China, Japan and Russia zero in on Latin America

Mexico City (AFP) – The leaders of China, Russia and Japan all descended on Latin America in recent weeks, jostling with the United States to increase their influence, invest and tap into resource-rich markets.

The latest arrival was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who on Monday was in Trinidad and Tobago, the second stop on a five-country tour that began on Friday in Mexico.

Abe’s visit began just as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his tour, which included stops in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba. Xi signed more than 100 trade agreements on the trip.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was in the region for a week from July 11, stopping in Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua and Cuba. Continue reading

PLA Navy conduct naval exercises to ‘take back’ lost sea territories

The People’s Liberation Army Navy is ready to launch two major exercises in the disputed South and East China Seas between July 26 and Aug. 1 to demonstrate its fighting prowess to Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, according to the Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao. Continue reading

U.S. Navy admiral says he’s open to idea of giving Chinese Navy tour of carrier

A top U.S. Navy official said he is “receptive” to idea of letting his Chinese crewmen tour a U.S. aircraft carrier based in Japan, but experts warn such access could be a risky intelligence giveaway.

Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations, told The Wall Street Journal that his Chinese counterpart mentioned the idea of a U.S. carrier crew touring its lone Liaoning carrier and a Chinese crew touring the USS George Washington.

“I’m receptive to that idea,” Greenert, who saw the Liaoning and other Chinese ships on a recent trip, told the paper.

Nan Li, an associate professor in the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute, however, said Beijing would likely benefit more from a tour than the U.S. Navy. Continue reading

How Japan Fell in Love With America’s Drones

For decades Japan has been the world’s playground for design innovation. But now it may become ground zero for the future of something far more hostile: military drones.

Japan is not so quietly building a huge drone fleet

The country will invest ¥3 billion (approx $372 million) in the coming decade to drastically expand its virtually non-existent military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program, according to a senior analyst at IHS Jane’s, the leading defense and security agency. Continue reading

As China Stalks Satellites, U.S. and Japan Prepare to Defend Them

 

 

In May 2013 the Chinese government conducted what it called a science space mission from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China. Half a world away, Brian Weeden, a former U.S. Air Force officer, wasn’t buying it. The liftoff took place at night and employed a powerful rocket as well as a truck-based launch vehicle—all quite unusual for a science project, he says.

In a subsequent report for the Secure World Foundation, the space policy think tank where he works, Weeden concluded that the Chinese launch was more likely a test of a mobile rocket booster for an antisatellite (ASAT) weapon that could reach targets in geostationary orbit about 22,236 miles above the equator. That’s the stomping grounds of expensive U.S. spacecraft that monitor battlefield movements, detect heat from the early stages of missile launches, and help orchestrate drone fleets. “This is the stuff the U.S. really cares about,” Weeden says.

The Pentagon never commented in detail on last year’s launch—and the Chinese have stuck to their story. U.S. and Japanese analysts say China has the most aggressive satellite attack program in the world. It has staged at least six ASAT missile tests over the past nine years, including the destruction of a defunct Chinese weather satellite in 2007. “It’s part of a Chinese bid for hegemony, which is not just about controlling the oceans but airspace and, as an extension of that, outer space,” says Minoru Terada, deputy secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Continue reading

All aboard: China’s railway dream

At Asia’s biggest rail cargo base in Chengdu in south-west China, the cranes are hard at work, swinging containers from trucks onto a freight train. The containers are filled with computers, clothes, even cars.

Until last year, all of it would have first gone more than 1,000 miles east to Shanghai and then to Europe by sea. Continue reading

Japanese special forces ‘better than US’ to retake Diaoyutai

This is essentially tantamount to saying there is no more confidence in America’s ability to defend Japan, let alone be a reliable partner.

