China Caucus Blog

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | December 19, 2014

Welcome to China and America’s Nuclear Nightmare. “For all the focus on maritime disputes in the South and East China Seas, there is an even greater peril in Asia that deserves attention. It is the rising salience of nuclear weapons in the region. China’s military buildup—in particular its growing capabilities to blunt America’s ability to project effective force in the western Pacific—is threatening to change the military balance in the area. This will lead to a cascade of strategic shifts that will make nuclear weapons more central in both American and Chinese national-security plans, while increasing the danger that other regional states will seek nuclear arsenals of their own. Like it or not, nuclear weapons in Asia are back. For seventy years, the United States has militarily dominated maritime Asia. During this era, U.S. forces could, generally speaking, defeat any challenger in the waters of the western Pacific or in the skies over them. Washington established this preeminence and has retained it in the service of a strategy motivated both by parochial interests such as protecting American territory and commerce as well as by more high-minded aspirations to foster the growth and development of prosperous, liberal societies within the region. Military primacy has been the crucial underwriter, the predicate of broader American strategy. This primacy is now coming into question. China’s advancing “anti-access/area-denial” (A2/AD) capabilities as well as its expanding strike and power-projection capabilities will present a mounting challenge to the U.S. force posture in the Pacific region—and thus to America’s strategy for the Asia-Pacific as a whole. Beijing appears to be seeking to create a zone in the western Pacific within which the military power of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will be able to ensure that Chinese strategic interests are held paramount—in effect, to supplant the United States as the military primate in the region. The oft-cited DF-21D “carrier-killer” ballistic missile is only one small facet of this much broader Chinese effort, which encompasses the fielding of a whole network that integrates a range of increasingly high-quality platforms, weapons, sensors, and command, control and communications systems.”

China To Set Up Satellite, Radar Network To Strengthen Maritime Power.
“China will set up an offshore observation network, including satellite and radar stations, to strengthen the country's maritime power, the official China Daily reported on Friday, in a move that could exacerbate tensions in the region. Many of China's neighbors, including Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, have expressed concern at China's military build-up and increasingly assertive posture in the region. The network, which an official from the State Oceanic Administration called "fundamental" to protecting China's maritime interests, is set to be completed by 2020, the newspaper said. The network would cover coastal waters, the high seas and polar waters, the report said, adding that undersea observation operations and tsunami warning stations would also be built. The network would help China realize the potential for resources in China's marine areas, the report said. It did not mention how much the network would cost to build. China lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea, believed to be rich in minerals and oil-and-gas deposits. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims. In the East China Sea, a string of islets claimed by both China and Japan, known in China as the Diaoyu and in Japan as the Senkaku, have strained ties. Patrol ships and fighter jets from both countries have shadowed each other regularly near the uninhabited islands, sparking fears an accidental collision or other incident could escalate into a larger conflict.”

The Fog of Law: China’s Great South China Sea Dilemma.
“Recent months have witnessed an impressive Chinese diplomatic blitzkrieg, with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang feverishly courting friends and foes alike, proposing ambitious trading agreements and acquiescing to various confidence building measures (CBMS) aimed at de-escalating geopolitical tensions in the region. But China’s intensifying legal battle with the Philippines has injected new uncertainties into the picture. What has emerged in recent days is a new chapter of confrontation between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbors, particularly Manila and Hanoi. Interestingly, the United States has joined the legal fray by expressing its stance on—or, to put it more accurately, criticism of—China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea. On the one hand, there have been considerable diplomatic gains in the past few weeks. To prevent accidental clashes in the high seas and the skies, Beijing signed CBMs with Washington and green-lighted the resumption of (mid-level) talks between Chinese and Japanese agencies, which oversee security and foreign-policy issues. China has also proposed a defense hotline with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), dangled $20 billion in development loans and offered to host a high-profile meeting between the defense minister of China and his Southeast Asian counterparts next year. Chinese and Vietnamese defense ministries also reportedly signed (an additional) hotline, with both Communist countries agreeing to revive deeply frayed bilateral relations. To cap it all, China also, more or less, finalized negotiations over a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia and is on the verge of completing an agreement with South Korea; these are two key American allies that snubbed Beijing’s newly-inaugurated Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB). It was a clear demonstration of China’s willingness to overcome short-term annoyances in favor of gaining long-term diplomatic leverage.”

China Lodges Protest After Obama Approves Taiwan Frigate Sale.
“China said on Friday it had lodged a protest with the United States after President Barack Obama signed into law legislation authorizing the sale of up to four Perry-class guided missile frigates to Taiwan. Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the Taiwan issue was one of China's core interests and remained the most important and most sensitive issue in Sino-U.S. ties. "China firmly opposes the arms sale to Taiwan by the U.S. This position is resolute, clear and consistent," Qin told a daily news briefing. "It is a crude interference of China's internal affairs, damages China's sovereignty and security interests and goes against the trend of peaceful development in cross-strait relations," he added. "China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this and has lodged solemn representations with the United States both in Beijing and Washington. We reserve the right to take further action." Taiwan's defense ministry, which plans initially to buy two of the ships, expressed its thanks to the United States for approving the sale, saying it was in keeping with the U.S. commitment in the Taiwan Relations Act to support Taiwan's security.”

Chinese Criminals Blamed For Record Japan Bank Cybertheft.
“Japanese savers keeping their money in banks are falling prey to cybertheft in record numbers, and police say Chinese crime groups are increasingly to blame.  Criminals stole 1.85 billion yen ($16 million) from accounts at lenders including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (8306) and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. (8316) in the six months ended in June, surpassing the full-year record of 1.41 billion yen in 2013, according to the National Police Agency. Of 133 related arrests in the first half of the year, Chinese nationals made up the largest group with 83, or 62 percent, almost double the arrests of Japanese. Last year, 59 Chinese were arrested for bank cybertheft, up from 14 in 2012, the first year the agency separated data by nationality. “We see a very deep Chinese connection in these cybertheft cases,” said Arichika Eguchi, the police agency’s director of cybercrime investigations. “Japanese people’s wealth is draining into China.” The scams go like this, according to police: Chinese gangs hack into Japanese bank accounts by tricking customers into giving up their passwords or opening malicious software. They steal the money by transferring it to other accounts in Japan, then hire people who live in the country to withdraw the cash at automated teller machines. Those people deliver the money to colleagues in Japan who use it to buy goods that are shipped to China. There, the products are sold, with the proceeds going to the ringleaders.”

China is Planning to Purge Foreign Technology and Replace With Homegrown Suppliers.
“China is aiming to purge most foreign technology from banks, the military, state-owned enterprises and key government agencies by 2020, stepping up efforts to shift to Chinese suppliers, according to people familiar with the effort. The push comes after a test of domestic alternatives in the northeastern city of Siping that was deemed a success, said the people, who asked not to be named because the details aren’t public. Workers there replaced Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) Windows with a homegrown operating system called NeoKylin and swapped foreign servers for ones made by China’s Inspur Group Ltd., they said. The plan for changes in four segments of the economy is driven by national security concerns and marks an increasingly determined move away from foreign suppliers under President Xi Jinping, the people said. The campaign could have lasting consequences for U.S. companies including Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), Intel Corp. (INTC) and Hewlett-Packard Co. “The shift is real,” said Charlie Dai, a Beijing-based analyst for Forrester Research Inc. “We have seen emerging cases of replacing foreign products at all layers from application, middleware down to the infrastructure software and hardware.” China is moving to bolster its technology sector after Edward Snowden revealed widespread spying by the U.S. National Security Agency and accused the intelligence service of hacking into the computers of Tsinghua University, one of the China’s top research centers. In February, Xi called for faster development of the industry at the first meeting of his Internet security panel. Foreign suppliers may be able to avoid replacement if they share their core technology or give China’s security inspectors access to their products, the people said. The technology may then be seen as safe and controllable, they 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 Congressional China Caucus | December 18, 2014

