Archive for ‘Military’

08/07/2019

Seven Silk Road destinations, from China to Italy: towns that grew rich on trade

  • Settlements along the route linking Europe and Asia thrived by providing accommodation and services for countless traders
  • Formally established during the Han dynasty, it was a 19th-century German geographer who coined the term Silk Road
The ruins of a fortified gatehouse and cus­toms post at Yunmenguan Pass, in China’s Gansu province. Photo: Alamy
The ruins of a fortified gatehouse and cus­toms post at Yunmenguan Pass, in China’s Gansu province. Photo: Alamy
We have a German geographer, cartographer and explorer to thank for the name of the world’s most famous network of transconti­nental trade routes.
Formally established during the Han dynasty, in the first and second centuries BC, it wasn’t until 1877 that Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term Silk Road (historians increasingly favour the collective term Silk Routes).
The movement of merchandise between China and Europe had been taking place long before the Han arrived on the scene but it was they who employed troops to keep the roads safe from marauding nomads.
Commerce flourished and goods as varied as carpets and camels, glassware and gold, spices and slaves were traded; as were horses, weapons and armour.
Merchants also moved medicines but they were no match for the bubonic plague, which worked its way west along the Silk Road before devastating huge swathes of 14th century Europe.
What follows are some of the countless kingdoms, territories, (modern-day) nations and cities that grew rich on the proceeds of trade, taxes and tolls.

China

A watchtower made of rammed earth at Dunhuang, a desert outpost at the crossroads of two major Silk Road routes in China’s northwestern Gansu province. Photo: Alamy
A watchtower made of rammed earth at Dunhuang, a desert outpost at the crossroads of two major Silk Road routes in China’s northwestern Gansu province. Photo: Alamy

Marco Polo worked in the Mongol capital, Khanbaliq (today’s Beijing), and was struck by the level of mercantile activity.

The Venetian gap-year pioneer wrote, “Every day more than a thousand carts loaded with silk enter the city, for a great deal of cloth of gold and silk is woven here.”

Light, easy to transport items such as paper and tea provided Silk Road traders with rich pickings, but it was China’s monopoly on the luxurious shimmering fabric that guaranteed huge profits.

So much so that sneaking silk worms out of the empire was punishable by death.

The desert outpost of Dunhuang found itself at the crossroads of two major Silk Road trade arteries, one leading west through the Pamir Mountains to Central Asia and another south to India.

Built into the Great Wall at nearby Yunmenguan are the ruins of a fortified gatehouse and cus­toms post, which controlled the movement of Silk Road caravans.

Also near Dunhuang, the Mogao Caves contain one of the richest collections of Buddhist art treasures any­where in the world, a legacy of the route to and from the subcontinent.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan's mountainous terrain was an inescapable part of the Silk Road, until maritime technologies would become the area's undoing. Photo: Shutterstock
Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain was an inescapable part of the Silk Road, until maritime technologies would become the area’s undoing. Photo: Shutterstock

For merchants and middlemen hauling goods through Central Asia, there was no way of bypassing the mountainous lands we know today as Afghanistan.

Evidence of trade can be traced back to long before the Silk Road – locally mined lapis lazuli stones somehow found their way to ancient Egypt, and into Tutankhamun’s funeral mask, created in 1323BC.

Jagged peaks, rough roads in Tajikistan, roof of the world

Besides mercan­tile exchange, the caravan routes were responsible for the sharing of ideas and Afghanistan was a major beneficiary. Art, philosophy, language, science, food, architecture and technology were all exchanged, along with commercial goods.

In fact, maritime technology would eventually be the area’s undoing. By the 15th century, it had become cheaper and more convenient to transport cargo by sea – a far from ideal development for a landlocked region.

Iran

The Ganjali Khan Complex, in Iran. Photo: Shutterstock
The Ganjali Khan Complex, in Iran. Photo: Shutterstock

Thanks to the Silk Road and the routes that preceded it, the northern Mesopotamian region (present-day Iran) became China’s closest trading partner. Traders rarely journeyed the entire length of the trail, however.

