China Caucus Blog

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.

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 19, 2014

China is Like Russia. “In recent weeks, all eyes have been on a revisionist regime dissatisfied with the post-Cold War status quo, convinced of the geopolitical necessity of and historical right to a hegemonic self-centric regional order, dedicated to the long-term job security of its political leaders, and driven by enduring, geographically-imposed security concerns. What country does this describe? Before Russian aggression in Crimea, the obvious answer would be China. Without a Chinese Putin, China has to take a backseat to Russia as the leading revisionist power. China, of course, is not Russia. While the two have many differences, the similarities should not be ignored. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Moscow’s leaders have not been content to simply accept Russia’s standing as a middling, if nuclear-armed, power. Vladimir Putin described the collapse as the 20th century’s “greatest geopolitical catastrophe.” He was not joking. The Chinese Communist Party, for its part, likes talking about the “century of humiliation,” in which Western powers and Japan reduced China from the dominant force in Asia to a weak power. Restoring China to its rightful place atop the Asian hierarchy is a central goal of the CCP, which has successfully convinced the Chinese people that it serves as the vanguard of Chinese rejuvenation. In both the Russian and Chinese cases, historical narratives and ideas about a proper order drive policies aimed at shifting both regional and global balances of power. In both countries, national security leaders believe that international politics is a zero-sum game. Chinese leaders like to talk about “win-win” outcomes, but even Beijing’s proposal to Washington of a “new type of great power relations” seems to mean that China want the keys to the kingdom of international primacy without resistance.  Ideology, grievance, and fastidious calculations of power drive Moscow and Beijing. But so does weakness. Both are concerned about the security of their respective sea lanes. Chinese actions in its own “near abroad,” to borrow a Russian term, are driven by such concerns. China’s economy is dependent on overseas energy imports and maritime trade. But it is the United States, rather than China, which controls the sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific. Beijing’s efforts to modernize its navy and extend its territorial holdings in the Asian littorals are adjusting that reality.”

 Appeasing China. “Last Monday, Qin Gang of the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that China Coast Guard vessels on the previous day had prevented two Philippine-flagged ships from approaching Second Thomas Shoal. Beijing’s sailors “spoke through amplifier” and warded off the intruders, the spokesman explained. “It is known to all that China has sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their surrounding waters, including the Ren’ai Reef,” said Qin, using Beijing’s name for the shoal. In fact, only Beijing thinks China has sovereignty over Ren’ai, which Manila calls Ayungin Shoal. The long and thin coral outcropping is part of the Spratlys, 250 islands and reefs covering 165,000 square miles of the South China Sea. The contested reef is 105 nautical miles from Palawan Island of the Philippines. Hainan Island, China’s closest point, is about five times farther away. Beijing has expansive territorial claims in the area. Its official maps contain nine dashes, in the form of a tongue, that encompass about 90 percent of the South China Sea, recognized by all states other than China as international water. Beijing’s apparent claim is inconsistent with obligations it has undertaken by treaty and has no support in international law. In recent years the Chinese have employed rough tactics to enforce their designs on the area. In early 2012, for instance, China’s vessels first surrounded and then took control of Scarborough Shoal, a part of the Philippines about 120 nautical miles off the main island of Luzon. In June of that year, both Beijing and Manila agreed, after mediation by Washington, to withdraw their craft from Scarborough’s waters. Only Manila did so, however, and to this day Chinese ships prevent Filipinos from returning to their traditional fishing grounds. Chinese state media brazenly boasted of their government’s seizure, and Chinese military officers, emboldened by success, now arrogantly trumpet their provocative acts. Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, for instance, described what he called the “cabbage strategy” that was successfully employed to seize Scarborough. By wrapping an island “layer by layer like a cabbage” with small vessels, Chinese forces could keep out the ships of other nations.”

 New Ambassador to China Vows to Focus on Business, Human Rights. “New U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus said one of his top goals will be ensuring a “level playing field for American businesses.” In his first public remarks since arriving in Beijing, the former senator from Montana outlined his highest priorities: to nudge China into taking more global responsibility, strengthen people-to-people ties and raise Chinese respect for human-rights norms. Addressing a packed room of Chinese and Western media reporters less than 24 hours after he and his wife landed in Beijing, Baucus opened his first news conference quoting Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s saying about a journey of a thousand miles beginning with a single step. “The fact is I like to walk. I like to travel,” he said, vowing that he would try to visit each of China’s 22 provinces and five regions before finishing his tenure. He said that his interest in China began as a student when he hitchhiked his way around the world for a year, including a stop in Hong Kong. Describing the increasingly complex and intertwined relationship between China and the United States, Baucus said, “We simply must get it right.” On business, he talked of finding mutually beneficial interests while making sure U.S. businesses and workers can “compete fairly with their Chinese counterparts.” On human rights, he said he would urge Beijing to “support the laws, norms, values and human rights that undergird the current international system from which we all benefit.” He also talked of partnering with China on global issues from cybersecurity to global warming. Baucus replaced former Washington governor Gary Locke, who generated fascination among the Chinese because of his status as a Chinese American.”

 China Secretly Tested an Anti-Satellite Missile. “A new report suggests that China secretly conducted an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test in May 2013. On May 13, 2013, China launched a rocket into space from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China. According to state-run media reports at the time, “The experiment was designed to investigate energetic particles and magnetic fields in the ionized stratum and near-Earth space. According to a preliminary analysis by the NSSC [National Space Science Center], the experiment has reached expected objectives by allowing scientists to obtain first-hand data regarding the space environment at different altitudes.” Nearly immediately, U.S. officials speaking off the record began raising doubts about the supposed purpose of the test. Specifically, a U.S. defense official familiar with the intelligence told the Washington Free Beacon that China had actually tested its new ASAT missile, the Dong Ning-2. The official described the DN-2 as a ground-based, high earth-orbit attack missile. The Pentagon refused to officially voice these concerns, however. A report published Monday seems to validate the off-the-record suspicions. The report, which is based on an analysis of open sources, concludes that the available evidence “strongly suggests” China conducted an ASAT missile test in May 2013. “While there is no conclusive proof, the available evidence strongly suggests that China’s May 2013 launch was the test of the rocket component of a new direct ascent ASAT weapons system derived from a road-mobile ballistic missile. The system appears to be designed to place a kinetic kill vehicle on a trajectory to deep space that could reach medium earth orbit (MEO), highly elliptical orbit (HEO), and geostationary Earth orbit (GEO). If true, this would represent a   significant development in China’s ASAT capabilities.” The report was published by the Secure World Foundation (SWF) and written by Brian Weeden, a technical adviser at the SWF. According to his bio in the report, Mr. Weeden previously served nine years as an officer in the United States Air Force working in space and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) operations. During this time, he worked in the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), where he directed the “orbital analyst training program and developed tactics, techniques and procedures for improving space situational awareness.” Thus, he seems entirely qualified to make an assessment of the May 2013 launch.”

