Posts Tagged ‘PLAN’

Chinese J-15 jets complete night landings on carrier in push to modernize

May 26, 2018

Chinese fighter pilots have carried out night landings on the country’s first aircraft carrier, the official China Daily reported on Saturday, the latest demonstration of Beijing’s push to modernize its military forces.

Pilots flying J-15 jets landed at night on the Liaoning, the official paper said citing a video posted by China’s navy. It said this was a complex maneuver that marked a “huge leap toward gaining full combat capability”.

Image result for Liaoning, aircraft carrier, photos

Liaoning

China has ambitious plans to overhaul its armed forces as it ramps up its presence in the disputed South China Sea and around self-ruled Taiwan, an island China considers its own.

China’s first domestically developed aircraft carrier set off on sea trials earlier this month. The Liaoning, which is expected to serve more as a training vessel, was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998.

Image result for J-15 jets, china, photos

Its navy has also been taking an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with the Liaoning sailing around Taiwan and new Chinese warships popping up in far-flung places.

State media has quoted experts as saying China needs at least six carriers. The United States operates 10 and plans to build two more.

Many experts agree that developing such a force would be a decades-long endeavor but that the drive to bolster its forces at sea will be crucial in the longer term as China looks to erode U.S. military prominence in the region.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Paul Tait

Reuters

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China irked, scolds US after officials withdraw invite to naval drill

May 24, 2018

China’s Defence Ministry expressed regret on Thursday after the United States withdrew an invitation to China to attend a major U.S.-hosted naval drill, saying that closing the door does not promote mutual trust and cooperation.

The Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC and previously attended by China, is billed as the world’s largest international maritime exercise and held every two years in Hawaii in June and July.

RIMPAC enabled the armed forces of the world’s two largest economies to directly engage with each other. It was viewed by both countries as a way to ease tensions and reduce the risk of miscalculation should they meet under less friendly circumstances.

The Pentagon said the withdrawal of the invitation was in response to what it sees as Beijing’s militarization of islands in the disputed South China Sea, a strategic waterway claimed in large part by Beijing.

In a brief statement, China’s Defence Ministry said the United States had “ignored the facts and hyped up the so-called ‘militarization’ of the South China Sea”, using it as an excuse to uninvite China.

“This decision by the United States is not constructive. Closing the door to communication at any time is not conducive toward promoting mutual trust and communication between the Chinese and U.S. militaries,” it added.

China’s island-building program in the South China Sea has sparked concern around the region and in Washington about Chinese intentions.

China says it has every right to build what it calls necessary defensive facilities on its own territory.

‘Irresponsible Remarks’

Over the weekend China’s air force landed bombers on islands in the sea as part of a training exercise, triggering concern from Vietnam and the Philippines.

The ministry reiterated that its building of defense facilities was to protect the country’s sovereignty and legitimate rights, and had nothing to do with militarization.

“The United States has no right to make irresponsible remarks about this,” it added.

“Being invited or not cannot change China’s will to play a role in protecting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and cannot shake China’s firm determination to defend its sovereignty and security interests”.

It is in both countries interests to develop healthy military ties, and China hopes the United States keeps the broader picture in mind, abandon its “zero sum” mentality and appropriately handle disputes, the ministry said.

Pentagon officials have long complained that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up and using South China Sea islands to gather intelligence in the region.r

A satellite image shows the deployment of several new weapons systems to China’s base in the South China Sea. Reuters

In an editorial on its website, widely-read Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times said there was no way China could trade in its interests in the South China Sea for access to the exercise.

“If the U.S. military increases its activities in the South China Sea, then our side will need to further strengthen its military deployments there,” it wrote.

Chinese officials have accused Washington of viewing their country in suspicious, “Cold War” terms.

Speaking at a separate briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China has sovereign rights in the South China Sea and it is not realistic for the United States to use this kind of action to try to coerce Beijing.

The United States has dispatched warships to disputed areas of the South China Sea in a bid to challenge China’s extensive sovereignty claims in the territory, which is subject to various claims by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

Reuters

https://nypost.com/2018/05/24/china-scolds-us-after-officials-withdraw-invite-to-naval-drill/

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Tension Between Navies Of India, China In Indian Ocean

May 9, 2018

The Indian Ocean, considered the backyard of the Indian Navy, is critical to India’s strategic interests. Over the years, the region has witnessed increasing Chinese presence.

