security. He was responsible for a vast apparatus dedicated to spying on China’s citizens and putting down protests, and he enjoyed a larger budget than that of the military. (As a result, in the words of the F.T., “his trove of compromising secret files on influential people drew comparisons to another American: J. Edgar Hoover.”) But today Zhou is poised to become the most senior official to be removed on corruption charges since the birth of the People’s Republic, in 1949. After months of rumors, the purported details of Zhou’s collapsing empire have been widely published in recent days, a sign that the government is preparing to make his arrest public. According to various reports, at least ten of Zhou’s relatives have been detained, included his brother, his wife, and his son. His son’s wife, a Chinese-American named Fiona Huang Wan, who once co-produced a Chinese television series called “Police Story,” has been unreachable since October, her mother told a reporter. The purge has extended to offices that were once out of the reach of ordinary anti-corruption campaigns, reportedly encompassing Jiang Jiemin, formerly the chairman of both the state energy giant PetroChina and its parent, China National Petroleum Corporation, and Li Dongsheng, a propagandist turned vice-minister of public security. Li was a senior official in the state television system, where, the F.T. noted, his duties reportedly included introducing senior Party leaders “to attractive young female reporters and anchors from the station.” (Zhou is married to a former television host.)”

 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 | April 01, 2014

Double Down on Taiwan. “This April marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act. In a resolution affirming the critical importance of the Act, members of Congress note its “instrumental [role] in maintaining peace, security, and stability in the Taiwan Strait since its enactment in 1979” and maintain that continued support for Taiwan “is in the political, international and economic interests of the United States.” Yet, in reality our relationship with Taiwan has suffered from benign neglect for far too long. During a March 14 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) questioned whether “the Administration is doing enough to fulfill the larger promise of the Taiwan Relations Act. America’s support for Taiwan is now more important than ever, and it is vital that we speak with one voice when it comes to our support for Taiwan.” The United States should work directly with Taiwan to actively promote peace and stability in Asia; strengthen the bilateral economic and trade relationship; preserve democracy, human rights and media freedom; reopen blocked channels of communication; and facilitate meaningful participation in international organizations. Safeguarding peace and maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific region is vital to U.S. core national interests. China’s unprecedented military modernization over the past two decades has created a dangerous imbalance across the Taiwan Strait. In accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the United States should maintain regular and appropriate arms sales to help bolster the capability of Taiwan to defend itself against potential military threats. The Obama administration should specifically not only authorize the sale of advanced weapon platforms to assist Taiwan in maintaining its defense capacity, but also publicly promote joint cooperation between the United States and Taiwan on cyber-security issues. According to University of Miami professor June Teufel Dryer, “the implementation of the pivot would be severely constrained were Taiwan to be subsumed into the PRC.” It thus behooves the United States to ensure that Taiwan maintains the capacity to defend itself, and is a partner in the U.S. regional security architecture.”

 Leader of China Aims at Military With Graft Case. “Prosecutors accused a former senior military official on Monday of a litany of crimes, including bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, presenting a first glimpse of what could be the biggest corruption scandal to ever engulf the Chinese armed forces. The charges against the officer, Lt. Gen. Gu Junshan, are the outcome of a far-reaching inquiry under President Xi Jinping that signaled his determination to make high-profile examples out of dishonest military figures. His goal, military analysts said, is to transform a service larded with pet projects and patronage networks into a leaner fighting force more adept at projecting power abroad and buttressing party rule at home, while strengthening his own authority over the army. The announcement of the case against General Gu, made by Xinhua, the official news agency, came two years after he was quietly dismissed as deputy chief of the General Logistics Department, and provided no details. But an internal inquiry has accused him of presiding over a vast land development racket that hoarded kickbacks, bought promotions, and enabled him and his family to amass dozens of expensive residences, including places where investigators found stockpiles of high-end liquor, gold bullion and cash, according to people briefed on the investigation. The investigation into General Gu, who had a commanding authority over how resources in the army were used, has shaken the military because of the scale of his activities — estimates of his assets range from several hundred million to a few billion dollars — and because it threatens some of its most senior figures. Even as Mr. Xi has pressed a sweeping campaign against graft in the Communist Party, he has seized on the case against General Gu to pursue a parallel drive to clean up the 2.3 million-member armed forces. In doing so, he is challenging military elders who promoted General Gu and have sought to protect him and themselves from the investigation, the people with knowledge of the inquiry said.”

 China, Japan Spar Over Xi’s Comments on Nanjing Massacre. “China said on Monday it was extremely unhappy with Japan for lodging a protest over comments in Germany by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who recalled Japan's wartime invasion of the city of Nanjing and resulting massacre. Xi, in a speech in Berlin on Friday, said that such atrocities were "still fresh in our memory" and referred to the Chinese figure of 300,000 being killed. China consistently reminds its people of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in which China says Japanese troops brutally killed 300,000 men, women and children in the then national capital. A post-war Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000, but some conservative Japanese politicians and scholars deny a massacre took place. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Sunday that Japan did not deny that members of the Japanese military had been involved in killings and lootings in Nanjing but said there were various views about the number of victims. He said it was extremely regrettable for a Chinese leader to make remarks about Japan's history in a third country and that Japan had protested. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said it was Japan that was in the wrong for daring to criticize Xi's remarks. "We are extremely dissatisfied with Japan's unjustified stance and strongly protest," Hong told a daily news briefing. Xi cited historical facts to ensure that people always remember what happened to ensure such tragedies can be avoided in the future, Hong added.”