U.S. to Continue Push for Stronger Military Ties With China. “The next commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific said Thursday he wouldn’t deviate from his predecessor’s strategy of seeking stronger military ties with China and other countries in the region despite conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea. Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., who currently commands U.S. Navy forces in the Pacific and was confirmed last week as the next chief of the Hawaii-based U.S. Pacific Command, said China has been increasing tensions in the South China Sea in recent years, pushing several of the region’s countries to seek the U.S. as their security ally. “I think China’s actions are making countries out here—some of them—look to the U.S. as their security partner of choice, not China,” Adm. Harris said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. He said his tactics “won’t differ at all with Adm. [Samuel] Locklear. I support what he is doing completely and I don’t think you’ll see any change.” Adm. Harris, who will be the first Asian-American to lead the U.S. Pacific Command, said stability and predictability in the disputed area—traits that have been absent in the last few years—are the priorities for the U.S., and it is looking to establish strong relationships with countries in the region independently of China. “I want my stocks to rise at a predictable pace; I don’t like this up and down stuff,” he said. The biggest threat to Asian security, according to Adm. Harris, is North Korea. He said the country has “a completely ruthless leader” who is unpredictable and is on a “quest” for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them across continents. “That should keep everyone at awake at night, and it keeps me awake at night,” he said. Adm. Harris said he has made 19 visits to Pacific nations this year. “I can’t oversell the value of our deepening relations and capacity building efforts with partners like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam,” he said. While tensions in the region have eased in recent months, relations between Vietnam and China broke down earlier this year after a Chinese oil rig moved into waters claimed by both countries. The two-month standoff drew criticism of Beijing’s actions from Washington.”

China’s Military Is About to Go Global.
“The Chinese armed forces are on the move—but to where? For over a decade, academics, policy wonks and government officials have been engaged in a relentless debate about Beijing’s military capabilities and intentions. To some, China is an expansionist country akin to Wilhelmine Germany. Others argue that while China’s assertive behavior in its regional island disputes is disconcerting, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is completely focused on domestic stability and therefore lacks global ambition. This debate about current Chinese capabilities and intentions is widespread, fervent—and beside the point. While the Chinese leadership would prefer to stay focused on internal development and regional issues, facts on the ground will increasingly compel the CCP to develop some global operational capabilities. Specifically, the burgeoning need to protect commercial assets and Chinese nationals abroad will lead the country to develop some global power-projection capabilities, regardless of its current plans. Even though the Chinese leadership will embark on this path with very limited goals in mind, Chinese thinking on how and when to use force could change once its strategy, doctrine and capabilities evolve to incorporate these new roles. While the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will seek an increased global presence, this does not mean it will begin fighting major wars and stationing troops abroad. If we define global military power by the standard of the United States, no other country qualifies. Even the second tier of established military great powers—such as Russia, France or the United Kingdom—would probably not be able to sustain major combat operations outside their respective regions. The question here is not whether China would have the capacity to invade and occupy far-off countries, as only the United States can, but whether, like other second-tier powers, it will develop the capacity to project limited but meaningful force outside its immediate region.”

China Tests ICBM With Multiple Warheads.
“China carried out a long-range missile flight test on Saturday using multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, according to U.S. defense officials. The flight test Saturday of a new DF-41 missile, China’s longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile, marks the first test of multiple warhead capabilities for China, officials told the Washington Free Beacon. China has been known to be developing multiple-warhead technology, which it obtained from the United States illegally in the 1990s. However, the Dec. 13 DF-41 flight test, using an unknown number of inert maneuvering warheads, is being viewed by U.S. intelligence agencies as a significant advance for China’s strategic nuclear forces and part of a build-up that is likely to affect the strategic balance of forces. China’s nuclear arsenal is estimated to include around 240 very large warheads. That number is expected to increase sharply as the Chinese deploy new multiple-warhead missiles. The current deployed U.S. strategic warhead arsenal includes 1,642 warheads. All 450 Minuteman III missiles have been modified to no longer carry MIRVs. However, Trident II submarine-launched missiles can carry up to 14 MIRVs per missile. Additionally, the development of China’s multiple warhead technology was assisted by illegal transfers of technology from U.S. companies during the Clinton administration, according to documents and officials familiar with the issue. Details of the flight test and the number of dummy warheads used during it could not be learned. However, the DF-41 has been assessed by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), the intelligence community’s primary missile spy center, as capable of carrying up to 10 warheads. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Pool declined to comment on the DF-41 test. “We encourage greater PRC transparency regarding their defense investments and objectives to avoid miscalculation,” Pool said in response to questions about the Chinese missile launch.”

Standing Watch: Taiwan and Maritime Domain Awareness in the Western Pacific.
“If knowledge is power, then no country in the world is better positioned to influence the course of political and security affairs in the Asia-Pacific region than Taiwan. The importance of Taiwan’s strategic location in the heart of East Asia and the Western Pacific for collecting information and monitoring regional events cannot be overstated. Nor can its unique ability to simultaneously access the linguistic and cultural landscapes of the Chinese, Japanese, and English speaking worlds. Moreover, Taiwan’s technological prowess, and its special relationship with the United States, gives it access to the most advanced military information and communications technology available. This all matters now more than ever before because the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is pursuing policies that strongly suggest its emergence as a major military power will be accompanied by attempts to shift power balances in a manner not conducive to regional peace and stability. While Taiwan has worked hard in recent years to reduce cross-Strait and regional tensions through pragmatic diplomacy, China has refused to give up the use of force to settle disputes. Taipei’s experience indicates that the diplomatic models it used to successfully resolve maritime disputes with democracies like Japan and the Philippines may not work with China’s communist leaders. As such, Taiwan has been taking measures to enhance its self-defense and demonstrate resolve in the face of continuing coercion. China’s ambitious armament program has the potential to rapidly erode the defensive positions of numerous maritime states around its periphery, including but not limited to Taiwan (but perhaps none more so than Taiwan). Indeed, Beijing has made it clear that the most prominent strategic driver of its military build-up is attaining the ability to apply overwhelming force against Taiwan during a conflict, in a manner that would complicate foreign intervention. At the same time, China is engaging in activities in the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea that could undermine confidence in the U.S.-Japan, and U.S.-Korea alliances, and it is aggressively seeking to alter the status quo in the South China Sea for the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and others.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | December 17, 2014

Philippines to Get Frigates, Gunboats, Helicopters As Tension Simmers. “The Philippines aims to buy two frigates, two helicopters and three gunboats for deployment in the South China Sea where a territorial dispute with China has lent urgency to the need to bolster forces, a Philippine navy officer said on Wednesday. China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, rejecting claims to parts of it by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. The confrontation between the Philippines and China has been particularly tense since June 2012 when China seized a rocky outcrop known as the Scarborough Shoal which is believed to be rich in oil and natural gas as well as fisheries resources. "The events in the West Philippine Sea actually gave some urgency on the acquisition," Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad, head of the Philippine Navy's weapons system, told reporters. The Philippines has embarked on a 15-year, 90 billion peso ($2 billion) modernization program to improve its capability to defend its maritime borders. The procurement list announced on Wednesday will be bought with 39 billon pesos from that budget. The government aimed to sign contracts early next year for the new warships, Taccad said on board the navy's most powerful warship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a former U.S. coastguard cutter. China has been reclaiming land in various parts of the Spratlys islands and appear to be constructing airstrips and ports in five reefs to gain full control of them. The Philippines, a close U.S. ally, has brought an international arbitration case against China, seeking clarification on its entitlements under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. China has refused to take part in the arbitration. A ruling is expected late next year.” 

