Tag: Beijing

China vows to modernize army and expand military might

(Zha Chunming/Xinhua via AP)

China’s authorities plan to actively modernize the army and boost the potential of forces, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the opening of the 19th Communist Party’s Congress on Wednesday.

“We will do our utmost to enhance defensive capacity and modernization of China’s Armed Forces,” the Chinese leader said.

The government will honor the army traditions and improve the methods of combat and professional training of soldiers and officers. “China’s reforms in national defense allowed achieving a historic breakthrough…The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is steadily moving towards ‘socialism with Chinese specifics,’” he stressed.

“The authorities will make all efforts to ensure that by 2035 China will have a modern army with defensive power,” he said. “Finally, by the middle of this century this country will have the most advanced forces in the world.”

Some 2,280 delegates are attending the forum, which will last until October 24. The Congress will consider the result of the party’s work over the past five years and discuss economic and political situation in China and other countries, and outline a strategic line of development in the republic for the coming years. After the forum, the party is expected to unveil the new members of its top bodies – the Politburo, its Standing Committee and the Central Committee.

 

 

 

 

Drills with Russia put Chinese navy to the test in unfamiliar waters

PLAN Jiankai II-class Frigate

Exercise aimed at showing two countries are drawing closer, experts say.

Naval experts said the exercises were aimed at showing that China and Russia were drawing closer amid simmering tensions over the Korean peninsula, with Beijing calling on the United States, Japan and South Korea to scale back their military drills in the region.

A Chinese missile destroyer, missile frigate, supply ship and submarine rescue vessel along with shipborne helicopters and submersible rescue vehicles set sail from Qingdao on Wednesday, according to a statement on the PLA Navy website.

The drills will be held in the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk from Monday to September 26, official news agency Xinhua reported.

The first part of the joint naval exercise was held in July, with the Chinese navy sailing over 10,000 nautical miles to reach the Baltic Sea. It was the first time the two countries had held a joint drill there.

Next week will be the first time the Chinese navy has conducted a drill in unfamiliar waters – the Sea of Okhotsk, off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Russian Pacific Fleet missile corvettes en-route to the Sino-Russian Naval Exercise.

It will also involve complicated submarine rescues and anti-submarine drills that have not been included in previous joint exercises between the two countries.

They will begin with coastal drills in Vladivostok from Monday to Thursday, and sea exercises from September 22 to 26, the Russian defence ministry said.

Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said China wanted to demonstrate its global fighting prowess with the drills.

“If the Chinese navy wants to be a real blue-water navy, it needs to be able to operate in all weather conditions and in unfamiliar waters. Only Russia can give China this type of training location,” Li said.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy Fleet

He also noted that the drills were happening at a time when the US was putting pressure on China to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions while it continued to hold exercises of its own with Japan and South Korea in waters off the Korean peninsula.

“There’s a need for the PLA Navy to show off its fighting capabilities in case there is a military conflict in the area,” he said.

Shanghai-based naval expert Ni Lexiong said Japan would be displeased by the drills because they will be held in waters close to the disputed Kuril islands that are claimed by Japan and controlled by Russia.

“Moscow wouldn’t need Chinese help in the event of a maritime conflict with Japan, yet it is willing to make these important waters available for joint exercises. This shows Russia’s support for Beijing both politically and diplomatically,” Ni said.

The drills will be the eighth joint exercises between the two navies in the past six years. In 2015, China and Russia held two sets of drills – in the Mediterranean and the Sea of Japan.

 

Guam, Japan prepare for possible North Korea missile launch

SANTA RITA, Guam. An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam. Naval Base Guam supports the U.S. Pacific Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Hagatña, Guam (CNN) North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the US-territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said the plan to fire “four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets … to signal a crucial warning to the US” would be ready by “mid-August.”

Recent days have seen a significant escalation of tensions in the region as preparations are put in place for a possible launch in Guam, Japan and South Korea.

A notice put out by Guam’s Joint Information Center Saturday warned residents how to prepare “for an imminent missile threat.”

“Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the note said. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”

Guam’s Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.

Japan missile defense deployed

On Saturday, some of Japan’s land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors began arriving at Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) bases in three of the four prefectures any North Korean missiles would likely fly over en route to Guam.

