Japan conducts first submarine drill in disputed South China Sea

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Japan has carried out its first submarine drill in the South China Sea, a newspaper said Monday, a move that could provoke Beijing which claims most of the disputed waters.

Submarine Kuroshio on Thursday joined three Japanese warships in waters just southwest of the China-controlled Scarborough Shoal, the Asahi Shimbun said. Continue reading

Vatican’s deal with Beijing could end Taiwan’s ties with its last European ally

The Wanchin Basilica in Pingtung County, Taiwan was built in 1870. / Wikipedia

 

A deal between the Vatican and China, which would grant China the right to nominate future bishops, would likely end the diplomatic relationship between the Holy See and Taiwan that began in 1942.

Reports of the pending agreement come amid other reports of the suppression of religious expression throughout China.

A Human Rights Watch report estimates that over a million Muslim Uighurs are currently detained in re-education camps in the western province of Xinjiang. AP reported last week that reported that China’s government is seeking to drive citizens away from organized religion and toward the atheist Communist Party through scare tactics such as Bible-burning, shuttering churches, destroying crosses and forcing individuals to renounce their faith on paper. Continue reading

PLA Expanding Power Through Belt and Road Initiative

Randall Schriver / Getty Images

 

Schriver: U.S. to bolster Taiwan air defenses, submarines

China’s military is a key player in the Belt and Road economic initiative around the world that is being used to expand Beijing’s overall global power, a senior Pentagon Asian affairs official says.

Separately, the Pentagon is working with Taiwan’s government to bolster the island’s air defenses in the face of growing missile and aircraft threats from China, said Randall G. Schriver, assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs. Continue reading

Will China One Day Dominate the Seas? History Provides Some Clues

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China has recently launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier, doubling its embryonic capacity to project power on the world’s oceans. A third carrier is under construction, with more to follow in due course. China has militarized its artificial islands in the South China Sea, extending its security barrier away from the Asian coast. It has fielded anti-access area denial weapons, including so-called “carrier killer” ballistic missiles that can reach Guam, to keep foreign warships away from Chinese waters should war come to East Asia. The Chinese fleet now has more, albeit technologically inferior, combat warships and submarines than the U.S. Navy. Nevertheless, they exist—ready to extend China’s reach and protect Chinese interests in an increasingly globalized world. Continue reading

Beijing’s great game to win over Pacific’s small island states

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Micronesia’s President Peter Christian, center, reviews an honor guard with Xi Jinping outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in March 2017. Photo: AFP/ Greg Baker

 

Deploying classic tactics – leverage via investment, tourism, diplomacy and political funding – Beijing is winning the strategic competition with Washington across the west and northern Pacific

While the South China Sea is East Asia’s strategic center stage as China expands its military presence and control over that critical seascape, Beijing is quietly and successfully upping its presence in Pacific territories that have traditionally fallen under US influence.

But unlike in the South China Sea, it is not capturing influence with hard power. Instead, it is deploying a range of big-picture, long-game asymmetric tactics that will be familiar to anyone who has studied Beijing’s Belt and Road initiatives in other regions.

While the US fought its now-legendary, trans-Pacific “island hopping” campaign against Japan in many of these territories in World War II, China is today winning a new, non-kinetic war by default – for, beyond East Asian shores, the Pacific suffers from benign neglect in Washington. Continue reading

China ‘nearing mass production’ of J-20 stealth fighter after engine problems ironed out

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China’s new J-20 stealth fighter could soon go into mass production as earlier problems with its engine have now been resolved, sources say. Photo: EPA

 

Improved power train will give Chinese jet ability to fly undetected at supersonic speeds, on par with United States’ F-35

A new and improved engine designed to make China’s J-20 stealth fighter a world-class combat jet should be ready for mass production by the end of the year, military sources have said.

The WS-15 engine features cutting-edge single-crystal turbine blades and has been in development for several years, but Chinese technicians have struggled to get it into mass production. Continue reading

China Has Withheld Samples of a Dangerous Flu Virus

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© Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Health workers culling chickens in Hong Kong in 2014 following an outbreak of avian flu.

 

For over a year, the Chinese government has withheld lab samples of a rapidly evolving influenza virus from the United States — specimens needed to develop vaccines and treatments, according to federal health officials.

Despite persistent requests from government officials and research institutions, China has not provided samples of the dangerous virus, a type of bird flu called H7N9. In the past, such exchanges have been mostly routine under rules established by the World Health Organization.

