Tuesday, July 29, 2014
In June 2014, Minnick published a 800-page directory on foreign aviation companies doing business in China. The book included the names of Chinese agents/agencies handling the company account, press releases, chronologies, speeches, and index. You can order it from Amazon.
Posted by Wendell Minnick, Journalist at 2:59 AM
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
China Continues its Focus on Cyber: Report
By MARCUS WEISGERBER and WENDELL MINNICK
WASHINGTON and TAIPEI — China continues to invest in the development of offensive cyberwarfare capabilities that could disrupt global computer networks, according to a new U.S. Defense Department report.
“China is investing in not only capabilities to better defend their networks, but also, they’re looking at ways to use cyber for offensive operations,” said David Helvey, acting deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia, during a May 18 briefing at the Pentagon.
While Helvey could not say whether China is accelerating development of these offensive cyberwarfare capabilities, Beijing’s actions in this area over the past year have been sustained.
“Their continued efforts in this area reflect the importance that they’re placing on developing capabilities for cyberwarfare,” he said.
The report notes that in 2011, global computer networks “continued to be targets of intrusions and data theft, many of which originated within China. Although some of the targeted systems were U.S. government-owned, others were commercial networks owned by private companies whose stolen data represents valuable intellectual property.”
The annual Pentagon report — which is primarily conducted by the Pentagon’s policy office and the Defense Intelligence Agency — has been mandated by Congress since 2000.
“We intend the report to be factual,” Helvey said. “We try to maintain a very analytic, objective tone and let the facts speak for themselves.”
Beijing continued “sustained investment” in nuclear forces, short and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft, integrated air defenses, cruise missiles, submarines, ships and cyberwarfare capabilities, Helvey said.
“China’s military modernization is also, to an increasing extent, focusing on investments that would enable China’s armed forces to conduct a wide range of missions, including those that are far from China,” he said.
That said, “preparing for contingencies in the Taiwan Strait appears to be the principal focus and driver for much of China’s military investment,” he said.
The Pentagon does not expect the Chinese J-20 — an advanced fighter jet with capabilities that analysts say are similar to advanced U.S. aircraft — to achieve an “effective operational capability no sooner than 2018,” Helvey said.
China began sea trials of its first aircraft carrier last year. While the ship could be operationally ready by the end of the year, it will likely take “several additional years” before it is able to deploy with aircraft.
Despite Beijing’s military investments, military-to-military relations has improved in recent years, and top defense officials from the U.S. and China have made official visits to each country. Earlier this month, Gen. Liang Guanglie, the Chinese defense minister, met with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon and visited a number of military bases in the United States.
Adm. Samuel Locklear, the head of U.S. Pacific Command, is scheduled to visit China this summer and Panetta has been invited to China in the second half of this year.
This year’s 52-page report was “strangely short” compared to the 94-page report in 2011, said Gary Li, a defense analyst with London-based Exclusive Analysis. This year’s report was “very short and condensed,” he said.
Li noted that all analysis of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was shortened to general trends rather than specifics. There was a “focus on China’s overall national strategy rather than the PLA as an entity.”
DoD appears to have abandoned the “bean counting approach” to PLA unit information, most likely because “they were rubbish at it,” Li said.
The lack of facts and figures in this year’s report makes it impossible to say how accurate the report is this time, Li said. This could be “due to a more ‘softly softly’ approach to China” following the U.S. announcement of a new strategic realignment toward Asia, or “due to the rapidly changing character of the PLA over the past year,” which could be the Pentagon’s way of taking a “wait and see approach,” he said.
Despite the format changes, Helvey said the report still addresses “the same range of questions and issues that’s requested by the Congress in the legislation.”
“We’ve streamlined and consolidated the report in keeping with DoD-wide guidance for how we’re handling reports to Congress,” he said.
On the positive side, the Pentagon released this report roughly on schedule for the first time in years, said Henry Boyd, Research Associate for Defence and Military Analysis at London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. But on the down side, “there seems to be little in the way of new substantive analysis, and the same old contradictions continue to crop up.”
