China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | August 07, 2015

China’s Unsinkable Aircraft Carriers. “What should the U.S. do about China’s increased assertiveness in the South China Sea? Beijing claims almost the whole sea—land formations, seabeds and open waters alike—and of late has been literally creating new facts on the ground, constructing 2,000 acres of artificial islands where only shoals or sand bars once existed. Beijing now says those efforts are nearly complete but acknowledges plans to place military assets on the islands, some of which may include substantial airfields. Washington is deeply concerned and should continue pushing back against any Chinese enforcement of its “nine-dash line” claim to 85% of the region’s map. But the U.S. can’t stop China from building or modestly militarizing its new islands, nor should it try. Even if it rattles nerves from Tokyo to Manila, Hanoi and Washington, Beijing’s campaign is little more than an asymmetric way of establishing regional military presence—and one that even mimics American behavior over the years. The U.S. builds ships such as aircraft carriers and sails them into the South China Sea. And it should continue to do so. The U.S. Navy’s role in protecting the global commons has been a huge boon to world stability and prosperity—including China’s—for decades. Beijing, struggling to learn the art of aircraft-carrier operations with its one midsize carrier, is trying to establish regional military presence in its own way. While America builds carriers, they build islands. The U.S. justifies its world-wide naval activities in support of freedom of navigation based on the 1983 Law of the Sea Convention. That convention, based largely on common maritime practice, accords territorial zones and economic zones to major land masses and islands, but it also allows free use of crucial straits around the world and otherwise promotes the sharing of the global maritime domain. Even though Washington hasn’t ratified the convention, it supports its core principles and is right to do so. From the Strait of Hormuz to the Strait of Malacca to important shipping lanes in the South China Sea, everyone benefits from this public good that the U.S. Navy helps protect. No other nation or group of nations can provide the same service, though China and a few others help a little in counterpiracy operations off Somalia’s coast. The U.S. should encourage more such Chinese assistance in the future, not discourage the creation of Chinese power-projection forces per se. To be sure, China has been aggressive in the South China Sea, seizing land claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines and placing military outposts on a number of islets (as have other regional states). The U.S. is correct to object to aggressive Chinese behavior and to assert its navigational prerogatives near these new Chinese land formations, which under the Law of the Sea don’t qualify as real islands with associated territorial or economic waters. But the U.S. should be discreet and careful along the way. It should think of these islands in the way China is using them—as unsinkable aircraft carriers—and operate its own assets near them as if they were ships.”

Stop Saying China is at a Crossroads. “
Rhetorical flourishes have a way of becoming habits of thought, shaping the way events and decisions are interpreted. Such flourishes serve a useful purpose in keeping the words fresh in our minds, but they also can limit our vision. For the last 20 or more years, according to American pundits and policymakers, China has been at the crossroads of its future—politically, economically, and internationally. Placing China at a crossroads is a useful device, because it focuses on Beijing’s upcoming decisions and optimistically implies that China still may choose to integrate into the institutions of a U.S.-led international order. Unfortunately, the continuing usage suggests Americans have internalized China’s so-called crossroads in an unhelpful way, because the assumptions embedded within the idea of a crossroads. The most pernicious assumption embedded within the idea of China’s crossroads is that Beijing has not made any serious policy decisions about the direction the country is moving. After 20 or 30 years of U.S. pressure on a particular issue, Chinese decisions not to do something might best be read as a genuine decision—not simply a postponement. In then-National Security Advisor Sandy Berger’s crossroads speech “Building a New Consensus on China” in 1997, he stated “China stands at a crossroads, with conflicting forces pulling in opposite directions: inward-looking nationalism and outward-looking integration.” This perspective, even at that time, neglected the government’s role in constructing that inward-looking nationalism—a point that has become clearer over time as researchers have examined the education system and the content of contemporary Chinese nationalism. The need for such control has been reasserted repeatedly, most recently with Document No. 9 in 2013 and at the beginning of this year by Minister of Education Yuan Guiren. Contemporary Chinese nationalism in its party-led form is but one of the ways in which Beijing intends international integration to be done on its terms rather than facing the choices we suggest. Another example of decisions made or not made include the creation of a nuclear export control system, which was promised in 1984 as part of a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, the first so-called “1-2-3 agreement” with China. Since that time, Beijing built the Ministry of State Security from a handful of offices into a nationwide network. The Ministry of Public Security spent billions of dollars and years modernizing its surveillance apparatus. And yet China claims to have had great difficulty identifying and cracking down on proliferators. At times the authorities may have made progress in curtailing some Chinese firms, but the country has still proved porous for third country transits, like those of North Korea and Iran. Also since 1984, China has gone through three formal leadership transitions (more if you count the shifts in policymaking authority under Deng Xiaoping). Perhaps the most damaging decision Beijing has made, at least from the perspective of U.S. interests, is reneging on the intellectual property rights commitments it made as part of its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).”

Kerry says U.S. Will Not Accept Restrictions in South China Sea. “
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday accused China of restricting navigation and overflights in the disputed South China Sea, despite giving assurances that such movements would not be impeded. Addressing a regional meeting in Kuala Lumpur that has been dominated by the South China Sea, Kerry said China's construction of facilities for "military purposes" on man-made islands was raising tensions and risked "militarization" by other claimant states. Kerry's blunt criticism of Beijing, in front of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, is likely to lift the South China Sea up the agenda when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Washington next month, some experts said. "Freedom of navigation and overflight are among the essential pillars of international maritime law," Kerry told the East Asia Summit attended by foreign ministers from around the region. "Despite assurances that these freedoms would be respected, we have seen warnings issued and restrictions attempted in recent months," Kerry said. "Let me be clear: The United States will not accept restrictions on freedom of navigation and overflight, or other lawful uses of the sea." China has repeatedly warned Philippine military aircraft away from the artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, Philippine military officials have said. The Chinese navy also issued eight warnings to the crew of a U.S. P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft when it conducted overflights in the area in May, according to CNN, which was aboard the U.S. aircraft. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims. There was no immediate reaction from Chinese officials to Kerry's criticism, some of his strongest yet over the issue. Ruan Zongze, a former Chinese diplomat with the China Institute of International Studies, a think-tank affiliated with the Foreign Ministry, said China and the United States would not allow the South China Sea spat to overshadow Xi's trip. "There's so much else to discuss. It's in neither country's interests to allow this to affect the broader picture," Ruan said. China says the outposts in the Spratlys will have undefined military purposes, as well as help with maritime search and rescue, disaster relief and navigation. Wang said on Wednesday that Beijing had halted land reclamation and that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China shared a desire to resolve the thorny issue through dialogue. In June, China said it would soon complete some of its reclamation, while adding it would continue to build facilities on the man-made islands. Kerry said he hoped China had stopped island building, but that what was needed was an end to "militarization". He added that Wang's commitment to resolving the South China Sea issue had not been as "fulsome" as some had hoped. "In my meeting with ... Wang Yi, he indicated I think a different readiness of China to try to resolve some of this, though I think it was still not as fulsome as many of us would like to see," Kerry later told reporters.”

Japan May Give Planes to Manila for South China Sea Patrols.
Japan wants to give planes to the Philippines that Manila could use for patrols in the South China Sea, sources said, a move that would deepen Tokyo's security ties with the Southeast Asian nation most at odds with Beijing over the disputed waterway. Four sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Japan was looking to offer three Beechcraft TC-90 King Air planes that could be fitted with basic surface and air surveillance radar. They said talks within the Japanese government were preliminary and would need to overcome legal hurdles. Japan had yet to formally propose the planes as an alternative to more sophisticated Lockheed Martin P3-C aircraft that Manila wants to track Chinese submarine activity, they added. Senior Philippine military and defence officials in Manila said they had not heard about the possible donation of the twin-turboprop TC-90 aircraft, which Japan uses to train military pilots. "The Philippines doesn't have enough aircraft to conduct regular patrols over the SouthChina Sea," one of the sources in Japan said, declining to be identified because he was not authorised to talk to the media. Donating aircraft, even small planes, would represent a military upgrade for the Philippines, which has only a handful of fixed-wing planes it can deploy on maritime patrols. Tokyo has no claims in the South China Sea, but is worried about Beijing's construction of seven artificial islands in the waterway's Spratly archipelago, which will extend Chinese military reach into sea lanes through which much of Japan's ship-borne trade passes.Concerns over the islands have dominated regional meetings in Kuala Lumpur this week between Southeast Asia and countries including Japan, China and the United States. Equipping Manila with maritime-capable patrol planes would dovetail with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's more muscular security agenda but likely anger China, which has repeatedly accused Japan of interfering in the South China Sea dispute. A spokesman for Japan's Ministry of Defense said working level talks had been set up to explore possible cooperation in defence equipment with the Philippines but that there was no "concrete plan" to give Manila the TC-90s. Philippine Defence Minister Voltaire Gazmin told Reuters he was unaware of anyJapanese plan to supply the aircraft. Top Philippine generals said they were also unaware of any proposal but welcomed the growing security cooperation with Japan. China's Defence Ministry expressed concern about the plan. "We hope that military cooperation between the relevant countries can benefit regional peace and stability, rather than the opposite," it said in a statement faxed to Reuters. To allow what would be its first donation of equipment used by the Japanese military to another country, lawmakers would have to amend financial regulations that require second-hand government-owned equipment to be sold at fair market value, sources said. That could open the way for Japan to give military equipment to other friendly nations in Southeast Asia.”

South Korea, Japan Resume Annual Defense Talks.
South Korea and Japan Wednesday resumed their annual defense dialogue, after last year's meeting was canceled due to diplomatic strains over historical and territorial disputes. Seoul's defense ministry said the bilateral meeting — held every year since 1994 except for 2014 — began in Seoul between delegations led by Yoon Soon-Gu, director general of international policy at Seoul's defense ministry, and his Japanese counterpart Atsuo Suzuki. The officials discussed North Korea as well as Japan's recent moves to revise its pacifist constitution, a defense ministry spokesman said. Seoul reacted negatively to Japan's proposal for the signing of new bilateral accords on military information and logistical support, he said. South Korea also expressed concern about the possibility of Japan exercising the doctrine of "collective self-defense" around the Korean Peninsula without its consent. Tokyo is trying to expand the role of its military so that it can come to the aid of allies who are under attack. Ties between the Asian neighbors have been in the doldrums for several years, with South Korea insisting that Japan apologize and make amends for abuses during its 1910-45 rule over the Korean Peninsula. In particular it wants Tokyo to address the issue of Korean women forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels. Japan insists the issue of the so-called "comfort women" was settled in a 1965 agreement that restored diplomatic ties. The two countries are also at odds over ownership of the sparsely populated Dokdo islets — known as Takeshima in Japan — that sit in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). Recent moves by Japan's hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to strengthen his country's military and expand its role have been watched extremely warily in South Korea.”

Xi Jinping Tightens Grip on Army, Ups Pressure on India.
The recent round of promotions in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by China’s President and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Xi Jinping, on the occasion of PLA Day on August 1, 2015, appears to continue the emphasis on professionalism and preference for either battle-field or other operational experience for elevation to the higher ranks of the PLA. Included in the list are some officers whose affiliations to Xi Jinping are identified. The promotions are also indicative of Xi Jinping having begun to prepare for the 19th Party Congress in 2017.  The criteria of professionalism and preference for battle-field experience in higher echelon PLA appointments was evident in the composition of the new Central Military Commission (CMC) announced at the 18th Party Congress in 2012. The main features of China’s new Military leadership were clearly these: professional background of all the Members and both Vice Chairmen of the Military Commission; the increased number of ‘princelings’, or members of the ‘Red Nobility’ led by the Chairman of the CMC Xi Jinping; and the implicit emphasis on Integrated Joint Operations (IJO), especially an enhanced operational role for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force (PLAAF). It was at this CMC that the PLAAF for the first time ever had two representatives namely, Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Xu Qiliang and PLAAF Commander and concurrent Military Commission Member General Ma Xiaotian. The ten officers now promoted to the highest rank of General are: PLA Deputy Chief of Staff Wang Guanzhong; Deputy Head of the PLA’s General Political Department Yin Fanglong; PLA Navy Political Commissar Miao Hua; Commander of the Beijing Military Region Song Puxuan; Commander of the Lanzhou Military Region Liu Yuejun; Commander of the Jinan Military Region Zhao Zongqi; Commander of the Chengdu Military Region Li Zuocheng; and Political Commissar of the Nanjing Military Area Command Zheng Weiping. The others promoted were Zhang Shibo, President of the PLA National Defence University (NDU) and Wang Ning, Commander of the People’s Armed Police Force (PAPF). Of the ten officers promoted at least four are veterans with battle experience. Zhao Zongqi participated in the Sino-Vietnam War in 1979 when he is reported to have often disguised himself as a Vietnamese to gather information.”

Time to Crack Down on Chinese Hacking.
“On Monday, the New York Times’ David Sanger reported that the Obama administration has decided that it needs to retaliate for Chinese hackers’ attack on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). It’s about time. The argument against doing so—that the United States could not retaliate because the hack was (a) “classic espionage” and thus legitimate, and (b) American intelligence agencies are doing or would do the same to China—was never persuasive. Not only does the U.S. government have a responsibility to protect its civil servants, there is little inconsistent about attempting to deter China from engaging in behavior in which the United States might also be engaging. States locked in great power competition seek advantages where they can—such is the nature of the game. Unfortunately, the reported desire to avoid “prompting an escalating cyberconflict,” as Sanger put it, is troubling, especially since an administration official told him, “One of the conclusions we’ve reached is that we need to be a bit more public about our responses, and one reason is deterrence.” These two strands of thought are inconsistent. Deterrence 101: in order to effectively deter your adversary, telegraph that you’re willing to risk escalation, not that you want to avoid it. While the administration must, of course, consider how Beijing will react to any U.S. retaliation, it is China’s apparent assumption that meaningful U.S. retaliation was unlikely that should really be giving American officials heartburn. China has learned that it can continually escalate the severity of its cyberattacks on the United States without having to pay any significant costs for doing so. The administration, one hopes, has finally determined it’s time for Beijing to unlearn that lesson. The question remains: how to do so? Sanger reports that one option being discussed is “finding a way to breach the so-called great firewall,” which China uses to censor and control the internet. The great firewall has become a central tool of the Chinese Communist Party in its efforts to maintain power. Threatening to tear it down may lead Beijing to rethink its cost-benefit analysis when considering future hacks. But retaliation need not be limited to the cyber realm. In September, Xi Jinping is scheduled to make a state visit to the United States, in which President Obama will roll out the red carpet for the Chinese leader. The fetting of Xi is entirely inappropriate given the OPM hack, not to mention Chinese moves in the South China Sea, Beijing’s stepped-up domestic repression, and its broad-based effort to undermine the US-led liberal international order. The trip should be canceled. At the very least, the visit should be downgraded to a working visit and Washington should refuse to issue any sort of joint statement. This would be, admittedly, a symbolic move, but one that would get China’s attention. In another act of signaling, the United States should boycott China’s military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | August 06, 2015

Six Summertime Steps in the South China Sea. “This week, the countries that comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will assemble for their annual regional forum. Though not on the formal agenda, a hot topic will be a Code of Conduct with China for managing disputes in the South China Sea, which has been sought since the late 1990s but eluded the parties for as long. China’s recent Spratly island building activities have raised a new sense of urgency for codifying rules of behavior among other states in the region. Beijing’s building also suggests that China remains uninterested in crystallizing the territorial status quo in the South China Sea (for more on the South China Sea and why it matters, check out WOTR’s first Around The World podcast!). U.S. policymakers, for their part, have had harsh words for their Chinese counterparts in private and in public as China’s island spree has unfolded. Amidst this substantial pressure, the ASEAN–China Code of Conduct remains Washington’s best hope that the South China Sea disputes can be managed diplomatically. The reasons for continued U.S. interest in this lingering initiative are not difficult to divine. The United States is not a claimant in the South China Sea disputes, and although it has stated national interests at stake — namely, freedom of navigation, and the desire to avoid armed conflict — Washington cannot advance these without some support from other states in the region. Its relationship with Beijing is also much broader than just the South China Sea, so treating China’s Spratly assertiveness as a bilateral issue is simply not reflective of Washington’s political stakes. The South China Sea disputes are, therefore, a place where a pragmatic U.S. strategy must contain a heavy cooperative component. But can multilateral means help to ensure Washington’s stated ends in this much-watched waterway? Put differently, is it possible for the United States to secure its interests in the South China Sea in tandem with other regional actors? There is plenty of evidence that Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Taiwan share U.S. interests when it comes to security at sea and China’s use of coercion. These claimant states have shown an obvious interest in balancing against China since its island building got underway in 2014. All of these countries have expanded their naval and coast guard capabilities with clear South China Sea applications. These include patrol vessels, transport ships, corvettes, landing crafts, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, submarines, and patrol aircraft. In 2014–2015, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia have all pursued new strategic partnerships. Most obviously, an alliance is emerging between Manila and Hanoi, but claimants have forged ties among themselves and with Japan, Australia, and India. These claimants have also commenced training exercises with new partner militaries and drills that are explicitly focused on defense in the maritime domain. China’s assertiveness has also encouraged new diplomatic and political relationships.”

Extending Domestic Governance Over the Seas.
“In 2012, contestations by East Asian countries over isolated islands were widely reported in the world. Most media called them territorial disputes, but if we focus on China as the main actor of the issue, it is more accurate to recognize them as maritime disputes. China claims the area inside of a nine-dashed line in the South China Sea as its “historical water.” She also claims most of the East China Sea, but through a different logic—saying China holds sovereign rights over all of the “continental shelf” up to the Okinawa Trough, a ditch that runs right along the Ryukyu Islands. It should be noted that China, after two decades of silence, resumed advertising domestically that she has held sovereignty over the “Diaoyu Dao” (Senkaku Islands) since 1996, the same year she ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, if Japan legitimately owns the Senkaku Islands, the territory that sits on the “continental shelf” claimed by China, Chinese logic does not stand. In 1982, General Liu Huaqing of China proposed the strategy of “offshore defense” and drew a line through the Kurile Islands, Japan and the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, the Philippines, Borneo, and Natuna Besar. He set the year 2000 as the goal for establishing Chinese control inside this “First Island Chain.” The current waters China claims are essentially following the strategic plan that General Liu suggested. However, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is not the only force that is active in China’s maritime expansion. In fact, to minimize costs, China has been taking various actions to reduce the possibility of a clash with the United States. Taking advantage of American passiveness to intervene in territorial disputes in Asia, China has been trying to expand its area of actual control by extending domestic governance over the seas. Over the last decade, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) under the State Council, along with its maritime law enforcement body, has assumed more responsibility in the oceanic administration and developed a clearer division of labor within PLAN. To understand the nature of China’s maritime expansion, this paper will first examine Chinese understanding of maritime zones and how this differs from that of other countries. Then, it will trace the organizational history of the SOA based on its publications and based on observations from Japan in order to extract some characteristics of the SOA’s behavior toward the sea. Japanese scholar Shigeo Hiramatsu has pointed out that China has a different understanding of borders than the Westphalian international system developed in Europe. In 1987, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) raised the idea of “strategic periphery” (战略边境) during the discussion of its own restructuring.”

How China Is Winning Southeast Asia.
“With preparations for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s September visit to Washington, DC, underway, officials in both countries are predictably playing down their differences over China’s outsize territorial claims, backed by the construction of military facilities on previously uninhabited islands and atolls, in the South China Sea. And this diplomatic de-escalation, following months of recriminations and veiled threats, suits Southeast Asian leaders just fine. Of course, no one in Southeast Asia is ignoring China’s strategic designs. The region’s defense spending has increased by more than 50% in the last decade, and some $60 billion has been earmarked for new weapons, especially naval hardware, over the next five years. The white paper on military strategy that China released in May, which touted plans to expand the country’s defense perimeter, intensified neighbors’ concerns, making even more military spending likely. Leaders in the region are now welcoming a stream of US military officials and defense manufacturers to see what America’s Asian “pivot” has to offer. Beyond new frigates and security guarantees, however, Southeast Asian leaders have refrained from reacting too strongly to China’s offshore ambitions. The economic facts on the ground demand prudence. In only two decades, China has become Southeast Asian countries’ leading economic partner, boosting its influence throughout the region. Chinese leaders’ constant effort to expand economic cooperation stands in stark contrast to America’s approach to the region. Consider trade. Since 2000, bilateral trade between China and the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has grown tenfold, from $32 billion to $350 billion last year, and could reach $500 billion in 2015. As China has risen to become Southeast Asia’s largest trading partner, the US has slipped to fourth place, with only $206 billion in total trade with ASEAN last year. Given Southeast Asia’s growing economic importance, the implications of this trend could not be weightier. The ASEAN countries’ combined annual GDP is already $2.4 trillion and growing fast, owing to their rapidly expanding middle class, highly skilled workers, and increasingly upscale markets. If the current trend holds, China’s trade with ASEAN could reach $1 trillion by 2020. The picture for direct investment – the financial flows that support the construction of factories, offices, warehouses, mines, and farms – is equally striking. From 1995 to 2003, Chinese companies invested a mere $631 million in ASEAN countries; in 2013, they invested $30 billion. Though China remains well behind Japan, Europe, and the US on this front, it certainly has the potential to catch up, as Chinese private-equity firms increasingly look abroad. Indeed, from agriculture to information technology, the Chinese are diversifying their stakes across the region and embedding their companies in ASEAN’s advanced and frontier economies. hina’s Southeast Asian partners cannot afford to ignore these efforts. That is one reason why all ten ASEAN countries signed on as founding members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, despite US opposition.”

