China Caucus Blog

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 16, 2014

China Withdraws Oil Rig From Waters Disputed With Vietnam, But Warns It Could Return. “China said it was towing away a giant oil rig from waters disputed with Vietnam on Wednesday, ahead of the onset of the typhoon season and after finding signs of oil and gas, but insisted it stood firm on maritime claims that have sparked a bitter dispute between the neighboring countries — and warned it could be back. China deployed the $1 billion rig in early May in waters close to the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, in waters Vietnam considers to be within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. That move sparked deadly riots in Vietnam, and a tense standoff in the waters themselves, with Vietnamese and Chinese ships ramming each other on a regular basis, and one Vietnamese fishing boat sunk in May. China occupies the disputed Paracel Islands, and says it has “historical claims” to around 90 percent of the South China Sea, including waters much closer to other nations, but has refused to submit those claims to international arbitration. China’s assertion of its maritime claims in the South and East China Seas has provoked a significant deterioration in relations with the United States, which counts many of the rival claimants to the waters as allies and friends.”

In Disputed Sea, Vietnam and China Play High-Stakes Cat and Mouse.
“Crewmen in blue camouflage uniforms pour out onto the deck of a Vietnamese coastguard ship as an imposing Chinese vessel guarding a giant oil rig gives chase, gathering steam by the second.  A plume of smoke billows out as the engines of the Vietnamese ship rev up. A message of warning in Chinese language blares out across a loudspeaker. "You must remove all vessels immediately. This is the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam," it says. The Vietnamese ship and several others on either side begin to retreat.  "Withdraw your ships and remove the Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig."  A group of Chinese ships join the pursuit, peeling away from a flotilla of about two-dozen vessels surrounding HD-981, the $1 billion rig that China deployed without notice in early May, triggering the worst breakdown in ties between the communist neighbours in three decades.  Vietnam says this stretch of the South China Sea is in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and accuses China of bullying and trying to ram Vietnamese fishing vessels in the potentially energy-rich waters.  Vietnamese coastguard ship 8003, with a small group of foreign journalists on board, came within 10 nautical miles of the rig on Tuesday, but that was as far as it was willing to go. And it lingered for just half an hour.  It is a cat-and-mouse game that has been going on for two months and the crew of CG 8003 has seen it all before. Outnumbered and out-gunned, they turn back and the Chinese ships eventually give up their chase.”

The Case for U.S. Arms Sales to Vietnam.
“When Beijing built a deep-sea drilling platform squarely in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone earlier this summer, it once again flouted widely accepted rules and sought to extend its reach far into the South China Sea. Washington and its Asian partners are struggling to calibrate an appropriate response. The United States has an interest in resisting Chinese coercion in the Pacific and in bolstering the open, rules-based regional system that has permitted Asian economies to flourish. But with China defending its platform with patrol circles of military, coast guard and fishing vessels, the danger of escalation is clear. Ramming enemy ships is a common tactic, and one Vietnamese fishing vessel has already been sunk. How should the U.S. respond to China's coercive efforts in an effective and measured way?  One answer lies in relations with Vietnam. Vietnam's capacity to resist creeping assertions of sovereignty is outmatched by Beijing's superior might. While Washington and Hanoi have taken modest steps to normalize military relations through joint exercises and strategic dialogue, the U.S. should take additional steps to bolster Vietnam's ability to defend itself. Most importantly, the U.S. should lift the existing ban on lethal arms sales to Vietnam.  The scope and sort of direct U.S. military support to Vietnam should be linked to demonstrable improvements in human rights. It should also be limited to the types of defense articles that are most useful in deterring external coercion, such as maritime domain awareness systems, frigates and other vessels, and anti-ship weapons. Given Hanoi's record of domestic repression, Washington should exclude from any sales the types of weapons that can be used for domestic security purposes.”

U.S. Admiral in China For Top-Level Navy Talks.
“The chief of the US Navy met his Chinese counterpart Tuesday for talks aimed at improving cooperation between their fleets following concerns over regional territorial disputes and potential armed conflict. Adm. Wu Shengli, commander in chief of China’s navy, welcomed Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the US chief of naval operations, with a red-carpet ceremony and an honor guard at his headquarters in Beijing. They did not speak to reporters but a US Navy official said the visit was meant to “look at ways to increase the cooperation between our navies.” It was the two men’s “fourth interaction” over about the past year, he said, adding: “It obviously improves our understanding of each other also.” Greenert’s trip is set to last until Friday and will include a visit to China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. Tensions are mounting over maritime disputes in the East China Sea between Beijing and Tokyo, as well as in the South China Sea between Beijing and Hanoi, Manila and others. The official, who demanded anonymity, said it was “hard to say” if specific instances of regional tensions would come up in the talks. “Those things exist but the intent of these meetings is to look at ways that we can work better together so we can improve the understanding between our navies,” the official said.”

Chinese Hackers Extending Reach to Smaller U.S. Agencies, Officials Say.
“After years of cyberattacks on the networks of high-profile government targets like the Pentagon, Chinese hackers appear to have turned their attention to far more obscure federal agencies. Law enforcement and cybersecurity analysts in March detected intrusions on the computer networks of the Government Printing Office and the Government Accountability Office, senior American officials said this week. The printing office catalogs and publishes information for the White House, Congress and many federal departments and agencies. It also prints passports for the State Department. The accountability office, known as the congressional watchdog, investigates federal spending and the effectiveness of government programs. The attacks occurred around the same time Chinese hackers breached the networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which houses the personal information of all federal employees and more detailed information on tens of thousands of employees who have applied for top-secret security clearances. Some of those networks were so out of date that the hackers seemed confused about how to navigate them, officials said. But the intrusions puzzled American officials because hackers have usually targeted offices that have far more classified information.”

The Implications of China’s Anti-Corruption Drive.
“Clean, transparent government is a basic tenet of Western political liberalism, so we are naturally inclined to support government reform efforts elsewhere. But in the case of the People’s Republic of China, should we be rooting for Xi Jinping’s version of an anti-corruption campaign to succeed, or to fail, in its intended purposes? Or should we hope it succeeds spectacularly in ways not intended by Communist Party leaders, as glastnost and perestroika did under Mikhail Gorbachev? Xi’s campaign is designed to accomplish multiple Party objectives, none of which necessarily serve Western interests in regional peace and stability. His first goal is to expand and consolidate his personal power over any challengers in China’s political and military bureaucracies. Targeting political rivals as financial miscreants, bribe-takers, or power-abusers is a time-tested way of dealing with them (and not just in China). Would a more powerful and potentially more autocratic Xi be more or less likely to confront the West? Given the aggressive predilections he has demonstrated since taking China’s helm, there is little reason to be sanguine about a further accretion of Xi’s political, and military, power. The broader aim of the current crackdown – as with past efforts – is to refurbish the tarnished image of the CCP and restore some of its lost legitimacy as the moral guardian of the Chinese people. Communist ideology has long ceased to motivate ordinary Chinese, or even many Party leaders. Instead, they rely on economic success – ostensibly distributed fairly across society – and their default position: enhanced military power and virulent nationalism against the United States and Japan. The economic fairness pillar of domestic legitimacy has been crumbling in recent decades. The nation’s remarkable growth in wealth, combined with the CCP’s ongoing monopoly on power and opaque governance, has spawned massive corruption at all levels of political and military authority. Every year, China experiences almost 200,000 public protests against land seizures, environmental degradation, bribery, and other official misconduct.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 15, 2014

Asian Nations’ Fears of War Elevated as China Flexes Muscle, Study Finds. “Large majorities in many Asian countries fear that China's territorial ambitions could lead to war, according to the Pew Research Center, in a finding with implications for U.S. foreign policy in a region that increasingly looks to America for protection. A widespread worry that military conflict over territorial disputes may disrupt the region is among the findings of a public-opinion survey of 44 countries by the Washington-based Pew. Another global trend is building opposition to U.S. eavesdropping following revelations of spying by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. U.S. drone strikes also elicit strong misgivings. However, those controversies don't appear to have done too much damage to America's generally positive global image, outside the Muslim world, the Pew report said. The survey, conducted from March to June, comes after China has muscularly pressed its claims over disputed islands, sending ships, planes and, in one case, an oil rig into areas held or contested by several neighbors. Fears of armed conflict are at high levels among those countries locked in these standoffs with China, according to responses to a question introduced this year in Pew's spring survey of global attitudes. In the Philippines, 93% of respondents are concerned about an outbreak of hostilities. In Japan, the figure is 85%, and in Vietnam, 84%. Yet worries about China's threat to peace are almost as strong in South Korea, a close neighbor that has warm relations with China, where 83% of respondents fret about war. Even in China, 62% are anxious.”