 The Philippines’ UNCLOS Claim and the PR Battle Against China. “As expected, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario announced Sunday that the Philippines has submitted a memorial seeking a ruling on China’s “nine dash line” from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The Philippines seeks to have China’s claim to much of the South China Sea, including several features within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, declared invalid under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The case would be the first time international legal experts formally consider the validity of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. According to Rosario, the memorial is nearly 4,000 pages in length, including Manila’s analysis of applicable laws, the “specific relief sought by the Philippines,” and documentary evidence and maps designed to back up Philippine claims. Rosario ended his statement by saying: With firm conviction, the ultimate purpose of the Memorial is our national interest. It is about defending what is legitimately ours. It is about securing our children’s future. It is about guaranteeing freedom of navigation for all nations. It is about helping to preserve regional peace, security and stability. And finally, it is about seeking not just any kind of resolution but a just and durable solution grounded on International Law. While there have been many reports on China’s PR battle against Japan, few have noticed that the Philippines is also attempting to defend its territorial dispute in the court of public opinion. The move to file a request for arbitration in UNCLOS is part of this gambit. Thus, Rosario’s final statement on the arbitration, while it acknowledges the paramount importance of the Philippines’ “national interest,” also seeks to claim the moral high ground by painting the case as a milestone in regional security and international law. By filing such a case, Manila not only hopes to win a favorable ruling, but wants to paint itself as a positive force in the region.”

 China: A Major Power in the Middle East? “Over the last decade, the United States has been drawn into a series of imbroglios in the Middle East and South Asia, sapping military and financial resources and frustrating policymakers who seem to have no good options for managing regional troubles. In Asia, by contrast, the picture is clearer. America has tangible economic, political and military interests there. The region is also where many believe America’s global superpower status faces the most obvious challenge: China. Thus, realists such as John Mearsheimer, writing in The National Interest, approve of the “pivot” or “rebalance.” In Asia, America is trying to support its allies and preserve regional stability in the face of rising tensions and nationalist recrudescence, while avoiding unnecessary confrontation with China. The recent diplomatic conflicts over air defense identification zones and increasing confrontations over territorial disputes demonstrate that playing referee in Asia while protecting American interests is no easy task. While Asia deserves America’s focus and resources, the real dress rehearsal for China’s challenge to America’s superpower status is already taking place—in the Middle East. Here, Mearsheimer’s insistence on the need for Middle East retrenchment, in order to concentrate on the more serious rivalry with China, suffers from a major flaw in logic. History suggests that when a great power draws down from a region, another takes advantage and fills the void.”

 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 | March 31, 2014

China’s Diplomatic Hate Machine. “Big news this week in Asia: For the first time since both entered office more than a year ago, Japanese leader Shinzo Abe and South Korean leader Park Geun-hye met, on the sidelines of a nuclear-security summit in the Netherlands. That this first meeting was so significant reveals how dysfunctional relations are between Tokyo and Seoul these days. And the beneficiary of this state of affairs, of course, is China. Not content with years of encroaching on disputed maritime territory in the East and South China seas, China recently has concentrated on resurrecting the ghosts of Imperial Japan to delegitimize and isolate today's democratic Japan, which is the only nearby power capable of derailing China's ambitions. This approach is popular with South Korea, a fellow 20th-century victim of Imperial Japan. In January, China dedicated a memorial to Ahn Jung-geun, the Korean who in 1909 assassinated Japan's first prime minister and the de facto governor-general of Korea, Ito Hirobumi, in the Chinese city of Harbin. China's memorial delights South Koreans, who consider Ahn a national hero. Most countries might want to forget being an unintentional third party to a major assassination, but today China chooses to celebrate it. In doing so, Beijing further drives a wedge between Tokyo and Seoul. Besides poisoning Japanese-Korean relations, Beijing has established two new anti-Japanese national holidays in China, officially attempting to foment anti-Japanese hatred among the next generation of Chinese. The first holiday will mark the Japanese surrender to the Allies in 1945, while the other will honor the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.”

 Philippine Ship Dodges China Blockade to Reach South China Sea Outpost. “The Philippine government vessel made a dash for shallow waters around the disputed reef in the South China Sea, evading two Chinese coastguard ships trying to block its path to deliver food, water and fresh troops to a military outpost on the shoal. The cat-and-mouse encounter on Saturday, witnessed by Reuters and other media invited onboard the Philippine ship, offered a rare glimpse into the tensions playing out routinely in waters that are one of the region's biggest flashpoints. It's also a reminder of how assertive China has become in pressing its claims to disputed territory far from its mainland. "If we didn't change direction, if we didn't change course, then we would have collided with them," Ferdinand Gato, captain of the Philippine vessel, a civilian craft, told Reuters after his boat had anchored on the Second Thomas Shoal under a hot sun. The outpost is a huge, rusting World War Two transport vessel that the Philippine navy intentionally ran aground in 1999 to mark its claim to the reef. There, around eight Filipino soldiers live for three months at a time in harsh conditions on a reef that Manila says is within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). China, which claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, says the shoal is part of its territory.”

 China Charges Former Senior Military Officer With Graft. “China has charged former senior army officer Gu Junshan with corruption, state news agency Xinhua said on Monday, in what is likely to be the country's worst military scandal since a vice admiral was jailed for life for embezzlement in 2006. In a renewed campaign on graft, Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to go after both powerful "tigers" and lowly "flies", warning that the issue is so severe it threatens the ruling Communist Party's survival. Gu has been charged with corruption, taking bribes, misuse of public funds and abuse of power, Xinhua said on one of its official microblogs. He will be tried by a military court, it added. Three sources with ties to the leadership or military, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Gu also sold military positions. Gu has been under investigation for corruption since he was sacked as deputy director of the logistics department of the People's Liberation Army in 2012, sources have said. Sources told Reuters this month that Xu Caihou, 70, who retired as vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission last year and from the Communist Party's decision-making politburo in 2012, was under virtual house arrest while helping in the probe into Gu.”