No Tension Between Navies Of India, China In Indian Ocean: Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman innaugurated the Naval Conference on Tuesday . (File)

NEW DELHI:  Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday that there is no tension between the navies of India and China in the strategic Indian Ocean, which has been witnessing increasing activities by the PLA Navy.

Responding to a question on the “tussle” between China and India in the Indian Ocean Region, Ms Sitharaman sought to downplay the issue and said, “There was no tension in the Indian Ocean, in the Navy against China.”

The Indian Ocean, considered the backyard of the Indian Navy, is critical to India’s strategic interests. Over the years, the region has witnessed increasing Chinese presence.

China increased its presence in the Indian Ocean Region by constructing the deep-sea Gwadar Port in southern Pakistan and a naval base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. The region also has Chinese ships deployed for anti-piracy operations.

On April 16, the Indian Navy on Twitter welcomed China’s PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean Region.

“#MaritimeDomainAwareness @indiannavy extends a warm welcome to the 29th Anti-Piracy Escort Force (APEF) of PLA(N) in Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Happy Hunting @SpokespersonMoD @DefenceMinIndia @IAF_MCC @adgpi @IndiaCoastGuard @IndianDiplomacy,” it tweeted.

When asked about her visit to China, and that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to that country last month and whether there has been any change in terms of strategy, Ms Sitharaman said: “We are talking, we are meeting each other – and that is a big change.”

The defence personnel of the two countries were locked in a 73-day standoff in Doklam area near Sikkim last year and it had resulted in tension between the two Asian giants.

Reacting to reports that there was a directive to the Army not to be aggressive on the borders, Ms Sitharaman said she was not aware of it.

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Indian Navy
Sitharaman also stressed on the need to “develop our own weapons and sensors” to make the nation “truly self-reliant”.

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With China encircling India, top commanders assess Navy’s combat efficiency 

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At a conclave here on Tuesday to discuss naval efficiency and combat readiness amid worries over an assertive China encircling India, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Indian Navy has emerged as a “dependable partner” for Indian Ocean Region littoral navies.

Sitharaman addressed senior commanders of the Indian Navy on the first day of the four-day conclave here that is being held to review the Navy’s new “mission-based deployments philosophy aimed at ensuring peace and stabil ..

China’s New Aircraft Carrier Is Already Obsolete

April 26, 2018

But it’s still a powerful signal of Beijing’s ambitions in a post-U.S. Asia. And other new carriers could possibly follow….

China's sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, arrives in Hong Kong waters on July 7, 2017. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, arrives in Hong Kong waters on July 7, 2017. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)
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China’s first home-built aircraft carrier, which was seen Monday being towed from berth, will begin sea trials imminently. When the new vessel enters service some time in 2019 or 2020, China will become the world’s second most powerful operator of aircraft carriers, with a grand total of two. It is a position from which it will never be dislodged.

Yes, France, Russia, and Brazil operate a carrier each; Italy has a couple of small carriers; and the United Kingdom is rebuilding a respectable two-ship fleet, as is India. Other countries, such as Japan and Australia, operate several helicopter carriers, though not fixed-wing aircraft. But China won’t stop at two, nor will it remain satisfied with the inferior Soviet-derived design that was seen Monday. (The first carrier of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLA Navy, is a Soviet-era ship purchased half-finished from Ukraine.)

There are rumors that China’s next ship is already being built, and although it will be smaller than the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz-class and probably not nuclear-powered, in most other respects it will resemble an American supercarrier. The follow-on ships will be better still. No nation other than the United States has that kind of ambition, and it will give China unquestionably the second-most powerful navy in the world — though admittedly one still a very, very long way behind the U.S. fleet.

But there’s a mystery at the heart of China’s ambitious aircraft carrier program, because over the course of its immense naval modernization effort of the last two decades, China has put so much effort into making aircraft carriers obsolete.

