China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 29, 2015

Obama: China Has Benefited By U.S. Presence in Asia. “President Obama said Tuesday that China has "benefited" from the U.S. presence in Asia and rejected the notion that new defense guidelines between the United States and Japan should be viewed as a provocation in Beijing. "China became an economic juggernaut incorporated into global trade" under the current system, Obama said during a news conference in the Rose Garden, after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "So, no, we don’t think a strong U.S.-Japan alliance should be seen as a provocation." Obama added that millions of Chinese have risen out of poverty, and that could "not have been done were there not a stable trading system and world order underwritten in large part by our alliances." Obama's remarks came a day after the United States and Japan announced a revised defense agreement that would allow Japan's Self-Defense Forces to take a more active role in regional security. The changes, which are relatively modest, allow Japan to act when U.S. forces are threatened by a third country. The president acknowledged the tensions that have arisen between China and other Asian nations from maritime disputes in the South China and East China seas. "But that is not an issue arising as a consequence of the U.S.-Japan alliance," he said. "Rather than resolve it through normal international dispute settlements, they are flexing their muscles. We've said to China what we would say to any country: 'That’s the wrong way to go about it.' " Abe, meanwhile, was asked to address the issue of Japan's wartime use of "comfort stations," which forced as many as 200,000 women into sexual slavery during World War II. Abe's refusal to issue a full-throated apology has angered South Korea and China. But Abe again declined to directly apologize or take full responsibility for Japan. "I am deeply pained to think about the comfort women who experience immeasurable pain and suffering as a result of victimization due to human trafficking," he said. "This is a feeling that I share equally with my predecessors." Abe emphasized that he has endorsed previous statements from Japanese leaders that acknowledged the country's role in the abuse. But he added that "throughout the history of the 20th century, women's dignity and basic human rights have often been infringed upon during wars." 

Obama Says U.S. Will Defend Japan’s Senkakus.
“President Obama on Tuesday invoked U.S. military defense guarantees for Japan’s disputed East China Sea islands that have been the target of coordinated Chinese military provocations since 2012. During a Rose Garden press conference with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama repeated a promise to defend the Senkaku Islands, a statement that is likely to anger China, which claims the uninhabited islands as its own, calling them the Diaoyu Islands. “I want to reiterate that our treaty commitment to Japan’s security is absolute, and that Article 5 covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including Senkaku Islands,” Obama said in a carefully crafted statement. Additionally, Obama noted growing concern over China’s South China Sea assertiveness. Beijing has claimed some 90 percent of the sea as its maritime domain, putting it in conflict with Vietnam, the Philippines, and other regional states. “We share a concern about China’s land reclamation and construction activities in the South China Sea, and the United States and Japan are united in our commitment to freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes without coercion,” he said. The presidential statement of support comes as Japan works to adopt a new interpretation of its pacifist constitution that will permit the use of weapons and military forces for collective self-defense and for so-called “gray areas,” such as remote island disputes. Legislation to codify the new legal interpretation is pending before Japan’s legislature. The announcement also comes amid revised U.S.-Japan defense guidelines that analysts say are designed to counter China’s regional aggression. The treaty article mentioned by the president is part of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. It states that an armed attack on either country would prompt action “to meet the common danger.” Other lower-level U.S. officials have made the commitment in the past. But it was the second time in two years that Obama mentioned the military commitment, giving it more political weight. A Chinese embassy spokesman had no immediate comment. In Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman criticized the upgraded U.S.-Japan defense ties as a product of the Cold War.” 

China Fires Back at South China Sea Claimants With Reclamation Accusations.
“After facing weeks of criticism about its reclamation work on disputed islands in the South China Sea, China on Wednesday turned the tables on Vietnam, the Philippines and others by accusing them of carrying out their own illegal building work. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images show China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in the Spratly Islands and may be planning another. Those moves, along with other reclamations, have caused alarm around the region and in Washington too, with the issue dominating a summit of Southeast Asian leaders this week, to China's displeasure. At a daily news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei listed reclamation work being done by other claimant nations in the Spratlys, which China calls the Nansha Islands. "For a long time, the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries have been carrying out reclamations on the Chinese islands they are illegally occupying in the Nansha Islands, building airports and other fixed infrastructure, even deploying missiles and other military equipment," he said. On Thitu Island, the Philippines is building an airport and expanding a wharf, and on Nanshan Island, Flat Island and others they are building "so-called tourism facilities", Hong added.  In Manila, a senior armed forces official denied the Philippines was undertaking any reclamation work. "Prove it," said the official, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media. "We are not making any improvements because we want to preserve the moral high ground in the arbitration case we filed before the United Nations." Hong said Vietnam was building docks, runways, missile positions, office buildings, barracks, hotels, lighthouses and helicopter pads on more than 20 islands and shoals, including Prince Consort Bank and Orleana Shoal. "China is resolutely opposed to these illegal activities and demands the relevant countries immediately stop their infringements on China's sovereignty and rights," Hong added. U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday accused China of "flexing its muscles" to advance its maritime claims against Asian neighbors.” 

Fewer Than Half Hong Kong Residents Back Electoral Reform.
“Fewer than half Hong Kong's residents back electoral reforms which would see a pro-China nominating committee select candidates for the next leader in 2017, results of a survey suggested, after protests demanding open nominations crippled parts of the city last year. Only 47 percent of the 1,167 people surveyed were in favor of the proposal, which outlines a two-step process for the city's 1,200-strong nominating committee to select two or three candidates for chief executive ahead of a public vote. China has ruled the former British colony since 1997 through a "one country, two systems" formula which allows wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland and specifies universal suffrage as an eventual goal. But the National People's Congress, China's largely rubber-stamp legislature, said last August it would screen candidates who want to run in the city's 2017 election for a chief executive. Democracy activists said this rendered the notion of universal suffrage meaningless. It was the first public opinion survey since Hong Kong officials published their electoral blueprint last week, and comes ahead of a vote on the controversial proposal by lawmakers in early summer. The Hong Kong government has forged ahead with the Chinese plan. Pan-democratic lawmakers hold a veto majority in the city's legislative council and have vowed to vote it down. Government officials have said a veto will have dire consequences for the city's political development. Hong Kong's first leader under Chinese rule, Tung Chee-hwa, who has close ties to Chinese President Xi Jinping, told reporters that the government's proposal was a big step forward.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 28, 2015

Editor’s Note: Please see the op-ed authored by Congressmen Forbes and Conaway in The Diplomat on the U.S.-Japan alliance. Congressman Forbes also released a statement on the new U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Guidelines. 

In U.S.-Japan Talks, China is the Elephant in the Room.
“When President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet on Tuesday, a major subtext of their discussions will be the world leader not in the room — Chinese President Xi Jinping. China's rise underlies both the economic and security discussions that will highlight Abe's state visit to the White House and is at the heart of Obama's so-called U.S. rebalance to the Asia-pacific region. Ahead of Tuesday's talks, Japanese and U.S. foreign and defense ministers approved revisions to the U.S.-Japan defense guidelines that boost Japan's military capability amid growing Chinese assertiveness in disputed areas in the East and South China Sea claimed by Beijing. The changes, which strengthen Japan's role in missile defense, mine sweeping and ship inspections, are the first revisions in 18 years to the rules that govern U.S.-Japan defense cooperation. The meeting also comes as attention heightens in the U.S. over a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement — a 12-nation deal to liberalize commerce around the Pacific rim. The U.S. and Japan are the biggest participants in the negotiations. Welcoming his guest a day early, Obama took Abe to the Lincoln Memorial Monday afternoon. The president played tour guide, leading the Japanese leader up the steps into the memorial where they examined the Gettysburg Address sketched into the marble walls. While Obama and Abe won't be ready to announce any trade breakthrough, officials on both sides say they will likely declare they have made considerable progress in closing remaining gaps over questions of tariffs in the U.S. on Japanese pickup trucks and barriers in Japan on certain U.S. agricultural products. Time and again, Obama has pushed for the trade deal in the face of stiff opposition from his liberal base and labor union allies by arguing that without an agreement with Asian countries, China will step into the breach. "If we don't write the rules, China will write the rules out in that region," Obama said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "We will be shut out -- American businesses, American agriculture. That will mean a loss of U.S. jobs." The Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations also come as China is working to develop an international infrastructure bank for Asia to fill an estimated $8 trillion gap in infrastructure funding for the region over the next decade. Japan and the U.S., leading shareholders of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, have notably declined to participate citing concerns over the new bank's governance standards.” 

