China Caucus Blog

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.

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | June 30, 2014

China. There, I Said It. (Part II). “In June 2012 I wrote PacNet #34 “China. There, I said it” in an effort to generate a conversation about how the United States was publicly discussing the competitive elements of its relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). At the time, I felt like there was an unnecessarily tight muzzle on our civilian and military leadership that prevented the US from having a frank and honest conversation about the subject. If Congress is going to be asked to marshal the resources to sustain its enduring interests in the Asia-Pacific region -- including a balance of military power that favors the US and its allies -- I contended that the administration and specifically the Pentagon would only be successful if they were comfortable publicly making the case why these investments were required. Two years on, I have observed occasional improvements in the discourse. Between President Obama’s strong position on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands before his recent trip to Asia, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s forceful speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, or Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel’s stern testimony on maritime disputes in the region, the statements and testimony from administration officials and the president himself in the past two years have taken on a new level of seriousness toward China. However, in military and security terms we still struggle to communicate how the defense budget is being built to manage the security competition with China.”

Chinese Territorial Claims Driving Asia Closer to U.S.
“Muscle flexing by the Chinese in the South China Sea is driving Asian neighbors into closer alliance with the U.S. and feeding regional insecurity, warned one of Australia's most senior government ministers. In one of the bluntest assessments yet from Canberra of Chinese territorial claims in the East and South China Sea, Australian cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull —a key lieutenant of Prime Minister Tony Abbott —said Beijing's recent tussles with Vietnam and the Philippines were "singularly unhelpful" to regional security confidence. "What the Chinese policy has been, and I think it's curious that it has been so counterproductive, it has been to muscle up to one or other of its neighbors, or all of its neighbors at different times," said Mr. Turnbull, Communications Minister in Mr. Abbott's inner circle and a conservative leadership contender. "It has really no allies in the region, apart from North Korea, the sort of ally you need when you've run out of enemies I suppose. And the consequence has been how China's neighbors are drawing closer to the United States than ever before," Mr. Turnbull told a security and economic leadership conference at the Australian National University. Mr. Abbott's government had been hesitant to be drawn into the diplomatic crossfire over China's actions, caught between its close alliance with the U.S. on one side and Beijing's position as the country's biggest trade partner. Two-way trade was worth A$141 billion (US$133 billion) last year, with China buying 36% of Australia's exports. The U.S. earlier in June called on regional nations to stay clear of disputed seas in the South China Sea to help cool tensions over clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese ships after China moved an oil rig into waters claimed by both countries. China also has long-running territorial differences with Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.”

While China’s Territorial Disputes Drag On, Xi Jinping Tells Others to Seek Peace.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping deployed an unusual defense Saturday of China’s foreign and military policies: the celebration of an obscure, decades-old treaty called the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.” Alongside Burma’s president and India’s vice president, Xi presided over an event replete with lofty ideals. Ostensibly, the ceremony’s goal was to commemorate the treaty’s 60th anniversary. But it also served as an attempt to rebut criticism and concern from Asian and U.S. leaders over China’s recent territorial claims. In a speech about the principles, Xi outlined China’s basic framework for foreign policy. Much of his speech stressed that China is peaceful by nature and focused on the concept of noninterference in the affairs of other countries. But Xi also declared that “no infringement upon the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a country is allowed.” To many Asian leaders, China’s foreign policy of late has been anything but aimed at peaceful coexistence. China has engaged in volatile confrontations with several neighbors over claims in the South China Sea. Riots broke out last month in Vietnam after China installed an oil rig in disputed waters. China’s navy remains in a standoff with the Philippines over a region called the Scarborough Shoal. And China’s relations with Japan have been tense since China last year declared an air defense identification zone over disputed islands. The United States, Japan’s ally, promptly responded by sending two bombers through the zone.”