China has acquired dozens of submarines, fleets of strike aircraft, and missiles that can be fired from the air, land, sea, and under the sea, all with one purpose: to make it excessively dangerous for large surface ships to operate near China’s coast. China has even invented an entirely new class of weapon — the anti-ship ballistic missile — that has been dubbed a “carrier killer.”

So why is China’s navy, the very institution that has made America’s carrier fleet in the Pacific so vulnerable, now investing in its own carrier fleet? It has surely occurred to the Chinese that the United States will respond to the PLA’s carriers just as China has done to America’s. In fact, it’s already happening. The U.S. Defense Department is now testing a stealthy long-range anti-ship missile that is almost certainly a reaction to the dramatic growth of China’s surface fleet.

So is China making a big mistake? Is the aircrafft carrier program a folly driven by the navy brass, with no clear strategic purpose?

We shouldn’t dismiss that possibility. In fact, that may be exactly how China’s carrier program started. In early 2015, the South China Morning Post published a series of articles revealing the extraordinary pre-history of China’s carrier program. In the mid-1990s, a small group of entrepreneurial PLA Navy officers enlisted the help of Hong Kong businessman Xu Zengping to purchase the hull of a half-finished Soviet-era carrier from Ukraine on the public pretense that it would be rebuilt as a floating casino. Incredibly, the officers told Xu that this initiative had no official backing from Beijing. They were making a potentially transformative arms purchase on their own initiative.

The carrier program has clearly grown since those beginnings and has much further to grow still, so it is safe to assume that the Chinese leadership has now embraced it and has a specific plan in mind for its growing fleet. What could that plan be?

China is a great power with a huge economy. In fact, a recent Australian government report estimates that by 2030, the Chinese economy will be worth $42 trillion versus $24 trillion for the United States — in other words, in less than 15 years’ time China’s economy could be almost double the size of America’s.

No country of that size would accept that it should remain strategically subordinate to another great power in its own backyard, and China certainly doesn’t. Beijing already wants to lead in Asia, and that means having a powerful military with the ability to project power over long distances. For China to become Asia’s strategic leader, it will need to push the United States out. So maybe the carrier fleet is a frontal assault on the core of U.S. power in the Pacific, an attempt to build a force capable of ending America’s naval dominance with a fleet that could overwhelm the United States in an arms race or, if necessary, defeat it in a Midway-style battle.

But even for a country as big as China, building a fleet of that size and capability is a formidable and massively expensive challenge. At the current pace of modernization, it could take decades to build such a fleet, particularly if the United States and its allies respond by improving their own capabilities. And that’s not to mention the heightened risk of a catastrophic great-power war.

So here’s an alternative explanation: China’s carrier-centered navy is not designed so much to challenge U.S. maritime supremacy as to inherit it. China may be betting that the United States won’t need to be pushed out of Asia, at least not by a frontal challenge to its naval power. Rather, the United States will slowly withdraw of its own accord because the cost of maintaining that leadership is rising so dramatically. Consider America’s defense commitment to Taiwan. Before China’s massive investment in anti-ship capabilities, the United States could safely sail its carrier through the Taiwan Strait, and its ability to defend Taiwan remained unquestioned. Now, the United States would be at serious risk of losing one or two carrier battle groups in any confrontation over Taiwan. The cost of defending South Korea has risen steeply, too, with North Korea close to deploying a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach cities on the continental United States, if it hasn’t already.

As the costs of U.S. military leadership in Asia rise, questions about why the United States needs to maintain that leadership become louder. America’s military presence in Asia made sense in the Cold War, but it is much harder to justify now.

If China inherits U.S. leadership in Asia, it won’t need a fleet as big as America’s. Some experts predict China will build just six carriers, quite enough to cement its leadership in a post-American Asia. And that’s when China’s carrier fleet will really come into its own, for although aircraft carriers are increasingly vulnerable to sophisticated anti-ship weapons, America has demonstrated that they are incredibly useful when you have command of the oceans.

That’s why China’s new fleet is such bad news for the small Southeast Asian nations in particular. In a post-American Asia, larger powers such as South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Australia have a fighting chance of resisting Chinese coercion if they invest more heavily in their own defense capacities. That isn’t an option for smaller powers, particularly as they enter China’s economic orbit via initiatives such as the Belt and Road.