Kerry Renews U.S. Pledge to Japan Security, Including East China Sea Islets.
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Japanese leaders on Monday that Washington's treaty commitments to Japan's security remain "iron-clad" and cover all territories under Tokyo's administration, including tiny islands in the East China Sea that China also claims. Kerry renewed the security pledge related to the islets, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China, at a New York news conference with Japan's foreign and defense ministers to unveil updated U.S.-Japan defense guidelines on the eve of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's talks with President Barack Obama. "It's an historic transition in the defense relationship between our two countries," Kerry said. The new guidelines for defense cooperation reflect Japan's willingness to take on a more robust international role at a time of growing Chinese power and rising concerns about nuclear-armed North Korea. It follows a Japanese Cabinet resolution last year reinterpreting Japan's pacifist post-World War Two constitution to allow the exercise of the right to "collective self-defense". At the news conference, Kerry made clear that Washington was ready to stick to its treaty obligations to come to Japan's defense, an effort to reassure the Japanese in its maritime dispute with China. In a pointed message to Beijing over its increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea as well, Kerry said the United States rejects any suggestion that freedom of navigation and overflight "are privileges granted by big states to small ones subject to the whim and fancy of the big state". "Our treaty commitments to Japan's security remains iron-clad and covers all territories under Japan's administration, including the Senkaku islands," he said. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that the security arrangement between the United States and Japan should not harm the interests of third parties such as China and ensure regional stability. "As for the Diaoyu Islands, our position is clear and consistent - they are China's inherent territory. No matter what anyone says or does, it cannot change the reality that they belong to China," Hong told a daily news briefing in Beijing.” 

Report: U.S., Philippines Agree on Base Rotations Along South China Sea.
“U.S. forces would have access to at least eight bases in the Philippines -- including two near a hotly contested island group claimed by China -- under a new bilateral defense agreement, according to a Philippine media report. Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang told Manila's ABS-CBN News that during an October meeting, he and Pacific Command chief Adm. Samuel Locklear identified eight bases that the U.S. would send troop rotations through. The rotations would happen in accordance with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, a bilateral document signed last year that gives the U.S. military the most access it has had since the Philippines ordered the U.S. to leave its former bases in the 1990s. U.S. access to Philippine bases, which Catapang said wasn't necessarily limited to the eight he specified, is contingent upon a Philippine court ruling over the constitutionality of the EDCA. The U.S. Embassy in Manila was unavailable for comment on the report Monday. Pacific Command officials also were not immediately available Sunday night, Hawaii Standard Time. Two of the specified bases, Antonio Bautista Air Base and Naval Station Carlito Cunanan in Palawan, would give the U.S. rapid access to the Spratly Islands, a collection of islets and reefs under dispute between the Philippines and China. Recent satellite footage has shown China building artificial reefs, runway strips and other fortifications on the islands, which lie in the South China Sea and largely within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone. The Philippines is pressing its ownership claim in international court, a process expected to take years. China declined court participation and claims the islands, along with an ambiguous right to about 90 percent of the South China Sea, by right of historical discovery. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations cast doubt on China's actions Monday in a statement that followed a one-day summit in Malaysia. "We share the serious concerns expressed by some leaders on the land reclamation being undertaken in the South China Sea, which has eroded trust and confidence and may undermine peace, security and stability," the statement said. During a Tokyo visit earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter called island fortification attempts contrary to the "principled pursuit of peaceful interests in the region." Carter also acknowledged the annual Balikatan exercise, which sent 6,000 U.S. troops -- more than double last year's total -- to train with their Philippine counterparts. "Philippines have long been a security partner of ours; we want to deepen that kind of security, and I think that the government of the Philippines wants to do the same," Carter said. "That is reflected in the increased activity and intensity of our exercises together." Besides the two bases in Palawan, the six other bases named by Catapang include Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija; Crow Valley in Tarlac; Basa Air Base in Pampanga; Naval Station San Miguel in Zambales; and Benito Ebuen Air Base and Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Cebu.” 

China Opens Corruption Inquiry Into Sinopec President.
“The second-ranking executive at Sinopec, one of China’s dominant oil and energy companies, is being investigated for “serious violations” of laws and discipline, according to official news reports and a statement by the commission of the Chinese Communist Party that oversees corruption investigations. The announcement means the executive, Wang Tianpu, president of Sinopec, will almost certainly be removed from his job soon and purged from the party after being accused of corruption. He is also likely to face trial and be prosecuted on criminal charges related to corruption. The move against Mr. Wang by party investigators at the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection indicates that senior party officials under Xi Jinping, the party chief and Chinese president, are expanding their scrutiny of top executives at giant state-owned oil and energy enterprises. Until now, antigraft cases in the oil industry have mainly focused on one of Sinopec’s rivals, China National Petroleum Corporation. The inquiries into C.N.P.C. were aimed at taking down a network of allies to Zhou Yongkang, the former member of the ruling Politburo Standing Committee who is expected to stand trial on allegations of corruption. Mr. Zhou was once chairman of C.N.P.C., and at least three of his relatives, including his eldest son, Zhou Bin, profited from the rise of C.N.P.C., which is now China’s largest energy company. Investigators looking into Mr. Zhou and the oil company have detained Jiang Jiemin, a Zhou ally who ran the oil company after Mr. Zhou departed. Mr. Jiang, a former member of the party’s elite Central Committee, became director of a government agency overseeing state enterprises in March 2013, but he was removed from that post six months later and placed under investigation by party officials. He was expelled from the party in 2014 and put on trial this month on corruption charges. He confessed during the trial to taking huge bribes, and prosecutors said Mr. Jiang had aided Mr. Zhou in corrupt schemes. Mr. Jiang’s downfall is a template for what could happen to Mr. Wang and possibly other executives at Sinopec, which is also known as the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation. Though Mr. Zhou was known to be a prominent figure in the oil industry, it was not immediately clear whether the investigation into Mr. Wang was related to the inquiry into Mr. Zhou.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 22, 2015

Senators Mull Response to China’s Moves in Disputed Islands. “Senators are grappling with how, or even if, the United States should respond to the Chinese government building a runway potentially for military use on disputed land in the South China Sea. ADVERTISEMENT Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the White House should focus on strengthening ties to allies in the region by providing additional military equipment to their navies. President Obama and other leaders should “start drawing lines and saying, ‘Look, this is not acceptable,’” he said late Monday. Late last week, satellite imagery revealed that China is building a possibly 10,000-foot-long runway capable of handling military aircraft in Fiery Cross Reef, part of the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by at least three other countries. McCain also advocated for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping 12-nation trade compact, to counter China's influence with its trading partners in the area. “We’ll never get the genie back in the bottle, but it will be vital,” he told The Hill. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) also said the trade deal would be a good start to responding China's actions. “Get this TPP thing done so we at least begin on an economic front doing some things,” he said late Monday. Corker added that Asian countries must do more to confront Beijing’s “destabilizing” behavior. “We got to the conferences that they hold but there needs to be a much more organized pushback in the international community, it’s just not occurring right now,” he said. While senators are unsure what the U.S. response should look like, they agree China’s moves are provocative. “Right now, I don’t think there’s any specific reaction or action,” said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence panels. “It’s something that has to be monitored and it’s a matter of determining what China’s intent is” and whether Beijing is trying to expand its sphere of influence or taking aggressive action against neighboring countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, he told The Hill on Tuesday. “It is of concern, but on the other hand, we don’t want to overreact,” King added. “This is the kind of thing that goes on around the world in terms of border disputes.” 

Chinese, U.S. Navies Aim to Build Trust.
“US and Chinese sailors faced off on Chinese soil Tuesday, in sporting clashes between their navies aimed at building trust despite rising tensions over Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea. The contests — the hosts claimed a 3-1 victory at football, and the visitors dominated on the basketball court — were followed by a party on board the USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the US Navy's 7th Fleet as it paid a rare visit to the base of China's South Sea Fleet. The fleet's frigates are charged with defending Beijing's claim to almost all the South China Sea, against several Southeast Asian neighbors including allies of Washington — but the scene at the People's Liberation Army vessels in Zhanjiang was all smiles. US 7th fleet commander Robert Thomas clinked glasses with his South China Sea fleet counterpart Shen Jinlong. "I remembered I owed him a beer," Thomas said, before toasting a Chinese rear-admiral and cutting a cake decorated with the flags of both countries. Chinese officers toured the hulking command ship, docked in the southern province of Guangdong, and eyed up their US counterparts over a lunch of tomato bisque and chicken paninis. On the Blue Ridge's main deck, US personnel patrolled with M-16 rifles a stones' throw from the palm-fringed Chinese shore, while on land staff from both navies swapped jokes and rebounds. The Chinese and US militaries — the world's largest and most powerful respectively — have been increasing exchanges even as Beijing's assertion of its South China Sea claims, most recently through rapid building of artificial islands, raises alarm bells in Washington. Those concerns — and the M-16s — were shunted aside in public on Tuesday evening, as uniformed staff from both navies danced while a military band shook the Blue Ridge with covers of Daft Punk and hip-hop legends the Beastie Boys. "We share the domain, we operate together," the 7th fleet's Ron Oswald told AFP when asked about South China Sea tensions.” 