 Billionaire’s Closely Watched Murder and Corruption Trial Opens in China. “Judges on Monday began hearing arguments in the closely watched murder and corruption trial of Liu Han, a powerful billionaire from western China accused of running a criminal network to build his fortune. Political analysts say the trial is an outgrowth of efforts to investigate an even more powerful target — Zhou Yongkang, a former Politburo Standing Committee member who ran China’s sprawling domestic security apparatus for a decade, until his retirement in 2012. Mr. Zhou was also a senior figure in the oil industry and from 1999 to 2002 was party chief in Sichuan Province, where Mr. Liu lived and made his fortune through mining, real estate and other industries. Mr. Liu’s trial is being scrutinized for connections between his activities and Mr. Zhou. Prosecutors in the court in the city of Xianning, in Hubei Province, announced Monday at least 18 criminal charges against Mr. Liu and his younger brother, Liu Wei, according to a microblog post by the court. The charges include murder, extortion, illegal detention, destruction of property, harboring criminals and illegal possession and trade of firearms. Thirty-four of Liu Han’s associates are also being tried. The trial is taking place in Hubei Province presumably to shield it from Liu Han’s influence, which was widespread in Sichuan. The trial is expected to continue for days or even weeks. The 36 defendants are being tried in five courtrooms; all of the cases opened Monday. The Chinese legal system is subservient to the Communist Party, and political analysts say guilty verdicts have almost certainly been predetermined in these cases.”

 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 | March 28, 2014

What Taipei’s Protesters Know. “The student-led occupation of Taiwan's legislature, now in its second week, concerns much more than a pending Taiwan-China trade agreement. Six years of warming relations between Taipei and Beijing—and of relative calm across the explosive Taiwan Strait—may now be coming to an end. Taiwanese democracy is known for heated disputes, but the current situation is unprecedented. At times 20,000 protesters have been in the streets. Several hundred stormed the legislature on March 18, barricading the doors and demanding that the ruling party withdraw consideration of the pending trade deal. Five days later, additional protesters tried to take over the nearby offices of the executive cabinet. Police blocked them, in the process injuring 150 people and arresting 60. The legislature remains occupied as protest leaders and government officials negotiate. The deal at the heart of the fracas was signed last June by Taipei and Beijing to liberalize trade in service industries from banking to publishing, hospitals and beauty parlors—a total of 64 industries in Taiwan and 80 on the mainland. It follows on the 2010 Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which launched a new era of cross-Strait commercial expansion. Today annual two-way trade is nearly $200 billion (up almost 100% from 2008), with 40% of Taiwan's exports and 80% of outbound investment now going to China. Protesters argue that trade with China is a special case in which Taiwan risks an economic dependency that would undermine its own self-government. China already has enough military and economic power, they warn, without the ability to freeze Taiwanese stores, banks and medical services whenever it is displeased with voters' tastes on the island.”

 China Angrily Denounces Japan for Russia-Crimea Analogy. “China denounced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday for drawing an analogy between Russia's behaviour in Crimea and China's actions in the disputed East and South China Seas, accusing Abe of hypocrisy. Japan's Kyodo news agency said Abe raised the issue at a G7 meeting in The Hague this month, warning that China was trying to change the status quo through coercion, and said something similar to Russia's seizing of Crimea could happen in Asia. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said those comments were completely out of place, and launched a personal attack on Abe himself, using unusually strong language. "We've long since said that this Japanese leader on the one hand hypocritically proposes improving Sino-Japan ties and on the other says bad things about China wherever he is internationally. These comments again expose his true face," Hong told a daily news briefing. "He tries in vain on the international stage to mislead the public with prevarication and deliberate falsehoods and blacken China's name. But this cannot pull the wool over the eyes of the international community." Hong said it was Japan who had "illegally snatched" uninhabited islands, called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan, at the center of the territorial dispute. China was resolute in its determination to protect its sovereignty in the East and South China Seas, Hong said, adding China wanted these disputes resolved via dialogue.”

 Is a Philippine-Vietnam Alliance in the Making? “Walden Bellow, a representative of Akbayan (Citizens’ Action Party) in the Philippine House of Representatives, recently wrote an opinion-editorial inForeign Policy in Focus (March 18) entitled, “A Budding Alliance: Vietnam and the Philippines Confront China.” Bello argued that, “The Philippines and Vietnam are natural allies in their common struggle against China’s drive for hegemony in East Asia. Already partners in ASEAN, the two are likely to be driven closer together by Beijing’s increasingly brazen displays of power as it enforces its claim to some 80 percent of the South China Sea.” The Philippines and Vietnam share convergent views and concerns over Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. This has led to intense diplomatic interaction and some coordination in multilateral institutions, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). A review of defense interaction reveals that over the last five years, progress has been spotty though gradual, but prospects for an alliance still remain over the horizon. The Philippines and Vietnam reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation on October 26, 2010. The MOU was signed in Hanoi by Vietnam’s Minister of National Defense, General Phung Quang Thanh, and the Philippines’ Secretary of Defense, Voltaire Gazmin, on the sidelines of the state visit by President Benigno Aquino. The MOU contained generally worded provisions for reciprocal visits by military delegations, information exchanges on counter-terrorism, cooperation in military education and training, search and rescue assistance, and collaboration in the development of military equipment and technology. A joint technical working group was set up to implement the MOU. A year later, the Philippines and Vietnam signed an agreement to strengthen the implementation of maritime security between the Philippine Coast Guard and the Vietnam Marine Police (since renamed Vietnam Coast Guard). This agreement was drawn up to address problems caused by the encroachment of fishermen into the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the other party. The agreement also included a provision on public education of fishermen to respect EEZ boundaries.”

