China Caucus Blog

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 26, 2015

Conquering the South China Sea. “China is building military bases on artificial islands hundreds of miles off its coast, in waters claimed by six other countries. These new fortresses in the South China Sea raise the risk of war, yet Washington seems to have no strategy to address them. Are the U.S. and its allies ceding the nearly 1.35 million square miles claimed by China without legal merit, including some of the busiest sea lanes on the planet? Over the past year Chinese dredging and other landfill techniques have transformed tiny reefs into potential homes for military aircraft, ships, radar facilities and other assets. Formerly underwater during high tide, Johnson Reef is now a 25-acre landmass. Nearby Hughes Reef has grown big enough to host two piers and a cement plant. Gaven Reef is now 28 acres, with a helipad and antiaircraft tower. Fiery Cross Reef has grown 11-fold since August, with what appears to be a three-kilometer airstrip under construction. All are part of the Spratly islands, a cluster of rocks between the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam, often some 650 miles from China. U.S. Senators John McCain, Jack Reed, Bob Corker and Bob Menendez last week wrote a bipartisan letter asking Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry not to overlook China’s behavior. At stake, the Senators note, is the security of U.S. allies in Asia, the continued free flow of $5 trillion a year in oil, iPhones and other trade through the South China Sea, and the principle of “peaceful resolution of disputes.” U.S. executive officials have done little more than politely ask Beijing to stop, citing a 2002 pledge by China and its neighbors to avoid provocative actions. Some in Washington don’t even see a problem. Former Obama Pentagon official Shawn Brimley has quoted an unnamed former colleague dismissing China’s Spratly fortresses as “a bunch of easy targets that would be taken out within minutes of a real contingency.” That is hardly comforting since the purpose of the bases is to change the status quo during peacetime.” 

New Chinese Nuclear Sub Design Includes Special Operations Mini-Sub.
“China’s latest nuclear submarine design appear to include a shelter capable of holding a miniature submarine for special operations forces (SOF) not unlike vehicles used to deliver Navy SEALs to shore from U.S. nuclear attack boats, according to an image in wide circulation in Chinese online networks. The Chinese boat — a Type-93T or Shang-class nuclear attack submarine — features a hangar for the SOF submersible that would allow People’s Liberation Army troops to discrete deployment much like U.S. forces, according to a translation of a March 17 story in the state-run Reference News. The image was first reported in English by Jane’s Defence Weekly on Tuesday. Reference News said unlike hangars for U.S. SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDV), the hangar on the improved Shang-class attack boat could only accommodate the first two-thirds of the vehicle so “it enters [the] dock space as simple as an ink pen cap.” The description implies some limitations on the capability. “Consequently, as transfer of personnel to the SDV cannot easily be achieved with the submarine dived, the graphic shows SF personnel being transferred to the submarine by helicopter,” read the Jane’s report. The Chinese report on the delivery vehicle follow a consistent trend in Chinese ship design, according U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World author Eric Wertheim. “It shows that they are really looking at Western designs and take lessons learned and look at how we use our subs and incorporate some those features into their own,” he told USNI News on Wednesday. That trend is also evident in the PLA Navy’s (PLAN) latest guided missile destroyer (DDG) designs which bear striking resemblance to Western DDGs. Aside from the SOF capability, the revelation of the improved Shang sheds some light on the otherwise secretive PLAN submarine program. The first Shang-class attack boat was launched in 2002, but the Chinese paused production after launching the second boat in 2003, according to a 2014 U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence assessment of Chinese shipbuilding.” 

China Markets Attack Drone to Foreign Customers.
“A brochure from a Chinese state-run company reveals new details about one of Beijing’s attack drones — called the Cai Hong-3 (CH-3), or Rainbow-3 — being offered for sale to foreign customers. A catalog obtained by the U.S. government from China Aerospace Long-March International reveals details of the CH-3 and a missile-firing variant called the CH-3A. The catalog provides a rare inside look at China’s drone arsenal. The CH-3 is one of nine drones being offered for sale around the world, ranging in size from very small to large-scale unmanned aerial vehicles. Several drones appear to be knockoffs of U.S.-designed remotely piloted aircraft, including the Predator strike drone and Global Hawk long-range spy drone. “Featuring high reconnaissance effectiveness, high anti-jamming capability, diversified payloads, integrated reconnaissance/attack, easy operation and simple maintenance, the UAVs can be used for such military operations as battlefield reconnaissance intelligence collection, anti-terrorism combat, no-fly zone patrol, firing calibration, data relay and electronic warfare,” the catalog states. The drone has been sold to Pakistan and Nigeria, where an armed CH-3A was photographed after it crashed during a mission to hit Boko Haram terrorists. The CH-3 appears to be a copy of the Jetcruzer small civil aircraft that was built by U.S. company Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures Inc., which sold 30 Jetcruzer 500s to China in 2000. The Chinese company also is selling two types of missiles to be fired from what it calls an “advanced medium-range UAV system.” The package includes three aircraft and a vehicle-mounted ground control system. The drone can take off and land via a remote pilot and has a retractable nose landing gear. “The advantages of this UAV system are high reliability, high efficiency and low cost,” the catalog states. “It can be used for various flight missions such as battle zone reconnaissance, artillery fire adjustment, data-link relay, intelligence collection and electronic warfare, etc.” 

China Says Probing if More Myanmar Bombs Strayed Over Border.
“hina's Defense Ministry said on Thursday that it investigating whether more stray bombs had fallen in Chinese territory during fighting between Myanmar's government and rebels, after five people were killed earlier this month. Those deaths, in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan, infuriated Beijing, which promised a "decisive" response if there was a repetition. Pictures have since surfaced on Chinese websites which appear to show more bombs from Myanmar fell in Yunnan last week. "At present we are organizing a verification process to look into this incident," Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng told a regular monthly news briefing. A joint Chinese and Myanmar has just finished a three-day probe into the bombing which killed five, he added, without giving details. Tens of thousands of people, many of them ethnic Chinese, have fled the fighting in northeastern Myanmar's Kokang region into China. On Wednesday evening, two grenades were fired into a Myanmar military base in Lashio, the largest city in Shan state, located some 130 km (81 miles) from the Kokang border region where the military is battling at least three ethnic rebel militant groups, said an officer with the Lashio police. "There are no reports of casualties," said the officer who asked not to be named, as he was not authorized to speak to media. Myanmar has said Chinese mercenaries were fighting with the rebels, and it has urged China to cooperate to prevent "terrorist attacks" being launched from Chinese territory.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 25, 2015

China Gives ‘Priority List’ of Wanted Officials to U.S. “The Chinese government has provided a "priority" list to the United States of Chinese officials suspected of corruption and are believed to have fled there, a top state-run newspaper said on Wednesday. Last year, Chinese officials said more than 150 "economic fugitives", many of them described as corrupt government officials, were in the United States. Xu Jinhui, head of the anti-graft bureau at the state prosecutor, told the official China Daily that "a priority list of alleged Chinese corrupt officials" believed to be at large in the United States has been provided to U.S. authorities. Most suspected corrupt officials overseas either worked for the government or state-owned enterprises and took bribes or embezzled public funds, Xu said. The report did not elaborate. Senior U.S. officials will meet their Chinese counterparts in August to discuss the possibility of repatriating Chinese officials who have fled to America with billions of dollars of allegedly stolen government assets, a U.S. official said last month. Xu added that Chinese authorities will start legal procedures to confiscate assets overseas, the newspaper said. "Once in possession of solid evidence, we will initiate confiscation procedures according to the law," he said, again without elaborating. The United States may deport to China the ex-wife of a fugitive Chinese official indicted on money laundering and immigration fraud charges, a U.S. prosecutor said last week. But there is no extradition treaty between the two countries and Western governments have long been reluctant to hand over suspects because of a lack of transparency and due process in China's judicial system. Liu Dong, head of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security's economic crimes division, told the China Daily that U.S. authorities are prejudiced against China's legal system and "mistakenly believe we would undertake unfair prosecution of suspects.” 