 China Confident in Export Potential of Targeting Pod. “China is confident enough with its fighter jet targeting pods to start pushing them for export at defense trade shows. At February’s Singapore Airshow, the WMD-7 Targeting Pod was once again presented as an export product at China’s pavilion for its national aviation export agency, the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp. (CATIC). CATIC displayed the WMD-7 at the 2012 Zhuhai Airshow, and mock-ups have appeared at the 2013 Dubai Airshow and the 2010 and 2012 Farnborough shows. Another Chinese product beginning to make an appearance on the export market is the Type OC2 laser/infrared-targeting pod produced by the Norinco Group/Harbin Jiancheng Group. The OC2 made its first appearance at the 2012 Zhuhai Airshow. “That China can market two basically similar optical/infrared targeting pods is a result of their 1998 defense logistics reform decision to invest in a broadly redundant but competitive military production sector,” said Richard Fisher, a senior fellow of Asian military affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. This means that China will have a “better chance of offering the lowest price when it competes with Russian and Western systems,” he said. “We have seen this work for the Chinese in Turkey’s recent surface-to-air missile competition.”

 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 18, 2014

Beijing Stands with Moscow. “The United Nations Security Council voted 13 to 1 on Saturday to declare Sunday's referendum in Crimea to be an illegal assault on Ukraine, with the single "nay" being Russia's veto. But China, the nation that usually defends the principle of sovereignty to the hilt, abstained. Why? Even Beijing is having difficulty explaining. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang insisted that "China always respects all countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is a basic diplomatic principle that has long been upheld by China." But he went on to say that "complex historical and practical factors" should be considered, and confrontation avoided. Tibet, Xinjiang and even Inner Mongolia certainly have some complex historical factors. The people of Hong Kong would also have found it more practical to remain British subjects in 1997, and even today Beijing risks confrontation in the city's streets by failing to honor promises of democracy. Beijing stands with Moscow against the Western order because it fears democratic uprisings more than it fears separatist movements. A challenge from minorities is easily crushed, but the Communist Party's support among the majority Han population is more fragile than it appears. Hence China's ambassador to the U.N. parroted Russia's conspiracy theories for the Kiev protests that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych: "[W]e have noticed foreign interference is also an important reason leading to violent clashes on the streets of Ukraine." Authoritarians stick together when there is a risk of democratic contagion. After the Arab Spring began in 2011, it only took a few Chinese dissidents circulating emails about a "jasmine revolution" for the security apparatus to launch a clampdown that continues. This principle of solidarity among dictators also applies to North Korea, as extreme a tyranny as the world has seen. On Monday a Chinese diplomat in Geneva rejected the voluminous and compelling findings of a U.N. Commission of Inquiry on North Korea's human-rights abuses as "divorced from reality." China is willing to make itself look divorced from reality rather than abandon a client despot.”

 How China Strengthens Japan’s Navy. “Done right, though, naval outreach impresses visitors. It shapes perceptions among audiences able to influence a nation’s nautical destiny. Think about it. The ability to prevail in combat is the true audit of a navy’s adequacy. In peacetime, however, it’s tough to gauge the efficacy of a man-of-war, or its armament. Crews expend practice rounds in maneuvers, but there’s a canned quality to peacetime exercises. The atmosphere of war — danger, chance and confusion, stark passions like fear and spite — is hard to replicate absent a thinking adversary who returns fire. The best exercises, then, are doubtful indices of military effectiveness. If naval leaders want to burnish their fleet’s reputation for seamanship and combat prowess, consequently, presenting ships and aircraft well represents their best substitute for battle results. The look of a ship matters. Granted, the best-looking fleet may not be the most capable. It’s possible to spend too much time and effort making a ship a showboat, to the detriment of battle efficiency. All else being equal, however, bet on the contender that deploys clean, tidy, rust-free warships against a fleet of rustbuckets. Good upkeep projects an image of competence and pride. In all likelihood, a well-kept vessel is a well-handled vessel. A slovenly vessel? Fuggedaboutit. The JMSDF presents itself well. Murasame appeared immaculate to this mariner’s eye, both inside and out. (Sample size of one ship at one time, I grant you; but that’s true of all such visits.) The captain and officers turned out in dress blues, while the squadron commander joined us for lunch. (“Imperial Japanese curry” was on the menu; let the conspiracy theories commence.) Like any good diplomat, moreover, the ship made good use of happenstance. The spokesman for the ship was a doughty young sea fighter who spent most of his life in … Narragansett, Rhode Island. That’s about twenty miles from the Naval Diplomat’s lair somewhere alongside the Narragansett Bay. A Japanese petty officer with a New England accent — you can’t make such things up. Second takeaway: China’s navy, coast guard, and fishing fleet — the official and unofficial elements of Chinese sea power — are running the JMSDF ragged in the East China Sea, as Beijing tries to wrench control of the Senkaku Islands from Tokyo and otherwise make the China seas its preserve. Where Chinese vessels go, Japanese ships must follow to preserve effective control of the Senkakus and adjoining waters. China holds the initiative, and it boasts many, many vessels. Small-stick diplomacy remains Beijing’s strategy of the hour. The imperative to police southwestern waters translates into a helter-skelter operating tempo for JMSDF ships and aircraft. Murasame officers report spending 25 more days at sea in 2013 than in 2012, and the pace is far from slackening. The ship, then, is spending fully half of each year riding the waves. That amount of at-sea time spells more wear-and-tear on hardware, bigger fuel and maintenance bills, and longer stretches away from families and friends. But there is an upside. Going to sea is how sailors learn the ins and outs of their profession. More steaming days gives Japanese crewmen more time to hone their skills, and China’s tactics supply the incentive to do so. Lord Nelson cracked wise about Great Britain’s blockade of France during the Napoleonic Wars. Nelson conceded that Royal Navy ships took a beating in heavy weather, but he insisted that near-constant blockade duty refined Jack Tar’s seamanship. Meanwhile, French sailors remained in port, doing…. Well, you can imagine what sailors do when confined to port with little to do. French prowess atrophied, and the navy suffered repeated thrashings at British hands. China’s strategy in the East China Sea is taking its toll on Japanese resources. But should it come to armed conflict, Beijing may rue forcing JMSDF crews to spend so much time practicing tactics and shiphandling. It may be unwittingly honing an adversary’s skills while steeling his resolve.”