Asia and 1914.
“One hundred years after the beginning of World War I, many Asians fear history is repeating itself. The source of concern is China's growing power and its demonstrated willingness to use that power coercively. While China's claims on Taiwan and the uncertainty about its long-term aims on the Korean peninsula remain key regional flashpoints, China has also turned its gaze to the South and East China Seas. So far this year, tensions have grown between China and Vietnam and China and the Philippines. But it is Sino-Japanese tensions that have the most potential for conflict. The two Southeast Asian nations are weak and can be coerced if the United States does not offer them its support. But Japan has both the strength and the will to stand up to Beijing on its own. What's more, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is showing real leadership in organizing a counter-balance to China's ambitions and assertions. It was Abe who evoked the 1914 parallel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year, stating that China and Japan must avoid the fate of Britain and Germany. The analogy is imperfect but astute. China's ambitions, particularly in the maritime sphere, bear some resemblance to those of the Kaiser's Germany. Like Germany then, China now feels bottled up by its rivals' navies, has increasing overseas interests to protect, and believes that great powers should have great navies.”

A Great War in the East China Sea: Why China and Japan Could Fight.
“Few people believe that either China or Japan would deliberately start a war in the East China Sea. Most analysts assume that an armed clash could only occur through accident, misunderstanding or unauthorized acts by junior officers acting without, or even against, orders. These are not remote possibilities, of course. They already make the risk of war dangerously high. But we underestimate how high that risk really is if we think this is the only way a war could begin. I think there is a real possibility that fighting might be started deliberately by one side or the other, and unless we understand the circumstances that might prompt that step from either side, we will not be able to take steps to avoid them. First, we must be clear that neither side is at all likely to deliberately start a fight over possession of the disputed islands themselves, or even of the resources that might lie around them. They are not worth a military conflict to anyone. But the dispute has never been about territory. The islands are simply tokens in a contest to define the roles and status of Asia’s great powers over coming decades. These are issues over which states might well choose to start a war. Let’s start with China. As I have argued elsewhere, China’s primary aim is to strengthen its leadership in Asia and undermine America’s. The best way to do that without confronting America too directly is to weaken the alliances and partnerships that underpin U.S. regional leadership. It therefore wants to persuade U.S. allies that Washington is no longer willing to stand up for them against the growing power of China. (Whether Beijing would be right to assume that without U.S. support they would more willingly accept Chinese leadership is a separate question, of course. As far as Japan is concerned, I think they are probably wrong, but that is a separate issue.)”

China Tells U.S. to Stay Out of South China Seas Dispute.
“China told the United States on Tuesday to stay out of disputes over the South China Sea and leave countries in the region to resolve problems themselves, after Washington said it wanted a freeze on stoking tension. Michael Fuchs, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Strategy and Multilateral Affairs, said no country was solely responsible for escalating tension in the region. But he reiterated the U.S. view that "provocative and unilateral" behaviour by China had raised questions about its willingness to abide by international law. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to contain oil and gas deposits and has rich fishery resources. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the sea, where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year.  China's Foreign Ministry repeated that it had irrefutable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, where most of the competing claims overlap, and that China continued to demand the immediate withdrawal of personnel and equipment of countries which were "illegally occupying" China's islands. "What is regretful is that certain countries have in recent years have strengthened their illegal presence through construction and increased arms build up," the ministry said in a statement. China would resolutely protect its sovereignty and maritime rights and had always upheld resolving the issue based on direct talks with the countries involved "on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law", it added.”

China Invites India’s Modi for APEC Summit But Rivalry Simmers.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping invited India on Tuesday to attend a summit of the APEC trade group in November, sending a message of cooperation during the first meeting between the new leaders of the world's most populous countries. But behind the smiles at Xi's 80-minute meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Brazil, India's rivalry with its powerful neighbor bubbled up as the two nations argued over who would host the headquarters of a proposed BRICS joint development bank. Xi and Modi met soon after their arrival at a summit of the BRICS group of emerging powers. Xi said the two countries should join hands in setting global rules and suggested he attend the November meeting of the 21-nation APEC in Beijing, as well as take part in Chinese-led regional initiatives. India has never attended an APEC summit, and has long sought to become a member to help boost its economy. The bonhomie was partially overshadowed by news that the BRICS groups - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - had not yet decided on where to locate the headquarters of the development bank they were expected to launch on Tuesday. The frontrunners to host the bank have been China and India.  "It will be every country's desire, and so will it be India's, to have it in India, because Delhi or any city in India has its natural advantages, English-speaking, very skilled manpower, and if you look at the geographical position of all the BRICS countries, the five of them, India is very centrally located," Nirmala Sitharaman, India's trade minister, and part of Modi's entourage in Brazil, told TV network Times Now.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 14, 2014

China’s Top Paper Says No Place For A ‘New Cold War’ With U.S. “China and the United States must avoid a "new cold war" in their international relations, China's top newspaper said on Saturday, in the wake of high level talks in Beijing between senior leaders of the world's two largest economies. China and the United States agreed on Thursday to boost military ties and counter-terrorism cooperation during annual talks in Beijing, but there was little immediate sign of progress on thorny cyber-security or maritime issues. "Both China and the United States realize that today's world has already undergone profound changes, and there is no longer a market for a "new cold war", the People's Daily, the ruling communist party's official paper, said in a commentary. It was published under the pen name "Zhong Sheng", meaning "Voice of China", often used to give views on foreign policy. The commentary said that the gravest risk to relations between the two countries was "misunderstanding", and called for both sides to strengthen channels of communication as they looked to shake off a "hazy" period of bilateral relations. The U.S. Department of Justice charged a Chinese businessman on Friday with hacking into the computer system of airplane maker Boeing Co and other companies to obtain data about military projects, the latest in a string of spying allegations between the two countries. The commentary added that complex Sino-U.S. ties were unlikely to get easier to manage any time soon. Positive steps would include boosting bilateral investment, deepening cooperation on environmental issues, strengthening military ties and making travel easier between the two countries.”

Japan Vows ‘Firm’ Response Should China Disrupt Order in Contested Waters.
“Japan's defense minister said Friday that Tokyo would "respond firmly" if China "disrupts the order" in waters contested by the two countries, taking a tough line as his country loosens long-standing restrictions on its military. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, speaking at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, stressed that Japan isn't seeking a confrontation with China, citing efforts to make a hotline between Tokyo and Beijing operational and improve maritime communication—an effort that China has put on hold amid rising tensions between the two nations. While Japan wishes to prevent confrontations that create "unintended situations," Mr. Onodera said Japan wouldn't ignore confrontations. He added Japan had made clear it won't accept an attempt to change the status quo in the region by force. China and Japan are locked in an escalating argument over control of disputed islands in the East China Sea. The U.S. has said it recognizes Japanese administration of the islands and the defense treaty with Tokyo covers them. "Our door is always open to dialogue," Mr. Onodera said. "But if against the background of force there is unilateral behavior that disrupts the order, we must respond firmly." Before his remarks, Mr. Onodera met at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The men discussed the efforts between Washington and Tokyo to revise the defense guidelines that govern the military interactions between the two countries to give Japan a greater role.”

