Posts Tagged ‘China’s military’

White House threatens Beijing with ‘consequences’ for ‘militarising South China Sea’

May 4, 2018

Beijing has evaded questions about whether it has installed the missiles on islands over the last 30 days, but the White House is adamant about ‘near-term and long-term consequences’

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 May, 2018, 4:44am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 May, 2018, 4:44am

The White House said on Thursday it was prepared to take measures against China’s stationing of military equipment on islands in the South China Sea, as Beijing evaded questions on whether it had installed new missiles on outposts also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines.

“We’re well aware of China’s militarisation of the South China Sea. We’ve raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this, and there will be near-term and long-term consequences,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

US network CNBC reported on Wednesday that the Chinese military installed anti-ship and air-to-air defences on the islands over the last 30 days, citing sources close to US intelligence.

If the information is verified, it could provoke renewed tensions between countries bordering the strategically vital maritime region.

At a regular briefing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying neither confirmed nor denied the deployment.

“China’s peaceful construction in the Spratly archipelago, including the deployment of necessary national defence facilities, is aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty and security,” she said. “Those who don’t intend to violate [this sovereignty] have no reason to worry.”

The South China Sea issue has been brewing for years, with China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam making competing claims in waters with vital global shipping routes and what are believed to be significant oil and natural gas deposits.

In addition to land-reclamation efforts on reefs it controls and building civilian facilities there, China also has air bases, radar and communications systems, naval facilities and defensive weaponry in place including landing strips able to accommodate military planes.

 HQ-9B long-range surface-to-air missiles are seen in this May 3 photograph. Photo: handout

The new Chinese missiles were reportedly deployed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, according to CNBC.

They are all in the Spratly archipelago located in waters south of mainland China between Vietnam and the Philippines.

Beijing’s territorial claims, based on its own historical records, have also pitted it against the United States.

While Washington takes no position on the sovereignty claims, it has raised concerns that Beijing is “militarising” the South China Sea, leading to Thursday’s warning of “consequences”.

The US Navy itself frequently sends warships and aircraft carriers to patrol the area.

 YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missiles are seen on May 3. Photo: handout

“China has to realise that they’ve benefited from the free navigation of the sea, and the US Navy has been the guarantor of that,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

“We will continue to do our operations.”

China’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has previously stressed that the islands were “part of Chinese territory” and that it was up to China alone to decide what it does there.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2144600/white-house-threatens-beijing-consequences-militarising

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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Beijing ‘installs missiles’ on South China Sea islands

May 3, 2018

Beijing Thursday reasserted its right to build “defence” facilities in the disputed South China Sea, but declined to confirm reports it had installed new missiles on artificial islands it has built in the region.

© AFP/File | China has reportedly installed missiles on Subi Reef and other outposts in the disputed Spratly Islands

AFP

The Chinese army installed anti-ship and air-to-air defences on outposts also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines over the last 30 days, US network CNBC reported Wednesday, citing sources close to US intelligence.

If the information is verified, it could provoke renewed tensions between countries bordering the strategically vital maritime region.

At a regular briefing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying neither confirmed nor denied the deployment.

“China’s peaceful construction in the Spratly archipelago, including the deployment of necessary national defence facilities, is aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty and security,” she said.

“Those who don’t intend to violate (this sovereignty) have no reason to worry,” she said.

The South China Sea issue has been brewing for years, with China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam making competing claims in waters with vital global shipping routes and what are believed to be significant oil and natural gas deposits.

In addition to land-reclamation efforts on reefs it controls and building civilian facilities there, China also has air bases, radar and communications systems, naval facilities and defensive weaponry in place including landing strips able to accommodate military planes.

The new Chinese missiles were reportedly deployed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, according to CNBC.

They are all in the Spratly archipelago located in waters south of mainland China between Vietnam and the Philippines.

Beijing’s territorial claims, based on its own historical records, have also pitted it against the United States.

While Washington takes no position on the sovereignty claims, it has raised concerns that Beijing is “militarising” the South China Sea.

