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Chinese Military,Political and Social Superthread

tomahawk6 said:
The PI may be forced to invite the US to once again use its bases.

Or maybe not ...

Look at the Philippines' trade. Trade with China has grown exponentially and continues to how. It now approaches the level of trade with the USA. (Apologies for the graphic, but you can see USA, PRC, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong clearly, I hope.)
Source:  Foreign Trade Statistics of the Philippines: 2012
The PRC is laying claim to air space far from their shores.It is a threat to the PI.They lack the naval and air resources to counter the threat,hence a likely a permanent return to Subic for the USN.
The PLA's many apparent weaknesses are pointed out in this article below. Writer Ian Easton still concludes the PLA is still very much a "party army" rather than a professional military, which seems to contradict what other experts like David Shambaugh said about the PLA's move toward professionalism starting in Deng's time, and political officers/commissars de-emphasizing their political work and focusing on other troops' practical needs such as the provision of housing, IIRC.

And Easton should at least get more of his facts straight. The last time the PLA saw combat was during the 1979 Chinese invasion of Vietnam, which saw 42,000 casualties. on the Chinese side and 26,000 casualties on the Vietnamese side.

The Diplomat

China’s Deceptively Weak (and Dangerous) Military
By Ian Easton

In many ways, the PLA is weaker than it looks – and more dangerous.

In April 2003, the Chinese Navy decided to put a large group of its best submarine talent on the same boat as part of an experiment to synergize its naval elite. The result? Within hours of leaving port, the Type 035 Ming III class submarine sank with all hands lost. Never having fully recovered from this maritime disaster, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is still the only permanent member of the United Nations Security Council never to have conducted an operational patrol with a nuclear missile submarine.

China is also the only member of the UN’s “Big Five” never to have built and operated an aircraft carrier. While it launched a refurbished Ukrainian built carrier amidst much fanfare in September 2012 – then-President Hu Jintao and all the top brass showed up – soon afterward the big ship had to return to the docks for extensive overhauls because of suspected engine failure; not the most auspicious of starts for China’s fledgling “blue water” navy, and not the least example of a modernizing military that has yet to master last century’s technology.

Indeed, today the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) still conducts long-distance maneuver training at speeds measured by how fast the next available cargo train can transport its tanks and guns forward. And if mobilizing and moving armies around on railway tracks sounds a bit antiquated in an era of global airlift, it should – that was how it was done in the First World War.

Not to be outdone by the conventional army, China’s powerful strategic rocket troops, the Second Artillery Force, still uses cavalry units to patrol its sprawling missile bases deep within China’s vast interior. Why? Because it doesn’t have any helicopters. Equally scarce in China are modern fixed-wing military aircraft. So the Air Force continues to use a 1950s Soviet designed airframe, the Tupolev Tu-16, as a bomber (its original intended mission), a battlefield reconnaissance aircraft, an electronic warfare aircraft, a target spotting aircraft, and an aerial refueling tanker. Likewise, the PLA uses the Soviet designed Antonov An-12 military cargo aircraft for ELINT (electronic intelligence) missions, ASW (anti-submarine warfare) missions, geological survey missions, and airborne early warning missions. It also has an An-12 variant specially modified for transporting livestock, allowing sheep and goats access to remote seasonal pastures.

But if China’s lack of decent hardware is somewhat surprising given all the hype surrounding Beijing’s massive military modernization program, the state of “software” (military training and readiness) is truly astounding.
At one military exercise in the summer of 2012, a strategic PLA unit, stressed out by the hard work of handling warheads in an underground bunker complex, actually had to take time out of a 15-day wartime simulation for movie nights and karaoke parties. In fact, by day nine of the exercise, a “cultural performance troupe” (common PLA euphemism for song-and-dance girls) had to be brought into the otherwise sealed facility to entertain the homesick soldiers.

Apparently becoming suspicious that men might not have the emotional fortitude to hack it in high-pressure situations, an experimental all-female unit was then brought in for the 2013 iteration of the war games, held in May, for an abbreviated 72-hour trial run. Unfortunately for the PLA, the results were even worse. By the end of the second day of the exercise, the hardened tunnel facility’s psychological counseling office was overrun with patients, many reportedly too upset to eat and one even suffering with severe nausea because of the unpleasant conditions.