Philippines Seeks More Aid to Counter China.
“The Philippines said Tuesday it would soon ask the United States for more military equipment and training to build its defenses, as it faces Chinese "aggressiveness" in disputed waters. As hundreds of Filipino and American Marines simulated an amphibious assault to reclaim territory from invaders during annual war games, military chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang told AFP he was drafting a "wish list" for US aid. Catapang said the Philippines would ask for "equipment and training," when Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario traveled to the US in about a week's time. "The US has told us that they will help us develop our capabilities, and now, we are focused on maritime security," Catapang said as he watched tanks emerge from the sea and roll onto the beach. "We want to have capability on wetland, marshland, and beach landings," he said when asked to elaborate on the contents of the "wish list." He said he hoped the US military would train his men on the operation of amphibious tanks, which the Philippines is buying for the first time this year as part of a defense upgrade. The US is already the biggest military supplier to the Philippines, a former colony to which it remains allied by a mutual defense treaty. Tuesday's drills, among the first of annual war games between the allies, took place 220 kilometers (137 miles) east of the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. The shoal is a rich fishing ground China has controlled since the end of a maritime standoff with the Philippines in 2012. Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma alleged on Monday that a Chinese vessel recently used a water cannon to drive Filipino fishermen away from the shoal. On Monday, Catapang criticized China's "aggressiveness" as he showed satellite photos of "massive" reclamations on seven reefs in the South China Sea. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, home to vital shipping lanes and also believed to hold vast mineral reserves. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have often overlapping claims.” 

Hundreds of Chinese Cities Don’t Meet Air Standards, Report Finds.
“Air pollution data from the Chinese government shows that more than 90 percent of 360 Chinese cities failed to meet national air quality standards in the first three months of this year, according to a report released on Tuesday by Greenpeace East Asia. Interior provinces were found to have the most polluted cities during those months. Cities near the eastern and southern coasts also had dire levels of fine pollutants, but the levels were lower than in the same period one year ago, the report said. The drop could be because of central government policies announced in late 2013 aimed at limiting coal use in China’s most densely populated regions. Researchers at Greenpeace East Asia, which is based in Beijing, ranked 360 cities after looking at levels of fine particulate matter called PM2.5, considered more dangerous than other forms of pollutants because it can penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Air monitors in 367 Chinese cities record the levels of PM2.5 and other kinds of pollutants hourly, and the data was released with the approval of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Greenpeace said it discarded data from seven cities for the report because it was flawed. The average concentration of PM2.5 in the 360 cities was 66 micrograms per cubic meter, nearly twice the national standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter. The average was more than two and a half times the exposure limit recommended by the World Health Organization. That limit is 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period. Only 32 cities met the national air quality standard, while 141 cities, or nearly 40 percent, had PM2.5 levels that were more than twice the standard. The most polluted provinces were Henan, Hubei and Hebei. Beijing ranked fourth, and Shandong, on the east coast, was fifth. All of those areas have or are surrounded by heavy industrial factories that rely on burning coal. The three most polluted cities were Baoding, a steel town in Hebei; Kashgar, a traditional Silk Road oasis town in the far western region of Xinjiang; and Xingtai, another industrial town in Hebei. The three cleanest cities, in order, were all in the far west: Linzhi in Tibet, Lijiang in Yunnan Province and Altay in Xinjiang. The data show that China, despite a recent drop in the growth rate of coal use, continues to have among the most polluted cities in the world, alongside urban centers in India and Iran.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 20, 2015

Philippines Starts South China Sea War Games With U.S. “More than 11,000 soldiers from the Philippines, U.S. and Australia will take part in joint drills in the South China Sea, as the Philippines’ military chief called China’s building work on disputed reefs “worrisome” and a source of friction with its neighbors. The reclamation “will cause tensions among claimant countries not only because it could deter freedom of navigation but also due to its possible military purposes,” General Gregorio Pio Catapang told reporters in Manila on Monday. China must “stop the reclamation activities and be mindful of its responsibilities as a claimant state and an important member of the international community.” The comments come as 11,600 Filipino, U.S. and Australian soldiers -- twice as many as last year -- are set to join the war games off Palawan province near contested South China Sea islands. Disputes over the sea, of which China claims about four-fifths under a so-called nine-dash line drawn on a 1940s map, have escalated as China expands the reach of its military to back its territorial interests. China’s actions have caused uneasiness for neighbors such as Vietnam and the Philippines who also claim some of the waters. It has also raised concern among countries that use the sea lanes for trade and commerce, Catapang said. “The size of this reclamation is making us wonder what the real intention is,” he said. The military drills, which run until April 30, seek to “improve our interoperability and enhance our national defense capability,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia told reporters after the opening of the annual Balikatan -- shoulder-to-shoulder in Filipino -- war games on Monday. “Our armed forces needs to improve its own capacity in order to better serve and protect our country.” Catapang said the drills are not directed against China. He said a U.S. plan to deploy advanced air force and naval equipment in the Philippines is in the works.” 

Why China’s Island Building is So Foreboding
. “Over the past six months, China has gotten a little bit bigger. China's expansion, which has amounted to less than two square miles of new land, is making waves not for how big it is, but where it is. Chinese engineers, with the help of barges and dredging machines, have been enlarging tiny reefs, sand spits, and islets in the South China Sea that Beijing claims as its own. China is busy building harbor facilities and airstrips on these new islands, ostensibly with civil purposes, but with a decidedly military bent. Meanwhile, China's neighbors are anything but pleased. For many, the land reclamation amounts to someone else building in their front yard, on territory they consider their own. In 2009, China published the so-called "nine dash line": a line on a map submitted to the United Nations that demarcated Chinese territory in the South China Sea. China bases this claim on historical maps and statements going back as far as the third century A.D. All in all, the nine-dash line claims 1.35 million square miles, approximately 90 percent, of the South China Sea as Chinese territory. Much of this territorial grab, in addition to claiming what were previously international waters, conflicts with competing territorial claims from Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Brunei. China claims that "relevant disputes" in the South China Sea should be resolved through consultation and negotiation with other countries. At the same time however, it believes that Chinese sovereignty over the Nansha (Spratly) islands is "indisputable"… and thus irrelevant.” 

Xi Jinping Heads to Pakistan, Bearing Billions in Infrastructure Aid.
“China’s president, Xi Jinping, travels to Pakistan on Monday laden with tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure and energy assistance on a scale the United States has never offered in the past decade of a close relationship, a gesture likely to confirm the decline of American influence in that nation. Mr. Xi, making his first overseas trip this year, and the first by a Chinese leader to Pakistan in nine years, will arrive fortified from the robust reception to the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and is looking to show that China can make a difference in a friendly, neighboring country troubled by terrorism. Pakistani officials say that Mr. Xi will be signing accords for $46 billion for the construction of roads, rails and power plants to be built on a commercial basis by Chinese companies over 15 years. Just as the United States sought to stabilize Pakistan during the war in Afghanistan, so China wants to prevent the spread of militant groups in Pakistan into Xinjiang, the far western region of China with a large Muslim population. Washington tried to encourage the Pakistani government to try to stop terrorist groups from crossing the border into Afghanistan and attacking American troops, in part, by sending assistance intended to revive the gasping economy. Now, as China faces growing restiveness in Xinjiang, which has borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, Beijing is attempting to help stem the flow of radicalism into its own backyard by bolstering development in perhaps the most vulnerable part of Pakistan. To the increasing frustration of China, a Muslim separatist group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, founded by Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking ethnic minority concentrated in northwestern China, operates alongside several Pakistani terrorist groups inside Pakistan’s ungoverned tribal areas. A military operation was launched by the Pakistani Army in North Waziristan last June against the Taliban, also aimed at the Turkestan group, an action designed to please China. A significant amount of China’s new assistance, including a port facility at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, and rails and roads leading from the port across Baluchistan Province and into western China, will be in areas close to the tribal areas where the militant groups operate.” 