But the US Navy itself frequently sends warships and aircraft carriers to patrol the area.

China’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has previously stressed that the islands were “part of Chinese territory” and that it was up to China alone to decide what it does there.

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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South China Sea: China’s missile system on Philippine-claimed reefs a step closer to airspace control

May 3, 2018

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In this April 21, 2017, file photo, Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130.

CSIS AMTI via DigitalGlobe, File

 

China’s missile system on Philippine-claimed reefs a step closer to airspace control

Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – May 3, 2018 – 11:15am

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing has quietly moved forward to dominating airspace control over the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea as it deploys missile systems on its “big three” islands, a report confirmed.

CNBC reported that China quietly deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands.

These three features in the Spratly Islands are also being claimed by Manila.

The missile systems were placed on China’s military outposts in the past 30 days, a source told CNBC.

The installment of the missile weapons comes after China deployed military jamming equipment on Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef.

RELATED: China erects marker on Fiery Cross Reef

According to the report, the Chinese YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missile can strike surface vessels within 295 nautical miles of the artificial islands.

Meanwhile, the HQ-9B long-range surface-to-air missile has the capability to target aircraft, drones and cruise missiles within 160 nautical miles.

CNBC also reported that the missile systems were also spotted on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands.

Euan Graham, international security director at Lowy Institute, warned that Beijing may soon deploy combat aircraft in the region.

“Next come [surface-to-air missiles], then combat aircraft are only a matter of time,” Graham said on Twitter.

Graham warned that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force may deploy jets to the Spratlys later this year.

“Ultimately, the PLA has a plan to use the Spratlys for their custom-built purpose – to extend the envelope of China’s air and seapower throughout the South China Sea. The only debatable issue there is sooner, or later,” Graham told Philstar.com in a prior interview.

Last month, China reportedly deployed transport military planes on Mischief Reef, which shows a steady pattern of escalation in the region.

Landing a transport military plane on one feature would not cross a threshold of militarization in the Spratlys but fighter jets would, RAND Senior Policy Analyst Lyle Morris earlier said on Twitter.

“Because of the dual-use nature of military transport aircraft, the move does not cross an unambiguous threshold of offensive militarization of Chinese-occupied features in the Spratlys the same way that fighter jets would, for example,” Morris told Philstar.com.

Defending its actions in the South China Sea, Beijing had claimed “natural rights” to deploy troops and weapons in the Spratlys.

“It is the natural right of a sovereign state for China to station troops and deploy necessary territory defense facilities on the relevant islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands,” the Chinese Ministry of Defense said.

RELATED: Experts: No break of precedent in Chinese deployment of planes in Mischief Reef

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/05/03/1811793/chinas-missile-system-philippine-claimed-reefs-step-closer-airspace-control#GHmmpqXrAfdt23kI.99

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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Modi’s Right. Standing Up To China Militarily Won’t Work For India

May 2, 2018

If the next set of Google Earth images were to show fresh Chinese construction in the disputed Doklam plateau, there would be likely be front page headlines on “China renews construction in Doklam despite Modi-Xi talks in Wuhan.’ The fact of the matter, though, is that Doklam is probably a lost cause for New Delhi at this stage and the military de-escalation that Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi discussed at their informal summit last week in Wuhan is perhaps a recognition that the way to work with Beijing is through engagement, not confrontation.

By Vishnu Som

If there was one take-away from the summit in central China, it was the emphasis placed on “maintaining peace and tranquility” in all areas of the India-China border region for the overall growth of bilateral ties. The two leaders could have left it at that. Instead, they went beyond the rhetoric by breaking down how this is to happen. President Xi, the supreme commander of China’s armed forces, and Prime Minister Modi have ”issued strategic guidance to their respective militaries to strengthen communication in order to build trust and mutual.” Key to this is to develop an understanding of the operations of each other’s forces in sensitive areas in order to ”enhance predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs.” In simple terms, India and China do not want to encounter any fresh military surprises. Doklam may have happened. The goal is to ensure that there are no more such stand-offs. One key measure to build trust has been joint military training between the two armies. These were stopped after Doklam and it seems likely that its just a matter of time before these restart.

