Posts Tagged ‘PLA’

Xi Jinping making top-level changes to China’s military

October 11, 2017

By Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post

Party congress expected to usher in major changes at body that controls People’s Liberation Army

UPDATED : Friday, 06 October, 2017, 10:54am

China’s ongoing military leadership reshuffle, which has seen two heavyweights in the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) lose their commands in the past month, will help President Xi Jinping shake up the body, which controls the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and increase his dominance of it, analysts said.

The ousting of General Fang Fenghui, former head of the CMC’s Joint Staff Department, and General Zhang Yang, former head of the commission’s Political Work Department, from the functional posts that gave them CMC membership is further proof that Xi, who also chairs the CMC, is cementing his control over the military.

In late August, the Ministry of National Defence revealed that General Li Zuocheng, a decorated veteran of the Sino-Vietnamese war, had replaced Fang as chief of the Joint Staff Department. Then, on September 8, the army mouthpiece PLA Daily carried a report referring to Admiral Miao Hua, formerly the PLA Navy’s political commissar, as head of the Political Work Department.

Xi promoted Li to full general and Miao to the equivalent naval rank in 2015 and both men are seen as being firmly in his camp.

 CMC members Zhang Yang (left) and Fang Fenghui were stripped of their commands in the past month. Photos: Handouts

Fang and Zhang were also left off the list of members of the military delegation to next month’s five-yearly Communist Party congress, while Li and Miao will be among those in attendance.

“The CMC’s Joint Staff Department head is the man who oversees the PLA’s battle operations, while the Political Work Department chief takes care of ideological education,” a Beijing-based retired senior colonel, who asked not to be named, said.

“Xi can only implement reforms when he really controls both the barrel of the gun and the pen, so he should assign men he trusts to the two important jobs,” he said.

In an unprecedented military overhaul launched in 2015, Xi announced that the PLA, the world’s biggest army, would shed 300,000 troops, taking their number down to two million. He also scrapped the PLA’s four former headquarters – General Staff, General Political, General Logistics and General Armaments – and established 15 functional departments to divide their powers. The PLA’s seven military commands were also reshaped into five theatre commands.

Sources close to the military told the South China Morning Post that Xi would use the party congress, due to open on October 18, to restructure the CMC.

 CMC chairman Xi Jinping inspects troops at the Zhurihe training base in Inner Mongolia in July during a military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA. Photo: Xinhua

Several scenarios are being discussed in military circles, including one version that would see the 11-member CMC trimmed to just the chairman and four vice-chairmen. Another would give the commanders of the five theatre commands CMC membership, along with two to four vice-chairman, but not include the chiefs of the land force, air force, navy, rocket force and strategic support force.

The current CMC comprises one chairman, two vice-chairmen, and eight regular members: the defence minister, the heads of the four former headquarters, and the commanders of the air force, navy and rocket force.

Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan, 68, is expected to retire at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress early next year due to his age, while the other seven regular members have all seen younger generals assume the functional titles that gave them CMC membership. However, they all remain members of the commission, at least for now.

“There is also a third plan, to expand the CMC membership by allowing the commanders of the ground force, air force, navy, rocket force and the five theatre commands to join, as well as two to three vice-chairmen,” one source said. “Whatever option is chosen, the first thing Xi will do is to root out the harmful influence left by the two disgraced CMC vice-chairmen, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou.”

 CMC chairman Xi Jinping presents a military flag to General Li Zuocheng, commander of the PLA’s newly established Army General Command, in January last year. Photo: Xinhua

Guo and Xu became the most senior military officers probed for buying and selling military ranks and other forms of corruption in the sweeping anti-graft campaign launched by Xi soon after he became party general secretary in November 2012. Since then, at least 13,000 military officers involved in corruption have been punished, PLA Daily reported this month.

Guo, 75, was sentenced to life imprisonment in July last year and Xu died of cancer at the age of 72 in 2015 while in custody and under investigation for graft.

Several sources close to the army told the Post that both Fang and Zhang had also been taken away by the CMC’s Discipline Inspection Commission on the same day and were now facing corruption investigations.

“As a Shaanxi native and distant relative of Guo, Fang was cultivated by the former CMC vice-chairman, while Zhang came from Xu’s camp. The two quickly veered to Xi after realising their former bosses were targeted by him,” said a source close to former Guangzhou Military Command, which was merged into the Southern Theatre Command.

