US – China Relations

Former US Air Force pilot Todd Hohn unable to leave China until investigation complete

Taiwan News
Date: 2019/09/20
By  Associated Press

(By Associated Press)

A FedEx pilot who was detained in southern China is under investigation on suspicion of “smuggling weapons and ammunition” after air gun pellets were found in his baggage, a foreign ministry spokesman said Friday.

The pilot was detained Sept. 12 in Guangzhou while boarding a flight to Hong Kong, said the spokesman, Geng Shuang. He said customs inspectors found a box holding 681 air gun pellets in his bag.

The pilot was questioned and released on bail on “suspicion of smuggling weapons and ammunition,” Geng said at a regular news briefing. “The case is under investigation.”

The Wall Street Journal identified the pilot as Todd A. Hohn. It said he was told he can’t leave mainland China until the investigation is finished.    [FULL  STORY]

Looking back, the great-power generalists were warier about Beijing’s threat. Looking ahead, a grasp of Mandarin will come in handy.

Date: September 15, 2019
By: Hal Brands

The more things change … Photographer: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

What is the best sort of knowledge for understanding the world: detailed expertise on individual countries and key issues, or a broader grasp of strategy and the patterns of great-power rivalry? This is the deeper epistemological question at stake in recent arguments about who was right and who was wrong about China in the decades after the Cold War. The answer is complicated, but it matters a lot in terms of forging the right approach to China in the future.

The great-power gurus, those with less specific knowledge about China itself, were better at predicting the emergence of the disruptive rising power we see today. Yet the China hands – those who know that country, its language and its politics intimately – will be the critical assets in the new competition. 

As U.S.-China relations have worsened, experts have approached a consensus in favor of some toughening of the American posture. Still, opinion on China is hardly monolithic.  The Washington Post recently described one split, between an older generation that came of age during the heyday of U.S.-China engagement and wants to prevent the relationship from entering an inescapable downward spiral, and a younger generation that is more willing to risk higher tensions as the price of protecting U.S. interests.

Yet this split is not the first major divide in America’s China-watching community. Since the 1990s, there have been two types of U.S. experts on China. The first group – the “China hands” – is composed of individuals who possess deep subject-matter expertise and have devoted their careers to understanding China. The China hands can be found in U.S. universities, think-tanks, and government (particularly the Foreign Service); they possess formidable Chinese-language skills and enviable contacts within the Chinese power structure and society. They can speak with great authority and nuance about Beijing politics; they are well attuned to the unique aspects of China's history and strategic culture. 

Imagine visiting a country and being unable to leave. That scenario, a reality for many Americans visiting China, subject to a so-called “exit ban.” Buzz60, Buzz60

USA Today
Date: Sept. 15, 2019
By: Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Two young Americans, Victor and Cynthia Liu, are “trapped” in China, increasingly desperate and despondent because Chinese authorities have blocked them from leaving for more than a year.

“They are trapped. They are alone. They are desperate to come home,” David Pressman, the siblings’ New York-based attorney, told USA TODAY. “They are literally breaking down.”

The Lius are subject to a so-called “exit ban,” and they’re not they only ones.  

Another American citizen, Huang Wan, says Chinese officials are using a “fake” legal case to prevent her from returning to the United States. An Australian resident, Yuan Xiaoliang, has been barred from leaving China for more than eight months, and her husband, an Australian citizen, has been arrested on suspicion of spying, according to Australia’s foreign minister.

The State Department has warned Americans about China’s growing use of exit bans – stating in a Jan. 3 travel advisory that Chinese authorities have sometimes used exit bans to keep Americans in China for years.

“China uses exit bans coercively,” the State Department cautioned, “to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.”    [FULL  STORY]

​Hint: it involves these missiles. 

The National Interest
Date: September 11, 2019
By: Michael Peck

Key Point: Here’s another American solution to China’s claims over the South China Sea: offer long-range rockets to the Philippines.

The United States and the Philippines have been discussing whether the Filipino military should buy the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), a multiple rocket launcher used by the United States and other nations, according to the South China Morning Post.

“If deployed, the long-range, precision-guided rockets fired by the system would be able to strike Chinese man-made islands on reefs in the Spratly chain,” the newspaper said. HIMARS is a lighter, more mobile six-barreled version of the U.S. Army’s M270 multiple rocket launch system (MLRS). It can shoot rockets out to 70 kilometers (43 miles) and GPS-guided ballistic missiles out to 300 kilometers (186 miles).

However, funding from the cash-strapped Philippines is a hurdle. “The two sides have been unable to reach a deal because HIMARS could be too expensive for Manila given its tight defense budget,” said the newspaper.

