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Thread: China tells navy to prepare for combat

  1. #76
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    China is building their first overseas naval base on the horn of Africa, in Djibouti (at the Mandeb Strait, a naval choke point).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bab-el-Mandeb

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Djibouti/


    China military to set up first overseas base in Horn of Africa

    Katrina Manson
    Thursday, 31 Mar 2016 | 8:30 PM
    ETFinancial Times

    China to set up overseas base in Horn of Africa. The new naval facility marks the first permanent overseas deployment by Chinese armed forces.

    China is set to install "a few thousand" troops and staff at its first ever overseas military base, the first permanent overseas deployment by Chinese armed forces.

    The new naval facility will sit in the same city as America's own sprawling African military headquarters in Djibouti, the Horn of Africa country where the US has a 4,500-strong base running counter-terrorism operations across the region. Japan, which also has its only overseas military base in Djibouti, already faces a tense stand-off with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

    The move underscores concerns that China, historically inward-looking and non-interventionist, is making a policy shift to assert itself as a global military power. Djibouti occupies a vital strategic position at the southern entrance to the Red Sea from the Indian Ocean, with 30 per cent of the world's shipping passing close by.

    China has already vowed to near-quadruple its contribution to global peacekeeping operations, to 8,000 troops, and is explicitly building up aircraft and submarine capabilities in pursuit of what it frames as a new responsibility to help assure global peace and stability.

    So far China has said little about its own intentions in Djibouti, referring to the project in low-key terms such as characterizing the new base as "logistical facilities" for naval rest and resupply, including its contribution to anti-piracy operations. It has offered no information on staffing numbers.

    But in an interview with the Financial Times, Djibouti's foreign minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf for the first time spelt out the likely scale of China's presence in the small, strategically important country that sits at the mouth of Bab el-Mandeb Straits that lead to the Suez Canal.

    While the US in 2014 agreed to nearly double the rate it pays Djibouti to $63m a year to rent its site, Mr Youssouf told the FT that China will pay Djibouti $20m a year for their location, with likely "a few thousands" of military and administrative personnel. Mr Youssouf said the Chinese, like the US, signed a 10-year contract with an option to extend for a further 10 years.

    "The terms of the contract and agreement are very clear and they are the same for each and every country that requested military presence in Djibouti," Mr Youssouf said. He added the main purpose was for China to use the naval base to protect its national interest — monitoring its merchant vessels passing the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and for naval refuelling and restocking.

    Tom Kelly, US ambassador to Djibouti, told the FT that managing the existence of both a US and a Chinese base in the same country "will be a challenge for all involved". Concerns range from eavesdropping on activities at the US base, much of whose wide-ranging anti-terror operations are covert, to fears China may develop a string of bases to give them strategic control over waterways leading into Europe.

    Mr. Youssouf said that China, which is scheduled to build a second major airport in the country, would have as much right to use drones as the US and France.

    "The Americans have enough technology, enough fighter aircraft, enough drones [here] to control each and every piece of this land and even beyond," said Mr Youssouf. "Why should the Chinese not have the right to also use those materials . . . to preserve and protect their interests in the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb?"

    China's foreign ministry declined to respond to requests for comment on the terms of the new base.

    China has instead framed the coming base in terms of an effort to showcase itself as a rising but responsible global player, supporting existing anti-piracy patrols and peacekeeping missions on the African continent, which is a hub for Chinese investments. China has sent navy ships to patrol the Gulf of Aden off Djibouti and Somalia since 2008, the first time China had sent naval ships on a mission outside its territorial waters in more than 600 years.

    Last November, a spokesperson said of the proposed naval "support facility" that it "will help China's military further carry out its international responsibilities to safeguard global and regional peace and stability".

    Mr. Youssouf and senior port officials said the base would combine a naval jetty and fenced-off location at the same site as the capital's forthcoming Doraleh Multipurpose Port, still under construction. The new port is part-financed and part-owned by China Merchants Holding, a part state-owned company and the largest public port operator in China.

    China is also set to lend more than $1bn at non-concessional rates for other infrastructure projects to help transform Djibouti's $1.5bn economy, including a water pipeline and a new railway link with landlocked, populous Ethiopia.
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  2. #77
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    China's networked underwater sensor arrays in the news...


    China's Underwater Great Wall

    by Sarosh Bana, executive editor of Business India
    31 August 2016 | The Washington Times


    The stakes in the South China Sea (SCS) are apparently reaching down to the murky depths of this contentious waterway as Beijing readies its undersea surveillance network to consolidate its presence in the region.

    The China State Shipbuilding Corp. (CSSC), one of China's top shipbuilding and defense groups that builds virtually all People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships, has been laying a network of ship and subsurface sensors that it calls the Underwater Great Wall Project that is designed to gain Beijing an enormous undersea warfare advantage. Estimated to be close to completion, the project will help China push its effective control zone and track all submarine, surface and aerial activity in the littoral. CSSC is also flaunting the system as "a package solution" in terms of underwater environment monitoring and collection, real-time location, tracing of surface and underwater targets, warning of seaquakes, tsunamis and other disasters, as well as for garnering research data on marine life and geology.