The Chinese aircraft carrier about to put to sea is no match for the U.S. Navy, but that should bring little comfort to the United States and its Asian allies. Indeed, China may be betting that it will never have to confront the U.S. fleet and that it can prepare for the day the Navy sails back to home shores.

Correction, April 25, 2018: China’s first home-built aircraft carrier will begin sea trials imminently. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that it had already set sail. 

Sam Roggeveen is a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. He is the founding editor of the Interpreter and was previously a senior analyst in Australia’s peak intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments.

Foreign Policy:http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/25/chinas-new-carrier-is-already-obsolete/

China’s Second Aircraft Carrier Going to Sea For The First Time

April 23, 2018

MILITARY personnel around the world have been put on high alert after China revealed a second ocean aircraft carrier which has been sent out for testing.

By Sean Martin

Liaoning GETTY

Liaoning was China’s first aircraft carrier

The revelation means China will have two fully functioning aircraft carriers are capable of projecting firepower well beyond their borders in case of all out war.

The ship has been dubbed as Type 001A (CV-17) and is reverse engineered from a modified version of an aircraft carrier bought from Ukraine in 1998.

The carrier had been supposed to be turned into a casino, but once the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) got its hands on it, the army experimented with to find out the strengths and weaknesses.

Type 001A is now on its way to a designated testing zone in the Bohai sea which, until April 28, was a no-go zone.

Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the state-operated Global Times: “The first sea trials of China’s second aircraft carrier, built at the Dalian shipyard, are likely to take place in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea to test its power and design.”

China now has two aircraft carriers in its fleet following the launch of the Liaoning in 2012.

However, two more are on the way, according to state reports, which has caused the likes of the US, South Korea and Japan on full alert.

China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) earlier this year posted on its website plans to “speed up the process of making technological breakthroughs in nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, new-type nuclear submarines, quiet submarines, maritime unmanned intelligent confrontation systems, maritime three-dimensional offensive and defensive systems, and naval warfare comprehensive electronic information systems”.

However, CSIC later removed all references to nuclear aircraft carriers.

The US currently has 10 aircraft carriers in operation, and China hopes to catch up in due course, with at least six active carriers by 2030.

Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, said: “In the future, China’s national interests will continue to expand overseas.

“Without a fleet of large nuclear-powered vessels, the Chinese navy cannot sail for a long time to faraway waters.”

https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/950118/world-war-3-china-military-power-nuclear-aircraft-carrier

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China’s new aircraft carrier may start sea trials this week

April 23, 2018

China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier is expected to start sea trials

Liaoning maritime authorities have cordoned off areas in the northeast

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 April, 2018, 7:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 April, 2018, 9:25am

China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier is expected to start sea trials imminently,

China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier is expected to start sea trials imminently, a source close to the navy said, amid what analysts say is growing external pressure to push forward its development.

The Type 001A aircraft carrier’s maiden sea trial could take place this week, possibly coinciding with the PLA Navy’s 69th anniversary on Monday depending on weather and ocean conditions, according to the source.

The Liaoning Maritime Safety Administration announced on Friday that three areas in the northeastern Bohai and Yellow Sea would be cordoned off for military activities from April 20 to 28. The restricted areas are close to the shipyard in Liaoning province where the new carrier is being built.

A main engine run was conducted on Tuesday, indicating sea trials were about to start, said another source who witnessed the engine test.

The aircraft carrier is expected to enter service later this year, 12 months ahead of schedule, which one naval expert put down to a growing sense of urgency as rivalry between China and the United States intensifies.

 The aircraft carrier is not expected to sail far on its first voyage and could stay within Bohai Bay. Photo: ImagineChina

Another military source told the South China Morning Post earlier that the trial would test the ship’s basic functions, including power, damage control and radar and communication systems, as well as checking for leakage.

But the carrier is not expected to sail far on its first voyage, the source said, and it may just stay within Bohai Bay.

Liu Zheng, chairman of Dalian Shipbuilding Industry, confirmed last month that the new aircraft carrier was ready to start sea trials.

The 70,000-tonne Type 001A was launched in April last year and is expected to join the navy as early as the end of this year, well before the original target of 2019.

