The World’s Largest Military Plane in Production is China’s Y-20

A New Dawn for Chinese Aviation — “11052” is China’s second operation Y-20 heavy transport aircraft. Capable of carrying 66 tons and flying nearly 8,000 km, the Y-20’s massive airframe means that it can also be a heavy aerial refueling tanker, and airborne early warning and control radar plane.

 

On June 15th 2016, the first operational Y-20 heavy transport aircraft entered service into the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). China has now joined the United States and Russia as the only countries which can design and built its own strategic transport aircraft. It’s built by the Xian Aircraft Corporation, and apparently has been assigned the call sign “Roc”, after the giant mythical bird. In fact, of planes still in production, the 200 ton Y-20 is the world’s largest, as it’s larger than the Russian Il-76 and the American C-17A Globemaster ended production in 2015. Continue reading

The Coming Taiwan Independence Surge

The fact that the occupation of the Taiwan legislature by student activists earlier this spring was woefully under-reported, is disappointing for a number of reasons. Primarily, the world missed an opportunity to see the changes in social and political identities sweeping across the island nation. These generational changes that are taking place in Taiwan, along with external factors such as China’s treatment of Hong Kong and its increasing bellicosity in its littoral areas, are going to reshape local politics in a way that suggests in the not-too-distant future, there is going to be a powerful new impetus for independence in Taiwan.

This Taiwanese identity is unlike that of its forbearers. The young lack the hatred over the political killings, and colonial economic exploitation by the KMT authoritarian regime that drove their grandparents’ generation. Nor are they politically timid and quiet like their parents. Their identity, still being fleshed out, is inclusive, absorbing KMT imagery, such as the ROC flag, but assigning new home-grown meanings to it. It includes the KMT as a political party but rejects all of its China-related territorial and cultural claims. At the heart of this identity, as the Sunflower Movement shows, is an immense reverence for Taiwan’s democracy, with which they grew up. Continue reading

Syria Facing U.S. Cyber Attacks in Upcoming Strikes

Operation will be testing lab for cyber war capabilities

U.S. military forces are expected to roll out new cyber warfare capabilities during the anticipated military strike on Syria for its use of a deadly nerve agent, according to military sources.

Targets of cyber attacks likely will include electronic command and control systems used by the Syrian military forces, air defense computers, and other military communications networks. Continue reading

Taiwan jumps into South China Sea fray

China is on the ‘charm’ offensive to rein in Taiwan.

Last week, James Chou, deputy director general of the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed that the disputed islands of the South China Sea were the “undisputed territory” of the ROC. Additionally, Chou expressed a strong desire for the ROC to take part in any multilateral mechanism in resolving the long-standing territorial impasse. He said any resolution of the conflict that did not involve the ROC would be “regrettable”.

Chou’s assertion of the “undisputed” nature of Chinese sovereignty in the area echoed the recurring message of the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China. Both the mainland-based PRC and the ROC maintain the same “nine-dotted line” claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea. It is important to note that the current official policy of both Taipei and Beijing is that there is “one China”, and both governments strongly agree on Chinese sovereignty in the South China Sea. The pivotal disagreement of cross-strait relations hinges on which of the two governments is the legitimate ruler of China itself.

Even more interesting, a high-ranking government official in Taipei has recently called for a ROC-PRC economic alliance in the South China Sea. Chiu Yi, an important member of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party and an executive in the state-owned energy company CPC, has called for open cooperation between the PRC and the ROC in extracting resources from the disputed waters: “The seabed around Taiping Island has abundant reserves of oil and natural gas … The merit would be great if a cross-strait joint development project is done.” [3]

The ROC Foreign Ministry’s recently stated desire to participate in any multilateral mechanisms for resolving the maritime dispute is particularly telling. Beijing’s insistence on a strict “one China” policy has excluded Taipei from most international organizations. However, Taipei’s participation in a multilateral, negotiated settlement to the South China Sea impasse would likely strengthen the joint Chinese claims of sovereignty over key islands.

Rumors are now circulating of a grand bargain being negotiated between Taipei and Beijing. Joint PRC-ROC cooperation in the South China Sea may be exchanged for Beijing’s approval of Taipei’s participation in some international organizations. Issues of sovereignty would need to be carefully addressed in any deal, but the potential for mutual benefit is significant.

Joint PRC-ROC cooperation in the South China Sea would also pose a significant challenge for US policy. The US government has been strengthening military ties with the Philippines and Vietnam with the unstated aim of containing Chinese ambitions in the area. Meanwhile, Taiwan has long been a US ally. If Chinese nationalism remains politically ascendant in Taiwan, and a joint PRC-ROC alliance is formed in the South China Sea, the US will find itself in a very awkward position.

Full article: Taiwan jumps into South China Sea fray (Asia Times Online)