China National Security Law to Address ‘Harmful Moral Standards’.
“China reviewed a new national security law during a meeting of its legislature's top body that will deal with a range of risks, including "harmful moral standards", state media said on Monday. President Xi Jinping, who heads a newly established national security commission, has said China's security covers a wide array of areas, including politics, culture, the military, the economy, technology and the environment. The sweeping law underwent its second reading during a session of the National People's Congress (NPC) standing committee, a group with about 200 members led by the third-ranking member of China's ruling Communist Party, the official Xinhua news agency reported. "The draft law called for reinforced education and dissemination of socialist core values, to prevent the infiltration of harmful moral standards," Xinhua said, without elaborating.The news agency said the draft law included clauses that deal with "important industries and sectors deemed vital to the economy, which would prevent financial risks through the development of financial infrastructure and capabilities, and a grain security system". It also deals with the establishment of "systems for cyber and information security", Xinhua said. China already has broad laws governing security, and it is not clear to what extent the new law would enhance previously delineated powers. Last November, China renamed its first national security law, which took effect in 1993, as the Counterespionage Law. The NPC standing committee, which has the power to pass most legislation, typically meets every two months. Laws are often adopted after three readings. The body is reviewing a series of controversial laws, including one on non-governmental organizations and a draft anti-terrorism law that has raised the hackles of foreign companies and governments.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 15, 2015

Japan Jets Scramble at Cold War Levels as Chinese and Russian Incursions Increase. “Japan's air force said on Wednesday said jet fighter scrambles have reached a level not seen since the height of the Cold War three decades ago as Russian bombers probe its northern skies and Chinese combat aircraft intrude into its southern air space. In the year ending March 31, Japanese fighters scrambled 944 times, 16 percent more than the same period the previous year, the country's Self Defence Force said. That is the second highest number of encounters ever recorded over the 12-month period since records began in 1958 and only one less than a record 944 scrambles in 1984. "It represents a sharp increase," an SDF spokesman said at a press briefing. While not a direct measure of Russian and Chinese military activity, the numbers nonetheless point to an increase in operations by Japan's two big neighbors. While coping with the growing military might of a more assertive China which is increasing defense outlays by more than 10 percent a year, Japan is also contending with a military resurgence of a Cold War foe that has gathered pace since Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula from the Ukraine last year. Japan too is upping defense spending, albeit by a smaller margin, to buy new equipment, including longer-range patrol aircraft, cargo jets, helicopter carriers and troop carrying Boeing V-22 Ospreys and Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters. A non-fiscal boost to military capability will also come from plans by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to loosen constitutional constraints on his nation's defense forces that will allow them to operate more freely overseas and to deepen cooperation with U.S. forces. Russian bombers and patrol planes often enter Japan's air space close to Japan's northern Hokkaido island and close to four smaller islands which are claimed both by Japan and Russia. That territorial dispute has prevented Japan and Russia from concluding a formal peace treaty. The Russian aircraft commonly fly circuitous routes around the Japanese archipelago. Chinese fighter incursions are concentrated in the East China Sea, close to disputed uninhabited islets near Taiwan that Tokyo claims as the Senkaku islands and Beijing dubs the Diaoyu islands. In the past year, an increased number of Chinese planes have flown through Japanese air space into the Western Pacific, the SDF spokesman said.” 

Chinese ASAT Test Was ‘Successful’.
“We’ve known for some time that China conducted an anti-satellite test July 23 last year, but we learned today that that test was “successful” even if it didn’t destroy anything. China has successfully placed low earth orbit satellites at risk, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond told an overflow audience at the annual Warfighters Lunch at the Space Symposium here. “Soon every satellite in every orbit will be able to be held at risk,” the head of the 14th Air Force said. China has claimed the test was for missile defense and noted that nothing was destroyed in the test. Raymond clearly wanted to dispel that impression and make certain everyone in the space community knew that China had executed another ASAT test and that it had worked. In other news, Raymond told the lunch that, for the first time, a foreign military officer has been placed in command of US troops at the highly classified Joint Space Operations Center, the nerve center of America’s military and spy satellites. (The NRO operates America’s spy satellites, but the JSPOC watches all.) Until the last decade, foreign officers were not incorporated into most of America’s space facilities. Then we began bringing in Canadian, British and Australian officers to Strategic Command and Air Force Space Command, culminating in the appointment of a Canadian officer as head of a shift at the JSPOC. Raymond told me after the lunch that he didn’t want to oversell the importance of the move, but he did call it “significant.” This is part of a longer term commitment by the United States to work with allies on space issues. Last year, Australia, Britain, Canada and United States signed a symbolically important Memorandum of Understanding committing them to “a partnership” on combined space operations. “We have got to develop the partnership with our allies. We can’t do this alone,” Raymond said.” 

China Wants U.S. to Drop Tech Export Limits, Or It Will Shop Elsewhere.
“Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged U.S. officials to drop limits on high-technology exports or it would seek alternatives from Russia or other countries, said people with knowledge of the discussions, in a reminder of technology tensions between Washington and Beijing. Mr. Li raised the issue on Monday with U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker during her visit to Beijing, these people said. Mr. Li said China was determined to secure technology it needed with or without U.S. cooperation, one participant said. “They specifically said they would look elsewhere if they couldn’t get the deals,” the person said. Mr. Li named Russia specifically, according to this person. Ms. Pritzker on Tuesday defended U.S. export controls, which cover a range of technologies that Washington believes could be used for military purposes. “Export controls are not an impediment to U.S. trade in high technology,” she told reporters, citing U.S. policies on nuclear nonproliferation. “We have to remember why export controls exist, and it’s really for our national security.” Mr. Li’s comments came after Washington in February blocked U.S. companies from supplying equipment for use in the Tianhe-2, China’s powerful supercomputer. The Commerce Department said the supercomputer and a predecessor “are believed to be used in nuclear explosive activities.” Mr. Li didn’t single out the supercomputer limits in his comments, according to the people. The U.S. decision has been a blow for U.S. chip maker Intel Corp., which has supplied microprocessors that power the computer. Intel declined to comment on Mr. Li’s remarks. Technology is a growing area of mistrust between the two countries. China has accelerated efforts to develop local versions of essential technologies following disclosures by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that U.S. agencies used American technology for espionage. Foreign technology companies have complained that Beijing’s banking rules and a proposed counterterrorism law are too invasive and could limit their business in China.” 

China Warns Taiwan Opposition As It Names Presidential Candidate.
“China warned Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Wednesday to heed the lessons of the last time it was in power and not push for independence, as the party announced its candidate for next year's presidential election. The DPP's Chen Shui-bian infuriated Beijing during his time as president from 2000 to 2008. The Chinese accused him of trying to push for the island's independence and weaken its Chinese cultural heritage. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province, to be put under Beijing's control by force if necessary. China's Taiwan Affairs Office, asked about the stance on China of the DPP's presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, said the crux of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait was to oppose independence for Taiwan. "If (the DPP) upholds the Taiwan independence splittist position of 'one country on either side of the strait', then it will be hard to find a way out for cross-strait relations," spokesman Ma Xiaoguang told a regular news briefing. "This is not a new talking point - this is what happened between 2000 and 2008. One need not look far for a lesson," he added. Ma would not comment directly on the presidential election. Speaking in Taipei, Tsai said the development of cross-strait relations had to be subject to the will of Taiwan's people and could not be undertaken as party-to-party negotiations. "The basic principle of our party in cross-strait relations is to maintain the status quo," Tsai, who is also the DPP's chairwoman, said. Tsai, 58, a fluent English speaker educated at Cornell and the London School of Economics, ran uncontested in the DPP primary. She will face an unknown contender from the Nationalist Party, which currently holds the presidency and has a majority in the legislature. Faced with sinking popularity, the Nationalists will have to battle hard for the presidency against a resurgent DPP, which is skeptical of the warming ties with China championed by the Nationalist's President Ma Ying-jeou.” 

