Archive for January, 2011

Links of Interest 01/31/2011

January 31, 2011
061117-M-9827H-139 Zhanjiang, People's Republi...

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  • This conference report is quite an interesting read on China’s rise and prospects for multilateral security regimes in East Asia, Taiwan‘s possible future, Japan’s choices, and Korean unification. Audio and video from the conference and the conference agenda can be found here: http://www.fpri.org/research/asia/regionalsecurityineastasia1011/.

    tags: FC china japan korea taiwan us security east_asia regional

  • tags: FC China PLA anti-access

    • Testimony presented before the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission on January 27, 2011.
  • This monograph from The National Bureau of Asian Research authored by David M. Lampton can be downloaded for free through February 15, 2011.

    tags: FC China US

    • The U.S.-China relationship is fundamentally stable and will remain so for the foreseeable future. This is so because the relationship is anchored in the two societies’ respective preoccupations with their own domestic problems, the United States’ draining commitments elsewhere, and the requirement for cooperation on transnational issues such as proliferation, global production chain security, energy, the environment, stabilizing the world economy, and many other positive-sum opportunities.

      Having said this, the present essay highlights four sources of mutual strategic mistrust that, if insufficiently attended to by Washington and Beijing, will metastasize. These sources are: (1) defining the challenge of U.S.-China relations in such a manner that there is no “win-win” solution, (2) miscalculating U.S. and Chinese power, (3) desires in China to “change the game,” and (4) challenge and response dynamics. These four phenomena create a toxic mix that is corrosive to mutual trust and conducive to higher levels of future conflict if inadequately addressed in both nations.

  • tags: FC China taiwan PLA US

    • “Deeper rapprochement across the Taiwan Strait would remove a longstanding source of regional tension and the most likely source of war between the United States and China. Cross-strait rapprochement would also lead to new frictions and new worries among regional countries and the United States that a China no longer focused on Taiwan will use its increased power to challenge their interests elsewhere in Asia. The direction of PLA modernization can help alleviate or further exacerbate the concerns about a rising China that will become more powerful but also less constrained by Taiwan.”
    • Since the mid-1990s, China’s military modernization has focused on deterring Taiwan independence and preparing for a military response if deterrence fails. Given China’s assumption of U.S. intervention in a Taiwan conflict, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been developing military capabilities to deter, delay, and disrupt U.S. military support operations.
    • This decreased cross-strait tension and tentative rapprochement have raised the prospect of fundamental changes in China’s security challenges. If the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan sustain this positive cooperation over the next 5 to 10 years and continue to deepen rapprochement, how would this affect regional stability, China’s diplomatic grand strategy, and China’s military modernization?

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Links of Interest 01/30/2011

January 30, 2011
  • tags: guam buildup okinawa FC

    • The delegation included one member of the Japanese Diet, five Okinawa Assembly members and one Nago City Assembly member, according to an e-mail from the Office of Speaker Judith Won Pat. Okinawa and Guam are on opposite ends of the buildup, but the plans have sparked controversy on both islands.
    • In a separate news release, the Guam Legislature’s Republican leadership on Thursday voiced demands of its own, saying it’s insisting the governor and island’s delegate ensure Guam receive certain “deliverables” as decisions are being made in preparation for the transfer of Marines from Okinawa.

      These should include war reparations; full reimbursement for Compact-Impact costs; and support and services for the schooling, heath care and infrastructural needs of the resulting population growth, the senators said.

  • tags: taiwan arms sales FC

    • Wang Jin-pyng, president of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, called on the U.S. Jan. 26 to sell Taiwan F-16 C/D fighters and diesel-electric submarines.

      “Continuing U.S. arms sales are of great significance,” Wang said. “Taiwan has to maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities so it can stand on an equal footing with mainland China in cross-strait negotiations.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Links of Interest 01/29/2011

January 29, 2011
This view of Earth's horizon as the sun sets o...

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  • tags: China US Australia SOTU anti-access FC 2011

    • Nine years after 9/11, the US has shifted its top international priority from terrorism — which failed to gain a single mention — to what Obama calls “our generation’s Sputnik moment”.
    • The US President said in the address: “Nations like China and India realised that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. Just recently, China became the home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.
    • “But this shouldn’t discourage us. It should challenge us. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business.”
    • Alan Dupont, the director of the Centre for International Security Studies at Sydney University, said the Western Pacific is where the major interests of China and the US intersect, with the sea lanes more important because of energy as much as trade.

      China’s response is to ramp up its asymmetric capabilities to prevent the US playing a dominant role.