China Missile Test Highlights Space Weapons Threat.
“China’s recent test of a missile designed to shoot down satellites in low-earth orbit highlights a growing threat of space weapons, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command said on Tuesday. Adm. Cecil D. Haney, head of the Omaha-based nuclear forces command, also voiced worries about the strategic nuclear forces buildup by Russia and China, and said as commander he must assume North Korea is correct in claiming to have miniaturized a nuclear warhead for its missile forces. Haney also warned about the use of sophisticated cyber attacks by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS or ISIL. “And clearly in the case of that group, being able to use it to recruit, use cyber to threaten, and those kind of things… we see more and more sophistication associated with that,” he said. The U.S. Cyber Command, which is part of Stratcom, is looking “very, very closely” at the terrorist cyber threats, “on a day-to-day basis,” he said. Asked about a recently released list of 100 U.S. military personnel targeted by IS, Haney said the list of names did not originate from Defense Department networks. He suggested the information may have been culled from social media. “We do have a campaign where we practice and train on operational security, but not just with the members, but also alert the families, in terms of this business of using social media,” Haney said. On China’s space weapons buildup, dubbed “counterspace” arms by the Pentagon, Haney said the United States needs to be ready to deal with attacks on satellites in a future conflict. “The threat in space, I fundamentally believe, is a real one. It’s been demonstrated,” Haney said, noting China’s 2007 anti-satellite missile test against an orbiting satellite that created tens of thousands of debris pieces. “They’ve repeated this kind of test last summer, and during that test, fortunately, they did not do a hit-to-kill kind of thing,” he said, noting that no further debris was created. “But just seeing the nature of these types of activities show how committed they are to a counter-space campaign,” Haney said. “So we have to be ready for any campaign that extends its way into space.” 

Taiwan Activists Fan China Fears As Protest Trial Opens.
“Anti-China activists told a court in Taiwan that their weeks-long protest campaign last year saved the island from further economic colonization by Beijing, in defense statements given at the start of their trial on Wednesday. The protests, dubbed the "Sunflower Movement", marked the largest display of anti-China sentiment seen in Taiwan for years and followed nearly a decade of rapprochement between the two historical foes. Some 119 activists stand accused of stirring public unrest and attacking police during protests aimed at blocking a controversial trade deal that Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou had signed with China. "What would Taiwan be like now if we hadn't organized those protests?" Chen Wei-ting, one of eight main protest leaders on trial, told the court. "All these industries - publishing, telecoms, tourism - would have been bought up by large Chinese interests." President Ma, who is in the final year of his second four-year term, has overseen the signing of several pacts aimed at building economic ties in sectors ranging from finance to tourism. Opponents launched the protest movement after accusing Ma of trying to ram through legislation for a far-reaching services-trade pact without public consultation in March of last year. Before the pact could become law hundreds of protesters led by Chen and others forced their way into Taiwan's parliament and repelled police efforts to evict them. The pact, which has still to be ratified, would have opened 64 of Taiwan's service sectors to China and 80 of China's sectors to Taiwan. Opponents say it would have accelerated political reconciliation, a key goal of China's foreign policy. Last September, China's President Xi Jinping reiterated the "One Country, Two Systems" principle for bringing Taiwan back under Chinese rule.” 

How China Used More Cement in 3 Years Than the U.S. Did in the Entire 20th Century.
“China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the U.S. used in the entire 20th Century. It’s a statistic so mind-blowing that it stunned Bill Gates and inspired haiku. But can it be true, and, if so, how? Yes, China’s economy has grown at an extraordinary rate, and it has more than four times as many people as the United States. But the 1900s were America’s great period of expansion, the century in which the U.S. built almost all of its roads and bridges, the Interstate system, the Hoover Dam, and many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. And China and the U.S. are roughly the same size in terms of geographic area, ranking third and fourth in the world, respectively. The statistic seems incredible, but according to government and industry sources, it appears accurate. What’s more, once you dive into the figures, they have a surprisingly logical explanation that reveals some fascinating differences between the two countries, and some ominous realities about China. Gates plucked the statistic from the historian Vaclav Smil, who calls cement “the most important material in terms of sheer mass in our civilization.” (In case you need a refresher, cement is a powdery lime-and-clay substance that is combined with water and gravel or sand to make concrete.) Smil got his estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey, whose figures for the American use of cement in the 20th Century are below.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 24, 2015

What’s Wrong With China’s Army? “In the “century of humiliation” that President Xi Jinping often evokes for his goal of turning China into a great power, one particular episode resonates: The defeat of China’s navy by Japan in 1894. The Battle of Yalu in the Yellow Sea was a mortifying defeat in the first Sino-Japanese war, a conflict that China’s leaders assumed they would win against a smaller, if recently modernized opponent. China had better, newer guns. But its navy was furnished with shells that were either filled with cement or porcelain, or were simply the wrong caliber, S.C.M. Paine writes in “The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perceptions, Power, and Primacy.” To blame? Ordnance officials on the take. Now, Xi is seeking to transform the military into a modern outfit that can “fight and win wars,” acknowledging the effect of corruption on the People’s Liberation Army -- the world’s largest ground force -- alongside decades of patchy training and tolerance of underperformers. At an annual meeting of lawmakers this month, he said stamping out graft would make for better troops. Xi has embarked on a sweeping anti-corruption campaign that has seen 30 generals named this year as under investigation, as part of a broader purge to root out a problem he has said threatens the future of the Communist Party. “The Battle of Yalu has an earthshaking influence on both Chinese people and Chinese military forces,” Major General Zhu Heping said on the sidelines of the legislative meeting in Beijing. “The primary cause for China’s failures is because the corruption was deeply rooted in the military and the government at the time,” said Zhu, the vice-president of the Air Force Command Academy.” 

