Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

24 May 2017

Is America losing to China in a new Great Game?

Noah Millman

Just this month, The New York Times published two major stories sounding the alarm, one about China's burgeoning investments in Africa, the other about China's massive investments in infrastructure in Southeast and Central Asia. As the Trump administration slips further into solipsistic delusion, starving its own diplomatic corps and boasting about trade deals in which America got badly outmaneuvered, China's potential moves on the global chessboard only multiply. Alarm would seem to be justified.

But what game is China actually playing? Is China constructing a 21st-century version of a colonial empire? If so, is that something America ought to be concerned about? And what should — what can — we do about it?

On one level, the answer to the key question is obviously yes. China's economic model is state-led, and its large infrastructure projects overseas, whether nominally private (as with the stalled plan to build a canal across Nicaragua) or not, are understood by all parties to be undertaken in coordination with the regime, and with a view to serving the regime's interests. China's interests, likewise, are close kin to those of 19th-century colonialists: control of access to key natural resources and the opening of markets for Chinese manufactures.

Will China and India Lead The Next Wave of Globalization?

By Monish Tourangbam and Pawan Amin

On May 14, while addressing the gathering of 29 heads of state and other high level representatives attending the Belt and Road summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping projected the Belt and Road as a “road of opening up.” He went on to stress that “opening up brings progress while isolation results in backwardness.” Whether this was a jibe at the current protectionist dispensation in the United States or not, Xi did not hold back in comparing the initiative to the Western model of development assistance. While making it clear that China does not intend to interfere in other country’s internal affairs, export its social system or development model, Xi laid out the plan for a new model of win-win cooperation. He also announced new projects in the area of emergency food aid, poverty alleviation, health care and more; areas traditionally the mainstay of development assistance provided by the United States and other western countries. While there remains an ambiguity in the shape of things to come, it is largely acknowledged that Xi’s China has come out of the era of “hide and bide” to an era marked by a “New Type of Great Power Relations,” as Beijing phrases it, when China realizes the “Strong Army Dream.”


This week in China the forum "One belt, one way" was completed, in which 28 heads of Eurasian countries took part. One of the main guests of the forum was the Russian President Vladimir Putin. China has demonstrated that it seeks to become a new pole of power in the global arena and looks forward to an alliance with Russia. The US, in turn, is restoring relations with its allies. Donald Trump on May 19 for the first time will travel outside the country as president of the United States, visiting Israel and Saudi Arabia, NATO summits and the "Big Seven" summit.

Chinese Cyber-Spies Target Asian Neighbors


It has been three years since the Obama Administration publically indicted five Chinese military officials for hacking U.S. companies, a move that prompted negotiations to halt economic cyber espionage intended to benefit Chinese economic competitiveness. The Cipher Brief spoke with John Hultquist, the Manager of Analysis at FireEye, about the current state of Chinese economic espionage and its apparent decline in the West despite being previously referred to as the most significant transfer of wealth in modern history.

The Cipher Brief: Could you describe, from a historical perspective, how Chinese cyber espionage has evolved over time? What is it primarily trying to accomplish, and where are attacks occurring?

John Hultquist: Chinese actors have relied on cyber as a tool of espionage for well over a decade now. Like most actors, national security has always been a major concern of theirs. This has consequentially resulted in them targeting both neighboring nations and internal dissident problems, such as Tibetan leaders, Falun Gong, and Hong Kong democracy activists. It has also involved targeting foreign governments with an interest in the region, such as the United States.

Geography and the Coming US-China War at Sea

By Jerry Hendrix and Robert Bateman

Soon, steel-hulled ships will clash in battle. Missiles belching fire will rise quickly from launch tubes, rapidly gathering speed and maneuverability before slamming into enemy vessels at supersonic speeds. Sailors will die, ships will sink, and nations will either rise or fall. Although the time of the battle remains hidden, the site of the battles are known all too well.

Geography is determinate in military plans, a fact that planners understand at all levels, from tactical to strategic. While tailored combat elements may traverse difficult environments on land and at sea, heavily laden logistics craft that follow and enable them can rarely do the same. This is what pushes armies and fleets toward certain immutable routes, resulting in battles occurring at the same locations, over and over, throughout recorded history. Much as the ridge at Megiddo, better known as “Armageddon,” played witness to strife no less than 13 times since the 15th century BCE because it stood astride the route from Mesopotamia to Egypt, key maritime straits such as the waters of the South China Sea and the Sunda and Malaccan Straits will provide the backdrop for future naval battles. Geography and geopolitics are intermeshed and unavoidable. Unfortunately for China, they sit upon the wrong side of the former and are rather poor at the latter. Western advantages in both must not be squandered.