Merchandise was passed along by middlemen who each travelled part of the way and overnighted in caravan­serai, forti­fied inns that provided accom­mo­dation, storerooms for goods and space for pack animals.

The good, bad and ugly sides to visiting Chernobyl and Kiev

With so many wheeler-dealers gathering in one place, the hostelries developed into ad hoc marketplaces.

Marco Polo writes of the Persian kingdom of Kerman, where craftsmen made saddles, bridles, spurs and “arms of every kind”.

Today, in the centre of Kerman, the former caravanserai building forms part of the Ganjali Khan Complex, which incorporates a bazaar, bathhouse and mosque.

Uzbekistan

A fort in Khiva, Uzbekistan. Photo: Alamy
A fort in Khiva, Uzbekistan. Photo: Alamy

The double-landlocked country boasts some of the Silk Road’s most fabled destinations. Forts, such as the one still standing at Khiva, were built to protect traders from bandits; in fact, the city is so well-preserved, it is known as the Museum under the Sky.

The name Samarkand is also deeply entangled with the history of the Silk Road.

The earliest evidence of silk being used outside China can be traced to Bactria, now part of modern Uzbekistan, where four graves from around 1500BC-1200BC contained skeletons wrapped in garments made from the fabric.

Three thousand years later, silk weaving and the production and trade of textiles remain one of Samarkand’s major industries.

Georgia

A street in old town of Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo: Alamy
A street in old town of Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo: Alamy

Security issues in Persia led to the opening up of another branch of the legendary trade route and the first caravan loaded with silk made its way across Georgia in AD568.

Marco Polo referred to the weaving of raw silk in “a very large and fine city called Tbilisi”.

Today, the capital has shaken off the Soviet shackles and is on the cusp of going viral.

Travellers lap up the city’s monaster­ies, walled fortresses and 1,000-year-old churches before heading up the Georgian Military Highway to stay in villages nestling in the soaring Caucasus Mountains.

Public minibuses known as marshrutka labour into the foothills and although the vehicles can get cramped and uncomfortable, they beat travelling by camel.

Jordan

Petra, in Jordan. Photo: Alamy
Petra, in Jordan. Photo: Alamy

The location of the Nabataean capital, Petra, wasn’t chosen by chance.

Savvy nomadic herders realised the site would make the perfect pit-stop at the confluence of several caravan trails, including a route to the north through Palmyra (in modern-day Syria), the Arabian peninsula to the south and Mediterranean ports to the west.

Huge payments in the form of taxes and protection money were collected – no wonder the most magnificent of the sand­stone city’s hand-carved buildings is called the Treasury.

The Red Rose City is still a gold mine – today’s tourists pay a hefty

US$70 fee to enter Petra

. The Nabataeans would no doubt approve.

Venice

Tourists crowd onto Venice’s Rialto Bridge. Photo: Alamy
Tourists crowd onto Venice’s Rialto Bridge. Photo: Alamy

Trade enriched Venice beyond measure, helping shape the Adriatic entrepot into the floating marvel we see today.

Besides the well-documented flow of goods heading west, consignments of cotton, ivory, animal furs, grapevines and other goods passed through the strategically sited port on their way east.

Ironically, for a city built on trade and taxes, the biggest problem Venice faces today is visitors who don’t contribute enough to the local economy.

A lack of spending by millions of day-tripping tourists and cruise passengers who aren’t liable for nightly hotel taxes has prompted authorities to introduce a citywide access fee from January 2020.

Two thousand years ago, tariffs and tolls helped Venice develop and prosper. Now they’re needed to prevent its demise.

Source: SCMP

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29/05/2019

China looks to Russia, Central Asia for support amid tensions with US

  • President Xi Jinping will meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next month and address economic summit in St Petersburg
  • Diplomatic flurry will also include regional security forums in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
Xi Jinping has met Vladimir Putin more times than any other foreign leader since he took power in 2013. Photo: AFP
Xi Jinping has met Vladimir Putin more times than any other foreign leader since he took power in 2013. Photo: AFP
Beijing is stepping up efforts to seek support from regional and global players such as Russia and Central Asian nations as its geostrategic rivalry with Washington heats up.