While recent years have witnessed a tremendous Chinese propaganda effort aimed at convincing the world that the PRC is a serious military player that is owed respect, outsiders often forget that China does not even have a professional military. The PLA, unlike the armed forces of the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other regional heavyweights, is by definition not a professional fighting force. Rather, it is a “party army,” the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Indeed, all career officers in the PLA are members of the CCP and all units at the company level and above have political officers assigned to enforce party control. Likewise, all important decisions in the PLA are made by Communist Party committees that are dominated by political officers, not by operators. This system ensures that the interests of the party’s civilian and military leaders are merged, and for this reason new Chinese soldiers entering into the PLA swear their allegiance to the CCP, not to the PRC constitution or the people of China.

This may be one reason why China’s marines (or “naval infantry” in PLA parlance) and other  amphibious warfare units train by landing on big white sandy beaches that look nothing like the west coast of Taiwan (or for that matter anyplace else they could conceivably be sent in the East China Sea or South China Sea). It could also be why PLA Air Force pilots still typically get less than ten hours of flight time a month (well below regional standards), and only in 2012 began to have the ability to submit their own flight plans (previously, overbearing staff officers assigned pilots their flight plans and would not even allow them to taxi and take-off on the runways by themselves).

Intense and realistic training is dangerous business, and the American maxim that the more you bleed during training the less you bleed during combat doesn’t translate well in a Leninist military system. Just the opposite. China’s military is intentionally organized to bureaucratically enforce risk-averse behavior, because an army that spends too much time training is an army that is not engaging in enough political indoctrination. Beijing’s worst nightmare is that the PLA could one day forget that its number one mission is protecting the Communist Party’s civilian leaders against all its enemies – especially when the CCP’s “enemies” are domestic student or religious groups campaigning for democratic rights, as happened in 1989 and 1999, respectively.

For that reason, the PLA has to engage in constant “political work” at the expense of training for combat.
This means that 30 to 40 percent of an officer’s career (or roughly 15 hours per 40-hour work week) is wasted studying CCP propaganda, singing patriotic songs, and conducting small group discussions on Marxist-Leninist theory. And when PLA officers do train, it is almost always a cautious affair that rarely involves risky (i.e., realistic) training scenarios.

Abraham Lincoln once observed that if he had six hours to chop down a tree he would spend the first four hours sharpening his axe. Clearly the PLA is not sharpening its proverbial axe. Nor can it. Rather, it has opted to invest in a bigger axe, albeit one that is still dull. Ironically, this undermines Beijing’s own aspirations for building a truly powerful 21st century military.

Yet none of this should be comforting to China’s potential military adversaries. It is precisely China’s military weakness that makes it so dangerous. Take the PLA’s lack of combat experience, for example. A few minor border scraps aside, the PLA hasn’t seen real combat since the Korean War. This appears to be a major factor leading it to act so brazenly in the East and South China Seas. Indeed, China’s navy now appears to be itching for a fight anywhere it can find one. Experienced combat veterans almost never act this way. Indeed, history shows that military commanders that have gone to war are significantly less hawkish than their inexperienced counterparts. Lacking the somber wisdom that comes from combat experience, today’s PLA is all hawk and no dove.

The Chinese military is dangerous in another way as well. Recognizing that it will never be able to compete with the U.S. and its allies using traditional methods of war fighting, the PLA has turned to unconventional “asymmetric” first-strike weapons and capabilities to make up for its lack of conventional firepower, professionalism and experience. These weapons include more than 1,600 offensive ballistic and cruise missiles, whose very nature is so strategically destabilizing that the U.S. and Russia decided to outlaw them with the INF Treaty some 25 years ago.

In concert with its strategic missile forces, China has also developed a broad array of space weapons designed to destroy satellites used to verify arms control treaties, provide military communications, and warn of enemy attacks. China has also built the world’s largest army of cyber warriors, and the planet’s second largest fleet of drones, to exploit areas where the U.S. and its allies are under-defended. All of these capabilities make it more likely that China could one day be tempted to start a war, and none come with any built in escalation control.

Yet while there is ample and growing evidence to suggest China could, through malice or mistake, start a devastating war in the Pacific, it is highly improbable that the PLA’s strategy could actually win a war. Take a Taiwan invasion scenario, which is the PLA’s top operational planning priority. While much hand-wringing has been done in recent years about the shifting military balance in the Taiwan Strait, so far no one has been able to explain how any invading PLA force would be able to cross over 100 nautical miles of exceedingly rough water and successfully land on the world’s most inhospitable beaches, let alone capture the capital and pacify the rest of the rugged island.