China Reaches into its Cyber Toolkit to Wage Economic Warfare


When Beijing got the word that the United States was accelerating the deployment of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea as a response to North Korea’s latest missile tests, senior Communist Party officials went, no pun intended, ballistic. The official Chinese news agency Xinhua wrote that the deployment of THAAD will lead to an increased arms race in the region and threatened that more “missile shields of one side inevitably bring more nuclear missiles of the opposing side that can break through the missile shield.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has increased the pressure on South Korean private firms operating in China as a punishment and warning for Seoul’s decision. Lotte, a South Korean conglomerate that sold the government a golf course to be used for THAAD, felt the pain almost immediately upon the announcement of its role in the defense battery’s positioning. Chinese authorities shuttered dozens of Lotte stores on the mainland, using the flimsy excuse that the government had just discovered that the stores did not comply with fire regulations. Beyond the closure of the physical stores, Lotte’s website was brought down and Lotte Duty Free suffered a distributed denial-of-service attack originating from Chinese internet addresses. Initial estimates of lost business and damage from these cyber attacks are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Andrew Korybko

The neoconservative Brookings Institute think tank authored a 2009 strategic publication about the most efficient way for the US to asymmetrically destabilize Iran, titling their blueprint “Which Path To Persia? Options For A New American Strategy Towards Iran”. Eurasian geopolitics has been completely upended in the 7 years since that document was first published, and many (but crucially, not all) of the precepts mentioned within it are outdated and irrelevant to the contemporary international context. That said, the concept of trailblazing the best Path to Persia still remains attractive, though no longer just for the US and this time towards completely different ends than the original idea had planned for. The rise of China and the unveiling of the worldwide One Belt One Road strategic vision have led to the People’s Republic taking a keen interest in directly connecting itself with the Islamic Republic, and herein lies the foundation for forging a different sort of Path to Persia. 

China’s Economic Reforms Have Hit a Wall

By Scott Kennedy

Scott Kennedy is deputy director of the Freeman Chair in China Studies and director of the Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is editor of Global Governance and China: The Dragon’s Learning Curve (Routledge, forthcoming Fall 2017). This piece is part of a special RCW series on the U.S.-China geopolitical relationship. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

By almost any measure, China’s economic performance over the past four decades is as impressive as the Great Wall is long. Since the late 1970s, the People’s Republic of China has grown faster for longer than any country in history -- ever. But just as the Great Wall wasn’t as effective as popularly imagined, the foundation of China’s economy is weak. Because of China’s sheer size and its integration into global production networks, one thing is for certain: as China’s economy goes, so goes the world’s. Furthermore, the dangers of an malfunctioning Chinese economy are monumental, not just for China but for the United States and everyone else.

Why Does Russia Still Favor China, Its More Powerful Partner?

By Stephen Blank

Bobo Lo's new Lowy Institute Paper on Russo-Chinese relations dazzles with the brilliance, clarity of thought, precision, and vigour we have come to expect from his work. This essay should be required reading for those who would seek to plumb the depths of this critical relationship and of Russian and Chinese foreign policies.

Lo is certainly right to say that the most dynamic factor in this relationship is the growing imbalance in aggregated power between Russia and China, whereby China is outstripping Russia in most if not all indices of power and capability. He argues that this dynamism and the consequences that ensue from it are placing the relationship under ever-increasing stress. Thus he sees it as a tactical rather than principled relationship or partnership, and dismisses, as do most writers, the idea of an actual alliance appearing anytime soon.

However, despite the many virtues and scintillating insights, the essay fails to answer why, if there is a power asymmetry (and most assuredly there is), the relationship has been a durable feature of world affairs for the last 25 years. Neither does his assessment explain why leaders like China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi repeatedly state that bilateral relations between them have reached 'a historic maximum', are stronger than they ever have been and are based on mutual interests and not external factors like a shared antipathy to the US. Certainly those statements are not just pro forma utterances or words spoken purely for purposes of politeness or domestic consumption. If the irritants and divergences in this relationship are as strong and widespread as Lo suggests, then its continuation is a mystery, as it would appear to be of decreasing utility or benefit to both states.