Japanese special forces would be more qualified than American to carry out amphibious combat operations against China’s People’s Liberation Army over the disputed Senkaku (Diaoyutai or Diaoyu) islands in the East China Sea, Vice Admiral Yoji Koda, a former fleet commander in chief of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, has written in his article for the Tokyo-based Ships of the World magazine. Continue reading

The World’s Next Oil Shipping Corridor: The Arctic Ocean

It’s colder than the Persian Gulf, needs more icebreakers than the Suez Canal and passes less picturesque beaches than the Mediterranean, but the so-called Northern Sea route connecting Europe to Asia via the northern coast of Russia has its advantages. Continue reading

Japan upset as Chinese paper prints mushroom clouds on map

TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) – Japan on Tuesday vowed to make a stern protest to China after a regional Chinese newspaper printed a map of the country with mushroom clouds hovering over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and accused the Japanese of wanting war again.

The neighbours have a long history of tense relations. Beijing bristles at Japan’s inability to properly atone for its invasion of China before and during World War Two, and its occupation of large parts of the country.

The newspaper, the weekly Chongqing Youth News from the southwestern city of Chongqing, printed the picture in its latest edition, Chinese media reported, though it appeared later to have been removed from the paper’s website version. Continue reading

Fukushima has 9 days to prevent ‘unsafe’ overheating

Fukushima operator TEPCO has been forced to switch off the cooling system at mothballed Reactor Unit 5, after it was discovered that it had been leaking water. In nine days, if the system is not repaired, temperatures will exceed dangerous levels.

Engineers have discovered that 1,300 liters of water leaked from a cooling system intended to stabilize the temperature of the spent fuel at the Reactor Unit 5, which was offline but loaded with fuel rods when the plant was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Continue reading

China aims to break U.S. hold in Asia with rival to World Bank

Beijing diplomats on charm offensive to rally support for new institution free from U.S. control.

China wants to set up a multilateral development bank in Asia to break the U.S.’s financial hold on the continent, the Financial Times reported Tuesday, citing officials familiar with the matter.

It said that Chinese officials have been touring Asia and the Middle East drumming up support for a new institution with $100 billion in capital, with a view to financing major development projects such as infrastructure. The FT said 22 countries across the region have expressed interest so far. Continue reading

US defense industry over-reliant on rare earth from China

Rare earth elements from China are being used to build weapons systems sold to the US Department of Defense, according to American geologist Victoria Bruce in an article written for Truthout, a nonprofit news organization based in the United States.

According to Bruce, participants at the meeting were outraged to discover that various top US weapon systems including Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter, Raytheon’s ground-to-air missile system, Boeing’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense missile system, Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk, and General Atomics’ MQ-1 Predator would not work at all without China-sourced rare earth materials. After learning this fact, a number of the participants promised to take action. Continue reading

What would the US do if war were to break out over Diaoyutais?

In an article for the Washington-based National Interest magazine on June 21, US defense expert Harry Kazianis laid out a possible a scenario involving Japan and China clashing over the airspace of the disputed Diaoyutai islands (Senkaku to Japan, Diaoyu to China) in the East China Sea to analyze whether the United States would be ready for such a conflict.

The scenario takes place on Mar. 1, 2015, Kazianis wrote, noting that China has already instituted daily non-naval maritime patrols around the disputed islands while its aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and other warships have conducted exercises only 50 miles away from the islands since February. Continue reading

In war with Japan, PLA would strike Kobe first: report

If China and Japan were to go to war, Kobe, Japan’s sixth-largest city, would likely be the People’s Liberation Army’s first point of attack, according to the Tokyo-based Shukan Gendai, also known as Modern Weekly, on June 18. Continue reading

Move aims to seal off ‘first island chain': analysts

Tokyo boosts missile defense

Japan is moving to strengthen its military capability to block the Chinese navy with more advanced surface-to-ship missiles (SSM) scheduled to be deployed in the country’s southwest in 2016.

Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force will start to deploy Type 12 SSMs in 2016 in Kumamoto prefecture on the island of Kyushu to “guard from China’s attack to some extent,” the Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported Sunday. Continue reading