The PLA simply does not have enough transport ships to make the crossing, and those it does have are remarkably vulnerable to Taiwanese anti-ship cruise missiles, guided rockets, smart cluster munitions, mobile artillery and advanced sea mines – not to mention its elite corps of American-trained fighter and helicopter pilots. Even if some lucky PLA units could survive the trip (not at all a safe assumption), they would be rapidly overwhelmed by a small but professional Taiwan military that has been thinking about and preparing for this fight for decades.

Going forward it will be important for the U.S. and its allies to recognize that China’s military is in many ways much weaker than it looks. However, it is also growing more capable of inflicting destruction on its enemies through the use of first-strike weapons. To mitigate the destabilizing effects of the PLA’s strategy, the U.S. and its allies should try harder to maintain their current (if eroding) leads in military hardware. But more importantly, they must continue investing in the training that makes them true professionals. While manpower numbers are likely to come down in the years ahead due to defense budget cuts, regional democracies will have less to fear from China’s weak but dangerous military if their axes stay sharp.

Ian Easton is a research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute in Arlington, VA. He was also a recent visiting fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo. Previously, he was a China analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses.
I think the PLA is trying to move from a party army to a professional one, but, as with almost anything in China, it is a slow, cumbersome process because the bureaucracies ~ party, military, governmental ~ are all opaque and are often at odds one with the others. I think the naval, air and strategic missile arms took the lead while the army, per se is following along.

That's an outsider's perspective.
Not surprising considering past forays by the PLA-N to the Somalia coast for antipiracy patrols and past port calls to Pakistan, etc.

AP via Yahoo News

China's navy holds Indian Ocean drills

BEIJING (AP) — A three-ship Chinese navy squadron has concluded exercises in the Indian Ocean and sailed on to the western Pacific, showing off the growing reach of the country's seagoing forces at a time of sharpening territorial disputes in regional waters.

State broadcaster CCTV said Tuesday that the squadron includes China's largest amphibious landing ship, the Changbaishan, along with a pair of destroyers. It said they reached the Indian Ocean on Jan. 29 and carried out a series of drills on the themes of counter-piracy, search and rescue, and damage control.

Although not directly targeted at India, the exercises underscore China's competition with the other Asian giant. India and China have clashed over their disputed Himalayan border and Beijing is a close ally of New Delhi's arch-rival Pakistan.

CCTV said the squadron passed through the Lombok Strait near the Indonesian island of Bali before heading north toward the Philippines. It is expected to return home through the South China Sea where Beijing is in a heated dispute with the Philippines and others over tiny islands, rich fishing grounds and a potential wealth of oil and other resources. China is also in a separate dispute with Japan over tiny uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that Tokyo controls but Beijing claims.

First: I think the Asia Defence Spending topic deserves to stand alone, but it does provide a lead in to the China thread.

MCG said:
The title suggests China may be taking a lead in global military spending, but that conclusion requires one to not consider the US.Supporting charts and graphics with the article here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-26054545

I think China is making a strategic blunder.

Defence spending on this order, at the rates at which China's defence budget continues to grow, in a shrinking economy cannot and should not be sustained.

Some will argue that, as a percentage of GDP, China is still on safe ground at 2%. I would argue that:

    1. China's official GDP is overstated; and

    2. China's defence budget is, almost certainly, understated.

My guess is that China's GDP is still growing, but it is growing at a slower and slower rate ~ maybe, just a wild arsed guess, at about 5%. I doubt it will ever see 8% growth again.

Why not?

Because China is moving from being a developing economy to being a mature, balanced, economy. It's not there yet but that is its trajectory. Mature economies grow at 4% in the very good years, 3% in the average years and, like Canada and the USA, at 1-2% in the not so good years. 

China can - as Canada could - afford to spend 2% of its real, honestly stated GDP on defence. But 3% or 4% is too much, I think, when that money could be spent productively (remember, please, that I believe that all defence spending is unproductive, at best, sometimes it is even counterproductive) on programmes that aim to stimulate domestic consumer demand.