Taiwan Pressing On With Local Sub Build.
“Taiwan Navy officials are committed to their submarine build plans and will not wait for the US government to fulfill a 2001 pledge to sell Taiwan eight diesel submarines, a senior Navy official said. The 2001 deal has been held up by a variety of problems, including the fact the US no longer builds conventional attack submarines. If the US won’t deliver, “we are prepared to go with an indigenous build,” the Navy official said. The Taiwan Navy refers to the US foreign military sales case as the Taiwan Defense Submarine program. A State Department spokesman declined to comment. As a standby, the Taiwan Navy has begun the Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program. Even if the US cannot move forward on the sale, US companies can still participate in the IDS program, the Navy official said. His comments were in response to testimony by Deputy Defense Minister Kao Tien-chung during legislative questioning Dec. 10. Kao told the legislature that a Taiwan-built submarine could be completed by 2024. Since 2013, Taiwan’s Navy has sponsored three IDS seminars with international participation. These include an academic seminar in September 2013, a technical seminar in June and then a managerial seminar in early November. All three saw participation from Australia, US, Italy, France and other unnamed European countries. The November seminar included industrial site visits to Taiwan industries involved in shipbuilding, including Kaohsiung-based shipbuilder CSBC in southern Taiwan. The visits gave international companies a chance to judge what they could provide to the IDS program that Taiwan’s industries could not.”

Dalai Lama Says China Hardliners Hold Back Xi on Tibet Autonomy.
“Hardliners in the Chinese government are holding back President Xi Jinping from granting genuine autonomy to Tibet, the Himalayan region's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, told a French broadcaster. Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of being a violent separatist, charges he denies, saying he only wants real autonomy for Tibet, a remote region ruled by the Communist Party since its troops marched in 1950. Representatives of the Nobel Peace laureate held rounds of talks with China until 2010, but formal dialogue has stalled amid leadership changes in Beijing and a crackdown in Tibet. Speaking to television station France 24 in an interview to be aired on Wednesday, the Dalai Lama said he took heart from hearing Xi talking about Buddhism recently. "This is something very unusual," the Dalai Lama said. "A communist, usually, we consider atheist." Asked if the remarks led him to believe Xi was ready to discuss the Dalai Lama's calls for genuine autonomy, the spiritual leader said he thought there were "some indications". "But at the same time, among the establishment, there is a lot of hardliner thinking still there. So he himself sometimes finds it's a difficult situation," the Dalai Lama said. Xi's mother was a Buddhist and his father was friendly with the Dalai Lama, giving Tibetan leaders some hope that the president, who took office in 2012, could be more conciliatory.”

How the ‘Internet With Chinese Characteristics’ is Rupturing the Web.
“China is openly undermining the United States' vision of a free and open Internet. Motivated by maintaining the fragile balance between information control, social and political stability, and continued modernization and economic growth for an online population of over 600 million, the Chinese government is attempting to alter how nations understand their role in Internet governance through a concept called "Internet sovereignty."  Internet sovereignty refers to the idea that a country has the right to control Internet activity within its own borders, and it is what China refers to as a natural extension of a nation-state's authority to handle its own domestic and foreign affairs. For the United States and other Western nations, however, Internet governance is delegated to an inclusive and distributed set of stakeholders including government, civil society, the private sector, academia, and national and international organizations (also known as the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance).  Lu Wei, the head of the State Internet Information Office and the director of a powerful cybersecurity strategy group comprised of China's top leaders, is the administrative ringleader of the Chinese Internet. With a long background working in China's propaganda apparatus, Lu has been behind China's recent campaigns promoting its conception of Internet sovereignty abroad, including a trip to Washington D.C. and Silicon Valley in the first week of December.  In his Dec. 2 speech at the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum, for example, he attempted to blur the distinction between U.S. and Chinese models of Internet governance. He equated the U.S.-backed multi-stakeholder and Chinese-backed "multilateral" (state-centric) approaches to Internet governance, saying, "Without 'multilateral' there would be no 'multi-stakeholders.'"

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | December 15, 2014

Forbes Calls For Review of US-China Military Engagement. “A top lawmaker is urging the Pentagon to review its military engagement policy with China amid concerns that cooperation has provided more benefits to Beijing and failed to convince the Chinese military to cease aggressive actions in the Asia-Pacific. Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va.), leader of the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, sent a letter on Wednesday to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work. Forbes requested a “review of the [Defense] Department’s current mil-mil engagement policy with China, ideally as part of a larger [Pentagon] review of U.S security objectives in the region.” “I believe that the Department currently lacks the thorough guidance and oversight mechanisms necessary to maintain a consistent mil-mil policy that best serves U.S. national security objectives over the ‘long-haul’ of the emerging U.S.-China peacetime competition,” he wrote. Forbes said he could point to “multiple examples” where various defense officials, including Hagel’s office and the Pacific Command commander, “were pursuing multiple, divergent mil-mil engagement objectives.” Several concerns have been raised about U.S.-China military cooperation. In May, Chinese Gen. Fang Fenghui visited the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in San Diego—a potential violation of provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2000. The law forbids military exchanges with China in areas such as “force projection operations,” but the Pentagon said at the time that it did not view the visit as a breach of the act. A retired Chinese admiral later told a state news agency that Gen. Fang acquired valuable information about the Reagan’s capabilities. “While our engagements demonstrate our military capabilities to China, enhancing our deterrent to a degree, I am concerned that they also have the potential to decrease China’s uncertainty about possible responses to their actions, which may only cause China to conclude that it can take more risks,” Forbes wrote in his letter. Additionally, China conducted flight tests last month of its new J-31 stealth fighter jet, an aircraft that allegedly contains technology stolen from the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Chinese military is suspected of obtaining the F-35 secrets through cyber attacks on a Lockheed Martin subcontractor. While the tests occurred, President Barack Obama was pressing Chinese leaders at an Asian economic summit to reduce incidences of cyber theft.”

China-US Space Relations See Small But Important Step.
“China has taken a small, but potentially meaningful, step toward more normalized relations with the international space community, a top US general announced this month. Gen. John Hyten, the head of US Air Force Space Command, told an audience at a Dec. 5 Air Force Association event that Chinese officials, for the first time, have asked that the US share space situational awareness information directly through a military-to-military connection. Space Command typically shares that information with industry and other nations through conjunction summary messages (CSM), essentially small reports that tell satellite operators the Air Force predicts their system will be traveling dangerously close to another in-orbit object. The goal is to give those operators enough time to move their systems out of the way, either from another satellite or from space debris. The Air Force can share this information directly with the vast majority of the world’s governments and industry operators, with two notable exceptions: Russia and China. In both cases, those CSMs have to be transferred from Space Command to the US State Department, then sent over to state’s equivalent and then down to the Chinese or Russian operators. “It takes a long time to get through that process, sometimes too long,” Hyten noted. “It’s a big deal because they asked for that kind of information direct, and I think that’s a good thing.” Hyten stressed that from an operational standpoint, the only thing changing is the final address of where the CSMs go, and how long that takes. The data shared with China remains the same.”

U.S. and China Conduct Anti-Piracy Exercise.
“In a rare bilateral exercise, the U.S. and China conducted anti-piracy training off the pirate-prone Gulf of Aden, the Navy said in a Thursday statement. The guided missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG-104) joined at least two of People’s Liberation Army Navy ships for the exercises that included visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) exercises, communication exchanges and “various other aspects of naval operations,” read the statement from U.S. 5th Fleet. “Approximately 700 personnel from the U.S. and China navies will participate in the exercise, and it gives Sterett sailors the opportunity to engage in a shared mission with other surface platforms,” read the statement. A Pentagon spokesman said the exercises included live fire drills, according to a report in Stars and Stripes. “The exercise allows us to address our common regional and global interest,” said Capt. Doug Stuffle, commander, U.S. Navy Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1. “It helps both nations pursue a healthy, stable, reliable and continuous bilateral relationship.” Last year, the U.S. Navy and the PLAN conducted a first round of anti-piracy exercises between USS Mason (DDG-87) and the Luhu-class destroyer Harbin and oiler Weishanhu. Those exercises included VBSS training, live fire drills and a rare helicopter landings. In September, China’s anti piracy force has also conducted similar drills with the Iranian Navy. Sterett is currently deployed as part of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (CSG) currently in U.S. 5th Fleet supporting the ongoing airstrikes agains the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as part of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).”