 Taiwan and the Future of the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement. “After months of simmering tensions between Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) backed by members of civil society, the debate over the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement (CSSTA) has finally reached a breaking point. During the past week, demonstrators – whom media outlets continue to misleadingly refer to only as “students” – successfully occupied the Legislative Yuan and Executive Yuan, managing to hold off police attempts to evict them from the former for almost a week. Yet amidst the commotion and calls to either renegotiate the agreement article by article or disband it in its entirety, three key issues have fallen by the wayside: the legality and implications of reneging on a bilateral agreement, the significance of international image and reputation for diplomatic relations, and most importantly, how to design feasible and effective ways to protect the most vulnerable members of Taiwanese society. When the KMT concluded negotiations with the mainland and signed the CSSTA last July, it marked the beginning of a series of orthodox democratic attempts to force the ruling party to take into consideration theconcerns of opposition lawmakers, labor groups, and civil society. Lobbying, public hearings, and tame demonstrations, all standard fare in today’s representative democracies, had limited impact. Brawling between politicians in the legislature, a local tradition, was equally ineffective. In effect, the domesticated backlash has thus far allowed the government to appear democratic while simultaneously pushing a run-of-the-mill neoliberal agenda supported by conservative lawmakers, the mainland Chinese government, and powerful business interests on both sides of the strait. The move by the ruling party to sign the agreement without prior consultation was admittedly undemocratic – even by the weakest standards of what constitutes democratic policymaking behavior. Nevertheless, it was successful, and therein lies the crucial issue whose implications must be now be reckoned with.”

 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 | March 27, 2014

We’re Losing Our Military Edge Over China. Here’s How to Get It Back. “A flurry of recent statements by senior Defense Department officials has thrown a bright but cold light on a reality that Washington has yet to grapple with: that America’s edge in military technology and the balance of military power in the Asia-Pacific writ large is under serious and growing pressure from China’s military-modernization efforts. Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of the Hawaii-based U.S. Pacific Command, observed at a conference in January that “our historic diminishing” in the Pacific. Meanwhile, Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, has been even more pointed, telling the House Armed Services Committee that, when it comes to “technological superiority, the Department of Defense is being challenged in ways that I have not seen for decades, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.” And Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey soberly warned in his “Chairman’s Assessment” of the QDR that in the coming decade, he expects “the risk of interstate conflict in Asia to rise, the vulnerability of our platforms and basing to increase, [and] our technology edge to erode…Nearly any future conflict will occur on a much faster pace and on a more technically challenging battlefield.” And this, he notes, is the good case—if the United States does not spend its defense resources more wisely and make the “dramatic changes” required to upgrade our defense posture, the situation will likely be considerably worse. Some might criticize these officials for their candor. We believe Admiral Locklear, Under Secretary Kendall, and General Dempsey should be commended for sounding the alarm because they are right that the military balance in the Asia-Pacific—and especially our edge in technology and its exploitation, the true source of our military advantage in recent decades—is eroding.”

 Warfare Three Ways. “China is waging political warfare against the United States as part of a strategy to drive the U.S. military out of Asia and control seas near its coasts, according to a Pentagon-sponsored study. A defense contractor report produced for the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon’s think tank on future warfare, describes in detail China’s “Three Warfares” as psychological, media, and legal operations. They represent an asymmetric “military technology” that is a surrogate for conflict involving nuclear and conventional weapons. The unclassified 566-page report warns that the U.S. government and the military lack effective tools for countering the non-kinetic warfare methods, and notes that U.S. military academies do not teach future military leaders about the Chinese use of unconventional warfare. It urges greater efforts to understand the threat and adopt steps to counter it. The report highlights China’s use of the Three Warfares in various disputes, including dangerous encounters between U.S. and Chinese warships; the crisis over the 2001 mid-air collision between a U.S. EP-3E surveillance plane and a Chinese jet; and China’s growing aggressiveness in various maritime disputes in the South China and East China Seas. “The Three Warfares is a dynamic three dimensional war-fighting process that constitutes war by other means,” said Cambridge University professor Stefan Halper, who directed the study. “It is China’s weapon of choice in the South China Sea.” Seven other China specialists, including former Reagan Pentagon policymaker Michael Pillsbury, contributed to the study. A copy of the assessment was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. Disclosure of the report is unusual as most studies produced for the Office of Net Assessment are withheld from public release.”

 The Cycles-or Stages-of Chinese History. “The logic of strategy and all that comes from it, including the idea of the “balance of power,” for example, is inherently universal, transcendental, and timeless, but each clan, tribe, nation, and state has its own peculiar political constructs—that is why seemingly homogeneous systems, for example parliamentary democracy, function in ways so radically different from country to country. Equally, the elemental sense of the centrality of any polity takes very different forms, ranging from the quiet certitudes of the Kingdom of Denmark to that well-known Chinese construct, the Tianxia (whose logographs 天下 have been much seen in the Japanese press of late, their Kanji versions being identical). Literally “under heaven,” short for “all under heaven” or more meaningfully, “the rule of all humans,” it defines an ideal national and international system of ever-expanding concentric circles centered on a globally benevolent emperor, now Xi Jinping or more correctly perhaps, the seven-headed standing committee of the Politburo. The innermost circle of the Tianxia is formed by the rest of the Politburo and top Beijing officialdom, while its outermost circle comprises the Solomon Islands along with the twenty or so other utterly benighted “outer barbarian” countries that still do not recognize Beijing, preferring Taipei. In between, all other Chinese from officials and tycoons to ordinary subjects and overseas Chinese fit in their own circles, further and further from the imperial coreas do foreign states both large and small, both near and far, both already respectful (too few) and those still arrogantly vainglorious. It is the long-range task of China’s external policy to bring each and every state into a proper relationship with the emperor—that is, a tributary relationship, in which they deliver goods and services if only as tokens of fealty, in exchange for security and prosperity, but even more for the privilege of proximity to the globally benevolent emperor.”