The new warship is an upgrade to the Type 001 Liaoning, China’s only operational aircraft carrier, a retrofitted Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class multi-role vessel.

But the source close to the navy said it was far “too early to estimate” when the new ship would be combat-ready.

It took nearly six years for the Liaoning to become a fully combat-ready battleship after it joined the navy in 2012, mainly because it lacked adequately trained crew members and commanders.

The Liaoning conducted intensive ocean drills last week, similar to those carried out by the US Navy, after taking part in the PLA’s biggest-ever naval parade off the coast of Hainan Island in the South China Sea.

It also passed through waters south of Taiwan on its way to carry out the military exercises in the Western Pacific, the latest in a series of drills that self-ruled Taiwan has criticised as “intimidation”.

The Liaoning is mainly used as a training vessel, but the new Type 001A – which will be able to carry up to 35 aircraft and will weigh 70,000 tonnes when fully loaded – is expected to be combat-ready.

“There is growing external pressure for China to speed up the development of its aircraft carrier so that it is the main force of the navy, especially since the US has increased its deployment in Asia,” said Ni Lexiong, a naval expert at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

“But China is still 10 to 20 years behind the US in this competition.”

The latest US carrier – the USS Gerald R Ford – weighs roughly 100,000 tonnes and can hold more than 75 aircraft.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2142828/chinas-new-aircraft-carrier-may-start-sea-trials-week

China carries out aircraft carrier drills in Pacific in attempts to intimidate Taiwan, and perhaps the U.S.

April 21, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, took part in military drills Friday, the Chinese navy said, ramping up tensions with Taiwan

BEIJING (AFP) – China has carried out aircraft carrier drills in the Pacific, its navy said Saturday, ramping up tensions with Taiwan over its military exercises in the sensitive region.Beijing’s sole aircraft carrier and two destroyer ships carried out “offensive and defensive drills to test their combat muscle” on Friday, China’s navy said on its official microblog site on Weibo.

The exercises took place in an area east of the Bashi Channel, which runs between Taiwan and the Philippines, it said.

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

In Beijing’s latest military drills, photos showed J-15 fighters waiting to take off from the Liaoning aircraft carrier.

The Jinan and Changchun destroyer ships also participated in the training.

Image result for Changchun, china, destroyer, navy, photos

Taiwan has accused China of “saber rattling” after Chinese bombers and spy planes flew around Taiwan Thursday, and the Chinese navy conducted live-fire drills off the Taiwan Strait a day earlier.

“China has deliberately manipulated (the exercise) to pressure and harass Taiwan in an attempt to spark tensions between the two sides and in the region,” Chiu Chui-cheng of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council told a regular briefing Thursday.

“(We) will never bow down to any military threat and incentive.”

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Beijing has stepped up military patrols around Taiwan and used diplomatic pressure to isolate it internationally since pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen took office.

Chinese President Xi Jinping observed the navy’s largest-ever military display this month in the South China Sea, which involved 76 fighter jets and a flotilla of 48 warships and submarines.

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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As US-China Trade War Looms, China Threatens Taiwan and Ups Live Fire Military Exercises

April 19, 2018

Image result for Chinese H-6K bombers, Photos

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has conducted live-fire military drills along its southeast coast after increasingly stern warnings by Beijing for neighboring Taiwan to toe the line, but the exercises were more low key than had been flagged in state media.

The government had said the drills would happen on Wednesday off the city of Quanzhou, in between two groups of islands close to China’s coast but that Taiwan has controlled since 1949 when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war.

Chinese state media has said the drills were a direct response to “provocations” by Taiwan leaders related to what China fears are moves to push for the self-ruled island’s formal independence. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory.

Late on Wednesday, Chinese state television showed footage of helicopters firing missiles during an exercise it said was taking place on China’s southeast coast.

While it did not provide an exact location, the report said the drills had attracted much attention in Taiwan and that they took place from 8 a.m. until midnight, giving the same time frame for the previously announced exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

State television only showed pictures of helicopters, with no mention of ships or other military equipment such as tanks or amphibious assault vehicles. The widely read Global Times tabloid said last week amphibious landing operations and long-distance attacks were likely to be simulated.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers around the island.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday afternoon two Chinese H-6K bombers had flown around the island, passing first through the Miyako Strait to Taiwan’s northeast and then back to base via the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Taiwan’s China policy-making Mainland Affairs Council said on Thursday the drills – which it described as routine and small scale – as well as the Chinese air force fly-by amounted to “military intimidation”.