Vietnam Irks Beijing on South China Sea. “Vietnam has stepped into a legal battle between China and the Philippines, drawing a rebuke from Beijing for restating Vietnamese claims to disputed areas of the South China Sea. Hanoi appeared to side with the Philippines in one aspect of its submission to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which it made on Dec. 5, asserting that the court has jurisdiction over the case brought by Manila in 2013 challenging China’s claim to most of the South China Sea according to its so-called Nine-Dash Line, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.  China has refused to recognize the validity of the case and isn’t participating in the tribunal, which had invited Beijing to submit its case by Dec. 15. However, in a recent paper on the South China Sea disputes, the Chinese government said that the Permanent Court of Arbitration had no jurisdiction when it came to ruling on China’s Nine-Dash Line claim. The Nine-Dash Line is used by China to delineate its claim to a vaguely defined area covering about 90% of the South China Sea, including parts of the sea disputed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.  A spokesperson for the Permanent Court of Arbitration said Friday it wasn’t authorized to answer questions about continuing cases.  Le Hai Binh, spokesperson for Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Friday that Hanoi had asked the tribunal “to pay due attention to the legal rights and interests of Vietnam” as it rules on the Philippines-China case, and reiterated that “Vietnam has full historical evidence and legal foundation to reaffirm its sovereignty” over the Spratly and Paracel Islands.  China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Thursday dismissed Vietnam’s claims to the disputed South China Sea island chains as “illegal and invalid” in response to questions about Hanoi’s submission to The Hague.”

About 300 Chinese Said Fighting Alongside Islamic State in Middle East.
“About 300 Chinese people are fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a Chinese state-run newspaper said on Monday, a rare tally that is likely to fuel worry in China that militants pose a threat to security. China has expressed concern about the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East, nervous about the effect it could have on its Xinjiang region. But it has also shown no sign of wanting to join U.S. efforts to use military force against the group. Chinese members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) are traveling to Syria via Turkey to join the Islamic State, also known as IS, the Global Times, a tabloid run by China's ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, said. "According to information from various sources, including security officers from Iraq's Kurdish region, Syria and Lebanon, around 300 Chinese extremists are fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria," the Global Times reported. Chinese officials blame the ETIM for carrying out attacks in Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people. But the government has been vague about how many people from China are fighting in the Middle East. In July, China's envoy to the Middle East, Wu Sike, cited media reports when he said about 100 Chinese citizens, most of them from the ETIM, were in the Middle East fighting or being trained. China says ETIM militants are also holed up along the ungoverned Afghan-Pakistani border and want to create a separate state in Xinjiang, though many foreign experts doubt the group's cohesiveness.”

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

Posted by Congressional China Caucus | December 12, 2014

Editor’s Note: Please find a recent letter from Congressman Forbes to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense regarding the U.S.-China military-to-military relationship here.

China, Vietnam Clash Again Over South China Sea Claims.
“China and Vietnam have clashed again over competing claims in the South China Sea, after Vietnam submitted its position to an arbitration tribunal initiated by the Philippines over the festering dispute that involves several countries. China has said repeatedly it will not participate in the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, branding it an underhand attempt to exert political pressure over territory which is inherently Chinese. China's foreign ministry, in a statement released late on Thursday, called on Vietnam to respect China's sovereignty, which it said had historical basis. China will not change its position of not taking part in the arbitration, the ministry said. Vietnam's foreign ministry said it had submitted its point of view to the court to ensure it pays attention to "our legal rights and interests". Vietnam has historical proof and the legal basis to support its claims, and rejects China's "unilateral" claims, it added. China has warned Vietnam before against getting involved in the arbitration case, the first time China has been subjected to international legal scrutiny over the waters. Anti-Chinese violence flared in Vietnam in May after a $1 billion (£635.8 million) deepwater rig owned by China's state-run CNOOC oil company was parked 240 km (150 miles) off the coast of Vietnam. Since then, though, China has sought to make amends with Vietnam.”

The Philippines’ Massive Lawfare Blunder in the South China Sea.
“This week China forcefully reiterated its refusal to participate in an international arbitration brought by the Philippines challenging Beijing’s South China Sea activities. Given that China’s aggressive actions have been the main cause of rising tensions in Southeast Asia, it is not surprising that many governments, including the U.S., have supported the Philippines arbitration effort. This support, however, is misguided. The Philippines’ “lawfare” strategy is almost certainly going to fail, and it will probably even make it harder to reach a durable settlement of disputes in the South China Seas region. In February 2013, the Philippines filed a request for arbitration against China pursuant to the U.N. Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), the leading international treaty governing the world’s oceans. The Philippines’ claim arose out of a series of tense confrontations with Chinese government ships around waters and shoals claimed by both nations.   In a far-ranging request, the Philippines asked an arbitral tribunal to rule that China’s actions in the South China Sea are in violation of UNCLOS. It is not surprising that the U.S. has blessed the Philippines’ litigation strategy. While the U.S. has tried to avoid taking sides in regional territorial disputes, Washington has increasingly sought to persuade China to become a “responsible stakeholder.” For example, President Obama recently urged China to “reinforce and abide by basic international law and norms” Pushing China to accept international arbitration and use international law to resolve a dispute under international law seems like a no-brainer. Indeed, the U.S. released an analysis last week sharply criticizing the legality of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and providing support for some of the Philippines’ legal arguments.”

In Hong Kong, China Likely to Use Pressure, Intimidation to Ward Off More Protests.
“As the dust settles on Hong Kong's pro-democracy 'Occupy' protests, China is likely to embark on a sweeping but covert campaign across the territory's judiciary, media and universities to ensure there is no recurrence, activists and politicians say. The surprisingly resilient, 75 days of protest for a fully democratic vote to choose Hong Kong's next leader was the most serious challenge to China's authority since the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations and crackdown in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. To ward off future protests, activists say Beijing's rulers are unlikely to embark on a harsh response that could pose a risk to stability and prosperity in Hong Kong, a financial hub that is the gateway to the world's second-biggest economy. Alex Chow, one of the student protest leaders, said "Chinese methods" could be applied in Hong Kong, a term he used to refer to pressure, intimidation and coercion against government critics in China.  "How long can we maintain Hong Kong's judicial independence?" Chow said at the protest site before he was hauled away by police as they cleared the main protest site on Thursday. "We've already seen judges make decisions that have been highly contentious. Beijing might be able to put pressure on Hong Kong to charge us (the protest leaders) with more serious offences to shut us up." China rules Hong Kong under a "one country, two systems" formula which allows wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms in the territory not enjoyed on the mainland. "The illegal 'Occupy Central' actions did not enjoy popular support," China's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said on Friday. "(We) hope that all sides in Hong Kong society take this as a lesson, reflect on it coolly, further correctly understand and follow the 'one country, two systems' policy." Beijing has never publicly signaled any potential consequence of involvement in the protest movement. But in June, it bluntly reminded Hong Kong in a cabinet-level White Paper that China holds supreme authority over the city.”

Pope Declines To Meet Dalai Lama, Reports Say.
“A gathering of Nobel Peace Prize laureates opened in Rome on Friday, overshadowed by a dispute with the Vatican over reports that Pope Francis had refused to grant an audience to the Dalai Lama, the 1989 laureate, for fear of offending China. The pope’s action, reported by news agencies and by the Dalai Lama’s followers, seemed to represent a further success for China in its efforts to isolate the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, who is regarded as one of Beijing’s principal political nemeses. The laureates’ gathering was initially set to take place in Cape Town in October, but the government of President Jacob G. Zuma, which has close economic ties with China, refused to grant the 79-year-old Dalai Lama a visa. The action provoked a boycott by other Nobel laureates. Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, the South African winner of the 1984 prize for his battle against apartheid, responded to Mr. Zuma’s action by saying he was “ashamed to call this lickspittle bunch my government.” The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, was quoted in news reports on Thursday as saying that “Pope Francis obviously holds the Dalai Lama in very high regard, but he will not be meeting any of the Nobel laureates.” But, the spokesman said, the pope would send a video message to the conference. The Dalai Lama was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA as saying on Thursday that he had been turned down for an audience “because it might create inconveniences.” Francis, like his predecessor Benedict XVI, is seeking a warming of ties with the Chinese authorities, which broke off relations in 1951 and set up a branch of the Roman Catholic Church outside the Vatican’s control. The Dalai Lama has not had a papal audience since an encounter with Benedict in 2006.”