    Project details were made available at a CSSC booth at a public exhibition in China late last year, with IHS Jane's managing to have them translated from a government official. The CSSC document is quoted as claiming that one of the company's objectives is to provide its customers with "a package solution in terms of underwater environment monitoring and collection, real-time location, tracing of surface and underwater targets, warning of seaquakes, tsunamis, and other disasters as well as marine scientific research."

    The CSSC model appears to be a vastly advanced and comprehensive version of the Sound Surveillance System that had accorded the United States a significant advantage in countering Soviet submarines during the Cold War. The system was comprised of an array of hydrophones on the ocean bottom connected by undersea cables along the entire U.S. East Coast to onshore processing centers.

    The Underwater Great Wall gives visible shape to China's intent on asserting its role in the region. Beijing's claims of sovereignty over almost the entire South China and East China seas have sparked disputes with its neighbors such as Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

    The bone of contention has been the various island enclaves, not of much value in themselves, but the possession of which would provide strategic, resource-rich continental shelves and Exclusive Economic Zones that extend 200 nautical miles from the low-water shoreline. Toward this, China has been creating islands and militarizing them to further its access to marine resources. Also, Beijing's energy-hungry, export-driven economy that is heavily reliant on raw material and fuel imports seeks to buttress its suzerainty over the regional Sea Lines of Communication that are critical to the survival of the entire Asia-Pacific community.

    It is largely to its seaborne trade that China owes its spectacular economic transformation that helped shrink the 61 percent of its population living in extreme poverty in 1990 to only 4 percent by 2015. One study reckons that of the 4 billion tonnes added to global seaborne trade between 2002 and 2014, Chinese imports accounted for 94 percent of the increase in iron ore volumes and 35 percent in coal volumes, while Chinese exports accounted for 60 percent of the expansion in container trade.

    To ensure safe passage to its maritime trade and expand its commercial footprint, China has been extending its blue-water presence in its neighborhood through the establishment of its South Sea Fleet surface combatants in Guangdong province, which faces Hainan Island, where its nuclear-submarine fleet is located. The area also has the deployment of precision cruise and advanced ballistic missiles that can target all current U.S. bases and naval forces in the region.

    The ominous developments are posing a threat to the Asia-Pacific as a whole, the fastest-growing economic region in the world. While this region has hitherto been driven by commercial interests, this widening unrest threatens the sea lanes that are its lifeline.

    China's military posturing challenges the United States, viewing Washington's pursuit of its "pivot" to Asia as an American attempt to curb Chinese influence across the region and embolden countries to challenge China on the maritime disputes. Beijing has argued, too, that this policy is aimed at containing its legitimately expanding economy and military, and bolstering American presence in this region of the future.

    Though Washington has sought to be neutral, it is conscious of the need for freedom of navigation for all countries. Hence, it finds it imperative to raise its already-formidable profile in the Asia-Pacific. Its numerous military bases in the region include 17 in Japan and 12 in South Korea, while it also has a presence in Australia, Thailand, the Philippines, Guam and Singapore, and on the British-controlled Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.

    Through its Underwater Great Wall, China may also well affirm the so-called "nine-dash line" that it had unilaterally delineated in 1947 to claim as much as 90 percent of the 1.4 million square-mile expanse of the South China Sea. And it was this claim that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague debunked in July in a case against China brought before it by the Philippines.

    Not only the creation itself of the Underwater Great Wall, but its locational sweep in disputed waters, may spark fresh reprisals from nations in the littoral that are no longer agreeable to countenance any further excesses.
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  3. #78
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    old news

    china started this pre 2000 using anti-terrorism provisions to buy and build with dual use tech that normally would have been banned under the embargos

    the legacy technology is from the UK

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    China builds fighter-sized hangars on S. China Sea outposts: U.S.

    June 7, 2017
    Japan Economic Newswire - Kyodo

    (Washington) - China was constructing hangars capable of accommodating 24 fighter jets as well as fixed-weapons positions and other military-related infrastructure on each of three major Chinese-occupied features in the disputed South China Sea as of late last year, the U.S. Defense Department said Tuesday.

    "China's Spratly Islands outpost expansion effort is currently focused on building out the land-based capabilities of its three largest outposts -- Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs -- after completion of its four smaller outposts early in 2016," the Pentagon said in an annual report to Congress on military and security developments involving China.

    "Once all these facilities are complete, China will have the capacity to house up to three regiments of fighters in the Spratly Islands," whose ownership is disputed between Beijing and its smaller neighbors such as the Philippines and Vietnam, the report said.

    No substantial land has been reclaimed at any of the seven Chinese-held outposts since Beijing ended its artificial island creation in the Spratlys in late 2015, according to the report.

    "In 2016, China focused its main effort on infrastructure construction at its outposts on the Spratly Islands," it said.