Boyd also noted the shorter version of the report compared to 2011, which might explain why they were able to release it earlier than normal.
“The chapter on ‘Force Modernization Goals and Trends’ has gone from 15 to 5 pages and the one on ‘Resources for Force Modernization’ is effectively gone,” and Boyd asked, is this “because the size of China’s Defense Budget isn’t an issue any more?”
To make matters worse, there appears to be a disconnect between the text and the data.
The PLA is believed to be reorganizing both its land and air structures to a certain extent, but no mention is made of air force restructuring in the report, “whilst there is a token nod in the direction of ground force changes,” Boyd said.
The report acknowledges that in “mid-2011 the PLA began to transform its ground forces into a modular combined arms brigade-focused structure,” but the army data in the report is effectively the same set DoD put out last year.
The same could be said for missile estimates where despite “acquiring and fielding greater numbers of conventional medium-range ballistic missiles” and “continuing to produce large numbers of ground-launched cruise missiles” as well as adding “additional missile brigades,” DoD estimates for ballistic-missile numbers “are exactly the same as last year, and therefore really, really similar to the ones published the year before that,” Boyd said.
Boyd said the report has deleted any mention or the names of senior Communist Party/PLA personnel. And although President Hu Jintao gets one mention with regard to his January 2011 meeting with Obama, there is no discussion of leadership transition and no organization chart of the PRC military structure.
“In general, I would describe myself as disappointed but not surprised by the content of this report,” Boyd said. “This year is obviously going to be a highly politicized one on both sides of the Pacific, and U.S.-China relations have not run smooth as of late.”
“It is possible that the reduced transparency and analysis reflects perceptions in the Pentagon of a more serious challenge posed by China than hitherto, and thus a desire not to tip the hand any further than they absolutely have to,” Boyd said. “However, you could make an equally plausible case to suggest that this report has just been given less time and attention than it previously received and has suffered accordingly.”
Posted by Wendell Minnick, Journalist at 2:49 AM
Taiwan Might Delay F-16 Upgrade
By Wendell Minnick
TAIPEI — Angry at the cost of upgrading its existing 146 F-16A/B fighters and enticed by the possible U.S. release of new F-16C/D jets, Taiwan might delay signing a letter of acceptance (LoA) with the U.S. government to upgrade its existing F-16 fleet.
In September 2011, the U.S. released a $5.3 billion upgrade package that included an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The U.S. Air Force has been pressuring Taiwan to pay for nonrecurring engineering (NRE) costs related to integrating the radar.
An NRE is the one-time cost to research, develop, design and test a new system. AESA refits are being competed in other Asian countries, and if Taiwan waited until South Korea made its AESA selection, Taiwan could save money on its deal, said a Ministry of National Defense consultant.
As the economy continues to shrink and defense budgets take hits, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) is facing huge hurdles as it struggles to pay for $13 billion worth of military hardware released by the U.S. since 2008. Taiwan is also implementing costly force structure realignment and moving from conscription to an all-volunteer system.
The White House breathed new life into Taiwan’s efforts to buy 66 F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighters when it acknowledged Taiwan’s need for new jets in an April 27 letter to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. The letter said Taiwan’s fighter fleet was shrinking in comparison to China’s expanding airpower capabilities. Cornyn had been pressing for the sale.
The White House did not promise to sell F-16C/Ds to Taiwan, but the MND is no position to ignore calls from Washington supporters to push the envelope on securing the fighter.
Since 2006, Taiwan has attempted to submit a letter of request (LoR) for price-and-availability data for F-16C/Ds on four occasions but was convinced by U.S. State Department officials to retract the request due to timing issues and fears it would lead to a negative policy decision that could affect future arms sales.
However, supporters in Washington are now hopeful. The letter has generated momentum after a long period of inertia, said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council. The next logical step is for Taiwan to issue the LoR to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). Otherwise, recent efforts will be in vain, he said.