Exactly how much does HIMARS cost? Manufacturer Lockheed Martin refused to give cost estimates, instead referring queries to the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Command, which didn’t respond to questions from TNI. The cost of HIMARS is split between the launcher itself and separate contracts for various munitions including guided and unguided rockets, the longer-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles, and weapons under development such as extended-range rockets and the Precision Strike Missile.

Some estimates put the cost of a HIMARS guided rocket at $100,000 to $200,000 apiece, or an ATACMS at more than $700,000 apiece. Another clue is that Poland recently signed a $414 million contract for eighteen launchers plus support and training. With the 2019 Philippines defense budget at only $3.4 billion, a big HIMARS purchase would be a strain.

Yet HIMARS is still a cheaper option than, say, a $1.4 million Tomahawk cruise missile. And the Philippines had already had a taste of HIMARS. The weapon was deployed there by U.S. Marines in 2016 during the joint U.S.-Philippines Balikatan exercises. Collin Koh Swee Lean, a Singaporean defense analyst, told the South China Morning Post that “there were two possible locations for the system: Palawan province in the Philippines and Thitu, or Zhongye in Chinese—the largest island held by Manila in the disputed Spratly chain. From Palawan, HIMARS could launch a missile at its maximum range to hit China’s man-made island at Mischief Reef, Koh said. But Thitu island would also be vulnerable to PLA air and missile strikes because it is only about 22 kilometers (14 miles) from China-occupied Subi Reef, and within striking range of missiles originating from the Paracel Islands and Hainan.”

The cheaper price tag of HIMARS compared to other weapons does make it attractive. “The idea of purchasing HIMARS systems may be one of the few viable options in response to China's artificial islands and continuing and increasingly provocative actions in the SCS [South China Sea],” says Jay Batongbacal, director of the Philippines-based Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.    [FULL  STORY]

We must avoid it at all costs.

The Natxional Interest
Date: September 6, 2019
By: Robert Farley Follow drfarls on TwitterL

In any case, ending the Sino-American War of 2030 would require careful diplomacy, lest the war become only the first stage of a confrontation that could last for the remainder of the century.

What would the War of 2030 between China and the United States look like?

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States appear ready to plunge off the precipice of a trade war. This war could have far-ranging effects on the economies of both countries, as well as the future of the global economic order. But as of yet, it does not seem likely to involve the flight of actual bombs and missiles. While the U.S. and China have a variety of minor conflicts, none rise to the level of a casus belli.

But things could change over the next decade. Conflicts that now seem remote can take on urgency over time. As China’s relative power increases, the United States may find that small disputes can have big consequences. China, on the other hand, may see windows of opportunity in America’s procurement and modernization cycle that leave the United States vulnerable.

(This first appeared in June 2018.)

By 2030, the balance of power (and the strategic landscape) may look very different. What would the War of 2030 between China and the United States look like?

How Would War Begin?

The core of the conflict remains the same. China and the United States might well fall into the “Thucydides Trap,” however misunderstood the ancient Greek historian may be. Chinese power seems to grow inexorably, even as the United States continues to set the rules of the global international order. But even if the growth of Athenian power and the concern this provoked in Sparta really was the underlying cause of the Peloponnesian War, it required a spark to set the world aflame. Neither the PRC nor the United States will go to war over a trivial event.    [FULL  STORY]

Mark Esper visits UK to discuss US defense policy with NATO allies3

Taiwan News
Date: 2019/09/07
By:  Associated Press

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper cautioned European allies against cozying up to China, arguing on Friday that Beijing

File photo: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Aug. 28
File photo: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Aug. 28 (By Associated Press)
seeks greater global influence by leveraging economic power and stealing technology.

"The more dependent a country becomes on Chinese investment and trade, the more susceptible they are to coercion and retribution when they act outside of Beijing's wishes," Esper said in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank.

Esper's assertion that China is seeking to expand its influence at the expense of others has been a common US government refrain for years, including during President Barack Obama's administration. By taking this message to London, Esper seemed to be suggesting that Europeans do not fully share US concerns, which often center on China's efforts to militarize disputed territory in the South China Sea and its vast trade surplus with the US.

"I would caution my friends in Europe — this is not a problem in some distant land that does not affect you," he sa

Date: August 6, 2019
By:Erica Pandey, Jonathan Swan

Vice President Mike Pence has signaled that the Trump administration is open to using the Global

​Pence at the UN. Photo: Selcuk Acar/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Magnitsky Act to sanction top officials in Xinjiang, China, where more than 1 million Uighur Muslims are being held in internment camps, according to a Chinese religious freedom advocate who met with Pence at the White House Monday.

