Archive for ‘Russia’

22/02/2019

China hails Putin’s remarks on China-Russia ties

BEIJING, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) — China highly appreciates Russian President Vladimir Putin’s positive remarks on China-Russia ties as he delivered a state of the nation address, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Thursday.

In the annual address, Putin described the relations of Russia and China as important “stable forces” of the international community.

Geng said the rapid development of China-Russia relations under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state gained not only fruitful achievement at the bilateral level but also injected positive energy in maintaining global strategic stability.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the two countries’ establishment of diplomatic ties. Geng said that the two countries should take the opportunity to continuously deepen strategic coordination, push for further development of bilateral ties and better benefit the two peoples and safeguard the security and the stability of the world.

Source: Xinhua

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22/02/2019

Saudi Arabia strikes $10 billion China deal, talks de-radicalisation with Xi

BEIJING (Reuters) – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cemented a $10 billion (7.7 billion pounds) deal for a refining and petrochemical complex in China on Friday, meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping who urged joint efforts to counter extremism and terror.

The Saudi delegation, including top executives from state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, arrived on Thursday on an Asia tour that has already seen the kingdom pledge investment of $20 billion in Pakistan and seek to make additional investments in India’s refining industry.

Saudi Arabia signed 35 economic cooperation agreements with China worth a total of $28 billion at a joint investment forum during the visit, Saudi state news agency SPA said.

“China is a good friend and partner to Saudi Arabia,” President Xi Jinping told the crown prince in front of reporters.

“The special nature of our bilateral relationship reflects the efforts you have made,” added Xi, who has made stepping up China’s presence in the Middle East a key foreign policy objective, despite its traditional low-key role there.

The crown prince said Saudi Arabia’s relations with China dated back “a very long time in the past”.

“In the hundreds, even thousands, of years, the interactions between the sides have been friendly. Over such a long period of exchanges with China, we have never experienced any problems with China,” he said.

Crown Prince Mohammed, who has come under fire in the West following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October, said Saudi Arabia saw great opportunities with China.

“The Silk Road initiative and China’s strategic orientation are very much in line with the kingdom’s Vision 2030,” he said according to SPA, referring to Saudi Arabia’s sweeping economic reform programme.

 

Trade between the countries increased by 32 percent last year, he said.

China has had to step carefully in relations with Riyadh, since Beijing also has close ties with Saudi Arabia’s regional foe, Iran.

China is also wary of criticism from Muslim countries about its camps in the heavily Muslim far western region of Xinjiang, which the government says are for de-radicalisation purposes and rights groups call internment camps.

Xi told the crown prince the two countries must strengthen international cooperation on de-radicalisation to “prevent the infiltration and spread of extremist thinking”, Chinese state television said.

Saudi Arabia respected and supported China’s right to protect its own security and take counter-terror and de-radicalisation steps, the crown prince told Xi, according to the same report, and was willing to increase cooperation.

Meeting the crown prince earlier on Friday, Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng said the two countries should enhance exchanges on their experiences in de-radicalisation, China’s official Xinhua news agency said in a separate report.

Chinese state media made no direct mention of Xinjiang in their stories on the crown prince’s meetings.

DEALS SIGNED

Aramco agreed to form a joint venture with Chinese defence conglomerate Norinco to develop a refining and petrochemical complex in the northeastern Chinese city of Panjin, saying the project was worth more than $10 billion.

The partners would form a company called Huajin Aramco Petrochemical Co as part of a project that would include a 300,000-barrels per day (bpd) refinery with a 1.5-million-metric tonnes per year ethylene cracker, Aramco said.

Aramco will supply up to 70 percent of the crude feedstock for the complex, which is expected to start operations in 2024.

The investments could help Saudi Arabia regain its place as the top oil exporter to China, a position Russia has held for the last three years. Saudi Aramco is set to boost market share by signing supply deals with non-state Chinese refiners.

Aramco also signed an agreement to buy a 9 percent stake in Zhejiang Petrochemical, Saudi state news agency SPA said. This formalised a previously announced plan to gain a stake in a 400,000-bpd refinery and petrochemicals complex in Zhoushan, south of Shanghai.