U.S. Seeks Resumption of Cyber Talks With China.
“The United States next month will urge China to resume discussions on cyber security that were abruptly suspended after the Americans charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into U.S. companies to steal trade secrets, officials said. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel told The Associated Press on Thursday that the U.S. would push for a resumption of the cyber working group when Cabinet-level officials of both sides meet at the annual U.S.-China Security and Economic Dialogue in Beijing in the second week of July. After the indictments against the five officers were unsealed in May, Beijing pulled the plug on the group that had been set up a year ago in what Washington viewed as a diplomatic coup after President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping held a summit in California, aiming to set relations between the two global powers on a positive track. Those ties have come under growing strain, also because of China’s assertive actions in the disputed South and East China Seas. Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, reiterated those concerns Thursday, saying the U.S. views it as essential that China shows greater restraint and uses diplomacy to manage its differences on territorial issues. Asian nations, particularly treaty allies like Japan and the Philippines, look to the U.S. to counter China’s increasingly muscular actions, but some in the region have voiced doubts about whether the second-term Obama administration can follow through on its commitment to focus on the Asia-Pacific, because of its preoccupation with the chaos in the Middle East. Russel said Asia remains a strategic U.S. priority — even as Washington mulls some form of military action to combat the rapid advances of Islamic militants in Iraq who now straddle the border with Syria.”

China Official Cancels Appearances After Protests in Taiwan.
“China's top negotiator on Taiwan was forced to cancel three public appearances during a landmark bridge-building visit after protests turned violent. Zhang Zhijun, head of Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, was the first government minister to visit Taiwan since the island broke away from the mainland 65 years ago. Mr. Zhang's office said the four-day trip, which ended Saturday, had been intended to "listen to the voice of the Taiwanese people at the grass-roots level" as both sides sought reconciliation.  In a text message to reporters, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Office, which is responsible for coordinating the trip with its Chinese counterpart, said the cancellation of Mr. Zhang's public engagements was made in response to a spate of "conflicts" in recent days.  On Friday evening, during his visit to the southern city of Kaohsiung, members of the pro-democracy Black Island Nation Youth Front threw white paint and bundles of paper ghost money at Mr. Zhang's vehicle as he was getting out of the car. Several security agents were splashed with paint.  Earlier that morning, also in Kaohsiung, a protester sustained a laceration to his forehead during a clash with China supporters in front of the hotel where Mr. Zhang was staying. The envoy was also almost hit by a water bottle thrown by a Taiwan independence activist as he arrived at the city's high speed railway station.  During his visit to New Taipei City in northern Taiwan, hundreds of placard-waving protesters shouting, "Taiwan, China, one country each side," followed Mr. Zhang to almost every place he visited. In another scuffle, students who had chaining themselves together were removed by police so Mr. Zhang's motorcade could pass.”

Beijing Wants to Predetermine Hong Kong Elections.
“Over the past week a remarkable exercise in self-government has been taking place in Hong Kong. If China’s rulers were more adept and less insecure, they would embrace the process. Instead they seem intent on delivering another self-inflicted wound. Despite Chinese objections and cyberattacks, more than 750,000 people — over a fifth of Hong Kong’s registered voters — have cast ballots in the unofficial poll. Organized by a nonviolent protest group called Occupy Central with Love and Peace, it asks residents to choose among three electoral reforms for selection of Hong Kong’s top leader. China, which reclaimed the administrative region from the British in 1997, has steered the selection process of Hong Kong’s chief executive but had promised to allow it universal suffrage by 2017. Now it seems China plans to stick to the letter, but not the spirit, of its promise. Instead of ensuring true competition, China instead will impose a pro-Beijing committee to nominate candidates for general election, disqualifying anyone who doesn’t “love the country and love Hong Kong.” China over the past two decades has mostly honored its promise of “one country, two systems,” keeping its hands off Hong Kong’s independent rule of law even as leaders tightened repression in the mainland. And Hong Kong has thrived, its relatively free press and predictable courts drawing international business in a way that Shanghai,for all its success, still cannot.”