How to Stop the Scary Slide in U.S.-China Ties.
The upbeat tone at the biannual bureaucratic gathering last week on U.S.-Chinese ties known as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) did not mask the troubling reality: the U.S.-Chinese relationship is more at risk than any other time since 1989, as Beijing’s assertive actions on disputed territories in the South China incrementally changes the status quo. And about the only certainty is that this elaborate bureaucratic exercise checked all the boxes on issues from climate change to currency manipulation, yet the relationship will continue its downward spiral. The core issue of whether the world’s two largest powers can find a modus vivendi remains unanswered. The trajectory of U.S.-Chinese relations—whether they become predominantly cooperative, predominantly competitive, or remain a mix of both indefinitely—will likely remain a key question around which much of the global order of the twenty-first century will revolve. And to a considerable degree, the answer to that question turns on whether a framework for strategic stability is possible. As was learned in August 1914, economic interdependence does not necessarily prevent nations from going to war. In part, an effort to avoid 1914 analogies, Beijing has recently been promoting the idea that the United States and China should forge a “new type of great-power relations,” an aspiration that President Obama embraced at the 2013 Sunnylands Summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, though it lacks any mutually agreed definition.”

China Develops Mature, Broad-Based UAV Sector.
“Over the past five years, China has built a formidable unmanned aircraft sector that has reached beyond traditional defense companies and displayed unique capabilities while also replicating advanced Western products, experts say. China “has gone out of its way to reach beyond conventional aircraft companies to encourage cruise missile makers, universities and model aircraft concerns to actively develop unmanned aircraft,” said Richard Fisher, senior fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center. One renowned UAV specialist receiving a lot of attention is Robert Michelson, principal research engineer emeritus at Georgia Tech Research Institute. Michelson is one of the rare experts who has served as an “International Referee” and “Innovation Forum” keynote speaker at China’s 2011 and 2013 UAV Grand Prix. Michelson said the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics organize the UAV Grand Prix. It was in 2011 that the event demonstrated a “stopped-rotor” vehicle by Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an, China. Earlier efforts to create such a vehicle in the US failed. During the 1980s, both the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA funded the Sikorsky X-Wing project, which involved a rigid helicopter rotor that could be stopped in flight to act as a wing, Michelson said. After significant expenditure, and never having demonstrated conversion from hover to forward flight and back, the X-wing project was canceled.”

Senate Frowns on China’s Behavior.
“The Senate passed a bipartisan resolution late Thursday aimed at altering China's behavior toward U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region, members announced Friday. “The United States is an Asia-Pacific nation and we have an abiding national security interest in the maintenance of regional stability, as recent events have demonstrated,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who co-sponsored the legislation. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.), condemns "coercive and threatening actions or the use of force to impede freedom of operations in international airspace by military or civilian aircraft, to alter the status quo or to destabilize the Asia-Pacific region."  The bill comes after a surprise decision by China in December to declare an Air Defense Identification Zone around China, which would require other nations flying through the zone to announce flights to China ahead of time. Pentagon officials opposed the move at the time, saying they did not receive advance notice. The bill urges China to refrain from implementing the defense zone, which includes airspace over the East China Sea where several nations, including Japan and Taiwan, have competing territorial claims. The legislation also urges all parties to refrain from "efforts to unlawfully assert administration over disputed claims." Menendez's statement said there have been a series of "alarming developments" over territorial dispute in the region, that have created real tension and the potential for conflict "that could easily spill over into a broader regional conflict." The bill also commends Japan and Korea — two U.S. defense treaty allies who opposed China's move — for their "restraint."

Reports: Taiwan Starts Using Drones To Spy on China.
“Taiwan has started using unmanned surveillance aircraft to spy on China to reduce the risk to its pilots from an increased deployment of Chinese missiles, media reported Sunday. The army in March commissioned a fleet of 32 unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, developed by the military-run Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology. Initially the drones, based in the eastern county of Taitung, were watching airspace in the east and south but lately they had extended their range to the Taiwan Strait, the Liberty Times said. “Now they can effectively monitor China’s military movements in the southeastern coastal area,” an unnamed senior officer at the defense ministry was quoted as saying. The paper said the operation has attracted interest from the United States which has been using the sophisticated high-altitude Global Hawk drone to collect military intelligence on China. The US raised the topic during a recent military exchange program with Taiwan, it said. Taiwan’s defense ministry declined to comment on the report. Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since President Ma Ying-jeou’s China-friendly administration came to power in 2008 on a platform of strengthening trade and tourism links. He was re-elected in January 2012.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 11, 2014

U.S., China Spar on Cyberspying, Maritime Issues Even As They Stress Cooperation. “The United States and China ended two days of talks Thursday, sparring over cyber-espionage and Asian maritime tensions but insisting that they are still actively cooperating on a broad range of other issues. Washington and Beijing have been trading complaints about cyberspying after accusations that Chinese military hackers were stealing trade secrets from American companies and Edward Snowden’s revelations of extensive U.S. spying on foreign governments. “The loss of intellectual property through cyber means has a very chilling effect on innovation and investment,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said at a news conference at the end of the sixth annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing. “I emphasized that incidents of cybertheft have harmed our businesses and threatened our nation’s competitiveness.” In May, the Justice Department charged five members of the Chinese military with cyber-espionage against U.S. firms. Beijing responded by calling off talks on cybersecurity. While the United States has been appealing for that dialogue to resume, China put the ball squarely back in Washington’s court Thursday. “Cyberspace should not become a tool for damaging the interests of other countries,” Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat, said. “China hopes the U.S. will create the conditions for the two sides to have a dialogue and cooperate on cyber issues.”

China Plays the South Korea Card.
“After Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to South Korea last week, "Beijingology" is in full swing. Analysts are trying to interpret the tea leaves of his visit. Is he showing anger toward North Korea? Driving a wedge between Japan and South Korea? Is he responding to U.S. pressure?  Such speculation is as unhelpful as it was during the dark days of the Cold War, when Americans studied Soviet leaders' every move in an attempt to understand their motives and goals, a strategy known as "Kremlinology." As with the Soviet Union, today's China is often a blank palimpsest to its readers, who impose whatever interpretation of Beijing's motives and goals suits them. The very existence of Beijingology is a healthy reminder that even as China has become the world's second largest economy, the Chinese Communist Party continues to control information and limits its cooperative relations with outside states. Still, analysts should refrain from reading too much into President Xi's trip to Seoul last week. They are undoubtedly right that Mr. Xi wants to use his relationship with South Korean President Park Geun-hye to further pressure and isolate Japan. Yet there is very likely a limit to how far Ms. Park will go in her outreach to China. Seoul remains committed to the U.S. alliance, in no small part because Washington is the only realistic counterweight to Beijing's growing strength.”

U.S. Republican Warns of ‘Death By A Thousand Cuts’ From China.
“The United States must respond more aggressively to China's territorial claims in Asia, an influential U.S. Republican said on Thursday, warning that failure to do so would bring "death by a thousand cuts." Mike Rogers, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' intelligence committee, said Washington should be less concerned with Chinese sensibilities when dealing with Beijing. The congressman's comments came as China and the United States concluded two days of talks in Beijing aimed at managing an increasingly complex and at times testy relationship. "We need to be more direct; we need to be more aggressive," he told a conference at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. "We need to empower our friends and our allies in the region to be more direct and more aggressive," he added in comments reflecting Republican frustration with Democratic President Barack Obama's cautious approach to China, a country that is both a strategic rival and major economic partner for the United States. Rogers said China was taking advantage of security distractions elsewhere in the world to pursue its territorial claims incrementally, at the expense of weaker neighbors. "It's really death by a thousand cuts ... when you start adding the totality of it and looking at those brewing clouds of conflict, this is as serious as it gets." Rogers accused China of "gluttonous, naked aggression" in pursuit of its territorial claims and said he expected to see as a response, "a serious escalation of our ability to expand cooperation" with U.S. allies and partners in Asia.”