China Expands Islands in Disputed Waters, Photos Show.
“China is expanding two islands it controls in the disputed Paracel Islands, east of Vietnam, satellite imagery shows, even as Beijing builds seven new islets in the South China Sea. Woody Island and Duncan Island have both expanded significantly as a result of recent land-reclamation work undertaken by China, according to images taken a month ago by satellite-imaging company DigitalGlobe and published Tuesday by the Diplomat, an Asian current-affairs website. Vietnam says it owns both islands, though Woody Island is home to China’s largest South China Sea settlement—Sansha City, which has a population of 600 people. China claims about 90% of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. All the claimants apart from Brunei have populated settlements on disputed islands under their control, but China has expanded its footprint in the contested region, drawing persistent complaints—but little collective action—from its neighbors. The South China Sea is a fishing ground used by fleets from China and Southeast Asia. It is rich in energy resources and home to important shipping lanes that carry around $5 trillion in seaborne trade each year. The claimants have agreed to abide by a nonbinding code of conduct under which they have undertaken to refrain from provocative actions in the disputed region, but the Philippines and Vietnam have accused China of breaking the deal through its recent activities. Satellite pictures published by the Philippines and others have charted the speedy construction of at least seven islands by China in the Spratly Islands group through the use of dredgers to dump sand on top of shallow reefs. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said earlier this month that the artificial islands would be used for “military defense” and a range of civilian purposes. Hong Lei, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, said Tuesday that “the Paracels are an inherent part of China,” when asked about the reclamation projects there.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 14, 2015

A New U.S. Grand Strategy Towards China. “The United States needs to fundamentally change its grand strategy toward China. One need look no further than the recent Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) debacle to understand how China’s ascent is aimed at challenging American global reach. The China-led international financial institution is poised to undermine the influence of the U.S.-led World Bank and International Monetary Fund while institutionalizing China’s geoeconomic coercion in the Asia-Pacific. Italy, France, Britain, Germany, South Korea, Denmark, and Australia have signed on as members of the AIIB, with Thailand and even Taiwan eyeing imminent entry. Meanwhile, the U.S. remains on the outside looking in as its influence is directly challenged by China’s rise. Along with the AIIB, China is also pursuing a number of additional initiatives to expand its strategic reach in Asia and beyond. China has announced plans to advance a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)—trade agreements that link the economies of China, Japan, and India along with Southeast Asian countries. Beijing is simultaneously promoting the creation of a New Silk Road, which would open trade routes through Central Asia and maritime routes around Southeast and South Asia, better connecting China geopolitically to growing Asian economies and, through them, to the Middle East and Europe. Add to these projects the ongoing discussions over the creation of a new BRICS Development Bank between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. China’s sustained economic success over the last thirty-odd years has enabled it to aggregate formidable power, making it the nation most capable of dominating the Asian continent. Beijing’s economic rise has been staggering; its economy has grown at 10 percent annually for 35 years, and overall gross domestic product (GDP) has exploded from just $147 billion in 1979 to $9.24 trillion in 2013. The meteoric growth of the Chinese economy, even if PRC per capita income remains behind that of the United States, has already provided Beijing with the resources necessary to challenge the security of both its Asian neighbors and Washington’s influence in Asia, with potentially dangerous consequences. Even as China’s overall GDP growth slows considerably, its relative growth rates are likely to be higher than those of the United States for the foreseeable future.” 

China to Strengthen Surveillance, Security in Anti-Terror Push.
“China will establish a national population database linked to ID information and credit records, state media reported late on Monday, as part of a larger push to beef up surveillance and security in response to violent unrest. China has already taken a series of measures to prevent attacks by extremists, including plans for an anti-terrorism law that would give the government broader surveillance powers and offering to pay for tips about violent plots.  The latest steps also include assigning more security forces to public transport, including buses, trains and subways, as well as to schools, financial institutions and hospitals, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement issued by the ruling Communist Party's Central Committee and the State Council, China's cabinet. In addition, China will require identification when registering at hotels, for trade of second-hand goods, for motor refitting and for "recreation services", Xinhua said, without specifying the type of recreation. The measures will help "prevent violence, terrorist attacks or extreme events", the report said. The statement calls for a "security network that covers all grassroots communities", using more surveillance cameras. China was rocked last year by a string of knife and bomb attacks that it has blamed on separatists from the western region of Xinjiang, which has been plagued by unrest. Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur people, who have chafed under growing restrictions from China, including on their religion, language and culture. Rights activists have criticized the government, saying the crackdown only serves to exacerbate tensions and breed extremism.” 

China Thwarts Taiwan’s Bid to Be Founding Member of AIIB.
“China rejected Taiwan’s bid to become a founding member of the new Chinese-led infrastructure bank for Asia in a difference over the title the island uses, which could portend how Beijing will run the new institution. In rebuffing Taiwan, Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement Monday that the island may apply for membership later and that further consultations are likely to yield an “appropriate name” under which Taiwan can join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Beijing’s decision effectively quashes Taiwan’s request to join the multilateral lender as a founding member of the bank, while holding out the prospect of regular membership. Taiwan didn’t disclose the name it used in its application. But nomenclature is always a sensitive issue in relations between China and Taiwan, which split in a civil war 65 years ago. The two governments routinely spar over such issues as part of their larger tussle over Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China. Should the bickering over Taiwan’s participation persist, analysts said it could highlight a deeper issue about the bank: Will it be a professionally run financial institution, as Beijing says it will be, or will it be a tool of China’s geopolitical ambitions, as some critics have warned? “Beijing’s insistence in setting the conditions for Taiwan’s participation is just one of the ways that China could use the bank for political purposes,” said Hao Pei-chih, a public-policy professor at National Taipei University. Ms. Hao said the infrastructure bank is seen as China’s attempt to redesign the world’s economic order from being western-centric to Asia-centric, with China being the core leader. Beijing has received an enthusiastic reception in setting up the bank, which it hopes will have $100 billion in initial capital. More than 40 countries applied to be founding members, despite Washington’s initial misgivings about the institution. China set an end of March deadline for applications and is expected to release a list of founding members Wednesday. Though the structure has yet to be finalized, Beijing is expected to be the bank’s largest shareholder. Even so, China has said that with more countries participating, each country’s share in the bank will decline. Top financial officials from Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia have expressed confidence Beijing won’t use the bank to pursue narrow political interests.” 

China’s Island-Building is Ruining Coral Reefs, Philippines Says.
“China’s island-building activities have destroyed about 300 acres of coral reefs and are causing “irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance” of the South China Sea, a spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday. “China has pursued these activities unilaterally, disregarding people in the surrounding states who have depended on the sea for their livelihood for generations,” the spokesman, Charles Jose, said during a news briefing in Manila. He said China’s neighbors in the South China Sea could lose up to $100 million a year because of the loss of the coral reefs, which are breeding grounds for high-value fish harvested by countries surrounding the sea. China has been undertaking land reclamation projects on the sand spits, islets and submerged reefs of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, according to satellite images released in the last year. United States and Philippine officials have said the newly constructed islands could serve as military outposts in the area, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and other governments. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said last week that the construction was focused on building maritime aids for China, its neighbors and international vessels in the South China Sea. The islands will host “typhoon shelters, navigation aids, search-and-rescue centers, marine meteorological forecasting stations, fishing services and civil administration offices,” she said. United States military officials have used strong language in the past month to protest China’s island-building activities, noting that the construction work is decreasing the chances of a diplomatic resolution to the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Last week, the Philippines and the United States announced that their annual joint military exercises would be the largest conducted in 15 years and would include war games in coastal areas facing the South China Sea. The exercises, which are to begin next Monday, include more than 11,000 soldiers and sailors from both countries. That is twice the number of troops involved in last year’s exercises, officials said. The joint operations will be conducted throughout the country, including on the west coast of Luzon Island and in the western coastal areas of the province of Palawan, both of which face the South China Sea. Some of the military drills will be held at the former United States naval base in San Miguel in the province of Zambales, which is less than 150 miles from Scarborough Shoal, a Chinese-controlled reef that is also claimed by the Philippines. Philippine military officials said last week that the expansion of the war games was not intended to send a message to China. A Philippine military spokesman, Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, said the activities, called Balikatan, were part of regular annual exercises and would be focused primarily on disaster response.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 13, 2015

China’s Hackers Run 10-Year Spy Campaign in Asia, Report Finds. “State-sponsored hackers in China are likely behind a sophisticated, decadelong cyberespionage campaign targeting governments, companies and journalists in Southeast Asia, India and other countries, a U.S. cybersecurity company said in a report released Monday. FireEye Inc. says the attacks have been designed to glean intelligence, likely from classified government networks and other sources, pertaining to political and military issues such as disputes over the South China Sea. Beijing’s claims in the contested South China Sea overlap with those of Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines—a U.S. treaty ally. Recently released satellite images show a dramatic expansion in China’s construction of artificial islands on disputed reefs, intensifying concerns about Beijing’s territorial ambitions. The Milpitas, Calif.-based FireEye said the hacking efforts are remarkable because of their duration—noting some elements have been in place since 2005—and stand out because of their geographic focus. Some of the cyberattacks have taken the form of specially crafted emails, written in recipients’ native languages, with documents that appear legitimate but contain malware, the report said. Other attacks are intended to penetrate isolated networks, cut off from the Internet for security purposes, by tricking their administrators into downloading malware on their home computers. The malware is then implanted on the administrators’ portable drives, such as USB sticks, that are later plugged into the secure networks, infecting them, it said. Teams of hackers appear to work in shifts and have developed malware in a consistent fashion over the years, indicating a high level of organization, FireEye said. “Such a sustained, planned development effort, coupled with the group’s regional targets and mission, lead us to believe that this activity is state sponsored most likely by the Chinese government,” FireEye said in the report. Asked to comment on the report, China’s Ministry of National Defense referred to its previous public remarks, without elaborating. In the past, it has dismissed the accusations that China is behind cyber hacking as groundless and cited disclosures by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts as proof that Washington is a major offender.” 