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 | June 26, 2014

U.S. Navy Official Says China Military Relations Have Improved ‘Modestly’. “Relations between the U.S. and Chinese militaries have improved "modestly" in the past year, a senior U.S. Navy official said, despite discord over territorial tensions and strategic issues in the Asian-Pacific region. The comments by Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery, who leads an aircraft-carrier battle group that operates mainly in Asian waters, came just weeks after senior U.S. and Chinese defense officials traded barbs at a regional security summit over Beijing's perceived assertiveness over territorial claims. "We're doing our best to reach out and build relationships and strengthen [inter-military coordination], and increase transparency and sharing" between the U.S. and Chinese navies, Rear Adm. Montgomery said in a recent interview aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington during a pass through the South China Sea. This week, for instance, China is participating for the first time in the biennial U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific exercise—the world's largest multilateral naval exercise that typically gathers Pacific rim navies in waters off Hawaii—days after Rear Adm. Montgomery and other senior U.S. Navy commanders met their Chinese army and navy counterparts in Hong Kong during a port call by the USS George Washington. "These are all indicative of a modestly improving relationship," said Rear Adm. Montgomery, commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet's Carrier Strike Group Five, which operates from Yokosuka, Japan. The U.S. and Chinese navies rarely train together, though last year they did hold a joint search-and-rescue exercise off Hawaii. In December, a U.S. Navy warship was forced to take evasive maneuvers to avoid hitting a Chinese naval vessel that unexpectedly crossed right in front of the U.S. ship's bow. Both vessels were maneuvering in international waters in the South China Sea.”

History’s Warning: A U.S.-China War is Terrifyingly Possible.
“Many Americans believe that the United States and China have entered a long-term strategic competition. The way we use “competition” in many ways resembles a literary trope. At the US Naval War College, for example, we teach several historical case studies explicitly built around this narrative: Where a “rising power” challenges the “hegemon,” and its aggressive bid only increases tensions that at some point lead to military conflict. This is the story as much with Athens and Sparta in classical Greece as with Britain and Germany in the early 20th century. The limitation of such historical analogies is in how, perhaps unwittingly, they create for us expectations that only go in one direction. It might be more helpful to contrast America and China today with a strategic competition that did not lead to war. This sort of comparison encourages us to test our dynamics against similar forces within an historical situation that—however strategically alarming at the time—did not end in war. Is our situation similarly stable (at a deep level), or should we really be worried? Happily, there is a startlingly familiar—if mostly forgotten—historical counterpoint. Here the United States is the British Empire, and China is the United States: In 1861. Britain and America almost went to war during the winter of 1861-1862. We call it the Trent Affair. Why did we almost go to war? Because the US—in the midst of civil war—was in “existential mode” and on a strategic hair-trigger. Britain was supplying high-tech weapons to the Confederacy, and also the delivery vehicles to get them past the Union blockade. Worse yet Britain (along with France) might recognize the Confederacy at any moment. In the eyes of the Lincoln administration, Britain was a real strategic threat.”

China-Philippines Duel Over A South China Sea Code of Conduct.
“China and ASEAN have resumed discussing guidelines on a maritime code of conduct (CoC) this week, and while China has apparently warmed to the idea of agreed upon maritime rules since it met with ASEAN officials in Suzhou last September to discuss this topic, there is little expectation that China will cede any claims to authority in the South China Sea. Instead, China is expected to advance its own claims, and highlight how it has attempted to cooperate and resolve outstanding disputes, particularly with the Philippines and Vietnam. In an interview with Filipino ABS-CBN News, foreign affairs analyst and professor Richard Heydarian said China is attempting to lead discussions toward enhancing the Declaration on the Conduct (DoC) of Parties in the South China Sea, after agreeing last year to discuss a CoC with its ASEAN neighbors. “To go back and discuss the 2002 declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea… shows how the Chinese are still unwilling to bind themselves by any legally binding regional principle,” he said. He also said this type of backtracking is an attempt to keep ASEAN’s members from creating a unified position for resolving maritime disputes in the South China Sea. The South China Morning Post spoke with Chinese analysts who explained Chinese behavior in a similar fashion, although they describe it as China taking a more firm position with the organization after repeated attempts by ASEAN members to make the territorial disputes a diplomatic issue. Zhang Jie, with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China had previously tried to resolve disputes through joint development, which would remain the case. In addition though, China would increase its activity in the disputed waters, and “by showing strength, it is hoped that the claimant states of the South China Sea will be pushed to pay serious attention to Beijing’s position.”