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 | December 10, 2014

China’s Line in the Sea. “The Philippines has consistently stood up to Chinese bullying in the South China Sea, including by filing a maritime-rights case with United Nations arbitrators. China has now published an official response inadvertently confirming that its behavior is as legally dubious as it is aggressive. The Philippines initiated arbitration nearly two years ago, after Chinese coast guard and civilian vessels drove Filipino fishermen from Scarborough Shoal, a reef 120 miles off the main Philippine island of Luzon. At the time China was also moving to drill for oil off the coast of Vietnam and sending ships to cut acoustic cables from Vietnamese and U.S. vessels in international waters. All of which followed Beijing’s 2009 publication of a map asserting “indisputable sovereignty” over almost the entire South China Sea, as illustrated by a nine-dash line in the shape of a U. So Manila sought arbitration under the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, to which China and its neighbors are parties. Beijing responded by disinviting Philippine President Benigno Aquino from a trade fair and laying siege to another Philippine-held shoal. It also refused to participate in the arbitration, denying its authority and insisting that Manila had broken promises to handle disputes through bilateral negotiations. Then China’s response paper appeared Sunday, days before arbitrators’ Dec. 15 deadline for Beijing to make its case. The document insists that it doesn’t represent “acceptance of or participation in this arbitration,” but clearly Beijing wants to influence the result. The crux of Beijing’s argument is that the Law of the Sea tribunal “manifestly has no jurisdiction” because this dispute concerns “territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea, which is beyond the scope of the Convention.” Not quite. It’s correct that the U.N. Convention doesn’t divvy up sovereignty, but that’s not what Manila is seeking. Manila wants confirmation of its fishing and other commercial rights within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which the Convention defines as extending 200 miles off a country’s coast, past the 12 miles of territorial waters over which it has full sovereign control. By asserting Chinese sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal and keeping Philippine boats away, Beijing tramples on Manila’s EEZ rights.”

China Condemns U.S. Report on South China Sea Claims. “China's foreign ministry condemned on Tuesday a report by the U.S. State Department about China's claims in the South China Sea, saying they went against Washington's promises not to take sides in the dispute. China claims almost all the South China Sea, believed to be rich in minerals, oil and gas, which has become one of Asia's biggest potential flashpoints. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have competing and sometimes overlapping claims on parts of it. The State Department report, issued on Friday, said that China's claims were both unclear and inconsistent. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China's rights were based on its historic claims. "The U.S. report ignores the basic facts and international legal principles and is contrary to its promises not to take a position or sides," he told a daily news briefing. "It is not helpful to the resolution of the South China Sea issue and the peace and stability of the South China Sea. We urge the U.S. side to abide by its promises, act and speak cautiously and objectively and fairly view and deal with the relevant issue."

Chinese National Accused of Transporting USAF Program Information. “A Chinese national has been arrested while carrying sensitive proprietary information on titanium used in a US Air Force program, most likely the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, according to the US attorney for the District of Connecticut. Yu Long, a 36-year-old former resident of New Haven, was arrested on Nov. 7. The case had been sealed until Tuesday’s announcement. He has been charged with “transporting, transmitting and transferring in interstate or foreign commerce goods obtained by theft, conversion or fraud,” which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000. The story begins in August, when Long was stopped by customs during a return flight from China and allegedly found to be in “possession of $10,000 in undeclared US cash, registration documents for a new corporation being set up in China, and a largely completed application for work with a state-controlled aviation and aerospace research center in China,” according to the complaint. Long was allowed back into the country and attempted to travel back to China on Nov. 5. During a layover at Newark, customs officials searched his baggage and allegedly found “sensitive, proprietary and export controlled documents from another major defense contractor, located outside the state of Connecticut (“Company B”).” Between August 2008 and May 2014, Long was employed by a “major defense contractor” in Connecticut. Although the complaint refers to that company only as “Company A,” the job application found in customs included claims Long had worked on the F119 and F135 engines — used in the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, respectively, and both produced by Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney.”

China’s Big Plans for Pakistan. “On November 29, Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif broke ground on a section of the Hazara Motorway, which will connect the outskirts of the capital city of Islamabad to China through the Karakoram Highway. The four-lane, fenced road in mountainous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province will, according to current projections, take two years to complete and cost $297 million. The groundbreaking move, China’s Xinhua News Agency proclaims, “signal[s] the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor agreement.” When the Corridor is completed at the turn of the decade, China will have effectively cut Pakistan in two. At the same time, Beijing will be able to use the Corridor’s new transportation links to faster deploy its forces to areas disputed by Pakistan and India. In early November in Beijing, Sharif signed Corridor pacts authorizing $45.6 billion in projects in his country. Of that total, $33.8 billion is allocated for electricity generation—the addition of 16,520 megawatts by 2021—and $11.8 billion for transportation infrastructure. The November pacts follow those signed this February, when the two countries inked deals to improve the Karakoram Highway and build an airport in Gwadar, a port on the Arabian Sea near the Iran border. The February agreements in turn came on the heels of one signed last year, when China and Pakistan agreed to build a fibre-optic cable from the Chinese border to the city of Rawalpindi, next to Pakistan’s capital.”

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 | December 09, 2014

China’s Grand Strategy Challenge: Creating Its Own Islands in the South China Sea. “Satellite images analyzed by defense intelligence magazine IHS Jane’s show that China is reclaiming on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands a piece of land that bears the shape of a 3000-meter airfield and a harbor large enough to receive tankers and major warships. This is not the first, but the latest in a series of land reclamations that China is conducting both in the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. What does China want with this island building? What is the ultimate objective of these projects? The usual lens we use to decipher strategic moves on the international arena is ill suited to answer these questions. It views the game nations play in term of chess, but China is playing weiqi in the South China Sea. Weiqi, better known in the West by its Japanese name, go, is the oldest Chinese board game that bears much parallel to an influential branch of traditional Chinese strategic thinking. While chess is a game of checkmate, weiqi, as its very name tells us, is a game of encirclement. In weiqi, there are no kings, queens or pawns as there are in chess, only identical stones whose power depends on where they are in the larger arrangement of the pieces. If chess is a contest of armies, weiqi is a struggle between configurations. Whereas the competent chess player aims at the destruction of the enemy’s physical power, a proficient weiqi player strives for the control of strategic positions, from which position-based power emanates.”

China Takes Nuclear Weapons Underwater Where Prying Eyes Can’t See. “China is preparing to arm its stealthiest submarines with nuclear missiles that could reach the U.S., cloaking its arsenal with the invisibility needed to retaliate in the event of an enemy strike. Fifty years after China carried out its first nuclear test, patrols by the almost impossible-to-detect JIN class submarines armed with nuclear JL–2 ballistic missiles will give President Xi Jinping greater agility to respond to an attack. The nuclear-powered subs will probably conduct initial patrols with the missiles by the end of this year, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” according to an annual report to Congress submitted in November by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Deploying the vessels will burnish China’s prestige as Xi seeks to end what he calls the “cold war” mentality that resulted in U.S. dominance of Asia-Pacific security. Since coming to power, Xi has increased military spending with a focus on longer-range capacity, including plans to add to the country’s tally of a single aircraft carrier. “For the first time in history, China’s nuclear arsenal will be invulnerable to a first strike,” said independent strategist Nicolas Giacometti, who has written analysis for The Diplomat and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s the last leap toward China’s assured nuclear-retaliation capability.”

China’s Stealth Fighter Could ‘Take Down’ Foreign Rival, Says Industry Exec. “China's new stealth fighter could certainly "take down" its opponent in the sky, the president of China's top aircraft maker said on Tuesday, referring to its U.S.-made counterpart. Lin Zuoming, president of Aviation Industry Corp of China (Avic), which developed the J-31 stealth fighter, made the remarks in an interview on state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV). "When it takes to the sky, it can definitely take it down," he said, in a reference to the U.S.-made F-35. "That's a certainty." Lin also emphasized the company's desire to compete with the United States in new markets, particularly countries the U.S. will not sell military equipment to as well as countries that cannot afford the pricier F-35. “The next-generation air forces that are unable to buy the F-35 have no way to build themselves up. We don't believe the situation should be that way," he said. "This world should be balanced," Lin added. "Good things shouldn't all be pushed to one party." China unveiled the highly anticipated twin-engine fighter jet at an air show last month, a show of muscle during a visit to the country by U.S. President Barack Obama. Stealth aircraft are key to China developing the ability to carry out both offensive and defensive operations, the Pentagon said in a report about developments in China's military. The J-31 is China's second domestically produced stealth fighter jet.”