    Last year, China "reached milestones" of landing civilian aircraft on its airfields on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs for the first time, as well as landing a military transport aircraft on Fiery Cross Reef to evacuate injured personnel, it said, cautioning that Beijing is attempting to force a shift in the status quo in the disputed sea.

    "Although its land reclamation and artificial islands do not strengthen China's territorial claims as a legal matter or create any new territorial sea entitlements, China will be able to use its reclaimed features as persistent civil-military bases to enhance its presence in the South China Sea and improve China's ability to control the features and nearby maritime space," it said.

    In response, China said it is "firmly opposed" to the Pentagon report making "irresponsible remarks" over its national defense policy, which it reiterated is defensive in nature.

    At a press briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the United States has disregarded facts and refuted that China is "a staunch force in safeguarding peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large."

    The report also touched on a July 2016 international tribunal ruling that rejected China's claims to almost the entire South China Sea with its self-declared maritime border known as the "nine-dash line." Beijing did not accept the ruling.

    "Since the arbitration ruling, China has downplayed its rhetoric on the nine-dash line in official media," it said.

    Regarding the Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets controlled by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan, the Pentagon said that last year Beijing continued to use law-enforcement ships and aircraft to "patrol" near the islands in an attempt to undermine Japan's administration of them.

    Last September, Japan and China resumed talks on setting up a communication line to "de-conflict" air and maritime traffic in the waters but made little progress, it said.

    The United States affirms the Senkakus, called Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan, are covered by Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty, the report said, meaning that Washington will defend Tokyo in the event of emergencies over the islands.

    Referring to China's defense spending, the report said the Pentagon estimates Beijing's military-related spending exceeded $180 billion in 2016, larger than the $144.3 billion defense budget for 2016 China announced in March that year.

    The gap stemmed from Beijing's "poor accounting transparency" and the fact that "China's published military budget omits several major categories of expenditure, such as R&D (research and development) and the procurement of foreign weapons and equipment," according to the report.

    Citing data showing China's defense outlays growing at an average of 8.5 percent a year in inflation-adjusted terms from 2007 to 2016, the report said, "Chinese leaders seem committed to increases in defense spending for the foreseeable future, even as China's economic growth slows."

    The Pentagon said China was the world's fourth largest arms supplier from 2011 to 2015 with more than $20 billion in sales, $9 billion of which was to Asia-Pacific nations, primarily Pakistan and also Bangladesh and Myanmar. Sub-Saharan Africa was China's second-largest regional arms market.

    "China's ability to remain among the world's top five global arms suppliers hinges largely on continued strong sales to Pakistan and demand for its armed unmanned aerial vehicles," it said.

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  5. #80
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    more news on the topic...

    Surveillance under the sea: how China is listening in near Guam

    Stephen Chen
    South China Morning Post.com
    January 22, 2018

    China has planted powerful listening devices in two strategic sea-beds deep in the waters near Guam, America's biggest military base in the Western Pacific.

    The cutting-edge acoustic sensors - some of which have a listening range of more than 1,000km - are being used for scientific research such as studying earthquakes, typhoons and whales, according to the Chinese government.

    But security experts say the sensors can also track the movement of submarines in the South China Sea and intercept underwater signals between the submarines and their command base.

    The high-end surveillance devices have been in operation since 2016, though the information was released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences only this month.

    One of the acoustic sensors is located in the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench - the deepest place on Earth at 10,916 metres beneath sea level - and another is near Yap, an island in the Federated States of Micronesia, the information revealed.

    The Challenger Deep and Yap are respectively about 300km and 500km southwest of Guam, between Guam and Palau.

    Guam is home to the United States' biggest military base in the Western Pacific and it is also an important resupply and maintenance centre for the submarines of other US naval forces in the Pacific region. Palau is one of the main entry points to the South China Sea for US naval vessels.

    Highly advanced sound detectors planted on the sea floor in the region might be able to detect submarines' communication, according to a Chinese military expert who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

    The content of the messages would be encrypted, but the signals could provide other useful information about the submarines, the expert said.

    A US analyst said such a move was standard practice for big powers with strong navies.

    "China has become a great power and is acting like one," said James Lewis, senior vice-president at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    "All great powers put sensor arrays at the bottom of the ocean for anti-submarine warfare."

    According to the Chinese academy, which oversees the development and deployment of the acoustic sensors, the devices are attached to a long cable along the sea floor.

    The cable is connected to a small buoy carrying satellite communication devices and supplying more than a year's worth of battery power to the devices, which are small and consume very little power.

    These Chinese deep-sea surveillance networks have survived the crushing pressure at the world's greatest depths and picked up noises from sources over 1,000km away, according to the academy.

    They are regularly maintained by Chinese research vessels, it added.

    The eavesdropping instruments work by picking up sound waves, which can be used as military intelligence. The sound waves may include noises generated by submarines.