China Warns Taiwan against Return to 'Evil Ways' of Independence.
 "China's top policy maker on Taiwan warned the self-ruled island on Thursday it would soon have to choose between continuing the peaceful development of ties, or returning to the "evil ways" of independence, which would threaten the peace. The harsh comments came as a 73-year-old Taiwan politician announced he would run for president in January, likely acting as a spoiler boosting the chances of an independence-leaning opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rival to win. The entry of James Soong, chairman of the Taiwan's People First Party, could make the task of retaining power harder for the ruling Nationalist Party, which is unpopular over a perceived creeping dependence on China. Soong, a once powerful Nationalist politician, is expected to split the ruling party's votes, paving the way for front runner and DPP presidential hopeful Tsai Ing-wen to win. The Nationalists are expected to be thrashed by the DPP in the poll, a result likely to upsetChina, which claims Taiwan as its own and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under Beijing's control. Zhang Zhijun, head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, told a forum on China-Taiwan relations that Taiwan was at a crucial point, facing profound societal changes, endless political disputes and frequent "interference" in ties with China. "Will cross-Taiwan Strait relations continue to advance on the road of peaceful development, so people can enjoy the peace dividend? ... Or will it turn back, turning its back on history and returning to the evil ways of Taiwan independence?" Zhang said, in a transcript released by the Chinese government. The DPP, which has traditionally favored Taiwan's formal independence, says it believes only the island's people can decide its future. Beijing takes this to mean it wants independence. The first, and so far only, DPP president, Chen Shui-bian, infuriated Beijing during his term from 2000 to 2008. China accused him of trying to push for independence, even though Chen tried to maintain stable ties. "It must be seen that the forces of Taiwan independence are obstinately and resolutely promoting their separatist position, and this is the biggest threat to the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait," Zhang said, adding that China's determination to protect its territorial integrity would "never waver". Nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after a civil war with the Communists. Relations improved after the Nationalist Ma Ying-jeou became president in 2008. China and Taiwan have since signed a series of landmark trade and economic deals. Ma steps down next year because of term limits."

China Seeks Joint Pacific Security Vision With Russia.
 "Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Minister’s Meeting in Kuala Lumpur. According to Xinhua, Wang told Lavrov that “China is willing to strengthen the strategic coordination with Russia on Asia-Pacific affairs to promote a common, cooperative, comprehensive and sustainable Asian security concept and jointly safeguard regional peace, stability and development.” It’s the latest indication that China is seeking to leverage Russia’s growing military presence in the region to advance its own security and defense interests in the Pacific. China and Russia already have a history of cooperation in Central Asia, defying predictions that competition over that region will derail their relationship. The two countries function as co-leaders in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and have even linked together their economic visions for the region (Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt). When it comes to the Pacific Ocean region, however, Russia and China’s joint activities have been slower to develop – but that’s starting to change. In part, that’s due to an increased Russia presence in the Pacific, particularly on the military front. In April, U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear, then the commander of Pacific Command, told the House Armed Services Committee that Russia “has returned to … nearly a Cold War level of activity” in the Pacific. Russia is improving is strategic nuclear deterrent and submarine force on its eastern coast, in the north Pacific, Locklear said, and is “exerting increased influence not only in the Arctic… but also in Northeast Asia.” Russia has also been increasing its military presence in Southeast Asia, Locklear added. Japan has also noted increased Russian military activity. In fiscal year 2014, Japan scrambled fighter jets 943 times, a 16 percent increase over FY2013 and the second-highest rate ever. That increase back to Cold War levels was partly due to increased flights by Chinese fighters near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, but equally due to Russian bombers and patrol planes passing close to Japan’s north. In fact, Chinese aircraft accounted for under half (464) of the scrambles, Japan’s Defense Ministry reported. Scrambles to meet Russian aircraft were up roughly four times from 2004 levels. Russia also recently announced that it will build up its military and civilian infrastructure on the Kuril Islands, which Japan claims at the Northern Territories, meaning Japan can expect Russia’s military presence in the north Pacific to continue to grow. China, meanwhile, seems to welcome this increased Russian presence. In addition to stepping up joint military exercises, including a planned naval drill to be held in the Sea of Japan later in August, China and Russia held their first-ever meeting specifically dedicated to the topic of Northeast Asian security issues in April. At the meeting, the two countries “agreed to enhance dialogues and coordination to promote peace and stability in the region,” according to Xinhua. For China, a more active Russian approach toward the Asia-Pacific provides a useful counterweight to U.S. influence in the region. Beijing also appreciates Moscow’s support on security issues, where the two countries often see eye-to-eye. Russia and China joined voices to object to the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system THAAD on South Korea, for example.”

Kerry Says U.S. Will Not Accept Restrictions in South China Sea.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday accused China of not allowing freedom of navigation and overflight in the disputed South China Sea, despite giving assurances that such freedoms would not be impeded. Addressing a regional meeting in Kuala Lumpur that has been dominated by the South China Sea, Kerry said China's construction of facilities for "military purposes" on man-made islands was raising tensions and risked "militarization" by other claimant states. "Freedom of navigation and overflight are among the essential pillars of international maritime law," Kerry told the East Asia Summit attended by foreign ministers from Southeast Asia, China, Japan and other nations. "Despite assurances that these freedoms would be respected, we have seen warnings issued and restrictions attempted in recent months," Kerry said. "Let me be clear: The United States will not accept restrictions on freedom of navigation and overflight, or other lawful uses of the sea." China has repeatedly warned Philippine military aircraft away from the artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, Philippine military officials have said. The Chinese navy also issued eight warnings to the crew of a U.S. P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft when it conducted overflights in the area in May, according to CNN, which was aboard the U.S. aircraft. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims. The ASEAN group of Southeast Asian nations said some members had "serious concerns" about land reclamation in the South China Sea, according to a draft of the final communique to be issued at the end of their separate talks in Kuala Lumpur this week and seen by Reuters. Members states had wrangled hard before finally agreeing on the wording of the communique. The communique is expected to say that South China Sea matters were extensively discussed. It will also say that China and ASEAN countries would proceed to the "next stage" of consultations on a code of conduct that is intended to bind them to detailed rules of behavior at sea. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday that Beijing had halted land reclamation in the South China Sea and that ASEAN and China shared a desire to resolve the thorny issue through dialogue. In June, China said it would soon complete some of its reclamation in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, while adding it would continue to build facilities on the man-made islands.”

New US-Vietnam Agreement Shows Growth, Challenges.
“The US and Vietnam signed a defense agreement Monday, a document which officials hope will grow the military relationship between the two nations and will eventually lead to co-production of military equipment. The Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations was signed at a ceremony by US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Vietnamese Defence MInister Gen. Phung Quang Thanh. "Following last year's decision by the United States to partially lift the ban on arms sales to Vietnam, our countries are now committed, for the first time, to operate together, to step up our defense trade, and to work toward co-production," Carter said in remarks. The statement is nonbinding, and the Pentagon sometimes feels like a factory dedicated to producing such documents. But a US official, speaking on background due to the sensitive nature of negotiations, characterized the agreement as a big deal, in part because it updates the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding that has been the guidelines for the US-Vietnamese military relationship to reflect new changes. The Vietnamese, the official said, hew closely to such documents, and pushing for anything not included in the 2011 MOU would effectively be a non-starter. Hence, the new language opens new avenues on defense issues, including the option of co-production of military equipment in the future. The agreement explicitly calls to "expand defense trade between our two countries, potentially including cooperation in the production of new technologies and equipment, where possible under current law and policy restrictions." Getting there won't be quick, the official warned, but it is a potential watermark for any defense industry players who look at the regional market and hope to exploit the growing split between Beijing and Hanoi. Vietnam buys more than 90 percent of its defense materiel from Russia. The offer of co-production is hence a win-win for both sides. The US can expand its defense industrial reach while also chipping at some of the foreign military control of Russia, while Vietnam can wean itself off of a sole-source provider for its gear. In the meantime, both sides are looking for potential sales of equipment. That is set to become easier, with the US Senate's top official, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ready to introduce a bill to lower restrictions on arms sales to Vietnam. That follows an executive order from the Obama administration in October that eased other restrictions. Through a translator, Thanh expressed pleasure on the shifting arms rules, but called for a full stop to any restrictions. "What we do hope and do wish is the full removal of restrictions on lethal weapons against Vietnam," Thanh said. "The full removal of the restrictions would [show] the trust and respect between the two countries. And that is, I believe, in line with the interest of both countries." As part of the agreement, Carter also announced that the Pentagon is stationing a peacekeeping expert at the American embassy in Vietnam in order to help educate and guide Vietnam's entry into global peacekeeping operations. Vietnam has expressed interest in expanding into that realm for the first time, although when its first peacekeeping operation may occur is not yet known.”

The Myth of a US-China Grand Bargain.
“A number of scholars have tried to advance the well-intentioned proposal that U.S. concessions to China’s many concerns will somehow facilitate a peaceful order in Asia. While I agree with the sentiment and recognize that there are areas of international life where Sino-U.S. cooperation is essential, the idea that U.S. accommodation of China will produce a peaceful and stable order in Asia isn’t just unrealistic; it’s irresponsible. Though it wasn’t the first, Hugh White’s China Choice was an early and pointed call for the United States to form a “G-2” with China in which the two countries would work together to set the terms of the regional order, requiring that the United States accommodate the demands of a rising China. Jim Steinberg’s and Michael O’Hanlon’s Strategic Reassurance and Resolve reiterates many of White’s points, but with better theoretical grounding. Lyle Goldstein’s Meeting China Halfway argues far more persuasively than many in this lineage, and some of his specific recommendations merit serious consideration—not least because they would incur no great cost to try. But there are equally serious reasons to doubt the transformative ambitions attached to U.S. concessions. The latest salvo in this “America must accommodate China” literature hails from an accomplished political scientist at George Washington University, Charles Glaser, writing in the most recent issue of International Security. Glaser makes the sweeping and somewhat unhelpful claim that military competition is risky and therefore undesirable. As an alternative he suggests that if only the United States would abandon commitments to Taiwan, China would be willing to resolve its territorial disputes in the East and South China Sea, thereby sidestepping military competition. Prior to around 2008, proposals for U.S. accommodation of a rising China made much more sense, or at least could be taken more seriously. But times have changed. China’s ambitions have changed. And so has its foreign policy behavior. These contextual changes matter for whether and when accommodation can have the desired effect. More to the point though, there are a number of problems with the grand bargain line of argumentation. First, any proposal for a Sino-U.S. solution to regional problems is by definition taking a great power view of Asia that marginalizes the agency and strategic relevance of U.S. allies and the region’s middle powers. In the brief period (five to ten years ago) when a G-2 concept was taken semi-seriously in Washington, allies—especially South Korea and Japan—chafed. The region’s middle powers would be unlikely to simply follow the joint dictates of China and the United States without being part of it, and attempting a G-2 could ironically create a more fragmented order as a result. Including others, at any rate, is antithetical to the concept of a Sino-U.S. G-2 arrangement. As early as the 1960s U.S. officials tried to rely on China to deal with regional issues spanning from North Korea to Vietnam. It was almost always to no avail. Second, and as I’ve written about extensively elsewhere, Asia is rife with security concerns that have nothing to do with China directly, so any understanding reached with China would leave unresolved many of the region’s latent sources of potential conflict.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | August 05, 2015

Asean Urged to Stand Up to Beijing Over South China Sea. “An alliance of Southeast Asian nations should be central to tackling the region’s territorial disputes, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said, setting up a potential clash with China. At the start of a summit here involving the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Mr. Najib said it was time for Asean to “take a more active role” in safeguarding regional security, including handling “overlapping [territorial] claims." Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam are locked in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea. These have worsened in recent months, with Chinese island-building projects in contested waters upsetting rival claimants. Asean has generally taken a back seat, however, since most of its members aren’t directly involved in the disputes. But on Tuesday, Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh agreed with Mr. Najib’s call for a more assertive and collectively responsive Southeast Asia, criticizing Beijing for “eroding the very trust and confidence…between Asean and China” through its “reclamation activities, illegal fishing bans and the harassment of fishermen” in the South China Sea. He urged Beijing to engage “in a really meaningful phase of consultations” with Asean to ease tensions. The U.S. has likewise encouraged Asean to impose itself on the South China Sea problem. It would only be “natural” for Asean to address what is a “critical aspect of regional security,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said in Washington on Monday. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the Malaysian capital Tuesday and will likely meet his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, later this week, Mr. Toner said. China has repeatedly urged the U.S. to stay out of South China Sea disputes. In a commentary Tuesday. the official Xinhua news agency said: “Hyping up the South China Sea issue will undermine the generally stable situation in the region, which has not come about easily.” China would work with Asean to develop a proposed code of conduct regulating behavior in the South China Sea, Mr. Wang told reporters in Singapore on Monday, while restating China’s long-held position that Asean has no role to play when it comes to resolving the disputes. He also rejected American proposals for a moratorium on reclamation activities, opposing any intervention by “non-regional countries,” and said an Asean summit was no place to air territorial grievances. “China has never believed those multilateral forums are the appropriate place for discussing specific bilateral issues,” Mr. Wang said. Mr. Najib disagreed on Tuesday, calling on the bloc to speak with a “united voice” on thorny regional challenges like territorial disputes. The recent establishment of an Asean-China hotline to help manage maritime emergencies was one encouraging sign of progress between the two sides, Mr. Minh said in an interview. “On the other hand…we have seen the continuation of very complicated and dangerous developments, especially the reclamation activities,” he said.”

Kerry Raises South China Sea Concerns with China's Wang.
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his concern about China's land reclamation and construction on man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea during talks with his Chinese counterpart on Wednesday, a senior State Department official said. Kerry made the remarks to Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Kuala Lumpur on the sidelines of meetings involving the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where tensions in the South China Sea have taken center stage. The official said Kerry told Wang that while Washington did not take a position on sovereignty claims in the strategic waterway, it wanted to see them resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law. Kerry also reiterated U.S. concerns over the "militarization" of features on the Chinese-held islands in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, the official added. "He encouraged China, along with the other claimants, to halt problematic actions in order to create space for diplomacy," the official said. In brief remarks to reporters after his talks with Kerry, Wang said China would pursue "peaceful discussions" to resolve the South China Sea dispute. He did not elaborate. Recent satellite images show China has almost finished building a 3,000-metre-long (10,000-foot) airstrip on one of its seven new islands in the Spratlys. The airstrip will be long enough to accommodate most Chinese military aircraft, security experts have said, giving Beijing greater reach into the heart of maritime Southeast Asia. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims. China had said it did not want the South China Sea dispute raised at this week's ASEAN meetings, but some ministers, including from host Malaysia, rebuffed that call, saying the issue was too important to ignore. In a statement, Japan's senior vice foreign minister Minoru Kiuchi "voiced deep concern over unilateral actions that change the status quo and heighten tensions in the SouthChina Sea, including large-scale land reclamation, the construction of outposts and their use for military purposes." Despite strong public comments by several Southeast Asian ministers about the need to reduce tensions, the grouping had yet to issue a customary communiqué following annual talks between its foreign ministers on Tuesday. "On the South China Sea, I think we are probably nearing a formulation," said Jakkrit Srivali, director-general of the ASEAN department at Thailand's Foreign Affairs Ministry. Other issues had also held up the statement, he said without elaborating. A communiqué was expected at the end of joint meetings between ASEAN, the United States, China,Japan and other countries on Thursday, senior officials said. China and Southeast Asian nations had agreed to set up a foreign ministers' hotline to tackle emergencies in the waterway, a senior ASEAN official said on Friday.”

Regaining the Initiative in the South China Sea.
On May 26, the State Council Information Office released an English-language version of the Chinese Military Strategy. Short, sweet, and immensely more readable than its American counterpart, the PRC’s military strategy is notable for its transition to an overt, “active defense” posture for Chinese military forces. Among the many salient points is the emphasis on gaining the strategic initiative, which is one of eight specified strategic tasks for the Chinese military. This is not a new development, but recent activities in the South China Sea (SCS) illustrate the reality that China has already seized the strategic initiative in those waters. Force dispositions in the SCS make it clear that the PRC has no intention of surrendering the initiative. A passive U.S. response will only continue to demonstrate to China the usefulness of its approach, while traditional flexible deterrent options are both unnecessarily provocative and likely to be ineffective. A comprehensive, long-term engagement and modernization strategy focused on Partner Nation (PN) and U.S. airpower may provide an opportunity for the U.S. to reverse PRC gains in the SCS and prevent further gains. Airpower, particularly airpower employed by partner nations, is the necessary backbone of a strategy to effectively neutralize the political effectiveness of the PRC’s island forts in the South China Sea. A robust engagement strategy, combined with a modernized American bomber force, will allow the United States to credibly project power or assist local defense efforts, even in cases where local basing for U.S. forces is unavailable. This proposed U.S. strategy has three elements; new defense relationships, a revised toolkit for building up partner nation air and seapower capabilities, and a modernized long-range bomber force. Any discussion of the South China Sea has to start with the geography. China’s claims essentially encompass the entire sea, based on the remnants of the 11-dash line inherited from the Republic of China in 1947. Now referred to as the “nine-dash line” (two were deleted by Zhou Enlai), the line encompasses territory that has historically been claimed or occupied by other nations, including marginal reefs, shoals, and sandbars. Some of those marginal points have been occupied by China and other nations with claims, and a number have been expanded into artificial islands complete with military facilities, including airfields. While much has been said in the press about China’s militarized artificial islands, fortified islands have all of the disadvantages of an aircraft carrier, without the mobility that makes the carrier worthwhile. As the Japanese discovered in WWII, fortified islands are locations where forces are dangerously concentrated into tight spaces with limited materiel, fuel and munitions. Militarily, small island bases are easy to isolate, hard to defend, and they concentrate forces in the most unfavorable manner – when they are most vulnerable to attack.”

America's Government Is Torn on How to Handle China.
“In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Defense was considering sending Navy surveillance aircraft and vessels within 12 nautical miles of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea, violating what Beijing claims as its territorial waters and airspace. Since then, though the U.S. has made a point of publicizing its patrols in the region – including by inviting a CNN camera crew on board a surveillance operation in May, and having a Pacific Fleet commander on board another flight in July – so far, the U.S. Navy has not publicly admitted to conducting operations within 12 nm of any Chinese-controlled features. According to a new report from Politico, the delay stems from a disagreement between the White House and the Pentagon over the wisdom of such operations. The crux of the debate is the Pentagon’s view that China’s artificial features, as man-made constructions, are not entitled to a 12 nm territorial zone. By maintaining that distance from those features, military analysts worry that the U.S. is effectively lending credence to China’s attempts to alter the status quo. As U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter put it at the Shangri-La Dialogue, “After all, turning an underwater rock into an airfield simply does not afford the rights of sovereignty or permit restrictions on international air or maritime transit.” Meanwhile, detractors in the White House worry that deliberate (and public) U.S. operations within the 12 nm zone would escalate tensions in the volatile region, as China would respond to a perceived violation of its territory. In a worst-case scenario, that could result in a confrontation between U.S. and Chinese military assets, potentially leading to shots fired. Thus, the White House has decided to tread carefully – at least so far. That will become more difficult as opponents of the more cautious strategy make their grievance public. It’s not only the Pentagon calling for a more robust response – some members of Congress are as well. The Politico report comes after the Senate tried to pin down Admiral John Richardson, the nominee for Chief of Naval Operations, on exactly how the administration would respond to China’s construction and island-building projects in the South China Sea. According to Breaking Defense, Richardson called China’s construction “destabilizing” but would not clarify whether or not the U.S. should respect a 12 nm zone around the artificial islands. Richardson said, “It’s absolutely important that the Navy continue to be present in that region… (but) we do have to respect the legitimately claimed territorial boundaries.” “Does that mean respecting that?” Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) responded, pointing to a photograph of Fiery Cross Reef, where China has constructed an airstrip over the past year. Richardson replied, “I’d have to at look exactly which of those claims are legitimate… It’s a dynamic situation there.” Meanwhile, Senator John McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Politico that not allowing to Navy to operate within the 12 nautical mile zone is “a dangerous mistake that grants de facto recognition of China’s man-made sovereignty claims.”