 Chinese Foreign Policy: A New Era Dawns. “A new era is dawning in Chinese foreign policy as the country’s economic growth enables it to move from past timorousness in declaring itself a global leader and a relative inability to defend its interests, to one in which Beijing can seek adjustments in the security environment it has faced for the last sixty years. In the Chinese-language media, politicians are increasingly talking of China as a great power. Yet Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put Beijing’s new foreign policy to the test and raised questions about the extent of China’s global role. China is close to meeting all the measures of what defines a global great power: political, economic, and military might with a global reach. But it does not appear to act like a great power in terms of its contribution to international leadership during conflict situations such as in Ukraine. Instead we repeatedly only see Beijing being assertive when it comes to defending its own narrow interests. While Deng Xiaoping’s foreign policy dictum was for China to “hide its strength and bide its time” (taoguang yanghui), in January 2014 Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping announced that China should be “proactive” (fenfa you wei). This is the equivalent of China moving from first gear into second; and like second gear, the pace of this new foreign policy can sometimes be jagged. As the Russian intervention in citizen unrest in Ukraine has played out, Beijing has held back from criticizing Moscow, citing China’s long-standing policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. While China decries the interference of “hostile foreign forces” in popular protests in Xinjiang and Tibet, it appears that it won’t take a public stance on Russia’s breach of Ukrainian sovereignty. In phone calls to U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on March 10, Xi urged the two leaders to use political and diplomatic means to resolve the standoff. On March 15, China’s UN representative put forward a three-point proposal on a political solution to the crisis; urging the formation of an international group to help mediate; recommending all parties refrain from further provocation; and suggesting international financial actors should help stabilize Ukraine’s economic situation. Yet, China abstained from the UN draft resolution on the same day, which condemned today’s referendum aimed at legitimizing the transfer of the Crimea from Ukraine to Russia. As a leading power and permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has exercised its “right to speak” (huayu quan) on the situation in Ukraine, but is avoiding involvement in the international response. The 13 other members of the Security Council all voted in favor of the resolution, while Russia opposed it. In Chinese foreign policy terms Xi and his representative at the UN have been quite outspoken. But outside China, many would agree that China’s response is too little, too late. It is behavior such as this in times of international crisis that has led commentators to question whether or not China is a “reluctant stakeholder” in the global order and whether or not China is still just a regional power. Since becoming general secretary of the CCP in 2012, Xi Jinping has overseen an expansion of China’s economic reforms and opening up to the outside world, at the same time as leading a new clampdown on freedom of speech and association, and tightening security against Uighur and Tibetan populations. Under Xi’s leadership China has gone head to head with Japan on contested territory in the East China Sea, declared a new ADIZ over the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, and been increasingly assertive in the South China Sea. China’s economic model requires new markets and privileged access to resources and this will be a moderating factor in their foreign policy approach. Beijing can’t afford to offend its neighbor Russia for a complex range of reasons, ranging from internal and external security and access to new sources of energy supply.”

 China Reacts to the Crimea Referendum. “The much anticipated referendum in Crimea on whether to become part of Russia took place as scheduled on March 16. According to Crimean leaders, over 96 percent of voters were in favor of seceding from Ukraine. As a result, Crimea’s parliament has formally proposed that the region be admitted to the Russian Federation “as a new subject with the status of a republic.” In response, the U.S. and EU continue to call the referendum illegal, and have moved to implement sanctions on selected Russian and Ukrainian officials. China, meanwhile, is trying to tread a fine line on the issue. When asked at a press conference if China would recognize Crimea as part of Russia, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei gave a carefully noncommittal response: “China always respects all countries’ sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The Crimean issue should be resolved politically under a framework of law and order. All parties should exercise restraint and refrain from raising the tension.” Over the weekend, China abstained from voting on a UN Security Council draft resolution that would have condemned the referendum in Crimea as illegal. Russia, as expected, vetoed the proposal, and many observers took China’s choice to abstain rather than join in a veto as tacit disapproval of Moscow’s actions in the Ukraine. The BBC’s UN correspondent said that Western diplomats “got what they wanted when China abstained.” Western diplomats did seem to take China’s abstention as a sign of victory. America’s UN ambassador, Samantha Power, described Russia as “isolated, along, and wrong” on the Ukraine issue. She further emphasized that “only one country voted ‘no’” on the resolution, citing this as proof “that the world believes that international borders are more than mere suggestions.” Mark Lyall Grant, the UK’s ambassador to the UN, made similar comments about Russia’s isolation. “Russia alone backs this referendum. Russia alone is prepared to violate international law, disregard the UN Charter, and tear up its bilateral treaties,” he said after the vote. “We trust that Russia will take notice of its isolation.” For his part, China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi distanced himself from the very idea of voting on such a controversial UN resolution. “The vote on the draft resolution by the Security Council at this juncture will only result in confrontation and further complicate the situation, which is not in conformity with the common interest of both the people of the Ukraine and those of the international community,” Liu said, explaining why China chose to abstain. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang elaborated on this in a special statement issued over the weekend. “China disapproves of confrontation … Under the current circumstances, China calls on all parties to keep calm, exercise restraint and refrain from raising the tension,” Qin said. He added that “no party should take any actions that deteriorate the situation.”