 Admiral Miao Hua, the new head of the CMC’s Political Work Department. Photo: Handout

“The probe against Zhang also led to the [party’s] Central Discipline Inspection Commission sending more than 50 investigators to Guangzhou to question senior officers with ranks of division head or above on suspicion of giving bribes to Zhang.”

Xi served as a CMC vice-chairman alongside Guo and Xu for more than two years to November 2012. They annoyed him by taking over the army’s staff affairs, right from under the nose of Hu Jintao, his predecessor as party chief, and stacking the CMC with their supporters five years ago. The web of corruption they created expanded to every corner of the army, prompting Xi to declare a war to rid it of their harmful influence.

“Rooting out the harmful influence of Guo and Xu is one of the key reasons Xi needs to reform the CMC,” Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said. “The structure of the commission also needs to fit the ongoing military overhaul, with thousands of senior officers being laid off.”

The retired senior colonel said officers like Fang and Zhang had been kept on for the past five years as “transitional leaders” because Xi needed them to support the ongoing miliary reform before younger generals like Li and Miao were experienced enough to take over the top positions.

 CMC vice-chairmen (from left) Guo Boxiong, Xu Caihou and Xi Jinping look on as commission chairman Hu Jintao shakes hands with military delegates to the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing in March 2012. Photo: Xinhua

“All senior military officers need a certain process to train and gain experience,” he said “From a frontline post like division head, then commander of a local troop and army corps, as well as a theatre command, otherwise, he can’t have the comprehensive military skills and strategic vision to master a top position in the CMC.”

Li, 63, was promoted to commander of the former Chengdu Military Command in 2013. Last year, he was further promoted to head the land force, which was established in January last year. Miao, a political officer who spent four years in the former Lanzhou Military Command, became the navy’s political commissar in late 2014.

Shanghai-based political commentator Chen Daoyin said Xi was intent on reforming the CMC to strengthen his hand against those in the party opposed to his new political thinking.

“Xi hopes his political ideas will be in included in the party constitution at the upcoming congress, like those of his predecessors Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, and become part of the party’s political guidelines, but it seems there are some different voices inside the party against him,” Chen said.

“The removal of Fang and Zhang and reform of the CMC could remind his opponents that Xi has absolute dominance in the army, which helped put the Communist Party in power.”


Xi Jinping Presses Military Overhaul, and Two Generals Disappear


BEIJING — He was one of China’s most prominent commanders, with hopes of rising higher. So when Gen. Fang Fenghui disappeared from public view, it sent a clear warning to the top leaders of the People’s Liberation Army: President Xi Jinping was not done shaking up their once-unassailable ranks.

General Fang, the chief of the army’s Joint Staff Department, was not the only military leader to fall ahead of next week’s Communist Party congress. Gen. Zhang Yang, the director of the military’s political department, also vanished from sight. Their names have not appeared in the Chinese news media for more than a month, when their successors were announced with no fanfare.

Removing the two generals was the latest step by Mr. Xi to strengthen his grip on the military, a pillar of Communist Party power. On the eve of the party congress, which will kick off his second five-year term as the nation’s leader, he seems to have concluded that he must exert greater control to remake the country’s armed forces into a power worthy of China’s global standing.

Mr. Xi’s reorganization of the military has already gone further than seemed possible under his recent predecessors, but as the overhaul and its attendant personnel cuts have begun to take shape, Mr. Xi has confronted poor coordination among branches of the armed forces and foot-dragging from senior officers whose positions have been threatened.

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China steps up security on North Korea, India and Myanmar borders for Communist Party Congress — Authorities said they would “build a steel wall” of border security

September 28, 2017

By Viola Zhou and Sarah Zheng
South China Morning Post

Officers try to bolster role as guardians against perceived offshore threats to Beijing in run-up to key party gathering, analyst says

Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 10:01pm

China’s border police will maintain the highest security on the country’s frontiers with North Korea, India and Myanmar as the Communist Party gears up for its all-important national congress next month.

The border forces under the People’s Armed Police became the latest government agency to make a show of support for President Xi Jinping, saying officers would focus on the frontiers to ensure stability for the five-yearly gathering.

They would also tighten monitoring of coastal areas and ramp up counterterrorism work, the police said in an online statement.

“[We will] stick to the highest standards, strictest requirements and strongest measures to ensure absolute border security for the party’s 19th national congress,” the statement said.

The congress, expected to start on October 18, is expected to see Xi named the party’s general secretary for a second term and a dozen officials named to key positions.

 Security personnel have been out in force across the country to make sure the highly choreographed Communist Party gathering is not disturbed by social unrest. Photo: Xinhua

Security personnel have been out in force across the country to make sure the highly choreographed gathering is not disturbed by social unrest.