China’s Growing Hegemonic Bent.
“The People’s Republic of China has been nothing if not consistent about its views on hegemony. From the time of Mao Zedong to present time, Chinese leaders have repeatedly and consistently denounced hegemony in all its forms. Indeed, the word “hegemony” is little more than a synonym for countries or actions that Beijing dislikes. But even as China continues to denounce hegemony rhetorically, it increasingly embraces it in action. This is true across a whole host of issues. None more so than Beijing’s New Security Concept, which President Xi Jinping announced last month at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit in Shanghai. David Cohen reminds us that the New Security Concept is likely more multi-faceted than it may appear at first glance. Nonetheless, at its core, the New Security Concept is that “security in Asia should be maintained by Asians themselves.” As the Global Times reported about Xi’s speech, it “stressed the role played by Asians themselves in building security, viewed as a rejection of interference from outside the region.”  During the speech, Xi also denounced alliances in the region. It makes good sense that China would want a U.S.-free Asia-Pacific — as China’s rise has proceeded, the U.S. has increasingly become the only viable counterbalance to Beijing in the region. China’s relative influence would therefore be greatly enhanced by America’s exit from the region. The same goes for an end to alliances to the region — not only does China lack any formal allies, but its size ensures it will dominate any bilateral interactions with Asian nations. At the same time, the New Security Concept is transparently hegemonic. To begin with, the realization of the primary goals of the New Security Concept — namely, the exit of the U.S. from Asia and the end of alliances — would ensure China’s hegemony over the region.”

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 | June 25, 2014

New Chinese Map Gives Greater Play to South China Sea Claims. “China has unveiled a new official map of the country giving greater play to its claims on the South China Sea, state media said on Wednesday, making the disputed waters and its numerous islets and reefs more clearly seem like national territory. Previous maps published by the government already include China's claims to most of the South China Sea, but in a little box normally in a bottom corner to enable the rest of the country to fit on the map. The new, longer map dispenses with the box, and shows continental China along with its self-declared sea boundary in the South China Sea - stretching right down to the coasts of Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines - on one complete map. "The islands of the South China Sea on the traditional map of China are shown in a cut-away box, and readers cannot fully, directly know the full map of China," the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily said on its website. Old maps make the South China Sea's islands appear more like an appendage rather than an integral part of the country, which the new map makes "obvious with a single glance", the report added. "This vertical map of China has important meaning for promoting citizens' better understanding of ... maintaining (our) maritime rights and territorial integrity," an unnamed official with the map's publishers told the newspaper.”

Spying Concerns, Regional Belligerence Cloud Chinese Role in Pacific Naval Exercises.
“The U.S. military’s largest international naval exercise in the Pacific begins this week with China’s navy taking part for the first time by sending four warships—more than any participating nation other than the United States. A total of 49 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 military personnel will take part. Rim of the Pacific—or RIMPAC, as the exercise is known—is held every two years and formally begins June 26. It will continue through Aug. 1 in waters around Hawaii. A total of 21 Navy warships are taking part, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and an array of guided missile destroyers and cruisers. China, for its part, is sending three warships and a naval hospital ship—the largest foreign contingent after the United States. The role of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in RIMPAC is raising concerns among some officials and experts who voiced concerns that the United States’ chief adversary in Asia will gain access to valuable warfighting secrets during the maneuvers. Rep. J. Randy Forbes, (R., Va.), a senior House Armed Services Committee member, said he is opposed to allowing China to take part. “Joint military exercises should be reserved for allies, partners, and other countries that demonstrate an interest in making a positive contribution to regional security,” Forbes, chairman of the sea power and force projection subcommittee, said.”