    • “This is starting to bear fruit. It is going to be very difficult for the US to send war groups to the Taiwan Strait or within reasonable distance of the Chinese mainland without opening itself to unacceptable losses.”
    • Ultimately, Dupont said, China wants “to push the US into the central Pacific as far as possible.”
  • tags: FC China anti-access USMC

    • China is developing a layered military capability, which will allow it to strike decisive blows against adversaries closer to the mainland and then employ harassing “guerrilla” air and sea tactics deeper in the Pacific to slow U.S. forces rushing to the region.
    • Many U.S. analysts use the confusing term “anti-access” to describe -China’s strategy, which makes it sound purely defensive. Yes, China wants to deny U.S. access to Asian airspace and waters. But in doing so the Chinese military will itself gain the maneuver space to control the sea and air closer to the mainland and begin to project power farther from its shores.
    • But while China’s strategy is beginning to take shape, a serious U.S. response is not on the horizon.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Review: The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat

January 28, 2011

The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in CombatThe Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat by Bob Drury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This gripping account of U.S. Marines in combat during the Korean War is a must-read! I was thoroughly engrossed by the storytelling. Despite the fact that it is a historical work, it reads like a novel.

The descriptions of bravery and selflessness of the Marines of Fox Company, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines fighting to defend Toktong Pass near the famous Chosin Reservoir in some of the most austere winter combat conditions imaginable (think alpine fighting where temperatures did not rise above minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks on end, with deep snow and howling winds) is truly remarkable. While the combat itself is old-fashioned, consisting mainly of static fighting positions and human-wave tactics by the Chinese volunteers, the lessons for dealing with the environment are still relevant for a possible new fight on the Korean Peninsula.

The commander of the company of Marines, William Barber, won the Medal of Honor for leading his troops through several days and nights of siege by Chinese forces that far outnumbered his forces, despite being seriously wounded himself early on. In all, “The Last Stand of Fox Company” is an inspiring account of leadership, comradeship, and perseverance in the face of severe adversity. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Links of Interest 01/23/2011

January 23, 2011
F/A-18 Super Hornets assigned to the Black Ace...

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  • tags: asbm PRC US Pacific_Ocean naval_power FC

    • Ongoing friction between China and Taiwan poses the most immediate threat to U.S. Navy operations in the Western Pacific.
    • But to Chinese leaders, the most instructive example of nautical might translating into political power is that of Japan. Japan’s history is an especially prescient warning about the dangers to Asia of an ambitious, well-armed regional hegemon. After becoming the dominant naval force in the Western Pacific during the first part of the twentieth century, Japan invaded, subjugated, and oppressed its neighbors, rapidly expanding its domain of control. Its ability to transport troops and material through the ocean made it a legitimate threat, from India to Hawaii.
    • China’s ASBM threat is serious, but the United States has the capacity to respond.
  • tags: FC China PRC PLAN navy

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Links of Interest 01/22/2011

January 22, 2011
  • tags: China FC PRC PLA civil-military_relations CMR

    • PLA leaders have delivered seemingly bellicose remarks and used incidents such as the 2001 Hainan Island patrol plane incident and the 2007 anti-satellite test in a calculated manner to bolster the PLA’s authority and display its determination to use force when it considers it necessary to defend China’s interests.
    • Most notable in this regard is the PLA’s displays of determination to use force if necessary to establish China’s sovereignty over Taiwan, in the hope of deterring U.S. intervention should a crisis over the island occur.
  • tags: PRC FC Taiwan US war

    • “The reason [the U.S.] lost was because the Chinese sortie rates and persistence carried the day,” Davies says. “Any American aircraft was operating out of Guam or Okinawa because the airfields in Taiwan were taken out in the first half hour [of the conflict]. So [U.S.] time on station over the Strait is quite limited.”
    • “The Chinese have been working since the [Taiwan] Strait crises of 1995-6 to deny the approaches to China to a carrier battle group. That’s why basing becomes an issue.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

US weapons sales to Taiwan, 2011 redux

January 22, 2011
Hu Jintao

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China has been all over the news lately. Between President Hu Jintao’s recent US trip and the test flights of the J-20 stealth aircraft that coincided with US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates‘s visit to China earlier this month, it’s been pretty much non-stop. In the run-up to Hu’s US trip, a lot of folks wrote about whether or not Sino-US relations were faring well or heading toward another fallout. Whether or not relations are good or bad right now, if the rumors of new round of weapons sales to Taiwan that began to swirl just prior to Hu’s visit turn out to be true, then we can pretty much assume that relations will be in the tank again soon.

We can make this assumption based on, among other things, the PRC’s reaction to the last round of US weapons sales to Taiwan, which was announced a year ago. This package, which boasted a sticker price in excess of $6 billion, consisted chiefly of utility helicopters like the ones that @Starbuck_WOI flies, missile defense systems (the latest version of the venerable Patriot system), and command and control equipment. In response, the PRC cut military-to-military ties to the US for nearly the balance of the year. These “mil-to-mil” ties are an important part of the regime of confidence building measures (CBMs) in place between the US and the PRC, mainly because the PRC government is not forthcoming with information about many things, in particular defense and security-related issues.