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China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning (C) takes part in a military drill of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the western Pacific Ocean, April 18, 2018. REUTERS

The new guidelines adopted in Wuhan are also meant to ensure that physical clashes between soldiers do not recur. In August last year, dozens of Indian and Chinese troops had clashed on the north bank of the Pangong lake in Ladakh. Fortunately, neither side resorted to opening fire, a frightening scenario that could easily have resulted in a violent escalation at a time when Sino-Indian relations were at their lowest ebb.

The Prime Minister’s willingness to de-escalate military tensions at Wuhan may be a hard reality for those who believe that India can militarily stand up to China. There are obvious signs that this may not be the case despite the shrill online rhetoric that suggests an unbeatable Indian military prowess. Today, China is building warships faster than any country , producing and deploying a host of indigenous fighter jets to bases including those in Tibet, refining its ability to strike aircraft carriers with ballistic missiles and working on the next phase of drone warfare by adopting world-beating technology. The greatest example of Chinese intent is in the South China Sea where Beijing ignored international opinion and American threats by constructing full-fledged military bases on shoals claimed by a host of Southeast Asian nations. It now appears that Beijing is attempting to grant legal sanction to its military presence in the South China Sea by publishing a “New Map of the People’s Republic of China.”

New Delhi is not oblivious to these developments. The Indian Navy is acutely aware of the movement of Chinese warships and submarines, some nuclear powered, through India’s areas of interest in the Indian Ocean. The Chinese base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa is not a ‘logistics hub’ but a full-fledged naval base meant to sustain operations in the region. Neither is China deploying its latest generation of Type-52D destroyers in the Indian Ocean on ‘anti-piracy’ missions against Somali fishermen as it claims. You do not use a fire-extinguisher to put out a cigarette butt. China sees itself as a world power and its presence in the Indian Ocean defines the geographical extent of its present strategic interests.

Last year, I asked Admiral Harry Harris, then the Commander of the US Pacific Forces, what stopped Beijing from sailing an aircraft carrier-led battle-group into the Indian Ocean. ”There’s nothing to prevent them from sailing in the Indian Ocean today” is what the Admiral told me. His words could be prophetic. Any day now, China will begin sea trials of its first indigenously built aircraft carrier, a 70,000-ton warship whose construction began in November 2013. By contrast, the keel of India’s Vikrant (named after India’s first aircraft carrier), was laid in February 2009, and though she was sailed out for the first time in in 2011, completion of the project may not take place before 2023.

So is it too late for India to maintain a robust military posture against China? That has less to do with the capability of the Indian Armed forces, some of the world’s best trained and most experienced, and more to do with India’s serpentine process to acquire new weaponry, a process that is clearly in shambles. In a briefing to the Prime Minister late last year, the Minister of State for Defence, Dr. Subhash Bhamre, said India’s weapons-buying is frequently crippled by “multiple and diffused structures with no single point accountability, multiple decision-heads, duplication of processes, delayed comments, delayed execution, no real-time monitoring, no project-based approach and a tendency to fault-find rather than to facilitate.”

Since then, the government has clearly speeded up the process of clearing some of the most basic defence tenders, deals which should have been contracted years ago. Now, after waiting for nearly a decade, 1.86 lakh bullet proof jackets, the basic life-saving kit of the Indian Army infantryman, were sanctioned in a 63- crore contract.

Similarly, the government has okayed light machine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles for the three services in contracts worth about 16,000 crores, besides giving its go ahead for more made-in-India Tejas fighters and artillery guns for the army.

For now though, the army, air force and navy will need to live with what they have. It often takes years for defence contracts to materialise into actual weapon systems deployed on the field. A case in point is the 58,000-crore deal for state-of-the-art Rafale fighters for the air force. Signed in September 2016, the first of the jets will join the air force next year and it will be several years before two squadrons of the fighters are fully operational.