What about defence spending of 4.5% of GDP in a shrinking economy? Well, that discussion belongs in another thread.
When it comes to China-Taiwan relations, it now seems waishengren, pro-reunification President Ma has lost his charm among the pre-dominantly benshengren population of Taiwan...

Yahoo News

China, Taiwan meet for highest-level talks, as Taiwanese swing away from pro-China president

By Christopher Bodeen And Peter Enav, The Associated Press

NANJING, China - Taiwan and China are holding their highest-level talks since splitting amid a civil war 65 years ago, hoping to further boost contacts and ease lingering tensions, even as political developments on the self-governing island swing away from Beijing's goal of eventual unification.

Tuesday's discussions in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing constitute the highest-level interaction between government officials of the two sides since the 1949 division — apparently a concession from Beijing which otherwise refuses to formally acknowledge Taiwan's government.

No official agenda has been released, but Taiwan's lead negotiator Wang Yu-chi says he hopes to discuss setting up of permanent representative offices on each other's territory and will push for greater Taiwanese representation in international organizations.

China is adamant that Taiwan is part of its territory and must accept its political authority, threatening to attack the island if it declares formal independence or delays unification indefinitely. It's backed up that caveat with a military buildup aimed at fending off any intervention by the U.S., which is legally bound to ensure the island's security.

Despite that threat, the talks are an outgrowth of China's less-confrontational approach toward Taiwan embraced a decade ago by former president and ruling Communist Party leader Hu Jintao. Previous efforts to intimidate the island democracy — with missile firings and military exercises in 1995-1996 — or to influence its internal politics succeeded only in further alienating the electorate.

Chinese President Xi Jinping appears to have embraced Hu's approach, although there are indications he is eager to see progress on the political front, in addition to grappling with economic and cultural issues already largely dealt with.

"We cannot hand these problems down from generation to generation," Xi told a top Taiwanese envoy at an international gathering in Indonesia last year.

China may feel some urgency because of local elections in Taiwan this year that could swing momentum away from the Nationalist Party of deeply unpopular pro-China President Ma Ying-jeou ahead of the next presidential election in 2016.

Beijing is also seen as frustrated that generous economic incentives offered to the island have failed to sway the public there in a more pro-unification direction.

Trade between the sides has doubled since 2008 — the year Ma was elected — to $197.2 billion last year. Taiwan also enjoys a $116 billion trade surplus with China, one of the few countries or regions that can boast that. Taiwanese companies have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in the mainland, with companies such as Foxconn employing millions of workers making iPhones, Playstations and other popular goods.

Taiwan has also benefited heavily from an opening to Chinese tourists.

Yet, Taiwanese opposition to unification has only seemed to harden, with about 80 per cent supporting the status-quo of de-facto independence and just a sliver backing unification outright.

China now seems to hope that it can draw Taipei further into its orbit by taking on political issues, albeit in a non-threatening way.

One practical step toward that would be the exchange of offices of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait. These nominally private groups would act like de-facto consulates-general, facilitating communications and offering services to visitors.

Beijing wants Taiwan to ratify a trade services agreement — stuck in Taiwan's legislature — to open a wide range of businesses across the Taiwan Strait.

The talks will be chaired by official representatives, rather than the quasi-governmental envoys normally involved in the negotiations. That appears to represent a modest Chinese concession on the sensitive sovereignty issue to help shore up Ma's standing with the Taiwanese public.

Talks will be headed by Wang, head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, and his counterpart, Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office.

Rand Corp. China analyst Scott Harold believes China will try to make as much Taiwan headway as it can while Ma remains in office, while also taking steps to improve ties with potential successors.

"I would expect that China will want to make steps toward further locking in Taiwan this year before the island gets swept up in election fever and Ma becomes even more of a lame duck next year," Harold said.


Enav reported from Taipei.
A maritime Silk Road?

China’s vision for a maritime silk road updates and clarifies its interest in the “string of pearls.”


The “maritime silk road” is an attempt at re-branding for China. Now that the concept has been officially extended as far west as Sri Lanka, its connection to the “string of pearls” is obvious. China has never officially used the term “string of pearls,” which originated in a 2005 U.S. study by defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Accordingly, China has somewhat lost control of the messaging. The “string of pearls” concept is often viewed a military initiative, with the aim of providing China’s navy access to a series of ports stretching from the South China Sea to the Arabian Sea. This has caused some consternation, particularly in India, which sees itself as being encircled.