Chinese Hackers Go After U.S. Workers’ Personal Data.
“Federal authorities are investigating a breach of the computer networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which stores detailed data on up to 5 million U.S. government employees and contractors who hold sensitive security clearances. Authorities have traced the intrusion to China, but it is not clear whether the hackers worked for the government, said a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. So far, no personal data appears to have been stolen, according to OPM spokeswoman Nathaly Arriola. A U.S. official said the data is encrypted. Arriola said that the OPM and the Department of Homeland Security were alerted to the breach in mid-March through an automated monitoring system. The intrusion apparently was detected early enough that a DHS computer emergency readiness team, working with the agency, was able to block the intruder and minimize the harm. The Chinese military has waged a persistent, more than decade-long cyber-campaign to steal all manner of information — from military weapons designs to proprietary data on advanced technologies to insight into government policies — from the computer networks of the U.S. government and its contractors as well as other from other western governments and companies.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 10, 2014

Kerry Presses China to Abide By Maritime Laws to Ease Tensions. “In a closed-door session at a high-level gathering of Chinese and American officials here on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry urged China to follow maritime law in nearby seas to reduce regional tensions, a senior American official said. Mr. Kerry called on China to support the creation of a legally binding code of conduct that other Asian nations are considering to enforce rules of navigation and inhibit unilateral actions in the South China and East China Seas, said the official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity under standard protocol. The secretary met with Yang Jiechi, a state councilor who deals with foreign policy, on the first day of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, an annual gathering of senior officials from both countries where differences on issues including national security, the economy, climate change and human rights are aired. “The secretary emphasized this is not a situation in which countries should or can be permitted simply to act unilaterally to advance their territorial claims or interests,” said the official, alluding to China’s dispatch of a huge oil rig to disputed waters off the coast of Vietnam in May and the virtual takeover in 2012 of a reef, the Scarborough Shoal, that is claimed by the Philippines. Mr. Kerry also said efforts to create a “new status quo” at the expense of regional harmony were “unacceptable,” the official said. Maneuvers by China to assert claims over islands and waters in the South China Sea, and to slow the efforts of a regional group, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to complete a code of conduct that would govern maritime rules have become a major point of friction between Washington and Beijing. The South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest trading routes.”

Xi Jinping and Mao’s Playbook.
“Beijing's high-profile anticorruption campaign is a tool for supreme leader Xi Jinping to remove his political opponents and consolidate power. That is the conventional wisdom among ordinary Chinese and Sinologists, and there is a certain amount of truth to it. But the purge has wider significance that suggests how the Communist Party reacts to stress by reverting to type. Many of the "tigers" punished so far have been targeted for one reason: They were allies of former Politburo Standing Committee Member Zhou Yongkang. Mr. Zhou was a key supporter of Bo Xilai, the boss of Chongqing who used populism to challenge Mr. Xi's faction for control of the Communist Party. Mr. Bo is now serving a life sentence for corruption, and Mr. Zhou hasn't been seen in public in nine months. Yet this anticorruption campaign has also been far more extensive than any in three decades. Respected Party elder Wang Qishan has expanded the operations of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, sending inspection teams to all regions. The crackdown on graft is so far-reaching that some bank analysts blame it for slowing the economy. The news is full of cadres who have committed suicide to avoid punishment. Even legitimate projects are on hold as officials figure it's safer to hunker down and do nothing. In other words, this movement looks more and more like a Mao-era rectification campaign. Those bouts of internal terror forced officials to biaotai, or make a public declaration of support for the Party line. Mr. Xi has also kicked off a "mass line campaign" in which officials are urged to boost their ties with the people and avoid the evil "four winds" of formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and waste.”

Japan Military Jets Scrambled Record 340 Times in April-June.
“Japan said Wednesday that its military scrambled fighter jets a record 340 times in the three months to June in response to feared intrusions on its airspace, as tensions grow with China. The Joint Staff of Japan Self-Defense Forces said, however, that around 70 percent of the jet launches were in response to Russian planes approaching Japanese airspace. The rest were scrambled in response to approaching Chinese planes, it said, adding that Japanese airspace was not violated on any of these occasions. The latest figure marked a sharp increase on the same quarter last year, when Japanese jets were scrambled 110 times. “The chief factor for the increase was the rise in (the number of launches) in response to Russian planes,” the military said, particularly along Japan’s northern coastline. “Scrambles were often against information-gathering planes from Russia and fighter jets from China.” Russia frequently dispatches jets near Japan, as the two nations continue to negotiate a territorial dispute dating back to World War II. Japan and China, meanwhile, are also locked in a bitter territorial row over islands in the East China Sea administered by Japan as the Senkaku Islands, but which China calls the Diaoyu Islands.”

China’s Xi Calls for Improved Ties With U.S.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Wednesday that confrontation between China and the U.S. would be a "disaster" for the world, as the two sides began high-level talks aimed at reversing a downturn in relations over the past year. The two countries must "break the old pattern of conflict and opposition between great powers," Mr. Xi said at the opening of the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing. "Cooperation between China and the U.S. can help both countries and the rest of the world accomplish great things," Mr. Xi told five of President Barack Obama's cabinet-level officials and a host of other senior U.S. administration officers. "Confrontation between the U.S. and China would be a disaster for both countries and the rest of the world," Mr. Xi said, speaking just over a year after his first presidential summit with Mr. Obama. This year's two-day talks aren't really about resolving long-running disputes over trade irritants and calming geopolitical hot spots, officials and analysts say. They are primarily about ensuring that the world's two largest economies don't fall headlong into hostile conflict, a dynamic that the last century proved can wreak global havoc. "Throughout history, there has been a pattern of strategic rivalry between rising and established powers," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said at the opening of the talks.”

Chinese Hackers Pursue Key Data on U.S. Workers.
“Chinese hackers in March broke into the computer networks of the United States government agency that houses the personal information of all federal employees, according to senior American officials. They appeared to be targeting the files on tens of thousands of employees who have applied for top-secret security clearances. The hackers gained access to some of the databases of the Office of Personnel Management before the federal authorities detected the threat and blocked them from the network, according to the officials. It is not yet clear how far the hackers penetrated the agency’s systems, in which applicants for security clearances list their foreign contacts, previous jobs and personal information like past drug use. In response to questions about the matter, a senior Department of Homeland Security official confirmed that the attack had occurred but said that “at this time,” neither the personnel agency nor Homeland Security had “identified any loss of personally identifiable information.” The official said an emergency response team was assigned “to assess and mitigate any risks identified.” One senior American official said that the attack was traced to China, though it was not clear if the hackers were part of the government. Its disclosure comes as a delegation of senior American officials, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, are in Beijing for the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the leading forum for discussion between the United States and China on their commercial relationships and their wary efforts to work together on economic and defense issues.”

China, U.S. to Boost Security Ties, But No Breakthroughs.
“China and the United States agreed on Thursday to boost military ties and counter-terrorism cooperation during high-level annual talks in Beijing, but there was little immediate sign of progress on thorny cyber-security or maritime issues. The two-day talks, led by Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for the United States and Vice Premier Wang Yang and top diplomat Yang Jiechi for China, were never expected to achieve great breakthroughs. The Strategic and Economic Dialogue, now in its fifth year, is more about managing an increasingly complex and at times testy relationship. After discussions on topics ranging from the value of China's currency to North Korea, Yang said the two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in counter-terrorism, law enforcement and military-to-military relations. He gave few details. On two of the most sensitive issues - maritime disputes and cyber-spying - Yang largely restated Beijing's position on both. "The Chinese side will continue to steadfastly protect its territorial and maritime rights" in the South and East China Seas, Yang told reporters as the talks wrapped up. "China urged the U.S. side to adopt an objective and impartial stance and abide by its promise to not take sides and play a constructive role in safeguarding regional peace and stability."