But the build-up comes amid ethnic clashes in Myanmar and the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea expects more provocative acts by North Korea next month to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean communist party.

In a meeting with South Korea President Moon Jae-in on Thursday, national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said he expected Pyongyang to act around October 10 and 18, but gave no details.

Ties between India and China have also been tested by a border row in the Himalayas.

Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst and Asian security expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the border forces were trying to promote their role as guardians against what Beijing saw as potential threats.

“Leading into the party congress, they want to seem to be successful, increasing their political strength and being proactive in dealing with these security situations,” Davis said.

Zhang Baohui, a Chinese politics specialist at Lingnan University, said that although the offshore conflicts were unlikely to pose any real danger to the congress, the police must declare their determination to stamp out risk.

“They all have to do something to show they’re doing their best for the 19th national congress,” Zhang said. “It’s a way to show loyalty.”

Authorities in border areas have also vowed to stem any cross-border unrest.

 Jilin party secretary Bayanqolu has ordered the province to strengthen “frontline border control” in the run-up to the congress. Photo: Handout

At a security drill by armed police and firefighters on Saturday, Bayanqolu, party chief of Jilin, which borders North Korea, ordered the province to strengthen “frontline border control” in the run-up to the congress.

“[We must] firmly prevent major incidents that will harm political security and border stability,” he said. “[We will] take action to show absolute loyalty, pure loyalty to the party [leadership] and general secretary Xi Jinping.”

On the China-Myanmar border, authorities in Mangshi, Yunnan province, said they would “build a steel wall” of border security.

Border personnel in Tibet also held a rally on Monday, pledging security and stability during the party congress.

Undergraduates in China grumble about compulsory patriotic boot camp — Job One: Keep the Communist Party in power

September 28, 2017

The Economist

Drill first, study later

IN A a concrete stadium in the north of Beijing, some 2,000 men and women are rehearsing a military tattoo. They march in a circle to music pumped from loudspeakers, while footage of tanks and helicopters plays on a screen above their heads. One group armed with rifles heads to the middle of the arena to practise basic drill. After some square-bashing, they lower their barrels and charge, bellowing “kill, kill, kill!”

These are not soldiers but students: teenagers who are about to begin their courses at Tsinghua, one of China’s most prestigious universities. Their rifles are wooden replicas, capped with rubber for safety; their uniforms are ill-fitting. Military training is compulsory for first-year students at all universities in China, as well as for entrants to junior and senior high schools. Courses are usually between 10 days and three weeks long.

Some educational establishments began requiring this in the early years of Communist rule in the 1950s. After the army was deployed to crush student-led protests in 1989, the government became more enthusiastic about instilling military discipline at schools and on campuses; training of new students has since become universal. The National Defence Education Law explains that one goal is to develop “patriotic enthusiasm”.

The students at Tsinghua are lucky, for they do most of their training on their own campus. But some universities pack freshers off to grim military camps in the countryside, where they have to stay up all night on sentry duty and endure embarrassing communal showers. Drill takes up much of the timetable. Some students get basic weapons training, but few get to fire more than a couple of shots. Lessons in military strategy and history round off the experience, as do sing-alongs of revolutionary songs.

Boot-camp boosters argue that a spell in fatigues can help to toughen up children who have been spoiled by doting parents and grandparents—as they see it, the country’s erstwhile one-child-per-couple policy created legions of pampered softies. But there are many critics, too: parents who fret about leaving their little darlings in the hands of ornery sergeants, and students who complain (occasionally on social media) about long hours of standing still, and unpalatable rations. The army may be heeding such objections. Some Chinese lament that courses are becoming cushier.

Discipline can prove hard to enforce. This year state-controlled media reported on a punch-up between a student and instructors at a south-western university. There have been several such brawls in recent years. One in 2014 left more than 40 people injured.

But some students eventually grow wistful about their weeks in camouflage—a period when enduring friendships are often forged by having to cope with “crappy things together”, as a recent graduate puts it. That is just as well, because the government is unlikely to scrap the scheme. It is trying to tighten ideological control on campuses in order to curb the spread of liberal values. That fits well with the Chinese army’s mission, which is above all a political one: to keep the Communist Party in power.

U.S. Seeks Deeper Ties With India Amid China Assertiveness

September 26, 2017

NEW DELHI — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis held talks with Indian leaders on Tuesday to deepen military ties including the potential sales of U.S. jet fighters and surveillance drones that experts say are aimed at helping it rein in China’s influence in the region.

