Archive for ‘Military’


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

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


Xi extends Spring Festival greetings to military veterans


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

What was behind the China-India border row?

China ‘racist’ video on India sparks fury

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 extend a road on the Doklam/Donglang plateau, at the border of China, India and Bhutan.

China and Bhutan have competing claims on the plateau, and India supports Bhutan’s claim.

After weeks of escalating tensions, including heated rhetoric from both sides, the stand-off ended in August when both countries pulled back their troops.

The two nations fought a bitter war over the border in 1962, and disputes remain unresolved in several areas which cause tensions to rise periodically.

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


China sends troops to open first overseas military base in Djibouti | Reuters

Ships carrying personnel for China’s first overseas military base, in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, have set sail to begin setting up the facility, as China’s rapidly modernizing military extends its global reach.

Soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) stand on a ship sailing off from a military port in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, July 11, 2017.

Djibouti’s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worry in India that it would become another of China’s “string of pearls” of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

China began construction of a logistics base in Djibouti last year. It will be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.

It will be China’s first overseas naval base, though Beijing officially describes it as a logistics facility.

State news agency Xinhua said late on Tuesday the ships had departed from Zhanjiang in southern China “to set up a support base in Djibouti”.

Navy commander Shen Jinlong “read an order on constructing the base in Djibouti”, but the news agency did not say when the base would begin operations.

Xinhua said the establishment of the base was a decision made by the two countries after “friendly negotiations, and accords with the common interest of the people from both sides”.

The base will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia,” it said.

“The base will also be conducive to overseas tasks including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways,” Xinhua said.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing the base would enable China to make “new and greater contributions” to peace in Africa and the world and would benefit Djibouti’s economic development.

Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia also hosts U.S., Japanese and French bases.


The People’s Liberation Army Daily said in a front-page commentary the facility was a landmark that would increase China’s ability to ensure global peace, especially because it had so many U.N. peacekeepers in Africa and was so involved in anti-piracy patrols.China would not seek military expansionism or get into arms races no matter what happened, the newspaper said.

“These promises will not change because of the construction of the overseas logistics base,” it said.

The state-run Global Times said in an editorial there could be no mistake that this was in fact a military base.

“Certainly this is the People’s Liberation Army’s first overseas base and we will base troops there. It’s not a commercial resupply point. It makes sense there is attention on this from foreign public opinion,” said the paper, which is published by the official People’s Daily.

China’s military development was about protecting its own security, it said.

“It’s not about seeking to control the world.”

There has been persistent speculation in diplomatic circles that China would build other such bases, in Pakistan for example, but the government has dismissed this.

Source: China sends troops to open first overseas military base in Djibouti | Reuters


India and Russia seek to revive stalled helicopter venture | Reuters

India and Russia are nearing a joint venture to make light helicopters in India, reviving a plan announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015.

Delhi needs to replace hundreds of ageing utility helicopters deployed along its Himalayan border with China as well as in the disputed Kashmir region.

This means an initial order of 200 Kamov-226 helicopters, of which 140 will be built in India as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to build a domestic defence industrial base and cut imports, is expected to be increased.

And final documents relating to the $1 billion Kamov deal involving Russian Helicopters, Rosoboronexport and India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has been submitted to Putin, HAL’s chief T. Suvarna Raju, told reporters on Wednesday.

While India has sealed deals with the United States for 22 Apache attack and 15 heavy lift Chinook helicopters at total cost of about $2.5 billion, plans to buy Russian helicopters and fifth generation fighter aircraft have been dogged by problems.

“There are issues between parties, but these are being tackled,” Sergey Goreslavsky, deputy director general of Rosoboronexport, said at India’s biggest air show in the southern city of Bengaluru.

A team will assess the Indian manufacturing facilities over the next few months. “We are keeping our fingers crossed about launching production this year,” an executive at Russian Helicopters said.