The new terminology of a “maritime silk road” allows China to discuss its strategy of investing in maritime infrastructure in ASEAN and further west. Even more interesting, the extension of the “maritime silk road” admits the existence of such a strategy, and gives China a way of clarifying its strategic goals.


Of course, in a way this is exactly what worries observers about the “string of pearls.” China’s idea of mitigating security concerns over territorial disputes in the South China Sea might be different than what its rivals, including Vietnam and the Philippines, have in mind. Even if the “maritime silk road” is an exclusively economic strategy, it still would have obvious strategic implications. For one thing, China has proven it’s not shy about using economic coercion to pursue its interests, making any economic investment a potential weapon. For another, as many have pointed out, China largely relies on paramilitary or civilian vessels to stake its claim to disputed maritime regions. Under this strategy, China doesn’t need to send its navy to the newly constructed ports to exert increased control over the regional shipping lanes. A blurred distinction between civilian and military vessels also smudges the line between a military-based “string of pearls” and a trade-based “maritime silk road.”

source: thediplomat.com
Seems it was only matter of time before the PLA increased its presence in Hong Kong with developments like this...

But in Central? I would have expected them to further develop the former site of the British Royal Navy base at HMS Tamar.

Hopefully PLA off-duty personnel won't get into scuffles with the foreign expats who frequent Lan Kwai Fong or Causeway Bay. 

Defense News

Report: China Military Port Gets Key Hong Kong Go-Ahead
Feb. 16, 2014 - 11:12AM 

BEIJING — Hong Kong has taken a key step towards approving the construction of a Chinese military port along its waterfront, China’s state media reported Saturday, despite fierce public opposition to the move.

In a unanimous decision, Hong Kong’s Town Planning Board Friday gave the green light for the construction of a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military port in the city’s Central District, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said.

More anti-Japanese sentiment rises to the surface in China as the trade numbers say another part of the story...

The Chinese And Japanese Economies Are Delinking: Prelude To Conflict?


Observers used to say that deep-seated disagreements in the region did not matter, that there could be “cold politics and hot economics.”  Today, analysts are not so sure.  Jitters are now accompanying—and undoubtedly contributing to—a delinking of Asia’s two largest economies, China’s and Japan’s.

In 2013, trade volume between China and Japan dropped 5.1% from the year before.  That followed a 3.9% fall in 2012.  To put these figures into context, China’s total trade was up 6.2% in 2012 and 7.6% last year while Japan’s volume increased 1.0% in 2012 but was down 7.8% in 2013.

Japanese sources attributed the drop in China-Japan trade to “the lingering effects of the Senkaku Islands territorial row”—Japan administers those barren outcroppings as its own while Beijing claims them as well—and a Chinese consumer boycott of Japanese goods.  Chinese state media agrees that trade has been adversely affected by geopolitical disagreements and blames Shinzo Abe.  Anti-Japan riots in Chinese cities, discriminatory official treatment of Japanese multinationals, and detention of Japanese businessmen in China have not helped.

(...)- SNIPPED-

S.M.A. said:
Seems it was only matter of time before the PLA increased its presence in Hong Kong with developments like this...

But in Central? I would have expected them to further develop the former site of the British Royal Navy base at HMS Tamar.

Hopefully PLA off-duty personnel won't get into scuffles with the foreign expats who frequent Lan Kwai Fong or Causeway Bay. 

Defense News

Actually, if you could see where Tamar is in relation to Central, it's like a few blocks away...as a matter of fact, across the street...and I think PLA stationed in HK cannot leave the base even when off duty...they are allowed like 1 or 2 days prior to posting out to sightsee, but other wise Cb'ed for their 2 or 3 year posting.
A trend described below which will start to decline in Canada when our own investor immigrant visa program was just ended by the current government.

Take note that this trend is not only present with immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, but also from upper classes of other Asian nations, namely Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

While I disagree with the ending of this policy because this was how my family immigrated here 7 years ago, the policymakers in Ottawa probably ended it more because of the relatively low taxes paid by many in the investor immigrant category. This is partially due to the fact that many of these investor immigrant parents simply came to buy houses at certain neighborhoods, such as in Richmond, BC and Mississagua, ON, deposit their children here to eventually become citizens, and left to continue their own businesses/work in their home country.