China sees “enormous potential” in Saudi Arabia’s economy and wants more high-tech cooperation, State Councillor Wang Yi, the Chinese government’s top diplomat, said on Thursday.

But China was not seeking to play politics in the Middle East, the widely read state-run tabloid, the Global Times, said in an editorial.

“China won’t be a geopolitical player in the Middle East. It has no enemies and can cooperate with all countries in the region,” said the paper, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.

“China’s increasing influence in the Middle East comes from pure friendly cooperation. Such a partnership will be welcomed by more countries in the Middle East.”

Source: Reuters

20/02/2019

Channel storm damaged Russian S-400 missiles bound for China

S-400s in Crimea, Nov 2018Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionSince annexing Crimea in 2014 Russia has deployed S-400 missiles there

A storm in the English Channel damaged S-400 anti-aircraft missiles that Russia was shipping to China, but now they are being replaced, Russia says.

The ship with its damaged cargo returned to Russia last March, but two other Russian ships delivered S-400s to China successfully.

The deal was reported by the Russian government website Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

China is under US sanctions for buying S-400s and other Russian arms. India and Turkey are also buying S-400s.

A Russian arms industry chief, Dmitry Shugayev, said Russia would complete the delivery of the S-400s to China by the end of 2020.

China is getting two regimental units, which amounts to at least 128 missiles.

The S-400 surface-to-air missile system at Hmeimim airbase in Syrian province of Latakia (16 Dec 2015)Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe S-400 missile system is deployed at Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in Syria

The S-400 “Triumf” is one of the most sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems in the world. It has a range of 400km (248 miles) and one S-400 integrated system can shoot down up to 80 targets simultaneously.

Russia says it can hit aerial targets ranging from low-flying drones to aircraft flying at various altitudes and long-range missiles.

The US sanctions are aimed at putting pressure on the Russian government over its annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

In October, India signed a $5bn (£3.9bn) deal to buy five S-400 regimental units. That amounts to at least 320 missiles. Each S-400 launch vehicle – a heavy lorry – carries four missiles.

Russia has deployed S-400s to protect its military airbase at Hmeimim in Syria.

Turkey, a Nato member, is buying S-400s despite US warnings. The US wants to sell Patriot missiles, made by Raytheon Co, to Turkey instead. The US argues that S-400s are incompatible with Nato systems.

“We made the S-400 deal with Russia, so it’s out of the question for us to turn back. That’s done,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Neither Turkey nor India are yet under US sanctions over the purchases.


How the S-400 system works

Diagram of how S-400 missile system works
  1. Long-range surveillance radar tracks objects and relays information to command vehicle, which assesses potential targets
  2. Target is identified and command vehicle orders missile launch
  3. Launch data are sent to the best placed launch vehicle and it releases surface-to-air missiles
  4. Engagement radar helps guide missiles towards target.

Source: The BBC

19/02/2019

Pakistan PM Imran Khan says ready to talk terror, then packs in warning against strikes

Pakistan PM Imran Khan has denied hand behind Pulwama terror attack stating if there is evidence, his government will act against the culprits.

INDIA Updated: Feb 19, 2019 14:50 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Imran Khan,Pulwama attack
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said if there is any evidence of involvement of any Pakistani national in Pulwama terror attack, his government will act against the culprits. (AP)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has denied his country’s role behind the Pulwama terror attack, the worst in Jammu and Kashmir in decades. He claimed that India does not have any evidence to prove Pakistan’s role in terror attacks in Kashmir.

“You (India) have blamed the Pakistan government without any evidence…If you have any evidence, we will act,” Imran Khan said.

He said, “It is in our interest that nobody from our soil spreads violence. I want to tell Indian government that we will take action if evidence is found against anyone from Pakistan.”

“What has Pakistan to gain from this? Why will Pakistan do this at a stage when it is moving towards stability,” said Imran Khan adding that “this is a Naya Pakistan with a new mindset.”

Calling for a dialogue with India, he said, “If you thinks you will attack us and we will not think of retaliating…We will retaliate. We all know starting a war is in the hands of humans, where it will lead us only God knows. This issue should be solved through dialogue.”