China Confirms, In Roundabout Way, Japan Invite For War Memorial.
“China's Foreign Ministry confirmed, in a roundabout way, on Tuesday that it had issued an invitation to wartime enemy Japan to attend events in China to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two later this year. Sino-Japan relations have long been poisoned by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war, and it rarely misses an opportunity to remind its people and the world of this. In the last two years, ties have also deteriorated sharply because of a dispute over a chain of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, though Chinese and Japanese leaders met last year in Beijing to try to reset relations. Beijing's commemorations, likely to be held in September, will include a military parade, but the government has been coy about exactly who it has invited, though Russian President Vladimir Putin for one is expected to turn up. "As to which countries leaders have been invited, we have said this many times: China has already issued invites to all relevant countries' leaders and international organizations," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing. Pressed on whether this included Japan, she said: "I've just said that China has already issued invites to all relevant countries' leaders and international organizations. Do you think that Japan has a connection to World War Two and the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, or not?" She did not elaborate, and the government has so far released few details about the events. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier this month said the government would welcome all national leaders to the war events, as long as they came in sincerity. While China has continued to remind Japan it expects them to face up to their wartime past, the foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan and China agreed on Saturday that a summit meeting of their leaders should be held soon to mend ties.” 

India, China to Meet on Border Dispute
. “Indian and Chinese officials are meeting in New Delhi this week for talks on a border dispute that has for decades strained relations between the neighbors — the first such negotiations since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office last year. The two Asian countries are separated by a nearly 2,200-mile border whose exact location is a subject of bitter dispute. China claims India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls southern Tibet. India claims a Chinese-controlled region it calls Aksai Chin as part of its northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir. India periodically accuses Chinese troops of “transgressions” across the two countries’ ill-defined boundary, known as the Line of Actual Control. Officials on both sides say such incidents are likely to continue – and perhaps escalate as India further develops its border lands – until the boundary is properly marked and settled. The dispute cast a shadow over Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India last year – and on Mr. Modi’s efforts to improve relations with China. As Mr. Xi held his first official talks with Mr. Modi in September last year, their countries’ armies were locked in a tense face-off in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Roughly 1,000 troops were called in on both sides, making it the biggest border confrontation between the two nations in decades. Such episodes have interfered with the two countries’ efforts to deepen commercial relations as India seeks foreign investment to modernize its infrastructure. Mr. Modi is scheduled to visit China in May as part of those efforts. Talks this week between China’s representative on the boundary question, Yang Jiechi, and India’s national security advisor, Ajit Doval, are aimed at giving momentum to the border talks. Indian analysts say China may be more willing to negotiate given Mr. Modi’s steps to strengthen India’s ties with the United States.” 

Unstoppable: China’s Secret Plan to Subvert Taiwan.
“Mao Zedong reportedly once said that warfare is 70 percent political. Arguably, no conflict in recent times has adhered to this concept more faithfully than China’s ongoing campaign to “reunite” Taiwan with the “Mainland.” While analysts have tended to focus on the threat which an increasingly powerful People’s Liberation Army (PLA) poses to the democratic island-nation, the political warfare component of Beijing’s “reunification” strategy has received much less attention, perhaps because cross-strait symposia on tea and culture are far less “newsworthy” than the latest missile boat or combat aircraft. Given Beijing’s preference for “nonkinetic” solutions to the impasse (war would be costly and unpredictable), it makes perfect sense that its leadership would explore alternative means by which to win the war in the Taiwan Strait. Political warfare (or the “Three Warfares,” 三战), targeting both Taiwan and its supporters in the international community, is a favored instrument. There has been a growing number of interactions between Taiwan and China since 2008. And what with rapidly expanding cross-strait travel, academic exchanges and investment, the opportunities for China to engage in political warfare have increased exponentially. Art and culture, benign as they may sound, are at the heart of China’s political-warfare strategy against Taiwan. But don’t be fooled by the innocuous façade provided by the cushy conference halls and beaming university students: Behind all this lies the PLA’s General Political Department Liaison Department (GPD/LD), “an interlocking directorate that operates at the nexus of politics, finance, military operations, and intelligence.”   Although the GPD/LD’s remit extends well beyond Taiwan, a large share of its resources is nevertheless committed to resolving the Taiwan “question” on terms that are favorable to Beijing.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 23, 2015

Violence at Myanmar Border Puts Beijing in a Bind. “When warplanes involved in fighting over northern Myanmar streaked across the border into China, an errant bomb killed Chinese farmers and put Beijing in a bind over a conflict it has tried to avoid. The explosion a week and a half ago came after jets had circled the frontier for days, occasionally bombing targets in the Myanmar region of Kokang. Yang Jinrong and other Chinese farmers living along the border had looked on from afar with little concern. Fighting between Kokang rebels and Myanmar government troops has ebbed and flowed for years, with little violent spillover. On March 13, however, ordnance fell in a sugar cane field where Mr. Yang and two-dozen other farmers were working. Mr. Yang saw his younger brother crumple onto the ground, blood pouring from wounds on his left torso. Yards away, his mother grabbed the mangled remains of her left leg. “I was terrified. People all around us were scampering for cover,” Mr. Yang said. The blast killed five Chinese nationals and injured eight others, including Mr. Yang’s mother and brother, who were eventually taken to a hospital in the city of Lincang, more than five hours’ drive away. “Those lot fighting in Myanmar, why did they bring the war to us ordinary folk in China?” his mother, 48-year-old Zhang Xiaowu, said from her hospital bed this week, after her left leg was amputated. “Our military hasn’t offended you. We ordinary folk haven’t offended you. What grievances do you have against us?” Beijing’s quandary lies in trying to balance its commitment to protecting Chinese lives around the world with its aim to avoid exacerbating an already rocky relationship with Myanmar.” 

China’s New Development Bank Bodes Poorly for the U.S.
“The Obama administration suffered a foreign policy setback last week when three European allies — Germany, France and Italy — decided to join a fourth, Britain, as shareholders in a new Chinese-sponsored multilateral development agency for Asia. When Beijing first proposed the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2013, Washington viewed it, not unreasonably, as a Chinese attempt to set up a rival to the U.S.-led World Bank, with the goal of expanding the influence of the People’s Republic across the region. A foreseeable negative consequence of a successful AIIB could be project funding ungoverned by the environmental and anti-corruption safeguards that World Bank borrowers must meet. The fact that four key European allies found it advantageous to join, despite U.S. insistence, speaks volumes about the ebb and flow of American influence in a region toward which President Obama had promised to “pivot.” Indeed, the Europeans’ moves make it more likely that South Korea and Australia will feel compelled to join the Chinese-led agency, leaving the United States and Japan on the outside looking in. For now, the AIIB is more about symbolism than substance. With an initial capital of just $50 billion, one third that of the Japan-led Asian Development Bank, and none of the World Bank’s expertise or institutional heft, it’s unclear how much of a dent the new bank could make in the region’s multi-trillion-dollar needs for roads, dams, bridges and ports. Its governance structure remains ill-defined and, potentially, a subject of controversy if and when the projects it backs start to have negative environmental or social consequences. (Here’s hoping that the myriad nongovernmental organizations that regularly criticize the World Bank’s practices and procedures do not give China’s bank a pass.)” 