During the moratorium on US-China defense ties in 2010, Secretary Gates requested to make a visit to China in conjunction with a trip that already had him in Asia. The PRC response was that the timing  was “not convenient,” and his request was denied.

Gates was finally able to make the trip this month, and while he was there, the PLA trotted out its new J-20 stealth aircraft for some very public test flights. (US-based observers freaked out.) The PRC vowed the timing was purely coincidental. Of course it was.

Also seemingly not coincidental was the timing of a Taiwan missile exercise during Hu Jintao’s US trip. It is also possible that the results were not coincidental – one third of the missiles tested failed (most of these were US-supplied weapons of a rather old vintage). Could this be a plea to the US to provide “more weapons, more quicker?”

The rumored new weapons sales will not be quite as expensive as the 2010 version ($4 billion this time), and supposedly would include upgrades for Taiwan’s aging F-16 fighter jets, including avionics, engines, and missiles (Washington Times, Foreign Policy).

The US agreed, in the 1982 Joint Communique with the PRC, to decrease both the quantity and quality of the weapons sold to Taiwan over time, but in practice this has been contingent on the military threat to Taiwan being reduced.

The US has not backed away from making weapons sales to Taiwan in the interim, but one could argue that too much accommodation of Beijing’s anticipated reaction has affected at least the timing of the weapons sales, if not the content (though likely this as well – after all, whatever happened to the submarines and F-16s that Taiwan was supposed to get?).

Because of the perceived “sell-out” involved with agreeing to curtail weapons sales to Taiwan, at the same time that the 1982 Joint Communique was being negotiated, the US provided Taiwan with what has become known as the “Six Assurances.”  The assurances indicated that the US would not set and end date for weapons sales to Taiwan; that the US would not alter the Taiwan Relations Act (see below for more on it); that the US would not consult with Beijing in advance of weapons sales to Taiwan; that the US would not mediate between the PRC and Taiwan; that the US would not alter its position on Taiwan’s sovereignty, which is that it was something that needed to be peacefully resolved by the Chinese themselves (and would not pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with Beijing); and that the US would not formally recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. You can see how these assurances directly go against the 1982 Communique’s assertion that weapons sales would taper off.

But the US’s continued insistence on selling weapons to Taiwan, despite knowing that there will be a price incurred each time in Sino-US relations, as mentioned earlier, is predicated on a decreasing military threat to Taiwan. Anyone familiar with the PRC’s military modernization and expansion in the past couple decades, in particular the massive numbers of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) that are arrayed against Taiwan, knows that this has not been the case. So the weapons sales will continue.

The US knows that its weapons sales will not right the cross-Strait military balance, but does want to keep it from getting too far tilted in Beijing’s favor. (See more useful debunking of myths about weapons sales here, in a piece from the Center for Strategic and International Studies published not long after the last round of weapons sales.)

Taiwan also knows that there are some weapons the US simply will not sell them, so they must be produced indigenously. For example, Taiwan recently decided not to deploy a Taiwan-developed multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) on its offshore islands near the PRC to avoid provocation. Missile development is but one facet of what one observer calls an “evolving defense doctrine” characterized by greater self-sufficiency.

Defense Secretary Gates, when asked by a US senator last year what could be done to reduce or stop US weapons sales to Taiwan (referred to by the senator as a “substantial irritant” to US-China relations), replied that the issue was political, not defense-related. Until the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which mandates that the US will “make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability”, is amended (note that the Six Assurances guaranteed that the TRA would not be amended) or repealed, there is no escaping this requirement. Gates replied similarly to a question about Taiwan weapons sales during his recent China trip, adding that in his view, that until the threat to Taiwan is reduced much more than it has been even in the era of cross-Strait rapprochement since the Ma Ying-jeou administration took office in Taiwan in 2008, that the weapons sales will still be necessary.

I can’t disagree. If you look at the capabilities that the PRC has aimed its defensive modernization and upgrades at, it seems quite clear that they are aimed at triumphing over the US in a limited regional war to take Taiwan. The PRC anti-access/area denial strategy supports it, development of 5th generation stealth aircraft supports it, expansion of the submarine fleet supports it.

In conclusion, when the next round of weapons sales to Taiwan are announced, don’t be surprised – surprised that the sales took place, or surprised that the PRC will be all aflutter about it. It’s nothing new, and it won’t be changing anytime soon.

Links of Interest 01/21/2011

January 21, 2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Links of Interest 01/20/2011

January 20, 2011

Extensive post on China’s military modernization. You can definitely tell who wrote which sections of the post! (GSGF has a very distinctive writing style, no?)

tags: FC China military_modernization

    Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

    Links of Interest 01/18/2011

    January 18, 2011

    Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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