Japan Looks South: China’s Rise Drives New Strategy.
“You’d expect the top admiral in the Japan Self-Defense Force to talk about defending Japan. But Adm. Tomohisa Takei surprised me on his latest visit to Washington — his third in 10 months — with a speech that clearly demonstrates how Japan is broadening its strategic perspective. The new view from Tokyo takes in the Indian Ocean and, especially, the disputed South China Sea. Driving this change, of course, is an alarmingly assertive China. To quote analyst Andrew Krepinevich, who visited Japanese commanders earlier this year, “the combination of rising threats, declining confidence in the US, and the reinterpretation of Article 9 are both compelling and enabling the Japanese to think more broadly and strategically about their security.” What is striking about the new Japanese approach? Takei made no mention of North Korea, which has test-fired missiles over Japan, or the Senkaku Islands, claimed by China, or a resurgent Russia, Japan’s neighbor to the north. In his remarks at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the admiral didn’t even talk much about “the Pacific,” preferring the more expansive “Indo-Pacific” (at least 14 times, by my count). Instead of discussing northeast Asia, Takei warned that continued chaos in Somalia and new instability in Yemen keep piracy alive in the Gulf of Aden, where the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force provides escort ships and patrol aircraft. And, after some thinly veiled remarks about “a certain country” causing “anxiety and distrust” by its actions in the South China Sea, Takei came right out and said the C-word with an un-Japanese directness: “China is making rapid progress in its land reclamation at coral reefs of the Spratly Islands in spite of [neighboring] countries’ opposition,” Takei said. If these pseudo-islands are used as military bases, he went on, “the entire South China Sea can be covered by China’s sphere of military influence.” “The South China Sea is the economic center of gravity of the Indo-Pacific,” Takei said. “Sea lanes stretch to and from all directions, [and] it will be vitally important that the South China Sea is ‘free and open waters’ all the time.” Recognizing that fact, let alone making it central to Japanese strategy, is a major step for the island nation. For most of its modern history, Japan has stuck with a strict interpretation of Article 9, the part of its constitution that renounces war. Utterly humbled after the enormous destruction wrought by the two nuclear weapons dropped on Japan, the Japan Self-Defense Force has focused on self-defense in the narrowest sense, especially protecting the northern island of Hokkaido against a Soviet ground invasion. But the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is pushing controversial legislation that would reinterpret Article 9 to allow “collective self-defense” — that is, working with other countries against regional threats. “Right now the collective self-defense piece is being caught up in a political battle,” said Nicholas Szechenyi, a Japan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.”

Why is China Playing Nice with Japan?
“It was no coincidence that when Chinese President Xi Jinping wanted to signal a willingness to warm up his nation’s chilly relations with Japan, he chose a group of business leaders as his audience. China’s leader made a surprise visit to a lavish dinner on May 23 for no fewer than 3,000 Japanese business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. “China has always been committed to the development of China-Japan relations as its policy principle, and it will continue to do so in the future,” he told the group, led by ruling Liberal Democratic Party senior figure Toshihiro Nikai. Xi appeared downright chummy with Nikai — a sharp contrast to his April meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and especially his November meeting, where he looked like he had just come from a funeral. The more upbeat Xi coincides with what analysts say is a surprisingly low-key response from Beijing to legislation Abe is pushing that would expand the role of the nation’s self-defense force to help out allies, principally the United States. Abe is using his supermajority in parliament to push through legislative changes that would allow the armed forces to engage in collective self-defense. The notion of helping out if U.S. forces defending Japan coming under attack is not radical. Many Japanese legal scholars believe, however, that the idea requires a change to Japan’s pacifist constitution. While Chinese media has condemned the move, often quoting Japanese opponents to the idea, top Chinese officials have been largely quiet. There has also been good news for Abe from his other big problem area, South Korea. After taking a hard-line position on Abe and cancelling a series of planned bilateral meetings, President Park Geun-hye has recently sounded much more conciliatory. In an interview with the Washington Post in early June, Park let drop that the two countries were in “the final stage of our negotiations” on the issue of forced prostitution for Japan’s military during wartime. (Tokyo refers to them as “comfort women,” while those on the other side prefer the term sex slaves.) According to Japanese media, a possible deal would include a personal apology from Abe and money to the survivors direct from the Japanese government, rather than through a “private” fund as previously offered. Seoul would in turn agree that the gesture finally settles the issue, and would stop protesting it internationally. While no deal has yet to be announced, Park’s willingness to go out on a limb in such a public fashion suggests that she too is eager to mend relations. And in a minor victory for better ties, the two countries in early July papered over a squabble regarding U.N. historical designation for some of Japan’s first factories, some of which had used forced laborers, including Koreans, during World War II. These improvements have come about even though Abe has shown little inclination to soften his stance on what are politely called “historical issues”: He and his supporters have stuck to their view that international investigations into comfort women, including a 1996 U.N. report, have exaggerated the severity of the crimes. They also believed China exaggerated the death toll of the 1937-1938 Japanese massacre of Chinese civilians in the city of Nanjing.”

Australia to Accelerate Naval Buildup.
“Australia will accelerate construction of a fleet of warships as part of an ambitious build up meant to more closely integrate its military with the U.S. and respond to instability in Asia. Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday said his conservative government would start work on a 20 billion Australia dollar (US$14.6 billion) fleet of nine advanced frigates within five years – three years earlier than expected – while also beginning construction of 20 large offshore combat vessels. “This is about ensuring that we have a strong surface fleet to deal with whatever naval contingencies we face indefinitely, forever in fact,” Mr. Abbott told reporters. “This is a message of hope and confidence to the people of our country.” A strategic blueprint to be released as soon as next month lays out a modernized fleet of 40 surface warships and submarines that will allow Canberra to take a larger security role – as called for by the U.S. – in the face of unease over China’s rise and island-building in the South China Sea. Allies like Britain, Canada and the U.S., as well as European counterparts like Germany and the Netherlands, have been restraining defense budgets in response to sluggish economic conditions. But Mr. Abbott, buoyed by a decadelong resource boom that helped contain debt, has pledged to boost military spending to 2% of GDP from the current 1.8%, adding A$3.5 billion a year to the current A$32 billion military budget. Australia is building air warfare destroyers worth A$8.5 billion and introducing two 29,000-metric-ton transports each able to carry up to 1,000 amphibious troops, as well as helicopters, tanks and vehicles. It is also spending A$20 billion-plus on eight submarines and A$10 billion on thousands of new armored ground vehicles. The country will eventually have Asia’s biggest fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter aircraft, as well as long-range maritime drones and submarine-hunting Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft. It has just accepted the first of 12 Growler electronic-warfare and jamming aircraft, the first outside the U.S. “The U.S., all of Europe, the United Kingdom, everyone, is reversing military spending in an attempt to retire debt and redirect money to more urgent programs,” says defense-budget expert Mark Thomson of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “Australia is behaving very differently.” Australia’s defense planners see a strategic-risk environment unlike any since the end of the Vietnam War, driven by China’s rise and military buildups by Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore – all looking to hedge against strategic uncertainty related to China. “For us, this is wake-up time in strategic terms, and I think that weighs heavily on the government’s mind,” says Mr. Thomson. Australian Defense Minister Kevin Andrews in March told a naval conference that with 70% of Australia’s exports moving by sea in trade worth A$220 billion a year, a beefed-up navy is central to a defense planning white paper. The paper, which had been expected this month, has been delayed as the government looks to prioritize naval shipbuilding, in part to protect jobs as next year’s election looms.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | August 04, 2015

The Meltdown of the Global World Order “The geopolitical upheaval is most evident in the South China Sea, long a flash point where an ascendant China is now meeting nervous neighbors and a wary American hegemon. The region is nearly alone in seeing a collision of unintentional climate-related changes with drastic man-made geographical alterations. Here, sea levels are rising almost a centimeter a year, nearly three times the global average, and the Pacific trade winds that for centuries dictated the course of empires are showing unprecedented strength. Waves and water driven westward now threaten to erase tiny nations like Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, which rise just a body’s height above the sea. And increased moisture in the air over the Western Pacific, many scientists believe, is intensifying tropical storms, like the ones that keep battering the Philippines. Coming on top of these unnatural changes are frenetic, artificial geographical transformations. Over the past year, China (as well as, to a lesser extent, Vietnam) has embarked on an unprecedented campaign to create islands out of reefs, dredging up and piling on millions of tons of sand and spending billions of dollars to physically stake its claim to what until recently was just watery blue. Thanks to this reclamation effort, China has essentially, if not legally, expanded land in the Spratly and Paracel island groups and has effectively pushed out the Middle Kingdom’s borders—and its military—hundreds of miles from its coast. (Vietnam, on a much smaller scale, has also built up reefs into possible military waypoints.) This dredger-fueled muscle-flexing has already spurred alarm in Southeast Asian capitals and in the U.S. Defense Department. Within its broader rebalance to Asia, the United States is trying to pivot more specifically toward the South China Sea—an effort that includes more-robust military alliances with Australia, the Philippines, and Japan, in addition to much closer ties to Vietnam. Meanwhile, China’s actions potentially have huge implications for international law: Reefs, rocks, and islands each confer vastly different benefits on their owners, with issues of sovereignty and the title to billions of barrels of oil yet to be decided. Were China’s outposts legally deemed islands, Beijing could take hundreds of square miles of energy-rich waters currently claimed by other countries. The developments here and elsewhere are also pushing militaries everywhere to reinvent themselves. In fact, China’s official justification for building 10,000-foot airstrips in the middle of one of the world’s busiest trade routes was its need to better respond to stronger typhoons and other climate-related disasters. Just the specter of climate upheaval in the Western Pacific, in other words, gives land-grabbing Chinese leaders an excuse to create their own geographical realities and burnish their own geopolitical fortunes. More broadly, humanitarian assistance and disaster response have become increasingly important missions for militaries around the world, including those of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.”

China’s Next Sea Fortress.
“To understand China’s bid to dominate the Western Pacific, and America’s role in answering it, there are few better vantage points than the deck of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz. Based here at what was once the largest overseas base of the U.S. Navy, this frigate and a small number of other Philippine navy ships are working with the U.S. to defend Philippine territory and regional peace. Just over the horizon, China grabbed the Scarborough Shoal from Philippine control in 2012. Beijing is betting that American leaders and voters won’t appreciate the military, diplomatic and economic stakes in the conflict over rocks and islands in the South China Sea. The Alcaraz started life in 1968 as the USCGC Dallas, a Hamilton-class U.S. Coast Guard cutter based in Governors Island, N.Y., and then Charleston, S.C. Decommissioned and transferred to the Philippines in 2012, it is now painted battleship gray and equipped with several automatic cannons. At some 3,250 tons and 378 feet, it is one of the two largest vessels in Manila’s arsenal. Yet like the Tom Clancy novels available in its officers’ wardroom, it is a kind of paperback hand-me-down: good company in the right circumstances, but not quite serious enough for the big leagues. When I visit, the ship is in port for routine maintenance, fresh from joint exercises with the U.S. Navy. Parked at the adjacent piers are the USNS Safeguard and the USNS Amelia Earhart, flying the stars and stripes. Though the Philippine Senate closed the country’s U.S.-run military bases in a bout of postcolonial, post-Cold War nationalism in 1991, roads here still bear the names of U.S. heroes such as Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing. In recent years U.S. ships have made hundreds of calls at Subic, now a civilian freeport zone. China’s nearby bullying only causes that number to increase. Beijing is building military bases on artificial islands in the South China Sea, some as far as 750 miles from the Chinese coast and well within Manila’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone around Philippine shores. To date, this activity has been limited to the Spratly Islands, in the sea’s southeastern corner, where China has held various reefs and rocks for decades. Generally overlooked, meanwhile, is Scarborough Shoal, in the sea’s northeast, which China muscled from the Philippines just three years ago. The shoal lies 120 miles west of Subic, and Philippine officials believe China plans to militarize it, too. Chinese civilian and paramilitary vessels took Scarborough Shoal after a Philippine navy ship (the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, Manila’s other former Hamilton-class U.S. Coast Guard cutter) tried to block Chinese fishermen from poaching in the area. When a standoff ensued, the U.S. helped broker a deal: Both Philippine and Chinese ships would withdraw before an approaching typhoon. But China broke its word and stayed.”

No-Shows Likely for China’s World War II Parade Amid Rising Tensions with West, Neighbors
. “In a region where many of the wounds from World War II are still raw, China's plans for a giant parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its victory are creating diplomatic and political dilemmas for the United States and its allies in the region. The Sept. 3 event is proving a rerun of the awkwardness that accompanied the military and nationalist display put on by Russian President Vladimir Putin this year to mark the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany: a parade through Red Square that President Obama and many top European leaders skipped. Despite Beijing's rising clout as an economic and military power, Chinese officials are having a hard time getting world leaders to agree to show up for the celebrations. The ceremony has come to represent the growing ideological battle between a China on the rise and a West fearful of the Asian nation's growing military might. Heavy construction in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square has been underway for months as Chinese soldiers train for the parade in the capital's suburbs. The main roads have been reinforced with explosive-proof materials, and the famous square's gate is being repainted for what will be Chinese President Xi Jinping's first military parade since taking power in 2012. "I think a lot of these Chinese ceremonies these days are really intended to highlight the fact that they want to be seen and respected as a great power, and that's a great portion of what this is about," said Robert A. Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. China suffered horrendous losses during the war, starting with Japan's invasion in 1937 and including a civil war that erupted after the Japanese surrender in 1945. An estimated 15 million to 20 million Chinese soldiers and civilians died in the fighting, second only to the losses suffered by the Soviet Union. The parade also is being planned amid new tensions between China and Japan, Asia's other economic superpower, and between China and many of its neighbors over Beijing's aggressive moves to stake its claim to sovereignty in the heavily trafficked South China Sea. "There will be unease with being seen as playing a role in supporting Xi Jinping during a time in which he has introduced much more assertive foreign policy than many had been anticipating," Nick Bisley, a professor of international relations at La Trobe University in Australia, recently told the South China Morning Post. Adding to the awkwardness is the staging of the parade at the site of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square that the communist government brutally suppressed. Chinese officials are touting the parade as in part a tribute to the victims of what they refer to as "Japanese aggression" during World War II, reviving memories of Japan's wartime occupation of the country. China, along with U.S. ally South Korea, continues to condemn Japanese leaders for not fully acknowledging or making amends for their country's actions during the war, which has plagued Sino-Japanese relations for decades. Beijing said it has invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but Tokyo has yet to confirm his attendance.”

RIP: America's "Engagement" Strategy towards China?
“Since its historic rapprochement with Beijing in the 1970s, America has approached a rising China with an “engagement” strategy guided by two key assumptions: first, that political liberalization would ultimately follow economic growth; and second, that supporting China’s integration into the global order would preempt Beijing from forcibly challenging that order. While confidence in those assumptions has waxed and waned, never did a consensus emerge that they were fundamentally flawed—until now. Today, Washington is confronting the dreadful realization that with each passing year, the goals of political liberalization and peaceful integration appear to grow more distant, while the prospect for conflict with China draws nearer. Even advocates of engagement, like Dr. David Shambaugh, are warning that the strategy “is unraveling” while domestic repression in China “is the worst it has been in the twenty-five years since Tiananmen.” So what went wrong? After a decade of reaping the benefits of a soft-power offensive, China’s “peaceful rise” took an abrupt turn in the late 2000s. The country that emerged from a unique confluence of events beginning in 2008 has proven a more assertive, authoritarian and nationalistic rising power. While the precise causes for this shift are still being debated, we know the 2008 global financial crisis was (mis)interpreted by much of China’s elite as symbolic of long-term U.S. decline and retreat from the Western Pacific. For some in Beijing, the crisis—and China’s hosting of the Olympics that year—reinforced the coalescing perception that China’s long wait to reclaim its position atop the Asian hierarchy had come to an end. Second, in 2009, Vietnam and Malaysia submitted proposals to a UN commission outlining expanded sovereignty claims in the disputed South China Sea. A surge in provocative Chinese posturing there followed, culminating most recently in an unprecedented artificial island-building spree that is inflaming regional tensions. In 2012, China assumed an equally combative posture in the East China Sea after Japan “nationalized” the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, with Chinese naval and air forays into the territorial waters of the disputed islands now a regular occurrence. As these events unfolded, China witnessed the precipitous rise of a new strain of nationalism, cultivated and magnified by a new media and technology landscape. Once confined to a handful of stodgy Communist Party mouthpieces, China’s public space has expanded rapidly in the digital age. While liberal commentary has been heavily restricted, hawkish rhetoric and nationalist outlets like the Global Times have been permitted to fill the void. This proliferation of nationalist discourse has partly served the Party’s interests, but it’s also created new pressures and incentives that reward hardline posturing and raise the political cost of concessions and compromise. Finally, the early tenure of China’s avowedly nationalist and politically powerful president, Xi Jinping, has produced a material rise in domestic repression and tensions with the United States and China’s neighbors.”

Philippines to Raise South China Sea Despite Beijing's Reluctance. “
The Philippines will back a U.S. call to halt land reclamation in disputed areas of the South China Sea, the country's foreign minister said on Tuesday, despite China's insistence that the issue should not be raised at an upcoming meeting. Foreign Minister Albert Del Rosario said the Philippines was ready to help de-escalate tensions in the disputed region, if China and other claimant states agreed to be bound by the same conditions. Del Rosario added that the Philippines planned to discuss the topic at the 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, which kicked off in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. His comments come a day after China said it did not want the contentious theme discussed at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathering. Neither China nor the United States are members of the regional body, but both will be represented during several days of talks in the Malaysian capital. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday and Thursday. "The Philippines fully supports and will pro-actively promote the call of the United States on the '3 halts': halt in reclamation, halt in construction, and halt in aggressive actions that could further heighten tensions," Del Rosario said in a statement. "We will agree to be bound only if China and other claimant states agree to the same." Though not on the official agenda, the South China Sea is among key topics likely to be discussed at the meeting, amid a backdrop of increasing tensions in the potentially energy-rich sea. Singapore's Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters in Kuala Lumpur that the South China Sea could not be ignored, adding that Singapore was not happy with an informal code of conduct signed by ASEAN and China in 2002. "South China Sea is an issue. We cannot pretend that it's not an issue," he said. "We have got to move beyond philosophical discussions to actually say what is in the substance of the agreement." In a speech at a Singapore university on Tuesday, Kerry addressed tensions in Asia and said that the United States wanted a region where "countries cooperate to prevent small disputes from growing into large ones." Malaysia, the current chair of ASEAN, has said the topic was not off-limits and would be raised. In opening remarks on Tuesday, Malaysia Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said that ASEAN should play a major role in reaching an "amicable" solution in the disputed waters. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims. China has shown no sign of halting its construction of artificial islands in disputed waters. It has also accused the United States of militarizing the South China Sea by staging patrols and joint military drills, while the United States has called for a halt in China's artificial island building in the area.”

China Must Expand Air Force Capabilities To Counter Threats From US, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam, Government Report Finds
. China needs to increase its Air Force capabilities if it is to become the undisputed force in the Western Pacific and thwart the United States' military pivot toward Asia, according to an official government study cited in a Monday report by the South China Morning Post. The report comes at a time when China’s Navy is increasing its presence in the South and East China seas, where the race to claim potential oil and gas reserves, trade routes and rich fishing stocks has caused intense political debate and military posturing. The report, which was written by the Beijing-based think tank the Air Force Command Academy and has not been publicly released, envisions China’s military strategy for the region up until 2030. While mentioning the U.S., Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam as potential threats in the airspace, the report also notes two strategic island chains as specific areas of defense in the future.  The first set of island chains, which link Okinawa, Taiwan and the Philippines, is touted as an area that military leaders in Beijing see as an important barrier of defense, in particular against U.S. military presence. The second island chain includes a wider area that stretches from Japan’s Izu Island chain to Guam and out to New Guinea and would be used to launch attacks.  To achieve such a wide range of defense options the Navy and Air Force would have to work more closely together, says Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert and retired senior colonel. “In the future, joint exercises between services and arms [of the navy and air force] could be incrementally increased,” he said. The report doesn’t mention whether or not the fake islands being created by China in the South China Sea are part of its defense plan. However, the Air Force’s current modernization project is behind schedule. “The air force had already been rapidly expanding its fighter program, and the majority of its combat aircraft were expected to be of a modern standard by the end of 2016,” said Rukmani Gupta, senior armed forces analyst at IHS Janes. “But the air force still lagged in aerial refueling, hindering its power projection capabilities.”