Dissidents and Diplomacy in Beijing.
“John Kerry and other senior U.S. officials are in Beijing this week for the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which involves private jousting over matters such as currency policy and cyberespionage, along with public diplomacy such as Tuesday's tour of the Great Wall. Unfortunately not on the agenda: a U.S. visit to the Beijing home of ailing artist Liu Xia, who is under illegal house arrest for the apparent crime of being married to imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.  Since being cut off from outside contact in October 2010—alone in her one-bedroom apartment without access to mail, email or the phone—Ms. Liu, 53, has battled severe depression and in February suffered a heart attack, for which she initially received one day's treatment in hospital. Yet Beijing insists that she is under "no legal restriction." If so, U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus or another diplomat should be able to visit her. Once a month Ms. Liu is allowed to travel—with security agents—to see her husband at Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province, some 300 miles from Beijing, where he is serving an 11-year sentence for "subversion." A professor and literary critic, he has been in custody since 2008, when he was the lead author of the democracy manifesto Charter 08. Last year Ms. Liu's brother also was sentenced to 11 years in prison, in his case on trumped-up charges of tax fraud.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 09, 2014

U.S., China Try to Emphasize Potential For Cooperation. “The United States and China said they were determined to avoid conflict and maintain peace between their nations, despite deep differences over maritime security and mutual recriminations over cyber-espionage, as high-level annual talks between the two governments began on Wednesday. Relations between the United States and China have been on a downward spiral this year, but both sides opened the sixth round of the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing trying to calm fears they would allow a further deterioration in ties, and stressing the potential for cooperation on a broad range of issues from climate change to counter-terrorism. “Confrontation between China and the United States would definitely spell disaster for the two countries and for the wider world,” Chinese President Xi Jinping told delegates as he opened the two-day talks, adding that the two countries needed to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, strengthen their dialogue and promote cooperation. “The immense sea allows fish to leap at liberty, the vast sky lets birds fly freely,” he said. “The broad Pacific Ocean has ample space to accommodate our two great nations.” The talks took place in the same complex of villas — set among lush lawns, trees and water courses in western Beijing — where then U.S. President Richard Nixon met Chinese leader Mao Zedong on a historic visit in 1972. Secretary of State John Kerry said the two countries had a profound stake in each other’s success, but needed actions — not words — if they were to avoid tension. History had often seen strategic rivalry between an established power and an emerging power, he said, but added that such rivalry was not pre-ordained.”

Chinese Leader’s One-Man Show Complicates Diplomacy.
“As Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, joined by a large group of American officials, met with senior Chinese leaders here on Wednesday, they faced an American-Chinese relationship rived by a strategic rivalry not seen before, a situation that neither side appears in the mood to improve. Complicating matters is the one-man leadership style of President Xi Jinping, who appears to make the big decisions on national security — meant to challenge American primacy in the Asia-Pacific region and establish a China-centric alternative — without much consultation with others, Chinese and American experts say. China’s push against two of America’s major allies, Japan and South Korea; its thrust into the South China Sea, which threatens freedom of navigation; and the sudden imposition of an air defense zone near Japan all reflect Mr. Xi’s thinking about China’s rightful place in Asia, analysts say. Both China and the United States have set low expectations for progress on the issues scheduled to be discussed at the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, intended as a setting for the two sides to hash out difficult topics. Mr. Xi opened the dialogue with a speech that stressed the positive, saying China and the United States had more common interests than differences. He also emphasized China’s economic and military strength. "The vast Pacific Ocean has ample space to accommodate two great nations," he said, suggesting as he has previously that China would play a much bigger role in the Pacific.”

From Mountains, Island, Secret Town, China’s Electronic Spy Shop Watches.
“From mountains near Beijing, China's version of the U.S. National Security Agency monitors Russia and tracks missiles. Its military experts analyze Internet phone calls on an island dubbed China's Hawaii, and it eavesdrops on Europe from a secret town hidden behind an array of residential towers. Using Chinese government websites, academic databases and foreign security expertise, The Wall Street Journal assembled an overview of some secret operations of China's global monitoring organization, the Third Department of the People's Liberation Army's General Staff Department. Spy-watchers call it 3PLA and say it is central to China's military strategy, tasked with monitoring and analyzing much of the world's communications—including embassy cables, corporate emails and criminal networks—for foreign threats and competitive advantages. The organization maintains what active and former U.S. officials say are facilities around Shanghai specialized in watching the U.S.—one of them located close to the main transoceanic communications cables linking China to the U.S. Those activities were highlighted in May, when the Justice Department indicted five officers of 3PLA on charges they stole U.S. corporate secrets.  As Beijing modernizes its high-tech defensive arsenal, the Journal backed up on-the-ground views of 3PLA facilities with an examination of the organizational structure of the NSA-like military department, which increasingly rattles governments and corporations around the world while remaining obscure outside security circles.”

Report Reveals Chinese Military Developing New Scramjet-Powered Hypersonic Missile.
“China’s military is working on a jet-powered hypersonic cruise missile in addition to an advanced high-speed glide warhead that was tested earlier this year. A Chinese technical journal disclosed new details of research on what China’s defense researchers are calling a hypersonic cruise vehicle. A line drawing of the scramjet-powered vehicle shows that the concept being studied for eventual construction is nearly identical to an experimental National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scramjet vehicle called the X-43. Publication of details of work on the powered hypersonic cruise vehicle indicates China is pursuing a second type of ultra-fast maneuvering missile capable of traveling at speeds of up to Mach 10—nearly 8,000 miles per hour. Such speeds create huge technical challenges for weapons designers because of the strain on materials and the difficulty of control at high velocities. Large numbers of Chinese military writings in recent years have focused on hypersonic flight. However, few have addressed scramjet powered hypersonic flight.”

Why Are Chinese Cyberspies Targeting US Think Tanks?
“On Tuesday, reports emerged that U.S. Middle East experts at major U.S. think tanks had been hacked by a Chinese cyperespionage group with links to the Chinese government. The hacker group, known as “DEEP PANDA” by security researchers, left few clues as to why specifically it targeted these U.S. targets, but it is likely that the incident could overshadow the looming U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Cyber issues are coming to the fore in U.S.-China relations and the U.S. government is growing increasingly wary of government-sponsored cyberespionage originating from China. According to the Washington Post’s report on the incident, the “latest breach follows a pattern identified by experts of Chinese cyberspies targeting major Washington institutions, including think tanks and law firms.” Following this breach, we are left to speculate on the motive. Security researcher Dmitri Alperovitch, cited by the Post notes that his firm noticed a “radical” change in DEEP PANDA’s activity on June 18, “the same day witnesses reported that Sunni extremists seized Iraq’s largest oil refinery.” Although Alperovitch did not disclose specifically which experts or think tanks were affected, the motive prima facie appears to be interest in learning what U.S. experts know about the ongoing situation in Iraq. The hackers may have been attempting to gain access to to non-public information that these experts were privy to. Additionally, for these hackers, targeting a think tank might make more sense than targeting the U.S. government because the latter would be more sensitive to noticing a breach. As the Post notes, China’s risk exposure in Iraq is relatively large. Chinese state-owned enterprises and private investors have around $14.5 billion invested in Iraq. Furthermore, 8 percent of all Chinese crude oil imports originate in Iraqi oil fields. Given this, China has significant motive to navigate the ongoing crisis in Iraq with care.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 08, 2014

China’s Rise and Asian Tensions Send U.S. Relations Into Downward Spiral. “Hundreds of rocky islands, islets, sandbanks, reefs and cays lie scattered across Asia’s eastern waters, unimportant-looking to the naked eye but significant enough to spark what may be the most worrying deterioration in U.S.-China relations in decades. China’s military rise, and its increasingly assertive claims to sovereignty over these largely uninhabited lumps of rock, coral and sand, have set it on a possible collision course with its neighbors, which also make various claims on the archipelagos, and with the United States, which has important alliances with three of the rival claimants and would be obliged to defend them in the event of an attack. As Chinese and Vietnamese ships ram each other in the contested waters, and Chinese and Japanese fighter jets play games of chicken in Asia’s disputed skies, the risk of military escalation is growing. Even more significantly, the standoff is generating bad blood between Washington and Beijing and could torpedo cooperation on important global issues, including the Middle East, climate change and nuclear proliferation. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will visit Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday for the sixth annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue. And while Washington has been focused more on Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and Russia, some say the U.S.-China relationship is facing its stiffest test since President Richard M. Nixon traveled to Mao Zedong’s China in 1972.”