 China’s Export Restrictions on Metals Violate Global Trade Law, Panel Finds. “China has broken international trade law by restricting the export of rare earth elements and other metals crucial to modern manufacturing, a World Trade Organization panel said Wednesday. That conclusion opens the possibility that Beijing will face trade sanctions from the United States, which initially brought the case, the European Union and Japan. Members of a W.T.O. panel considering the case in Geneva found that the export taxes, quotas and bureaucratic delays Beijing imposes on overseas sales of the minerals artificially raise prices and create shortages for foreign buyers. The panel concluded that “China’s export quotas were designed to achieve industrial policy goals” rather than to protect its environment, as Beijing had argued. China produces more than nine-tenths of the global supply of the strategically important metals, which are essential to many modern applications including smartphones, wind turbines, industrial catalysts and high-tech magnets. Prices soared in 2010 after Beijing cut export quotas by about 40 percent, to just over 30,000 tons, saying the restrictions were necessary because mining rare earths creates many environmental hazards. United States and European officials hailed the ruling. Michael B. Froman, the United States trade representative, said the restrictions had bolstered Chinese industry at the expense of businesses in other countries, forcing them “to pay as much as three times more than what their Chinese competitors pay for the exact same rare earths.” Karel De Gucht, the European trade commissioner, said, “China cannot use export restrictions to protect its own industries or give them a helping hand on the global market at the expense of foreign competitors.” The United States, which is almost totally dependent on China for the metals, filed the case in March 2012, and the European Union and Japan joined on Washington’s side soon after. They challenged the export restrictions on 17 rare earths, as well as two metals used in steel alloys: molybdenum and tungsten. An interim report by the W.T.O. panel last October had indicated that the panel would rule against China.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 26, 2014

China’s PR on Islands Beats Japan’s, Say U.S. Military Experts. “Japan is losing its public-relations battle with China over disputed islands and needs to turn the narrative around, say two retired senior U.S. military officers. “We’ve got to start changing the narrative. Right now, in my personal opinion, we are not controlling it. China is controlling it,” said Wallace Gregson, a retired lieutenant general who served as assistant secretary of defense under President Barack Obama and earlier as commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific. He and Mike McDevitt, a retired rear admiral and senior fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses, spoke at a symposium in Tokyo Tuesday on tensions in the East China Sea. They said China has been succeeding in painting Japan as an aggressor driven by rising militarism, despite Japan’s long postwar record of pacifism. That is aiding Beijing’s tactic of slowly putting pressure on Japan to change the status quo over contested East China Sea islands known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu in China, they said. “I believe China’s objective is to slowly but surely back Tokyo into the corner and put them on the back foot,” said Adm. McDevitt. Eventually, he said, “Beijing expects Tokyo is going to say ‘I give.’ ” Adm. McDevitt said Japan could go on offense by shifting its stance and admitting that there is a disagreement over sovereignty of the islands. It could then take the dispute to the International Court of Justice and show that it believed in following the rules of international behavior, he said.”

 Are Aircraft Carriers the New West Berlin? “There is an empirical problem with the debate over United States military strategy towards China: aircraft carriers are “dead,” but they can still be seen patrolling the Western Pacific. Most observers agree that Chinese antiaccess/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities have technological and economic advantages over US carriers. Antiship ballistic missiles have roughly twice the range of carrier jets. Their launchers are hard to find and easily dispersed, whereas supercarriers are large, travel in the open, and heavily concentrate resources in one target. Unsurprisingly, China has many times more missiles of various types than the US has carriers. UAVs and advanced countermeasures may eventually save the platform, but it is clear carriers now operate at great risk in China’s Near Seas. The natural conclusion is that flattops are “operationally irrelevant”: they won’t be deployed in probable scenarios. When the PLA tried its hand at coercive diplomacy during the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, Clinton sent in the carriers. Defense analysts like ANU professor Hugh White speculate that Washington has little choice but to respond meekly if a similar situation arises in today’s A2/AD environment. Likewise, CNAS and CSBA proposals note that “carriers are far less likely to operate at such close ranges in the future,” and “the wisdom of deploying carriers within range of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles… is doubtful at best.” Yet strangely, policymakers still plan on using them. Last November, former senior officials gathered at CSIS for a crisis simulation. According to Robert Haddick, they decided to send two carrier strike groups into the East China Sea during a Sino-Japanese standoff. And at a March 5 HASC hearing, PACOM Commander Samuel Locklear testified that US carriers in the Pacific would have “a significant role in any contingency, any crisis… for now and the foreseeable future.”

 China Says It Supports International Financial Aid for Ukraine. “China's foreign ministry said on Wednesday that international financial bodies ought to be offering aid to Ukraine to ensure its economic stability, though it stopped short of saying whether Beijing would participate in such efforts. Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksander Shlapak says he is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a loan package of $15 billion to $20 billion because the economy had been severely weakened by months of political turmoil and mismanagement. U.S. President Barack Obama has also urged the IMF to reach agreement swiftly on a financial support package for Kiev, which would unlock additional aid from the European Union and Washington. Asked about aid for Ukraine, China, whose President Xi Jinping discussed Ukraine with Obama on Monday, said that the government "upholds the maintaining of Ukraine's financial stability". "International financial organizations ought to get down to dealing with this, to ensure Ukraine's financial and economic stability," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing. He did not elaborate, instead repeating that China had proposed setting up an international coordination mechanism to look for a political solution to the crisis over Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. China, he said, hoped all parties in the international community would take no actions to worsen the situation.”

 China’s New Subs To Get Long-Range Nuclear Missiles for the First Time. “China’s newest class of submarines appear to be getting a special upgrade for the first time: long-range nuclear missiles. The head of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear III, told Congress on Tuesday that the ballistic missiles on China’s newest submarines would have an estimated range of 4,000 nautical miles. “This will give China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, probably before the end of 2014,” Adm. Locklear told the Senate Armed Services Committee, Agence France Presse reported. “China’s advance in submarine capabilities is significant. They possess a large and increasingly capable submarine force,” Adm. Locklear continued. The head of the U.S. Pacific fleet said that within the next decade China would possess 60 to 70 submarines, with its JIN-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines armed with new JL-2 missiles. The testimony came the same day that the head of the U.S. Pacific Command said that the U.S. Navy does not possess the capacity to conduct amphibious assaults in the wake of a crisis, as it did during World War II.”