Also Read | Eliminated Jaish leadership that planned Pulwama attack within 100 hours, says army

Imran Khan’s reaction comes days after at least 40 CRPF jawans were killed in a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan-backed terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Earlier, Pakistan sought an urgent intervention of UN Secretary-General in defusing tensions with India and help facilitate dialogue between the two countries.

Following the terror attack, India launched a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan with the ministry of external affairs reaching out to more than two dozen countries including P5 – the US, the UK, France, Russia and China, which has repeatedly blocked India’s bid to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as global terrorist by the United Nations.

Also Read | Army major killed in Pulwama encounter made plans for first anniversary

China has used veto to shield Masood Azhar. Pakistan has also denied its support to the terror group. On Monday, in a joint statement Imran Khan and Saudi Arabia’s prince Mohammed bin Sultan “underlined the need for avoiding politicisation of UN listing regime.” This is being viewed as a snub to India’s renewed efforts to isolate Pakistan over its continued support to terror outfits and corner Masood Azhar’s JeM.

India withdrew the most favoured nation (MFN) status accorded to Pakistan in 1996. The MFN status had not been revoked even during the 1999 Kargil War and in the aftermath of 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed more than 160 people.

Source: Hindustan Times

17/02/2019

China says no to Germany’s call for arms control deal with US and Russia

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes appeal to Beijing at Munich Security Conference as Washington prepares to leave INF treaty
  • But China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi says nation’s missiles are defensive, do not pose a threat
Chinea’s top envoy Yang Jiechi chats to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Munich Security Conference. Photo: AP
Chinea’s top envoy Yang Jiechi chats to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Munich Security Conference. Photo: AP

China on Saturday rejected German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s appeal to join a cold war-era arms control treaty that the United States accuses Russia of breaching, saying it would place unfair limits on its military.

Fearing a nuclear arms race between China, Russia and the US after the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which the US is withdrawing from, Merkel made her call for a global treaty.

“Disarmament is something that concerns us all and we would of course be glad if such talks were held not just between the United States, Europe and Russia but also with China,” she told the Munich Security Conference.

Is China about to abandon its ‘no first use’ nuclear weapons policy?

Russia and the United States are the signatories to the 1987 INF treaty that bans land-based missiles with a range between 500km (310 miles) and 5,500km, and which US President Donald Trump started the six-month withdrawal from this month, blaming Russian violations.

Moscow denies any wrongdoing, but the US and its Nato allies want Russia to destroy its 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missile system, which Washington says could allow Russia to strike Europe with almost no warning.

Merkel’s suggestion of involving China in a negotiation is seen by European Nato diplomats as a potential way out of the impasse because a new treaty could address American concerns about a growing military threat from China and Russia.

“China develops its capabilities strictly according to its defensive needs and doesn’t pose a threat to anybody else. So we are opposed to the multilateralisation of the INF,” he said.

China’s stated ambition is to modernise its People’s Liberation Army by 2035, improve its air force and push into new technologies including very high speed cruise missiles and artificial intelligence.

Its defence budget grew nearly 6 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to the London-based International Institute for Security Studies.

Chinese scientists make progress on nuclear submarine communication

Retired Chinese general Yao Yunzhu told delegates a new arms control agreement would only work if it included sea- and air-launched missiles, as well as land, because most of China’s military technology was ground-based and the country would not want to put itself at a disadvantage.

Cheaper to build, more mobile and easier to hide, ground-based rocket launchers are an attractive option for China as it develops its armed forces, experts said, whereas the United States operates more costly sea-based systems to comply with the INF.

“China is traditionally a land power and the Chinese military is a ground force,” Yao said.

“If China is to enter into these kinds of negotiations, I think it ought to be more comprehensive to include not only land-based but also air and sea-based strike capabilities … and that would be hugely complicated,” she said.

Source: SCMP

13/02/2019

No talks between China and Venezuela opposition Beijing says, instead it’s ‘fake news’

  • Wall Street Journal report dismissed as false
  • Chinese spokeswoman repeats call for dialogue to resolve the Venezuelan crisis
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2019, 5:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2019, 5:57pm

China has dismissed a newspaper report that its diplomats held talks with the political opposition in Venezuela to protect its investments in the Latin American country as “fake news”.