23 May 2017

*** For China, All Roads (and Belts) Lead to Europe

By: Jen Judson

TAMPA, Fla. – U.S. Special Operations Command is struggling to develop and implement technology that will help get a handle on the large amount of information it must sift through to stay informed, make decisions and execute operations.

And SOCOM is not alone in the struggle. It’s a problem that plagues U.S. Armed Forces as a whole.

But mastering “big data” is imperative for special operations activities that rely on real time intelligence and very early indicators to make crucial life or death maneuvers. Leaders from around the command called upon industry for help mastering the seemingly endless data pouring in to be used for intelligence at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference Tuesday.

The message echoed that of USSOCOM Commander Gen. Raymond Thomas in recent testimony: “We’re dealing, literally swimming, in the morass of information and intelligence, a mixed bag,” he told a House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee hearing earlier this month.

“But how we sort through that in terms of business solutions – we’re on the cusp of it,” Thomas said. “And the good news is, we’re starting to marry up the right people with our operators and our problem solvers to get at this wicked problem of information management and deep data, all the things that go with it that, arguably, corporations have already addressed.”

Can China Afford Its Belt and Road?

China's just-completed conference touting its Belt and Road initiative certainly looked like a triumph, with Russian President Vladimir Putin playing the piano and Chinese leaders announcing a string of potential deals and massive financial pledges. Underneath all the heady talk about China positioning itself at the heart of a new global order, though, lies in uncomfortable question: Can it afford to do so?

Such doubts might seem spurious, given the numbers being tossed around. China claims nearly $900 billion worth of deals are already underway, with estimates of future spending ranging from $4 trillion to $8 trillion, depending on which Chinese government agency is doing the talking. At the conference itself, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged another $78 billion for the effort, which envisions building infrastructure to link China to Europe through Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

From no other country in the world would such pledges be remotely plausible. Yet even for China, they'll be difficult to fulfill without clashing with the country's other objectives.

The first question is what currency to use for all this lending. Denominating loans in renminbi would accelerate China's stated goal of internationalizing its currency. But it would also force officials to tolerate higher levels of offshore renminbi trading and international price-setting. So far, they've shown little appetite for either.

A great wall of paranoia

Zorawar Daulet Singh

As China pushes ahead with B&RI, India must reconcile geopolitical interests with wider developmental goals

In a consequential development over the past week, India decided to stake out a clear position of defiance against the Belt & Road Initiative (B&RI), an ambitious Chinese idea that seeks to reshape the Eurasian geo-economic space. India’s absence in Beijing’s high-profile summit with representatives from over 100 countries, including 29 heads of state, has evoked surprise and debate. What is the calculus driving India’s China policy? Does India risk isolation as Eurasia moves towards a new chapter of connectivity and interdependence?

Delhi’s position can be clearly gauged from the Ministry of External Affairs’ May 13 statement. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of the B&RI, is seen as a blatant disregard for India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir because it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. But Delhi’s protest goes beyond the “core concerns” over sovereignty. The objection to the B&RI is actually more deep-rooted, namely, that China’s rise and projection of geo-economic influence is a direct challenge and threat to India’s great power aspirations and traditional position in the subcontinent.



Somewhat obscured the recent outpouring of penny dreadful news from Washington (from the dubious termination of the director of the FBI to Sean Spicer ensconcing himself in the White House shrubbery) was the announcement of a U.S.-China 100-day economic action plan.

It is a pedestrian, workmanlike document, committing to a raft of bilateral trade, investment and regulatory measures. Its references to poultry, beef (which left the president enthused), and clearing houses are not obviously the stuff of grand strategy, or grand bargains.

It could prove economically beneficial, on its own merits, if China can be persuaded to open its market on more reciprocal terms. Interestingly, China will start importing U.S. liquefied natural gas to meet its energy needs, within existing U.S. export quota limits for non-free trade agreement countries.

Politically, it is a significant step forward, given the gathering American domestic headwinds against seemingly any kind of trade deal. A potentially damaging trade conflict with China, widely feared at the outset of the Trump administration, has been averted – for now.

Also tucked away with the action plan was an instantaneous commitment to send a U.S. delegation to this week’s Belt and Road Initiative summit in Beijing. They must have had their bags packed.