 China’s Three Gorges Replaces Top Executives Amid Graft Probe. “China's Three Gorges Corp, which built the world's biggest hydropower scheme, has replaced its chairman and general manager, the company said, in the latest major reshuffle of a state-owned firm as the government steps up a fight on graft. Some officials of Three Gorges, set up in 1993 to run the hydropower scheme, were guilty of nepotism, shady property deals and dodgy bidding procedures, the ruling Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog found in February. The scandal has reignited public anger over the $59-billion dam, which was funded by a special levy paid by all citizens. Chairman Cao Guangjing has been removed from his position and would be assigned another job, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. It named Cao's replacement as Lu Chun, but gave no further details. Three Gorges will also replace its general manager, Chen Fei, with Wang Lin, the firm cited Wang Jingqing, a deputy head of the Organisation Department of the Communist Party's central committee, as saying at a company meeting on March 24. It gave no details of Wang Lin's background. The company has not accused Cao and Chen of any wrongdoing. China's largest oil and gas producer, PetroChina Co Ltd, and its parent, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), are already enmeshed in one of the biggest corruption investigations into the state sector in years, launched half a year ago.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 25, 2014

Beijing’s Caribbean Logic.  “American policymakers bristle at China’s gunboat aggression against Japan in the East China Sea and against countries like Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea. But to understand what China really wants, they need to understand their own history better: particularly America’s diplomatic and military history in the Caribbean. The Caribbean may now suggest a geopolitically obscure place useful only for winter vacations, but for generations of Washington foreign policy professionals in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was the region of choice to advance careers – the equivalent of the Middle East today. The Greater Caribbean (including the Gulf of Mexico) is roughly the size of the South China Sea - 1,500 miles in one direction and 1,000 miles in the other. Whereas the South China Sea can be dubbed the Asian Mediterranean because of its centrality to the Indo-Pacific world, the Greater Caribbean can be dubbed the American Mediterranean because of its centrality to the whole Western Hemisphere. For as the mid-20th century Dutch-American strategist, Nicholas J. Spykman, observed, the basic geographical truth of the Western Hemisphere is that the division within it is not between North America and South America, but between the area north of the Amazon jungle and the area south of it. Colombia and Venezuela, as well as the Guianas, although they are on the northern coast of South America, are functionally part of North America and the American Mediterranean. So once the United States came to dominate the American Mediterranean, that is, the Greater Caribbean, and separated as it is from the southern cone of South America by yawning distance and a wide belt of tropical forest, the United States had few challengers in its own hemisphere.”

 Xi Tells Obama to Adopt ‘Fair’ Attitude on China’s Maritime Disputes. “Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday that the United States should adopt a "fair" attitude on the East and South China Seas, where China is involved in a series of increasingly bitter territorial disputes. "On the issues of the East and South China Sea, the U.S. side ought to adopt an objective and fair attitude, distinguish right from wrong, and do more to push for an appropriate resolution and improve the situation," state news agency Xinhua cited Xi as saying. It provided no other details. The two leaders met on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands, where their talks also took in the situation in Ukraine, North Korea, and military-to-military cooperation. China is in an often angry dispute with some of its neighbors, especially Vietnam and the Philippines, over claims to parts of the potentially oil and gas-rich South China Sea. China lays claim to almost the whole of the sea, which is crisis-crossed by crucial shipping lanes. China has a separate dispute with Japan in the East China Sea over a group of uninhabited islets. China has repeatedly urged the United States not to take sides in any of these disputes, and has watched warily as Washington moves to strengthen its military alliances in the region, especially with Tokyo and Manila. Xi added that he hoped China and the United States deepened their military cooperation and carried out more joint exercises, to help "prevent misunderstandings and miscalculations".”

 China, Time and Rebalancing. “We are captured by global events of the day, and they are not to be ignored, but our overriding strategic interest is in Asia. Alliances of great consequence are there, nuclear postures are changing there, the preponderance of global defense expenditures are there, current points of friction and conflict are there, increasing environmental stresses with global consequence are there; and, above all, our current and future prosperity are tied to the growing economies there. In all of these, China looms large regionally and, increasingly, globally. While there are points of noteworthy cooperation, we are and will continue competing with China. That is just the way it is between established and rising powers. Our approach and presence in the Asia-Pacific region enabled the growth and prosperity there. We have, with our allies and like-minded partners, created a security environment that has served the region well. Our approach has been, and must continue to be, that no one country dominates Asia. That objective, our role, and our strategic interests are being challenged by China. It is apparent in the growth in capability and capacity of the PLA (especially naval and air forces) and in the way China is defining (or redefining) maritime and air boundaries. Strategic space is being re-shaped spatially by military capabilities and behaviorally by dubious maritime and airspace claims. The latter is particularly critical and points to a fundamental difference in our strategic competition with China. The maritime domain is key in Asia. The vast preponderance of the flow of resources and trade take place on the sea. Critical straits in the Western Pacific define those flows. Vital fish stocks and potential energy sources are in Asian waters. Naval power is on the rise and it is not confined to China, but it is Chinese naval and air power that will compete with the U.S. There is immediacy in that competition and the strategic re-shaping that is taking place. The fundamental question is, will there be a transfer of sea power in the Pacific?”