ONI Reveals Massive Chinese Naval Buildup.
“China has deployed a new high-speed anti-ship cruise missile and is sharply expanding an armada of advanced guided-missile warships and submarines, according to a naval intelligence report made public Thursday. The Office of Naval Intelligence, in its first unclassified assessment of the Chinese navy in six years, revealed deployment of the new YJ-18 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile on warships and submarines that analysts say poses a major threat to U.S. and allied vessels. China’s current naval force of 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships, and missile-armed patrol craft is rapidly expanding, the report says. According to the report, China began building or launched more than 60 naval ships and vessels last year, and a similar number of warships are under construction or deployed for 2015. “Major qualitative improvements are occurring within naval aviation and the submarine force, which are increasingly capable of striking targets hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland,” the report said, adding that despite some shortfalls, “it is emerging as a well equipped and competent force.” The key focus of the Chinese navy is anti-surface ship warfare through deployment of large numbers of advanced destroyers, frigates, and submarines, supported by long-range range over the horizon radar. The new YJ-18 cruise missile is deployed on the newest class of destroyer called the Luyang III, and on diesel attack submarines known as the Song/Yuan class, and nuclear-powered Shang-class attack submarines. “This supersonic missile could be extremely difficult for U.S. and allied ships to defend against,” Erickson said. The YJ-18 reportedly has a maximum range of 111 miles at a speed of Mach .08 and a higher speed range of 24 miles. The new missile is more capable and has a longer range than the current anti-ship cruise missile arsenal. Additionally, the report reveals that China’s coast guard now has more ships and vessels than the combined coast guard forces of countries in the region. It was the first time the U.S. government has acknowledged China’s deployment of the supersonic missile, which appears based on the Russian SSN-27/Klub cruise missile. The report also says deployment of DF-21D long-range anti-ship ballistic missiles will expand the attack range of the Chinese military “further into the Philippine and South China Seas.” 

China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Strategy.
“China's "one belt and one road" initiative could usher in a new era that sees China as the undisputed geopolitical powerhouse in the region, experts say. The initiative will establish new routes linking Asia, Europe and Africa. It has two parts — a new "Silk Road economic belt" linking China to Europe that cuts through mountainous regions in Central Asia; and the "maritime Silk Road" that links China's port facilities with the African coast and then pushes up through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. Chinese President Xi Jinping revealed during a speech at the Boao Forum on March 28 in Hainan, China, that China intends to push forward on the initiative that many are comparing to the ancient Silk Road. "The idea of one belt and one road is based mainly on the economy, but has political and strategic components and implications," said Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director of Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Center for National Strategy Studies. "It aims for the joint development, common prosperity and for energy security, too." Since improving the region's economy could weaken the root cause of terrorism and help stabilize Central Asia and the Middle East, Zhuang said the US should be more positive about the initiative as a stabilizing force for good in the region. Many experts question how China will establish security for these new routes, since many of them snake through potentially dangerous areas such as Africa's coast (maritime piracy) and the "wild west" of Central Asia (Islamic extremism). The routes will require logistics hubs, communication networks, airports, railway lines, modern highways, ports and a military component that allows for a rapid response to a crisis. For the military, this means long-range, fixed-wing cargo aircraft, littoral combat ships capable of operating in the narrow and shallow areas of the Strait of Malacca and Suez Canal, hospital ships, and an enhanced capability to conduct Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW). The "belt and road" concept is still in the planning stages, said James Holmes, a China naval specialist at the US Naval War College, and does not have any direct military implications, per se, but "it could help China ease America out of Asia over the long haul while weaning our allies away from us." 

The Rapid Expansion of China’s Navy in Five Charts.
“With tensions mounting over China’s island-building in the South China Sea, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence has published its first report on the Chinese navy since 2009. The report, released late Thursday predicts: “In the next decade, China will complete its transition from a coastal navy to a navy capable of multiple missions around the world.” The report says that in 2014, China reclaimed hundreds of acres of land at the seven features it occupies in the disputed Spratly Islands and “appears to be building much larger facilities that could eventually support both maritime law enforcement and naval operations.” It also confirms that China’s newest destroyers have been fitted with a new kind of vertically launched supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, called the YJ-18, which could significantly enhance their capacity to threaten U.S. ships. Here are five graphics that illustrate some its other key findings.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 10, 2015

A ‘Great Wall of Sand’ in the South China Sea. “A year ago, China appeared to be pursuing a more aggressive policy toward its Pacific maritime disputes with a half-dozen nations. It engaged in some high-stakes jockeying with Vietnam over disputed maritime claims in the South China Sea, moving an oil drilling rig to the Paracel Islands and declaring an exclusion zone around it. That followed its declaration in 2013 of an air defense exclusion zone over islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by Japan; the United States and Japan promptly flew planes through the zone to demonstrate they did not recognize it. But in recent months, Beijing quietly — and significantly — shifted tactics. It toned down its confrontation with Japan, agreeing to a handshake between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last November, and pulled back the drilling rig that infuriated Hanoi. Instead, China is digging in — literally. Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivered a speech in Canberra, Australia, on March 31 that offered a revealing and unusual description of how China is dredging its atolls, turning coral reefs into more permanent and larger islands. He said China is engaged in “unprecedented land reclamation,” an effort to build artificial lands by “pumping sand on to live coral reefs — some of them submerged — and paving them over with concrete.” “China has now created over four square kilometers of artificial landmass,” he said. “China is creating a Great Wall of sand, with dredges and bulldozers, over the course of months.” In effect, China seems to be fortifying these specks of land for something in the future. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said March 8 that China was just “carrying out necessary construction on its own islands and reefs,” and insisted that it “does not target or affect anyone.” China, he added, seeks “to bring harmony, stability and prosperity to the neighborhood.” Nice words, but pay attention to deeds. What is the purpose of the digging? Are these reinforced outposts going to be used someday for military forces that would attempt to enforce China’s vaguely drawn “nine-dash line” territorial claim that encompasses most of the South China Sea? As Admiral Harris put it, “the scope and pace of building man-made islands raise serious questions about China’s intentions.” 

How U.S. Navy Intel Sees China’s Maritime Forces.
“In its first unclassified report on the subject in six years, the Office of Naval Intelligence depicts a powerful trajectory for China’s maritime forces. Titled “The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century,” the document and accompanying videos also cover the China Coast Guard—precisely the right approach, since the world’s largest blue water civil maritime fleet serves as “China’s Second Navy” and is on the front lines of island and maritime “rights protection” in the East and South China Seas. This focus on both the PLA Navy (PLAN) and the China Coast Guard is also especially appropriate given their role as the principal institutions charged with furthering regional sovereignty claims. The PLAN is also responsible for safeguarding Chinese interests much farther afield, and is gradually developing power projection capabilities to do so. Looking towards 2020, the Office of Naval Intelligence sees China’s maritime forces on a trajectory of major improvement through hardware acquisition and accrual of operational proficiency. Chinese shipbuilding capabilities and resources allow both forces to replace old ships with new, far more capable ones. Last year alone, China’s navy laid, launched, or commissioned more than 60 vessels; the report expects a similar figure for 2015. More naval ships emerged from Chinese shipyards than from those of any other country in 2013 and 2014. The Office of Naval Intelligence expects China to lead in naval ship launching in 2015 and 2016 as well. Chinese naval development remains more a quality improvement swap than a Soviet-style numerical buildup. PLAN ships include 26 destroyers, 52 frigates, 20 corvettes, 85 missile patrol craft, 56 amphibious vessels, 42 mine warfare ships, more than 50 major auxiliaries, and more than 400 minor auxiliaries. Beyond the numbers, though, what is most noteworthy is (1) the increasing number of vessels with multi-mission capabilities and their ability to operate both near to and far from China, and (2) growing numbers of specialized ships. Examples of geographic versatility include four-and-counting Yuzhao-class landing platform docks. They can support South China Sea island seizures and potentially even overseas expeditionary warfare. In other revelations, the Office of Naval Intelligence explains that China can deploy heretofore publicly-unknown remote-controllable Wonang-class inshore minesweepers. China has four Dongdiao-class intelligence collection ships, which support growing surveillance operations in the Western Pacific. Three cutting-edge Dalao-class submarine rescue ships augment Chinese undersea warfare ability, which is relatively strong in the proximate waters that China cares most about.” 