President Xi Jinping is expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next month, when he will also address the St Petersburg International Economic Summit,

Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told state-run TASS news agency earlier.

The Chinese president will also visit the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in June, as well as another regional security forum in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Wang Qishan is visiting Pakistan before he heads to the Netherlands and Germany, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan in Islamabad on Sunday. Photo: AFP
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan in Islamabad on Sunday. Photo: AFP
The latest flurry of diplomatic activity comes as competition between China and the US intensifies on several fronts including trade and technology, the South China Sea and the Arctic, where Beijing’s partnership with Moscow –

funding and building ports, berths and icebreakers off Russia’s shores

– has drawn criticism from Washington.

It will be Xi’s second time at the St Petersburg forum, and observers expect the Chinese leader will reaffirm Beijing’s commitment to multilateralism and promote the nation as a champion of openness and cooperation.
China-Russia ties unrivalled, Beijing warns before Pompeo meets Putin
It will also be his second meeting with Putin in two months, after talks on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in late April, when the Russian president

offered his support

for the controversial China-led infrastructure and investment initiative.

With China and Russia edging closer, the latest meeting is likely to see efforts to coordinate their strategies on a range of issues – including Venezuela, North Korea, nuclear weapons and arms control, according to observers. Xi has met Putin more times than any other foreign leader since he took power in 2013.

“This time it is very likely that the latest anti-China moves by the US, such as new tariffs and the Huawei ban, will feature prominently in their conversations,” said Artyom Lukin, an associate professor at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok.

Lukin said Russia’s stagnating economy and sanctions imposed by the West limited its role as a substitute for the foreign markets and technologies China could lose access to because of the US crusade. But he said Putin would “provide political and moral support to Xi”.

“That is also significant as Russia has been withstanding intense US-led sanctions pressure for more than five years already,” Lukin said, referring to sanctions imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Xi and Putin are also expected to talk about Venezuela, where US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido is attempting to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who has the support of China and Russia.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has the backing of China and Russia. Photo: AP
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has the backing of China and Russia. Photo: AP

“Moscow and Beijing are not able to seriously hurt Washington by raising tariffs or denying access to high technology. However, there are plenty of areas where coordinated Sino-Russian policies can damage US interests in the short term or in the long run,” Lukin said. “For example, Moscow and Beijing could intensify their joint support for the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro, frustrating Washington’s efforts to dislodge him.”

China and Russia would also be seeking to boost economic ties. Bilateral trade, dominated by Chinese imports of gas and oil, reached US$108 billion last year – falling far short of the target set in 2011 by Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, of US$200 billion by 2020.

China and Russia to forge stronger Eurasian economic ties

Li Lifan, an associate research professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said bilateral trade was a sticking point. “This is one of the potential hindrances in China-Russia relations and Beijing is hoping to [address this] … in the face of a possible global economic slowdown,” Li said.

Given the escalating trade war with Washington, he said China would seek to diversify its investments and markets to other parts of the world, particularly Russia and Europe.

“China will step up its investment cooperation with Europe and Russia and focus more on multilateral investment,” Li said.

But Beijing was not expected to do anything to worsen tensions with Washington.

“China is currently taking a very cautious approach towards the US, trying to avoid heating up the confrontation and further aggravation of the situation,” said Danil Bochkov, a contributing author with the Russian International Affairs Council. “For China it is important to demonstrate that it has a reliable friend – Russia – but that should not be done in an openly provocative manner.”

Stephen Blank, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, said Beijing and Moscow would also seek to contain US influence “as far as possible” from Central Asia, where China has increased its engagement through infrastructure building under the “Belt and Road Initiative”.

Leaders from the region will gather in Bishkek next month for the SCO summit, a security bloc set up in 2001 that now comprises China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. Those members account for about 23 per cent of the world’s land mass, 45 per cent of its population, and 25 per cent of global GDP.

Newly re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could meet the Chinese president for talks in Bishkek next month. Photo: EPA-EFE
Newly re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could meet the Chinese president for talks in Bishkek next month. Photo: EPA-EFE

There is growing speculation that Xi will meet newly re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of that summit.