The Wall Street Journal said the diplomats, concerned about oil projects in Venezuela and almost US$20 billion that Caracas owes Beijing, had held talks in Washington with representatives of Juan Guaido, the opposition leader heading US-backed efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

 

“In fact the report is false. It’s fake news,” Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the article.

Venezuela’s “affairs” should be resolved via dialogue, Hua said, reiterating China’s previous stance.

Guaido invoked a constitutional provision to assume the presidency three weeks ago, arguing that Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham.

Most Western countries, including the United States, have recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, but Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China as well as control of state institutions including the military.

China has lent more than $50 billion to Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade, securing energy supplies for its fast-growing economy.

 

A change in government in Venezuela would favour the country’s two main foreign creditors, Russia and China, Guaido said in an interview last month.

Source: SCMP

11/02/2019

Pompeo in Hungary on five-nation tour to warn Central Europe about China and Russia

  • A US official said the aim of the top diplomat’s trip is to ‘wrong-foot the West’s rivals in places where they have gained bridgeheads’
  • Warnings will include one about Huawei, as Chinese firm spreads across the region
PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 February, 2019, 9:54pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 February, 2019, 9:54pm

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Hungary on the first leg of a five-nation European tour during which he will raise concerns about China and Russia’s growing influence in Central Europe.

Pompeo was meeting in Budapest on Monday Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other senior officials to stress the importance of promoting democracy and the rule of law. The US sees those as key to countering Russian and Chinese efforts to pull Hungary and other countries in the region away from the West and sow division in the European Union and Nato, officials said.

Pompeo will specifically point to Central Europe’s reliance on Russian energy and the presence of the Chinese hi-tech telecoms firm Huawei, particularly in Hungary, according to the officials, who were not authorised to publicly discuss Pompeo’s travel and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

US officials are deeply troubled by Huawei’s expansion in Europe, especially in Nato member states where they believe it poses significant information security threats.

We have to show up [in Hungary] or expect to lose
U.S. OFFICIAL

Pompeo will take the same message to his next stop, Slovakia, on Tuesday, before heading to Poland, where he will participate in a conference on the future of the Middle East expected to focus on Iran. He will wrap up the tour with brief stops in Belgium and Iceland.

Before his visits to Budapest and Bratislava, US officials said Pompeo hoped to reverse what they called a decade of US disengagement in Central Europe that created a vacuum Russia and China have exploited. Over the past 10 years, the officials said, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leaders have become much more aggressive in the region and made inroads.

 

One official said Pompeo’s aim is to “wrong-foot the West’s rivals in places where they have gained bridgeheads”.

President Donald Trump’s administration has made a point of reaching out to Orban, who shares Trump’s strong stance on limiting immigration and has adopted increasingly authoritarian measures, including cracking down on the opposition, trade unions, independent media and academia.

Former US president Barack Obama’s administration largely steered clear of Orban, who won a third consecutive term last year in a campaign based on anti-immigration policies which have been met with concern by some EU members.

Orban on Sunday announced a programme to encourage women to have more children and reverse Hungary’s population decline. He said the initiative is meant to “ensure the survival of the Hungarian nation”.

“This is the Hungarians’ answer, not immigration,” he said.

Last month, Orban said he wanted “anti-immigration forces” to become a majority in all EU institutions, including its parliament and the European Commission, and predicted there would soon be two civilisations in Europe – one “that builds its future on a mixed Islamic and Christian coexistence” and another in Central Europe that would be only Christian.

Orban’s fiery rhetoric against immigrants and refusal to join a new European Union public prosecutor’s office focusing on fraud and corruption also have raised concerns.

Human rights groups and others have lamented Pompeo’s plans to meet Orban and urged him to take a strong stance against his policies, which they consider worrisome.

The US officials defended the Budapest stop, saying it is impossible to promote US positions and interests in Hungary effectively without meeting Orban.

“We have to show up or expect to lose,” one official said.

Source: SCMP

17/01/2019

Russia, China enjoy confident progressive development of relations in all areas: Lavrov

MOSCOW, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) — Russia and China enjoy a “very confident progressive development of relations in all areas,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

The two countries reached a record trade turnover in 2018 but this is not a limit, as Russia and China have ambitious plans discussed by President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping at various meetings, Lavrov said at his annual press conference.