Mattis is the first cabinet rank official to visit India under the Trump administration and was due to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Image result for mattis in India, photos

U.S. Secretary of defense James Mattis with India’s  National Security Advisor Ajit  Doval

Ties between India and the United States have rapidly expanded with New Delhi buying weapons worth $15 billion over the last decade from the United States, moving away from traditional supplier Russia.

At the top of the agenda is to move forward with a deal to supply 22 Sea Guardian drone aircraft to the Indian navy that the U.S. government approved in June, the first such clearance to a non-NATO ally.

The Indian navy has sought the unarmed drones to help it mount longer duration surveillance of the Indian Ocean where Chinese naval ships and submarines are making regular forays.

The United States has been critical of China’s build-up of military facilities in the South China Sea and had suggested joint patrols with the Indian navy across the region. New Delhi has turned it down, fearing a Chinese backlash.

“China looms very large for both countries,” said Dhruva Jaishankar, a specialist on India-U.S. relations at Brookings India.

“The strategic underpinning of India-US defense ties is in the common concerns they have over China, over its revisionism.”

The Indian air force has also asked for 90 armed Avenger Predator drones that experts say it could deploy to conduct cross-border strikes, for instance on camps of militants that it says exist on the Pakistan side of disputed Kashmir.

Such a sale would need White House and Congress approval, sources said. Pakistan and possibly China are likely to see such a sale as de-stabilizing.

Vivek Lall, chief executive, U.S. and International Strategic Development at General Atomics, the company that makes the drones, said it was pleased the Indian government had won approval for the surveillance version of the drone.

“Not only will this platform enhance India’s capabilities in the areas of maritime domain awareness and security – but the interoperability with one of the U.S.’s most important strategic partners will contribute to security across the region,” he said.

The two sides are also expected to discuss Lockheed Martin’s offer to build F-16 fighter planes in India as part of Modi’s drive to build a domestic military industrial base.

Sweden’s Saab is the other contender for the deal to supply at least 100 single engine combat planes to the Indian air force that the Modi administration wants to be built locally.

Ahead of Mattis’s trip, the Pentagon stressed India’s broader role in the region.

“The secretary will emphasize that the United States views India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia,” it said.

(Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Nick Macfie)


Djibouti: China’s armed forces send message of combat readiness at China’s only overseas base

September 26, 2017

China’s armed forces send message of combat readiness to Djibouti militants and other potential attackers, observers say

By Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post
Monday, 25 September, 2017, 11:28pm

Troops from China’s only overseas base have staged their first live-fire drills in what military analysts said was a major show of combat readiness.

The exercises in Djibouti on Friday involved dozens of officers and took place at the country’s national gendarmerie training range, the People’s Liberation Army Navy said in an online report.

Troops arrived at the base – China’s first overseas garrison – less than two months ago and the drill was meant to test the personnel’s capacity to handle a range of weapons and tasks in extreme heat, humidity and salinity, the report said.

Temperatures in the African nation routinely rise above 40 degrees Celsius at this time of year.

“This is the first time our soldiers stationed in Djibouti have left the camp to conduct combat training,” base commander Liang Yang was quoted as saying.

“The live-fire training will help explore a new training model for the [Chinese] overseas garrison.”

Image result for Djibouti, map

Footage aired by state-run CCTV showed PLA marine corps using various weapons – from pistols to automatic rifles, sniper rifles and machine guns – to fire at targets.

Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said the troops had to be on combat alert at all times because of the region’s complex political conditions and Djibouti’s geographic importance.

 The drills were designed to test the personnel’s capacity to handle a range of weapons and tasks in extreme heat and humidity. Photo: Handout

The African nation is at the southern entrance to the Red Sea along the route to the Suez Canal, and Eritrea and Somalia. It also hosts US, Japanese and French bases.

“The PLA troops based in Djibouti should be able to protect themselves and resist attacks from terrorists, pirates, local armed forces, or even foreign troops,” Li said.

China’s Procuratorial Daily, the top prosecutor’s official newspaper, reported earlier that a Japanese naval vessel sent divers to approach a Chinese warship as both vessels were docking at Djibouti. Without specifying the time of the encounter, the report said Chinese naval troops used “a strong light and a verbal warning” to drive away the Japanese divers.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force established a base in Djibouti in 2011, and Tokyo said last year it was considering expanding the facility.

China began building what it describes as a logistics base in Djibouti last year, but docking facilities for navy ships, barracks and other military equipment are still under development.