 China’s Hypersonic Glide Vehicle May Fly 10 Times Faster Than Sound. “A developmental Chinese hypersonic vehicle could exceed the speed of sound 10 times over, the Taiwanese newspaper China Times reports. China's Sina Military Network provided the attributed maximum flight speed of the WU-14 glide vehicle, and added that the device is designed to hit any location on the earth in 60 minutes or less, according to a Sunday article in the Times. According to the news agency based in Beijing, certain U.S. issue experts have warned of a potential for the developmental Chinese craft to increase the volatility of the Asia-Pacific region. The news outlet described the WU-14 as the Chinese military's response to hypersonic technologies under development in the United States, including the X-51A WaveRider and the SR-72 aircraft. The United States has been pursuing a "prompt global strike" capability, potentially enabling its forces in the future to conduct non-nuclear strikes against any location on the planet in one hour or less. Key advocates of the U.S. push have said such a capability could serve as a partial alternative to nuclear weapons for hitting important time-sensitive targets. On Friday, the U.S. Army announced plans to conduct an August test of its developmental Advanced Hypersonic Weapon. The technology is one of several technologies under development as possible components of a future U.S. prompt global strike capacity. "Based upon the results that come from that [August] test, we'll go ahead and, again, work closely with office of the secretary of Defense as to what they would like us to do, what the next steps are," Lt. Gen. David Mann, head of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, said in comments reported in a Friday news article by the service.”

 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 14, 2014

Of Course the PLA is Planning for a ‘Short, Sharp War’. “So Captain Jim Fanell, grand intel wizard for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, made headlines this year — again — at the WEST conference on maritime affairs out in San Diego, California. And again, the headlines come from speaking the plain truth in un-politically-correct language. Captain Fanell opines that China is preparing for a “short, sharp war” with Japan over the Senkaku Islands. ‘Zounds! Who’d've thought military forces prepare for armed conflict in peacetime? Or that they prefer to fight short, sharp wars rather than long, dull ones? George Washington, call your office. Now parse Jim’s words. (The Naval Diplomat was sitting next to him when he uttered the unutterable, so I get to be familiar.) Enlightened opinion on this side of the Pacific Ocean evidently finds one of two things unfathomable: that Beijing is contemplating war, or that the People’s Liberation Army prefers to avoid a protracted test of arms should one prove unavoidable. Let’s take those possibilities in turn. First, what else should PLA strategists do than plan for a war to uphold what the political leadership obviously considers an important national interest? I hate to sound sympathetic, as I have no truck with the purposes impelling China’s foreign policy vis-á-vis Japan. But that’s a quarrel with Chinese policy, not Chinese maritime strategy or its executors. Armed services exist to furnish their political masters options in times of trouble. Thinking about the unthinkable — and doing advance legwork should statesmen deem the unthinkable thinkable — is what they do. Indeed, commanders commit malpractice if they fail at this basic function. Flip matters around and look at them from an American standpoint. It’s naïve to wonder, for instance, “who authorized preparations for war with China?” Well, the framers of the U.S. Constitution presumably didn’t expect the U.S. Army and Navy to be potted plants when they empowered Congress to raise land forces and maintain a navy and vested presidents with the authority to conduct foreign relations.”

 Taiwan Watching Crimea with Nervous Eye Toward Beijing. “Days ahead of a referendum that could result in the loss of the southern territory of Crimea to Russia, Taiwan, which like Ukraine lives in the shadow of a great power, is watching closely to see whether Moscow’s gambit could embolden Beijing to adopt similar strategies toward the island democracy. While Crimea serves as an imperfect analogy for Taiwan’s situation, there are enough parallels to warrant an exploration of the current crisis and its denouement to determine if they can possibly create a precedent for Chinese behavior. Key to this effort is the fact that both Moscow and Beijing have notions of the “Near Abroad”—that is, territories that, while foreign and sovereign, their governments regard as fair game. Sunday’s referendum, which will occur under the shadow of the Russian military, only presents two options: “Are you in favor of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as a part of the Russian Federation?” and “Are you in favor of restoring the 1992 Constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?”—a Constitution that for all intents and purposes would give rise to an independent, albeit pro-Moscow, state within Ukraine. The situation in Taiwan, which according to Beijing’s version of history was “stolen” from China at the conclusion of the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, is vaguely similar, though the proportion of citizens who identify as ethnically Chinese is substantially lower than that of Crimeans who identify as Russians. Support for unification with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which has dropped steadily over the years, now stands in the single digits, while desire for independence has gradually risen, with a preference for maintaining the status quo remaining the preferred option—at least as long as China threatens force should the island declare de jure independence, a not insignificant factor in poll responses. While circumstantial, it is interesting to note that both Crimea and Taiwan are haunted by the year 1992—the “1992 Constitution” and the “1992 Consensus”—under arrangements that are meant to curtail the choices of the peoples involved (under the so-called 1992 consensus, both sides agree that there is only one China, though both agree to disagree on what “one China” means).”

 China Waging Psychological Warfare in the East China Sea. “The international outcry over Beijing’s abrupt establishment last November of an air-defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea has finally calmed down. China’s unilateral move was sensational because it proclaimed its jurisdiction over the ADIZ by stating it would take coercive measures against foreign aircraft that did not comply with its demands. China’s establishment of the ADIZ also heightened the sense of crisis — given that the ADIZ challenges Japan’s claim to the Senkaku Islands — that has grown since Chinese maritime law-enforcement vessels began making provocative passages through the zone more than a year ago. In the age of jet aircraft, an ADIZ is simply a temporal buffer for identifying friends and foes and, if necessary, for scrambling interceptors to defend territorial airspace. Many countries don’t try to proclaim one unless they’re sure it will be recognized internationally as being legal. During the Cold War, there was a West German ADIZ established in East German airspace, and today’s South Korean ADIZ extends to the southern one-third of North Korean airspace. Beijing did not need to establish an ADIZ to obtain information on flight plans of incoming commercial aircraft or to receive flights’ real-time electronic data. Such information is already provided under existing arrangements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Prior to departure, all aircraft are required to submit flight plans to the relevant national air traffic control authorities. And they must be equipped with standardized transponders whose signals can be picked up by the authorities’ ground-based radars for automatic identification and tracking. Obviously China lacks the air power to scramble interceptors around the clock in the ADIZ, its first since the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949. And naturally the proclamation itself does not give the country sufficient ground-based and air-borne early warning, surveillance, aerial refueling and other necessary capabilities. In addition, China’s air force still must master standard international rules of engagement for cases in which it deems its airspace has been violated.”