According to China’s customs authority, trade turnover between China and Russia surged by 27.1 percent to a record high of 107.06 billion U.S. dollars last year.

The two governments have identified about 70 projects worth a total of more than 100 billion dollars in various fields, including nuclear energy, agriculture, transport and space cooperation, Lavrov said.

He specially mentioned the coordination of the Russian and Chinese global navigation systems GLONASS and BeiDou.

“So our prospects in trade, economic and investment areas are very, very significant,” the top Russian diplomat said.

Lavrov also praised the close cooperation and coordination between Moscow and Beijing in international affairs, including within BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the United Nations, as well as harmonizing the Eurasian Economic Union with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Russia and China have common approaches to resolving conflicts solely by political methods on the basis of international law and dialogue, including in Syria, elsewhere in the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula, Lavrov said.

“The friendship between Russia and China is not aimed against anyone,” Lavrov stressed.

Russia and China are friends because they are neighbors, have many common interests, are strategic partners in international affairs and equally see the need to make the world more stable, more secure and more democratic, he added.

Source: Xinhua

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.

18/12/2018

Japan to buy more U.S.-made stealth jets, radar to counter China, Russia

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will accelerate spending on advanced stealth fighters, long-range missiles and other equipment over the next five years to support U.S. forces facing China’s military in the Western Pacific, two new government defence papers said.

The plans are the clearest indication yet of Japan’s ambition to become a regional power as a military build-up by China and a resurgent Russia puts pressure on its U.S. ally.

“The United States remains the world’s most powerful nation, but national rivalries are surfacing and we recognise the importance of the strategic competition with both China and Russia as they challenge the regional order,” said a 10-year defence programme outline approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Tuesday.

The United States, followed by China, North Korea and Russia, are the countries that most influenced Japan’s latest military thinking, the paper said.

China, the world’s second biggest economy, is deploying more ships and aircraft to patrol waters near Japan, while North Korea has yet to fulfil a pledge to dismantle its nuclear and missile programmes.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Japan was “singing the same old tune” and making “thoughtless remarks” about China’s normal defence activities.

“What Japan is doing here is neither conducive to improving and developing China-Japan relations, nor to the broader picture of regional peace and stability,” Hua told a news briefing.

“China expresses strong dissatisfaction and opposition at this and has already lodged stern representations with Japan,” she added.

Russia, which continues to probe Japan’s air defences, said on Monday it built new barracks for its troops on islands seized from Japan at the end of World War Two.

MORE STEALTH FIGHTERS

Japan plans to buy 45 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighters, worth about $4 billion (3.17 billion pounds), in addition to the 42 jets already on order, according to a separate five-year procurement plan approved on Tuesday.

The new planes will include 18 short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants of the F-35 that planners want to deploy on Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea.

The islands are part of a chain stretching past Taiwan and down to the Philippines that has marked the limit of Chinese military dominance east of the disputed South China Sea.

“Japan’s decision to acquire more F-35s is a testament to the aircraft’s transformational capability and its increasing role in promoting regional stability and enhancing the US-Japan security alliance,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement.

The navy’s two large helicopter carriers, the Izumo and Kaga, will be modified for F-35B operations, the paper said.

The 248-metre (814 ft) long Izumo-class ships are as big as any of Japan’s aircraft carriers in World War Two. They will need reinforced decks to withstand the heat blast from F-35 engines and could be fitted with ramps to aid short take-offs, two defence ministry officials told Reuters.

TRADE WAR THREAT

The new F-35 order may also help Japan avert a trade war with the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatened to impose tariffs on Japanese car imports, thanked Abe for buying the F-35s when the two met at a summit in Argentina this month.

Other U.S.-made equipment on Japan’s shopping list includes two land-based Aegis Ashore air defence radars to defend against North Korean missiles, four Boeing Co KC-46 Pegasus refuelling planes to extend the range of Japanese aircraft, and nine Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye early-warning planes.

Japan plans to spend 25.5 trillion yen (179.33 billion pounds) on military equipment over the next five years, 6.4 percent higher than the previous five-year plan. Cost-cutting will free up another 2 trillion yen for purchases, the procurement paper said.