Independent analyst and author Namrata Goswami said India would be seeking a commitment to a WTO-led and rules-based multilateral trading system during the SCO talks.

“This is interesting and significant given the current US tendencies under President Donald Trump focused on ‘America first’ and the US-China trade war,” Goswami said.

Counterterrorism will again be a top priority at the SCO summit, amid concerns among member states about the rising number of Islamic State fighters returning from Syria and Iraq. Chinese scholars estimated last year that around 30,000 jihadists who had fought in Syria had gone back to their home countries, including China.

Alexander Bortnikov, chief of the main Russian intelligence agency FSB, said earlier that 5,000 fighters from a group affiliated with Isis had gathered in areas bordering former Soviet states in Central Asia, saying most of them had fought alongside Isis in Syria.

War-torn Afghanistan, which shares a border with four SCO member states – China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – is also likely to be high on the agenda at the Bishkek summit.

“With the Trump administration drafting plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the SCO will assess the security situation there and decide whether to provide training for Afghan troops,” Li said.

Eva Seiwert, a doctoral candidate at the Free University of Berlin, expected the security bloc would also discuss Iran after the US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and ordered new sanctions against the country.

Iran, which has observer status with the SCO, was blocked from becoming a full member in 2008 because it was subject to UN sanctions at the time. But its membership application could again be up for discussion.

Iran presses China and Russia to save nuclear deal

“The Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 made it easy for China and Russia to present themselves as the proponents of peaceful settlement of conflicts,” Seiwert said. “Discussing the possibility of admitting Iran as a full member state would help the SCO members demonstrate their support of multilateral and peaceful cooperation.

“This would be a strong signal to the US and enhance the SCO’s standing in the international community,” she said.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (right) meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bishkek on Tuesday last week. Photo: Xinhua
Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (right) meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bishkek on Tuesday last week. Photo: Xinhua

As well as security, Xi’s visit to Central Asia is also likely to focus on economic ties. Meeting Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov in Bishkek last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing would continue to “provide support and help national development and construction in Kyrgyzstan”.

Li said China may increase investment in the Central Asian region, especially in greenfield projects.

“China will continue to buy agriculture products from Central Asia, such as cherries from Uzbekistan, and build hydropower projects to meet local energy demand,” Li said. “Investment in solar and wind energy projects is also expected to increase too.”

Source: SCMP

20/05/2019

Xi Jinping visits rare earth minerals facility, amid talk of use as weapon in US-China trade war

  • China produces 90 per cent of the world’s rare earth minerals, used in hi-tech production such as electric vehicles
  • Rare earth minerals one of the few goods not hit by incoming US tariffs on US$300 billion of Chinese goods as trade war escalates
President Xi Jinping paid a visit to the country’s rare earth mining base in Jiangxi province on Monday, according to the official Xinhua news agency, in his first domestic tour after the trade talks between Beijing and Washington ended without a deal. Photo: Xinhua
President Xi Jinping paid a visit to the country’s rare earth mining base in Jiangxi province on Monday, according to the official Xinhua news agency, in his first domestic tour after the trade talks between Beijing and Washington ended without a deal. Photo: Xinhua
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited one of the country’s major rare earth mining and processing facilities on Monday, in his first domestic tour since the 
recent escalation

of the US-China trade war.

Xi’s visit, reported by the official Xinhua news agency, comes amid growing discussion in China that Beijing could consider banning the export of such minerals as a weapon 
in the trade war

with the United States.

Rare earth minerals were among the few items excluded from the latest US government plans to implement tariffs on almost all of China’s remaining exports to the United States, highlighting their strategic importance. These tariffs, which are set to be levied on Chinese goods worth an estimated US$300 billion, 
could go into effect

as early as July, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

The state media report, which includes one sentence of text and two pictures, made no mention of the trade war, but speculation is mounting that rare earth minerals could form a key part of China’s retaliation.

China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of rare earth minerals, which contain at least one of the 17 rare earth elements, many of which are vital to a number of low-carbon technologies, such as high-performance magnets and electronics. Photo: Xinhua

China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of rare earth minerals, which contain at least one of the 17 rare earth elements, many of which are vital to a number of low-carbon technologies, such as high-performance magnets and electronics.