 Philippines Offers U.S. Forces Access to Military Bases. “The Philippines has agreed to allow the United States access to its military bases under a new security deal being negotiated by the two allies, amid mounting concern over China's increasing assertiveness in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. The offer was made during a sixth round of talks held in Washington last week, Filipino officials said on Friday. The two sides hope to finalize terms before U.S. President Barack Obama embarks on a visit to Asia, including the Philippines, next month. "Consensus was arrived at on many provisions of the draft agreement," Pio Lorenzo Batino, defense undersecretary told a news conference, adding the deal is 80 percent done. "The proposed agreement will allow the sharing of defined areas within certain AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines)facilities with elements of the U.S. military." The United States plans to "rebalance" its forces in Asia-Pacific region, and has similar arrangements with Australia and Singapore, as part of its strategy to counter China. The new agreement on enhanced defense cooperation will allow the United States increased deployment of troops, ships, aircraft and humanitarian equipment. U.S. military access in the Philippines is currently limited to during annual joint-exercises and port visits. The Philippines kicked the United States out two large military bases, including Subic Bay, in 1991. While that ended a special relationship going back 40 years between the United States and its former colony won its independence in 1946, an alliance has endured. Manila would welcome the return of a U.S. military presence to deter China's ambitions in the South China Sea, and to help provide humanitarian assistance during natural disasters. "It will not stop China from its bullying tactics, but it will become more cautious and might exercise self-restraint due to the U.S. presence," Rommel Banlaoi, an analyst at Philippine Institute of Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, said.”

 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 Caucus | March 13, 2014

Beijing’s Breakneck Defense Spending Poses a Challenge to the U.S. “China presents the rest of the world with a puzzle when it announces, each year, another big leap in defense spending. On March 5, it revealed a 12.2 percent increase over last year, to almost $132 billion, the second-largest military budget in the world after the United States (which remains far larger at $526.8 billion). The puzzle is not whether China can afford such a budget — clearly it can — but what does it need it for? What are China’s intentions and capabilities? China has often asserted that its rise is peaceful. But that is hard to square with its more aggressive approach to asserting sovereignty and control over various maritime and air zones in recent years. In November, China announced the imposition of a new “air defense identification zone” over a broad swath of the East China Sea, demanding that planes identify themselves to China and obey its orders. While the United States is neutral in the region’s territorial disputes, it has made clear that it will not abide the air defense zone and has sent military jets through it without hewing to China’s demands. But Beijing’s move raised again the uneasy prospect of a military conflict, perhaps triggered by something as simple as an overflight error. China strives to be a regional superpower, not a global one, at least for now. It has put an emphasis on developing advanced weapons systems that could deliver what the United States calls “anti-access/area denial,” meaning to deter adversaries from areas that China claims — or to expel them. Thus, China is investing in weapons such as long-range cruise missiles and an anti-ship ballistic missile designed to hit an aircraft carrier. Such investments pose asymmetric threats to the United States and its allies. Andrew S. Erickson of the Naval War College presented estimates to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in January that China could build some 1,227 of the anti-ship missiles for what it costs the United States to build a single Ford-class aircraft carrier. It might take just one missile to kill a carrier.  China remains frustratingly opaque about what’s actually in the military budget. More transparency would go a long way toward easing anxiety about it. China’s defense spending is believed to be quite a bit larger than what is reflected in the official budget number. But there are also unseen restraints, including inflation and the fact that the Chinese economy appears to be slowing down. China’s defense boost comes at a time when the United States and its allies are struggling with shrinking military spending. The United States has declared a broad pivot toward Asia, and it seems a wise priority, given China’s behavior and its resources. Even with breakneck increases, China’s defense spending, at official levels, is still just 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product, far lower than that of the United States. China can probably afford to fulfill its ambitions. That is no puzzle and will be a challenge to the United States and its allies for years to come.”

 Chinese Premier Admits ‘Friction’ with the United States. “Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday that there was "friction" with the United States, and the world's two biggest economies must respect each other's core interests. Washington and Beijing have grappled over a range of issues, including human rights, cyber hacking, trade disputes and China's growing military assertiveness over seas contested with its neighbors. "It's a fact that some friction exists in the course of cooperation, but this is the trouble with cooperation," Li told a news conference at the close of China's annual parliamentary session on Thursday. "Of course, China and the United States, because their history and cultural background are different, and their stage of development is different, there are differences on some issues." Li did not mention specific issues in U.S.-China relations, steering clear of sensitive domestic and international issues facing China's ruling Communist Party. The United States is uneasy about what it sees as China's effort to gain creeping control over waters in the Asia-Pacific region. China is in the midst of a sovereignty dispute with U.S.-ally Japan over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. China also has conflicting territorial claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei across a waterway in the South China Sea that provides 10 percent of the global fisheries catch and carries $5 trillion in ship-borne trade. For its part, Beijing has expressed concern over the U.S. military "pivot" towards Asia. Despite the tensions, both sides have an overriding interest in maintaining the health of the world economy. "As long as we respect each other, respect each other's core interests and major concerns, control well our differences, have equal consultations, and especially pay particular attention to expanding our common interests, then (we will) be able to enhance the level of our bilateral relations," Li said.”

 Stolen F-35 Secrets Now Showing Up in China’s Stealth Fighter. “A cyber espionage operation by China seven years ago produced sensitive technology and aircraft secrets that were incorporated into the latest version of China’s new J-20 stealth fighter jet, according to U.S. officials and private defense analysts. The Chinese cyber spying against the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II took place in 2007 under what U.S. intelligence agencies codenamed Operation Byzantine Hades, a large-scale, multi-year cyber program that targeted governments and industry. Defense officials said the stolen data was obtained by a Chinese military unit called a Technical Reconnaissance Bureau in the Chengdu province. The data was then passed to the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC). An AVIC subsidiary, the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, used the stolen data in building the J-20, said defense and intelligence officials familiar with reports of the illicit tech transfer. Pentagon technology security officials in 2011 opposed a joint venture between General Electric and AVIC over concerns that U.S. fighter jet technology would be diverted to AVIC’s military aircraft programs. The Obama administration ignored the concerns and instead has since promoted the systematic loosening of technology controls on transfers to China. The Office of Director of National Intelligence is known to have details of AVIC’s past involvement in illicit arms transfers and its role in obtaining sensitive F-35 technology through cyber espionage, the officials said. The F-35 data theft was confirmed after recent photographs were published on Chinese websites showing a newer version of the J-20. The new version of the radar-evading aircraft had incorporated several design upgrades since the first demonstrator aircraft was revealed in 2011. According to the officials, the J-20 has progressed from prototype to demonstrator. One of its most significant weapons enhancements is a new electro-optical targeting system under its nose. Additionally, protruding engine nozzles seen in the earlier version have been hidden, an attempt to further reduce the jet’s radar signature. The newest J-20 also appeared with a different radar-absorbing coating. Photos of the newer J-20 were first posted online on Chinese military forums on Jan. 17. The Pentagon’s Defense Science Board revealed earlier this year that system design information on the F-35 was obtained from cyber attacks.”