Given this reality, air force, for its part, has put its best foot forward in conducting its Gagan Shakti exercises, the largest aerial exercises in decades. In exercises conducted earlier this month, the air force conducted a whopping 11,000 sorties. This included 9,000 sorties by its fighter aircraft in complex air combat exercises across India and out in the Indian Ocean. Though the exercises may have demonstrated that the ability of the air force to make do with its depleted assets, there are few in the air force who serious believe that if push came to shove, India would be able to sustain, let alone win, a two-front war against China and is ally Pakistan.

Till then, engaging with the dragon economically and politically isn’t just the wise option. It’s the only one.

(Vishnu Som is Defence Editor and senior anchor, NDTV 24×7)

https://www.ndtv.com/blog/why-what-modi-accomplished-in-wuhan-was-so-essential-for-india-1844911

U.S. air force says trains in vicinity of South China Sea

April 27, 2018

U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers have carried out training in the vicinity of the South China Sea and the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, the Air Force said on Friday, in what a Chinese newspaper linked to China’s drills near Taiwan.

The U.S. Air Force said the B-52s took off from Andersen Air Force Base on the U.S. Pacific island of Guam and “transited to the vicinity of the South China Sea” on Tuesday.

“The B-52Hs conducted training and then transited to the vicinity of Okinawa to conduct training with USAF F-15C Strike Eagles, before returning to Guam,” it said.

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File Photo

Reuters

“Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) missions are intended to maintain the readiness of U.S. forces. The U.S. Pacific Command’s CBP missions, which have been routinely employed since March 2004, are in accordance with international law.”

An Air Force spokeswoman said: “This was a routine mission”.

The exercise was reported in Taiwanese media this week, which speculated it could have been a warning from the United States to China following China’s stepped-up military presence around Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian was asked about the U.S. bombers at a news briefing on Thursday but would only say Chinese armed forces had the situation under control and would defend the country’s sovereignty, as always.

On Friday, the ministry referred Reuters to Wu’s previous statement, without elaborating.

China has been issuing increasingly strident warnings to Taiwan to toe the line and has been flying military aircraft around the island in what China calls “encirclement patrols”.

Beijing fears Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, wants to push for the island’s formal independence. Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo and peace with China.

The widely read Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times said in an editorial on Friday if the U.S. bombers were meant to send a message to Beijing about Taiwan it would not work.

“The U.S. cannot prevent the mainland exerting military pressure on Taiwan,” it said.

“Mainland military aircraft will fly closer and closer to Taiwan and in the end fly above the island,” the paper said.

“If the Taiwan authorities openly promote the ‘Taiwan independence’ policy and cut off all official contacts with the mainland, the mainland will deem Taiwan a hostile regime and has endless means to deal with it.”

Taiwan and the South China Sea are two major faultlines between Washington and Beijing.

China has been angered by U.S. “freedom of navigation” patrols in the disputed South China Sea, where China has reclaimed land for military bases, and by U.S. support for democratic Taiwan.

part of China’s military modernization, its new aircraft carrier could soon begin sea trials, according to images on Chinese news portals this week of the vessel leaving its dock in the northern city of Dalian.

On Friday, the government warned shipping to keep away from an area off Dalian for a week, for what it called military activities, but gave no further explanation.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait and Clarence Fernandez)

Helicopters hold live-fire drills in southeast China

April 19, 2018

AFP

Image may contain: nature

BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese combat helicopters conducted live-fire drills with missiles off the country’s southeast coast, state media said Thursday, without confirming whether the exercises took place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exercise took place Wednesday and involved various types of helicopters that tested “all-weather operational capability of the air force at sea,” the official Xinhua news agency said.

Image may contain: one or more people, airplane and outdoor

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of helicopters firing missiles at distant objects in the water.

The reports did not say exactly where the exercises took place, but they occurred on the same day that China conducted live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing had announced the Taiwan Strait drills last week, further ramping up tensions following stark warnings against any independence moves by the self-ruled island, which China sees as its sovereign territory.

Vessels had been ordered to avoid a certain area off the Chinese mainland’s coast, triggering speculation that a flotilla spearheaded by China’s sole aircraft carrier would take part in the exercise.