“Our determination to defend the country’s sovereign dignity will never give in to any threat or inducement of force,” it said.

The latest Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against Taiwan separatism last month.

China’s hostility toward Taiwan has grown since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won a presidential election on the island in 2016.

China fears she wants to push for the island’s formal independence. Tsai says she is committed to peace and maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, but will defend Taiwan’s security.

Setting aside the tension with China, Tsai began a visit to the southern African nation of Swaziland on Wednesday, one of only 20 countries which maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Clare Jim and Judy Peng Loh in TAIPEI; Editing by Darren Schuettler, Robert Birsel

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China taking direct aim at US with Indo-Pacific trade strategy, expert says

April 18, 2018

The proposal is seen as a response to Washington’s efforts to boost Indo-Pacific alliances to rein in Chinese military deployment and investment

South China Morning Post

Beijing’s plan to open up “China’s Hawaii” as a gateway for Indo-Pacific investment and economic ties is an attempt to counter the United States’ efforts to form alliances against China in the region, analysts say.

The Hainan plan, unveiled by President Xi Jinping in Haikou, the provincial capital, on Friday, will have “genuine value” for China’s trade with countries in the Southeast Asian and Pacific regions, according to Iris Pang, chief Greater China economist with banking and financial services provider ING. 

The proposal comes as Washington works to build up its alliances in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, covering nations including Australia and India.

 Xi Jinping announced his plans for Hainan’s redevelopment after the Boao Forum for Asia. Photo: Bloomberg

Washington’s moves are seen as an attempt to counterbalance Beijing’s increasing military deployment and investment in the region, especially through its massive infrastructure plan, the “Belt and Road Initiative”.

Manoj Joshi, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, described the Hainan development plan as a response to Washington’s “Indo-Pacific strategy”.

“It’s a major easternmost maritime facility for China, and China has been quite active in the Indian Ocean in the past decade or so,” he said.

“China is already an Indo-Pacific power – it has significant economic commitments in the region.”

The free-trade port that is to be “basically established” in Hainan by 2025 and “mature” by 2035, according to government guidelines issued on Saturday, will allow this holiday island – home to 9.3 million people and sometimes called “China’s Hawaii” – to benefit from more opening-up policies, economic freedom and market access.

Building Hainan, which is already a special economic zone, into an important gateway to China for countries on the Indian and Pacific oceans is in keeping with the “new trend of economic globalisation”, according to the guidelines.

The island province – which is 30 times larger than Hong Kong, covering 35,000 sq km (13,500 square miles) – will be allowed to develop its information technology capabilities in big data, satellite navigation and artificial intelligence, health care and deep-sea research.

It will become home to an offshore innovation centre, as well as exchanges for energy, shipping, commodities and carbon trading.

China will also allow horse racing and new types of sports lotteries on the island under the plan.

Gurpreet Khurana, executive director of the National Maritime Foundation in India, concurred that the Hainan plan is China’s riposte to the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

 China’s navy conducts a parade in the South China Sea off the coast of Hainan. Photo: AP

“They are focusing on their ultimate national objective … the economic and material well-being of their people, which finds appeal in the countries that are partnering with China on its belt and road plan,” he said.

Hainan enjoyed a construction boom three decades ago when it was deemed a special economic zone, similar to Shenzhen. Amid a massive surge of property development on the island, Beijing moved to restrain the country’s credit risk in 1993, dashing hopes of an economic surge.

Zhang Jun, chief economist at Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities, said the latest development strategy for Hainan was “far higher” in significance than its early 1990s predecessor.

“It will be implemented by the central government against the backdrop of building a maritime power and pushing forward the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’,” Zhang said.

 President Xi Jinping (second from left) inspects the planning hall of the Lecheng international medical tourism pilot zone in Boao, Hainan province, last week. Photo: Xinhua

Liu Zongyi, senior fellow for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the Hainan strategy was largely an economic plan, but it acknowledged the province’s ability to play an important role safeguarding China’s interest in the South China Sea.