U.S. Ambassador Baucus Says China Hacking Threatens National Security.
“Cyber theft of trade secrets by China is a threat to U.S. national security, U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus said on Wednesday in the first major public address of his tenure, warning that Washington would continue to pressure Beijing. Baucus' remarks come as commercial ties between the world's two largest economies have been strained over cyber espionage charges and revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden of U.S. spying. In May, Washington indicted five Chinese military officers for hacking U.S. companies, prompting Beijing to suspend a Sino-U.S. working group on cyber issues. It adamantly denies the charges. Such behavior is criminal and runs counter to China's World Trade Organization commitments, Baucus told business leaders at an American Chamber of Commerce in China luncheon two weeks ahead of annual high-level bilateral talks in Beijing. "Cyber-enabled theft of trade secrets by state actors in China has emerged as a major threat to our economic, and thus, national security," Baucus said. "We won't sit idly by when a crime is committed in the real world. So why should we when it happens in cyber space?" he said. "We will continue to use diplomatic and legal means to make clear that this type of behavior must stop."

China Official on Key Taiwan Trip Says Comes With Sincerity.
“China's top official in charge of Taiwan ties arrived on the island on Wednesday to begin landmark talks aimed at wooing Taiwanese who remain suspicious about a pending trade pact and autocratic China's designs on Taiwan. "It took three hours for me to fly here from Beijing, but it took 65 years for both sides across the Taiwan Strait to come this far," said Zhang Zhijun, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, as he sat down for talks with Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi. "I come here full of sincerity in my heart," said Zhang, the first head of the Taiwan Affairs Office to visit the self-ruled and democratic island where defeated Nationalists fled after losing a civil war to China's Communists in 1949. His four-day trip focuses not on the affluent capital Taipei but on the poorer middle and south, which have benefited less from trade with China and where pro-independence sentiment can run deep. While China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has never ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control, relations have improved markedly since China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008. China's charm offensive with Taiwan stands in contrast to its ties with several countries in Asia where territorial rows have flared over maritime boundaries. China has also denounced people in Chinese-run Hong Kong, where hundreds of thousands have been pushing for greater democracy.”

China Says Philippines Stirring Tensions After Aquino Supports Japan.
“China on Wednesday accused the Philippines of creating tension in the region and urged Manila to show "sincerity" in upholding stability after President Benigno Aquino welcomed Japan's more assertive military policy. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made it clear on Tuesday he wanted an early agreement with his ruling party's dovish junior partner to ease constitutional curbs that have kept Japan's military from fighting abroad since World War Two. Aquino said after meeting Abe that "nations of goodwill can only benefit if the Japanese government is empowered to assist others". China's foreign ministry said Aquino's statement had complicated an already difficult situation. "We think that the relevant country should earnestly show its sincerity, meet China halfway, rather than creating tensions and rivalry and adding new, complicating factors to the situation in the region," spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing. Hua urged Manila to "play a positive and constructive role" for peace and stability, "rather than the reverse.”

Vietnam, China Trade Accusations of Vessel-Ramming Near Oil Rig.
“Vietnam and China on Tuesday traded accusations that each had rammed a vessel owned by the other near a Chinese oil rig that has become a flash point in waters they both claim in the South China Sea. Vietnam's coast guard said the incident on Monday morning left two Vietnamese sailors slightly injured and a Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance vessel severely damaged. It said seven Chinese vessels chased the Vietnamese vessel 11.5 nautical miles south-southwest of the oil rig before one of them rammed it. The Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance was launched in April to monitor fishing activities and protect the country's territorial waters. VTV, Vietnam's government TV station, posted a video on its official YouTube channel that it said was footage of the latest altercation, showing a Chinese vessel crashing into a much-smaller Vietnamese boat, crushing parts of it. However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a Tuesday news briefing that the Vietnamese vessel breached a security cordon that China had set up around the rig. She said the Vietnamese boat rammed a Chinese boat. Since the deployment of the rig on May 2, Vietnam and China have accused each other several times of vessel-ramming at the site.”