But Taiwan’s defence ministry said Wednesday that the drills only involved land-based artillery conducting “routine” shooting practice, accusing Beijing of exaggerating its plans as a form of “verbal intimidation and sabre-rattling”.

The drills coincided with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Swaziland, one of Taipei’s few remaining international allies.

Beijing has stepped up military patrols around Taiwan and used diplomatic pressure to isolate it internationally since Tsai took office.

China sees the democratically-governed island as a renegade part of its territory to be brought back into the fold and has not ruled out reunification by force.

Beijing has also been angered by Washington’s arms sales to Taipei, and China protested last month after President Donald Trump signed a bill allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan.

Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 but maintains trade relations with the island.

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China defends military buildup in disputed South China Sea

April 10, 2018

BY JESSE JOHNSON

STAFF WRITER

Japan Times
APR 10, 2018

Beijing defended its construction of what it called defensive facilities in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, saying the moves were not directed at any specific country, according to a Defense Ministry spokesman.

“China’s garrison on the islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands and the deployment of necessary national defense facilities are the natural rights of sovereign states,” spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement posted to the ministry’s website.

China refers to the South China Sea’s Spratly chain as the Nansha Islands. The Spratlys are home to seven Chinese-held man-made islands that it has fortified with deep-water piers, military-grade airfields, defensive weapons and barracks.

Ren said the facilities help protect navigation safety, “serve to ensure regional peace and stability and are not directed at any country.”

He was answering a question about whether China’s military deployments were a response to missions by the U.S. Navy to challenge Beijing’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei all have overlapping claims in the strategic waterway.

Tuesday’s remarks came on the heels of a report in the Wall Street Journal on Monday citing a Pentagon official who said that China “has deployed military jamming equipment to its Spratly Island outposts.”

That report said that the new jamming equipment was deployed within the past 90 days on Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef, according to U.S. intelligence assessments.

China is currently in the midst of a military modernization program heavily promoted by President Xi Jinping, who has overseen a shift in focus toward creating a more potent fighting force, including projects such as building a second aircraft carrier, integrating stealth fighters into its air force and fielding an array of advanced missiles that can strike air and sea targets from long distances.

The Chinese military has also seen its forces drill to punch further into the Western Pacific with what it calls “regular” exercises.

Late last month, the Chinese Air Force conducted a series of exercises in the South China Sea and Western Pacific, where it sent advanced fighter jets and heavy bombers through Okinawa’s Miyako Strait, labeling the exercises “rehearsals for future wars.”

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/04/10/asia-pacific/china-defends-military-buildup-disputed-south-china-sea/#.Wszz6YjwaUk

China’s defense spending grows increasingly opaque

April 3, 2018

Xi pushes for closer civilian-military ties, further clouding picture

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Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects People’s Liberation Army equipment in January: Military and private-sector ties make calculating defense spending harder.   © Xinhua News Agency/Kyodo

BEIJING — China’s defense budget and what it is spending its money on are growing harder to gauge, even as its leaders devote more resources to the military and are increasingly willing to flex the country’s strategic muscles.

According to official figures, the 2018 defense budget rose 8.1% on the year to 1.1 trillion yuan ($175 billion), putting China second behind the U.S.

But that leaves out some research and development spending and purchases of foreign weapons, leading some analysts to conclude China’s total defense spending could be several times higher than the official number.

Further obscuring the picture is a strategy being pushed by President Xi Jinping in which private-sector companies are encouraged to take part in weapons development. This is blurring the line between civilian and military activity, making it more difficult to get a handle on China’s actual military budget.

At a March 12 session of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, Xi urged the armed forces to uphold the civil-military integration strategy in order to build a strong military.

Xi has touted this approach since around 2015. It calls for military technology to be applied to civilian uses as a way of spurring economic reform, and conversely, for technology developed by the private sector to be used in weaponry. The strategy focuses particularly on artificial intelligence, aerospace and information technology.