    Submarines often generate low-frequency noises meant to travel across long distances. They also regularly beam acoustic signals to either satellite-linked buoys or cables on the sea floor to communicate and remain in contact with their bases.

    The US naval base in Guam hosts the Submarine Squadron 15, whose fleet comprises Los Angeles-class nuclear submarines including the USS Oklahoma, USS Chicago, USS Key West and USS Topeka.

    From Guam, the fastest way for a submarine to reach the Spratly Islands, for instance, is to go through the Celebes Sea between Indonesia and the Philippines. The 3,500km journey would take less than four days for a nuclear-powered submarine.

    The Spratly Islands are a contested chain of islands in the South China Sea and a potential flashpoint in territorial disputes.

    The US naval force on Guam is believed to have laid down communication lines on its submarines' frequently used routes. The cables on the sea floor are connected to devices that can emit or receive sound waves, allowing submarines to stay in touch with the ground command without having to surface for satellite communication and risk exposure.

    The US navy has also since 2008 developed a submarine communication system, Deep Siren, which allows subs to release an expendable buoy to the surface and use acoustic signals to send and receive messages from the deepest ocean floors. These signals are sent to a satellite controlled by the US National Security Agency and then integrated into its global information grid.

    China's underwater surveillance network can detect such communication as some of its sensors operate at depths similar to those of Deep Siren. The sensors have a maximum working depth of over 12,000 metres, which allows them to work effectively on even the deepest sea floors.

    "The deeper under the surface, the quieter the world becomes, and it allows us to concentrate on the signal we most want to hear," said Zhu, who leads programmes on deep-sea surveillance and communication at the Chinese academy's Institute of Acoustics.

    He added there was an export embargo to China on sound detectors with operational depths beyond 1,000 metres. Such devices were difficult to produce as they required special materials and sophisticated technology to ensure they could continue collecting accurate information for long periods under extreme, high-pressure environments, he said.

    For instance, beyond a depth of 10,000 metres, the pressure a sensor is subjected to is about 6,000kg - equivalent to the weight of an adult African elephant.

    The sensors are also small and consume very little power. Zhu could not reveal further details of how the sensors are made due to the sensitivity of the matter, but said "it is a breakthrough for China".

    According to the institute, the acoustic sensors in the underwater surveillance system are used to monitor sound waves generated by nature, such as typhoons and earthquakes for disaster warning purposes.

    They have also been used in other ways such as on deep sea gliders and deployed in other sensitive waters like the South China Sea, the institute said.

    The surveillance system includes other sensors, such as current meters and sondes that measure water turbulence, temperature and salinity.

    Lewis, the US analyst, said water temperature, salinity and other factors affected the propagation of sound and were measured to improve detection of submarines.

    Some sound frequencies travel great distances underwater, and advanced computing programmes can interpret them to locate a submarine even more than 800km away, he said.

    "You want the sensor in deep water as it can pick up more and is less likely to be detected," he said, adding that US sensors were mainly located around Russia to help detect their ballistic missile submarines.

    The Chinese academy's release of information about China's deep-sea surveillance network comes amid an increasing power play against the US for dominance over the Pacific Ocean.

    China, the world's second biggest economy, has been spending generously on military hardware upgrades to assert its growing global interest and influence.

    Its increasing activities near Guam have drawn US attention. Scientists on board Chinese research vessels told the South China Morning Post that their operations near Guam had been going on in clear view of US spy planes but they continued with them, insisting they were operating in international waters.

    But China's activities in the area go further than listening devices. Last February, the academy's Institute of Geology and Geophysics set off a series of man-made earthquakes on a sea floor of the Mariana Trench with powerful blasts. The first such experiment conducted in the region, it allowed China to obtain valuable information about the undersea terrain, the institute said.

    Guam is part of the Second Island Chain, a military defence line built by the US during the cold war to prevent communist expansion into the Pacific Ocean.

    According to Chinese scientists involved in these projects, one main purpose of Chinese operations near Guam and other regions in the Western Pacific is to break up the island chain and project Chinese naval power into the Pacific heartlands.

    Copyright (c) 2018. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

    January 22, 2018

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  7. #82
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    Summary text quoted below has been excerpted from the report at the link in the quote above.

    China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities

    Summary

    The question of how the United States should respond to China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is a key issue in U.S. defense planning and budgeting.

    China has been steadily building a modern and powerful navy since the early to mid-1990s. China’s navy has become a formidable military force within China’s near-seas region, and it is conducting a growing number of operations in more-distant waters, including the broader waters of the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and waters around Europe.

    Observers view China’s improving naval capabilities as posing a challenge in the Western Pacific to the U.S. Navy’s ability to achieve and maintain control of blue-water ocean areas in wartime— the first such challenge the U.S. Navy has faced since the end of the Cold War. More broadly, these observers view China’s naval capabilities as a key element of a broader Chinese military challenge to the long-standing status of the United States as the leading military power in the Western Pacific.