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 | June 24, 2014

China Threat: Air-Sea Battle vs. Offshore Control? “There are doubts in Washington that a US president would ever approve the bombing of China. This notion demonstrates that the Pentagon’s Air-Sea Battle operational concept is seriously flawed, said T.X. Hammes, a senior researcher in strategy and future conflict at the department’s National Defense University. Hammes told Defense News that no president has ever authorized the bombing of China, including during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Yet one of Air-Sea Battle’s basic tenets is aerial bombing of command-and-control hubs, mobile missile launchers, air bases, and port facilities. Hammes has written about an alternative strategy, Offshore Control, in several articles and papers since 2012. In his latest article, co-authored with Richard Hooker, National Defense University’s director for research and strategic support in the Institute for National Strategic Studies, they argue that Offshore Control offers a less provocative military option. “When you bomb China it becomes a passion over politics issue, making it harder to get China to negotiate a peaceful settlement. Bombing makes it so much harder to return to the status quo before the conflict,” Hammes told Defense News. “You are not going to have a decisive win with China without going nuclear, so you need to engage them and walk them back from the edge.”

Does India Still Fear China’s Growing Military Might?
“At one point in the movie ​Beaches, Bette Midler's rather egotistical character C. C. Bloom inquires: "But enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think of me?" In Beaches, it was all about C. C. Bloom. It's all about China in Asia these days. But enough about China and its dominance of the headlines. Let's talk about India. What does India think of China? One thing is clear: Indians do think about China, which has steadily expanded its strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean. And they worry about Asia's would-be Big Brother. Indian strategists see ulterior motives at work even in such nondescript endeavors such as the counterpiracy mission in the Gulf of Aden, where by most accounts, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) has been a valuable partner. Angst-ridden words have issued from New Delhi at times. Yet Indian leaders have modulated their rhetoric in recent years. They appear increasingly comfortable with the strategic outlook in South Asia. Anxieties have receded, though they haven't evanesced entirely and probably never will. And the leisurely pace (and fitful progress) of India's naval and military buildup belies any worried talk from officialdom. That's all good. All in all, New Delhi's more relaxed attitude toward Chinese naval expansion fits the strategic circumstances better than the anxieties of a decade ago. Then, Indians saw a Chinese naval juggernaut barging into their maritime environs, ringing the subcontinent with a network of hostile naval bases, and assuming command of Indian Ocean waters and skies—to the detriment of Indian primacy.”

China and America: Dancing Around the Containment Question.
“On his recent Asia trip, President Obama denied that Washington’s expanded defense cooperation with Japan and the Philippines is designed to thwart China’s rise. “Our goal is not to counter China. Our goal is not to contain China.” Earlier this year Secretary of State Kerry visited Beijing where he explained that Washington welcomed China's peaceful rise and has no intention to contain Beijing. Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey repeated the theme at the annual meeting of Asian defense ministers in Shangri-La emphasized that recent American moves in the region are not in any way intended to offset or contain China. Hagel repeated the mantra during his visit to Shangri-La as well:  “This was not a visit to contain China. The rebalance to Asia-Pacific was not a contain China strategy. President Obama has made that point very clear. Secretary Kerry has.  I have.” Despite Washington’s insistent and coordinated protestation, China’s leaders are not buying it.  As Dempsey put it, “Frankly, I think the Chinese have a different view of that, and I acknowledge that.”  Beijing’s perception derives from a number of different factors. Washington’s Asia re-focus started in the last two years of the Bush administration and was accelerated and declared as a pivot/rebalancing under Obama. The cumulative effect of its multiple elements over the past eight years undermines America’s not-containing-China assurances.”