China Seeks Businessman Said to Have Fled to U.S., Further Straining Ties.
“China is demanding that the Obama administration return a wealthy and politically connected businessman who fled to the United States, according to several American officials familiar with the case. Should he seek political asylum, he could become one of the most damaging defectors in the history of the People’s Republic. The case of the businessman, Ling Wancheng, has strained relations between two nations already at odds over numerous issues before President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to the United States in September, including an extensive cybertheft of American government data andChina’s aggressive territorial claims.Mr. Ling is the youngest brother of Ling Jihua, who for years held a post equivalent to that of the White House chief of staff, overseeing the Communist Party’s inner sanctum as director of its General Office. Ling Jihua is one of the highest-profile casualties of an anticorruption campaign that Mr. Xi has made a centerpiece of his government. The Obama administration has thus far refused to accede to Beijing’s demands for Ling Wancheng, and his possible defection could be an intelligence coup at China’s expense after it was revealed last month that computer hackers had stolen the personnel files of millions of American government workers and contractors. American officials have said that they are nearly certain the Chinese government carried out the data theft. Mr. Ling’s wealth and his family’s status have allowed him to move freely in elite circles in China, and he may be in possession of embarrassing information about current and former officials loyal to Mr. Xi. Mr. Ling appears to have evaded the Chinese authorities. He is now in the United States, according to several American officials and his next-door neighbor here in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, where property records show Mr. Ling owns a 7,800-square-foot home, which he bought from a professional basketball player for $2.5 million. The Chinese government in recent months has been raising pressure on the Obama administration to return Mr. Ling, according to the American officials. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss a delicate diplomatic matter that has already complicated an arrangement made in April between the Department of Homeland Security and China’s Ministry of Public Security. Under that arrangement, signed during a visit to Beijing by Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, the United States would be able to repatriate many of the tens of thousands of Chinese currently in the United States awaiting deportation, some in American detention facilities. In return, the United States would help the Chinese track down wealthy fugitives from China living in the United States who might also be breaking American laws. Several American officials confirmed that Mr. Ling is in the United States, but they would not say publicly whether Mr. Ling had applied for asylum or give information about his whereabouts. The Department of Homeland Security, which handles asylum cases, does not comment about specific cases because of privacy laws.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | August 03, 2015

Obama Team, Military at Odds over South China Sea. “Some U.S. naval commanders are at odds with the Obama administration over whether to sail Navy ships right into a disputed area in the South China Sea — a debate that pits some military leaders who want to exercise their freedom of navigation against administration officials and diplomats trying to manage a delicate phase in U.S.-China relations. The Pentagon has repeatedly maintained it reserves the right to sail or fly by a series of artificial islands that China is outfitting with military equipment. The Navy won’t say what it has or hasn’t done, but military officials and congressional hawks want the U.S. to make a major demonstration by sending warships within 12 miles of the artificial islands and make clear to China that the U.S. rejects its territorial claims. By not doing so, they charge, Washington is tacitly accepting China’s destabilizing moves, which are seen by U.S. allies in the region such as Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam as highly threatening. “We continue to restrict our Navy from operating within a 12 nautical mile zone of China’s reclaimed islands, a dangerous mistake that grants de facto recognition of China’s man-made sovereignty claims,” Sen. John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told POLITICO. Sources in the military and within the administration acknowledge the difference of opinion privately, but would not go on the record to discuss the differences between Navy leaders and the administration. The internal debate within the U.S. government comes as leaders of Pacific nations, including Secretary of State John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, are set to convene for a regional security conference next week in Malaysia and ahead of the state visit to the United States in September of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The dispute is more than just a naval territorial dispute — there are global economic implications if China claims ownership of this part of the sea, which sees trillions in goods shipped between Asia and the rest of the globe. It centers on a group of man-made islands in the South China Sea that China has created by dumping thousands of tons of sand on coral reefs and shoals. Over the last 18 months, Chinese engineers have created about 3,000 acres of new land, the Pentagon says, where they have deployed artillery, built aircraft runways and buildings and positioned radars and other equipment. This week, the chief of the Philippine military, General Hernando Iriberri, told journalists in Manila it was investigating reports China had reclaimed three more reefs in the South China Sea. China claims it has exclusive control over waters hundreds of miles off its coast, and U.S. officials say Beijing believes the man-made islands strengthen its claim to the disputed Spratly Islands chain, which China and several Southeast Asian countries claim as their own.”

Response to PacNet #41 “Tough Time Ahead if the DPP Returns to Power?”
Bonnie Glaser and Jacqueline Vitello sound the alarm for US policymakers regarding the stakes in Taiwan's presidential election next January. (PacNet #41 “Tough times ahead if the DPP returns to power?”) The clock started running on this particular scenario on Election Day 2012 since President Ma Ying-jeou by law could not run for a third term. With no assurance of another KMT victory in 2016, Beijing strived to make the most of the four years it could count on a Ma administration being more receptive than what might follow. It bet heavily on economic integration as the path to forging significant and irreversible political bonds. Ma was initially favorably inclined, but as Glaser/Vitello note, he faced strong domestic resistance, culminating in the Sunflower Movement and the electorate's repudiation in the 2014 municipal and legislative elections. Persuasion having failed to sway the Taiwanese to see things their way, China's Communist leaders reverted to their default position – coercion and threats.Glaser/Vitello warn that “Beijing could react harshly if Tsai is elected president of Taiwan…even using military coercion or force…It worries that if elected, Tsai will deny that the two sides of the Strait belong to one China and pursue de jureindependence.” This, despite the fact that, as the authors accurately report, “All her statements indicate that she is unlikely to pursue provocative policies…She has made a concerted effort to articulate a strategy aimed at maintaining the status quo.” “Nevertheless,” write Glaser/Vitello, “Mainland China deeply distrusts Tsai.” But who in the DPP does Beijing not distrust? A common saying among Mainland experts on Taiwan is that “whereas Chen was an opportunist, Tsai is ideologically pro-independence and therefore more dangerous.” Those Mainland experts sound a lot like Mainland supporters who doubtless found former President Chen Shui-bian “dangerous” enough when he was in office. The authors theorize that Xi Jinping “has concluded it is time to draw a line in the sand to prevent cross-Strait ties from regressing and, potentially, to compel reunification if a new Taiwanese president crosses Beijing’s bottom line.” My italics are meant to observe that unification is Beijing's bottom line. So, the issue is not whether a President Tsai will do something rash and provoke a crisis – that seems extremely unlikely given her calm, lawyerly, almost scholarly temperament – and her commitments to the United States. No, the problem for Beijing is what she will not do – i.e., accept unification against the clear will of the Taiwanese people. And that would be true of any DPP leader – as it was even true of the KMT's Ma. That is Taiwan's bottom line and Xi and his colleagues need to accept that reality or risk losing more than Taiwan. That is where Washington comes in. Glaser/Vitello write: “Xi Jinping’s reaction to a Tsai Ing-wen victory should not be underestimated. When it comes to sovereignty issues, the Chinese leader has shown little willingness to compromise…US efforts need to be stepped up now, before Xi Jinping’s positions harden further.”

As China Flexes its Might, Mid-Size Powers Regroup.
“New configurations in Asian geopolitics are emerging thick and fast. In June, a new relationship involving India, Japan and Australia emerged when the Indian foreign minister met his Australian counterpart and the Japanese deputy foreign minister. It has also been announced that Japan will be a part of Malabar, the annual India-US naval exercises to be held over the next few months. Although Japan has participated in similar exercises in the past, this will be only the second time it has taken part in war games in the geostrategically critical Indian Ocean region. Proposed first by Japan and adopted with enthusiasm by the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, the Indo-Pacific strategic relationship framework has gained considerable currency as the best way forward for Asia, with even the US now increasingly articulating the need for it. Though Beijing views the relationship with suspicion, many in China are acknowledging that that country needs to synchronise its policies across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. These developments underscore a changing regional configuration in the Indo-Pacific in response to China’s aggressive foreign policy posture as well as a new seriousness in India’s own China policy. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s outreach to Japan and Australia has been a significant part of his government’s foreign policy. Strong security ties with Tokyo and Canberra are now viewed as vital by Delhi. China’s increasing diplomatic and economic influence, coupled with domestic nationalistic demands, has led to an adjustment of its military power and the adoption of a bolder and more proactive foreign policy. Initiatives include China’s unilateral decision in 2013 to extend its “air defence identification zone” over the contested maritime area in the East China Sea – overlapping with the existing Japanese one – and new fishing regulations, announced in January last year, that require foreign vessels in more than half of the South China Sea to obtain fishing permits from authorities in Hainan province. China’s land-reclamation work in the disputed Spratly Islands has been the most dramatic affirmation of Beijing’s desire to change the ground realities in the region in its favour. This has generated apprehensions about a void in the region to balance Beijing’s growing dominance. With the US consumed by its own domestic vulnerabilities and crises in the Middle East, regional powers such as India, Japan and Australia are becoming more proactive in managing this turbulence. The new trilaterals emerging in Asia go beyond past attempts at rudimentary joint military exercises. In December 2013, the Japanese navy conducted its first joint maritime exercise with India in the Indian Ocean. The growing strategic convergence between the two countries led to India inviting the Japanese to participate in the 2014 Malabar exercises with the US in the Pacific. India and Japan have an institutionalised dialogue partnership with the United States that was begun in 2011. Maintaining a balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as maritime security in the Indo-Pacific waters, has become an important element of this dialogue. A similar dialogue exists between the US, Japan and Australia.”

Chinese Media Warfare Targets the U.S.-Japan Alliance.
“On May 29, 2015, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai warned that U.S. alliances in Asia are being perceived as "anti-China." Positing that some in China do not see territorial disputes in the region as sufficient reason for military alliances, he warned that it is detrimental to U.S. interests that Chinese citizens perceive the U.S. as against them. A rhetorical warning such as this one from Chinese officials point to the bigger questions of how China views U.S. alliances in the region and, more importantly, what China is doing to influence these alliances through political operations.  Aside from Chinese intransigence on recognizing its adversarial activities as hostile in the regional security environment -- such as land reclamation in the South China Sea and the arms buildup across the Taiwan Strait -- it consistently engages in psychological warfare to shape the way world events are viewed both at home and abroad. A favorite target of the Chinese state-run media is the U.S.-Japan alliance. In 2015, the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, China has ramped up its media and information campaigns to undermine the health and progress made between Japan and its partners since 1945. The Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) concerted efforts to commemorate the end of the "world anti-fascist war" intentionally emphasize Japan's wartime legacy instead of regional advancements. In a world of power politics, soft power and hard power maneuvers are conjoined to create a desired political outcome. In the case of China, this is not amiss.  While psychological-political components are inherent in every diplomatic, economic, and military instrument of national power, China employs a peacetime information campaign that target individuals' unconscious framework for viewing the world, including its own citizens. Referred to by some as the "Three Warfares," which includes media warfare, psychological warfare, and legal warfare, Chinese political warfare encompasses a large umbrella of networked state actors who drive the creation and transmission of information to targeted audiences.  Media warfare is an extended tradition of the CCP and a powerful political tool designed to sway the audience toward a state-sanctioned national narrative. Ranked 176 out of 180 by a French-based watchdog group Reporters Without Borders, China's press freedom is among the worst in the world and is highly controlled by the state for political ends. Certain thematic trends can be found in the Chinese media in framing events related to the U.S.-Japan alliance. Chinese reporting follows specific themes in order to influence and manage the perceptions of domestic audiences. They utilize the following thematic perception management tactics: Highlighting regional expert commentators whose views are favorable to the CCPIn critiquing the U.S.-Japan alliance, Chinese media often uses opinions of experts or reporters from Japan and the region whose views align with their own.”

What China Has Been Building in the South China Sea.
“The speed and scale of China’s island-building spree have alarmed other countries with interests in the region. China announced in June that the creation of islands — moving sediment from the seafloor to a reef — would soon be completed. “The announcement marks a change in diplomatic tone, and indicates that China has reached its scheduled completion on several land reclamation projects and is now moving into the construction phase,” said Mira Rapp-Hooper, director of theAsia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research group.So far China has built port facilities, military buildings and an airstrip on the islands. The installations bolster China’s foothold in the Spratly Islands, a disputed scattering of reefs and islands in the South China Sea more than 500 miles from the Chinese mainland. The new islands allow China to harness a portion of the sea for its own use that has been relatively out of reach until now. Although there are significant fisheries and possible large oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea, China’s efforts serve more to fortify its territorial claims than to help it extract natural resources, Dr. Rapp-Hooper said.The islands are too small to support large military units but will enable sustained Chinese air and sea patrols of the area. The United States has reported spotting Chinese mobile artillery vehicles in the region, and the islands could allow China to exercise more control over fishing in the region. The Chinese were relative latecomers to island building in the Spratly archipelago, and “strategically speaking, China is feeling left out,” said Sean O’Connor, principal imagery analyst for IHS Jane’s. Still, China’s island building has far outpaced similar efforts in the area, unsettling the United States, which sees about $1.2 trillion in annual bilateral trade go through the South China Sea. At the end of May, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Cartercriticized China’s actions in the region. Several reefs have been destroyed outright to serve as a foundation for new islands, and the process also causes extensive damage to the surrounding marine ecosystem. Frank Muller-Karger, professor of biological oceanography at the University of South Florida, said sediment “can wash back into the sea, forming plumes that can smother marine life and could be laced with heavy metals, oil and other chemicals from the ships and shore facilities being built.” Such plumes threaten the biologically diverse reefs throughout the Spratlys, which Dr. Muller-Karger said may have trouble surviving in sediment-laden water. Islands and reefs that have undergone recent construction are shown with a white ring. Colored rings show whether the feature is occupied by China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam or Taiwan. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan have all expanded islands in the Spratlys as well, but at nowhere near the same scale as China.”

China's Military is Jangling Nerves Again.
“China's military warned on Saturday on its founding anniversary of growing risks along its borders, including in the disputed waters of the South and East China Seas. The Chinese military, the world's largest, has embarked upon an ambitious modernization program in recent years. That, along with rising defense spending, has jangled nerves around the region. China says it is a threat to nobody, but needs to update outdated equipment and has to be able to defend what is now the world's second largest economy. In a front page editorial, the official People's Liberation Army Daily said the world was facing unprecedented changes. "The situation surrounding our country is generally stable, but the risks and challenges are extremely severe, and the possibility of chaos and war on our doorstep has increased," it said. "The maritime security environment is more complicated, and the undercurrents in the East and South China Seas have been gushing up," the paper wrote. China has become increasingly assertive in its dispute with Japan over a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, while in the South China Sea it has been reclaiming land in waters where Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims. China also looks warily at threats from extremists in countries like Afghanistan, the possibility of war on the Korean peninsula, instability on the border with Myanmar and India, and the festering question of the status of self-ruled Taiwan. "The mission of protecting national unity, territorial integrity and development interests is difficult and strenuous," the paper said. In a separate piece, the paper quoted Defense Minister Chang Wanquan as saying China was committed to being a force for peace, but would not compromise on core principles like Taiwan. "We will uphold the principle that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are one family and go down the path of peaceful development of relations (but will) resolutely oppose and hold back the plots of Taiwan independence separatists," Chang said. China claims Taiwan as its own and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control. Defeated Nationalist forces withdrew to the island after loosing a civil war with the Communists in 1949. China's military has also been dealing with a deep-rooted corruption problem, and this week announced another former senior officer, Guo Boxiong, would be prosecuted for graft. The party's official People's Daily said that these cases had "blacked the name" of the military, but that they were not representative of the loyalty and bravery of the broad mass of service personnel.”

Chinese Military Building Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier To Curb US Influence In Asia.
“China has confirmed that it's building an aircraft carrier that may be nuclear powered, according to a government document published Friday by the English version of the Global Times, a Chinese daily newspaper. If the carrier is built, it will mean China will have a total of two aircraft carriers, with another five aircraft carriers planned. "The priority missions of building the aircraft carrier and nuclear submarines have been carried out smoothly and with outstanding achievements," the document states, according to a translation provided by Taiwanese media outlets. China has long demonstrated its eagerness to manufacture its own aircraft carrier, hoping to build on the relative success of the second-hand ex-Soviet carrier it bought from Ukraine in 1998. While it took almost 15 years to refit and commission the vessel, working on the ex-Soviet Liaoning has been instructive and, as such, lays the groundwork for carriers China builds itself, beginning with the one currently under construction. China will likely make all its domestically built aircraft carriers nuclear powered -- including the one under construction and the five planned. They would all be equipped with state-of-the-art electromagnetic catapults, Sputnik News reported earlier this week, citing an assessment by Vasily Kashin, an expert with the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Russian defense industry think tank. Kashin said that work was going smoothly. The news of a Chinese-built carrier comes as no surprise to the country’s regional rivals, who see Beijing’s expanding seafaring reach as another tactic to tighten its grip on disputed islands in the region. The Liaoning and China's own custom aircraft carriers could be used to intimidate smaller countries as China seeks to use its growing navy to dominate the region and counter the U.S. pivot toward Asia, according to a report issued by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, based in Singapore. A recent U.S. Department of Defense assessment of Chinese military power adds credence to the claims, saying that “China also continues to pursue an indigenous aircraft carrier program and could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years.”

China, Southeast Asia to Set Up Hotline for South China Sea Issues.
“China and Southeast Asian nations have agreed to set up a foreign ministers' hotline to tackle emergencies in the disputed South China Sea, a senior official of the ASEAN grouping told Reuters on Friday. China claims most of the potentially energy-rich sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and rejects the rival claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. With the region having become Asia's biggest potential military flashpoint, the United States has urged claimants to settle differences through talks, saying its Pacific Fleet aims to protect sea lanes critical to U.S. trade. But China rejects U.S. involvement in the dispute, and its more assertive approach recently, including land reclamation and construction on disputed reefs, has stirred tension. The hotline will be announced at next week's meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said the senior ASEAN official, who has knowledge of the discussions. "The hotline is likely to be announced in a joint statement at the end of the meetings," said the official, who declined to be identified because the talks were private. The foreign ministers' hotline will be the first involving China, although the Philippines and Vietnam have had a naval hotline since last year to monitor the disputed waters. Southeast Asian leaders hope the emergency hotline will help defuse the tension provoked over naval encounters and China's claims, the official said. Tuesday's meeting is to be attended by the Chinese foreign ministers and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, with other Asian powers, including India and Japan, also taking part. Ahead of the meeting, regional officials will hold preparatory talks in Malaysia, starting from Saturday. A Philippine diplomat welcomed the hotline as a way to avoid accidents and miscalculations. "The Philippines welcomes any confidence-building measure that would promote peace and stability and reduce tension in the region," the diplomat said. But it was more important to take action to fully implement and strengthen a 2012 pact, the Declaration of Conduct of Parties, the diplomat added, however. The code of conduct, signed by ASEAN and China in 2002, commits the signatories to exercise "self-restraint" in activities that could escalate disputes. Ramping up the rhetoric ahead of the talks in Malaysia, China's Defence Ministry accused the United States of "militarizing" the South China Sea with patrols and joint military drills staged there.”