“China has naval bases in the South China Sea, so Hainan is critical for maintaining stability and peace there as well as the security of China’s resource and imports and exports, so there are safety considerations,” he said.

“These considerations are parallel: in order to protect your economic prosperity, you need to have this security shield.”

 Beijing said that redeveloping Hainan was a way to keep pace with the new trend of economic globalisation. Photo: Xinhua

Richard A. Bitzinger, visiting senior fellow with the Military Transformations Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said a more developed Hainan would serve as “a better jumping-off point for the Chinese military”.

“The island is already home to a major base for nuclear submarines,” he said. “Hainan is a good base for reinforcing Chinese military facilities in the South China Sea, especially Woody Island and the artificial islands in the Spratlys.

“And it puts the Chinese military and economic capability about as close as possible to the Malacca and Singapore straits and the entry into the Indian Ocean.

“In other words, Hainan is a win-win for China. It is geographically well suited for the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and politically safe as well. Modernising Hainan can only help China’s presence in the south.”

Xi’s announcement came on the heels of his keynote speech at the Boao Forum, dubbed Asia’s Davos, last week.

In that address, China’s leader differentiated himself from US President Donald Trump by opting not to use the moment to launch another round of retaliatory duties on American exports to China.

Instead, he said that while not seeking trade surplus with any country, China was ready to increase imports that were needed by the Chinese public.

He also promised to remove trade barriers and open the Chinese market further by lowering tariffs on a range of foreign goods, easing restrictions on foreign ownership in Chinese companies, opening further the capital and insurance sectors and protecting the intellectual property of foreign companies doing business in China.

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Taiwan president watches China’s naval drill — China is ‘changing international and regional security situation’

April 13, 2018

AFP

© AFP | Taiwan said the exercise was staged in light of a ‘changing international and regional security situation’

SUAO (TAIWAN) (AFP) – Taiwan’s president watched naval drills simulating an attack on the island Friday, days before Beijing is set to hold live-fire exercises nearby in a show of force.Relations between self-ruling Taiwan and China have deteriorated since Tsai Ing-wen came to power almost two years ago, largely because she refuses to accept the “One China” formula governing relations.

Beijing regards the island as its territory — to be reunited by force if necessary — even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war.

China’s growing military is increasingly flexing its muscles and will hold live-fire drills next week in the Taiwan Strait — the narrow waterway separating the Chinese mainland from Taiwan — following weeks of naval manoeuvres in the area.

Tsai boarded the Kee Lung destroyer to supervise as troops practised defending against an attack on the northeastern port of Suao.

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Kee Lung

It was the first time she has supervised a drill from onboard a warship.

“I believe our countrymen will have great faith in the military’s combat capabilities and its determination to defend our country after today’s drill,” Tsai said on the destroyer’s deck after it returned to port as the exercise ended.

Tsai said “we are very confident of our military” when asked to comment on Beijing’s planned live-fire drill in the Taiwan Strait next week.

“It’s a routine drill that our military will fully monitor and has made relevant preparations,” she said.

– ‘Military expansion’ –

Taiwan’s defence ministry said the exercise was staged in light of a “changing international and regional security situation” to test the military’s combat readiness and its ability to defend Taiwanese territory.

Some 20 warships and four F16 fighter jets took part in the drill, one of the largest naval manoeuvres since Tsai took office in May 2016.

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Tsai has warned against what she called Beijing’s “military expansion” — the increase in Chinese air and naval drills around the island since she took office in May 2016.

Chinese warplanes conducted 25 drills around Taiwan between August 2016 and mid-December last year, according to Taipei.

On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a surprise visit to naval forces in the disputed South China Sea, where he stressed the “urgent” need to build a powerful navy.

China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on March 20, the same day that Xi issued a public warning against attempts to “separate” from China.

Xi’s naval visit came after a US aircraft carrier sailing though the South China Sea gave a demonstration Tuesday for members of the Philippine government.

Washington recently agreed to allow US defence contractors help Taiwan construct its own submarines, sparking a warning from Beijing to Taipei against “playing with fire to burn itself”.

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