The executive, who did not want to be named, said the joint venture will be modelled along the lines of Brahmos, the India-Russia entity producing supersonic missiles, which which military analysts say are among the deadliest in their class.

Russia was long the main supplier of military equipment to India, but Delhi has turned to France, Israel and increasingly the United States for supply of hardware in recent years.

U.S. aerospace and defence firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing have both offered to set up production lines in India to make combat planes.

Source: India and Russia seek to revive stalled helicopter venture | Reuters


The Economist explains: What is India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine? | The Economist

LAST week India celebrated its 68th Republic Day, the highlight of which is an elaborate parade to show off India’s military might (pictured).

Soldiers goose-stepped and tanks rolled down Rajpath, New Delhi’s main ceremonial thoroughfare, as India’s president, Pranab Mukherjee, and this year’s guest of honour, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, looked on. Fighter jets screeched overhead. The annual display was particularly pointed this year, coming barely three weeks after Bipin Rawat, India’s new army chief, acknowledged in an interview the existence of the country’s “Cold Start” military doctrine. What is Cold Start and why did General Rawat, who took office on December 31st, mention it in public?

Cold Start is the name given to a limited-war strategy designed to seize Pakistani territory swiftly without, in theory, risking a nuclear conflict. It has its roots in an attack on India’s parliament in 2001, which was carried out by terrorist groups allegedly used as proxies by Pakistan’s powerful intelligence services (ISI). India’s response to the onslaught was a flop: by the time its lumbering Strike Corps were mobilised and positioned on the frontier, Pakistan had already bulked up its defences, raising both the costs of incursion and the risk that it would escalate into a nuclear conflict. Cold Start is an attempt to draw lessons from this: having nimbler, integrated units stationed closer to the border would allow India to inflict significant harm before international powers demanded a ceasefire; by pursuing narrow aims, it would also deny Pakistan a justification for triggering a nuclear strike. Yet India has refused to own up to the existence of the doctrine since it was first publicly discussed in 2004. Nor was its rumoured existence enough to stop Pakistani terrorists from launching devastating attacks in Mumbai in 2008, killing 164 people.

One reason for India to keep its cards close to its chest is that it may not be capable of acting on Cold Start. Indeed, India’s army chief admitted to civilian leaders after the 2008 attacks that his battalions were “not ready for war” with Pakistan. It probably did not help that India’s political leaders never signed off on it either, as a leaked diplomatic cable from 2010 suggested. Yet things have taken a different turn since an assault last September on the Indian garrison of Uri in Kashmir, which left 19 dead. In a departure from India’s traditionally defensive posture, the government responded by authorising “surgical strikes” along the frontier, targeted at “terrorist launchpads” and “those protecting them”. By acknowledging the doctrine, which would demand a more potent retaliation than these commando operations, the army seems keen to signal that it has a range of strategic options, introducing an element of unpredictability in the seriousness of its response. Political leaders may have also come closer to embracing it. The government of Narendra Modi has shown keen interest in national-security matters, moving India into the world’s top-five defence spenders, addressing servicemen’s grievances and mulling a wholesale revamp of the armed forces’ structure.

Whether the strategy will prove effective remains to be seen. By pursuing Cold Start, the army may have reaped “the worst of both worlds”, says Walter Ladwig, a scholar at King’s College London. Should it come after a terrorist attack prepared with the ISI’s knowledge, India’s response would lack the element of surprise. That makes Cold Start a dubious deterrent. And Mr Rawat’s recognition of the doctrine’s existence provides further reason for Pakistan to develop “tactical” nukes—tiny warheads that could easily end up in inexpert or malevolent hands. The risk of overreaction on Pakistan’s side is heightened by India’s continued obfuscation about what exactly the concept means, making the whole premise seem misguided. Indeed, Pakistani officials have already threatened to use nuclear weapons, should India put Cold Start into action. In conventional war, confusing an enemy can lead to victory; when two nuclear powers are involved it is a surer step towards a disastrous draw.

Source: The Economist explains: What is India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine? | The Economist

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