    China’s naval modernization effort encompasses a wide array of platform and weapon acquisition programs, including anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), submarines, surface ships, aircraft, unmanned vehicles (UVs) and supporting C4ISR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems. China’s naval modernization effort also includes improvements in maintenance and logistics, doctrine, personnel quality, education and training, and exercises.

    Observers believe China’s naval modernization effort is oriented toward developing capabilities for doing the following: addressing the situation with Taiwan militarily, if need be; asserting and defending China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea, and more generally, achieving a greater degree of control or domination over the SCS; enforcing China’s view that it has the right to regulate foreign military activities in its 200-mile maritime exclusive economic zone (EEZ); defending China’s commercial sea lines of communication (SLOCs), particularly those linking China to the Persian Gulf; displacing U.S. influence in the Western Pacific; and asserting China’s status as a leading regional power and major world power.

    Consistent with these goals, observers believe China wants its military to be capable of acting as an anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) force—a force that can deter U.S. intervention in a conflict in China’s near-seas region over Taiwan or some other issue, or failing that, delay the arrival or reduce the effectiveness of intervening U.S. forces. Additional missions for China’s navy include conducting maritime security (including anti-piracy) operations, evacuating Chinese nationals from foreign countries when necessary, and conducting humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) operations.

    Potential oversight issues for Congress include the following:

    * whether the U.S. Navy in coming years will be large enough and capable enough to adequately counter improved Chinese maritime A2/AD forces while also adequately performing other missions around the world;

    * whether the Navy’s plans for developing and procuring long-range carrier-based aircraft and long-range ship- and aircraft-launched weapons are appropriate and adequate;

    * whether the Navy can effectively counter Chinese ASBMs and submarines; and

    * whether the Navy, in response to China’s maritime A2/AD capabilities, should shift over time to a more distributed fleet architecture.
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  8. #83
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    This is where all this build up is leading to isn't it

    Pentagon Denies Chinese Warship Drove U.S. Destroyer From S. China Sea | Washington Free Beacon | Jan 24 2018

    The Pentagon on Tuesday denied Chinese Defense Ministry claims that one of its naval vessels drove a U.S. destroyer out of the South China Sea during a freedom of navigation operation last week.

    "No one runs a navy ship out of anywhere," a senior defense official told the Washington Free Beacon. "This whole notion that we got run off is not true."

    The official was responding to a statement issued by Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian who said the USS Hopper was confronted during the passage near Scarborough Shoal, in the Spratly Islands, by the PLA navy missile destroyer Huangshan that took action to "drive it away."

    The senior official said the Chinese hailed the Hopper by radio but there was never any instance when the Hopper changed course.

    The guided missile destroyer was conducting what Navy officials call an "innocent passage" operation designed to ensure that international waters such as the South China Sea remain open.

    The operation was the 13th Navy warship operation in the South China Sea since 2015. China has built up some 3,200 acres of new islands in the sea and has begun building military installations, including missile batteries, on some of the islands.

    Last October, the same Chinese destroyer, the Huangshan, confronted the destroyer USS Chafee near the Paracel Islands in the northern part of the sea. Two JB-11 aircraft and one helicopter also were used to warn the Chafee.

    Military experts say the U.S. policy of asserting freedom of navigation operations in the sea but failing to direct the operations against Chinese military expansionism is sending mixed messages to Beijing.

    Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell said the Pentagon response to the Chinese in the sea has not matched Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' new policy of strategic predictability and operational unpredictability.

    Mattis announced last week that the United States regards countering threats posed by China and Russia as the main military missions and that operations against Islamic terrorism will no longer be the military's main priority.

    "It seems to me that being ‘strategically predictable' must include speaking clearly and unambiguously about areas where we have strategic interests," Fanell said.

    "To date, it seems we have been strategically ambiguous about our view of the PRC's claims in the South China Sea," he said, using the acronym for People's Republic of China. "We seem to be more concerned about not provoking the PRC, than we are about clearly stating our position and backing it up by our actions."

    Mattis is expected to visit China in the next several months, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported Jan. 16.

    Asserting that the United States will fly or sail wherever international law permits also is not strategically predictable. "It is ambiguous and we followed up that statement with confusing and ambiguous actions in all these FONOPS or innocent passage transits over the past three years," Fanell said.

    "It is time to stop the ambiguity at all levels and speak clearly—the PRC does not have a legal claim of sovereignty over these artificial islands and other features in the South China Sea. As such the U.S. Navy should be steaming inside 12 nautical miles of every feature in the sea."

    The Trump administration's first freedom of navigation operation in May involved the missile destroyer USS Dewey. After the operation, the Foreign Ministry said the Chinese navy sent two frigates, the Liuzhou and Luzhou, to "expel" the destroyer.

    For three other operations since then, the Chinese have asserted that military ships merely warned U.S. ships to leave the area.

    Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis declined to address Wu's assertion. He said in response to inquiries about the Hopper passage near Scarborough that such operations are "not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements."

    "U.S. forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea," Davis said.

    "All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows," he added.