Taiwan cannot afford both the A/B upgrade and new F-16C/Ds, said a Taiwan defense analyst. There is a lack of will within the Taiwan government to “fund such a costly new program, especially on top of the $5.3 billion F-16A/B upgrade,” since the government “has consistently failed to live up to the level of defense spending promised.
“Logically, therefore, it would seem to make the most sense for Taiwan to hold off making a final decision on the F-16A/B upgrade, at least until the situation vis-à-vis the new buy sufficiently clarifies,” he said.
“If the new buy does go ahead, there will be enormous pressure on the budget, and the Taiwan Air Force may be compelled to aggressively look for cuts and cost savings in the A/B upgrade program.”
There are also concerns in Taipei and Washington that the release of F-16C/Ds would destroy progress made to improve cross-strait ties with Beijing, which have grown to historic levels since 2008.
The other budget concern involves MND complaints over efforts by the U.S. Air Force to force Taiwan to pay for the NRE for the A/B upgrade AESA radar, which was not included in the original $5.3 billion price tag.
The Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar and the Northrop Grumman Scalable Agile Beam Radar are fighting over AESA refits for Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan F-16 programs.
If Taiwan pays for the NRE, it would save the U.S. taxpayer money when the U.S. Air Force begins integrating the new radar on 350 F-16 Block 40/50 fighters in an upcoming $2.8 billion program, said a U.S. defense industry source based in Taipei. If the MND just slowed down the negotiation process and refused to sign the LoA until South Korea made its AESA selection, he said, Taiwan would “save a ton of money.”
An MND consultant said Taiwan was “getting a raw deal” from the U.S., and the additional money Taiwan has to spend to pay for the NRE will “break the bank.” Getting the intellectual property rights or a reduction in the price would compensate Taiwan, he said. If not, MND policymakers will have to take into account the overall budget crunch before deciding on any additional spending.
But Taiwan might have little choice now but to go forward on the A/B upgrade, with or without the NRE price tag. Since 2006, the U.S. has consistently denied Taiwan’s request for F-16C/Ds, and the White House letter was “ambiguous” and did not “specify when Taiwan should make the pitch,” the MND consultant said.
He said, “We need to see beyond that letter if the Pentagon will have any additional guidance from the White House.”
Posted by Wendell Minnick, Journalist at 2:47 AM
U.S. May Sell 4 F-35s to Japan
By Wendell Minnick
TAIPEI, Taiwan — The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress on April 30 of a possible $10 billion foreign military sale to Japan for an initial four F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft with an option for an additional 38 F-35 CTOL aircraft.
The announcement was made in a DSCA press release on May 1.
The deal will include five spare Pratt and Whitney F-135 engines; command, control, communications, computer and intelligence capabilities, navigational systems; electronic warfare systems; an autonomic logistics global support system; an autonomic logistics information system; and a flight mission trainer.
It will also include unique infrared flares, a reprogramming center and performance-based logistics.
“Japan is one of the major political and economic powers in East Asia and the Western Pacific and a key ally of the United States in ensuring the peace and stability of this region,” said the DSCA press release. “The U.S. government shares bases and facilities in Japan. This proposed sale is consistent with these U.S. objectives and with the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.”
The F-35 beat Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and Eurofighter’s Typhoon in Japan’s competition to replace aging Mitsubishi-built F-4EJ Kai Phantoms. Japan’s F-4 aircraft will be decommissioned as F-35s are added to the inventory.
There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
Implementation of the proposed sale could take as long as 15 years, according to the press release, but industry sources indicated deliveries could begin as early as 2016.
The number of JSFs could expand to 100-120 F-35As for the F-XX program to replace the Mitsubishi F-15J/DJ Eagles.
Contractor representatives will be in Japan to conduct engineering technical services and autonomic logistics and global support for after-aircraft delivery, according to the press release.