China is Rapidly Adding Coast Guard Ships, U.S. Navy Says.
“ China is rapidly building Coast Guard ships, the vessels that China most commonly uses for patrols in the South China Sea, and in the last three years has increased the number of ships in that category 25 percent, a new report by the United States Navy says. China has the world’s largest Coast Guard fleet, with more such ships than its neighbors Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines combined, the report shows. The unclassified assessment of the Chinese Navy, the first in nine years by the United States Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence, says the rapid modernization over the last 15 years is yielding dramatic results. The Chinese Navy is “on track to dramatically increase its combat capability by 2020 through rapid acquisition and improved operational proficiency,” the report says. In 2014, China began construction on, launched or commissioned more than 60 vessels, and a similar number of ships were planned in 2015, it said, adding: “In 2013 and 2014, China launched more naval ships than any other country and is expected to continue this trend through 2015-16.” The United States Navy faces growing competition from China in the Pacific Ocean, and Washington has become increasingly concerned about China’s maritime power as it undertakes massive reclamation works to create artificial islands in contested areas of the South China Sea. The new islands were to serve a variety of purposes, among them the establishment of defensive military capabilities in the waterway, one of the busiest trade routes in the world, China’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday. The Navy report noted that despite its slowing economy, China had continued its double-digit increases in military spending, announcing in March a military budget of $141.5 billion, a rise of 10 percent. In keeping with President Xi Jinping’s goal to make China a great maritime power, China will have a much more robust navy with far greater reach in the coming decade with multiple aircraft carriers (China has only one so far), ballistic missile submarines and, potentially, a large-deck amphibious ship. At the moment, the report says, the Chinese Navy is built around destroyers, frigates and conventional submarines.” 

China is Said to Use Powerful New Weapon to Censor Internet.
“Late last month, China began flooding American websites with a barrage of Internet traffic in an apparent effort to take out services that allow China’s Internet users to view websites otherwise blocked in the country. Initial security reports suggested that China had crippled the services by exploiting its own Internet filter — known as the Great Firewall — to redirect overwhelming amounts of traffic to its targets. Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Toronto say China did not use the Great Firewall after all, but rather a powerful new weapon that they are calling the Great Cannon. The Great Cannon, the researchers said in a report published Friday, allows China to intercept foreign web traffic as it flows to Chinese websites, inject malicious code and repurpose the traffic as Beijing sees fit. The system was used, they said, to intercept web and advertising traffic intended for Baidu — China’s biggest search engine company — and fire it at GitHub, a popular site for programmers, and, a nonprofit that runs mirror images of sites that are blocked inside China. The attacks against the services continued on Thursday, the researchers said, even though both sites appeared to be operating normally. But the researchers suggested that the system could have more powerful capabilities. With a few tweaks, the Great Cannon could be used to spy on anyone who happens to fetch content hosted on a Chinese computer, even by visiting a non-Chinese website that contains Chinese advertising content. “The operational deployment of the Great Cannon represents a significant escalation in state-level information control,” the researchers said in their report. It is, they said, “the normalization of widespread and public use of an attack tool to enforce censorship.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 07, 2015

Should America Really Fear China’s Military? “China’s military is growing in terms of raw power and basic power projection. Many of Beijing’s defense investments over the last two decades are aimed at limiting Washington’s ability to intervene in areas that China describes as being of “core interest.” But just how much should Washington worry about it? A good question, for sure. The answer, however, is as not as black and white as many might want it to be. And just how much should America prepare to duel with such anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) forces in the future? Let’s start with the obvious: While various A2/AD combat scenarios can paint a decidedly bleak picture for America and its allies in Asia in the event of a conflict with China, there are a number of reasons such a war will never come to pass in the first place. While large trade flows have not stopped conflicts in the past, with U.S.-Chinese bilateral trade now valued at over $550 billion and growing, this vital statistic would likely be an important factor in both sides’ strategic calculus on a path towards some sort of large-scale kinetic conflict. However, as history has shown us, the rise of a new regional great power with the potential to wield hegemonic dominance can spark a security competition, even war. This is one of the key reasons nations in the Asia-Pacific have looked to Washington to provide a hedge or a “buffer” against a rapidly rising China. One must also consider the simple fact that there have been many so-called “revolutions” in military affairs dating back to the beginning of human history. While China’s version of the A2/AD strategy boasts weapons that have headline-grabbing names, like “carrier-killer,” and are certainly cause for concern, one must look back to the past at how other nations have worked to negate potential changes in how wars are conducted and how new technologies impact modern warfare. One example is China’s DF-21D, the “carrier-killer” itself. The U.S. Navy has faced challenges to its dominance of the global commons at various times in the past. How will America deal with such a challenge this time around?” 

China Evacuates Foreign Nationals from Yemen.
“As Yemen grows increasingly dangerous following the start of Operation Decisive Storm, a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign against the Houthi rebels who have overrun large swathes of the country, several countries have initiated operations to evacuate their citizens from the increasingly unstable state. In an unprecedented move, the Chinese government dispatched a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy frigate to help evacuate 225 nationals from 10 countries. According to a report in Xinhua, citizens from Pakistan, Ethiopia, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Britain, Canada and Yemen were evacuated aboard the Type 054A Linyi frigate. Chinese military officials confirmed that this was the first time that a Chinese military vessel evacuated non-Chinese citizens in a humanitarian assistance mission. Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying confirmed China’s involvement in the evacuation efforts: On April 2, the Linyi frigate of the Chinese navy, carrying 225 nationals of 10 countries in Yemen including Pakistan, departed from the port of Aden in Yemen and arrived in Djibouti safely. Initial calculation shows that among the evacuees, 176 are from Pakistan, 29 from Ethiopia, 5 from Singapore, 3 from Italy, 3 from Germany, 4 from Poland, 1 from Ireland, 2 from the UK, 1 from Canada and 1 from Yemen. This operation follows China’s evacuation of its own nationals from Yemen, in which 8 foreigners from Romania, India and Egypt were also safely evacuated along with Chinese citizens. The evacuated citizens were ferried across the Gulf of Aden, a regular area of operation for Chinese vessels involved in anti-piracy operations, to the small African nation of Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa. Amid the Linyi‘s evacuation efforts, the Associated Press reports that China dispatched an additional naval squadron to the Gulf of Aden to conduct anti-piracy patrols. The squadron comprises “three ships with their 800 sailors and a team of special forces soldiers.” Earlier in the week, China’s Weifang missile frigate and Weishanhu supply vessel evacuated 449 Chinese citizens and six non-Chinese employed by Chinese companies from Yemen’s Hodeidah port to Djibouti, according to Xinhua. Overall, as the conflict escalates in Yemen between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis, China’s navy remains ever-present off the coast.” 

China Deports American Jailed on Spy Charges.
“An American geologist who was imprisoned for more than seven years on a vague charge of “illegally procuring state secrets” has been deported by China and arrived home in Houston on Friday, according to a human rights organization in the United States. Senior American officials, including President Obama and three American ambassadors to China, had for years urged top Chinese Communist Party and government officials to release the American, Xue Feng. But China showed little leniency, and Mr. Xue served all but 10 months of his eight-year prison sentence. Through most of the past decade, Mr. Xue’s case has been a frustrating one for the American government and has been cited by human rights groups as an example of the vagaries of the Chinese legal system. The fact that the Chinese government refused to release Mr. Xue ahead of or during Mr. Obama’s visit to Beijing in November 2009 despite intense behind-the-scenes diplomatic talks revealed at the time how little leverage the United States has had in recent years in human rights advocacy in China. Mr. Obama personally lobbied for Mr. Xue’s release during the visit, to no avail. The case also underscored China’s unwillingness, in legal proceedings, to recognize the status of Chinese who have given up their Chinese citizenship and become citizens elsewhere. Mr. Xue was born in China but was a naturalized American citizen and had lived in the United States since earning a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. Other Chinese-born Americans, including Hu Zhicheng, an automotive engineer, have suffered similar fates as Mr. Xue. At the time of Mr. Xue’s release, no other American was serving a prison sentence for endangering state security, according to the human rights organization, the Dui Hua Foundation, which is based in San Francisco and often works for the release of political prisoners. In November 2012, Chinese officials granted Mr. Xue a 10-month reduction in his sentence for good behavior. He was first detained in Beijing on Nov. 20, 2007, and placed in a detention center under the watch of the Ministry of State Security, which oversees espionage and counterespionage matters. This status, “residential surveillance,” lasted for more than one year and was not counted in the eight-year sentence, Dui Hua said. Mr. Xue was formally detained in February 2008, tried in July 2009 and then sentenced on July 7, 2010. His years in formal detention before the sentencing were counted in the time served, as is normally the case in China.” 