China Testing 'Hypersonic' Weapons.
Four times in the past 18 months, China has carried out hypersonic weapons tests. Hypersonic weapon delivery vehicles can travel at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound. China says its most recent test flight was on June 9th. The tests are a sign of the country’s continuing efforts to make highly developed weapons. The hypersonic missile delivery vehicles are able to transport nuclear weapons. But China said the tests are, in its words, “purely scientific and (are) not targeted at any country.” The United States, Russia and India have also been developing hypersonic vehicles. One of China’s four tests reportedly failed. And the United States is far ahead of the Chinese in missile development. But China is developing hypersonic capability and could one day have better delivery vehicles than the United States. So says James Actonof the Nuclear Policy Program and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He spoke recently to members of the U.S. Congress. Mr. Acton said China’s hypersonic weapons development program is probably less developed than the American program. But he said China might be able to develop its program more quickly. The U.S. military has been testing hypersonic weapon delivery vehicles for the past five years. The military completed a fourth successful test two years ago. Some experts say hypersonic glide vehicles could be available for use by the armed forces within five to 10 years. Morley Stone is Chief Technology Officer for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. He said the military will continue to develop its hypersonic capability. He said the military knows it is going to need weapons that cantravel faster than those deployed by other countries. He says the U.S. must continue its research efforts. Mr. Acton agrees that the United States has a more-advanced hypersonic weapons program. But he thinks China’s hypersonic weapons are still a serious threat to the U.S. because there is no way to defend large areas against them. In recent years, U.S. lawmakers expressed concern about China’s development of hypersonic technologies. Some said that the United States is falling behind China in the hypersonic arms race. Buck McKeon of California was a member of the House of Representatives until early this year. He also served as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He and two other members of the committee released a statement after China’s first test of hypersonic vehicles last year. The statement said cuts in military spending have hurt America’s technological advantage. It said the Chinese and other nations are seeking to become as powerful militarily as the United States. “In some cases,” it added, “they appear to be leaping ahead of us.” American officials hope the United States can keep its lead in being able to launch targeted missile strikes quickly. They say such a lead can persuade possible enemies from launching attacks.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | July 31, 2015

It’s Time to Rethink How We Talk about China. “Amid the spin and obfuscation of political Washington, it is easy to forget that words matter and have real consequences for U.S. foreign policy. Yet in its public statements on the relationship most likely to define global politics in the 21st century — America’s relationship with China — the U.S. government has long seemed like a detached observer. Years ago, prominent China watcher James Mann spoke of the “lexicon” that defines the Sino–American relationship. Disturbingly, that lexicon has far too often featured a “Made in China” label, as U.S. policymakers eagerly embrace Chinese exports while ignoring Beijing’s appropriation of language to serve its own purposes at home, in Asia, and around the world. The words American leaders use to describe issues of contention with China should, first and foremost, reflect U.S. interests and values. China’s unprecedented reclamation activities in the South China Sea, totaling roughly 2,000 acres in recent years, fly in the face of international law and norms, and mock the United States’ firm belief that territorial disputes should be peaceably resolved. Yet we repeatedly hear that China is constructing new “islands,” a word Beijing itself uses to describe what should more appropriately be called “man-made features.” This question of semantics has real-world implications. An “artificial feature” is a unilateral land grab. An “island” connotes the internationally accepted twelve nautical miles of territorial waters, along with an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of another 200 nautical miles. Blithely accepting China’s preferred language gives unwarranted legitimacy to Beijing’s destabilizing behavior. The same can be said of how we describe the U.S. response to that destabilizing behavior. American policymakers have spoken of the need for the U.S. Navy to support “freedom of navigation” in waters China has claimed as its own — waters where fishing and commercial vessels from neighboring states are regularly harassed by the PRC. But the threat from China’s lawlessness is more profound than the mere obstruction of foreign boats: Beijing’s extravagant territorial claims and militarized response to its neighbors’ concerns reflect a serious challenge to “freedom of the seas,” which legally encompasses activities on, above, and below the surface of the ocean. For years, and under administrations of both parties, the United States has calibrated its rhetoric to avoid unduly “provoking” or “antagonizing” Beijing. It seems that the same Chinese leaders who ruthlessly suppress internal dissent and engage in a systematic campaign of territorial aggrandizement are too sensitive to hear open and honest pronouncements from U.S. officials. In deference to these sensitivities, Washington regularly engages in a series of linguistic contortions at the expense of our longstanding friends in the region and of U.S. values like human rights and religious liberty. While the U.S. is legally obligated to provide Taiwan the weapons needed to ensure its survival, the U.S. government regularly forces Taipei into a series of small-scale humiliations in the hopes of buying Beijing’s “goodwill.” When Taiwan’s president recently traveled to the United States, he was officially “transiting” the country en route to another destination; permitting him to “visit” the country in which he spent several days would be too much for Beijing.”

China’s More Worried About Own People, Says GOP Hawk.
“Randy Forbes pretty much looks like a hawk. The House seapower subcommittee chairman has fought for a bigger battle fleet with long-range drone bombers, called for China to be kicked out of the international RIMPAC wargames and blasted the Obama administration for its lack of a tough Pacific strategy. But does that mean China must be opposed at every turn? Is China our enemy? Forbes made it clear today that he doesn’t see China as an adversary, just a competitor — and the competition isn’t zero-sum. In political circles where Xi Jinping sometimes gets compared to Hitler, that’s a big distinction with big implications for how you do strategy. “We always think there’s…. somebody in the Chinese government that’s plotting how to overthrow the United States,” Forbes said today at the American Enterprise Institute. “That’s not happening, because what they get up every day and worry about is… ‘how do I keep things from imploding at home?'” China has huge internal problems, from jobs to pollution to the banking system, Forbes said. Nationalist saber-ratting over the Senkaku Islands, Taiwan, or the South China Sea is a useful distraction from domestic discontents, he said, but it’s not the primary focus of Chinese policymakers. What’s more, Forbes said, China has a limited “window” of economic ascendancy before domestic problems catch up with it — and Chinese leaders know that. It was “actually a little surprising to us,” Forbes said, but the consensus of expert testimony before Congress has been that there’s “not an infinity of the kind of growth we’ve been seeing.” Instead, China will slow down, if not hit the wall, in about 10 years. So part of China’s current aggressive policy may be gathering rosebuds — or “islands” — while ye may, before the Pacific balance of power shifts against Beijing. Chinese leaders also see what Forbes considers the tempting weakness of the Obama administration worldwide and the successful example of Putin’s aggression in Crimea. This combination of time pressure and opportunity leads the Chinese to push on multiple fronts. They purposefully escalate tensions and then step back — but when the crisis ebbs, their position is always a little stronger than before. It’s “just like a check valve on a pump,” Forbes said. “They overplay their hand sometimes but they have a strategy. That doesn’t mean they’re adversaries. It just simply means that they’re competitors,” Forbes said. We want to win, of course, he went on, but “winning is not a zero-sum game. Winning is not where China loses and we win. Winning is when both of them do well.” Indeed, in the decades that American power has underwritten peace, order, and trade in the Pacific, Forbes said, “the No. 1 winner has been China.” Now we just have to convince the Chinese of that.”

Will China Have a Mini US Navy By 2020?
“Much has been written about China’s ongoing efforts to become what President Xi Jinping called a “great maritime power” and how the United States should respond. In light of this, it is useful to think about the future trajectory of the of the increasingly modern and powerful People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), which has been charged with both defending China’s sovereignty in ‘near seas’ (eg. Taiwan) and protecting Chinese interests in the ‘far seas’. Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, now a senior fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), has attempted to do exactly that. In a recent paper delivered at a two-day CNA conference on Chinese maritime power, seen by The Diplomat, McDevitt projects what China’s ‘far seas’ navy will look like in 2020 and how it would rank alongside the United States and other players – Britain, France, Japan, India and Russia. Getting a sense of the PLAN’s ‘far seas’ capabilities is important since it tells us the extent to which it might be able to project power further from China’s shores. McDevitt’s results, though not entirely surprising, are nonetheless quite striking. According to his projections, on paper by 2020 China’s navy will already increasingly look like a smaller version of the U.S. Navy and will be “the second most capable ‘far seas’ navy in the world.” In five years, the PLAN’s capabilities would dwarf most other navies – China would have as many aircraft carriers as Britain and India, more nuclear attack submarines than either Britain or France, and as many AEGIS-like destroyers as all the other non-US navies combined. China would have two aircraft carriers, 20-22 AEGIS like destroyers and 6-7 nuclear attack submarines, while United States would have eleven aircraft carriers; 88 AEGIS like destroyers; and 48 nuclear attack submarines. While China would still be far behind the U.S. Navy, its growing capabilities could already begin to have significant implications for the United States and other actors in five years, McDevitt argues. He paints a rather grim picture. By 2020, seeing Chinese warships in the far reaches of the Indian Ocean and the Meditteranean would become a much more routine affair, and some U.S. allies and partners may grow increasingly nervous. It would also become more challenging for the U.S. Navy to keep track of far seas deployed PLAN submarines, while U.S. sea control off of the Middle Eastern and East African hot spots can no longer be assumed. Most alarmingly, McDevitt notes that the image of a Chinese ‘global’ navy will attenuate perception of U.S. power. The key qualifier, of course, is on paper, a point that McDevitt himself clearly acknowledges. Perhaps most obviously, looking purely at quantity hides the significant qualitative differences that exist between U.S. and Chinese equipment. Rising numbers also tell us little about how operationally competent PLAN far seas forces will be. These include lingering questions about the reliability of combat systems, the training of its sailors, and the functionality of the command structure. Furthermore, straight-line projections cannot reflect the domestic constraints China many face in the coming years that could alter the trajectory of its naval development, including an economic slowdown. Asked how China might confront these challenges, McDevitt said he expected the country to “muddle through,” but that China also did not need to “breathe too hard” to come close to the numbers he projected. Furthermore, in many ways the United States is still well-positioned to counter threats that a more modern, capable PLAN may pose.”

A First: China Turns Back Commercial Flight For Violating East China Sea ADIZ Rules. “
In late-2013, Asia-Pacific security watchers wrangled with what China’s then newly declared unilateral air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea would mean in practice for civil aviation in the region. Two powerful status quo states – the United States and Japan – immediately refused to recognize the ADIZ and reacted accordingly: The United States flew unarmed bombers through the airspace and Japan instructed its civilian aviators not to comply with the new Chinese requirements. Of course, the ADIZ was never going to immediately hurt the material interests of Japanese and American aviation – for these states, the Chinese ADIZ was more a signal of Beijing’s growing intent to revise the status quo in its near seas than anything. The states that would suffer, as is almost always the case in international affairs, would be the smaller and weaker ones. A little-noticed report published earlier this week in Air Transport World showcases one such case. Although considerably ambiguity continues to surround this incident, according to that report, a Lao Airlines flight flying from South Korea’s Gimehae International Airport to Laos was asked to turn back by Chinese air traffic controllers and complied. The report notes that the Chinese air traffic controllers told the aircraft that it did not have adequate approval to pass through China’s airspace. According to the report, the flight (No. QV916), an Airbus A320, was an hour into its scheduled flight path, “which would have put the aircraft over disputed areas of the China Sea,” before it turned back. Starting last year, Chinese air traffic authorities began to require that all civilian flights flying through the East China Sea ADIZ file pre-flight plans, transponder details, and other technical details ahead of their flights, according to the Air Transport World report. The incident involving QV916 is the first instance of a commercial flight being turned back due to a failure to comply with Chinese air traffic authority requirements, but at least 55 airlines worldwide are complying with the terms of China’s ADIZ. The Laotian government has not reacted publicly to the incident involving Lao Airlines flight QV916, and it is unlikely to do so for fear of risking its mostly positive rapport and growing economic ties with China. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), however, should avail itself of the opportunity to emphasize its support for the freedom of overflight over the high seas. In a statement last year, signed jointly with Japan, ASEAN pledged its support for “the freedom of overflight and civil aviation safety in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, and the relevant standards and recommended practices by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).” The United States and Japan submitted a letter early last year to ICAO, a specialized UN agency, asking the group to repudiate China’s ADIZ. Whether regional states, including the United States and Japan, like it or not, the compliance of this civilian flight with the requirements of Chinese air traffic controllers could be a sign of things to come. For China, the ADIZ was a way of creating facts in the air, and bolstering its claim to a disputed swathe of airspace. More importantly, an ADIZ was a particularly clever tool to do so given that the right to establish an ADIZ is not bestowed or restricted by any particular piece of international law. Until November 2013, however, it was customary for states to avoid declaring ADIZs over disputed territory.”

Patrolling International Skies: Understanding Joint Air Patrols
. “In examining recent suggestions for joint patrolling of the South China Sea, analysts have tended to focus on the surface vessels of various nations’ coast guards and navies. Yet the flight of a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon hosting a CNN film crew over disputed waters in the South China Sea in May highlighted the potential of air power – specifically maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) – in executing the possible missions of joint patrols. To explore the potential effectiveness of South China Sea joint air patrols it is important to first be clear about the often overlooked distinctions in missions, locations, and concepts. Proposed joint air patrol missions broadly fall into two categories. One seeks to counter excessive claims and rights not in accordance with international law (i.e. maritime freedom of navigation and overflight, or FON, operations). A second, exemplified by the Eyes-in-the-Sky (EiS) component of the Malacca Strait Patrol (MSP), is geared towards enhancing maritime domain awareness (MDA) and enforcement. In addition to objectives, it is critical to understand the proposed operating areas. Dzirhan Mahadzir, a defense journalist based in Malaysia, notes “many forget that the South China Sea is a sprawling area. People got excited at May’s International Maritime Defense Exhibition (IMDEX) when the Republic of Singapore Navy Chief called for patrols in the South China Sea to deter piracy, but he was referring to just a small zone off Johor and Singapore.” Joint air patrols’ locations can also present difficulties due to conflicting territorial claims and, to a lesser extent, whether the proposed area actually presents a cost-effective opportunity to undertake the professed MDA or FON mission, in case the real purpose of the joint patrols is deterrence or signaling directed at a third party. In fact, many of the same challenges that encumber surface joint patrols, including lack of interoperability, capacity, political will, and information-sharing agreements apply to their prospective air counterparts. But an air approach also brings unique challenges. The nature of air patrols increases the importance of the endurance and range of platforms, with the former measured in hours instead of the days or weeks of a surface patrol, and heightens the value of neighboring facilities – in this case airstrips – which extend time on station. One of the more interesting dichotomies is that concerned states not embroiled in South China Sea territorial disputes such as the United States, Japan, and Australia generally have greater MPA capabilities than claimant states, while claimant states naturally have the nearby air bases non-claimants lack. The result has been a pairing of the two. It should be no surprise that like many U.S. P-8A patrols over the South China Sea, the flight in May took off from the Philippines’ Clark Air Base. Similarly, Royal Australian Air Force P-3C surveillance flights of the southern expanses of the South China Sea depart from Royal Malaysian Air Force Station Butterworth on the Malay Peninsula as part of the decades-long Operation Gateway. This arrangement however means that both the hosting and use of tenant capabilities – including joint patrols – are dependent on the host nation’s politics. The symbiotic nature of participants in “unilateral” air patrols over the South China Sea illustrates a third nuance, that the essential ingredients required to cook up a “joint patrol” are open to interpretation. Start with participation.”

China, Russia To Hold Joint Naval, Air Drill.
China and Russia will hold joint military drills in the waters and airspace of the Sea of Japan, Beijing said Thursday, the latest defenSe cooperation between the countries. The exercises will take place Aug. 20-28 in the Peter the Great Gulf and other areas off the Russian coast, Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters. A key purpose of the drills was to "further enhance their capabilities of jointly coping with maritime security threats," Yang said, adding they will include training in air defense, anti-submarine and surface warfare, and landings. China will send seven naval ships including a destroyer and a frigate, along with fighter jets and other aircraft, Yang said. Russia's contingent will include surface vessels, submarines and fixed wing aircraft, he said, adding that both sides will dispatch ship-borne helicopters and marines. The drills come as Beijing and Moscow intensify cooperation in military, political and economic spheres. In May they conducted their first joint naval exercises in European waters in the Black Sea and Mediterranean. It was China's farthest ever naval exercise from its home waters. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin hold frequent summits and their countries, both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, often take similar stances there on divisive issues such as the conflict in Syria. The waters of the Peter the Great Gulf, south of Vladivostok, are close to where the borders of Russia, China and North Korea come together. Beijing and Tokyo are at odds over islands in the East China Sea farther south controlled by Japan but claimed by China, though both sides have made efforts to cool tensions through dialogue, including meetings between Xi and Japanese prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Japanese government last week claimed that China has put 16 drilling rigs close to its de facto maritime border with Japan, claiming China could exploit undersea reserves over which the two countries are at loggerheads. Yang dismissed Tokyo's claims. 'The purpose of the Japanese accusation against China is to create and play up the China threat theory," he said, adding it provided Japan "an excuse" for new defencse legislation. Japan's lower house of parliament this month approved controversial laws to allow Japanese troops to fight alongside allies when under attack, which has raised concerns in China that Tokyo will take a more robust military stance. China is planning a huge military parade in early September to commemorate victory over Japanese forces as well as the broader defeat of the Axis powers in World War II. Russian troops will participate. China's military took part in a march in Moscow in May also marking the end of the conflict.”

China Stages Huge Military Drill in South China Sea.
“China is holding a series of military exercises in the disputed South China Sea this week, and one of them involved live-fire drills with more than 100 ships, including some with nuclear capabilities. Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Restituto Padilla said any country is well within its rights to hold military drills, especially if they take place in international waters. Padilla said the Philippine military has “no problem” with China conducting the exercises, but also called for more dialogue. “But the point here is they should be taught how to be transparent about these things because what we’re trying to avoid. And what we’re trying to do is to increase the dialogue among the militaries in the region … ensuring that we avoid misunderstandings,” he said. Chinese state media reported that apart from the scores of naval vessels in the live-fire exercises scheduled Tuesday, dozens of aircraft and “several missile launch battalions” with an “unknown number of information warfare troops” also took part. But the reports did not say exactly where the drills took place. Padilla and a spokesman for the Department of National Defense said they had no knowledge of the location.The coordinates listed on the notice show the area to be southeast of Hainan Island within range of the Paracel Islands, which Vietnam claims, and well north of the Spratlys. Manila's defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez told VOA in a text message the exercises were “fine” because they were in international waters. But he also raised concerns about the “lack of transparency and sincerity.” Galvez points to China’s rapid build-out of seven artificial islands in the disputed Spratly grouping in the sea. The Philippines claims six of those outcroppings and security analysts said at least one of the developed reefs would be able to handle military planes and ships. The artificial island-building has also raised concerns in Washington, which has called for it to stop. Galvez said China is acting without being “mindful of the impact on its neighbors. ... The successive events of aggressive actions now paint all their activities with concern and doubt." The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam all have overlapping claims in the resource-rich sea traversed by ships bearing trillions in trade yearly. The mayor of the Philippine-controlled outcrops within the Spratly Islands knew even less about where the exercises might have taken place. Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon said the South China Sea with its 3.5 million square kilometers is “a very, very big area.” “We just don’t care. We don’t mind because we don’t know if it’s not in the news. Our life is very peaceful. Life goes on on a regular basis,” Bito-onon said. He noted, for example, that the inhabited island of Thitu is 100 nautical miles (185 kilometers) from Fiery Cross Reef, where China’s building project appears to include a runway. Bito-onon said that if anything were to happen there, nobody on Thitu would know about it unless it was on the news. And besides, he added, fishermen rarely stray beyond 5 kilometers of Thitu's shores. Sam Bateman, an adviser for the Maritime Security Studies program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said the fact  the exercises only lasted a day likely means they did not stray too far into the sea. Bateman said there is a “security dilemma” playing out in the South China Sea, with an action-reaction pattern. “We’ve had the issue with the USN (U.S. Navy) had recent exercises with the Philippines and of course they can be provocative towards China and likely could well provoke this sort of response from China… having its own exercises,” he said. A spokesman for China’s defense ministry said earlier this week the ongoing drills should not be “excessively interpreted.” Without naming the United States, spokesman Liang Yang said, “Some powerful countries outside the region lured” other countries in the region into conducting recent military exercises with “China as the imaginary enemy.” China has announced another set of military drills scheduled to begin Saturday, in an area just east of Hainan Island.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | July 30, 2015

Forbes: As China Increases Tensions, U.S. Must Ensure Asia Rebalance Has The Right Goals. “China uses “applied friction” – calling coral reefs “islands” to claim them, setting up aerial identification zones, building its navy’s blue water capacity – as part of its strategy to get its way in the Asia-Pacific region, the chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee said Wednesday. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), speaking at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said the Chinese use that friction “like a check valve on a pump. We’ve become very adverse to any friction,” even to the point of renaming the “Pivot to the Asia Pacific” the “Rebalancing to the Asia Pacific,” he said. But the Chinese “overplay their hand sometimes,” which causes its neighbors to look to the United States to resolve disputes and provide security. Forbes said the Chinese realize that they have a certain amount of time, possibly a decade, to keep accelerating its economy before serious problems arise, and the current American administration appears unwilling to act with the same force it has towards Russia for meddling in Ukraine. For China, like Russia, bold steps overseas can divert public attention from domestic problems, he said. Forbes, who also serves as founder and co-chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, said it was important that the Obama administration brought the Asia-Pacific “to center stage.” That renewed attention has helped the United States improve relations with countries in the region beyond its traditional allies. “What we want is networks,” Forbes said in answer to a question. He cited Japan’s closer working relationship with Australia on security and the Philippines giving the United States access to facilities there. “It causes the Chinese to think.” But, more critically, Forbes has long asked for more from the administration to ensure the new focus on the region is strategic in meeting the United States’ desired goals. “Tell me what the strategy is,” “are we winning or losing,” and “tell me the metrics you are using,” he said he always asks of witnesses in his hearings. He said those questions are often met with sighs from the witnesses. “We’ve gone away from strategic thinking,” he said. Later, in answer to a question, Forbes said, “we need to redefine what winning is.” It is not a zero-sum game, but rather “It’s bolstering everyone up,” including China, and promoting rule of law over force. Forbes said the top concern in the region is trade. He said the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty will improve trade relations between the United States and Asian countries. In his 14 years in Congress, he said China’s military reach has dramatically increased. “We were writing reports [that in] 10 years [the Chinese] are going to build aircraft carriers,” and those findings were met with skepticism. Forbes said the same thing has proven true about China’s capability to build a ballistic missile submarine. Chinese “blue water capacity is increasing qualitatively, and increasing their [submarines’] quietness.”