Now, as the United States and China spar over trade, some scientists worry that the vital exchange of medical supplies and information could slow, hampering preparedness for the next biological threat. Continue reading

Chinese Communist Party Funds Washington Think Tanks

China's President Xi Jinping

China’s President Xi Jinping / Getty Images

 

United Front Work Department conducts aggressive influence operations in U.S.

China’s Communist Party is intensifying covert influence operations in the United States that include funding Washington think tanks and coercing Chinese Americans, according to a congressional commission report.

The influence operations are conducted by the United Front Work Department, a Central Committee organ that employs tens of thousands of operatives who seek to use both overt and covert operations to promote Communist Party policies. Continue reading

China set for North Korea invasion

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According to a Pentagon report, China fears North Korea’s provocative nuclear and missile tests will set off a regional conflict. Beijing wants stability, a denuclearized peninsula and no U.S. forces near its borders. (Associated Press)

 

The Pentagon’s latest annual report on China’s military for the first time reveals contingency plans by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to intervene in North Korea.

Relations between the two communist nations remain strained and last year were at the lowest level in decades.

According to the report, China fears North Korea’s provocative nuclear and missile tests will set off a regional conflict. Beijing wants stability, a denuclearized peninsula and no U.S. forces near its borders.

“China’s priority is maintaining stability on the Korean peninsula, which includes preventing a [North Korean] collapse and preventing a military conflict on the peninsula,” the report said. Continue reading

Taiwan embarks on spending spree on homemade subs

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Two Dutch-made submarines surface near southern Taiwan during an exercise in July 29, 2004. Taiwan has been having trouble updating its submarine fleet. Photo: AFP/Sam Yeh

 

International technical support secured as Taiwan presses ahead with replacing aging boats with indigenous ones

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has vowed to spend a lot more – NT$73.6 billion (US$2.4 billion), or more than one-fifth of the island’s defense budget next year – on the development of indigenous weapons. Continue reading

China Pushes at Taiwan With ‘Large-Scale’ Military Exercises

 

A six-day live-fire drill gets Xi Jinping’s point across.

China began a six-day military drill in the East China Sea on July 19 as a threat toward the island nation of Taiwan.

Located near Taiwan, these “live-fire” drills are complex and will simulate real combat, according to the Global Times. China’s People’s Liberation Army (pla) will practice their “systematic combat capability, tactics, training methods and capacities of its weaponry and equipment.” Continue reading

Taiwan Doubles Down On U.S. LNG

LNG vessel

LNG Vessel. Source: OilPrice

 

Taiwan, which has seen increased military exercises off its coast by Chinese forces this year, has just inked a major energy deal with a U.S. energy firm.

On Monday, Taiwan’s CPC Corp., a major LNG importer, announced a preliminary deal to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) from U.S. based LNG producer Cheniere Energy for a period of 25 years. CPC signed a Heads of Agreement to purchase 2 million tonnes of LNG annually from the major gas exporter, which is gearing up to start exports from its second export plant at Corpus Christi, Texas. Continue reading

U.S. Considers Sending Marines to Taiwan

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(Photo Credit: Office of Mayor of Taipei)

 

Is the U.S. preparing to scrap the ‘One China Policy’ after 40 years?

Since 1979, the American Institute in Taiwan has served as the lone U.S. diplomatic outpost for the island but under the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act, it is not an embassy. This is due to the move made by President Jimmy Carter that “de-recognized” the Republic of China (Taiwan) and instead recognized the People’s Republic of China. Continue reading

On same day as summit U.S. rattled China, dedicated massive new Taipei compound

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The largest U.S. diplomatic compound in all of Asia opened this month in a country with whom Washington does not even have an official diplomatic relationship.

On June 12, when the world was transfixed on the Trump-Kim Nuclear Summit in Singapore, a major ceremony was taking place in Taiwan’s capital Taipei with great fanfare to mark the opening of a huge new diplomatic complex of great geopolitical significance. Continue reading

The China Problem

Un Xi Trump

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Column: North Korea is just a part of the challenge confronting Trump and the United States

“I think I understand why that happened,” President Trump said Thursday, reflecting on a change in North Korean behavior that prompted him to cancel a planned summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. When a reporter asked him to elaborate, the president declined.

Allow me to speculate.

Until recently, the prospects of a summit were high. Experiencing the consequences of debilitating sanctions under President Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, Kim Jong Un signaled a new openness. North and South Koreans marched together in the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. Kim pledged to suspend missile testing and destroy an already-disabled nuclear facility in advance of talks. And most important, at the beginning of May, Kim freed three American hostages in what Trump would describe as a “beautiful gesture” that “was very much appreciated.”

Then the turn came. Continue reading