 China’s ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Trap. “The recent stabbing of government critic Kevin Lau is horrible enough for the people of Hong Kong. But it is also damaging to Beijing's efforts to convince the people of Taiwan to support official negotiations aimed at eventual reunification with mainland China. In 1984, Chinese supremo Deng Xiaoping promised the world that the British colony would keep its civil liberties and gradually transition to democracy after its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. He devised a "one country, two systems" formula not only for Hong Kong, but also as a model for reunification with Taiwan. "We have proposed to solve the Hong Kong and Taiwan problems by allowing two systems to coexist in one country," Deng said. Last month China and Taiwan held official government-to-government talks for the first time in more than six decades. China still claims the right to capture Taiwan by force and has some 1,600 missiles pointed at the democratic island, but for now Beijing is deploying more honey than vinegar. Chinese leaders emphasize peaceful integration as the eventual outcome of expanded cross-Strait transport links, tourism and commerce. Beijing hopes that business and fraternal ties will lead the Taiwanese to choose reunification under a "one country, two systems" framework. That's where Hong Kong comes in. Before taking over the territory, Beijing promised that its local government would enjoy autonomy over all internal affairs, civil liberties would be protected and the judiciary would stay independent. None of those promises has been fulfilled. Since the 1997 handover, Beijing has taken an increasingly active role in Hong Kong's domestic affairs. The central government's liaison office in the territory has pushed the local government into unpopular policies such as mandatory "national education" classes in Hong Kong schools that would teach not only love of country but admiration for the ruling Communist Party. Only mass protests forced the local government to scrap the scheme. In 2003, Beijing asked Hong Kong's government to draft an antisubversion law that threatened to criminalize political dissent. That gambit died after half a million Hong Kongers took to the streets in the largest protests since 1989. Hong Kong's press freedom is also eroding. Outspoken newspapers and magazines have increasingly lost advertising from companies with business in the mainland, while prominent critics of China have often lost their jobs or worse.”

 China’s Military Modernization: Why It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means. “The National People’s Congress is wrapping up in Beijing this week, but the final meetings are still attracting widespread attention. On March 11, Chinese President (and Chairman of the Central Military Commission) Xi Jinping attended a meeting of NPC delegates from the People’s Liberation Army. Interestingly, both Chinese and Western media focused on similar themes from Xi’s remarks. Xinhua’s English language article used the title “Xi vows no compromise on national interests” (the Chinese language article, while far more thorough in its coverage of Xi’s speech, used a similar title). The Wall Street Journal also focused on Xi’s comments regarding defending national interests. Both articles gave prominent position to one of Xi’s comments in particular: “We expect peace, but we shall never give up efforts to maintain our legitimate rights, nor shall we compromise our core interests, no matter when or in what circumstances.” These sorts of comments should not surprise anyone. For one thing, we’ve heard them already, as recently as last week when China was defending a double-digit increase in its military budget. For another thing, militaries around the globe exist to do exactly what Xi tasked the PLA with doing: protecting national “rights” and “interests,” however the people in charge choose to define them. China’s military goals are complicated, of course, by the fact that in the South and East China Sea areas that China claims as its sovereign territory are disputed by other nations, making it tempting to read remarks like Xi’s as an implicit threat. But interpreting Xi’s speech to the military through the narrow lens of what they might mean for the South China Sea disputes risks missing the broader implications. The main focus of Xi’s speech was not on the need to defend China’s national interests, but on how to best equip to PLA to do that—through reforms. Xi called on China’s armed forces to use a “spirit of reform and innovation to establish a new phase for national defense and the armed forces.” Since coming to office, Xi has placed an emphasis on modernizing and strengthening China’s military. Much has been made of the technological aspects of this goal—I’ll leave such analysis to the more capable authors on our Flashpoints blog. But Xi also mentions repeatedly that achieving this goal is not a given. Steps to modernize and strengthen China’s army are dependent, in Xi’s mind, on successfully implementing a series of reforms.  In other words, Xi wants to “modernize” not only China’s military technology, but the military structure as a whole. This is no mean feat. Xi himself outlined the scope of the challenge in his speech on Tuesday: “We must solve the systemic barriers, structural contradictions, and policy issues that restrict the construction of national defense and the armed forces, and deeply push forward the modernization of the armed forces’ organization.” Xi is talking about reorganizing China’s military, which currently suffers from disconnects between local military regions and the different force branches.”

 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 12, 2014

China Says Military Needs to Defend National Interests. “President Xi Jinping called on China's armed forces to staunchly defend national interests, while warning military leaders that China would have to bear greater responsibility as its military might grows. In remarks delivered to the military delegates during an annual gathering of China's National People's Congress, Mr. Xi also said the military must embrace the wide-ranging reforms already under way across China's economy. The remarks by Mr. Xi were reported by the official Xinhua news agency and appeared prominently on the front page of the Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper Wednesday. Mr. Xi echoed earlier calls that the military shouldn't shy away from defending China's interests. "We hope for peace, but at any time and under any circumstance, we cannot give up defending the nation's reasonable interests," Mr. Xi was quoted as saying. The latest remarks by Mr. Xi might renew fears in Japan and elsewhere in the region, where smaller countries have grown anxious over the rise of Beijing's military and strategic assertiveness. A territorial dispute between China and Japan over islands in the East China Sea has set parts of the region on edge and severely strained relations between Asia's two largest economies. At the outset of the National People's Congress last week, China's government revealed a 12.2% increase for its military budget in 2014. In absolute terms, the 88.03 billion yuan ($14.4 billion) budget increase for this year marked the largest single-year rise for China's military in at least a decade. In remarks Tuesday, Mr. Xi acknowledged greater burdens faced by China's military. "The historical responsibilities of building a strong military are falling on our shoulders," Mr. Xi said, according to the report. Since rising to power as part of a generational change in leadership in late 2012, Mr. Xi has worked to establish himself as China's single most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping. He has promised wide-reaching overhauls to China's economy, centering on freeing up markets to promote better economic performance and greater efficiency. Mr. Xi has pledged such reforms will also extend to the military.”