China’s PLAN—Breaking Out to Blue Waters

By Eli Huang

On 25 December 2016, the PLAN deployed its Liaoning carrier group beyond the First Island Chain for the first time, in what many considered to be a warning to Taipei after President Tsai Ing-wen’s phone call with US President-elect Donald Trump. The PLA’s activities in the Western Pacific continued after President Trump told President Xi that the US would honor the ‘One China’ policy.

On March 2, PLAAF fighters, bombers, and early warning aircraft transited the Miyako Strait and entered the western Pacific for joint exercises with the PLAN’s far-sea training taskforce including the destroyers Changsha and Haikou and supply ship Luomahu. A PLAN task force left Sanya on 10 February for a joint exercise with an aviation force in the South China Sea and the eastern Indian Ocean, and then returned by the south-eastern waters of Taiwan to the Western Pacific.

The PLAN’s naval drills are not only political exercises and a warning to the US, but also a basis for routine PLAN activities in the future. China’s maritime strategy is clearly moving beyond the traditional ‘island chain’ boundary that has limited the PLAN’s operations and development in the past

22 May 2017

Trumpeting 'One Belt, One Road,' China bids to lead 'Globalization 2.0'

Michael Holtz

MAY 16, 2017 BEIJING—High-speed railways in Indonesia and Hungary. Deep-water ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Gas pipelines across central Asia. All are part of what is arguably the largest overseas development drive ever launched by a single nation.

Even the Marshall Plan, America’s postwar reconstruction effort in Europe, pales in comparison to the more than $900 billion China has pledged for the construction of infrastructure projects in more than 60 countries as part of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined his vision for this modern-day Silk Road during a two-day forum in Beijing that ended Monday. While the initiative is still in its early stages, it comes at a critical moment in Asia. Developing countries in the region need to invest some $1.7 trillion per year on infrastructure to maintain growth, tackle poverty, and fight climate change, according to the Asian Development Bank. Meanwhile, the United States seems poised to reverse the Obama administration's plans for a “pivot to Asia.”

The Belt and Road Initiative gives China the opportunity to create a political and economic network based on its own rules, with the ambitious goal of establishing what Chinese state-run media have dubbed “globalization 2.0.” Mr. Xi used the forum this week to present himself as one of its leaders – and, in stark contrast to US President Trump, as an advocate for free trade.

Has China Restored Private Land Ownership?

By Donald Clarke

Last March, at a press conference after China’s annual National People’s Congress, Premier Li Keqiang made a remarkable—and remarkably unheralded—announcement: full private ownership of land has been restored in China’s cities. Needless to say, he did not use those exact words. But the import of his statement was the same. Here’s how it happened and why it’s important, both economically and as a bellwether of political change.

When the Chinese Communist Party assumed control over mainland China in 1949, it did not follow Russia’s Bolsheviks in immediately abolishing the private ownership of land. In the countryside, a violent land reform movement brought a change in owners, but not in the ownership regime itself; full collectivization did not occur until the late 1950s. In the cities, both owners and the ownership regime, at least for residential property, were initially left untouched. Over the years, however, government policies chipped away at the rights of landowners until, by the end of the Mao Zedong era, private ownership existed in name only. With the promulgation of a new constitution in 1982, all urban land was declared state-owned. Since then, state ownership of urban land has been considered a pillar of Chinese socialism.

Behind China’s $1 Trillion Plan to Shake Up the Economic Order


VANG VIENG, Laos — Along the jungle-covered mountains of Laos, squads of Chinese engineers are drilling hundreds of tunnels and bridges to support a 260-mile railway, a $6 billion project that will eventually connect eight Asian countries.

Chinese money is building power plants in Pakistan to address chronic electricity shortages, part of an expected $46 billion worth of investment.

Chinese planners are mapping out train lines from Budapest to Belgrade, Serbia, providing another artery for Chinese goods flowing into Europe through a Chinese-owned port in Greece.

The massive infrastructure projects, along with hundreds of others across Asia, Africa and Europe, form the backbone of China’s ambitious economic and geopolitical agenda. President Xi Jinping of China is literally and figuratively forging ties, creating new markets for the country’s construction companies and exporting its model of state-led development in a quest to create deep economic connections and strong diplomatic relationships.