During the Singapore Airshow in February, Lockheed Martin’s Dave Scott, director of F-35 international customer engagement, said that with U.S. government approval, Lockheed offered Japan as an F-35A final assembly and check-out site, “which is where they put the four major structural components of the airplane together, install the engines and all the electronic systems, do the codings, do the test flights.”
Lockheed is also offering construction of major structural components and subcomponents, engine assembly, integration and test, and light maintenance and repair, he said.
Posted by Wendell Minnick, Journalist at 2:46 AM
Five Scenarios for Renewed China-Philippines Conflict
TAIPEI — The standoff between China and the Philippines over Chinese fishing boats poaching in the Scarborough Shoal that began April 8 appears to be easing. But defense analysts point to Beijing’s continued failure to ignore regional exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and rein in competitive maritime enforcement agencies.
A new report, issued April 23 by the International Crisis Group (ICG), blames China’s disjointed and competitive maritime patrol agencies fighting over budgets and turf.
The ICG report — titled “Stirring Up The South China Sea” — identifies four “dragons” as the main culprits: Maritime Safety Administration, China Marine Surveillance (CMS), Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) and provincial government maritime enforcement units operating from Guangdong and Hainan.
Part of the problem is transparency about how the overlapping agencies function, said Ian Storey, a specialist at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. “It is also unclear what the lines of communication are between these various agencies and the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] and central government.”
Each of the agencies sets its own agenda, said Carlyle Thayer, a professor at University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, “especially FLEC and CMS, both have been responsible for nearly all the major incidents in recent years.”
Thayer identified five potential scenarios that could play out in a future dispute between China and the Philippines.
Scenario 1: Chinese fishing boats continue to fish in the Philippines’ EEZ. In this scenario, the Philippine Coast Guard attempts to arrest fishermen at Scarborough Shoal. The fishermen display automatic weapons and call for assistance. Chinese surveillance ships intervene and move aggressively to force the Coast Guard vessel away. One Chinese fisherman fires at the Coast Guard vessel with an assault rifle; the Coast Guard vessel fires warning shots. This is misinterpreted by one of the Chinese surveillance ships, which rams the Coast Guard vessel. The crews on both vessels engage in a brief firefight leading to fatalities before calm is restored.
This scenario is both the “most likely and the most troubling,” said retired U.S. Navy Adm. Walter Doran, former commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet. “I am sure the Chinese have little respect for the Philippine capability to defend their claims and assets, and therefore they are least likely to put up with any push back from the Philippines.”
However, a firefight between Chinese fishermen and Philippine Coast Guard vessels appears unlikely, said Gary Li, an analyst at U.K.-based Exclusive Analysis. “Not very likely, as Chinese fishing vessels and fishermen are not armed with anything other than maybe a hook,” Li said. Chinese surveillance vessels would also not engage in a firefight in such an open way, he said. “Chinese paramilitaries have to clear everything with headquarters, and this kind of escalation would be very damaging so not likely to be allowed.”
Scenario 2: Chinese officials in the FLEC grow tired of foreign affairs “dilly-dallying and the standoff at Scarborough Shoal,” Thayer said. At night, an armed FLEC party boards and takes over the Philippine Coast Guard cutter on the pretext of detaining a vessel operating illegally in Chinese waters. “If you accept that China has sovereignty over the rocks at Scarborough Shoal and these are entitled to a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea, China could argue a stationary Coast Guard cutter is not engaged in innocent passage,” he said.
“Direct boarding of anything other than a fishing vessel is not likely to be attempted by any Chinese marine paramilitaries,” Li said. “They are far too cowardly and cautious, unless they’ve been given a direct order, in which case they might attempt ramming action.” Storey also felt this scenario was unlikely and “too Tom Clancy.”
Scenario 3: While the Philippines is engaged in the standoff at Scarborough Shoal, China dispatches a FLEC ship into the Spratly waters claimed by the Philippines to assist Chinese fishermen claiming harassment by Filipino fishermen.