Driving the news: Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid, said that Pence also told him that he planned to give a second speech about China in the fall to address religious freedom issues. Beijing has been paying close attention to Pence's plans for a second speech, as the vice president has been at the forefront of the administration's confrontation with China. So hawkish was a speech Pence gave in October that the New York Times framed it as a portent of a "New Cold War."

Behind the scenes: Fu told Axios he sat next to Pence at the meeting and handed him a list of 9 officials, including Chen Quanguo — the Chinese Communist Party's secretary of Xinjiang who has been dubbed the brains behind the detention camps. Fu said Pence made no commitments but told him he would personally follow up about the recommendation to sanction the individuals. Pence's office did not respond to requests for comment.

Why it matters: As we've reported, much of the world has shrugged as the Chinese Communist Party has detained over a million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang in "political re-education" camps. The Communist Party has posted 100,000 jobs for security personnel in Xinjiang in just the last year, reports Quartz. The province has turned into a police state, with officials surveilling Muslim residents, collecting their DNA and seizing their passports.    [FULL  STORY]

Taiwan News
Date: 2019/08/06
By: CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) — China said Tuesday that it “will not stand idly by” and will take countermeasures if the

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs arms control official Fu Cong.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs arms control official Fu Cong. (By Associated Press)
U.S. deploys intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region, which Washington has said it plans to do within months.

The statement from the director of the foreign ministry’s Arms Control Department, Fu Cong, follows the U.S.’s withdrawal last week from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a move Fu said would have a “direct negative impact on the global strategic stability” as well as security in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Fu said China was particularly concerned about announced plans to develop and test a land-based intermediate-range missile in the Asia-Pacific “sooner rather than later,” in the words of one U.S. official.

“China will not stand idly by and be forced to take countermeasures should the U.S. deploy intermediate-range ground-based missiles this part of the world,” Fu told reporters at a specially called briefing.    [FULL  STORY]

The New York Times
Date: July 12, 2019
By: Raymond Zhong

Taiwanese soldiers during an an antiaircraft combat confrontation drill in May. The United States Defense Department recently approved a $2 billion arms sale to Taiwan.CreditCreditRitchie B Tongo/EPA, via Shutterstock

BEIJING — China said on Friday that it would impose sanctions on American companies involved in the recently proposed sale of more than $2 billion in arms to Taiwan. The move could further strain ties between the two large powers, whose governments have been targeting each other’s businesses for punishment as a tariff war boils.

Beijing has threatened similar penalties after previous American weapons sales to Taiwan, a self-governing island that China considers a rogue part of its territory. The sanctions promised in those cases have not materialized so far.

But whether and how the Chinese government follows through this time could send a signal about officials’ willingness to inflict damage upon more American firms as the trade fight with Washington stretches into its second year.

“The United States’ arms sales to Taiwan constitute a serious violation of international law and the norms governing international relations,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said on Friday, without offering specifics on how and when the American companies involved would be penalized.    [FULL  STORY]

A response to the July 3 Washington Post op-ed 'China is not an enemy'

Taiwan News
Date: 2019/07/06
By Duncan DeAeth, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On July 3, the Washington Post published an op-ed entitled “China is not an enemy” addressed to the White House and Congress, which was endorsed by 100 signatories representing the best and brightest of the United States’ pro-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligentsia.

The article, authored by five individuals who clearly should never have been in positions of authority capable of influencing U.S. foreign policy, serves as an apologist's reminder of how the corporatist and coastal elites of the United States cherish their privileged relationship with the Chinese government.

In the future, op-ed letters like “China is not an enemy” will likely be regarded for their ironic value in the same way that Neville Chamberlain’s 1938 “Peace in our time” address is viewed today.

The letter is authored by former diplomats J. Stapleton Roy, a former U.S. ambassador to China during the years 1991-1995, and Susan A. Thornton, the previous Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, appointed under the Obama administration. Additional authors are M. Taylor Fravel, an MIT professor, and Michael D. Swaine, both experts in the academic fields of China Security Studies, along with a Harvard Emeritus professor Ezra Vogel, a prolific scholar and specialist in East Asian history.

Of the five authors, three of them, Roy, Thornton, and Fraval, are members of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, an NGO and advisory group representing Henry Kissinger’s “Friends of China” approach to dealing with Beijing via consistent policies of economic appeasement.

And if there is one word that sums up the general attitude of the entire letter it is certainly “appeasement.”

The letter, despite its list of distinguished authors and signatories, is a cowardly argument from the conflict averse, those who would forsake moral obligation to do the right thing in an effort to salvage the benefits of a financially lucrative, but crumbling, status-quo.

The letter outlines seven items which are absurdly referred to as “propositions,” but are realistically just seven areas of the Trump administration’s foreign policy towards China which make these authors uncomfortable.    [FULL  STORY]