It accounts for 90 per cent of global production, however the government has been carefully managing mining levels and it was reported last year that amid production quotas, the country became a net importer of rare earth minerals last year.

Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, wrote an article last week suggesting that China could ban rare earth exports to the US as a way to punish the US for

imposing additional tariffs

. China does not import enough goods from the US to retaliate in pure tariff terms.

The Chinese government has weaponised the trade of rare earth exports before, slashing the export quota by 40 per cent in 2010. The US, Japan and the European Union filed a compliant against the Chinese quota at the World Trade Organisation in 2012, with the WTO ruling against China. Beijing dropped its export restrictions in 2015.

According to the report, Xi visited JL Mag Rare Earth Co, a major rare earth processing company based in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province and “studied” the local rare earth industry. Ganzhou is the heartland of China’s rare earth mining and processing industry.

Xi was accompanied by vice-premier Liu He, who has been China’s top trade negotiator in the long-running talks with the US and who is Xi’s most trusted economic adviser. Also on the trip was a delegation of company officials and local cadres.
JL Mag is a leading supplier of high-performance rare earth magnets, which are widely used in intelligent manufacturing operations, energy-saving applications, and in the production of robots and new energy vehicles, according to the company’s website.

Images of Xi’s trip show a sign saying that the company is trying to build up “a rare metal industry base of tungsten with strong international competitiveness”.

Banning rate earth exports to the US is one of several ideas percolating in Chinese public discussions of possible trade war 

retaliation measures.

Other analysts have suggested that China could sell its $3 trillion stockpile of US dollar-denominated securities, or allowing the yuan exchange rate to depreciate significantly, which would make Chinese exports cheaper for overseas buyers, helping to mitigate the effect of tariffs.

Source: SCMP
20/02/2019

Wei Fenghe meets Vietnam’s deputy minister of national defense

BEIJING, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe on Tuesday met with Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of National Defense Nguyen Chi Vinh in Beijing.

“With shared ideals and convictions, the friendship between China and Vietnam is deeply rooted and of special importance,” Wei said. “The two countries are a community of shared future with strategic significance.”

He said the Chinese military is willing to work with the Vietnamese military to implement the important consensus reached at the high level between the two parties and the two countries, strengthen strategic communication and coordination, and deepen exchanges and cooperation in various fields.

The Chinese military also stands ready to properly handle differences, push military-to-military relations to a new level and contribute to safeguarding the fundamental interests of the two countries and regional security and stability, he said.

Vinh said that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Central Military Commission cherish the traditional friendship between the two countries and are willing and have confidence to push relations between the two countries and two militaries to a higher level and bring more benefits to the two peoples.

Source: Xinhua

23/01/2019

Xi extends Spring Festival greetings to military veterans

CHINA-BEIJING-XI JINPING-MILITARY VETERANS-SPRING FESTIVAL GREETINGS (CN)

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, shakes hands with the retirees during a gala for retired military officials with Beijing-based troops in Beijing, capital of China, on Jan. 22, 2019. Xi extended his Spring Festival greetings to military veterans and retired military officials. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

BEIJING, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) — President Xi Jinping on Tuesday extended his Spring Festival greetings to military veterans and retired military officials.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, watched a gala for retired military officials with Beijing-based troops.

Xi shook hands with the retirees and asked about their health and lives.

Songs and dances about building strong armed forces and the military’s loyalty to the Party were performed.

Senior military officials including Xu Qiliang, Zhang Youxia, Wei Fenghe, Li Zuocheng, Miao Hua and Zhang Shengmin were also present at the show.

Spring Festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Feb. 5 this year.

Source: Xinhua

01/01/2019

China’s military priorities for 2019: boost training and prepare for war

  • PLA’s official newspaper outlines ‘work focus’ in New Year’s Day editorial, saying ‘at no time should we allow any slack in these areas’
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 10:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 11:40pm

Strengthening training and preparation for war are among the top priorities for China’s military in 2019, its official newspaper said on Tuesday.