Barack Obama's Big South China Sea Mistake.
The fifth annual Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conference on the South China Sea, held in Washington DC last Wednesday, was a quality event, where knowledgeable experts rubbed shoulders with senior politicians and officials. Regrettably, there was not a glimmer of hope pointing to a breakthrough in the competing sovereignty claims marking the region, or the deeper strategic forces driving China and other parties. Of particular note at the conference was the speech from Daniel Russel, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and one of the Obama Administration’s most senior Asia hands. The speech is notable for what it doesn’t say and striking in casting U.S. policy in terms of what a Chinese analyst might call the “five nots.” To quote Mr. Russel: “Now, the US is not a claimant…these maritime and territorial disputes are not intrinsically a US–China issue. The issue is between China and its neighbors…” On the current Philippines-initiated case at the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague: “The United States, of course, is not a party to this arbitration and does not take a position on the merits of the case.” And finally on the Law of the Sea Convention: “This is as good a time as any to acknowledge (as China has often pointed out) that the United States has not acceded to the Law of the Sea Convention…” Mr. Russel did say that “problematic behavior in the South China Sea has emerged as a serious area of friction in the U.S.–China relationship.” He also stressed that: “President Obama and Secretary Kerry have shown that they are not afraid to tackle the biggest challenges facing U.S. foreign policy and the world. And we’re energized, here in the fourth quarter of this administration to do much more…” So, how will American high energy promote a solution in the South China Sea? “So we are pushing the parties to revive the spirit of cooperation embodied in the 2002 Declaration of Conduct. … In the famous words of Rich Armitage’s Dictum Number 1, ‘when you find yourself in a hole – stop digging.’ That is the advice we are giving to all the claimants: lower the temperature and create breathing room by: stopping land reclamation on South China Sea features; stopping construction of new facilities; and stopping militarization of existing facilities.” Russel also said that Secretary Kerry would be making this point to “Chinese leaders and to the other claimants” at forthcoming ASEAN meetings. That was the limit of the Obama Administration’s leadership on display at the CSIS conference. Frankly, it fails to meet regional expectations of what needs to be done to respond to China’s increasingly assertive behavior. Mr. Russel’s comments come after China’s incredibly hasty reclamation of some 2,000 acres of land on disputed features in the area. That contrasts with a total of five acres of land reclaimed over the last few decades by all other claimants. China has also engaged in high-risk challenging of the ships and aircraft of other countries in the area, and hasn’t ruled out declaring an Air Defense Investigation Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea, as it did over the East China Sea in November 2013.”

Why Would Chinese Hackers Want To Go After An Airline?
“United Airlines may be the latest victims of the Chinese hackers suspected to be behind breaches of major health insurers and government agencies. The world's second-largest airline detected an intrusion into its computer systems early this summer, Bloomberg reported in a story citing unnamed officials familiar with the investigation. Asked about the Bloomberg story, a United Airlines spokesperson did not directly address whether the company had suffered a breach, but dismissed the story as "based on pure speculation" and said that customers' personal information is secure. "We remain vigilant in protecting against unauthorized access and use top advisors and best practices on cyber-security to maintain our effectiveness,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. But if accurate, the Bloomberg report suggests that the airline's manifests were compromised -- meaning that the hackers would have their hands on information about passengers and their origins and destinations. Since United is a major contractor for U.S. government travel, experts say that could mean that a vast cache of information about the movements of specific government or military officials are now in the attackers' hands. Some security experts and government officials believe the recent breaches at the Office of Personnel Management are linked to the Chinese government. While the United States has declined to point fingers at China, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has called China the "leading suspect" in the OPM hacks. China has dismissed questions about its involvement. Some researchers have linked the OPM intrusion to the same cyber espionage group that hacked health insurance giant Anthem, which is also thought to be the work of hackers associated with the Chinese government. The hackers appear to be targeting large caches of personal information to build a massive database of Americans' personal information, according to some experts. If a group closely connected to the Chinese government was behind a breach at United, there are a number of ways that they could use that data, said Paul Tiao, a partner at law firm Hunton & Williams and former senior counselor for cybersecurity and technology to the FBI director. First, there's the value of knowing how specific people in government and industry are moving around the world, he said. But there's also the possibility that information from United could be used to craft very targeted spear-phishing attacks -- personalized e-mails that appear legitimate and could trick a person into opening an e-mail or attachment that could compromise their systems so the attacker can gain additional information. And if this is the same group thought to be responsible for other attacks, Tiao says, travel information could be a valuable addition to their data trove.

China Pushes to Rewrite Rules of Global Internet.
As social media helped topple regimes in the Middle East and northern Africa, a senior colonel in the People's Liberation Army publicly warned that an Internet dominated by the U.S. threatened to overthrow China's Communist Party. Ye Zheng and a Chinese researcher, writing in the state-run China Youth Daily, said the Internet represented a new form of global control, and the U.S. was a "shadow" present during some of those popular uprisings. Beijing had better pay attention. Four years after they sounded that alarm, China is paying a lot of attention. Its government is pushing to rewrite the rules of the global Internet, aiming to draw the world's largest group of Internet users away from an interconnected global commons and to increasingly run parts of the Internet on China's terms. It envisions a future in which governments patrol online discourse like border-control agents, rather than let the U.S., long the world's digital leader, dictate the rules. President Xi Jinping – with the help of conservatives in government, academia, military and the technology industry – is moving to exert influence over virtually every part of the digital world in China, from semiconductors to social media. In doing so, Mr. Xi is trying to fracture the international system that makes the Internet basically the same everywhere, and is pressuring foreign companies to help. On July 1, China's legislature passed a new security law asserting the nation's sovereignty extends into cyberspace and calling for network technology to be "controllable." A week later, China released a draft law to tighten controls over the domestic Internet, including codifying the power to cut access during public-security emergencies. Other draft laws under consideration would encourage Chinese companies to find local replacements for technology equipment purchased abroad and force foreign vendors to give local authorities encryption keys that would let them control the equipment. Chinese officials referred questions about Internet policy to the Cyberspace Administration of China, a recently formed government body. That agency declined to make an official available to comment for this article. Such a strategy would have been impossible a few years ago when Western companies dominated the Internet. That has started to change with the rise of Chinese powers such as e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., online conglomerate Tencent Holdings Ltd. and information aggregator Sina Corp., which enable Chinese citizens to enjoy most services Westerners use, plus some unique to China, without needing Google Inc. or Facebook Inc. Chinese companies are easier for Beijing to control and have a history of censoring users upon demand. The government is directing financial and policy support toward domestic firms that are developing semiconductors and servers that can replace ones provided by Western players. Earlier this year, Premier Li Keqiang unveiled Internet Plus, a strategy to incubate Chinese companies that integrate mobile, cloud and other types of computing with manufacturing and business.”

Get Ready: China Could Build New Artificial Islands Near India.
“There are growing fears, particularly in India, that China may soon launch an island reclamation project in the Indian Ocean. The fears stem from a constitutional amendment passed by the small archipelagic nation of Maldives last week, which for the first time allows foreign ownership of Maldives territory. Specifically, the constitutional amendment allows foreigners who invest over $1 billion to own land, provided that at least 70 percent of the land is reclaimed from the sea. Since July 2013, China has launched a massive reclamation project in the South China Sea that has created 2,000 acres of artificial landmass in five Spratly island outposts. Some 75 percent of this been dredged this year alone. Unnamed Indian officials have told local media outlets [4] that they are “concerned” that China now plans to do the same in some of the Maldives’ 1,200 islands, which are located strategically in the Indian Ocean.     They are not alone; domestic opponents of the amendment have expressed similar concerns. For example, Eva Abdullah, one of just 14 parliamentarians to vote against the amendment, told The Diplomat “this will make the country a Chinese colony.” She elaborated by saying, “what I fear is that we are paving the way for the establishment of Chinese bases in the Maldives and making the country a frontline state between India and China, thereby disturbing the current balance of power in the Indian Ocean. We cannot ignore the increasing rivalry between India and China.” Maldivian and Chinese officials have sought to temper such fears, however. In a statement given to Reuters, China’s Foreign Ministrysaid that Beijing [6] “has always respected and supported the Maldives' efforts to maintain its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.” The statement added that “what the relevant people said about China building bases in the Maldives is totally baseless.” China has claimed that it will never build oversea military bases. Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has similarly dismissed fears that China will reclaim the islands and use them for military purposes. In a public address, Yameen said: “The Maldivian government has given assurances to the Indian government and our neighboring countries as well to keep the Indian Ocean a demilitarized zone.”    Vice President Ahmed Adeeb echoed Yameen in an interview with The Hindu this week, saying: “Our sovereignty is not on offer… We don’t want to give any of our neighbors, including India...any cause for concern. We don’t want to be in a position when we become a threat to our neighbors.”

This is What Could Start a War between India and China.
While everyone’s anxiously watching and analyzing the events unraveling in the South China Sea, there’s another resource conflict involving China that also deserves attention. In the Himalayas, China and India are competing for valuable hydropower and water resources on the Yarlung Tsangpo–Brahmaputra River. The dispute offers some important lessons for regional cooperation (on more than just water), and highlights what’s at stake if China and India mismanage their resource conflict. The Yarlung Tsangpo–Brahmaputra River is a 2,880km transboundary river that originates in Tibet, China as the Yarlung Tsangpo, before flowing through northeast India as the Brahmaputra River and Bangladesh as the Jamuna River. The resource conflict began on June 11, 2000, after a natural dam-burst in Tibet caused a flash flood that resulted in 30 deaths and serious damage to infrastructure in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Some Indian government officials believed the flood was intentionally caused by China, even suggesting China would weaponize or interrupt water supply to leverage over India. The issue dominated reporting on China, but later subsided after satellite imagery confirmed the natural dam. Later in 2002, China and India signed their first Memorandum of Understanding for the provision of hydrological information during the monsoon months, previously discontinued after their 1962 border war. The issue gained serious traction in 2008, when the Chinese government announced plans to begin construction of the Zangmu hydroelectricity dam. Located on the middle reaches of the Yarlung–Tsangpo River, the dam was perceived by many Indian observers as the beginning of a major river diversion project that would dry up the Brahmaputra River. Speculation and suspicion were further stoked by Chinese refusal to divulge information deemed “internal matters” and conflicting information released by government officials. Indian fears drove some commentators­—led by Brahma Chellaney—to warn of a coming water war over the river; suggesting a river diversion would be tantamount to a declaration of war. The contentious issue soon sparked concern in the Indian Parliament, and became a priority in high-level bilateral exchanges with China. In its exchanges, India sought reassurances and pushedfor more extensive water data sharing practices (negotiating an extra 15 days of data). The crux of the resource competition thus relates to mass dam building and diversion plans. With the Yarlung Tsangpo representing 79 gigawatts of hydropower potential (more than enough to power NSW, ACT and South Australia combined), China is planning the construction of 20 hydroelectricity dams along the river, In addition to these dams, China is also considering a potential Grand Western Water diversion plan (redirecting water to the dry north). India fears upstream China will ‘turn off the tap’ that makes up 30% of its water resource. However, despite calls for greater transparency and consultation, India is also racing to construct hydropower dams on the Brahmaputra River. While India’s dam building drive is primarily motivated by a desire to take advantage of the river’s hydropower potential, the dams also help to consolidate India’s territorial claim on the contested border state of Arunachal Pradesh (known as ‘South Tibet’ in China).”

China, Russia to Hold Military Drills in Sea of Japan. “
China and Russia will hold joint naval and air defence drills in the Sea of Japan, China said on Thursday, the latest exercises between the two countries which could concern Japan, involved in a marine dispute with China to the south. The manoeuvres also come as the United States ramps up military cooperation with its allies in Asia in response to China's increasingly assertive pursuit of territorial claims in the disputed waters of the South and East China seas. China and Russia are veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, and have held similar views on key policy questions like the crisis in Syria, putting them at odds with the United States and Western Europe. The exercises, which will take place from Aug. 20-28, will take place in the Gulf of Peter the Great, which lies off the strategic Far Eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok, and in the Sea of Japan, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news briefing. The drills will include anti-submarine and anti-ship exercises. Chinese fighter jets, destroyers, frigates and supply vessels will take part, Yang said. The Russian side plans to dispatch ships, submarines and fixed-wing aircraft, he added. Both sides will send helicopters and marines, Yang said. The drills could especially alarm Japan, which is involved in an ongoing spat with China over a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea. Last week, Japan called on China to halt construction of oil-and-gas exploration platforms in the East China Sea close to waters claimed by both nations, concerned that Chinese drills could tap reservoirs that extend into Japanese territory. China responded by saying it had every right to drill. Yang said that certain people in Japan were "hyping up" the issue as an excuse to promote legislation that could see Japanese troops sent to fight abroad for the first time since World War Two. "We hope that certain people in Japan can calmly reflect on what they have done," he said.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | July 29, 2015

Editor’s Note: At noon today, Congressman Forbes will participate in a discussion of U.S. security challenges in the Asia-Pacific at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). More information can be found here.

Asia’s New Geopolitics Takes Shape Around India, Japan, and Australia.
“New configurations in Asian geopolitics are emerging thick and fast. Last month saw the initiative of a new trilateral involving India, Japan, and Australia when Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar met his Australian counterpart and the Japanese vice foreign minister. Japan will also be a part of bilateral India-U.S. annual naval exercises–the Malabar–slated to be held over the next few months. Though Japan has participated in these exercises in the past as well, this will be only the second time when Japan will join these exercises in the geostrategically critical Indian Ocean region. There is a growing convergence in the region now that the strategic framework of the Indo-Pacific remains the best way forward to manage the rapidly shifting contours of Asia. Proposed first by Japan and adopted with enthusiasm by Australia under the Tony Abbott government, in particular, the framework has gained considerable currency, with even the U.S. now increasingly articulating the need for it. Though China views the framework with suspicion, many in China are acknowledging that the Indo-Pacific has emerged as a critical regional space for India and China needs to synchronize its policies across the Indian Ocean region and the Pacific. These developments underscore the changing regional configuration in the Indo-Pacific on account of China’s aggressive foreign policy posture as well as a new seriousness in India’s own China policy. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach to Japan and Australia has been a significant part of his government’s foreign policy so far as strong security ties with Tokyo and Canberra are now viewed as vital by Delhi. China’s increasing diplomatic and economic influence, coupled with domestic nationalistic demands, has led to an adjustment of its military power and the adoption of a bolder and more proactive foreign policy. From China’s unilateral decision in 2013 to extend its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over a contested maritime area in the East China Sea overlapping with the already existing Japanese ADIZ to announcing new fishing regulations for Hainan province in January 2014 to ensure that all foreign vessels need fishing permits from Hainan authorities to operate in more than half of South China Sea, the list of assertive moves has been growing in recent years. China’s land reclamation work in the Spratly Islands has been the most dramatic affirmation of Beijing’s desire to change the ground realities in the region in its favor. This has generated apprehensions about a growing void in the region to balance China’s growing dominance. With the U.S. consumed by its own domestic vulnerabilities and never ending crises in the Middle East, regional powers such as India, Japan, and Australia have been more proactive than in the past in managing this turbulence. The new trilaterals emerging in Asia go beyond past attempts at rudimentary joint military exercises. In December 2013, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) conducted its first bilateral maritime exercise with the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean Region. With growing strategic convergence between the two, in 2014 India invited the JMSDF to participate in the annual Malabar exercises with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific waters. India and Japan have an institutionalized trilateral strategic dialogue partnership with the United States, initiated in 2011. Maintaining a balance of power in the Asian-Pacific as well as maritime security in the Indo-Pacific waters has become an important element of this dialogue. A similar dialogue exists between the U.S., Japan, and Australia. And now a new trilateral involving India, Japan, and Australia has joined these initiatives, which can potentially to transform into a ‘quad’ of democracies in the Indo-Pacific region.”

China Conducts Air, Sea Drills in South China Sea.
“China said it conducted air and sea drills in the South China Sea on Tuesday as it stakes an increasingly assertive claim to virtually the whole sea despite rival claims by neighbors. The live-ammunition drills involved more than 100 ships, dozens of aircraft, information warfare units as well as the nuclear force, the state-backed China Military Online said in a report posted on the defense ministry's website. It did not specify where exactly the exercises took place. China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and rejects the rival claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. The United States has called on claimants to settle differences through talks and has said its Pacific Fleet aims to protect sea lanes critical to U.S. trade with Southeast Asia and the oil-rich Middle East. China rejects U.S. involvement in the dispute and its more assertive approach recently, which has included land reclamation and construction on disputed reefs, has raised tension. The latest exercises focused on integrating information warfare systems with air and naval forces, as well as testing the combat effectiveness of new weapons and equipment, ChinaMilitary Online said. The military achieved "new breakthroughs" in several areas including engaging high-speed low-altitude targets, anti-submarine warfare and intercepting supersonic anti-ship missiles with surface warships, it added. The drills used "all sorts of information technology tactics" to create simulated reconnaissance, surveillance, and early warning systems to detect air and sea targets in real time, it said. The exercises were conducted in "a complex electromagnetic environment" involving many types of missiles, torpedoes, shells and bombs, it said. China's navy on Saturday played down its recent exercises in the South China Sea and criticized other countries for "illegally" occupying islands and reefs.”

Beware China’s ‘Basing’ Strategy: Former US Navy Chief.
“China is developing a widening network of strategic ‘bases’ that further heightens the challenge it poses to the United States, a former U.S. naval chief told a conference Tuesday. Beijing has already sought to secure access and rights in strategic countries to boost its influence and support its naval forces as it deploys them further out for patrols in the Indian Ocean or anti-piracy operations in the Horn of Africa. These include ports in Oman, Pakistan and Djibouti. But Admiral Gary Roughead, the former Chief of Naval Operations, told a two-day conference at the Center for Naval Analyses that Beijing may be looking to expand its network of distributed, critical outposts across regions for various functions including projecting power, establishing necessary supporting infrastructure and gathering intelligence. New nodes, Roughead said, may include Greece to establish a foothold in the energy-rich Eastern Meditteranean and even Iran which already has a burgeoning maritime partnership with Beijing. “We are beginning to see the Chinese version of ‘places not bases’,” Roughead said in his keynote address, using the term U.S. officials use to distinguish between older, tighter agreements it had with allies like Japan to permanently station forces there and looser pacts offering temporary and limited access to facilities as with Singapore. Apart from Greece and Iran, Roughead said that further nodes could be developed as well, especially if they are “synchronized” with China’s ambitious ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative which seeks to boost connectivity and cooperation primarily with countries in Eurasia. However, he stressed that this network would be stitched together with a “light touch” and be “distributed,” quite apart from the more alarmist ‘string of pearls’ interpretations that continue to persist. He also urged to think of China’s island-building activities in the South China Sea in a similar way, with Beijing looking to use its artificial islands to build maritime infrastructure, enhance its power projection capabilities, and establish information nodes to improve its surveillance of the region. The confluence of Chinese economic initiatives and its ongoing military buildup, he said, made Beijing the most consequential strategic challenge facing the United States today, in spite of the fact that many in the United States may now perceive greater threats from the Islamic State or Russia. Roughead said he was not yet worried about the United States being outmatched militarily since it had a significant qualitative advantage in spite of Chinese quantitative advances, ensuring that Washington would be “in a good place” for at least the next decade. But he acknowledged that those rising Chinese numbers would matter over time. In particular, if Beijing continues increasing its out of area missions and boosting key capabilities – including submarines – Roughead said the United States would need to make adjustments to ensure it maintains its relative position. “Numbers will continue to matter, and presence will be the driver,” he said. In terms of capabilities, he encouraged the United States to continue with ongoing to shift more resources from the Atlantic to Pacific, including at least another aircraft carrier and an additional amphibious ready group to help support Southeast Asia. He also emphasized the need to invest in key areas like cyber and never relinquish American dominance in the undersea domain. Beyond what Washington could do itself, he stressed the need for more engagement with traditional U.S. allies like Japan and Australia but also emerging partners like Vietnam and India. He also joined the chorus of former U.S. officials in underscoring the importance of the 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, noting that the U.S. stock in the region would be “significantly less” if it is not concluded. “Our China strategy needs to be more about our allies and partners instead of about China,” Roughead said.”