However, a similar program was instituted in the US which should increase this trend described below. I believe the UK, Australia and NZ have similar programs.

*article links embedded in underscored key words.

Defense Industry Daily

What Migration Says About China

For the last few years China’s millionaires have been increasingly voting with their feet to flee pollution and corruption, boosting real estate prices from the US and Canada’s west coasts to Australia and beyond. Some Chinese are also voting with their wombs by electing to give birth in the US so their children have American citizenship, which turns quite controversial in the case of Chai Jing, a popular anchor on state-owned CCTV.

When many of the people who can do so seem to be setting up a plan B in Western countries, something has got to give. Chinese authorities recently announced they would reform by 2020 the hukou household registration system which restricts free relocation within the country. Yet that will be a tall order short of recognizing proper private property rights.

h\Here is some more speculation, this time reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Financial Times, about Chinese preparations for  “'short, sharp war' against Japan in the East China Sea:"


China training for ‘short, sharp war’, says senior US naval officer

By Geoff Dyer in Washington

February 20, 2014

China has been training for a “short, sharp war” against Japan in the East China Sea, a senior US military officer has claimed, in comments that underline the growing military tensions in the western Pacific.

Captain James Fanell, director of intelligence for the US Pacific Fleet, said that a large-scale Chinese military exercise conducted in 2013 was designed to prepare forces for an operation to seize disputed islands in the East China Sea, which Japan calls the Senkaku and China the Diaoyu islands.

“We witnessed the massive amphibious and cross military region enterprise – Mission Action 2013,” Capt Fanell said at a navy conference last week in San Diego.

“We concluded that the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] has been given the new task of being able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be an expected seizure of the Senkakus,” he added.


Conducting a training exercise is very different from having an actual plan to seize the islands. For years, the Chinese military has staged exercises designed to mimic a possible invasion of Taiwan.

However, the comments about China’s military training plans come at a time of considerable tension surrounding the contested islands. The regular presence of both Chinese and Japanese vessels and aircraft in the region has raised the risk of an accident that could spark a wider confrontation.

In December, China declared an air defence zone for the East China Sea, which the US and many other countries in the region interpreted as an attempt to cement its sovereignty claim over the disputed islands.
Although Capt Fanell’s remarks were unusually blunt in their assessment of China’s intentions, they represent a growing tide of anxiety from senior US officials about Beijing’s ambitions in both the East China Sea and South China Sea.

Earlier in February, Danny Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia, warned “there are growing concerns that this pattern of behaviour in the South China Sea reflects incremental effort by China to assert control over the area”. He said that China’s recent actions had “created uncertainty, insecurity and instability in the region”.

Capt Fanell said that Chinese maritime training had shifted in character in the second half of 2013 to prepare for “realistic maritime combat” that its navy might encounter. Last year, it conducted nine operations in the western Pacific that were designed to “practise striking naval targets”.

“I do not know how Chinese intentions could be more transparent,” he said. When Beijing described its activities as the “protection of maritime rights”, this was really “a Chinese euphemism for the coerced seizure of coastal rights of China’s neighbours”, Capt Fanell said.

At the same conference last year, Capt Fanell issued another sharp assessment of China’s naval ambitions. The country’s “expansion into the blue waters are largely about countering the US Pacific fleet”, he said. “The PLA Navy is going to sea to learn how to do naval warfare . . . Make no mistake: the PRC navy is focused on war at sea, and sinking an opposing fleet.”

Although there is growing concern among US military officers and diplomats about what they believe to be China’s increasingly assertive behaviour, the US Navy is also placing considerable emphasis on trying to forge a better working relationship with China’s navy.

“We have got to find the common ground and figure out how we are going to operate in this big ocean of the western Pacific together without incident or miscalculation,” Rear Admiral James Foggo, assistant deputy chief of naval operations, told the same conference. He described his interactions with Wu Shengli, commander of the Chinese navy, as “the greatest and most challenging chess match of my career”.

I have been worried, mostly, about an accidental short, sharp war ~ a battle, really, in which one antagonist fires on the the other without authorization from the political high command; but this 'short, sharp war' scenario also makes some sense. It can be disguised and explained away, with appropriate apologies and payments, as an 'accident' but, at the end of the affair, China still has the islands.  :dunno:
Japan courting its former territory of Taiwan...