U.S. Seeks To Salvage Dialogue With China At Beijing Summit.
“The U.S. and China will try to reset an increasingly strained relationship when senior officials meet in Beijing this week for talks on strategic and economic issues on which they have made scant progress over the past 12 months. This time last year, Chinese and U.S. officials were hailing a new era of cooperative bilateral relations based on the personal rapport struck between Xi Jinping and Barack Obama at their first presidential summit in California in June 2013. At this year's Strategic and Economic Dialogue on Wednesday and Thursday, neither side is anticipating progress on the core security issues of cybertheft, North Korea's nuclear program and Asian maritime disputes. Nor are the annual talks expected to produce major breakthroughs on economic matters, such as market access and the value of the Chinese currency, officials said, though some expect a step forward in talks on a bilateral investment treaty. Rather, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and a phalanx of lieutenants will make the trip to Beijing to try to prevent the relationship from deteriorating further, officials said. The hope on both sides, they said, is that they can stabilize ties in time for a meeting between Presidents Xi and Obama at a summit of leaders from the Asian-Pacific region in Beijing in November. "There seems to be a downward spiral in the relationship," said David Dollar, a former Treasury representative in Beijing, who has worked on the dialogue in the past. "The S&ED talks could halt that downward spiral."

Cyber Spying, Maritime Disputes Loom Large in U.S.-China Talks.
“The United States will press China to resume cooperation on fighting cyber espionage to ensure an orderly cyber environment, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday ahead of annual talks between the world's two largest economies this week. The talks, which start on Wednesday, will be led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, likely taking in China's currency, North Korea's nuclear program and escalating tensions between China and neighbors in the South China Sea and with Japan in the East China Sea. Charges over hacking and Internet spying have increased tensions between the two countries. In May, Washington charged five Chinese military officers with hacking U.S. companies, prompting Beijing to suspend a Sino-U.S. working group on cyber issues. China has denied wrongdoing. "We share an interest in a secure and predictable and orderly cyber environment," said one senior U.S. administration official, who briefed reporters en route to Beijing for the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue. "We see the bilateral U.S.-China working group as an important forum and vehicle for fulfilling our responsibilities and for making progress, so we certainly would like to see the earliest practical resumption of that forum." A second U.S. official added: "One of the fundamental differences is on this question of the acceptability of cyber-enabled economic espionage, which the United States does not conduct. We need to come to a clear understanding with the Chinese about that. That is going to be essential to resolving our concerns about Chinese behavior."

Spy Scandal Tails Merkel All the Way to Beijing.
“The visit to China by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was supposed to focus on business, but financial matters were overshadowed Monday by a spy scandal at home — reportedly involving the United States — and China’s wartime history with Japan. At a news conference with Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Ms. Merkel raised questions about Germany’s relationship with the United States when asked about allegations that an employee of her country’s Federal Intelligence Service was working for Washington. “If the allegations are true, it would be a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting cooperation between agencies and partners,” Ms. Merkel said. She added, “If the reports are correct it would be a serious case.” The arrest of the intelligence employee has caused an uproar in Germany, along with demands for an explanation from the Obama administration. The episode follows revelations by Edward J. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, that the N.S.A. had bugged Ms. Merkel’s cellphone and monitored the electronic activities of millions of Germans. In Berlin on Monday, the United States Embassy broke its official silence on the spy report, saying, “We are working with the German government to ensure this issue is resolved appropriately.” The short statement reiterated that Washington does not discuss details of alleged intelligence activity or pending law enforcement matters. The statement followed a demand by Heiko Maas, the justice minister, that “the surveillance madness of the N.S.A. must now come to an end.” He said that legal action might be taken.”

Five Taiwanese Weapons of War China Should Fear.
“The initial response to an article titled “Five Taiwanese Weapons of War that China Should Fear” would be to ask why such weapons would be necessary in the first place. After all, relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait since 2008 have been, at some level at least, the best they’ve been since the conclusion of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Over that period, many agreements have been signed between Taipei and Beijing; millions of Chinese tourists flock to Taiwan every year; and interactions between Chinese and Taiwanese politicians—including the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party—have reach levels that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Why, then, should Taiwan seek to develop or acquire weapons that would strike fear in Beijing? he answer to that question lies in the extent to which rapprochement can continue, and the prospects that an end to this trend could result in a decision by China to resort to martial measures to resolve the “Taiwan question” once and for all. Recent developments in Taiwan, chief among them the Sunflower Movement’s 21-day occupation of the Legislative Yuan in March and April this year, have highlighted the formidable ideological divide that exists between the two societies and the deep fears that are felt by Taiwanese even as their country normalizes relations with China. To be succinct: the majority of Taiwanese are all for economic exchanges with China, and most understand the futility of ignoring the elephant in the room; but parallel to that realization is the deeply ingrained aversion to seeing a reversal of Taiwan’s liberal democracy and way of life. Ongoing events in Hong Kong, tensions that were in part exacerbated by Beijing’s release of its white paper on “one country, two systems,” have further awakened Taiwanese society to the huge costs that are to be paid in sovereignty transactions with China.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 07, 2014

China’s Territorial Advances Must Be Kept In Check By the United States. “This month, China will participate for the first time in the U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific naval exercise, better known as RIMPAC. Four Chinese navy ships, including a destroyer, are sailing to Hawaii to join 25,000 sailors, 200 aircraft and nearly 50 ships from more than 20 countries. The Obama administration’s decision to include China in the world’s largest naval exercise is only the latest U.S. move designed to encourage Beijing to play a more productive role in the world. Such efforts have been a signature feature of Washington’s China policy since the normalization of relations in 1979. The problem, however, is that, after 35 years of such engagement, China is now calling into question its commitment to preserving the very system that facilitated its rise. This argues for a careful reassessment of the overall U.S. approach to China. The current approach has been premised on the idea that China’s integration into the prevailing economic and security order not only is in China’s interest but also benefits the United States and the whole world. Washington has supported China’s accession to leading multilateral institutions, such as the World Trade Organization, and steadily enhanced bilateral relations with Beijing through a panoply of diplomatic engagements, including the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue that will convene in Beijing in July.”

China’s Navy in Frenzy to Build New Nuclear-Powered Attack Subs.
“China's military is investing heavily in advanced submarines, including both ballistic and cruise missile firing vessels and attack subs. Recently, Beijing showed off what appears to be a mock-up of its next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine, according to veteran military analyst Rick Fisher. "A large outdoor model of a next generation nuclear attack submarine [SSN] has appeared at the People's Liberation Army Navy [PLAN] submarine academy in Qingdao, China," Mr. Fisher stated in a report published by the International Assessment and Strategy Center, a think tank. "The role of this model may simply be to inspire the academy's students, but it may signify a larger personnel investment by the PLAN to prepare for its next generation submarines, as it may also offer some indications about a new class of SSN," he said, referring to the military acronym for attack submarines. Photos of the model were first published in April during a Chinese naval conference, and Mr. Fisher said the Chinese have long used such photos of mock-up weapons as political messages for both domestic and foreign audiences. The mock-up could be the first peek at China's Type-095 attack submarine — the second nuclear-powered attack submarine being built by the Chinese after its current Type-093. In addition to the attack subs, the Chinese also are building two new ballistic missile submarines, the Type-094 and Type-096. The Pentagon in its latest annual report on China's military said currently two Type-093s are deployed and four improved Type-093s will be fielded in the next five years.”