One company involved in the civilian-military partnership is Aero Engine Corporation of China. Founded in 2016, it specializes in manufacturing aircraft engines and has close ties to the Chinese air force. The hope is that the company will help China overcome a weakness in aircraft engine technology. A number of investment funds aimed at fostering civilian-military cooperation were set up, starting around 2016. Investors include many state-owned companies.

The money contributed by companies to these funds is not counted in the defense budget. It appears the listing of companies with military ties is aimed at raising more money for defense. When the Communist Party or the government has announced policies aimed at promoting the civil-military integration strategy, shares of such companies have occasionally shot up by their daily limit.

The American military-industrial complex is well known. In Japan, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is a big defense contractor. But in China, most military-related companies are state-owned, which, in effect, puts them under the control of the Communist Party. Foreign military experts say China’s civil-military integration is thus making the defense budget more opaque.

China’s defense spending is divided roughly equally between personnel, training and maintenance, and equipment, but the details are secret.

Beijing granted significant pay raises to military personnel in 2017, but the growth of defense spending last year was slower than in 2016. Experts say that considering the increased pace of China’s naval exercises on the high seas, and its active weapons development program, the official defense budget is too small.

Many Western military analysts say China’s defense budget government does not include development costs for state-of-the-art equipment, such as the J-20 stealth fighter jet, and purchases of Russian-made Su-35 fighters, for example. Nor does it cover the budget for the People’s Armed Police, which is tasked with maintaining civil order.

Including these costs would push up China’s total defense spending by anywhere from 50% to 200%, compared with the official figure. If the upper estimate is accurate, China would closely trail the U.S. as the world’s largest defense spender, with a budget of about $686 billion. This would underscore the country’s goal of building a world-class military by the middle of this century.

China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier last year.   © Kyodo

Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the National People’s Congress, has said China’s per capita defense spending is lower than that of other big countries.

Chen Zhou, a researcher at the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Science, who has helped compile China’s military white papers, denies the country has any off-the-books defense spending.

The government faces a dilemma when it comes to the military budget. It wants to demonstrate to its citizens its ability and willingness to defend China’s interests, but it does not want to alarm other countries.

One way of looking at the threat one country poses to another is to multiply its strategic intentions by its capabilities. China’s efforts to build military bases in the South China Sea, and its frequent naval exercises clearly show its desire to expand its sphere of influence at least as far as the western Pacific.

But its military budget is both large and fuzzy. This adds to tensions in the region and may cause its neighbors to respond by strengthinging their own military punch. China does not want to tip its hand, but its secrecy may make it less secure, not more.

 https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/China-s-defense-spending-grows-increasingly-opaque?n_cid=NARAN185&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=infeed&utm_campaign=IC%20V2min&utm_content=FB%20Asia%20Daily%20Briefing

Taiwan Watches Chinese Fleet — “It seems [China] is a few more steps closer to annexing [Taiwan] by force” — Or “Pointless show of force” by China

March 22, 2018

Taipei Times (Taiwan)

By Sean Lin

Such missions take at least two weeks to plan, meaning it was likely meant to mark the end of the CCP’s congress, not the US’ Taiwan Travel Act, one lawmaker said

The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its escort warships on Tuesday night again passed through the Taiwan Strait, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said.

Yen confirmed the reports during a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign and National Defense Committee in Taipei following questioning by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政).

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Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning

However, Yen declined to comment further on the carrier’s passage, saying only that the ministry had “thoroughly monitored” the event.

The Chinese fleet entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone at about 8pm, sailed southwest to the west of the median line of the Strait and exited the zone at about 12:30pm yesterday, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that jets and vessels were dispatched to monitor the situation.

Meanwhile, China’s state-run tabloid the Global Times (環球時報) touted the move as Beijing’s response to US President Donald Trump’s signing of the Taiwan Travel Act on Friday last week.

In an editorial titled “Taiwan’s disaster is on the way,” the tabloid criticized Trump for recklessly signing the act and therefore breaching Washington’s “usual practice” that there would be no meetings between US officials and the Taiwanese president, vice president, officials, foreign ministers or defense ministers since the nations severed diplomatic ties in 1979.