 China Torn Between Policies and Partnership. “From the NATO air war in Kosovo to the American invasion of Iraq, China’s opposition to foreign interference in a country’s internal affairs has been one of the mainstays of its foreign policy, along with a strategic partnership with Russia to counteract the diplomatic and economic might of the West. Those two imperatives have collided over Ukraine, placing China in an awkward bind. It does not want to alienate its strategic partner, which has lobbied heavily for China’s support for its intervention in Ukraine. Yet it cannot be seen as supporting a referendum in Crimea, which Russia backs, on the peninsula’s possible secession from Ukraine. For Beijing, that comes uncomfortably close to approving a vote on independence for Tibet or Taiwan. China’s solution has been to equivocate, but in a way that appears to hand a diplomatic victory to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as he faces off against the United States and Europe over Ukraine. On Tuesday, when asked to comment on how China views the referendum, which has been denounced by the newly installed government in Kiev as well as the United States and Europe, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman was studiously noncommittal. “We call on all parties to properly handle the rights and interests of all ethnic communities in Ukraine, to restore social order and uphold peace and stability in the region as soon as possible,” the spokesman, Qin Gang, said. The references to ethnic rights and the loss of social order echo some of Russia’s stated reasons for intervening in Ukraine. Mr. Putin is secure in the knowledge that Beijing will abstain from any United Nations Security Council efforts to condemn Russia’s invasion, analysts said. Should crushing sanctions be imposed by the West, the Kremlin is banking on the likelihood that China will step up its economic engagement to keep a pivotal ally afloat. “If the West closes more doors to Russia, China would become more important, that’s for sure,” said Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “It’s the one country that would not follow sanctions.” Yet it is clear that the issue treads on sensitive ground for China, and it has contorted itself to find a neutral diplomatic position. At the United Nations, the Chinese envoy, Liu Jieyi, said in a public meeting of the Security Council in early March that China has always supported “noninterference” in the affairs of a sovereign country. On Monday, Mr. Liu spoke up in favor of Ukraine’s “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity.”

 Japan Lawmaker Urges Closer Satellite Watch on China Military. “A senior Japanese ruling bloc lawmaker on Tuesday called for closer monitoring of Chinese military activities using satellite technology in conjunction with the United States. "The biggest problem with China is that its military policy is extremely unclear," Katsuyuki Kawai from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party told a symposium on space policy in Washington. "Countries surrounding China cannot clearly see from outside what is happening (in it) and what they are going to do," said Kawai, a former head of the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee. Kawai said Japan and its allies such as the United States should "jointly gain concrete information (regarding China) by utilizing space technology" and that would lead to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Kawai said, "Our friends in Washington are really worried about an accidental military conflict" between Japan and China as a result of disputes over China's claim to a group of Japan-administered Senkaku islets in the East China Sea. The Japanese lawmaker, who co-authored a book on national space policy, spoke at the event at the Heritage Foundation think tank also attended by researchers from China and the United States.”

 Malaysia, China and Vietnam Point Fingers Amid Search for Missing Malaysian Plane. “As frustrations mount, the sniping has begun in the search for the vanished Malaysia Airlines jet. China has criticized the Malaysia-led investigation for not searching hard or fast enough. Malaysia has criticized Vietnam for releasing — prematurely, Malaysia insists — photos of possible debris amid the search. Meanwhile, some families of passengers have criticized them all for lack of communication, accusing them of general incompetence and of caring more about their image than about survivors. Among the 10 countries that have sent vessels and aircraft to help with the search, China has been the most vocal. Out of the 239 passengers onboard, 154 were from China or Taiwan, but China has been especially sensitive because of domestic criticism in past years that it does not do enough to protect its citizens abroad. Chinese officials from President Xi Jinping down have issued repeated statements emphasizing not only how much equipment and manpower they have deployed but how much their leaders have berated their Malaysian counterparts in recent days. On Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang urged Malaysian authorities to “step up their efforts and speed up their investigation” and to make sure China and Chinese passengers’ families “find out the truth of things as soon as possible.” And Chinese news media, which are often controlled or censored by the government, have been fairly critical. So far, China has deployed nine ships and four helicopters. It has also deployed 10 satellites, erasing their original commands to redirect them to support the search. China has also sent a working group to Malaysia including officials from China’s Foreign Ministry, public security and civil aviation to spur the recovery expert. Malaysia has borne the brunt of the criticism, which has focused on its search strategy and its airport authorities’ failure to check the passports of two passengers against an Interpol database of stolen travel documents. In response, Malaysian officials have publicly defended their efforts, and cited positive comments by the Chinese ambassador in Malaysia about their coordination. To some online, none of the governments have come off particularly well. One popular post that has been forwarded thousands of times on China’s version of Twitter mocks several countries for criticizing each other rather than finding the plane: “Vietnam keeps discovering. Malaysia keeps denying. China keeps sending things on the way. Journalists keep waiting at the Lido hotel [where relatives are holed up]. Family members keep being in pain. . . . But where is the plane?” One irony in the multinational effort of the past few days is that some of the states involved have been locked in bitter territorial disputes, including over the South China Sea near the eastern portions of the search site. And China has been perceived in the region as a particularly egregious aggressor in recent years.”

 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 11, 2014

America’s Non-Pivot to Asia. “Anyone worried about how the Obama Administration's budget priorities thwart American strategy abroad got another sleepless night last week. First a senior Pentagon official let slip that because of budget constraints America's high-profile pivot to Asia "is being looked at again, because candidly it can't happen." Then China announced another double-digit increase in annual defense spending, this time of 12.2%. Assistant Defense Secretary Katrina McFarland's statement might have been too candid, and she quickly tried to walk it back. "The rebalance to Asia can and will continue," she said in a follow-up statement. But America's Asian allies and competitors are increasingly aware that her initial remark rings true. They see that President Obama's "nation-building at home" leaves less and less money available for vital strategic interests. The pivot aims to deter Chinese aggression and reassure U.S. friends by shifting 60% of U.S. naval forces to the Pacific by 2020 (from 50% today) and increasing cooperation among U.S. and partner militaries. Up to 2,500 U.S. Marines will now regularly rotate through northern Australia, and the U.S. Navy has begun basing littoral combat ships in Singapore. U.S. forces will likely gain greater base access in the Philippines, and Washington is shoring up Japanese defenses with new radar and drones. The problem is that since 2009 the Obama Administration has cut half a trillion dollars from defense. Now it wants to cut the Army to pre-World War II levels. It says it doesn't want to cut the Navy to World War I levels (as sequestration would have required), but 30-year shipbuilding plans are expected to produce fewer than the minimum 306 ships the Navy says it needs to accomplish its missions. That will be a particular handicap in the maritime Asia-Pacific. Assuming the pivot proceeds, Asia in 2020 can expect to see 60% of a smaller U.S. Navy. Budget woes last year forced the Navy to scrap five ship deployments and to delay deployment of the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier strike group by six months. Last summer the Navy could deploy only 95 of its 285 ships on average, or 10 fewer than a year before—"a factor," said Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert, "of the budget limitations."