Chinese, Japanese and South Korean Ministers to Resume Three-Way Talks.
“In their first trilateral meeting in three years, the foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan and China recognized on Saturday the urgent need to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, South Korean officials said. South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, and his Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Wang Yi and Fumio Kishida, wrapped up a three-way meeting, as well as a series of bilateral talks, in Seoul on Saturday with a joint statement in which they said they would try to reopen six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons development. The six-nation talks, which also involved the United States, Russia and North Korea, have been dormant since 2008. The United States, South Korea and Japan have been deeply skeptical about resuming negotiations with North Korea unless it shows a willingness to bargain away its nuclear weapons, while the North insists on talks without conditions. Analysts and officials in the region fear that while the six-nation talks are suspended, North Korea may be progressing toward building nuclear warheads small enough to fit onto its missiles. North Korea is also believed to be increasing its stockpile of nuclear fuel through a newly disclosed uranium enrichment program, as well as through its recently restarted reactor that produces plutonium. “We agreed to continue to exert our joint efforts to urgently stop the advancement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities and resume talks that can make concrete progress toward the denuclearization of North Korea,” Mr. Yun said during a joint news conference with his Chinese and Japanese counterparts. In their statement, the three foreign ministers said they hoped their meeting in Seoul, which was intended to try to improve ties that have been strained by territorial and historical disputes, would open “a path for restoring a cooperative system” among the three neighbors.” 

Indonesian President Says China’s Main Claim in South China Sea Has No Legal Basis.
“Indonesian President Joko Widodo says one of China's main claims to the majority of the South China Sea has no legal basis in international law, but Jakarta wants to remain an "honest broker" in one of Asia's most thorny territorial disputes. Widodo's comments in an interview with a major Japanese newspaper come as he embarks on a visit to Japan and China and is the first time he has taken a position on the issue since coming to power in October. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the sea, where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year. The territorial dispute is seen as one of Asia's hot spots, carrying risks that it could spiral out of control and result in conflict as countries aggressively stake their claims. "We need peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. It is important to have political and security stability to build up our economic growth," Widodo was quoted as saying in an interview with the Yomiuri newspaper published on Monday. "So we support the Code of Conduct (of the South China Sea) and also dialogue between China and Japan, China and ASEAN." But in a Japanese version of the interview published on Sunday, Joko rejected one of Beijing's main claims to the South China Sea. "The 'nine-dashed line' that China says marks its maritime border has no basis in any international law," said Widodo.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 19, 2015

China Gloats as Europeans Rush to Join Asian Bank. “China’s state media indulged in a bit of gloating Wednesday, as Europe’s most powerful nations announced they planned to join a Chinese-led Asian regional bank, ignoring objections from the United States. In a commentary piece titled “Washington, what are you waiting for?” state news agency Xinhua described the United States as “petulant and cynical” for declining to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). It said the bank was open to all nations but said Washington’s “sour grapes” left it looking “isolated and hypocritical.” On Tuesday, Germany, France and Italy said they planned to join the bank, following Britain’s decision to do so last week.  Officials from Australia and South Korea also have indicated they are considering joining the bank in recent days, after initially declining to do so. The United States was sharply critical of Britain’s decision last week, with an unnamed administration official telling the Financial Times that it had been made with “virtually no consultation with the U.S.” and accusing London of “constant accommodation” of China. China proposed the bank in 2013 to finance investment in infrastructure across Asia and had pledged to put up most of its initial $50 billion in capital. Earlier this month, China said 27 nations had signed up to be founding members. The United States has denied that it lobbied its allies not to join the bank. It says that it welcomes the idea of an infrastructure bank but “strongly urges it meet international standards of governance and transparency.” Fearing that the AIIB will become a rival to the World Bank, it is worried that its lending programs will not include adequate safeguards over issues such as the environment and labor rights. But the European decision to break ranks with Washington represents a significant diplomatic setback for the United States.”

China, Japan Agree to Keep Momentum Alive for Better Ties.
“China and Japan held their first security talks in four years on Thursday and agreed to keep alive and foster a nascent recovery in bilateral ties plagued by the legacy of Japan's wartime aggression and a territorial dispute. The world's second- and third-largest economies, however, failed to set a timetable for the implementation of a scheme designed to ensure real-time communication between their armed forces.  Sino-Japanese relations have chilled over what China views as Japan's reluctance to properly atone for its wartime past as well as a dispute over a group of tiny East China Sea islets. Patrol ships and fighter jets from both countries have shadowed each other regularly near the uninhabited islands that are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China, prompting fears that an accidental collision could spark conflict.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's moves to ease the constraints of Japan's pacifist constitution on its military have unnerved China. Japan says China's defence policy lacks transparency. Abe held formal talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping last November. In the meeting, hailed by Xi as the first step toward improved ties, the two agreed to work for the implementation of a bilateral crisis management mechanism. "Both sides agreed that the tide is beginning to turn for the better regarding relations between Japan and China following the summit meeting," a Japanese Foreign Ministry official told a media briefing after the one-day meeting. "They also agreed that it is important to keep on taking positive steps in various areas and at various levels to firmly establish this trend." In a sign of a thaw in Sino-Japanese ties, foreign ministers of Japan, China and South Korea are set to meet on Saturday in Seoul for the first time in nearly three years.”

China Dominates the Scramble for the South China Sea.
“Far from revisiting its assertive posturing in adjacent waters, China is seemingly determined to consolidate its position in the South China Sea at the expense of its smaller neighbors. The latest satellite imagery, released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, indicate extensive Chinese construction activities in highly contested areas, particularly the Spratly Islands, which have been actively claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Though Vietnam has occupied the greatest number of contested features in the Spratlys, China is the most capable, ambitious (and geographically distant) claimant in the area. Given the magnitude of the power asymmetry between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbors, China has the wherewithal to unilaterally dictate the tempo and trajectory of maritime disputes in the South China Sea. Despite being a relative late-comer, China has rapidly augmented its position, artificially transforming highly strategic features such as the Fiery Cross Reef, which has been enlarged to eleven times  its original size. The reef is a formidable military garrison, with up to two hundred Chinese troops stationed there. It is expected to host its own airstrip in the near future, a crucial prelude to what could become a de facto Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea. This would complement China’s ADIZ in the East China Sea, paving the way for China to dominate the skies above the entire first chain of islands in the western Pacific. Some analysts have argued that China has been simply fortifying its position in features it has taken control of since the latter decades of the 20th century. Therefore, according to these observers, there should be no cause for alarm, since Beijing is supposedly just fortifying rather than expanding its presence in the Spratly chain of islands.”