China Undeterred and Unapologetic.
“China’s audacious land reclamation activities in the South China Sea are only the latest sign that its approach to settling maritime disputes with its neighbors has taken a sharp and dangerous turn. Although China began acting more assertively after perceiving its ascension to great power status in the wake of the global financial crisis, Beijing still felt compelled to justify its muscular movements in Asia as necessary reactions to the provocations of “troublemakers” in the region. Sure, China was standing strong, but arguably in response to the adventurism of others. It was more retaliatory than overtly belligerent. As Beijing made a habit of tempering and justifying its behavior, leading Western analysts developed terms like “reactive assertiveness” and described Chinese revisionism as “cautious and considered.” The seizure of Scarborough Reef in the South China Sea in April 2012 was explained as a compulsory response to the Philippines’ use of a naval vessel (rather than a coast guard ship) to interdict illegal Chinese fishermen. Similarly, China’s persistent incursions into Japanese-administered waters around the Senkaku Islands have been, according to Beijing, an obligatory answer to Tokyo’s purchase and “nationalization” of the islands in September 2012. Over the last eight months, however, China’s efforts to alter Asia’s geography have become unequivocally self-initiated. On the eve of Vice President Biden’s trip to Beijing last November, China announced the establishment of a new air defense identification zone in the East China Sea that extended over areas controlled by Japan and South Korea.”

Hong Kong Demands Democracy.
“China this week is in the midst of a historic democratic experiment—unofficially, that is, and outside the mainland. Since Friday nearly 750,000 Hong Kong residents have voted in a referendum signaling their anger at Beijing for continuing to deny democracy to the territory 17 years after assuming sovereignty from the British. Despite weeks of escalating intimidation from Beijing, turnout is far exceeding expectations and may presage public protests. The vote, sponsored by a pro-democracy coalition known as Occupy Central with Love and Peace, runs online and at polling places through June 29. It allows Hong Kong's 7.2 million people, including some 3.5 million registered voters, to weigh in on the crux of the democracy issue: Who should be able to run for chief executive in 2017?  The government promises an election with universal suffrage but wants the candidates limited to those nominated by a committee of approximately 1,200 local pro-Beijing power brokers. That's democracy Iran-style, so Hong Kongers are demanding better.  Occupy Central promises civil disobedience if the nominating process isn't opened up. Beijing and its allies portray the group as rabble-rousers threatening city streets and businesses, but Occupy Central has patiently pressed the government to honor its own democratic promises. Leaders such as law professor Benny Tai say they will pursue civil disobedience only if the government ignores the public and persists with a rigged nominating process.”

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 | June 23, 2014

U.S. Prepares for Awkward Military Engagement with China in Hawaii. “The U.S. Navy has dispatched numerous ships to Hawaii as it prepares for Rim of the Pacific 2014, the world’s largest international maritime exercise. It will involve 49 surface ships and six submarines from 23 countries this year, but the inclusion of one — China — will get an inordinate amount of attention. The People’s Liberation Army of China will participate in the exercise for the first time, sending ships that include the missile destroyer Haikou, the missile frigate Yueyang, the oiler Qiandaohu and the hospital ship Peace Ark. The Chinese were invited to join two years ago by Adm. Samuel Locklear, the chief of U.S. Pacific Command, and will do so now as Chinese President Xi Jinping pushes an overhaul and expansion of the Chinese military. But the engagement, which starts June 26, comes at an awkward time following a series of controversial moves by China within the last year. That could complicate an already highly unusual level of engagement between China, the United States and U.S. allies at RIMPAC, even if senior military officials in China and the United States have had discussions for years. Earlier this month, Japanese and Chinese leaders traded barbs over how close Chinese jets flew to a Japanese aircraft over the East China Sea. Japanese officials said that two Chinese SU27 fighters had buzzed Japanese planes, flying as close as 30 meters away. Beijing rejected that, releasing video that it said showed Japanese planes deliberately flying close to the Chinese jets.”