China Investigates Another Senior Military Official For Graft. “China's military is investigating a general who worked at a prominent military university on suspicion of graft, Chinese media reported on Tuesday, as Beijing widens its crackdown on corruption in its armed forces. Major General Dai Weimin, 52, was "taken away" in the middle of November by military prosecutors, according to a report by respected news magazine Caixin. Dai was a deputy dean at the People's Liberation Army Nanjing Political College. The Caixin report, referenced by the official China Daily newspaper, said authorities suspect Dai of taking "huge bribes" related to land and construction projects. There was no indication of any response by Dai or his representatives. Current and former military officials have said graft in the military threatens China's ability to wage war. President Xi Jinping has increased efforts to modernize the armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in the East and South China seas. The government is already investigating Xu Caihou, the retired deputy head of the powerful Central Military Commission, and Lieutenant General Gu Junshan, who had been deputy director of the military's logistics department, for graft. Gu is suspected of selling hundreds of positions.

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 | December 08, 2014

A Beijing House of Cards. “The Chinese Communist Party’s expulsion and arrest of former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang is the latest episode in a gripping drama of politics and skulduggery. As with any such entertainment, the audience must pay attention to the little details to understand the action. When authorities announced an investigation into Mr. Zhou’s alleged corruption in July, they tipped their hand by dropping the honorific “comrade.” It was a reminder that the struggle for power in Beijing’s back courtyards is the drama that matters in China. The next step is a criminal trial for Mr. Zhou, and even if it is held in secret, as some analysts of Chinese politics suspect, it will explain much about how the Party worked under its last two leaders. It will also show how the new leader, Xi Jinping , is using his anticorruption campaign to consolidate power. Mr. Zhou was a protégé of Jiang Zemin , who ruled China from 1989-2002. So was Gen. Xu Caihou, a former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission expelled from the Party on corruption charges in June.  Mr. Xi is going after more than Mr. Jiang’s “Shanghai faction,” however. The noose is closing around Ling Jihua, the No. 2 of Hu Jintao , the man who led China from 2002-12. In June authorities opened an investigation into Ling Zhengce, an older brother who was a vice chairman of a Shanxi province advisory body. Another brother, Ling Wancheng, was detained last month. The capture of relatives and associates before the main target is standard practice and presaged the fall of Mr. Zhou. Ling Jihua has been largely sidelined since the death of his son at the wheel of a Ferrari with two young women in 2012 put him out of the running for the Politburo Standing Committee. However, as the former linchpin of Mr. Hu’s “Communist Youth League faction” his downfall would have huge repercussions for his colleagues, including the present Premier Li Keqiang . So far Mr. Xi has played his cards brilliantly. When he first came to power in 2012, many doubted his ability to take control since he lacked a strong faction of his own. But he has managed to turn his enemies’ strength into a weakness.”

Report: Chinese Air Force Closes Gap With U.S. “The U.S. Air Force’s air power superiority over China is rapidly diminishing in light of rapid Chinese modernization of fighter jets, cargo planes and stealth aircraft, according to a recently released Congressional review. The 2014 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommends that Congress appoint an outside panel of experts to assess the U.S.-Chinese military balance and make recommendations regarding U.S. military plans and budgets, among other things. The Commission compiled its report based upon testimony, various reports and analytical assessments along with available open-source information. The review states that the Chines People’s Liberation Army currently has approximately 2,200 operational aircraft, nearly 600 of which are considered modern. “In the early 1990s, Beijing began a comprehensive modernization program to upgrade the PLA Air Force from a short-range, defensively oriented force with limited capabilities into a modern, multi-role force capable of projecting precision airpower beyond China’s borders, conducting air and missile defense and providing early warning,” the review writes. One commissioner involved with the review told Military​.com he wants to see Congress provide the requisite funding for the U.S. to retain its technological superiority in light of China’s rapid progress. This includes providing funding for the Pentagon’s Pacific rebalance, he said. “Every year we make forty to fifty recommendations to Congress. Commissioners highlight what they consider to be the most important ten recommendations.  This year among the top ten recommendations was one to ensure that the budget to meet the Pacific rebalance is adequate,” said Larry Wortzel, a commissioner tasked with helping to oversee the compilation and publication of the annual review. Regarding stealth aircraft, the review mentions the recent flights of prototypes of the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter, calling the aircraft more advanced than any other air platform currently deployed in the Asia-Pacific region.  The Chinese are also testing a smaller stealth fighter variant called the FC-31, according to the report.”

China Reaches Out to U.S. For Data: Air Force Space Commander. “China has taken the unprecedented step of asking Air Force Space Command to share information about possible satellite and satellite debris collisions. The United States had been sharing so-called conjunction warnings with China through the State Department, but no one knew if China actually paid any attention because the data was never acknowledged. Then, quite recently, the head of Air Force Space Command, Gen. John Hyten, got a formal request from the Chinese to share the information directly. “The Chinese have asked to get data straight from our operations center to their operations center without going through State,” Hyten said during a Capitol Hill breakfast. How significant is this, I asked after we ate. “To me, it’s a big deal.” I understand that China had committed to this in July as part of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. The summary document about the agreement between the two countries says the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs “committed to provide e-mail contact information for appropriate Chinese entities responsible for spacecraft operations and conjunction assessment, allowing these entities to receive Close Approach Notifications directly from the United States Department of Defense. “Of course, getting the PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the People’s Liberation Army to do something doesn’t always happen quickly — if at all. Observers of the fallout after the Chinese anti-satellite test will remember that Foreign Affairs appeared absolutely clueless about the test, both publicly and privately. And that anti-satellite test, ironically, was responsible for an enormous increase in the amount of space debris that may cause a collision. That the United States will play the responsible global citizen and provide conjunction data to the Chinese after the test only deepens the irony.”

China Angered By U.S. Bill Allowing Taiwan Warship Sale. “China's foreign ministry rebuked the U.S. Congress on Monday after legislators passed a bill allowing the sale of second-hand warships to Taiwan, the self-ruled island which Beijing claims as a renegade province. The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the bill last week, authorizing the sale of four Perry-class guided missile frigates to Taiwan. China expressed anger in April when a similar bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.  China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of a civil war with the communists in 1949. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the bill's passage was an "interference" in China's internal affairs. "China is resolutely opposed to this and has already made solemn representations to the U.S. side. We hope the U.S. Congress stops carrying forward this legislation," Hong told reporters at a regular press briefing. "We also hope the newly elected authorities can prevent the implementation of this legislation to avoid influencing the development of China-U.S. relations," Hong said.”

China Details Objections to Arbitration in Dispute With Philippines. “China outlined in detail for the first time its objections to a United Nations tribunal on its territorial dispute with the Philippines in the South China Sea, and called again for bilateral talks to resolve a standoff that has heightened tensions in the region. A lengthy position paper published by China’s foreign ministry said it aims to explain why Beijing believes the tribunal lacks jurisdiction over the dispute, and reiterates that China “will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration” initiated by the Philippines in January 2013. It said that in pursuing arbitration Manila was going back on previous understandings to settle differences bilaterally. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has given Beijing until Dec. 15 to file its response to the Philippines’ own 4,000-page submission, which argues that the Chinese claim to most of the South China Sea has no legal basis. The Philippine government is studying China’s position paper, said Charles Jose, spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. The case is a rare example of a neighbor challenging China’s territorial claims through international arbitration. It is being closely watched by other nations, including the U.S., which has a defense treaty with the Philippines and has backed its legal challenge. A State Department study published on Friday said China had failed to clarify its claims in the South China Sea in a way consistent with international law. Tensions in the region have mounted in recent years as Chinese ships and planes have repeatedly confronted vessels from the U.S. and its allies in disputed areas of the South China Sea and in the East China Sea, where Beijing and Tokyo have overlapping claims. A senior Chinese foreign ministry official told a news conference on Sunday that the position paper wasn’t a response to the tribunal, and the timing of its release wasn’t linked to the Dec. 15 deadline. Instead, the Chinese government wanted to provide a more detailed legal explanation of its position, which had taken some time to prepare, said Xu Hong, director general of the ministry’s Department of Treaty and Law.”