    During fiscal year 2017, which ended Sept. 31, the Navy conducted freedom of navigation operations, known as FONOPS in Pentagon jargon that challenged excessive maritime claims near 22 coastal states, including both allies and partners.

    "FONOPs are designed to comply with international law and do not threaten the lawful security interests of coastal states," Davis said. "FONOPs do not challenge which claimant has sovereignty over any naturally formed land features; rather, FONOPs challenge what maritime rights are claimed around such features."

    Since the operations always are conducted under international law "they never pose a threat to the lawful security interests of coastal states," he added.

    Both the Chinese Defense and Foreign Ministries, however, denounced the Jan. 17 passage by the Hopper as a violation of China's sovereignty.

    Wu, the defense spokesman, used harsher language than his Foreign Ministry counterpart, accusing the United States of causing trouble.

    The spokesman said the United States sent vessels "illegally" around China's islands and reefs on multiple occasions. The operations endangered the safety of both vessels and personnel, he added.

    The Hopper's passage also threatened China's sovereignty and security, harmed regional peace and stability, and acted against the development of stable relations between the United States and China and their two militaries.

    "We hope that the United States will respect China's sovereignty, respect the efforts made by the countries within the region, and not cause trouble out of nothing or make waves," Wu told the state-run Xinhua news agency.

    Wu said the Chinese military would continue to defend the islands and intensify patrols by ships and aircraft.

    At the Foreign Ministry, spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement that the Hopper sailed within 12 miles of Scarborough Shoal, that China calls the Huangyan Dao, "without gaining permission from the Chinese government."

    Lu said the Chinese navy, after identifying the warship, "warned the U.S. vessel to leave."

    "What the U.S. vessel did violated China's sovereignty and security interests, put the safety of Chinese vessels and personnel who were in the relevant waters for official duties under grave threat, and contravened the basic norms for international relations," Lu said. "China is strongly dissatisfied with that and will take necessary measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty."

    Lu said China respects freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea but opposes "any country using navigation and overflight freedom as an excuse to hurt China's sovereignty and security interests."

    "We strongly urge the U.S. side to immediately correct its mistake and stop making such provocative moves so as to avoid undermining China-U.S. relations and regional peace and stability," he added.

    Defense officials said the "innocent passage" operation is similar to a freedom of navigation operation."

    Legal analysts say "innocent passage" concedes that a coastal country owns the target of the naval passage while freedom of navigation challenges that claim.

    In July 2016, the international legal organization Permanent Court of Arbitration unanimously ruled against China's claim to have sovereignty over some 90 percent of the South China Sea.

    China has rejected the court's ruling, asserting it has a historical claim to the strategic waters that see up to $5 trillion in global trade pass through them annually.

    The USS Hopper carried out an "innocent passage" not a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) within 12 miles of Scarborough Shoal on Wednesday evening, said a U.S. official who also said the "message" is the same as with a FONOP. The guided missile destroyer was shadowed by a Chinese Navy ship, and the Chinese missile destroyer Huangshan immediately conducted an identification and warning process to drive the U.S. ship away.

    Scarborough Shoal is among the more strategic locations in the sea. China is planning a major buildup of forces on the island that is located about 150 miles from the Philippines coast.

    The shoal is claimed by both China and Philippines but beginning in 2012, China began turning away Philippines fishing vessels.

    During all freedom of navigation operation since October 2015, Chinese naval vessels have confronted U.S. warships with little or no response from the United States.

    In addition to the two most recent encounters involving the Hopper and Chaffee, the list of Navy freedom of navigation operations include:
    The problem is China doesn't recognise this 12 nautical miles business, 90% of the SCS is theirs and they are pushing for it. Want to pass through ask for permission
    Last edited by Double Edge; 25 Jan 18, at 01:30.

  9. #84
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    China Cosco Shipping launches new projects in Greece at start of 2018

    by David Glass | Greece Correspondent, Seatrade Maritime
    Posted 08 January 2018

    Within days of the launch of 2018, China Cosco Shipping launched a number of new projects to upgrade Piraeus to further strengthen the Greek port as Asia’s gateway to Eastern and Central Europe.

    Since Cosco acquired a majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) and assumed management in 2016 after winning an international tender, the image of the port has been changing rapidly, a fact Greek Shipping and Island Policy Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis stressed 4 January on the occasion of the launch of new projects to upgrade Greece's largest port.

    Work is well advanced as the port readies to for the arrival from China of the new large floating dock ‘Piraeus III’, at the end of February.

 

The new works include dredging the harbour to create up to 20 m of operating depth, providing new electricity and water supply networks, and installing four mooring buoys for anchoring ships.



    The new floating repair dock – 240 m long, 45 m wide, 22,000 tons lifting capacity and full crane equipment – will be able to service ships with a capacity of 80,000 tons.