China is Getting Ready to Surge Troops Into Africa.
“Chinese activities in Africa have expanded massively during the last decade. To be sure, most of this has been purely economic — such as bartering access to natural resources in exchange for loans. But these money-making activities have grown so much in recent years, China is realizing it can't keep relying on African governments to protect them — and the thousands of Chinese nationals who've moved to the continent. Beijing isn't giving up on making business deals in Africa. Far from it. It's just that protecting those economic ties is turning into a job for the Chinese military. David Shinn, a former American ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso — and an expert on China-Africa relations — believes Chinese investment in Africa will slow down over the next 15 years. But there's a catch. China's military will grow to take a more prominent role. "The other sectors are pretty well advanced at this point, and the security connection is still relatively modest," Shin tells War Is Boring. "Although it's grown a lot, particularly since the Chinese got involved in 2008 in the anti-piracy operation off Somalia," he adds. "That has significantly increased ship visits to Africa — and not just on the east coast — but throughout Africa." China's economic growth and internal stability relies on free and open trade routes. In 2008, when Somali pirates began abducting merchant ships on a weekly basis — and jacking up insurance costs — China joined the international naval mission to stop the hijackers. Since China's initial contribution to anti-piracy activities, the country greatly increased maritime cooperation in with Africa, holding exercises with Tanzania and providing warships to the Nigerian navy.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 18, 2015

China Reveals Its Cyberwar Secrets. “A high-level Chinese military organization has for the first time formally acknowledged that the country’s military and its intelligence community have specialized units for waging war on computer networks. China’s hacking exploits, particularly those aimed at stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies, have been well known for years, and a source of constant tension between Washington and Beijing. But Chinese officials have routinely dismissed allegations that they spy on American corporations or have the ability to damage critical infrastructure, such as electrical power grids and gas pipelines, via cyber attacks. Now it appears that China has dropped the charade. “This is the first time we’ve seen an explicit acknowledgement of the existence of China’s secretive cyber-warfare forces from the Chinese side,” says Joe McReynolds, who researches the country’s network warfare strategy, doctrine, and capabilities at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. McReynolds told The Daily Beast the acknowledgement of China’s cyber operations is contained in the latest edition of an influential publication, The Science of Military Strategy, which is put out by the top research institute of the People’s Liberation Army and is closely read by Western analysts and the U.S. intelligence community. The document is produced “once in a generation,” McReynolds said, and is widely seen as one of the best windows into Chinese strategy. The Pentagon cited the previous edition (PDF), published in 1999, for its authoritative description of China’s “comprehensive view of warfare,” which includes operations in cyberspace. “This study is a big deal when it’s released,” McReynolds said, and the current edition marks “the first time they’ve come out and said, ‘Yes, we do in fact have network attack forces, and we have teams on both the military and civilian-government sides,’” including inside China’s equivalents of the CIA and the FBI. The acknowledgment could have political and diplomatic implications for China’s relationship with the United States and other Western powers.”

Australia, Vietnam Boost Security Ties. “
Australia and Vietnam agreed to expand security ties after talks during which the leaders of both countries expressed alarm over China’s muscle-flexing in the South China Sea. Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Nguyen Tan Dung, his Vietnamese counterpart, said they had concluded a deal to support and consult one another on regional defense and security affairs, while also looking to forge closer military ties. Mr. Dung is on an official visit to Australia. The agreement complements growing economic links between the countries and two-way trade valued at seven billion Australian dollars (US$5.3 billion) last year. It also puts the nations on a path to negotiating a formal security pact, an idea rejected by Australia’s previous Labor government.  The new security arrangements come as Vietnam, like several other countries, becomes increasingly troubled by Beijing’s readiness to assert sovereignty over disputed territory in the Asia-Pacific region—including the Spratly Islands, which Vietnam also claims.  “We agreed on the importance of the assurance of peace, stability, maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation, and of flight in the South China Sea, in accordance with international law,” Mr. Dung said at Australia’s Parliament building at the end of the talks. The two countries’ defense ministers also struck an agreement Wednesday for a small number of Vietnamese troops to be trained in Australia and hold joint military exercises. Australia, a longtime U.S. ally, also has expressed concern over Beijing’s perceived rising military assertiveness. Last year, Australia and Japan signed a deal to bolster military cooperation, including joint exercises. Without naming China, Mr. Dung said nations in Asia should “refrain from action that may escalate the tension in the region, including coercion and the use of force to unilaterally change the status quo.”

3 European Powers Say They Will Join China-Led Bank.
“Ignoring direct pleas from the Obama administration, Europe’s biggest economies have declared their desire to become founding members of a new Chinese-led Asian investment bank that the United States views as a rival to the World Bank and other institutions set up at the height of American power after World War II. The announcement on Tuesday by Germany, France and Italy that they would follow Britain and join the Chinese-led venture delivered a stinging rebuke to Washington from some of its closest allies. It also called into question whether the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which grew out of a multination conference in Bretton Woods, N.H., in 1944 and established an economic pecking order that lasted 70 years, will find their influence diminished. The announcement by Germany, Europe’s largest economy, came only six days after Secretary of State John Kerry asked his German counterpart, Frank Walter-Steinmeier, to resist the Chinese overtures until the Chinese agreed to a number of conditions about transparency and governing of the new entity. But Germany came to the same conclusion that Britain did: China is such a large export and investment market for it that it cannot afford to stay on the sidelines. American officials have fumed that China never approached the Group of 7 — the consortium of economic powers that the United States has led — but rather decided to pick off individual members, setting a deadline of the end of March for them to decide whether to join the new organization, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which many refer to by its initials, the A.I.I.B. China, in turn, has long chafed at the idea that the World Bank’s president is traditionally an American, and that France appoints the head of the I.M.F. “This has been a power struggle,” one senior European official said. “And we have moved from the world of 1945.”

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | March 17, 2015

South Korea Tells China Not to Meddle in Decision Over Missile System. “Tension between Seoul and Beijing over Washington’s desire to deploy a ballistic missile defense system in South Korea intensified on Tuesday as South Korea made an unusual public retort to China, asking it not to meddle in its defense policy. In recent months, the United States has made it increasingly clear that it wants South Korea to install the American missile defense system, known as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad. The Americans call it a needed deterrent against North Korea, which has been developing its ballistic missile technology. At the same time, Beijing has put pressure on Seoul to refuse the American request, arguing that the real target of the system is China. “A neighboring country can have its own opinion on the possible deployment of the Thaad system here by the U.S. forces in South Korea,” Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, said during a regular news briefing on Tuesday, without referring to China by name. “But it should not try to influence our security policy.” South Korea considers the United States, which still keeps 28,500 troops in the country decades after the Korean War, to be its most important ally. But its growing economic dependence on China — its leading export market — has required an increasingly tricky balancing act. That was apparent this week, as envoys from both countries visited South Korea with opposing demands about the missile defense system. Mr. Kim’s remarks Tuesday were in response to comments Monday by Liu Jianchao, a Chinese assistant foreign minister, who said he had had “a very candid and free dialogue” with South Korean officials about the issue. “We hope that China’s concerns and worries will be respected,” Mr. Liu told reporters in Seoul, where his comments were widely interpreted as a sign that Beijing was trying to use its economic influence to pull the country away from Washington.”