 Why China Needs the US in Afghanistan. “China has big plans for an economic and diplomatic push to the west, as evidenced by the emergence last year of the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “Maritime Silk Road.” China is envisioning these projects partly as foreign policy tools to draw China closer to South Asia, Central Asia, and the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia. However, there’s also an important domestic policy aspect, in that China hopes to make its restive western province, Xinjiang, into an economic hub, increasing development and (presumably) decreasing violent outbursts from the native Uyghur population. China’s renewed interest in its western neighbors comes at a sensitive time. As my colleagues Zach and Ankit discussed in a recent podcast, the security situation in Afghanistan, not a rosy picture to begin with, is about to get a lot more complicated. U.S. and NATO troops are scheduled to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014. With current President Hamid Karzai refusing to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement that would allow U.S. troops to remain after the drawdown, the Pentagon is even considering a “zero option” that would result in all U.S. troops leaving the country. U.S. officials, including General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, are not sanguine about Kabul’s ability to hold out against a potential Taliban resurgence on its own. Chaos in Afghanistan, particularly Al Qaeda or other extremist terrorist groups returning, would be a blow to the U.S., but it would also be a disaster for China. Parts of China’s new economic plans (notably the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) are already in doubt due to security concerns. Should the Afghan government (which is scheduled to elect a new president in April) collapse following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops, it would further destabilize the entire region—posing a threat to China’s “Silk Road Economic Belt.” Worse, China is worried that instability in Afghanistan (and Pakistan as well) will provide a training ground for terrorist groups seeking to split Xinjiang province off from the rest of China. Violent incidents in Xinjiang have already become increasingly common in recent years. Even more worrying, terrorist attacks have been carried out far from Xinjiang, including an October 2013 intentional car crash in Tiananmen Square as well as the March 1 knife attack in Kunming Railway Station.”

 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 | March 24, 2014

US-China Relations: Thucydidean Trap or Prisoner’s Dilemma? “U.S.-China relations are at a crossroads. China, now the number two economy in the world (and, depending on who you ask, projected to pass the U.S. as number one in 2016, 2020, 2028, or not at all), has a growing political and military clout commensurate with its economic prowess. Accordingly, China has a strategy for achieving a long-time goal: gaining control of its near seas, at least out to the so-called “first island chain.” The U.S., for its part, is loathe to cede its role as the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific, especially given its alliance relationships with many of China’s close neighbors (including South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, and, unofficially of course, Taiwan). But the issue of military or diplomatic dominance in the Asia-Pacific is merely a microcosm of the greater challenge: finding a balance of power between the U.S. and China that is acceptable to both nations. Many analysts have framed this dilemma as the “Thucydidean trap” that arises each time a rising power challenges as established one. To try and escape this historical trap (which has generally led to war), China’s leaders have proposed that China and the U.S. seek a “new type of great power relationship.” But what does this actually mean? At one meeting between the U.S. and Chinese presidents, there were plenty of ideas on how the U.S. and China could work together.”

 US Reassures Taiwan on Funding for F-16 Upgrade. “The same week that the US Air Force said it had figured out a way to get its counterparts in Taiwan new radars for its 146 F-16 fighter jets, sources at Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) are accusing US officials of lying to them and avoiding questions on the impact that the cancellation of the upgrades on the US side will have on Taiwan. This month, after the US zeroed out the budget for the Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite (CAPES) upgrade for 300 of its own F-16s, analysts predicted that Taiwan would have to abandon the program without the US helping to shoulder some of the cost. That included installation of Northrop Grumman’s scalable agile-beam radar. However, the US Air Force said last week that it had found a way to make sure Taiwan still gets the needed upgrades. The fix, according to US Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick, was found largely because the agreement with Taiwan was a foreign military sales deal, where the US acted as the procurement authority. Purchasers at the Air Force issued a number of contracts for the CAPES upgrade to Taiwan, and a significant number of those came back under budget. Because of those savings, the service was able to turn around and invest that money into paying for the radar upgrades. However, that doesn’t mean the cost for the program won’t change. Sources in Taiwan said the US Air Force has informed the MND that, indeed, a small increase of “tens of millions of dollars” will be added to the program for non-recurring engineering costs, but the program will not sustain the harsh “hundreds of millions of dollars in increases” that many fear later down the road.”

 Anger Grows in Taiwan Against Deal with China. “Demonstrators who have occupied Taiwan’s legislature since last week expanded their protest of a trade deal with China on Sunday evening by invading the government building nearby that houses the offices of the prime minister. The protesters, including many students from local universities, have accused President Ma Ying-jeou and his allies in the governing Kuomintang of forcing through the trade measure without allowing a review of its details, which they fear will give Beijing too much influence over the island’s economy. “I’m very angry at President Ma,” said Shiu Rung-kai, 21, a student at National Hsinchu University of Education who joined thousands of protesters inside the government compound. By early Monday morning the police had cleared demonstrators from the government building, detaining dozens, according to local news media reports, although hundreds of protesters remained in the courtyard outside. Prime Minister Jiang Yi-huah said the intrusion was an “illegal and violent act,” Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported, citing a cabinet spokesman. Police officers were seen swinging wooden clubs to clear protesters from the road behind the building. At least 70 were injured, the news agency reported. Earlier Sunday, the student leaders occupying the legislature called for a bipartisan “citizens constitutional conference” and for sending the trade pact to committee for further review.”

 NSA Breached Chinese Servers Seen As Security Threat. “American officials have long considered Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, a security threat, blocking it from business deals in the United States for fear that the company would create “back doors” in its equipment that could allow the Chinese military or Beijing-backed hackers to steal corporate and government secrets. But even as the United States made a public case about the dangers of buying from Huawei, classified documents show that the National Security Agency was creating its own back doors — directly into Huawei’s networks. The agency pried its way into the servers in Huawei’s sealed headquarters in Shenzhen, China’s industrial heart, according to N.S.A. documents provided by the former contractor Edward J. Snowden. It obtained information about the workings of the giant routers and complex digital switches that Huawei boasts connect a third of the world’s population, and monitored communications of the company’s top executives. One of the goals of the operation, code-named “Shotgiant,” was to find any links between Huawei and the People’s Liberation Army, one 2010 document made clear. But the plans went further: to exploit Huawei’s technology so that when the company sold equipment to other countries — including both allies and nations that avoid buying American products — the N.S.A. could roam through their computer and telephone networks to conduct surveillance and, if ordered by the president, offensive cyberoperations. Many of our targets communicate over Huawei-produced products,” the N.S.A. document said. “We want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products,” it added, to “gain access to networks of interest” around the world.”