To think that any native Taiwanese/benshengren who is 80 years old or older, such as former Taiwanese President Lee-Tung Hui, can actually speak Japanese since they grew up in a time when Taiwan was a Japanese colony from 1895-1945.

Rumors of a Japanese Taiwan Relations Act hint at a possible strategy to court Taipei at Beijing’s expense.

February 20, 2014


The 2014 vision for Japan’s own “Taiwan Relations Act” is more focused on economics, which accords with the domestic political needs of both Shinzo Abe and Ma Ying-jeou to shake off sluggish economic growth.
According to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan is Japan’s fifth-largest trading partner, and Japan is second only to China as Taiwan’s largest trading partner. Deepening economic cooperation would be beneficial for both—and could also have political benefits. Highlighting Japan-Taiwan cooperation serves as a pointed counter-narrative to worsening China-Japan ties.


Notably, Japan and Taiwan have also worked together to lessen tensions over the disputed Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands. Like mainland China, Taiwan’s government claims sovereignty over the islands. In April of last year, Taiwan and Japan came to a compromise in the form of a fisheries agreement that will allow Taiwanese fishing boats access to waters near the disputed islands. Under the agreement, both sides shelved the territorial dispute and will cooperate to access fishing resources in the area—exactly the same sort of solution some experts have recommended for handling China and Japan’s dispute.
The controversy of China possibly setting up an ADIZ over the South China continues.

This controversy may heat up further as the Philippines, one of China's weaker neighbours, finally acquires new jet fighters with the acquisition of 12 F/A-50 fighters from South Korea.

PLA Officer: China Must Establish South China Sea ADIZ

China’s People’s Liberation Army said that establishing an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is essential to China’s national interest.

“The establishment of another ADIZ over the South China Sea is necessary for China’s long-term national interest,” Senior Colonel Li Jie, a researcher at the PLA Navy’s Military Academy and frequent media commentator, said on Friday, according to a report in Reuters.


Link: The Diplomat
Again with the South China Sea...

Even though the Philippines is getting 12 new fighters from South Korea and its 2 "new" frigates which are rejuvenated ex-USCG Hamilton class cutters, I'm not sure if these forces will be enough to counter what the PLA can throw at them...


Manila says it will respond militarily if China uses force against Filipinos around disputed island

By Raul Dancel, Philippines Correspondent In Manila

The Philippines said on Monday it would respond militarily if China uses force to drive away Filipinos fishing in waters around a disputed island in the South China Sea.

General Emmanuel Bautista, head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), issued this warning as a response to reports that ships from China's Coast Guard drove away Filipinos fishing in areas around Scarborough Shoal using water cannons on Jan 27.


More on Straits Times 
China "taunts" outgoing US Ambassador Gary Locke. Ironically, Locke is also an American of Chinese descent.

NY TIMES Sinosphere blogs

A Parting Shot at U.S. Ambassador, Inspired by Mao



“Farewell, Gary Locke’’ departs from the almost wonkish critique of United States foreign policy offered up by Mao, opting instead for an extended comparison of Mr. Locke, a Chinese-American, to a banana.

“Gary Locke is a U.S.-born, third-generation Chinese-American, and his being a banana — ‘yellow skin and white heart’ — became an advantage for Obama’s foreign policy,’’ opened the commentary, written by a person identified as Wang Ping. (Many Asian-Americans consider “banana” an offensive term.)

“However,” the commentary continued, “after a while, a banana will inevitably start to rot.’’

Wang Ping also took aim at Mr. Locke’s portrayal as a humble person who carried his own bag and flew economy class. Such gestures, which the commentary cast as insincere, were broadcast widely on China’s social media when Mr. Locke first arrived in Beijing in 2011 and won him admiration from many Chinese, who couldn’t imagine their own officials abandoning their privileges.

“When Gary Locke arrived, the skies in Beijing became hazy,’’ the commentary said. “When he left, the skies suddenly became blue.’

(These blue skies?)

The Guardian


Chinese scientists have warned that the country's toxic air pollution is now so bad that it resembles a nuclear winter, slowing photosynthesis in plants – and potentially wreaking havoc on the country's food supply.