China Gives Rare Glimpse At Naval Ships During RIMPAC.
“China gave Western journalists a rare look aboard two People’s Liberation Army vessels Saturday during the Rim of the Pacific naval exercises in Hawaii, showcasing a hospital ship with complex medical facilities and a destroyer flying U.S. and Chinese flags. China is participating for the first time in the exercises, despite tensions with the United States and other countries — including territorial disputes with U.S. allies like Japan and the Philippines. Chinese naval nurse He Yun showed reporters around the hospital ship Ark Peace, with a trauma center, dental office and facility where acupuncture and other treatments can be performed. Examination rooms were spread over several floors. The destroyer Haikou featured multiple hatches on its deck, a large cannon and a helicopter. Inside, where no photographs were allowed, glossy pictures of sailors’ family and children lined the walls. About a dozen other countries, including Japan, New Zealand, the United States and Colombia also offered ship tours as part of the 22-nation drills. A Japanese naval official on Saturday gave a Chinese counterpart a private tour of its Japan Maritime Self Defense ship, the JS Ise. The Ise was docked at Pearl Harbor directly across the water from the USS Arizona Memorial, the ship that still rests at the bottom of a lagoon after the 1941 attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor.”

Chinese Leader, Underlining Ties to South Korea, Cites Japan As Onetime Mutual Enemy.
“China’s visiting president, Xi Jinping, reminded South Koreans on Friday that their two countries had fought “shoulder to shoulder” against Japan more than four centuries ago, highlighting what analysts have called the main goal of his visit: unsettling America’s alliances in Northeast Asia. Japan and South Korea are the United States’ closest allies in Asia, and the Obama administration has been struggling for months to thaw a chill in relations between them as it seeks to counterbalance China’s rise. Mr. Xi’s remarks were viewed by analysts as trying to take advantage of the rift. “Whenever there was a crisis, Korea and China always helped each other and overcame the crisis together,” Mr. Xi told a group of students at the prestigious Seoul National University, which educates many students who will join the political elite. “Four centuries ago during the Japanese invasion,” he said, people of both nations had held Japan in “enmity” and had “marched together shoulder to shoulder to the battlefields.” Mr. Xi also cited Japan’s military aggression in the 20th century, although he did not mention China’s own invasions of Korea centuries ago, or the much more recent Korean War, during which China fought on the North Korean side. Mr. Xi spoke through a Korean interpreter. The fighting the Chinese leader was referring to took place in the 1590s, when China’s Ming dynasty sent soldiers to Korea to help fight Japanese invaders and keep them from reaching China.”

Shadow of Brutal ’79 War Darkens Vietnam’s View of China Relations.
“She was 14 when Chinese artillery fire echoed across the hills around her home in northern Vietnam, and hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers swarmed across the border. She remembers sprinting with her parents through the peach trees, her waist-length hair flying, as they fled the invaders. They ran straight into the enemy. Her mother was shot and killed in front of her; minutes later, her father was wounded. “I was horrified. I didn’t think I would survive. The bullets were flying all around. I could hear them and smell the gunfire,” said Ha Thi Hien, now 49, fluttering her hands so they grazed her head to show how close the bullets came on the first day of the short, brutal war. The conflict between China and Vietnam in 1979 lasted less than a month. But the fighting was so ferocious that its legacy permeates the current sour relations between the two Communist countries now at odds over hotly contested waters in the South China Sea. Both sides declared victory then, though neither side prevailed, and both armies suffered horrendous losses. If a war erupted over territorial rights and the recent positioning of a Chinese oil rig off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea, China, with its increasingly modernized navy, would likely win, military experts say. So in a situation some liken to that of Mexico astride the United States, Vietnam must exercise the art of living alongside a powerful nation, a skill it has practiced over several thousand years of intermittent occupation and more than a dozen wars with China. But with China, far richer, militarily stronger and more ambitious than at any time the two countries have faced each other in the modern era, how far to needle Beijing, when to pull back, and how to factor in the United States are becoming trickier.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 02, 2014

China’s Missile Forces Are Growing: Is It Time to Modify the INF Treaty? “Arcane arms-control compliance issues rarely grab headlines. But the State Department’s next status report on the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty might be an exception. INF bars the United States and Russia from testing and deploying most ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles—whether nuclear-armed or conventionally-armed—with ranges between 500 and 5500 kilometers. According to press reports, though, Moscow has been testing a pair of missiles with intended ranges that might fall between these bounds, potentially circumventing or violating INF’s prohibitions. With relations between the United States and Russia already approaching rock bottom, the State Department can expect many eager readers on Capitol Hill. If Moscow is violating the INF Treaty, it won’t just be a problem for Europe. It could also create fresh doubts about the Obama administration’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. Before its troops infiltrated Crimea and instigated separatism, Russia appeared to be a source of frustration, but not a serious danger. In the post-Crimea era, however, the United States cannot assume that Europe will remain whole and free while China’s rise reshapes Asia, and a serious dispute over INF could further inflame the reemerging U.S.-Russia rivalry. Yet it could also create an opportunity for Washington to adapt an increasingly anachronistic agreement and shore up its military posture in the Western Pacific.”

Hong Kong Rallies For Democracy.
“About half a million people marched through downtown Hong Kong Tuesday with a message for Beijing: We won't accept sham democracy. The high turnout reflects anger that China's central government is backtracking on its promise to hold a free and fair election for the city's chief executive in 2017. Tuesday's rally followed a 10-day unofficial referendum organized by the pro-democracy coalition Occupy Central with Love and Peace. Hong Kong residents were invited to support several different nomination systems other than those put forward by pro-Beijing parties. Nearly 800,000 people, or 22% of the electorate, participated. Hong Kongers oppose the central government's plans to use a small nominating committee dominated by its local loyalists, a system that would exclude pro-democracy politicians from running for chief executive. The referendum also affirmed that most Hong Kongers want to see a compromise with Beijing rather than confrontation. The most resolute democrats initially succeeded in skewing the ballot choices in favor of open-nomination systems that the Chinese government had already ruled out. Moderates then managed to insert a choice that simply called for a system that meets international democratic standards. That choice won support from 88% of voters.”

Experts: China General’s Ousting Tightens Xi’s Grip on Military.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s dramatic expulsion of a former top general — the most senior figure to fall in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign — is an assertion of political control over the powerful and wealthy military, analysts say. Xu Caihou, former vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission and until two years ago a member of the ruling party’s elite 25-strong Politburo, was stripped of his party membership on Monday and his case was handed over to prosecutors. The 71-year-old is the highest-ranking Chinese military officer to face trial in decades. The authorities’ move to pursue charges against him — despite reports that he is dying of bladder cancer — is intended to send the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) a clear message, analysts said. The PLA’s influence in domestic affairs has waned since the days of Communist China’s founding father Mao Zedong, but it remains a political force to be reckoned with and has at the same time built up a vast network of business interests. Xi presided over the meeting that decided to expel Xu, the official news agency Xinhua stressed.”