“Drilling soldiers and war preparations are the fundamental jobs and work focus of our military, and at no time should we allow any slack in these areas,” the PLA Daily said in its New Year’s Day editorial.

“We should be well prepared for all directions of military struggle and comprehensively improve troops’ combat response in emergencies … to ensure we can meet the challenge and win when there is a situation.”

Other priorities outlined in the editorial included thorough planning and implementation to develop the military, fostering reform and innovation, and party building within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

President Xi Jinping, who also heads the military, has been pushing the PLA to boost its combat readiness since he took the top job in late 2012. Observers said stepping up drills could be about flexing the PLA’s military muscle, but spelling it out at the start of the year also suggested it was a more important part of the plan for 2019.

“During the 20 years I spent in the PLA before I left in 2004, military training to boost combat readiness was always one of our top tasks,” said Zeng Zhiping, a retired lieutenant colonel and military analyst based in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.

“But this is something different. When training and preparation for war is highlighted at the beginning of a year it means this is a plan for the whole year, although we don’t know what the real intention behind the rhetoric is at this stage.”

Taiwan’s former deputy defence minister Lin Chong-Pin said it was about showing the PLA’s military strength.

“Prioritising military training and preparation for war is nothing more than a move to boost its diplomatic strength, which the PLA has been emphasising over the past four decades – though it has never gone into battle with any other country during that time,” Lin said.

“This comes at a time when the US has increased pressure on China with a series of military operations. But listen, I’m 100 per cent sure that the PLA will not be waging any war, no matter whether it’s in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait. It will only become more cautious when it starts rising more rapidly.”

Meanwhile, at least 38 senior colonels were promoted to the rank of major general in late December, according to local media and Chinese military watchers.

Lin said they were carefully selected by the president himself. “These new major generals were definitely hand-picked by Xi – he intends to build his own army, or the so-called Xi force,” Lin said.

Of those promoted to major general, nine were from the PLA’s ground forces, four were from the air force, three were from the rocket force and 22 from the People’s Armed Police Force.

The military has undergone major upheaval and reform during the past six years, with dozens of generals brought down amid an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign.

They include top generals Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, both former Central Military Commission vice-chairmen, Fang Fenghui, who was the PLA chief of staff, and Zhang Yang, former head of the PLA’s General Political Department.

21/12/2018

China, Russia to boost military cooperation

BEIJING, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) — Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe met with Deputy Defense Minister of the Russian Federation and Chief of Main Directorate for Political-Military Affairs of the Russian Armed Forces Andrey Kartapolov in Beijing Thursday.

Wei spoke highly of recent exchanges and cooperation between the two militaries.

“China is willing to work jointly with Russia, taking the opportunity of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries next year to resolutely implement the consensus reached by the two heads of states and promote the two sides’ military cooperation to continuously score new achievements,” Wei said.

Kartapolov said Russia would strengthen cooperation with China in the military and other fields, and keep pushing the relationship between the two countries and their militaries to a new level.

05/12/2018

Seoul voices concerns as more Chinese military aircraft spread their wings in South Korean air defence zone

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South Korea has voiced its frustration about repeated intrusions into its air defence identification zone by Chinese military aircraft, moves that analysts say reflect Beijing’s opposition to strengthening ties between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington.

South Korean authorities said a Chinese plane, possibly a Shaanxi Y-9 electronic warfare and surveillance aircraft flew into the Korean zone Monday last week without notice. The plane entered near Socotra Rock in the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, at about 11am and flew out and into Japan’s air defence identification zone about 40 minutes later.

The plane re-entered the South Korean air defence zone, near the southeastern city of Pohang, at about 12.43pm. Then it travelled up to South Korea’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Sea of Japan, cutting between the South Korean mainland and Ulleung island.

It was unusual for a Chinese aircraft to have taken that route. The plane was reported to have left the zone at 3.53pm.

Air defence identification zones are not covered by any international treaty and it is standard practice to notify the country concerned before entering its airspace.

The aircraft did not enter South Korean territorial airspace, which under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is defined as 12 nautical miles from shore.