Defying U.S., European Allies Say They’ll Join China-Led Bank.
“Germany, France and Italy said on Tuesday they had agreed to join a new China-led Asian investment bank after close ally Britain defied U.S. pressure to become a founder member of a venture seen in Washington as a rival to the World Bank. The concerted move to participate in Beijing's flagship economic outreach project was a diplomatic blow for the United States, reflecting European eagerness to partner with China's fast-growing economy, the second largest in the world. It comes amid prickly trade negotiations between Brussels and Washington, and at a time when EU and Asian governments are frustrated that the U.S. Congress has held up a reform of voting rights in the International Monetary Fund due to give China and other emerging economies more say in global economic governance. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Europe's biggest economy, a major trade partner with Beijing, would be a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. A French Finance Ministry official told Reuters that Paris "confirms France's participation and highlights agreement between Germany, France and Italy" on the matter, first reported by the Financial Times. The Italian Treasury said the Europeans had agreed to work to ensure the new institution "follows the best standards and practices in terms of governance, safeguards, debt and procurement policies". French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters: "We are indeed considering this idea positively. We are looking at the precise modalities internally in France, then we'll have the opportunity to discuss it with other European countries. "You have seen that the British have already joined. We have been working on this prospect for quite some time," he added.” 

What Can Mussolini’s Navy Teach Us About Chinese Naval Power?
“As I pointed out in January (see: “Problems of Estimating Military Power”), it is inherently difficult to assess military strengths and to accurately predict how one’s opponent will behave in battle. More often than not, estimating military power is a guessing game, camouflaged by pseudo-scientific quantity and qualitative analyses, often punctuated with alarming bits of intelligence about the growing technical capabilities of a likely future adversary. The history of the inter-war Italian navy, the Regia Marina, which faced a strategic outlook similar to the PLAN and was also confronted by technologically superior naval opponents, provides a great lesson in why overestimating your enemy’s capabilities is maybe just as dangerous as underestimating military power. In short, miscalculating the fighting strengths of Mussolini’s navy prior to and during World War II diverted precious allied resources from dealing with more important military challenges (and as a consequence it inadvertently contributed to various allied defeats in the first three years of the war, such as during the Battle of France, and especially during the campaigns in North Africa). It also influenced policy making by granting Italy too big of a say in European politics (e.g., look up the history of the signing of the Munich Agreement) in comparison to the country’s real military capabilities. Like the PLAN today, the Italians were engaged in many military innovations throughout the 1930s. For example, one article notes: “The Italian navy was impressive for its pioneering naval research into radar and its prowess in torpedo technology — the latter resulting in powerful aerial and magnetic torpedoes and contributing to the maiali, or small human-guided torpedoes — the ultimate weapons in asymmetric naval warfare.” Also, the post-World War I Italian Navy, similar to today’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, harbored regional aspirations.” 

Concrete Steps For the U.S. in the South China Sea.
“The United States, its allies, and its partners face an intertwined series of challenges in the South China Sea. This nested series of issues is most clearly manifest in China’s recent (and continuing) island-creation and expansion in the South China Sea. China’s island-dredging is itself only a symptom of the real problem: a significant power vacuum in the South China Sea. The United States has largely reduced its presence in those waters over the past 20 years. While the overall capabilities of the U.S. Navy are increasing with each new ship, the newer, more versatile platforms are more expensive. In DoD terminology, the Navy has prioritized capability over capacity, with the result being the reduction by more than 20 percent in total Navy ships since 1995. Combined with demands on the U.S. Navy to be present in the waters around the Middle East, and the United States is left with fewer “presence days” elsewhere in the world. In terms of hard power, Southeast Asia’s littoral states’ maritime—navy and coast guard—capabilities are extremely limited. In addition, they are reluctant to take actions that would put them in direct opposition to China. The reluctance may be due, at least in part, to the fact that China is the top trading partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Even considering countries’ willingness to pursue their interests according to international law, the Philippines’ much-noted arbitration case (which was initially highly controversial among ASEAN countries) is only to determine what maritime features are contestable in court—not who owns them, but “can they be owned?” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 06, 2015

Obama’s China Tool Kit: In Need of Serious Repair. “About a year ago, the Obama administration found itself on the defensive abroad. In late 2013, China had established an Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea, imposing rules that amounted to a Chinese assertion of sovereignty over international airspace and disputed territories. The following month, a Chinese warship halted in the path of the USS Cowpens, nearly causing a collision, in an attempt to keep it from lawfully observing Chinese naval exercises in international waters. In March, Russia formally annexed Crimea only a month after Russia-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was removed from power. As President Obama was preparing to leave on a four-country swing through Asia in April, allies were whispering misgivings about America’s insufficiently robust reaction to the Crimea crisis only a few months after the president failed to follow through on his Syrian “red line” threat. And so to reassure nervous allies and deter further provocations, the Obama administration flexed its muscles—or, more accurately, indicated a willingness to flex its muscles in the future. While the president was in Asia, officials revealed to the Wall Street Journal that the Pentagon had developed a new toolkit for dealing with Chinese misbehavior…This fit well with the tone of the president’s trip, on which he finalized a new defense agreement with the Philippines and spoke forcefully of America’s commitment to its alliances with Manila and Tokyo. All in all, it was a reassuring week for America’s Asian allies. But China wasted no time in calling what turned out to be an American bluff. Just days after President Obama’s return to the United States, China parked a massive oil rig, the Haiyang Shiyou 981, in disputed South China Sea waters, just 120 nautical miles from Vietnam’s coast. It was a provocative move and possibly designed in part to discern how the United States would respond. Washington denounced the Chinese action, with Secretary of State John Kerry telling Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that the oil rig placement was “provocative,” to which, one can only imagine, Wang replied, “no, duh.” Typically, Kerry “urged both sides…to de-escalate tensions, to engage in high-level dialogue, to ensure safe conduct by their vessels at sea, and to resolve the dispute through peaceful means.”

Superpower Showdown: America Can Stop Chinese Aggression in Asia. “Here’s a fun filled fact Asia hands here in the beltway and throughout the U.S. need to make peace with: Washington at present has zero chance of stopping China’s island building adventure in the South China Sea. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. The Obama Administration’s lackluster approach when it comes to Beijing’s challenge to the international status quo has only enabled Chinese behavior over the last few years. But what America can do— like any smart strategist— is gain a clear understanding of Beijing's strategy when it comes to Asia and plan the next move. And that next move, a carefully-thought-out reaction to Beijing’s various attempts to slowly change the international order in the Asia-Pacific is key. To put it quite simply: China needs to pay a price for its actions now and in the future. Beijing needs to be put on notice from here on out the costs of its actions will be steep— like the promotion of a “balancing” coalition that will only grow stronger with every aggressive action China takes. Beijing’s strategy is quite genius when you think about it. For those who have been watching Chinese actions over the last several years, a clear pattern emerges. Beijing has crafted a strategy using various non-kinetic actions to recast the overall balance of power in Asia with China displacing the United States as the dominant regional force. All the moves have one thing in common: none are provocative enough to spark a war or any type of kinetic response by those nations that are impacted. Such actions by China all create concern and raise tensions throughout the region. However, most never make the front page of major newspapers in America or raise serious alarm bells on the level of the situation in Ukraine or the challenge of ISIS. Nonetheless, the cumulative impact of such actions over the last several years is slowly changing the dynamics in Asia to favor China economically, politically and militarily.”