10 Ways for American to Deal with the South China Sea Challenge.
“Maritime tensions in Asia are growing and will persist, and yet relations are likely to remain bounded below the threshold of military conflict. Steering through intensified competition in the South China Sea and beyond requires a realistic U.S. foreign policy founded on deep engagement, comprehensive power, and durable principles. Cooperating with China when interests overlap is in the U.S. national interest. Likewise, confronting China over issues where our interests diverge—including over rules in the maritime and cyber domains—is also integral to America’s future power and purpose. But expectations about dampening all maritime frictions should be kept modest. Even with calls for grand bargains and strategic accommodation, well into the next U.S. administration we will be navigating in the messy middle ground between war and peace. Although such volatility may be uncomfortable, achieving a firmer footing with China will be elusive. That is because the primary competition in the South China Sea is rooted in a reemerging China’s capacity and desire for expanding influence over its neighbors and adjacent waters, en route to securing a position as a if not the major global power in the 21st century. The Asia-Pacific or Indo-Pacific region will offer some of the greatest opportunities and challenges for U.S. foreign policy in the decades ahead. In addressing what we need to do with respect to maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the United States needs to place all of our foreign policy activities within a comprehensive framework designed to bring about future decades of stability, prosperity, and freedom. The driving force behind America’s gradual rebalance to the Indo-Pacific is rooted in secular trends. For the first time since the 18th century, Asia is becoming the locus of the global economy and world politics. It is important to understand that the South China Sea is not just or even mostly about rocks, reefs, and resources. While some have likened China and the South China Sea to America and the Caribbean, such an analogy quickly loses its explanatory power because of the stark differences between the two bodies of water and changes in the global economy. Unlike the Caribbean in the mid-19th century, the South China Sea is at the nexus of the global economy.  All maritime powers depend on it because through its waters sail half of the world’s commercial shipping by tonnage (valued at more than $5.3 trillion). Furthermore, Southeast Asian nations comprise nearly two-thirds of a billion people with a GDP pushing $4 trillion in purchasing power parity; and there are great expectations for those economies in the decades ahead. Finally, we live in—or should at least strive to live in—a world governed by rules, not spheres of influence, such as those that may have been more in vogue in the 19th century. Thus, it is rules and order that remain at the heart of America’s interests in Asia and the South China Sea. Over the past decade, China has transitioned from a hide-and-bide approach to greater activism in and beyond the South China Sea. While China has become marginally more transparent, in important areas it is as opaque as ever. As with China’s expansive nine-dash-line claim to the South China Sea, there appear to be important areas of policy that China simply does not wish to clarify.”

What’s Behind Beijing’s Drive to Control the South China Sea? “
On 26 May, CNN broadcast an unusual clip of a US navy intelligence flight over the South China Sea. The P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane – one of the newest weapons in the Pentagon’s arsenal – had taken off, with a CNN reporter on board, from Clark airbase in the Philippines, once part of America’s largest overseas base complex during the cold war. After about 45 minutes, the plane reached its first target – which had, until recently, been an obscure, almost entirely submerged feature in the Spratly Island group. Fifteen thousand feet below, dozens of Chinese ships tossed at anchor. Their crews had been working day and night for weeks, dredging sand and rock from the ocean floor to fill in a stunning blue lagoon – turning a 3.7-mile-long reef that had only partially revealed itself to the daylight at low tide into a sizable man-made island nearly 1,000 miles away from the Chinese mainland. At the approach of the American aircraft, a Chinese radio operator can be heard addressing the pilot: “This is the Chinese navy. This is the Chinese navy … Please leave immediately to avoid misunderstanding.” When the plane, which was busily photographing the land-reclamation effort, failed to heed these instructions, the operator grew exasperated, and the recording ends as abruptly as it had begun, with him shouting the words: “You go!” For many people who viewed this clip, it might have almost passed for entertainment, but the plane continued on to a place called Fiery Cross, whose history and recent development point to how deadly serious the struggle over the South China Sea has become. Fiery Cross came under Chinese control in 1988, following a confrontation with Vietnam at a nearby site, Johnson Reef, where Chinese troops opened fire from a ship on a contingent of Vietnamese soldiers who stood in knee-deep seas after having planted their country’s flag in the coral. A YouTube video of the incident shows dozens of Vietnamese being cut down in the water under a hail of machine-gun fire. China had come late to the game of laying claim to parts of the Spratly archipelago, which comprises hundreds of uninhabited coral reefs and sandbars flung across a vast area between the coasts of the Philippines and southern Vietnam, each of which has long controlled numerous positions in the area. But in this bloody way, China announced that it was fully committed. Its position on Fiery Cross Reef, staked out back in the 1980s, was initially justified under the auspices of Unesco, which had called on the nations of the world to cooperate in collectively surveying the oceans for meteorological and navigation purposes. Fast-forward 28 years, though, and as seen from the American surveillance flight, what had begun as an innocuous “ocean observation station”, has now mushroomed in less than a year of dredging into the most important of Beijing’s seven newly created positions in the South China Sea. From a single coral head that peaked a mere metre out of the waves, Fiery Cross has grown in stunning fashion, attaining a size of over 200 hectares of reclaimed land – roughly equivalent to about 280 football pitches. Leaving little doubt about its purpose, it has already been equipped with a 3,300-metre airstrip, which is long enough to accommodate a wide range of Chinese combat and transport planes, and a harbour big enough to handle even the largest of the country’s ships. The primary attraction of this locale, though, may be something that cannot be perceived from even the most sophisticated surveillance plane, which from China’s perspective is precisely the point.”

Submarine Killers: India's $61 Billion Warning to China.
In a dock opening onto the Hooghly River near central Kolkata, one of India’s most lethal new weapons is going through a final outfit. The Kadmatt is a submarine killer, bristling with technology to sniff out and destroy underwater predators. It’s the second of four warships in India’s first dedicated anti-submarine force -- a key part of plans to spend at least $61 billion on expanding the navy’s size by about half in 12 years. The build-up is mostly aimed at deterring China from establishing a foothold in the Indian Ocean. It also serves another goal: Transforming India’s warship-building industry into an exporting force that can supply the region, including U.S. partners in Asia wary of China’s increased assertiveness. “India’s naval build-up is certainly occurring in the context of India moving towards a greater alignment with U.S. and its allies to balance China,” said David Brewster, a specialist in Indo-Pacific security at the Australian National University in Canberra. “India wants to be able to demonstrate that Beijing’s activities in South Asia do not come without a cost, and Delhi is also able to play in China’s neighborhood.” China showed its growing naval prowess when it deployed a nuclear-powered submarine to patrol the Indian Ocean for the first time last year, while a diesel-powered one docked twice in Sri Lanka. India says another Chinese submarine docked in May and July in Pakistan, which is reportedly looking to buy eight submarines in what would be China’s biggest arms export deal. The U.S.’s Seventh Fleet has patrolled Asia’s waters since World War II and is backing India’s naval expansion. On a January visit to New Delhi, President Barack Obama pledged to explore ways of sharing aircraft carrier technology. The two countries also flagged the need to safeguard maritime security in the South China Sea, where neither has territorial claims. India’s present fleet of 137 ships falls far short of the more than 300 vessels in China, which has Asia’s biggest navy. China boasts at least 62 submarines, including four capable of firing nuclear ballistic missiles, according to the Pentagon. “We would like to have the Moon,” Navy Vice Chief P. Murugesan told reporters on July 14, acknowledging that its goal of a 200-ship navy by 2027 was ambitious. The vessels on India’s wish list show Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intent on expanding the navy’s influence from Africa to the Western Pacific. Most of them will be made in India, a sign that moves to upgrade the country’s shipyards are starting to pay off for the world’s biggest importer of weapons. India plans to add at least 100 new warships, including two aircraft carriers, as well as three nuclear powered submarines capable of firing nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.”

Taiwan Pursues MH-60R ASW Helos
. “Taiwan's Navy seeks to procure eight to 10 MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters via the US Foreign Military Sales program to replace aging MD500 "Defender" helicopters, a local defense industry source said. An announcement is expected by the end of this year and a possible letter of acceptance in 2016, the source said. A US-based defense industry analyst said the deal was estimated at $700 million to $800 million. Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense confirmed that the MD500s are scheduled for retirement and that it was seeking a replacement. The revelation comes on the heels of news that Lockheed Martin will acquire Sikorsky Aircraft, maker of the Seahawk, from United Technologies for $9 billion. The new Seahawks will also augment the Navy's existing inventory of 18 S-70C(M) ASW helicopters now in operation. "Some of the older S-70s' mission equipment and avionics is outdated," the defense industry source said. The MH-60Rs will be able to take up some of the heavy lifting. "This is good news. The MH-60R program is essential to Taiwan's maritime security and represents an important new capability for the ROCN," said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president, US-Taiwan Business Council, Arlington, Virginia. "The main issue is ensuring the budget is suitable for a program of this cost as Taiwan's ruling party continues to underinvest in the defense budget. "It is also noteworthy that if the MH-60R LoR is accepted this fall it will be the first new program for new equipment that would result in a new capability since the autumn of 2006. This in the face of ongoing reporting by the Bush and Obama administrations that the cross-strait military threat expands annually." Taiwan's Navy has two S-70C(M) ASW squadrons, the 701 and 702, formed in 1991 and 2000, respectively. The Navy also has an active ASW squadron (501) of 10 MD500 Defender helicopters procured in 1980. The MD500s are now "worn out" and "couldn't find a submarine unless it was washed up on the beach," the defense industry source said. They could still use some of the MD500s for pilot training, but they are finished as an operational platform, he said. Taiwan has been beefing up its ASW missions with the replacement of two squadrons of Northrop Grumman S-2T Turbo Trackers with 12 refurbished P-3C Orion ASW aircraft. In 2010, the US announced a $3.1 billion deal for 60 UH-60M helicopters to be delivered 10 a year until the final transfer in 2018. "It's not a production problem, it's a rate of delivery the military wants for training reasons," the local defense industry source said. However, after 700 people were killed by Typhoon Morakot in 2009, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou announced that 15 of the aircraft would be given to the National Airborne Service Corps (NASC), under the Ministry of Interior, for humanitarian missions. The NASC has a mix of helicopters for rescue and transport missions: AS365N1/N2, S-76B, UH-1H and B234/CH-47. Taiwan still needs additional Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters to replace the 15 Black Hawks transferred to the NASC and to replace the 45 remaining Bell UH-1H utility helicopters. These additional Black Hawks would properly equip its third battalion, the 603 Army Aviation Battalion, now outfitted with nine Boeing CH-47D Chinook cargo helicopters and other training helicopters.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | July 28, 2015

China Says Not Planning Military Bases in the Maldives. “China is not planning to build military bases on the Maldives, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, after the Maldives allowed foreigners to own land despite opposition concern the reform could be used for military expansion by China.The Indian Ocean island nation passed legislation last week to allow foreigners to own land within a project site on condition at least 70 percent of the area is reclaimed from the sea. The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party said the bill could give "unprecedented access to foreign parties to operate in the Maldives". One party member said the government was facilitating a more robust Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. China's Foreign Ministry, in a statement sent to Reuters, said the vote was an internal matter for the Maldives, but that China wanted good relations with the country, best known for its luxury diving resorts. China "has always respected and supported the Maldives' efforts to maintain its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity", the ministry said. "What the relevant people said about China building bases in the Maldives is totally baseless," it added. India, which traditionally has strong ties with the Maldives and Sri Lanka, has been concerned about China's growing involvement in the Indian Ocean as it opens its purse strings and builds a network of ports dubbed the String of Pearls. In September last year, during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Maldives signed a deal with a Chinese company to upgrade its international airport after cancelling a $511 million deal with India's GMR Infrastructure in 2012. In an effort to damp fears about Chinese plans connected to its increasingly modern and confident military, Beijing has repeatedly said it does not want military bases abroad. But experts have said China is likely one day to have to overcome its discomfort about overseas military bases, as its forces are drawn into protecting the growing interests of the world's second-largest economy.”

China Commissions Second Type 052D DDG, Pushes Ahead with Frigate, Corvette Launches.
“People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) watchers report that the second of the Type 052D 'Luyang III' class destroyers, Yangsha (pennant number 173), was commissioned in mid-July and joined China's South Sea Fleet. Yangsha is likely to operate from the PLAN base at Yalong Bay on Hainan Island. Although launched only four months after first-of-class Kunming (172), it was commissioned 16 months later, suggesting an extensive programme of trials. The major change in the weapon systems between the Type 052D and the preceding Type 052C is the installation of a universal vertical launch weapon system capable of firing anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine, and land attack missiles. The Type 346 phased array radar has also been modified, so an intensive series of trials would be unsurprising. Earlier in July, the seventh Type 052D emerged from the building shed at the Jiangnan Changxingdao shipyard in Shanghai and after launch joined the sixth of class currently fitting out. Photographs showing visible progress on the eighth and ninth hulls have also appeared. Internet observers suggest that progress on the Type 052D destroyer being built at the Dalian shipyard is considerably slower than at Jiangnan Changxingdao. However, this is Dalian's first Type 052D and the pace of production is likely to increase if more orders are received. Type 054A 'Jiangkai II' class frigates Yangzhou (578) and Handan (579) appear to have been handed over to the PLAN and are believed to have been commissioned, or they will be shortly. They are the 19th and 20th ships of the class. Two more are in build at the Hudong shipyard in Shanghai and a further two at the Huangpu yard in Guangzhou. On 17 July the latest Type 056 'Jiangdao' class corvette was launched at the Huangpu shipyard. This is the 27th of the class and the eighth to be equipped with variable depth and towed array sonars. Reports suggest that two days later, the 22nd of class, Suqian(504), also an ASW variant, was commissioned. Earlier in the month the sixth Type 056 to be built at the Lushun Liaonan shipyard was launched. On 10 July, two auxiliaries were commissioned, the semisubmersible heavy lift ship Donghaidao (868) and Type 904A resupply ship Junshanhu (961).”

PLA Navy in Future will have World-Class Ships, but Not the Expertise to Operate Them, Military Observers Say.
“The PLA’s recall of retired naval officers for recent maritime drills has exposed a deep shortage of talent in the ranks due to the military’s defective training and succession system, defence observers say. More problems would come to light if nothing was done to rectify the outdated and bureaucratic methods of training and promoting staff as the People’s Liberation Army Navy expanded rapidly with more advanced warships and armaments, the experts warned. China will have the world’s second-largest naval fleet by 2030 after the United States based on the aggregate tonnage of its modern surface warships, according to the Chinese-language Kanwa Defence Review.   The Canada-based magazine said China would have at least 12 advanced Type 052D missile destroyers and 22 multirole 052A frigates by next year, followed by other state-of-the-art vessels including two more home-built aircraft carriers, bringing the total tonnage to at least 500,000 tonnes.   A retired PLA senior colonel, who had spent much time in naval research but did not wish to be named, said many of China’s advanced vessels like the 052D destroyers were being sent to the South China Sea, where Beijing has territory disputes with its Southeast Asian neighbours. In May, Beijing signalled in a defence ministry white paper a strategic shift to a more assertive military, transforming its navy from an “offshore defence” power to one committed to “open-seas protection”. However, China’s naval academies could not meet the training requirements of a blue-water navy, and the US and other Western countries were reluctant to hold officer exchanges with their Chinese counterparts, Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said.  “For historical reasons and the perceived threat of China, Washington is more willing to provide naval training to other developing countries in Asia such as India and Vietnam, and even share technology with them, in a bid to balance a rising China,” Wong said. “That’s why China must try all means to cultivate its own naval talent, which will take more time than other countries.” Last month, state broadcaster China Central Television reported that the South Sea Fleet had called up more than 120 reserve officers from Sichuan, Chongqing, Hunan and Guangdong to take part in four days of anti-piracy and ocean rescue drills. The report said that many of the officers were outstanding retired technicians who had served with the navy for more than a decade. The report initially raised speculation in domestic and overseas media that China was preparing for a war with its neighbours over South China Sea territorial disputes after Washington urged Beijing to halt its land reclamation projects and stop the placing of mobile artillery on its reclaimed islands. The Chinese defence ministry, however, dismissed the speculation as “groundless rumours”, saying that that the reserves trained regularly with regular forces to beef up the navy’s combat capability. But the retired colonel said the PLA had shut the door to promotion for many senior technicians who had reached the age of 30 but had not been made company commanders. “Corruption is a key reason that so much real talent has been underappreciated,” the naval veteran said, adding that the fighting capacity of PLA crews was yet to match the hardware build-up.”

Keeping the South China Sea a Peaceful Part of the Global Commons.
“In what follows, I offer my assessment of the current situation in the South China Sea, how the U.S. government should understand the situation, and how it may best address the situation. A major Chinese narrative regarding the South China Sea is one of unreciprocated restraint. But Chinese leaders have clearly had an ambitious long-term vision of some sort, backed by years of island seizures, themselves based on longstanding claims encapsulated in an ambiguous “nine-dash line” enclosing virtually all of the South China Sea. In 2014, China greatly accelerated what had long been a very modest process of “island building,” developing land features in the Spratlys and Paracels with a scale and sophistication that its neighbors simply cannot match, even collectively over time. But it’s what China’s constructing atop these augmented features that most concerns its neighbors and the United States: militarily relevant facilities, including at least two 3,000-meter runways capable of serving a wide range of military aircraft, that could allow Beijing to exert increasing leverage over the South China Sea. No other South China Sea claimant enjoys even one runway of this caliber on any of the features it occupies. One logical application for China’s current activities: to support a South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) like the one Beijing announced over the East China Sea in November 2013. The way in which China announced its East China Sea ADIZ suggests that it’s reserving the “right” to treat international airspace beyond 12 nautical miles as “territorial airspace” in important respects. My Naval War College colleague Peter Dutton characterizes China’s island building and outfitting activities as a “tipping point” meriting U.S. government response. Militarizing the newly constructed islands, he argues persuasively, will alter strategic stability and the regional balance of power. As bad as things are already, they could get worse—particularly if American attention and resolve are in question. Maritime militia and Coast Guard forces will be forward deployed. They might even be used to envelop disputed features as part of a “Cabbage Strategy” that dares the U.S. military to use force against non-military personnel. Such paramilitary forces would be supported by a deterrent backstop that includes both China’s navy and its “anti-navy” of land-based anti-access/area denial (A2/AD), or “counter-intervention,” forces—collectively deploying the world’s largest arsenal of ballistic and cruise missiles. More broadly, worries about China’s island construction, developing South China Sea force posture, and accompanying official statements exemplify broader foreign concern about China’s rise—that as it becomes increasingly powerful, Beijing will: abandon previous restraint in word and deed, bully its smaller neighbors, implicitly or explicitly threaten the use of force to resolve disputes, and attempt to change—or else run roughshod over—important international norms that preserve peace in Asia and underwrite the global system on which mutual prosperity depends. That’s why the United States now needs to adjust thinking and policy to stabilize the situation and balance against the prospect of negative Chinese behavior and influence. As Peter Dutton has long emphasized, the way forward for the United States is clear: even as China advances, we cannot retreat.”

How the US Outplayed China in the South China Sea.
“What separates the aggressive move from the modest one?  Or the unnecessarily risky move from the prudent one?  Context.  Last week, the recently appointed commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Scott Swift, joined a routine surveillance mission in the South China Sea conducted by a U.S. P-8 aircraft.  Four-star admirals don’t routinely join such frontline missions, of course, which may lead some to view the move as confrontational and risky.  To the Chinese, it was “irresponsible and dangerous.” But this was a single well-played move in an iterative and indirect competition with high stakes.  The Chinese are understandably upset because it shifts the terms of the next move in their disfavor, creating a circumstance that requires them to adapt expectations.  Moves like the one taken last week, putting a high-level U.S. commander in harm’s way but in a highly anodyne way, help (temporarily at least) stack the deck in favor of the United States and the status quo. Why?  Because it was a signal of U.S. resolve without deterrence.  America’s interest in the South China Sea is stability—not ownership—and the most assured path to continued stability will depend on precisely the balance Swift managed with that P-8 mission: establishing new precedents that favor the status quo while avoiding circumstances of immediate deterrence.  In effect, the United States must shape the context in which future possible confrontations take place. The U.S. defense community places a great deal of emphasis on deterrence, but deterrence (the immediate, game theoretic kind) is often a loser’s game.  It’s like going to the casino and expecting to beat the house at blackjack; it can be done, but the odds are generally against you.  And the odds are against you because the threat of force as a means of convincing someone not to do something—especially when that something is very specific—is fraught for a number of reasons.  Establishing the credibility of the threat is hard.  Even if they believe your threat is credible, they may believe that the balance of interests is worth them hazarding the risk of violating your proscription.  And even if you’ve successfully deterred something in a specific instance, you’ve almost inevitably generated second-order consequences that challenge you anew; neither people nor states suffer under the boot of others kindly, or for very long. That’s not to say that acts of immediate deterrence aren’t sometimes necessary, or that a general posture of deterrence—that is, signaling your ability to threaten something without issuing direct threats—isn’t a reasonable way of inducing caution in a would-be adversary.  When something you value is in jeopardy, appeals to community, norms, or the rule of law may be irrelevant in the heat of the moment; sometimes you just have to be willing to fight. But just as walking around seeking out a fight is reckless, so too is seeking out immediate deterrence opportunities.  And that’s why Swift’s P-8 move was so appropriate—it wasn’t immediate deterrence; it wasn’t America seeking a fight.”