Beijing and broad swaths of six northern provinces have spent the past week blanketed in a dense pea-soup smog that is not expected to abate until Thursday. Beijing's concentration of PM 2.5 particles – those small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream – hit 505 micrograms per cubic metre on Tuesday night. The World Health Organisation recommends a safe level of 25.
A terrorist attack in Kunmng according to his article which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail:


At least 28 dead in 'terror' attack at Chinese train station

BEIJING — Reuters

Published Saturday, Mar. 01 2014

At least 28 people were killed by knife-wielding attackers in a “violent terrorist attack” at a train station in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, and police shot dead five of the assailants, state media said on Sunday.

Another 113 people were wounded, the official Xinhua news agency said, revising down an earlier higher figure. It said the attack had taken place late on Saturday evening.

“It was an organised, premeditated violent terrorist attack,” Xinhua said.

Police shot dead five of the unidentified attackers and were searching for around five others, it said.

Kunming resident Yang Haifei told Xinhua that he was buying a ticket when he saw a group of people, mostly wearing black, rush into the station and start attacking bystanders.

“I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone,” he said, adding that the attackers caught those who were slower. “They just fell on the ground.”

Graphic pictures on the Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo showed bodies covered in blood lying on the ground at the station.

There was no immediate word on who was responsible.

Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered no effort be spared to track down those behind the attack.

“Severely punish in accordance with the law the violent terrorists and resolutely crack down on those who have been swollen with arrogance,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.

“Understand the serious and complex nation of combating terrorism,” Xi said. “Go all out to maintain social stability.”

Domestic security chief Meng Jianzhu was on his way to the scene, Xinhua said.

Weibo users took to the service to describe details of what happened, though many of those posts were quickly deleted by government censors, especially those that described the attackers, two of whom were identified by some as women.

Others condemned the attack.

“No matter who, for whatever reason, or of what race, chose somewhere so crowded as a train station, and made innocent people their target - they are evil and they should go to hell,” wrote one user.

The attack comes at a sensitive time as China gears up for the annual meeting of parliament, which opens in Beijing on Wednesday and is normally accompanied by a tightening of security across the country.

China has blamed similar incidents in the past on Islamist militants operating in the restive far western region of Xinjiang, though such attacks have generally been limited to Xinjiang itself.

China says its first major suicide attack, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October, involved militants from Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people, many of whom chafe at Chinese restrictions on their culture and religion.

Hu Xijin, editor of the influential Global Times newspaper, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, wrote on his Weibo feed that the government should say who it suspected of the attack as soon as possible.

“If it was Xinjiang separatists, it needs to be announced promptly, as hearsay should not be allowed to fill the vacuum,” Hu wrote.

I assume the Globe's headline writers put 'terror' in quotes because the exact source of the attack is undetermined. Or maybe they just believe that terrorist don't exist in big, bad China. But, in my very, very limited experience nobody but terrorists attack in packs of ten or so and kill people by the dozen. It it walks like a duck, etc.

I am a little skeptical that Uighur separatists did conduct yesterday's mass attack in a place as far away as Kunming in Yunnan province/Southwest China, in spite of what the Chinese media says.

After all, we never heard of any foreign media independently verifying that it was Uighur separatists who made the other attacks attributed to them in Beijing, if I can recall correctly.

As for more genuine dissent in China...Hong Kong takes centre stage again.

From Agence France Presse via Singapore's Channel News Asia

Thousands rally in HK vs threats to press freedom after brutal attack on editor
By:  Agence France-Presse
March 2, 2014 6:20 PM

HONG KONG - Thousands took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against threats to press freedom in the city, days after a former newspaper editor was attacked with a cleaver in broad daylight.

Kevin Lau, former editor of the investigative Ming Pao newspaper, was left in a critical condition after Wednesday's brutal attack, seen as highlighting warnings from international watchdogs that the city's media independence is in jeopardy as Beijing seeks tighter control.

Organisers said that 13,000 people including journalists, activists and lawmakers marched in the swiftly organised rally, although police put the turnout lower at 8,600.

Protesters dressed in black waved banners declaring "They can't kill us all" as they condemned the vicious assault on Lau, urging police to solve the case quickly and saying journalists would not be swayed by violence.

"We need to tell the evil power that your knife is not going to deter us," Sham Yee-lan, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association told reporters outside the government headquarters, before marching to the city's police department to deliver a petition with 30,000 signatures.

Ronan Chan, a 21-year-old journalism student, told AFP: "I still want to be a journalist. I won't be affected by the incident... A place without freedom of speech is not a civilized society."

(...)- EDITED