According to the South Korean Air Force, the number of Chinese military aircraft entering its identification zone is rising. In 2016, there were about 60 incursions, 70 in 2017 and 110 were reported up to September this year.

Seoul called Du Nongyi, the Chinese military attaché to South Korea, to its defence ministry after Monday’s incident to expressed its “serious concerns” and called for “measures to prevent recurrences”.

A middle-ranking South Korea Air Force officer said Seoul paid “extra attention” to the incident.

Security analysts said the flights were a demonstration of China’s worries about increased US military activity in the region if US-North Korea negotiations failed.

Sending military planes over area allowed China to extend its surveillance and sent a message that it was watching and, if necessary, willing to act to protect its interests in the region, analysts said.

The US has sent military assets, including nuclear-capable B-52 bombers, to the Sea of Japan, prompting criticism from Beijing and Pyongyang. The US has long said North Korea’s behaviour was justification for joint military exercises with South Korea. These were stepped down this year to encourage Pyongyang at the negotiation table but could be stepped up again if talks on denuclearisation fail.

“China’s moves are part of its grand strategy to exert greater influence, presence, and pressure in the Indo-Pacific region … Possible failure of US-North Korea negotiations would be in [Beijing’s] calculations,” said Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi, a visiting professor at Pusan National University in South Korea and adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum – a donor-funded, non-profit foreign policy research institute based in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“I expect the [US-South Korea] exercises to resume at full scale [if] the US-North Korea negotiations or inter-Korean relations deteriorate … when both Washington and Seoul view that [the drills are] necessary.”

Zhao Tong, a fellow with the nuclear policy programme at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy in Beijing, said Monday’s overflight had several meanings.

The resumption of US-South Korea drills and Japan’s recent military modernisation “would be viewed by China as a direct threat to its own security and the overfly of Chinese aircraft could be used to send a deterrence signal”.

“Japan, in particular, is hosting increasingly advanced US military assets on its territory. Chinese reconnaissance aircraft flying in the Sea of Japan can help it keep an eye on what is going on in that region,” Zhao said.

Beijing fears the strengthening of an alliance network between the South Korea and Japan and, consequently, the completion of a US-South Korea-Japan triangle, often referred to as an Asian Nato.

South Korea and Japan signed a military intelligence pact in 2016, which China criticised as a deal between countries that shared a “cold-war mentality”.

“For China, the formation of a US-South Korea-Japan alliance triangle would be one of their biggest concerns as it would essentially be a powerful containment strategy against Beijing,” Hinata-Yamaguchi said.

“China would take, and has taken, measures to avoid the formation of an US-South Korea-Japan alliance triangle, such as the [push for] ‘three positions’ promised between China and the South Korea in the autumn of 2017,” Hinata-Yamaguchi said.

But Beijing played down the flight and called it a “routine arrangement”.

Ren Guoqiang, spokesman at the Ministry of National Defence, said last week that Chinese forces were “in line with the international law and practice” and the South Korea side “didn’t have to be too surprised about it”.

The ministry did not respond to requests for further comment.

07/12/2017

China claims Indian drone ‘invaded airspace in crash’ – BBC News

An Indian drone has “invaded China’s airspace and crashed” on its territory, Chinese state media said.Zhang Shuili, deputy director of the western theatre combat bureau, said the incident took place in “recent days”.

He did not give an exact location.

He was quoted in Xinhua news agency as saying that India had “violated China’s territorial sovereignty”.The Indian army said the drone had been deployed on a training mission and developed a technical problem.

Indian army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand told reporters that they had lost control of the drone which then crossed into Chinese airspace. They alerted their Chinese counterparts soon after, he added.

The two countries saw relations worsen this summer when they became locked in a dispute over a Himalayan plateau.

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China and India now in water ‘dispute’In remarks carried widely by state media outlets, Mr Zhang said Chinese border forces had conducted “verifications” of the drone.He added that China expresses “our strong dissatisfaction and opposition regarding this matter” and that it would “steadfastly protect the country’s rights and safety”.

Relations between the two countries soured in June when India said it opposed a Chinese attempt to exten