    Kouroublis is full of praise for the Sino-Greek cooperation at Piraeus port. Speaking to Xinhua, 4 January, He said: “The projects that have started at Perama and will proceed with the lifting of two wrecks off Pier II by the Shipping ministry, so that the infrastructure for the installation of PPA's large floating dock can be created, show how smoothly the cooperation of the Greek government with the investors is progressing”.

    “They also show the Shipping ministry's policy will continue to facilitate any development activity stemming from Cosco's contractual obligations regarding bureaucracy and other obstacles. At the same time, we support workers' rights by welcoming the latest agreement between employees and the PPA to sign a Collective Labor Agreement.”



    The once booming Greek shiprepair industry has largely become dormant in recent years but with the arrival of the new dock the government hopes ships will no longer need to carry out repair and maintenance operations in other Mediterranean shipyards, while this move is also expected to create new jobs in the Greek market.



    George Koumpenas, vp operations at Greece’s Celestyal Cruises, welcomed the works as a very positive development, in particular for companies managing passenger ships operating in the region as well as for the Greek shipbuilding industry.



    “In recent years, due to a lack of suitable dock sizes, companies have been obliged to dock their vessels in neighbouring countries such as Malta, Turkey and Croatia. This has resulted in the loss of significant revenues for the national economy,” Koumpenas told Xinhua.



    “Installation and operation of a large floating dock will help maintain and develop the shipbuilding industry in the wider Piraeus and Perama areas, as an important criterion for the choice of the port for seafaring companies is the ability to make repairs,” said Koumpenas.


    Who Benefits From the Chinese-Built Hungary-Serbia Railway?

    The details behind the project make it clear that China is the real winner.

    By Zoltán Vörös for The Diplomat
    January 04, 2018

    According to reports by the media, the railway line has the potential to become the main transport route for Chinese (and Asian) goods that arrive by sea at the Chinese-owned Greek port of Piraeus and head into Europe. According to officials, it might reduce the travel time between the two capitals from eight hours to just two-and-a-half hours with a designed maximum speed of 200 kilometers per hour. The railway is thus considered as a flagship project of China, to increase its presence in the region.

    The reality, on the other hand, is a bit different – bringing into question the intentions as well.

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    There is a lot of false information about the project. It can reduce the travel time between Belgrade and Budapest, but since the construction documents are dealing with a maximum speed of 160 kilometers per hour (not 200 as it was stated by international and Chinese media), the trip will take three-and-a-half hours – and freight trains are not even capable of this speed. And as is clear from looking at a map, the trip from Piraeus port to CEE involves transiting not jut Hungary and Serbia but the Balkans as well, namely Macedonia and Serbian railways beyond Belgrade. These sections consist of underdeveloped infrastructure and even worse tracks.

    As a Hungarian official of COSCO, the Chinese company operating Piraeus port, commented for a Hungarian news site, COSCO has already been processing exports through the Greek port since 2014, and the new railway link can not really help this process. COSCO can already transport everything, and saving four hours of travel on the Belgrade-Budapest section is overshadowed by the fact that, because of the Balkan leg, it takes around four days to reach Budapest from Piraeus by rail (with exceptions making it in three, or in a worst-case scenario, eight days).

    If not to expedite trade from Piraeus, then what is the motive behind the railway? First of all, look at the details we know. In Hungary, a 152 km railway will be upgraded and constructed, creating a rail connection to the Serbian border with two tracks able to accommodate a maximum speed of 160 km per hour. As for the costs, the international media was wrong about the details, partly because of the secretive nature of the discussions. As a Hungarian journal summarized, the Hungarian section will cost 750 billion forints (roughly $3 billion). Of this, 85 percent will be financed from Chinese loans, with interest between 132 and 200 billion forints ($500 and $800 million) and 15 percent by the Hungarian government. Potentially, then, the whole project will cost around 950 billion forints ($3.7 billion). And while the construction has been already delayed, it might take another three years to start actual work: one year for the public procurement procedures (according to the general regulations within the European Union) and two years for the planning and negotiation phase. This would mean a start to the actual construction in 2021, to finish by the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.

    Is it beneficial for Hungary to construct this railway with Chinese help? It seems that the project is more ideal for China than for Hungary.

    First of all, the railway will not connect Hungarian cities (e.g. linking Budapest to Szeged, the third biggest Hungarian city). Plus, whether considering economic and trade relations or tourism, Belgrade is not a priority for Hungary. For Hungary, it is more necessary to upgrade and improve western connections, or eastern tracks toward Romania and Ukraine, either of which is more essential for economic relations.

    Second, it is also important to note that while the world is considering the railway a Chinese project, as mentioned above, the Hungarian section will be financed by Hungary – 85 percent of it through loans from China’s Exim Bank, and that loan is not even interest free (though cheaper than market loans). The situation is similar in Serbia. And, according to Hungarian officials, the amount of interest depends on the share of Chinese companies in the project: less involvement by Chinese companies, higher interest; more companies, lower interest.

    Which leads us to the third point: according to the plans, the railway will be constructed mostly by Chinese companies.