The Philippines does not have any Coast Guard ships available, so it dispatches the Navy frigate Gregorio del Pilar. Both sides refuse to stand down, and when the FLEC ship maneuvers dangerously, the frigate fires warning shots. The Chinese return fire, hitting the frigate and killing several crew members.
The problem with this scenario is the Chinese have already withdrawn their largest fisheries vessel, the Yuzheng 310, in a gesture of goodwill and an attempt at de-escalating the issue, Li said. This points to the Chinese not having the confidence or political will to take this further. “The Chinese paramilitary vessels wouldn’t dare fire upon a foreign military vessel, as this would be an open declaration of war,” he said, and “their 12.7mm machine guns won’t do much damage and the small Filipino frigates can still blast them full of holes in return.”
Storey believes this scenario is still plausible. “Frankly speaking, I think it’s just a question of time before we see a firefight in the [South China Sea and] it would likely be sparked by a dispute over fisheries or oil and gas exploration. It could easily get out of hand.”
Scenario 4: During the standoff at Scarborough Shoal, both sides plant flags on the rocks signifying sovereignty. One day, two landing parties confront each other and shooting breaks out when one side attempts to stop the other from removing its flag. An armed Chinese vessel appears and provides covering fire. Several Filipino troops are killed. The Philippines requests consultations with the U.S. under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
The overhanging question of the MDT with the Philippines will have to be dealt with, Doran said. This will become more of an issue as the U.S. pivots forces to the Pacific and considers a closer relationship with the Philippines. “We have once again learned to live with a lot of ambiguity in the relationship, but an aggressive China demands that we clearly re-think the commitments on both sides of the treaty,” Doran said.
“My primary concern is China building structures similar to what they did on Mischief Reef in 1995,” said Renato Cruz De Castro of De La Salle University in Manila. “They will take control of Scarborough Shoal, build a structure for fishermen to shelter, and improve it with radar and communications facilities.”
Building structures on the shoal will prevent the Philippines from exercising its territorial rights to the shoal on the basis of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, and also allow the Chinese to monitor U.S. Navy communications once Subic Bay becomes available for its use in the light of current negotiation between Manila and Washington for a greater U.S. strategic footprint in the Philippines, he said.
The problem is that the Philippines did not formally claim sovereignty of the Spratly Islands until 1978, “so the U.S. position is that the 1951 MDT does not cover them,” Storey said, though consultations would be required.
Scenario 5: The standoff at Scarborough Shoal ends when the Philippines withdraws its Coast Guard cutter. China sends in personnel to occupy the rocks and erect structures. A Chinese Navy warship is posted nearby to deter a Filipino response. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) falls into complete disarray over how to respond, so it does nothing. The Philippines calls for consultations with the U.S. under the MDT, arguing that it has lost territory due to external armed intervention.
U.S. credibility is put on the line. China begins to renew its harassment of U.S. Navy surveillance ships and aircraft operating in its EEZ as a signal to the U.S. to back off. The U.S. provides armed escorts for its ships and aircraft. Tensions increase dramatically.
“As for ASEAN — it would either close ranks behind the Philippines (as ASEAN did over Vietnamese incursions into Thai territory in 1980) or split and be rendered impotent,” Storey said. “My money would be on the latter.”
“I think the increase in U.S. involvement will definitely happen, but I don’t think the Chinese will try and erect structures so close to the Philippine coast,” Li said. “It would be almost impossible for them to defend effectively and they don’t have assets that can be rotated out in an effective manner.”
The five scenarios roughly coincide with Doran’s greatest concerns over the South China Sea situation. “I worry that eventually one side or the other will make a miscalculation or some minor player will overreact to events and an uncontrollable series of events will unfold.”
Doran’s main worry is about the Philippines due to the emotions that are in play, and Filipino forces’ lack of training and real capability. “Whereas Vietnam and Indonesia,
among others, are also subject to potential events, the Philippines, in my estimation are most likely to handle the whole thing badly and get in over their heads.”
Posted by Wendell Minnick, Journalist at 2:45 AM