 U.S. Woos Wary China on Ukraine. “The Obama administration stepped up its attempts Monday to court China's support for efforts to isolate Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine. With official comments from China appearing studiously neutral since the Ukraine crisis began, President Barack Obama spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping in a bid to get Beijing off the fence. The call was their first known conversation since Russian forces took control of Ukraine's Crimea region. Obama appealed to China's well-known and vehement opposition to outside intervention in other nations' domestic affairs, according to a White House statement. However, it remained unclear whether Chinawould side with the U.S. and Europe or with Moscow, which has accused the West of sparking the crisis in Ukraine with inappropriate "meddling" in the internal affairs of the former Soviet republic. China is a frequent ally of Russia in the UN Security Council, where both wield veto power. Obama "noted his overriding objective of restoring Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensuring the Ukrainian people are able to determine their own future without foreign interference," the statement said. It said the two leaders "agreed on the importance of upholding principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, both in the context of Ukraine and also for the broader functioning of the international system." They also affirmed their interest in finding a peaceful resolution to the dispute. Obama's call to Xi follows a conversation last week between his national security adviser Susan Rice and Chinese state counselor Yang Jiechi. In wooing China's support, the U.S. is seeking to capitalize on Beijing's policy of non-intervention, which Beijing has used as a rationale for limiting its involvement in North Korea and elsewhere around the world. U.S. officials believe China may also be viewing the situation in Crimea through the prism of its own ethnic minorities in border regions. The officials say they were buoyed by comments last week from China's ambassador to the United Nations, who emphasized Beijing's support for non-interference while not directly taking a side in the dispute.”

 Taiwan: Why China Backs Russia on Ukraine. “Is China conflicted? ‘Tis a mystery. But not a very big one, as it turns out. There’s no intrinsic conflict between wishing for an orderly, pacific settlement to the dispute and siding with Russia in its quarrel with Ukraine. Indeed, such a posture is not just expedient for Beijing but true to China’s strategic traditions. It’s the posture I would recommend if — Gods of diplomacy forfend — I were advising Chinese officialdom. Why? In part this is a philosophical matter. No one hates peace. Clausewitz observes that even aggressors love it. After all, he says, the prey can preserve peace and order — of a sort — by yielding to a predator’s demands without a fight. That’s precisely what the powerful want. So if outsiders side with the powerful, they in effect hope the weaker contender will submit meekly. They sincerely want to resolve crises peacefully, bringing back order as soon as possible. Harmony prevails. Hence China’s official line. China famously prefers to win without fighting, and presumably prefers for its confederates to get their way without violence as well. The balance of forces positions Moscow to pull off such a hat trick in l’affaire Crimea. Indeed, to describe Russia as the odds-on favorite understates the lopsided nature of the struggle. By advocating for a peaceable settlement, then, Beijing is tacitly stating that it favors a peaceable settlement on Moscow’s terms. It prefers for Kiev to relent without bloodshed while the West stands aside. The onus, then, falls on Ukraine’s leadership. And what could be more reasonable than that from China’s standpoint? Think about it. One big authoritarian power is trying to subdue a small democratic neighbor it regards as its rightful property. A neighboring big authoritarian power has vowed to subdue a small democratic neighbor it regards as its rightful property should nonviolent measures prove indecisive. There’s a natural political affinity there. Why not help make Eurasia safe for authoritarianism, especially if you can do so at trivial cost to yourself? Furthermore, Beijing doubtless welcomes the precedent set by Moscow’s action. The uproar may subside, letting a new normal take hold. That was the case following the Russo-Georgian fracas a few years back. If so, Russia’s intervention in Ukraine could well reinforce the precedent that big powers may manage their environs by force. That would provide political top cover for China should it opt to use force against Taiwan at some future time. Likewise, it could prove helpful at the margins in East and South China Sea contingencies. So China can have it both ways vis-á-vis Crimea. It can utter words befitting a peacemaker while at the same time backing up a kindred power in a situation similar to one Beijing may face someday. In turn it sets itself up to benefit. Nifty diplomatic maneuver, eh?”

 Philippines Lodges Protest Over China Ship Blockade. “The Philippines has lodged a protest with China, accusing its coastguard of preventing two civilian vessels reaching sailors on a disputed shoal. The vessels were in the South China Sea on Sunday to deliver supplies to a military ship grounded since 1999, Philippine officials say. But Beijing's foreign ministry said China blocked the ships because Manila was attempting to build on the shoal. The incident is the latest in the rumbling South China Sea row. China claims a U-shaped swathe of the sea - creating multiple overlaps with areas claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. The latest row involves the Second Thomas Shoal, known as Ayungin in Manila and Ren'ai Reef in Beijing. Philippine troops are stationed on a beached, rusting military ship that analysts say has become a symbol of the country marking its territory. The Philippine foreign ministry summoned China's envoy in Manila on Tuesday to lodge the protest. "Ayungin Shoal is part of the continental shelf of the Philippines and therefore the Philippines is entitled to exercise sovereignty rights and jurisdiction in the area without the permission of other states," the Philippine foreign ministry said in a statement. On Sunday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a daily media briefing that the Philippines had "again attempted to start construction" on the Ren'ai Reef, adding that the move "infringed China's territory sovereignty". Beijing said the Philippine ships were loaded with construction supplies. The Philippines and China have been embroiled in increasingly serious stand-offs in disputed areas of the South China Sea in recent months. Manila filed a complaint against Beijing last month after it said Chinese coastguards fired a water cannon at Filipino fishing boats near the Scarborough Shoal. This was where the two nations had a tense stand-off in 2012, leading to protests and angry rhetoric on both sides. The Philippines challenged China's territorial claims at a UN tribunal last year.”

 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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