South China Sea: Philippines v. China.
“The Philippines v. China case before the arbitral tribunal set up under Annex VII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has attracted worldwide attention for a number of reasons, one of which being China’s refusal to participate in the proceedings, which were initiated by the Philippines. The non-appearance of a party before an international court or tribunal is not uncommon, nor is this the first time a party has chosen not to appear before an UNCLOS dispute settlement body. In 2013, Russia elected to stay away from both provisional measures proceeding before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and currently, as things stand, it is not appearing before the Annex VII arbitral tribunal in the Arctic Sunrise case initiated by the Netherlands. What is peculiar about Philippines v. China, however, is that even though China has officially made it public that it would not participate in the proceedings, it has missed no opportunity to make the details of its position known through both formal and informal channels. This situation gives rise to several interesting legal questions. Even though international law imposes on States an obligation to settle disputes peacefully, when it comes to international adjudication or arbitration, States retain the right to decide whether to take part in it or not. The decision to not participate in legal proceedings of course begs the question of good faith, nevertheless it has to be acknowledged that international law allows for States to do so. In this particular case, Article 9 of Annex VII UNCLOS, Default of appearance, and Article 25 of the Rule of Procedure of the Arbitral Tribunal envision a situation in which one of the parties fails to appear before the tribunal. However, both of these articles state that the non-appearance of one party will not constitute a bar to the proceedings and at the same time require the tribunal to “satisfy itself that it has jurisdiction and that claim is well founded in fact and in law.” It should be noted, however, that China’s refusal to appear before the tribunal does not negate the consent that it has given to the compulsory jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal when becoming a party to the UNCLOS. The use of the argument that the arbitral tribunal does not have jurisdiction as a reason to not participate in the proceedings is highly ungrounded to say the least, and was indeed struck down by the arbitral tribunal in the Arctic Sunrise case against Russia. China remains a party to the case unless and until the Tribunal finds that there is no jurisdiction. Despite the official position that “it does not accept the arbitration initiated by the Philippines,” China has hardly adopted a hands-off policy towards the arbitral proceedings. China has through different channels made its position on the jurisdiction of the tribunal known to the public, while remaining silent on the merits of the case.”

China's Un-Separation of Powers.
“In late January this year, 18 U.S. business associations penned a joint letter to the Chinese authorities complaining about a new rule requiring that they replace their banking technologies with "secure and controllable" ones produced in China. Adopted ostensibly for national security purposes after Edward Snowden revealed the presence of spying equipment in the existing banking technologies, the guidelines actually cater to Chinese industrial policy by potentially requiring foreign companies to reveal source code and other commercial secrets. Although it is not uncommon for U.S. industry to lobby the Chinese government, particularly when the stakes are high, in this case, the businesses chose to bypass the government and address the letter directly to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs rather than the government’s Cyberspace Administration of China. The standard practice is to engage government officials up and down the hierarchy, from the lowliest section chief up to the minister and beyond. Business lobbyists even interact with critical decision-makers who hold key party positions on a government rather than a party level. (The exception is local investment deals, where the local party secretary has the ultimate say and can influence the bureaucracy’s decision.) In any case, soon after registering their complaint, representatives from U.S. businesses received face-to-face meetings with Chinese officials, and in late March, China announced it would suspend implementation of the banking-technology regulations. Fearing that China would attempt to quietly implement the policy anyway, the group sent a second letter in early April to the same party agency, asking that it issue a written edict to ensure the suspension would truly hold. A few days later, the party complied once more. This unexpected victory not only reveals how U.S. industry has figured out how to pull the levers of power in China but also points to a substantial change in how China is governed. In the past, there was at least some separation between party and government roles, but it seems that the line is blurring dramatically. The CCP and its ruling Politburo Standing Committee have always been the ones in charge, but they have been amassing greater control over policymaking and even implementation. It leaves one wondering: Does the Chinese government matter anymore? The Chinese Communist Party has always had a love-hate relationship with its own government, needing it for legitimacy and governance but keen to uphold the party's own prerogatives. The CCP has maintained full control of the country since Mao Zedong strode atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace to declare the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. But in the early 1950s, the party, in order to manage the day-to-day running of the country, constructed an elaborate central government and multiple layers of administration down to the village level. Mao was known as "Chairman" of the PRC for five years during the 1950s, but from the Great Leap Forward on, he held no government title. He often chafed at the inefficiency of the bureaucratic system, and during the Cultural Revolution he helped create tripartite "revolutionary committees" composed of Red Guard organizations, People's Liberation Army (PLA) units, and the CCP.”

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

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | July 27, 2015

Forbes: White House Has No China Strategy; Here’s Mine. “What’s the strategy for coping with what everyone on Capitol Hill and inside the Obama administration agrees is an increasingly assertive China? The White House can’t answer, Rep. Randy Forbes says, “because they don’t have it.” So, it’s fair to ask: what is Forbes’s strategy, then? The House seapower chairman’s outline for a “winning strategy” boils down to five principles, he told me in an interview: (1) have a clear objective: a peaceful and prosperous Pacific where China follows the rule of law and the US works closely with its partners; (2) speak truth to Chinese power: Be willing to offend Beijing with frank statements, especially on issues like human rights and Taiwan; (3) punish Chinese provocations, for example by un-inviting them from international wargames like RIMPAC if they continue building artificial “islands;” (4) strengthen our military presence in the Pacific, especially (but not only) naval forces; (5) communicate our strategy — to the American people so they buy in, to our allies so they’re reassured, and to the Chinese so they’re deterred. “One of the cornerstones of any strategy is the ability to articulate that strategy,” Forbes told me. “The administration will tell you have they have a strategy, but ask them in any hearing, ask them in any place, to put it on the record… They will not tell you, because they don’t have it.” “We’ve been trying to encourage them to have an East Asia strategy review,” Forbes added. “We haven’t had one since the ’90s… They’ve refused to do one since they’ve been in office.” Forbes isn’t alone in his frustration with the administration. Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jack Reed, the chairman and ranking Democrat of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote the Pentagon in May protesting the Chinese invitation to participate in the world’s largest naval exercise, RIMPAC. McCain, Reed, and two other Senators — Bob Corker, and Bob Mendez, the top Republican and top Democrat on the Foreign Relations committee — sent Obama a letter in March calling for a strategy on Chinese provocations in the East and South China Seas. “Without a comprehensive strategy…long-standing interests of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, stand at considerable risk,” they wrote. At a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference on Wednesday, Forbes outlined three crucial questions on which he’d never gotten a satisfactory answer: “When it comes to China, what is our strategy?.. Are we winning or losing?… What are the metrics that we use to measure that?” “We should have as the cornerstone of our strategy that we want to have a winning strategy, [not] do this just to get this participation trophy,” Forbes told me. That said, “winning doesn’t mean the Chinese come out worse and we come out better,” the congressman clarified. “It just means we have to have a definition of what winning is.”

The PLA General Staff Department Third Department Second Bureau: An Organizational Overview of Unit 61398
“In May 2014, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced indictments against five Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers on charges of cyber espionage directed against U.S. firms. According to the indictments, the five officers were assigned to the Third Office of the PLA General Staff Department (GSD) Technical Reconnaissance Department (alternatively known as the Third Department) Second Bureau. According to the U.S. Attorney General, “this is a case alleging economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first-ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking.” While assigned personnel may well engage in cyber espionage, a survey of Second Bureau infrastructure indicates a much broader communications intelligence mission. Who is the Second Bureau, what is its mission, how is it organized, and where does the bureau fit within the broader Chinese Communist Party state and military bureaucracy? This overview updates and expands upon Project 2049 reports published in November 2011 and October 2012 on Chinese cyber operations. Signals intelligence (SIGINT), or technical reconnaissance in PLA lexicon, advances the interests of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The PLA’s SIGINT community consists of at least 28 technical reconnaissance bureaus (TRBs). The GSD Third Department, often referred to as 3PLA, is roughly analogous to the U.S. National Security Agency. It has direct authority over 12 operational bureaus, three research institutes, and a computing center. Eight of the 12 operational bureau headquarters are clustered in Beijing. Two others are based in Shanghai, one in Qingdao, and one in Wuhan. Ten additional TRBs provide direct support to the PLA’s seven military regions (MRs), while another six support the PLA Navy (PLAN), Air Force (PLAAF), and Second Artillery Force (PLASAF). Grade, rather than rank, is the main indicator of relative authority and responsibility throughout the PLA. Third Department bureau leaders – the director and political commissar – have a grade equivalent to a ground force division leader with a primary rank of senior colonel (SCOL) and a secondary rank of major general (MG). A bureau director is also identified as the unit commander.4 The Second Bureau (Unit 61398) is one of the largest among the 12 operational bureaus that comprise the GSD Third Department. The Second Bureau and the GSD Third Department Fourth Bureau both have origins in the mountains west of the Shanxi provincial city of Xinzhou. Technical reconnaissance work stations under Second Bureau control were distributed throughout China. By 1986, the Second Bureau headquarters and most subordinate elements relocated to Shanghai. At the same time, the GSD Third Department Fourth Bureau headquarters moved to the city of Qingdao in Shandong province. The Second Bureau Party Committee implements policies established by the central leadership in Beijing and Shanghai City Party Committee. The political commissar serves as the bureau’s Party Committee secretary. The Second Bureau director has a formal position within the Shanghai City government and most likely is deputy secretary of the Second Bureau Party Committee.”

China’s Island Building is Clearly Military, U.S. Pacific Chief Says.
“The top U.S. military officer in the Pacific sternly warned China on Friday to immediately cease its “aggressive coercive island building” in the South China Sea, which he argued was intended clearly for China’s military use as forward operating bases in combat against their regional neighbors. “I believe those facilities are clearly military in nature,” Harris said at the Aspen Security Forum, an annual gathering in Colorado of dozens of top U.S. national security leaders, convened by the Aspen Institute. In his notably undiplomatic remarks, Harris called on China to show meaningful diplomacy to resolve the territorial disputes. But the four-star admiral also appeared resigned to seeing further construction and eventual deployment of military aircraft and ships. “They are building ports that are deep enough to host warships and they’re building a 10,000-foot runway at Fiery Cross Reef,” Harris said, referring to one of China’s construction activities in the Spratly Islands that Japan has protested. “A 10,000-foot runaway is large enough to take a B-52, almost large enough for the Space Shuttle, and 3,000 feet longer than you need to take off a 747. So, there’s no small airplane that requires a runway of that length. They’re building rebutted aircraft hangers at some of the facilities there that are clearly designed, in my view, to host tactical fighter aircraft.” Harris also said he is concerned the islands could be used as a chain of Chinese listening posts. “Certainly, those islands, which are well out in the South China Sea, extends a surveillance network that could be in place with radars, electronic warfare capabilities and the like.” If that happens, he said, American warships could strike them in combat. “I think those islands, given the capabilities we have, are clearly and easily targets in any combat scenario with China. But they’re also easily seen as forward operating posts. Any increase of capability like that in that area is cause for concern,” Harris said. The U.S. has not yet seen China place any anti-ship missiles or supporting gear on the islands, he added. The U.S. commander dismissed Beijing’s repeated claims that the island expansions were rightful and peaceful, and said China has shown no credible diplomatic effort to resolve its territorial disputes with neighboring countries.  “Most countries choose to pursue diplomatic means to address their disputes.  China, on the other hand, is changing the status quo in the region through aggressive coercive island building without meaningful diplomatic efforts toward dispute resolution or arbitration,” Harris said, reading opening remarks at his appearance in Aspen. “China is changing facts on the ground…essentially, creating false sovereignty…by building man-made islands on top of coral reefs, rocks, and shoals,” Harris said. “These activities are harming the environment and will not strengthen any country’s legal claims to disputed areas in the South China Sea. We call on China to use the mechanisms of international dispute resolution in good faith, and to abide by those decisions as so many of its regional neighbors have already done. China has in the past accused the U.S. of ‘pursuing international hegemony’ and adopting a ‘Cold War mentality’ toward China. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is China’s actions that are inducing its South China Sea neighbors to build stronger relationships with each other and the U.S., driven not by a sudden U.S. effort to increase stability and security within the region, but by China’s conspicuous failure to do the same.”

FBI Probes ‘Hundreds’ of China Spy Cases.
The FBI has seen a surge in cases of economic espionage in the past year, and the bureau says that China is largely to blame. China’s intelligence services are “as aggressive now as they’ve ever been,” said Assistant Director Randall Coleman, who runs the bureau’s counterintelligence division. He and other senior FBI officials described the threat China poses to U.S. companies during a rare, on-the-record briefing with reporters Thursday. It was an event meant to underscore the pervasive nature of intellectual-property and trade-secrets theft and to alert businesses to protect themselves. “The predominant threat we face right now is from China,” Coleman said. The FBI has linked the theft of a broad range of technologies—from seeds to software—to the Chinese government, he said. The number of cases investigated by the division, which is responsible for stopping and catching spies, has shot up 53 percent in the past year, Coleman said. The precise number of total cases is classified, but Coleman said it’s “in the hundreds.” The FBI’s willingness to call out China for spying on U.S. companies stood in contrast to the White House’s reluctance to blame China for the massive hack against the Office of Personnel Management. As The Daily Beast reported this week, Obama administration officials have privately concluded that hackers working with the Chinese government stole personal information on more than 22 million current and former government employees, in what experts have called one of the biggest intelligence disasters in recent memory. Coleman declined to discuss the OPM hack, which he described as an ongoing investigation. But the spying for which the FBI is blasting China is also distinct, U.S. officials have said, from traditional espionage that aims to steal government secrets. When Chinese hackers or human spies make off with companies’ pricing data, secret formulas, or software code, they’re giving it to Chinese companies to give them an unfair advantage in the global marketplace, officials argue. The Obama administration has tried to draw a line between that economic espionage and the global surveillance against terrorists or spying on foreign governments that the United States routinely conducts. To bolster its case, the FBI released the results of a government survey of 165 companies—which it didn’t name—half of which reported said that their proprietary information had already been targeted by foreign spies. And in 95 percent of those cases, the companies suspected China was to blame, said William Evanina, a top U.S. counterintelligence official.”

Asia-Pacific Countries Buy Surveillance Planes to Outfox Rivals
. “Military commanders in Asia are putting surveillance planes at the top of their wish lists, ahead of warships and fighter jets, as they strive to protect their territorial waters from rival claimants. Several countries are hoping better intelligence will keep a lid on the region’s worsening maritime disputes by deterring provocative actions in remote stretches of ocean that Asian countries claim but aren’t able to monitor effectively. Nowhere has Asia’s weak ISR capabilities—military shorthand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance—been more ruthlessly exposed than in the South China Sea, where China has been building at least seven artificial islands to boost its territorial claims. The islets were half-built before Beijing’s rivals even realized what was happening. Regional governments believe that investing in better ISR will help them avoid more nasty surprises. The thinking has opened up alucrative niche for aerospace companies, such as Boeing Co. and Sikorsky Aircraft Co. of the U.S., hoping to capitalize on Asian demand for a new generation of patrol planes. Bumping through choppy sea air in a U.S. Navy P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft east of the Philippine island of Palawan in June, it was easy to understand why surveillance is the region’s latest military buzzword. The plane’s radar system swept a 200-mile radius of ocean with enough precision to spot a person in the water, while high-resolution cameras scanned the surface. The plane’s sensors can detect faint noises or metallic objects. A vessel somewhere below flashed onto the P-3’s consoles with perfect clarity. It was 6 miles away, the radar operator said. While defense spending in Asia has been surging, new monitoring capabilities have generally been neglected. But no longer: Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam are among those prioritizing up-to-date surveillance systems.  “Investing in maritime ISR is a no-brainer for these countries,” said Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank. Piracy and smuggling, and a recent influx of seaborne refugees, are among the challenges demanding investment in surveillance technology, even without the territorial standoffs, Mr. Graham said. “Southeast Asian countries need to have some visibility about what is happening in their own backyard,” he said. The P-3—a venerable workhorse that has served the U.S. Navy for five decades—can scour several thousand square kilometers in one flight, and in all weathers. “This is the plane they send into hurricanes,” said Lt. Cdr. Patrick Ronan, commanding the P-3. In contrast, satellites take too long to retask and are useless in cloudy conditions, he said, while lumbering ships can’t search huge swaths of ocean. Drones have great potential, he said, but for now can only complement the work of human crews. Circling at 6,000 feet on a stormy summer morning, the plane steered U.S. and Philippine warships toward their search objectives as part of annual drills in the Sulu Sea. The ships were lonely specks in a featureless gray expanse: it was hard to imagine them ever finding anything without the P-3 to guide them.”

They’re Just Not That Into Us.
“A swelling chorus of Washington voices wants to change America’s long-standing strategy toward China. “I was so gullible,” Pentagon adviser Michael Pillsbury, who has helped shape policy under every president since Nixon, lamented in a recent book. “We believed that American aid to a fragile China whose leaders thought like us would help China become a democratic and peaceful power,” but “every one of the assumptions behind that belief was wrong—dangerously so.” Veteran diplomats Robert Blackwill and Ashley Tellis likewise concluded, in an April report for the Council on Foreign Relations,that Beijing’s goal is to become East Asia’s hegemon, so Washington should stop basing policy on the false hope that China is evolving into a “responsible stakeholder” in the American-led liberal international order. Thomas J. Christensen disagrees. A Princeton professor who served in the State Department from 2006 to 2008, he argues that “The China Challenge,” as he titles his book, isn’t chiefly to limit the risks of a rising China. It is to persuade Beijing to “pull its weight” in matters of cooperative “global governance.” U.S. strategy should thus “focus on the considerable common interests we have with China on everything from finance to trade, to nonproliferation, to stability in various regions of the world, to global environmental protection.” Beijing, in other words, is better viewed as a potential partner than a potential adversary. Mr. Christensen hasn’t written a brief for Beijing. He backs “a very strong U.S. military presence in East Asia” and doesn’t endorse withdrawal from the Korean Peninsula or cessation of support for Taiwan. As he tells it, he simply wants to extend the “pragmatism” that has governed U.S. policy toward China since the two countries cooperated against the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. Though Mr. Christensen presents his case in a scholarly and accessible fashion, contradictions and omissions ultimately make it unconvincing. U.S.-China relations appear more perilous than the author wants to admit, and his book—inadvertently—helps prove the point. Start with his claim that China wouldn’t have to “transform itself radically at home” and abandon authoritarianism in order to accommodate itself to the liberal global order. “Chinese patriots have every reason to reject a demand that they become ‘Western,’ ” he writes, emphasizing China’s postcolonial nationalism, “but no reason to reject high standards of compliance with universal norms of free market economics, intellectual property rights protection, and nuclear nonproliferation, as well as basic standards of universal human rights.”

China’s Global Ambitions, With Loans and Strings Attached.
“Where the Andean foothills dip into the Amazon jungle, nearly 1,000 Chinese engineers and workers have been pouring concrete for a dam and a 15-mile underground tunnel. The $2.2 billion project will feed river water to eight giant Chinese turbines designed to produce enough electricity to light more than a third of Ecuador.Near the port of Manta on the Pacific Ocean, Chinese banks are in talks to lend $7 billion for the construction of an oil refinery, which could make Ecuador a global player in gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products. Across the country in villages and towns, Chinese money is going to build roads, highways, bridges, hospitals, even a network of surveillance cameras stretching to the Galápagos Islands. State-owned Chinese banks have already put nearly $11 billion into the country, and the Ecuadorean government is asking for more. Ecuador, with just 16 million people, has little presence on the global stage. But China’s rapidly expanding footprint here speaks volumes about the changing world order, as Beijing surges forward and Washington gradually loses ground. It represents a new phase in China’s evolution. As the country’s wealth has swelled and its needs have evolved, President Xi Jinping and the rest of the leadership have pushed to extend China’s reach on a global scale. China’s currency, the renminbi, is expected to be anointed soon as a global reserve currency, putting it in an elite category with the dollar, the euro, the pound and the yen. China’s state-owned development bank has surpassed the World Bank in international lending. And its effort to create an internationally funded institution to finance transportation and other infrastructure has drawn the support of 57 countries, including several of the United States’ closest allies, despite opposition from the Obama administration. Even the current stock market slump is unlikely to shake the country’s resolve. China has nearly $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, which it is determined to invest overseas to earn a profit and exert its influence. China’s growing economic power coincides with an increasingly assertive foreign policy. It is building aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and stealth jets. In a contested sea, China is turning reefs and atolls near the southern Philippines into artificial islands, with at least one airstrip able to handle the largest military planes. The United States has challenged the move, conducting surveillance flights in the area and discussing plans to send warships. China represents “a civilization and history that awakens admiration to those who know it,” President Rafael Correa of Ecuador proclaimed on Twitter, as his jet landed in Beijing for a meeting with officials in January. China’s leaders portray the overseas investments as symbiotic. “The current industrial cooperation between China and Latin America arrives at the right moment,” Prime Minister Li Keqiang said in a visit to Chile in late May. “China has equipment manufacturing capacity and integrated technology with competitive prices, while Latin America has the demand for infrastructure expansion and industrial upgrading.” But the show of financial strength also makes China — and the world — more vulnerable.”

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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