‘Made in China’ Nuclear Reactors A Tough Sell in Global Market. “As China signs global deals to export its nuclear power technology, it faces a huge obstacle: it still needs to show it can build and safely operate these reactors at home. Aided by foreign technology acquired during three decades of development, China has the highest number of reactors being built and ambitions to export its home-grown models to an overseas market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Premier Li Keqiang told an annual parliamentary meeting this week that the China aimed to increase its share of global sales in a range of advanced industries, including implementing major projects in nuclear power. And in a sign of progress on exporting its own nuclear technology, China signed a preliminary agreement last month to sell its flagship Hualong 1 reactor to Argentina. But despite state media describing the deal as the model's "maiden voyage", China has not yet built Hualong 1, raising questions about the country's capacity to deliver reactors for the global market. "Our fatal weakness is our management standards are not high enough. There is a big gap with international standards," said Xu Lianyi, a senior expert at China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC), referring to the challenges China faces expanding its nuclear power sector.  SNPTC, which was set up to receive technology transferred from Westinghouse Electric Co., is trying to develop another reactor ultimately targeted at the world market. Although China has operated Western-designed reactors at home for more than 20 years, it will need to convince buyers of the reliability of its own technology, particularly given a checkered reputation on industrial standards and safety in some other areas such as mining.”

Britain Has Enduring Responsibility for Democracy in Hong Kong, Report Says. “Britain has an “enduring moral responsibility” to ensure that Hong Kong is “democratic, stable and prosperous,” and diplomats should do more to uphold the treaty that governed the former territory’s return to China 18 years ago, a Parliament committee says. But a new report issued Friday by the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee stops short of saying what will, or can, be done. “The U.K. can and should take a clearer position on the overall pace and degree of democratic reform,” the report says. “The specific details of constitutional reform are for the governments of China and Hong Kong to decide together with the people of Hong Kong.” The report is the conclusion of the panel’s seven-month inquiry on the state of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the treaty under which Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 under a framework known as “one country, two systems.” That framework supposedly ensures the territory of 7 million a substantial degree of autonomy for 50 years from Communist rulers in Beijing. Hong Kong is home to 250,000 British citizens and 3.4 million British (overseas) nationals, who have British passports but no right to work or reside permanently in Britain. The committee’s inquiry, which began in July, happened to coincide with the most tumultuous period in Hong Kong since the treaty was signed in 1984 and registered with the United Nations. Chinese authorities sought to obstruct the committee’s work, even prohibiting its members from visiting Hong Kong during last year’s massive pro-democracy street protests. In August, the standing committee of China’s legislature, the National People's Congress, set a framework for future elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive, in effect limiting the choice of candidates to two or three approved by a nominating committee expected to be composed largely of people regarded as “pro-Beijing.” That framework touched off the unprecedented demonstrations that lasted 10 weeks and saw thousands of participants clogging major thoroughfares and surrounding government headquarters. The sit-ins ended in mid-December after police, acting on a court order, cleared the streets.”

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | March 03, 2015

Twin Historic Traumas Shape Xi Jinping’s China Presidency. “It was a homecoming for Chinese President Xi Jinping. To mark China’s Spring Festival, Xi made a visit in mid-February to the small northern village of Liangjiahe, where he was banished in 1969 as a raw 15-year-old during the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, where he worked for seven years and where he joined the Communist Party. His father had been persecuted and jailed in one of Mao Zedong’s purges, and Xi suffered humiliation, hunger and homelessness, sleeping in a cave, carrying manure and building roads, according to official accounts. “Perplexed” when he was sent to the countryside, Xi emerged as if remolded by the painful years he spent there. He learned enough in the village to be able to cast himself as a man of the people. The lessons also made him profoundly distrust those same people. Xi told villagers that he had left his heart in Liangjiahe, but it was clear that the experience has stayed with him in ways both spoken and unspoken, and has helped shape the sort of president he has become — possibly the strongest Chinese leader since Mao. In September, Xi will pay a state visit to the United States, as a president who has ruthlessly centralized power while embarking on an ambitious project to revitalize Communist rule and to secure the party’s future. He is also a president whose worldview, and vision for China, were shaped by two historic traumas.” 

China Names 14 Generals Suspected of Corruption.
“China’s military authority on Monday released a list of 14 generals who are under investigation or have been convicted of graft, among them the son of one of China’s once highest-ranking generals. The generals were the latest prominent officers to fall under President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anticorruption campaign. Published on the official website of the People’s Liberation Army three days before China’s rubber-stamp legislature convenes for its annual meeting in Beijing, the list identifies a host of leading officers, the majority of whom are in the political and logistics departments of the military, navy, missile corps and other branches. The investigators’ focus on the military bureaucracy highlights two distinct types of corruption that the Communist Party believes undermine military readiness, experts say: bribery in political departments relating to the sale of positions; and embezzlement within logistics departments, which handle large amounts of money as well as contracts. Among those being investigated is Rear Adm. Guo Zhenggang, the son of Guo Boxiong, the retired vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, which oversees the 2.3 million members of China’s armed forces, the world’s largest. Admiral Guo, 45, the deputy political commissar of military command in the coastal province of Zhejiang, was put under investigation last month, suspected of “serious legal violations and criminal offenses,” a common official euphemism for corruption. In what appeared to be a well-timed media campaign coordinated to discredit the admiral, the investigative magazine Caijing published a long exposé of his family’s corrupt land dealings online, 10 minutes after the list of generals was released.” 

Obama Sharply Criticizes China’s Plans for New Technology Rules.
“President Barack Obama on Monday sharply criticized China's plans for new rules on U.S. tech companies, urging Beijing to change the policy if it wants to do business with the United States and saying he had raised it with President Xi Jinping. In an interview with Reuters, Obama said he was concerned about Beijing's plans for a far-reaching counterterrorism law that would require technology firms to hand over encryption keys, the passcodes that help protect data, and install security "backdoors" in their systems to give Chinese authorities surveillance access. "This is something that I’ve raised directly with President Xi," Obama said. "We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States." The Chinese government sees the rules as crucial to protect state and business secrets. Western companies say they reinforce increasingly onerous terms of doing business in the world's second-largest economy and heighten mistrust over cybersecurity between Washington and Beijing. A Chinese parliamentary body read a second draft of the country's first anti-terrorism law last week and is expected to adopt the legislation in the coming weeks or months.” 

Taiwan Says Agreement Reached in China Flight Path Dispute.
“Taiwan and China have reached an agreement over disputed new commercial flight paths following months of negotiations, according to Taiwanese officials. The Mainland Affairs Council, the Taiwanese government body in charge of China policy, said Monday that China agreed to move a new north-south route for commercial airlines further away from the middle line that divides control over the Taiwan Strait. It also said China agreed not to put the route in place on Thursday as originally planned, though it didn’t say when the route would go into effect. In January, Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration publicly complained that China unilaterally established the route, dubbed M503, that comes as close as 7.8 kilometers from the middle line. The agency said the route presented a potential hazard to air traffic and Taiwan’s airspace. China had also planned three new feeder routes for flights to cities along the Chinese coast that would intersect M503. In its own statement on Monday, the Taiwanese agency’s Chinese counterpart, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of China, said the two sides were discussing the route but didn’t mention changes. It said the new flight paths are necessary to relieve pressure on air travel around Shanghai and the Pearl River Delta in southern China. It also maintained that the route is set at a safe distance from the Taipei region. Earlier, Chinese officials said the routes had already gained the backing of the International Civil Aviation Organization in 2007.” 