The 36-hectare base will resupply vessels taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia.

 The exercises were the first time troops had left the facility for combat training. Photo: Handout

Beijing-based military commentator Zhou Chenming said the high-profile drills were a message to local militants “not to harass” the PLA troops.

“Since the political situation in Djibouti is very unstable, the troops need to let local armed groups know of their combat strength. They need to tell them that the Chinese forces are there not only to set up the logistics base but must also be able to deal with all kinds of security challenges,” Zhou said.

Top U.S. general says committed to working through difficulties with China

August 15, 2017


AUGUST 15, 2017 / 5:35 AM

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford reviews a Chinese honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Bayi Building in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. (AP Photo – Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

BEIJING (Reuters) – There are many difficult issues between the United States and China but both share a commitment to work through them, the United States’ top general said on Tuesday during a visit to Beijing amid tension over nuclear-armed North Korea.

“I think we have to be honest. We have many, many difficult issues where we don’t necessarily share the same perspective,” Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army.

“We share a commitment to work through these difficult issues,” he added, without elaborating.

Fang said China attached great important to his visit and had arranged for him to observe a military exercise.

In a later statement, China’s Defence Ministry said the two discussed North Korea, Taiwan and the South China Sea and signed a framework agreement on a China-U.S. military dialogue mechanism, though it gave no details.

Fang said cooperation was the only correct choice for the two countries, and their two militaries could certainly become good cooperative partners, the ministry added.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Gen. Fang Fenghui shake hands after signing an agreement to strengthen communication between the two militaries amid tensions concerning North Korea at the Bayi Building in Beijing, China August 15, 2017.Mark Schiefelbein/Pool

“The Chinese military is willing to make efforts with the U.S. side to strengthen strategic communication, increase strategic mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, appropriately handle problems and disputes and effectively manage and control risks,” the ministry cited Fang as saying.

The United States has called on China to do more to rein in its isolated neighbor North Korea, while China has said it is Washington that needs to be making more efforts to lessen tensions and speak directly to Pyongyang.

 Image may contain: 5 people, people sitting, table and indoor
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, second left, speaks during a meeting with Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of the general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, not shown, at the Bayi Building in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

North Korea’s leader has delayed a decision on firing missiles towards the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam while he watches U.S. actions a little longer, the North’s state media said on Tuesday, as South Korea’s president said Seoul would seek to prevent war by all means.

China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, say they are committed to having a stable military-to-military relationship, but there are deep fault lines.

China has been angered by U.S. freedom of navigation patrols near Chinese-controlled islands in the disputed South China Sea and U.S. arms sales and support for self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as a wayward province.

The United States has expressed concern about what it calls unsafe intercepts of U.S. aircraft by the Chinese air force and a lack of transparency in China’s military spending, China being in the midst of an ambitious military modernization program.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie, Robert Birsel

China’s military faces a computer game threat — Now Chinese army takes aim at ‘King of Glory’

August 14, 2017


© AFP/File | China’s military faces a computer game threat, top brass fear
SHANGHAI (AFP) – Chinese army officers have a new enemy in their sights — a mobile phone battle game believed so addictive to young soldiers that it may slow them down in real-life combat.

Smartphone smash-hit “King of Glory” is so popular in China that its maker and internet giant Tencent last month began limiting daily playing times to “ensure children’s healthy development”.

Now the Chinese army is taking aim at the multiplayer online battle game.

“There is certainly a security risk that can’t be overlooked,” the People’s Liberation Army Daily newspaper warned gravely.

“The game requires constant attention but a soldier’s job is full of uncertainty. Once a soldier is cut off from the game for an urgent mission, he could be absent-minded during the operation if his mind remains on the game.”

The newspaper said officers had become worried after noticing that almost all the soldiers in one dormitory were playing the game over a weekend.

The state newspaper did concede that up to a point the game offered respite during leisure time and there are no immediate plans to ban it from barracks.

Nevertheless, the rank and file should be given “scientific guidance”, it added.

The game boasts up to 80 million daily users but the Chinese government is increasingly worried about the impact it is having on children and teenagers, who lock themselves away for hours for marathon sessions.

A 17-year-old gamer in the southern province of Guangdong suffered a type of stroke after spending 40 consecutive hours playing “King of Glory”, state media said in April.

China holds wargames amid North Korea tensions

August 8, 2017


© AFP/File | China has for some time been engaged in a modernisation of its once-backward armed forces, seeking military clout commensurate with its economic might, a drive that has caused unease among its regional neighbours

SHANGHAI (AFP) – The Chinese navy and air force flexed their muscles in live-fire drills in seas adjacent to the Korean Peninsula, the defence ministry said, amid regional tensions over North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weaponry.