Key China Paper Calls Hong Kong Elections People’s ‘Ardent Expectation’.
“The 2017 election for Hong Kong's chief executive is the "ardent expectation" of the Chinese territory's people and the only way for it to make progress on achieving democracy, a top China newspaper said on Saturday. China has ruled the former British colony since 1997 through a "one country, two systems" formula which allows wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland and specifies universal suffrage as an eventual goal. But the National People's Congress (NPC), China's largely rubber-stamp legislature, said last August it would screen candidates who want to run in the city's 2017 election for a chief executive. Democracy activists said this rendered the notion of universal suffrage meaningless. The NPC's ruling lead to weeks of protests in Hong Kong last year, some of which turned violent. Beijing has said repeatedly that there is no room for negotiation. In a front page commentary, the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily said that the election was an "important mission" under Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law. "Universal suffrage in accordance with the law for (choosing) the chief executive is the ardent expectation of mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong," the newspaper said. This is also the consistent position of the central Chinese and Hong Kong governments, it added. "Only if all Hong Kong residents strictly comply with the constitution and rules of the Basic Law, have a rational discussion on the basis of the Basic Law and the NPC's decision and agree to differ, can there certainly be historic progress on Hong Kong's democratic development," the paper said. China's parliament chief said last month that the ruling on screening candidates who want to be chosen as Hong Kong's top official in 2017 was the correct one, in a further signal Beijing has no intention of backing down. Frustration in Hong Kong with mainland tourists crowding into shopping centers has also sparked protests in malls across the territory.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | April 03, 2015

U.S. Misses Real Threat of China’s Fake Islands. “The Barack Obama administration has been very busy dealing with nuclear negotiations with Iran, a war against the Islamic State, a new conflict in Yemen and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Yet the understandable focus on these other crises has obscured China's efforts to speed up its militarization of the South China Sea. Now, Chinese progress has reached the point that senior Pentagon officials and Congressional leaders are demanding the administration do something about it. There is no shortage of evidence of China’s rapid buildup of infrastructure and armaments in disputed territory far from its physical borders. Satellite photos released last month show that in the past year, China has built several entirely new islands in disputed waters using land-reclamation technology, and then constructed military-friendly facilities on them. In the Spratly Islands, new Chinese land masses have been equipped with helipads and anti-aircraft towers, raising regional concerns that Beijing is using thinly veiled military coercion to establish control in an area where six Asian nations have claims. Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, sounded the alarm in a speech in Australia on Wednesday, calling the Chinese project “unprecedented” and saying that the construction is part of a larger campaign of provocative actions against smaller Asian states. "China is creating a 'Great Wall of Sand' with dredges and bulldozers over the course of months,” he warned, adding that it raised "serious questions about Chinese intentions." For example, satellite photos taken by Airbus Defence and Space and published by Jane's in February, show that over the past year China has built an 800,000-square-foot island on top of Hughes Reef in the Spratly Islands, where no island existed before. China also began a reclamation and construction project at nearby Gavin’s Reef. Both islands now have helipads and anti-aircraft towers. China has also expanded its already created islands on the Spratlys' Johnson South Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef and Fiery Cross Reef -- the last of which can accommodate an airstrip, according to the U.S. military. Harris said China has created more than 1.5 square miles of “artificial landmass” in the South China Sea. China’s claims are based on what’s known as the nine-dash line, which if implemented would grant China 90 percent of the entire Sea.” 

China Objects After Two U.S. F-18s Land in Taiwan.
“China protested on Thursday after two American jet fighters landed at an air base in Taiwan, which Beijing regards as its own territory, reportedly for the first time in 30 years. Two US F-18 fighter jets made an emergency landing at an air force base in the southern city of Tainan on Wednesday, with US authorities saying one of the planes had developed a mechanical failure. "We have launched solemn representations with the US," Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, told a regular briefing in Beijing. "We require the US to abide by the 'One-China Policy' and the three joint communiques between China and the US and to prudently deal with the relevant issue," she added, referring to agreements between the two that recognize Beijing as the sole government of China. Taiwanese media described the landing as the first of its kind since the mid-1980s and speculated that it could have been a US reaction to an unprecedented People's Liberation Army Air Force exercise over the western Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan. Several Chinese aircraft on Monday flew over the ocean for the first time via the Bashi Channel, which runs between Taiwan and the Philippines, Beijing's official Xinhua news agency said. Mark Zimmer, spokesman for the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) — the de facto US embassy — said the planes had been on a "routine flight" when one encountered a mechanical problem and requested an emergency landing. The incident "again highlights the close ties between Taiwan and the United States," according to Taiwanese MP and military expert Lin Yu-fang of the ruling Kuomintang party, who sits on the parliament's diplomacy and defense committee. The two planes were flying over waters east of Taiwan escorting an EA-6B Prowler, an electronic warfare aircraft, on its way to the Philippines, he said, citing government sources. "Taiwan must have been considered by the United States a trusted place to make the emergency landing," he told AFP. The US does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, but has strong economic links with it and is a key military supplier. Beijing regularly proclaims the importance of its "One China" policy, seeing Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, and often curtails the island's involvement in international agreements. The two split in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war, with defeated Nationalist forces retreating to the island as Mao Zedong's victorious Communists set up the People's Republic.” 

Stampede to Join China’s Development Bank Stuns Even Its Founder.
“The sudden rush to join China’s new Asian development bank by this week’s deadline, including last-minute applications by countries hardly considered Beijing’s best friends, astonished even the Chinese. Few in Beijing had believed that Taiwan, still considered a breakaway territory by China, would want in. Same for Norway, whose relations with the Chinese have been chilly since its decision five years ago to award the Nobel Peace Prize to a dissident Chinese writer. But after the deadline, China announced that it had attracted 46 founding members for its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Among the surprises: While China had expected to be joined by its neighbors, the final tally of countries looking to participate included 14 advanced economies of the Group of 20, many of them, like Brazil, France and Germany, from outside Asia. “Such wide and warm support was unexpected,” said Jin Canrong, professor of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing. The last-minute surge to join the bank was considered a major victory for China in a rare public showdown with the United States, which opposed the bank, as the two powers try to outmaneuver each other for influence in Asia. It was also a recognition of economic reality. China has deep pockets, and the institutions backed by the United States have not met the growing demands for roads, railroads and pipelines in Asia. American officials seem to see the new institution as an effort to undercut the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, international financial institutions dominated by the United States and Japan. Obama administration officials have also expressed concern that the new bank, under China’s leadership, would ignore lending protections created to ensure, for instance, that vulnerable populations are not pushed from their land in the rush for development.” 

Tibet Party Boss Says Temples Must Be Propaganda Centers.
“Buddhist temples and monasteries in Tibet must become propaganda centers for the ruling Communist Party, where monks and nuns learn to "revere" science and appreciate the party's love, the troubled region's top Chinese appointed official said. Rights groups and exiles say the officially atheist party tramples on Tibetans' religious and cultural traditions and seeks to co-opt religious figures for its own ends. China, which "peacefully liberated" Tibet in 1950, says it guarantees freedom of religion and its rule ended serfdom and brought development to a backward, poverty-stricken region. Writing in the influential fortnightly party magazine Qiushi, Tibet's Communist Party boss Chen Quanguo said the more than 1,700 temples and monasteries and 46,000 monks and nuns had to be seen by the government as "friends". "Let the monks and nuns in the temples and monasteries have a personal feeling of the party and government's care and warmth; let them feel the party's benevolence, listen to the party's words and follow the party's path," Chen wrote in Qiushi, which means "seeking truth". He called for temples and monasteries in the region to be outfitted with radios and televisions, as well as newspapers and reading rooms. "Monks and nuns should not have to go out of their temples or monasteries to understand the party and government's policies and social progress, or Tibet's peace, stability and good fortune, so as to be guided to follow a path of revering scientific culture." Subscribers received the latest issue of the magazine on Friday. Chen has struck a similar line before, writing in late 2013 that Chinese officials in Tibet must build an "impenetrable defense" against separatism and befriend monks and nuns, who are generally revered by the devoutly Buddhist Tibetans.” 

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