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | February 25, 2015

Asia’s New Triple Alliance. “Democracy has not featured as a theme of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. He took office promising to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, not to remake those countries in America’s image. The Arab Spring turned into a nightmare, leading Obama to back strongmen in Cairo and Riyadh. Outreach to autocrats in Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and Havana has sometimes taken precedence over ties with U.S. allies. But in India last month, Obama changed tack, recognizing that a convergence of interests and values makes the world’s largest democracy pivotal to U.S. strategic objectives. In doing so, he followed in the footsteps of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who predicted as early as 2006 that Japan’s relations with India could surpass those with America to become “the most important bilateral relationship in the world” on the basis of shared interests and values. For his part, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is treating Washington and Tokyo as India’s most valuable external partners. Both Japan and India lately have also prioritized ties with democratic neighbors in South and Southeast Asia. Abe and Modi are pursuing the sort of values-based diplomacy that Obama previously scorned. But all three now seem to recognize that unsentimental national interest and shared political ideals require closer strategic collaboration to shape the Pacific century. Coming from very different backgrounds, Obama, Abe, and Modi are converging around the idea of an Indo-Pacific alliance to manage China’s rise and sustain the peace of Asia. This is a strong challenge to Beijing’s belief in its own preeminence — and its attempts to forge a “new type of major power relations” with the United States over the heads of its allies. In response to China’s pressure on the Asian balance of power, Japan, India, and the United States launched an official trilateral strategic grouping in late 2011. They have now agreed to deepen trilateral strategic cooperation, particularly in maritime security. The three leaders also are discussing the reconstitution of a Quadrilateral Strategic Partnership alongside Australia — whose current prime minister, Tony Abbott, has supported the idea ever since his predecessor, Kevin Rudd, killed the proto-alliance in a sop to China.” 

How to Deter China.
“In the U.S. military, at least, the “pivot” to Asia has begun. By 2020, the navy and the air force plan to base 60 percent of their forces in the Asia-Pacific region. The Pentagon, meanwhile, is investing a growing share of its shrinking resources in new long-range bombers and nuclear-powered submarines designed to operate in high-threat environments. These changes are clearly meant to check an increasingly assertive China. And with good reason: Beijing’s expanding territorial claims threaten virtually every country along what is commonly known as “the first island chain,” encompassing parts of Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan—all of which Washington is obligated to protect. But to reliably deter Chinese aggression, the Pentagon will have to go even further. Emerging Chinese capabilities are intended to blunt Washington’s ability to provide military support to its allies and partners. Although deterrence through the prospect of punishment, in the form of air strikes and naval blockades, has a role to play in discouraging Chinese adventurism, Washington’s goal, and that of its allies and partners, should be to achieve deterrence through denial—to convince Beijing that it simply cannot achieve its objectives with force. Leveraging the latent potential of U.S., allied, and partner ground forces, Washington can best achieve this objective by establishing a series of linked defenses along the first island chain—an “Archipelagic Defense”—and, in so doing, deny Beijing the ability to achieve its revisionist aims through aggression or coercion. China claims that its rise is intended to be peaceful, but its actions tell a different story: that of a revisionist power seeking to dominate the western Pacific. Beijing has claimed sovereignty over not only Taiwan but also Japan’s Senkaku Islands (known in China as the Diaoyu Islands) and most of the 1.7 million square miles that make up the East China and South China Seas, where six other countries maintain various territorial and maritime claims. And it has been unapologetic about pursuing those goals. In 2010, for example, China’s then foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, dismissed concerns over Beijing’s expansionism in a single breath, saying, “China is a big country, and other countries are small countries, and that is just a fact.” 

China Ejects Spy Chief From Group of Advisers. “
China has dropped one of its espionage chiefs from a high-profile panel of advisers, official news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday, after the ruling Communist Party announced he was being investigated for corruption. Ma Jian, a vice minister at the Ministry of State Security, is the most senior security official facing investigation since former domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang was ensnared in a graft scandal last July. The investigation into Ma could lead to a shake-up in the powerful state security ministry, a KGB-like operation that spies on citizens and foreigners at home and abroad. One of China's most opaque bodies, it has no public website or spokesman. The advisory panel, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) has revoked Ma's membership eligibility, Xinhua said on its microblog, without giving details. Last month, the party's anti-graft watchdog said it was investigating Ma, signaling that the strongest corruption crackdown in decades has engulfed the powerful intelligence network. It is unclear what triggered the investigation of Ma, who is said to have headed China's counter-espionage programs. Ma was director of the ministry's "No.8 Bureau", charged with counter-espionage surveillance of foreigners, chiefly diplomats, businessmen and reporters, a source with ties to the leadership had told Reuters.  He has since been replaced by Qiu Jin, a vice minister of state security. The South China Morning Post newspaper, based in Hong Kong, said Ma was closely tied to Ling Jihua, the target of a graft investigation last year and one-time senior aide to former President Hu Jintao. President Xi Jinping has vowed to target high-ranking "tigers" as well as lowly "flies" in his anti-corruption drive, and has pledged to step up the effort.” 

Russia Could Make China King of the South China Sea.
“What Robert Kaplan so smartly dubbed “Asia’s Cauldron”— the South China Sea— might be set to boil once again. But the real kicker is who might be turning the switch to “high” on that virtual stove: none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin. Events thousands of miles away in Ukraine could set off a chain reaction that could see China become the undisputed ruler of this large body of water thanks to a large infusion of Russian weapons and technology— if the West starts arming Ukraine. But before we get to all the juicy details of how China could become “master and commander” of the South China Sea thanks to Russian assistance, lets take a much needed survey of the latest drama show in this troubled body of water. Tensions are rising in the Asia-Pacific as China continues to change facts on the ground (“in the water” might be a better term), continuing work on several massive island reclamation projects that many analysts feel will create much larger islands housing airfields, ports, radar stations and maybe even anti-ship missile batteries. The motivation is quite obvious— Beijing would likely become the sovereign master of the South China Sea if these islands were used for the natural purpose of claiming sovereignty. Nothing says “indisputable sovereignty” by doing the things a sovereign does, like patrolling your supposed territory and enforcing your laws in that territory. Bases in the South China Sea could make that all too infamous nine or ten-dash line more than just big marks on a map somewhere in Beijing. They could make it a reality. When it comes to Chinese military capabilities, much has been made over the last several years of the PRC’s growing ability to deny a technological advanced adversary (think the United States and/or Japan) the capability to intervene in various possible engagements near its borders (Taiwan and/or the East and South China Seas). Over the next several years, such capabilities are likely to evolve and improve thanks to technological innovations. Combining likely Chinese technological advances like longer range and more accurate cruise missiles, plus new bases in reclaimed islands in the South China Sea, is nothing short of a nightmare for U.S. and allied planners who are doing all they can to ensure access to vital parts of the Asia-Pacific.” 

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