The initiative, called “One Belt, One Road,” looms on a scope and scale with little precedent in modern history, promising more than $1 trillion in infrastructure and spanning more than 60 countries. To celebrate China’s new global influence, Mr. Xi is gathering dozens of state leaders, including President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in Beijing on Sunday.

21 May 2017

Navigating the new silk road

Mukul Sanwal

China’s Belt and Road Initiative reflects global trends and a new paradigm which India can support and shape

Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprise everyone and participate in China’s ‘Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation’ which begins on May 14?

That would be the kind of bold initiative he took in inviting leaders of our neighbouring countries to his swearing-in in 2014, but with far greater significance.

It would also be an appropriate response to China’s recent four-point initiative and test its intent. China has suggested starting negotiations on a ‘China India Treaty of Good Neighbours and Friendly Cooperation’, restarting negotiations on the China-India Free Trade Agreement, striving for an early harvest on the border issue and actively exploring the feasibility of aligning China’s ‘One Belt One Road Initiative’ (OBOR) and India’s ‘Act East Policy’. To repeat Nehru’s outright rejection in 1960 of Zhou Enlai’s proposal to settle the border dispute would be a historic mistake.

With the long term in mind 

India’s response should be based on its long-term interest and not short-term concerns. First, treat the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — which already has contracts of over $1 trillion covering over 60 countries — as enlarging areas of cooperation; and push for India as the southern node and a ‘Digital Asia’. India cannot be a $10 trillion economy by 2032 without integrating itself with the growing Asian market and its supply, manufacturing and market networks.

20 May 2017

** What is Known and Unknown about Changes to the PLA’s Ground Combat Units

By: Dennis J. Blasko

The long-awaited changes in the operational and tactical units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have begun with a formal announcement by President Xi Jinping in April 2017. After initiating major reforms in late 2015 and throughout 2016, the Central Military Commission (CMC), service headquarters, and military regions (now theater commands) have been reorganized resulting in the reallocation of many personnel and the demobilization of an unknown number of active duty personnel. But, as part of the ongoing 300,000 man reduction, even larger cuts in personnel will follow as headquarters and units at corps/army-level and below are eliminated, re-subordinated, or restructured.

By 2020, when the structural changes now underway are scheduled for completion, the PLA should number two million active duty personnel. Though the reforms since 2015 are the most significant set of changes for the PLA since the 1950s, they are but an intermediate step, the 2020 milestone, in the PLA’s “three-step development strategy” initially announced in 2006. The strategy’s final goal was modified in 2008 and defined as “reach[ing] the goal of modernization of national defense and armed forces by the mid-21st century.” [1] As such, more adjustments to the PLA’s structure and capabilities can be expected over the next three decades as technology improves and China’s domestic and the international situations change. Throughout this process the reforms will be evaluated to determine if they meet the objectives of building a strong military to defend China’s core security requirements, capable of deterring and winning informationized wars, and accomplishing a variety of military operations other than war such as anti-terrorism, internal stability maintenance, disaster relief, and international peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations (MOD, May 26, 2015).

** China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative Must Become a Strategy

On May 14, President Xi Jinping of China will welcome 28 world leaders to Beijing to discuss the most ambitious and least understood initiative in global affairs: the Belt and Road. The effort is bold and has been compared to a traditional Chinese painting made with broad brush strokes. Through new overland and maritime connections, it aims to put China squarely at the center of global economic affairs. Like a painting of the same style, it also begins to lose focus when viewed up close, raising questions about its drivers and ultimate implications.

The Belt and Road is a masterpiece hanging in today’s global affairs gallery. Stagnation has been a watchword for the global economy since 2008, but it also partially describes the foreign policy realm. Lackluster growth, political cycles, and geopolitical crises have relegated states to postures that are more reactive than proactive and, in many cases, more focused internally than externally. What President George H.W. Bush once called "the vision thing” has never been easy, but with lower growth, executing big ideas has only become more difficult.

In contrast, the Belt and Road is the most ambitious geoeconomic vision in recent history. Spanning an estimated 65 countries, it can claim to cover roughly 70 percent of the world’s population. It could include Chinese investments approaching $4 trillion, of which nearly $900 billion in deals have been announced. It intends to strengthen hard infrastructure with new roads and railways, soft infrastructure with trade and transportation agreements, and even cultural ties with university scholarships and other people-to-people exchanges. In all these ways, when much of the West is looking inward, China is connecting with the world.