The Nine-Dashed Line Isn’t China’s Monroe Doctrine.
“During his keynote address Tuesday in Newport, international man of mystery Robert Kaplan recounted a tale that’s all too common in dealings between Americans and Chinese. A PLA senior colonel, reported Kaplan, opined that what China wants to accomplish in the South China Sea is “no different” than what the United States wanted to accomplish in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico in the age of the Monroe Doctrine. Beijing wants to take charge of its nautical environs while cooperating with the preeminent sea power of the day elsewhere on the map. See? To avoid hypocrisy, Washington should stand aside in China’s maritime quarrels with its neighbors. Well, no. I don’t see. China’s methods resemble those America employed starting, say, after our Civil War (1861-1865). To a point. By the 1880s, the United States did embark on the construction of a great navy — a navy stronger than any European navy in the waters that mattered, namely the greater Caribbean. China has embarked on the construction of a great navy — a navy that, used in concert with shore-based weaponry, may surpass any Asian or outside navy in the waters that matter, namely the China seas. So on Edward Luttwak’s technical and tactical levels of war, the good senior colonel has things more or less correct. Sea power: brilliant! As the great Mark Twain wisecracked, though, the difference between the almost-right word and the right word is the difference between a lightning-bug and the lightning. The same goes for historical analogies. Chinese interlocutors are forever trying to use facile comparisons with U.S. history to get Americans to commit to unilateral intellectual disarmament. If we did it in the Caribbean then, how can we object when China does it in Southeast Asia now?”

China, South Korea Protest Japan’s ‘Comfort Women’ Apology Review.
“South Korea and China on Monday protested against Tokyo's review of a landmark 1993 apology to women, many of them Korean and Chinese, forced to work as wartime sex slaves in Japanese brothels, urging it to stop trying to whitewash history. South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong summoned Japanese Ambassador Bessho Koro to complain, saying Tokyo was trying to undermine its own apology when the history behind the issue of "comfort women" was recognised internationally. "Japan must understand that the more the Abe government tries to undermine the Kono statement, the more its credibility and international reputation will suffer," Cho said. "Comfort women" is the euphemism for women forced to serve in military brothels serving Japanese soldiers before and during World War Two. South Korea has protested against the conclusion of a Japanese panel reviewing the 1993 statement named after then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono that the two countries had worked together on the sensitive wording of the apology. It rejected the finding that South Korea was involved in the formulation of the apology, saying the document was a formal statement by the Japanese government and the facts behind the comfort women issue had never been up for discussion. The topic of comfort women has long been a thorn in the two countries' ties. South Korea says Japan has not sufficiently atoned for the women's suffering and any attempt at questioning the legitimacy of the apology is an indication of its insincerity.”

The Complex China-South Korea Relationship.
“South Korea is increasingly caught between its economic dependence on Chinese export markets and military dependence on the United States. This dilemma has been intensifying in South Korean foreign policy for more than a decade now. As China has risen to regional and global prominence, South Korean exporters have increasingly linked themselves to its 8 trillion dollar economy. South Korea, like many Asian states, is deeply committed to the mercantilist goal of running trade surpluses. As such, the search for export markets plays an extraordinarily important role in South Korean politics. (It need not; a stronger won would help heavily indebted Korean consumers a lot. But corporate behemoths [the chaebol] play an outsized role in Korean politics and have convinced the Korean voter that their export profits and Korea’s national interest are identical. They are not.) Because of its high growth, China would clearly play a role in South Korean economic nationalism; that China is right next door and offers good complementarity as a lower middle income state only tightens the fit. In two decades China has risen to be the number one export market for South Korea. Simultaneously, South Korea continues to significantly underspend on defense, given the challenges of both engaging in conflict with North Korea as well as occupying and reconstructing it. Despite decades of prodding from the U.S., Korean defense spending is still only at 2.5-3 percent of its GDP. It is woefully unprepared to fight North Korea alone, much less take on an insurgency during any subsequent occupation. South Korea desperately needs the U.S. for its external security, which in turn creates obvious tension 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.

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