With Seoul Visit, China Leader Sends Message North.
“Xi Jinping’s first visit to the Korean Peninsula as China’s president is to Seoul, not Pyongyang, meaning that North Korea’s best friend has snubbed it for its most bitter rival. A flurry of recent rocket and missile tests, the latest on Wednesday, has made the North’s displeasure crystal clear. Xi’s choice to meet Thursday with South Korean President Park Geun-hye over North Korean leader Kim Jong Un upends past practice - ever since Beijing and Seoul forged diplomatic ties in 1992 - to make Pyongyang first. It highlights Beijing’s interest in nurturing booming economic ties with Seoul, while sending Pyongyang a message about its destabilizing pursuit of nuclear weapons. For Washington and the region, it also underlines China’s growing influence on the southern side of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Beijing, entangled in hostile territorial disputes across Asia, may see an opportunity to boost its influence with the rare neighbor that feels generally positive about China. “In some ways the budding closeness between Xi and Park echoes much older patterns in East Asia, when China exercised a relatively benign hegemony over many of its neighbors,” said John Delury, an expert on China and Korea at Seoul’s Yonsei University. In the week before Xi’s visit, North Korea fired seven short-range projectiles, including two launched Wednesday into waters off its east coast. Analysts said they are a message of anger directed at Xi’s choice of Seoul over Pyongyang. The two-day summit will be Park’s fifth meeting with Xi since she took office early last year.”

China Military Bases Threatened By Luxury Villas, Fake Tourists.
“The security of Chinese military bases is being threatened by illegally built high-rise buildings, and in one case villas built inside a base, and fake tourists seeking access to sensitive sites to spy, state media said on Wednesday. Only a tiny fraction of the 4,800 local government and military bodies which are supposed to protect such facilities are currently doing their jobs properly, the official China Daily cited senior military officers as saying. "Fake companies or sight-seeing tours are often used as pretexts by outside entities to approach sensitive Chinese facilities for the purpose of gathering military secrets," officer Song Xinfei told the newspaper. One government on the southern resort island of Hainan, a province which has responsibility for the disputed South China Sea, allowed villas to be built by a foreign firm inside a base, it added, quoting the military's People's Liberation Army Daily. Air bases have also been disturbed by high-rises built too close for safe flying operations, the China Daily added.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | July 01, 2014

China and Japan Beware: World War I’s Lesson for the East China Sea. “In November last year, when China declared its East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that covers the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands and overlaps with Japan’s ADIZ, many warned that Beijing and Tokyo could get into an accidental military clash because their military aircraft would challenge each other in the airspace included in the controversial ADIZ. Today, such worries are no longer academic. On several occasions in May and June, Chinese jet fighters flew within a 100 feet of Japanese propeller-driven reconnaissance planes in China’s self-claimed ADIZ over the East China Sea. Beijing then accused the Japanese Self-Defense Force of sending F-15s on June 11 to trail a Chinese TU-154 plane on a regular patrol in the East China Sea and also got within 100 feet of the Chinese plane. Japan has since denied the accusations. Luckily, none of these incidents led to a midair collision or accidental firefight. However, given the subsequent acrimonious exchanges between Beijing and Tokyo, which accused each other of dangerous provocations, we can be assured that similar mid-air confrontations are almost certain to occur in the future. The nightmare we must imagine now is that when they happen again, the Chinese and the Japanese should not count on luck to save them from turning a game of chicken into an actual clash. This is no idle apocalyptic imagination. China and Japan have been engaged in a classical game of escalation in their territorial disputes over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands since August 2010.”

China’s Top Taiwan Official Plays Down Violent Protests on Trip.
“Violent protests which forced China's top official in charge of relations with Taiwan to cancel several meetings while visiting last week do not represent mainstream opinion, said the official concerned, who was also confident about the future of ties. The visit by Zhang Zhijun, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, marked the first trip by such a senior mainland official in 65 years since the Nationalists fled to the island after losing a civil war to China's communists in 1949. Zhang was greeted by hundreds of protesters while visiting the pro-independence southern part of the island and some of his events had to be canceled. "Of course, a minority of people have different opinions, and there were even some extreme actions which caused criticism in society and public opinion," he told state media in comments posted on the Taiwan Affairs Office website late on Monday. "Many Taiwanese friends told me that the vast majority of Taiwan compatriots are honest and kind. These individual acts cannot represent the majority of Taiwanese people, and certainly don't represent mainstream opinion in Taiwan," Zhang said. While economic ties have boomed since the China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan president in 2008, deep suspicions exist on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and there has been no movement towards any political resolution. Taiwan's pride in its democracy, ushered in during the 1980s and 1990s, helps reinforce the unwillingness of many to be absorbed politically by China.”

China’s Xi Heads to Seoul With North Korea on His Mind.
“The president of China, North Korea's only major ally, visits South Korea this week where the leaders of the two countries are expected to call on Pyongyang to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons, although Beijing will make sure it is not seen as taking sides. In a visit certain to be watched carefully in Pyongyang, President Xi Jinping will be holding talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye for the fifth time in a year, without yet meeting the North's leader, Kim Jong Un. North Korea's nuclear and missile program, and its plans to hold a fourth nuclear test, will dominate the agenda, officials in Seoul said. "There will clearly be an expression of the commitment by the two leaders and their governments that North Korea's nuclear weapons will not be tolerated," South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told parliament on Monday.  "(The two leaders) are expected to spend considerable time discussing the North Korean nuclear and the Korean peninsula issues in depth, and we believe the atmosphere will be appropriately reflected in a joint document," Yun said. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said on Tuesday the nuclear issue would be an "important topic" during Xi's talks with Park.”

A Win-Win Possibility for China-U.S. Trade.
“When the two of us were on opposite sides of the table negotiating China's accession to the World Trade Organization in the 1990s, we knew that the task would be hard. But we were opening new frontiers with much at stake for both countries. China joined the WTO in 2001 and the dividends have been many, including robust U.S.-China trade and the further integration of China into the global economy.  Now, almost 13 years later, China and the U.S. are taking another important step with the negotiation of a bilateral investment treaty, or BIT. As our governments prepare for the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue on July 9-10 in Beijing, we have confidence that a BIT can, like China's WTO accession, bring substantial benefits to both countries and strengthen the U.S.-China relationship as a whole. China's total stock of foreign direct investment in the U.S. grew from virtually zero in 2000 to roughly $17 billion in 2012, with $4 billion flowing from China to the U.S. in 2012 alone. Yet China still accounts for less than 1% of total FDI in the U.S. There is clearly tremendous potential for further investment growth with benefits for job creation and the U.S. economy. American firms have established a significant presence in China. In 2012, the total stock of U.S. FDI in China stood at about $70 billion. But U.S. investment still accounts for only 3% of China's inbound FDI, a small fraction of what it could be with the relaxation of market barriers, particularly in services. The growth potential lies not just in the headline numbers but also in the job creation and productivity upgrades that increased investment can bring.”

Admiral: Drills to Help U.S., China Work Together.
“The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Monday China's first-time participation in the world's largest maritime exercises in Hawaii will help Beijing and other nations work together in a crisis. The Rim of the Pacific drills will help countries respond as they did when Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last year and when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March, Adm. Harry Harris told reporters at a news conference opening a month of training. "These are multilateral events. Real world operations. It helps us if we practice together in settings like this," Harris said. The U.S. hopes the exercises will help the U.S. and China increase transparency and better understand each other, he said. China is embroiled in territorial disputes with several countries participating in the exercises, including Japan and the Philippines. Both countries are U.S. allies. Many of the disputes are over waters in the South China Sea. China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims in potentially oil- and gas-rich areas there. Beijing claims virtually the entire body of water. Japan and China both claim a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. There has been tension between China and the U.S. itself. China views U.S. moves to "pivot" or rebalance toward Asia and the Pacific as an effort to counter Beijing's expanding military and contain its growing economic and political influence. The U.S. says it's shifting attention to the region because of its growing economic importance. Harris said the presence of the countries makes a statement that they believe they must improve cooperation despite disagreements. He said "increasing risks" in the region are capable of disrupting stability and affecting "our collective prosperity."

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

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