Japan only spends about 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, but the size of its economy means it already has one of the world’s largest militaries.

“The budget is increasing and there has been an acceleration to deploy capability as soon as possible,” Robert Morrissey, head of Raytheon Co’s unit in Japan, said this month.

Wary of North Korean promises to abandon ballistic missile development, Japan’s military is buying longer-range Raytheon SM-3 interceptor missiles able to strike enemy warheads in space.

The defence papers assessed non-traditional military threats as well. A new joint-forces cyber unit will bolster Japan’s defences against cyber attacks.

More electronic warfare capabilities are planned, and the air force will get its first space unit to help keep tabs on potential adversaries high above the Earth’s atmosphere.

The plans are the clearest indication yet of Japan’s ambition to become a regional power as a military build-up by China and a resurgent Russia puts pressure on its U.S. ally.

“The United States remains the world’s most powerful nation, but national rivalries are surfacing and we recognise the importance of the strategic competition with both China and Russia as they challenge the regional order,” said a 10-year defence programme outline approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Tuesday.

The United States, followed by China, North Korea and Russia, are the countries that most influenced Japan’s latest military thinking, the paper said.

China, the world’s second biggest economy, is deploying more ships and aircraft to patrol waters near Japan, while North Korea has yet to fulfil a pledge to dismantle its nuclear and missile programmes.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Japan was “singing the same old tune” and making “thoughtless remarks” about China’s normal defence activities.

“What Japan is doing here is neither conducive to improving and developing China-Japan relations, nor to the broader picture of regional peace and stability,” Hua told a news briefing.

“China expresses strong dissatisfaction and opposition at this and has already lodged stern representations with Japan,” she added.

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Russia, which continues to probe Japan’s air defences, said on Monday it built new barracks for its troops on islands seized from Japan at the end of World War Two.

MORE STEALTH FIGHTERS

Japan plans to buy 45 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighters, worth about $4 billion (3.17 billion pounds), in addition to the 42 jets already on order, according to a separate five-year procurement plan approved on Tuesday.

The new planes will include 18 short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants of the F-35 that planners want to deploy on Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea.

The islands are part of a chain stretching past Taiwan and down to the Philippines that has marked the limit of Chinese military dominance east of the disputed South China Sea.

Slideshow (3 Images)

“Japan’s decision to acquire more F-35s is a testament to the aircraft’s transformational capability and its increasing role in promoting regional stability and enhancing the US-Japan security alliance,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement.

The navy’s two large helicopter carriers, the Izumo and Kaga, will be modified for F-35B operations, the paper said.

The 248-metre (814 ft) long Izumo-class ships are as big as any of Japan’s aircraft carriers in World War Two. They will need reinforced decks to withstand the heat blast from F-35 engines and could be fitted with ramps to aid short take-offs, two defence ministry officials told Reuters.

TRADE WAR THREAT

The new F-35 order may also help Japan avert a trade war with the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatened to impose tariffs on Japanese car imports, thanked Abe for buying the F-35s when the two met at a summit in Argentina this month.

Other U.S.-made equipment on Japan’s shopping list includes two land-based Aegis Ashore air defence radars to defend against North Korean missiles, four Boeing Co KC-46 Pegasus refuelling planes to extend the range of Japanese aircraft, and nine Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye early-warning planes.

Japan plans to spend 25.5 trillion yen (179.33 billion pounds) on military equipment over the next five years, 6.4 percent higher than the previous five-year plan. Cost-cutting will free up another 2 trillion yen for purchases, the procurement paper said.

Japan only spends about 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, but the size of its economy means it already has one of the world’s largest militaries.

“The budget is increasing and there has been an acceleration to deploy capability as soon as possible,” Robert Morrissey, head of Raytheon Co’s unit in Japan, said this month.

Wary of North Korean promises to abandon ballistic missile development, Japan’s military is buying longer-range Raytheon SM-3 interceptor missiles able to strike enemy warheads in space.

The defence papers assessed non-traditional military threats as well. A new joint-forces cyber unit will bolster Japan’s defences against cyber attacks.

More electronic warfare capabilities are planned, and the air force will get its first space unit to help keep tabs on potential adversaries high above the Earth’s atmosphere.

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