The “large-scale” exercises were being conducted in the seas and skies off China’s east coast in the Yellow Sea and Bohai Gulf, and included the firing of dozens of missiles, a notice posted late Monday on the Ministry of Defence website said.

Naval and air force assets including dozens of ships, more than 10 aircraft, submarines and an unspecified number of coastal defence personnel took part in the drills, which the ministry said were aimed at testing weapons and honing the military’s abilities in conducting coastal assaults and intercepting air targets.

The ministry did not specify how long the drills were to last but a four-day shipping ban ending on Tuesday was issued for the area where the drills were held, according to notices by the military and local authorities.

It was not immediately clear whether the wargames were meant to send any sort of message.

But the announcement comes just days after China backed a US-drafted UN Security Council resolution passed on Saturday that significantly stiffened sanctions against North Korea for its pursuit of nuclear and missile weapons systems.

In the wake of the resolution’s passing, China has reiterated its resolve to side with the international community in opposing North Korea’s nuclear weaponisation and aggressive sabre-rattling.

China has for some time been engaged in a modernisation of its once-backward armed forces, seeking military clout commensurate with its economic might, a drive that has caused unease among its regional neighbours.

China also has consistently railed against recurring US-South Korean wargames that are directed at deterring a North Korean attack, but which China blames for fanning regional tensions.

North Korea vowed Monday that the tough new UN sanctions would not stop it from developing its nuclear arsenal, rejecting talks and angrily threatening retaliation against the United States.

Japanese frogmen approached Chinese warship at Djibouti, state media say

August 2, 2017

The incident, if confirmed, would constitute a rare case of friction between Chinese and Japanese naval forces at a key port far from home

By Kinling Lo
South China Morning Post

Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 7:27pm

A Japanese naval ship sent frogmen to approach a Chinese warship as both ships were docking at Djibouti in eastern Africa, Chinese state media reported.

The incident, if confirmed, would constitute a rare case of Chinese and Japanese naval forces having friction at a key geopolitical port far from their homes.

 The base of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force is pictured in Djibouti, East Africa. Photo: Felix Wong

China is quickly boosting its naval presence along the east Africa coast after officially opening the country’s first overseas naval base there on Tuesday. The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force established a base there in 2011 and Japan announced in 2016 that it was considering expanding its Djibouti base.

The incident was not reported by the Chinese or Japanese sides.

It was mentioned in a report on the website of China’s Procuratorial Daily, the official newspaper of the Supreme Procurator

ate. The report was about the experiences of a Chinese prosecutor, Jian Jiamin, who served as a legal counsellor with the PLA navy on duty in the vicinity of Africa for 208 days from December to this summer.

The report didn’t specify the time of the incident.

 A navy soldier of the People’s Liberation Army stands guard as Chinese citizens board the naval ship Linyi at a port in Aden. Photo: Reuter

According to the report, when Jian heard Japanese divers were approaching the Chinese warship, he immediately decided that Japan’s move was “dangerous” and against international law. He advised that the Chinese ship could take “necessary measures to stop [the encroachment] or even to exercise its self-defence rights”.

As a result, Jian organised Chinese soldiers to use a “strong light and verbal warning” to drive away the approaching Japanese divers, according to the report.

Jian also gathered evidence and reported the incident to local authorities in Djibouti to “disclose the inappropriate behaviour during the illegal operation by a Japanese warship at a third country’s port”.

 A general view of Port de Doraleh, Djibouti, East Africa. Photo: Felix Wong

The report came as China formally opened its first overseas military base with a flag-raising ceremony on Tuesday in the tiny former French colony in the Horn of Africa. The strategically localted Red Sea country is also home to the military bases of Japan, the United States and France.

Djibouti’s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worries among China’s regional rivals such as Japan and India that Djibouti would become just another of China’s “string of pearls” of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

In October, Reuters reported that Japan leased additional land to expand its existing 12 hectare (30 acre) site in Djibouti to counter the Chinese influence in the region.

 Djibouti is China’s first overseas naval base – but Beijing has described it as a logistics facility. Photo: Reuters

At the same time, China is getting more active in the area. It recently offered to mediate in the lingering border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea, showing Beijing’s growing ambitions and confidence.

China, Russia Demonstrate Global Military Might

August 1, 2017

 The huge display of military hardware also featured 12,000 troops. Photo: Xinhua