Trump’s signing of the act has crossed Beijing’s bottom line regarding Taiwan affairs, and in the next five years, China could even go to war with the US over the Taiwan issue, it said.

“It seems [China] is a few more steps closer to annexing [Taiwan] by force,” it said.

Chinese-language The Credere Media yesterday also said the carrier’s passage was China “politically browbeating” Taiwan.

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However, DPP Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) said that the proximity of the Liaoning, Trump’s signing of the act and the arrival in Taipei on Tuesday of Alex Wong (黃之翰), of deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, were likely coincidental.

Missions involving the Liaoning, which travels at a slow speed, take between two weeks and one month to plan, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy had likely planned the mission to mark the end of the Chinese National People’s Congress on Tuesday morning, Tsai said.

“If China really wanted to intimidate Taiwan, it would likely have docked its warships in the Strait and launched a large-scale military drill. Passing through the Strait would be pointless and not intimidating,” Tsai said.

In response to caution from some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers that prospective high-level visits between Taiwanese and US officials could escalate tensions, Tsai said that bilateral visits should be conducted like building blocks, starting with lower-ranking officials and gradually rising in the ranks.

“Arranging high-level meetings immediately after the act’s signing could cause ‘the third party’ to misjudge the situation,” he said.

The act would undoubtedly warm Taiwan-US relations and would involve not only the DPP, but also the KMT if it manages to return to government, Tsai said.

Meanwhile, Beijing has warned against any move to “separate the country.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Tuesday delivered a blistering nationalist speech warning against what he called any attempts to split China.

“All acts and tricks to separate the country are doomed to fail, and will be condemned by the people and punished by history,” Xi said in an address ending the congress.

Ties have turned frosty since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) came to power in May 2016, as the government refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of “one China.”

Tsai Ing-wen has warned against what she called China’s military expansion — the increase in air and naval drills around Taiwan since she took office.

The Liaoning — a second-hand Soviet-built ship — caused a stir in Taiwan when it first entered the Strait in January last year in what was seen as a show of strength by Beijing. It returned in January this year.

Additional reporting by AFP

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2018/03/22/2003689778

Taiwan shadows China carrier group after Xi warning

March 21, 2018

Image may contain: ocean, outdoor and water

FILE PHOTO: China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning departs Hong Kong, China, July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby YipREUTERS

BY FABIAN HAMACHER

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan has sent ships and aircraft to shadow a Chinese aircraft carrier group through the narrow Taiwan Strait, its defense ministry said on Wednesday, after Chinese President Xi Jinping offered his strongest warning against Taiwan separatism to date.

China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory and considers the self-ruled island a wayward province, which Xi said on Tuesday would face the “punishment of history” for any attempt at separatism.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said the carrier group, led by China’s sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, entered the waterway late on Tuesday, but kept on its western side.

By midday on Wednesday it has left Taiwan’s air defense identification zone heading southwest, the ministry said, adding it looked like China was conducting drills.

Taiwan’s military sent ships and aircraft to shadow the carrier group the entire way, but spotted nothing out of the ordinary and people in Taiwan should not be concerned, it added.

China’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In January, the Liaoning sailed twice through the Taiwan Strait, in what China said was part of routine drills.

Taiwan says China has ramped up military exercises around the island in the past year or so. The island is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint.

China’s hostility towards Taiwan has risen since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, a member of the island’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

China suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, which would cross a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing, though Tsai has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Monday expressed anger at Taiwan Premier William Lai’s description of the island as a sovereign independent country, calling it a “serious provocation” and denying that Taiwan was, or could ever be, one.

China has also been infuriated by a law signed last week by U.S. President Donald Trump that encourages the United States to send senior officials to Taiwan to meet Taiwanese counterparts, and vice versa.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alex Wong is in Taiwan this week, where he is set to speak at a business event in Taipei later on Wednesday with Tsai.

(Reporting by Fabian Hamacher and Twinnie Siu; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Himani Sarkar)