 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 | March 21, 2014

Is Taiwan’s Military Becoming Too Small to Fight? “As the gap in military capabilities between Taiwan and China continues to widen, talk of a substantial active forces reduction by Taipei is once again fueling speculation that the island may have given up on defense, perhaps after concluding that resistance is futile and unification inevitable. Is such a decision, occurring while the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to enjoy double-digit budget growth, confirmation that Taipei is ready to capitulate, or is it part of a plan to maximize the return on stagnant defense expenditures and ensure excellence among volunteer soldiers? It all starts with the “Jingtsui Program,” an effort initiated by President Ma Ying-jeou soon after his election in 2008 to phase out conscription and create an all-volunteer military. Under initial plans, conscription, which accounted for approximately one-third of the total active force, was to cease by 2014. However, because of an inability to meet recruitment goals (total recruitment for 2013 was less than one-third of its target of 28,000, with only 8,600 people signing up in the first 11 months), implementation of the program has been delayed twice, and a complete phasing out of the conscription system is now set for 2017. Along with ending conscription, a policy that had the support of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, the total force was to be streamlined to reflect changing demographics, financial pressures, and an evolving threat environment. According to the National Defense Report 2013, the initial program foresaw a reduction in personnel for the Republic of China (ROC) Armed Forces from 275,000 to 215,000 by the end of 2014, a ratio of 0.9 percent of Taiwan’s population of approximately 23 million.”

 China’s National Priorities in Hunt for MH370. “China’s response to the disappearance of Flight MH370 has been an impressive deployment of a combined flotilla of military and civilian ships. At the same time voices in China’s official media have criticized the Malaysian-led operation. But a closer look at China’s response raises some interesting questions about its government’s choice of priorities. In the crucial first few days of the search for the airliner and the 239 people on board, Beijing prioritized its territorial battle with the Philippines over the hunt for possible survivors. Flight MH370 disappeared from civilian radar screens over the South China Sea, between Malaysia and Vietnam in the early hours of Saturday March 8, local time, but the world was not alerted until the plane failed to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. Shortly afterwards a commercial bulk carrier, the Tai Shun Hai operated by COSCO, which happened to be sailing nearby, changed course and, on Sunday, became the first Chinese vessel to arrive in the area where the plane was thought to have crashed. During the course of Saturday, several Chinese government ships were tasked to the scene. The first to actually join the search was China Coast Guard vessel 3411, described in official media as being, “on duty in nearby sea areas.” According to the official news agency Xinhua, this vessel reached Vietnamese waters at 1 p.m. on Sunday, about 36 hours after the plane was declared missing. A Chinese frigate, the Mianyang, “which was on a mission in the Nansha [Spratly islands’] waters when receiving the command”, according to Xinhua, “left for the suspected area at about 11:50 pm Saturday night.” It arrived there at 3:50 a.m. on Monday.”

 China Offers to Search India’s Waters, Guess What India Says. “In a naval maneuver that will likely surprise no one, India reportedly has said no thanks to a request from Beijing to send Chinese warships sailing into Indian waters. The Chinese were offering to help search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 around India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Press Trust of India reported Friday. The islands are home to an important Indian military outpost, the only tri-services command in the country. And, until several days ago, the world also feared that Flight 370 might have crashed nearby. Since then, however, the search for the jetliner has moved far afield deep into the Southern Indian Ocean. Hong Lei, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, when asked by a reporter from the Agence France-Presse about India’s reported decision to decline China’s offer to help said that since the Malaysian aircraft went missing, countries including India have played an active part in the international search campaign. “Going forward, China is ready to maintain coordination and communication with all relevant parties to press ahead with the search operation,” Mr. Lei added. India and China, of course, are wary neighbors when it comes to military matters and a request like this from Beijing would be “very unusual,” says Brahma Chellaney of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.”

 Former Top China Army Officer Under House Arrest in Graft Probe: Sources. “A top retired Chinese general has been put under virtual house arrest while he assists with an investigation into the military's worst corruption scandal in almost a decade, two sources said, an indication the probe might be expanding. General Xu Caihou, 70, who retired as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission last year and from the Communist Party's decision-making politburo in 2012, was taken to an undisclosed location on Monday for questioning by anti-corruption investigators, the two sources told Reuters. "Xu Caihou's secretaries, bodyguards and driver have been changed to cut off his links with the outside world," one of the sources said, adding that members of his family had also been detained. The sources, who have direct knowledge of the matter, said Xu was helping with a probe into Lieutenant-General Gu Junshan, 57, who has been under investigation for corruption since he was sacked as deputy director of the logistics department of the People's Liberation Army in 2012. Gu is suspected of enriching himself by abusing his position as a senior military officer, in what would be the military's worst scandal since a vice admiral was jailed for life for embezzlement in 2006, sources have previously said. Xu was one of Gu's main supporters in his rise through the ranks and hence is being implicated in ignoring, or at least failing to report, Gu's alleged misdeeds. Neither Xu nor Gu could be contacted for comment and it was not clear if either man had a lawyer. Neither the Defence Ministry nor the party's anti-corruption watchdog responded to requests for comment. President Xi Jinping has talked tough on corruption since taking over the party in late 2012 and then the presidency a year ago.”
 The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

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