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 | December 05, 2014

How to Deal With Chinese Assertiveness: It’s Time to Impose Costs. “China’s reemergence as a wealthy and powerful nation is a fact. In recent decades its rise has been unprecedented, moving from the tenth-largest economy in 1990, to the sixth-largest economy in 2001, to the second-largest economy in 2010. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China now surpasses the United States in terms of purchasing power parity. By the same measure, China’s economy was only half the size of America’s a decade earlier, and it is this trajectory that is molding assumptions about the future regional power balance and order across the Indo-Pacific. Recent declines in growth and rising questions about future stability have yet to alter most perceptions about tomorrow’s China. China’s deepening integration with the regional and global economy underscore the difficulty of pushing back when China transgresses rules and norms. Take the issue of infrastructure. Infrastructure will gradually redraw the strategic economic and security connectivity of the twenty-first century, and China’s infrastructure prowess has been on prominent display of late. President Xi initiated the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum with a speech touting the linear projection that China will invest some $1.25 trillion over the next decade overseas, and wants to invest $40 billion in re-establishing the old Silk Road while also building a new Maritime Silk Road. These sums are in addition to China’s proposal for a new $50 billion Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. Like the New Development Bank (previously called The BRICS Development Bank), these schemes chip away at the existing Bretton Woods international economic architecture with bodies of uncertain governance. As Indian Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman put it at a recent conference, “If Bretton Woods institutions will not provide infrastructure financing for emerging economies, then we will have to find alternatives.”

Forget the South China Sea: Taiwan Could Be Asia’s Next Big Security Nightmare. “Forget the South China Sea. The results of Taiwan’s local elections last week, still reverberating in Beijing, are more likely than not to propel Taiwan’s ascension to the status of No.1 security problem in Asia over the coming two to three years. That is one consequence of the shellacking Taiwan’s ruling KMT party took in last week’s local elections. The ruling KMT lost thirteen of twenty-two cities and counties, including the Mayoralties in Taipei (by an opposition-backed doctor) and Taichung. All told, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party took 47.5 percent of the vote to 40.7 percent garnered by the ruling KMT. This sets the stage for the 2016 presidential elections. President Ma Ying-jeou, whose popularity was in single digits before the elections, is finishing his second term and cannot run again. So humbled was Ma that he resigned as chair of the KMT. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose constitution calls for Taiwanese independence, has fuzzy positions on many key issues, but is nonetheless now well positioned for 2016. What led to the DPP landslide? The short answer is economics. Taiwan, in the 1980s and ‘90s known as one of the four tigers (along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore) symbolizing Asia’s economic dynamism, has suffered anemic GDP growth under 2 percent over the past several years. But in Taiwan, its maturing economy has, under President Ma, become increasingly dependent on China—and associated with Ma’s cross-strait economic pacts. Ma signed several trade agreements with Beijing, opened cross-straits direct air travel, and broadly expanded economic, cultural and social ties to the mainland. With 40 percent of Taiwan’s exports going to China, China has become Taiwan’s largest trading partner. Officially, Taiwan has invested $58 billion in China, but unofficial estimates have it well over $100 billion. While there are few reliable statistics, several hundred thousand Taiwanese are estimated to live in China, most in and around the Shanghai area.”

‘One Country, Two Systems’ Falls Apart. “Taiwan's local elections this week and Hong Kong's public demonstrations send an implicit but clear message to Beijing: These two populations do not want to live under the rule of China's Communist Party. The rejection embodied in these events has been building for years in both places. With it, Deng Xiaoping's prescription for the futures of Taiwan and Hong Kong - "one country, two systems" - lies figuratively in ashes. President Xi Jinping now must decide whether he should hold firm or find ways to broaden his China Dream to accommodate the democratic aspirations of Hong Kong and Taiwan. Xi has greater legal latitude and practical opportunity to use force in Hong Kong, where Beijing's sovereignty is universally acknowledged and where it controls the actions of police. Short of a mass revolution in the territory, there is no present need to mobilize the People's Liberation Army, particularly as the local police are beginning to show the kinds of ruthless behavior Chinese authorities use in handling protests on the Mainland. But if Hong Kong's authorities prove unable to handle larger demonstrations, would Xi risk a Tiananmen-like massacre rather than honor Deng's home-rule promise? Taiwan presents a different kind of legal, diplomatic, or military challenge. First of all, a couple dozen governments still recognize the Republic of China, rather than the People's Republic, as the legitimate authority in Taiwan. Even governments that officially accept the "one China" concept, most notably the United States, profess agnosticism on which government should rule Taiwan. Moreover, successive U.S. administrations have declared that any resolution to Taiwan's fate must reflect the will of the 23 million Taiwanese. (Beijing says 1.4 billion Chinese voices must also be heard in the decision.) Washington has long provided arms to help Taiwan prepare its own defense, and the Taiwan Relations Act pronounced any threat to Taiwan's future a matter "of grave concern to the United States," falling just short of the explicit security commitment contained in the earlier Mutual Defense Treaty.”

For China, Cybersecurity is Part of Strategy for Protecting Communist Party. “For nearly two years, cyberespionage has been a tense focal point of relations between the United States and China. On Wednesday, the Center for a New American Security, a research group in Washington, released a paper written with the aim of understanding the motivations behind China’s cybersecurity strategy. Its conclusion: that the strategy, like China’s foreign policy, is driven mainly by the domestic political imperative of needing to “protect the longevity of the Chinese Communist Party.” The paper is based on readings of Chinese-language sources and tries to lay out reasons for why state-supported actors engage in cyberespionage and other activities. The paper’s author, Amy Chang, a research associate in the center’s technology and national security program, argues that there are three main components of the cybersecurity strategy — economic, political and military — and that they are all aimed at ensuring the survival of party rule. For example, Ms. Chang writes that maintaining economic growth and stability, which is critical to legitimizing the party in the eyes of ordinary Chinese, is a goal of industrial economic cyberespionage, which the White House has said is carried out at least in part by hackers employed by the People’s Liberation Army. China’s cybersecurity strategy — which it calls “network security” (网络安全) — also ranges from mastering information control and propaganda with the goal of preventing or quelling domestic instability to studying foreign adversaries’ military infrastructure and capabilities in the cyber realm, according to the paper.”

The Next Flash Point Between China and America: Taiwan? “Taiwan’s governing Kuomintang Party (KMT) suffered a brutal defeat in just-completed elections for local offices. Indeed, the extent of the KMT’s rout made the losses the Democratic Party experienced in U.S. midterm congressional elections look like a mild rebuke. The setback was so severe that President Ma Ying-jeou announced that he would relinquish his post as party chairman. Although that decision does not directly affect Ma’s role as head of the government, it reflects his rapidly eroding political influence. The growing domestic political turbulence in Taiwan is not just a matter of academic interest to the United States. Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, Washington is obligated to assist Taipei’s efforts to maintain an effective defense and to regard any coercive moves Beijing might take against the island as a serious threat to the peace of East Asia. During Taiwanese leader Lee Teng-hui’s presidency in the 1990s, several tense episodes occurred between Taipei and Beijing, and in December 1995, the U.S. aircraft carrier Nimitz made a show of support for Lee’s government by sailing into the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwan issue became an even more persistent source of tension in U.S.-Chinese relations during the subsequent administration of Chen Shui-bian. Chen and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) aggressively pressed an agenda to move Taiwan’s de facto independence from China toward a more official version. Beijing responded by warning that such a move risked provoking a military response and cautioned “outside powers” (i.e., the United States) against support for “separatist” ambitions.”