    So, summarizing the project, Hungary is going to upgrade a 152 km railway for roughly $3 billion, plus interest of between $500 and $800 million, to fulfill China’s economic vision, with the help of Chinese loans, with the majority of the work done by Chinese companies. According to estimates, it will take between 130 and 2,400 (!) years to make the project profitable for Hungary.

    Yet the Hungarian government celebrated the deal, with the foreign minister of the country saying, “We, in this region, have looked at China’s leading role in the new world order as an opportunity rather than a threat.” The railway really is an opportunity, but for China and Chinese companies rather than Hungary. With this construction project, Chinese companies will get what they have been seeking for a long time now: references within the European Union. With this railway in Hungary, a member state of the European Union, China will find it easier to win more tenders in the future within the European Community.

    Dr. Zoltán Vörös, Ph.D. is an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Pécs, Department of Political Science and International Studies.


    Why is China investing heavily in south-east Europe?

    By Andrew Hosken and Albana Kasapi
    BBC The World Tonight
    17 October 2017

    China is pouring billions of pounds' worth of investment into Greece and other Balkan countries to create a "New Silk Road" from the Mediterranean into the heart of the European Union.

    The initiative, called One Belt One Road (OBOR) involves the transformation and upgrading of harbours, airports, roads and rail across the Balkans. The Chinese have also bought industries, including a steel factory near the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

    But there are concerns that the European Union (EU) might eventually object to the level of investment if it poses a significant Chinese threat to European industries.

    Last year, the Chinese state-owned company Cosco purchased a controlling stake in the port of Piraeus, near Athens. The company is investing 385 million euros (Ł343m) in Piraeus to maximise both capacity and trade with the EU.

    Piraeus has always been of immense interest to the Chinese. Its geographical position means it is the first major port for shipments emerging from the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, and its depth allows it to take the biggest container ships.

    Nektarios Demenopoulos, a deputy manager of the Port of Piraeus Authority, told the BBC that Chinese investment in Piraeus had expanded significantly since the Chinese took control of the container port in 2009.

    "In 2016 we handled 3.7 million twenty-foot (6 metre) containers," he explained. "That's double what we handled back in 2009. And we will be expanding the container pier to create a capacity allowing us to handle 7.2 million containers. So we will double through-put again."

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    Those Greeks who are working with the Chinese emphasised the important cultural relationship between the two countries.

    Fotis Provatas, of the Athens-based Greek Chinese Economic Council, said. "I was surprised to see how many people in China know about ancient Greek culture and they respect it very much. And they respect the Western culture because they think - and this is true - that it is a continuation of the ancient Greek culture."

    He added that the Chinese have huge investment plans for Greece, including plans to buy and then vastly expand Athens airport. He also said China would upgrade the rail network in other Balkan countries, particularly the neighbouring Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia.

    Mr Provatas welcomed the investment but said there was also a danger of a backlash from the EU. He added: "Europe wants economic cooperation with China but in a different way to us.

    "We do not have industries so we do not compete with the Chinese in that way. They are welcome to come here and make cars and other industrial products. This is not the same elsewhere in Europe. They are competitors."

    The Greek government believes Chinese investment will be an important factor in the country's recovery from deep financial crisis.

    But ministers insist China does not get preferential treatment and that Greece takes its obligations seriously as a member of the EU.

    Stergios Pitsiarlos, Greece's deputy economics minister, told the BBC, "We think Greece should take advantage of these new opportunities that the Chinese strategy opens up. Our strategy is to take advantage of our geographical position and to attract foreign investment.

    "It is very clear that the Chinese would like to have a corridor towards Europe and the European market. At this point, the starting point for Greece is that we are a country that is a member of both the European Union and of the eurozone, and we will always respect European regulations."

    The Chinese are also investing across the eastern Balkans, including in Serbia.

    Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the city of Smederevo in eastern Serbia to inaugurate the local steel mill, which had been bought by the Chinese steel giant, Hesteel.

    In an interview for the BBC, Ana Brnabić, the Prime Minister of Serbia, welcomed the Chinese investment, saying Serbia is already home to very many Chinese investments, including road and rail.

    She denied that this investment would give China undue political influence in the Balkans, adding "Without a doubt when you have a huge inflow of investment from one particular country, it always gives a bigger influence to that country. But I did not notice that it had any political influence."

    Serbia has applied to join the EU. Ms Brnabić added: "China wants to get closer to the EU and EU markets and Serbia is happy to be one of the central countries in the One Road One Belt Initiative because it's important for our GDP growth and that is our number one priority today. Politically it doesn't interfere in any way with our EU integration."

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  10. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    This is where all this build up is leading to isn't it
    It may not lead to war, but is leading in a direction toward war, and not merely because of that one small event.


    China's first foreign Navy base in Djibouti is now operational, and they are reportedly building the next foreign base on the southwestern coast of Balochistan Pakistan near Gwadar.
    Last edited by JRT; 25 Jan 18, at 01:33.
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