China to Halt Harvesting of Organs from Executed Prisoners for Transplant. “China said it would halt harvesting the organs of executed prisoners for transplant beginning next year, following longtime criticism from human-rights groups, though the change could add uncertainty to China’s organ supply. Chinese officials will stop using the organs of inmates beginning Jan. 1, nearly three years after Beijing first said it intended to stop the program and create a national organ donation system. While China already forbids organ donations without the consent of the donor or the family, critics have said inmates can feel pressured to sign away their organs and that the source of organs isn’t well supervised. “This is the only way to go,” said Zhao Hongtao, an assistant to Huang Jiefu, director of China’s Human Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee. Mr. Zhao said the directive issued on Wednesday was aimed at hospitals, which harvest the organs and play a key role in the trade. Authorities haven’t publicly released details, so specific changes to China’s organ-donor laws aren’t clear. Officials have previously said that China depended for years on executed prisoners as its main source of organ supply for ailing citizens. About 65% of transplants in China use organs from deceased donors, over 90% of whom were executed prisoners, according to a 2011 paper co-written by Mr. Huang in the medical journal Lancet. The paper said China is the only country that systematically uses organs from executed prisoners. Human-rights groups say the harvesting is often forced and influences the pace of China’s executions. Mr. Huang has been quoted in state media reports as saying that the rights of death-row prisoners have been fully respected and that the state asks for written consent prior to donation. The shift calls into question where China will get its organs. Due in part to traditional beliefs and distrust of the medical system, voluntary donations are rare in China, where the need for organs far exceeds the supply. According to an online survey done in May by the China Youth Daily newspaper and the website, fewer than half of more than 40,000 young Chinese people wanted to be organ donors.”

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 | December 03, 2014

The False Promise of Chinese Integration Into the Liberal International Order. “Three weeks ago, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit concluded with a diplomatic bang. On November 12, President Obama and President Xi announced a “historic” climate-change pledge, as well as deals on military-to-military encounters, visas and tariffs. But for some, the real prize lay beneath the surface. By cooperating with China in multiple areas, Washington was able to draw Beijing further into the folds of the U.S.-designed and -backed liberal international order. Accordingly, these agreements represented more than isolated policy choices on China’s part. They suggested that even if global primacy passes from the United States to China, the latter will still uphold the rules and institutions of the international system it inherits. Though seductive, the promise of Chinese integration into the liberal international order is ultimately hollow. “Integrationists” resist this conclusion only by resting their arguments on conceptually uninteresting definitions of what it means for China to reinforce the Western order. To show that China will integrate fully, they set up a false, all-or-nothing choice between rejecting the liberal international order and upholding it. This strawman is easy to knock down, but it has little to say about the question that matters most: if China clinches primacy in the international system, how will it manage aspects of the inherited international order that do not suit it? Although experts will continue to debate which aspects of the order Beijing is likely to alter, the larger point is that like every other nation, China will support certain features of the system while opposing others. There is no reason to believe that Beijing will preserve every pro-American element of the bequeathed order; indeed, China and the United States clash frequently over such basic pillars of the international system as human rights and regional security arrangements, and Beijing will have little incentive to preserve these institutions—as well as many others—if and when it has the power to abandon them. For that reason alone, a Chinese world order is likely to be less favorable to American interests than the current Pax Americana, and Washington has cause for concern about China’s increasing influence.”

The Ghost That Haunts the Chinese Navy: When China and Japan Went to War. “Even as Western strategists spill gobs of ink recalling the Great War that convulsed Europe a century ago, Chinese military thinkers are actually fixated on another anniversary.  120 years ago, Japan shocked the world with a lightning campaign that not only reduced the faltering Qing dynasty to its knees in a matter of months, but more to the point:  put the pride of China’s then ascendant fleet on the bottom of the Yellow Sea. The war was primarily fought over the Korean Peninsula and featured two sizable naval engagements:  the first near the Yalu and the second near the tip of the Shandong Peninsula at Weihai, where an enormous Chinese museum has quite recently been completed to commemorate the war.  The conflict ended with Japan’s conquest of the Liaodong Peninsula, but this was not permitted by the jealous European Powers, which intervened collectively in the so-called “Triple Intervention.”   Tokyo had to be satisfied with China’s recognition of an independent Korea, the not insignificant prize of Taiwan, a huge indemnity paid in silver, the right to navigate the Yangtze, as well as the opening of more treaty ports to Japanese merchants.   This edition of Dragon Eye will not dwell on recent China-Japan tensions, which are presently experiencing a thaw albeit a tepid one.  Instead, this brief analysis endeavors to sample a few of the innumerable Chinese military writings published during 2014 on the subject of that pivotal conflict. Reflections on the war during this anniversary year have appeared in just about every military and quasi-military publication in China, for example a piece by the popular and rather hawkish professor-general Luo Yuan that appeared in a special September 2014 issue of 军事文摘 [Military Digest] devoted to the war.  However, for the purposes of this discussion, I will concentrate exclusively on several articles that appeared in the more authoritative 中国军事科学 [China Military Science] in mid-2014.  The lead article in this valuable clutch of writings is by General He Lei, director of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Military Sciences.   General He’s piece does not particularly focus on Japan’s aggressive intent, though he does observe that the war was “not accidental.”  Nor does he dwell on strictly political factors, but he also credits Marx with the idea that “war is the continuation of politics” and suggests that the war illustrated the corruption and decline of the Qing regime.”

Taiwan’s Ruling Party in Crisis As China Factor Looms Large. “Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party is struggling to convince voters of the benefits of the deeper ties with China it has championed, senior party figures said, after a poll drubbing left it facing its biggest crisis in more than a decade. President Ma Ying-jeou formally resigned as chairman of the KMT on Wednesday to take responsibility for the poor showing in local elections, which took place against the backdrop of protests in Hong Kong against China's interference in the territory's political system. "We failed to meet people's expectations," Ma, who will remain president until the end of his second and final four-year term in 2016, told KMT members, bowing in apology. The party later named Vice President Wu Den-yi as acting party chief until it elects a new chairman around January. The bout of soul-searching within the Kuomintang in the wake of the defeat has left the self-governing island's government and parliament in disarray, and raised concerns that trade ties with China will stall. The KMT, whose leaders fled to Taiwan in 1949 after defeat to Mao's Communists in China's civil war, suffered worse-than-expected electoral losses at the weekend, including in its traditional strongholds Taipei and Taichung, in central Taiwan. "It is impossible that the elections were not affected by cross-strait ties and the Hong Kong Occupy Central protest," said KMT spokesperson Charles Chen. "One message voters were sending loud and clear was their fears about the economic ties across the Taiwan Strait." For the KMT, or Nationalist party, it was the worst setback since 2000, when it lost power for the first time to the Democratic Progressive Party, which favors formal independence for the island Beijing considers a renegade province.”

Hong Kong Protests Divide Along Generations. “A day after urging student protesters to abandon their street occupation, to no avail, the founders of the prodemocracy group Occupy Central With Love and Peace attempted to surrender to police, who declined to arrest them. Occupy co-founders Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-Ming tried to turn themselves in at a police station on Wednesday afternoon, along with several other pro-democracy figures, including Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, and some lawmakers. Police said 65 people attempted to surrender, claiming to have committed the offense of “unauthorized assembly.” None was detained or arrested. Meanwhile, student protesters, who have been at the forefront of the demonstrations, showed no signs of retreating from their occupation or surrendering to authorities, underscoring the growing split between the younger demonstrators on the streets and the veteran activists who inspired the city’s pro-democracy movement. Three student leaders entered the second day of a hunger strike on Wednesday in an effort to ratchet up pressure on the government to restart dialogue over the two-month-old standoff over how the city will conduct elections for its leader. “We are on a hunger strike until the chief executive will agree to talks with students,” said 18-year-old Joshua Wong, leader of the student protest group Scholarism. Mr. Wong and two other hunger-striking students presented an open letter to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, asking him to hold talks with protesters. Government officials and student representatives held one round of talks in October but the dialogue produced no concessions that met the students’ demands.”

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.

Back to top