Pyongyang identified three of those areas — Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures — in its statement last week.

A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather “just in case.” He did not elaborate.

Sim Tack, a senior analyst for private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Japanese batteries are designed for protecting the area where they are deployed, “(they are) not meant to shoot missiles out of the sky as they pass over Japan at high altitude.”

“So unless those North Korean missiles were to fall short, the Patriots shouldn’t have a function to serve in this particular case,” he said.
Japanese Ballistic Missile Defense Scenario

The SDF spokesman said the country’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system was deployed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, but would not give a specific location.

Aegis is able to track 100 missiles simultaneously and fire interceptors to take out an enemy’s ballistic projectiles.

In South Korea, where both the military and civilians are used to facing threats from North Korea, Defense Minister Song Young-moo warned the country’s armed forces “to maintain full readiness” to “immediately punish with powerful force” any action against the South.

“Recently, North Korea made its habitual absurd remarks that it will turn Seoul into a sea of fire and that it will strike near Guam,” Song said according to ministry official. “North Korea raising tension (on the Peninsula) is a serious challenge against the South Korean-US alliance and the international community.”

Meanwhile, US-South Korean joint military exercises are due to begin later this month. The annual exercises, called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, are expected to run from August 21 to 31.

Calls for calm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled down on his statement that he would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang continued its threats, saying in a tweet that “military solutions” were “locked and loaded” for use against North Korea.

According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi told Trump in a call between the two leaders Saturday all “relevant parties parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described escalation as “the wrong answer,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump’s statements were “very worrying.”

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticized Trump’s “fire and fury” comments as “not helpful in an environment that’s very tense.”

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the international community to work with North Korea to “resume the path of dialogue without conditions,” following a call with Trump Saturday.

Washington has previously said it will consider talks with Pyongyang if it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program, a pre-condition North Korean officials have described as a non-starter.

Guam waits for news

At a church in central Guam Sunday, parishioners sang “Lord, we pray for world peace” after discussing the potential North Korean threat.

“There’s a lot of disbelief going on, there’s a lot of anxiety,” Father Paul Gofigan told CNN after the mass.

Gofigan said there is not a lot of panic in Guam, and that people’s faith — the island has been overwhelmingly Catholic since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 17th century– has been on display in recent days.

“Faith is so deeply rooted into our culture,” he said.

The territory’s governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, said he spoke with Trump and the President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, on Saturday.

“Both assured me that the people of Guam are safe,” Calvo wrote on Facebook. “In the President’s words they are behind us ‘1,000 percent.’ As the head of the Government of Guam, I appreciate their reassurances that my family, my friends, everyone on this island, are all safe.”

As an unincorporated US territory, citizens of Guam cannot vote in general elections. The island is also home to a large US military presence, a fact that has led to tension with some local residents, particularly those of the indigenous Chamorro community.

“Nobody really deserves to be caught in the middle of these games,” said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, an activist who campaigns for a lowered military presence.

“You’re playing with people’s lives. We just want peace, we just want to continue to enjoy our lives here.”

 

Britain risks Beijing’s wrath with plan to send naval vessel to disputed South China Sea

Britain plans to send a warship to the disputed South China Sea next year to conduct freedom of navigation exercises – a move likely to anger Beijing.

Britain will increase its presence in the waters after sending fighter planes for joint exercises with Japan in the region last year, Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, said.

China claims most of the energy-rich sea where Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

“We hope to send a warship to the region next year. We have not finalised exactly where that deployment will take place but we won’t be constrained by China from sailing through the South China Sea,” Fallon said.

“We have the right of freedom of navigation and we will exercise it.”

British Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon.

“We hope to send a warship to the region next year. We have not finalised exactly where that deployment will take place but we won’t be constrained by China from sailing through the South China Sea,” Fallon said.

“We have the right of freedom of navigation and we will exercise it.”

China’s construction of islands and military facilities in the South China Sea has prompted international condemnation, amid concern Beijing is seeking to restrict free movement and extend its strategic reach.

Britain’s move could also upset ties between London and Beijing, undermining efforts to shore up what the two governments have called a “golden era” in their relationship as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

“We flew RAF Typhoons through the South China Sea last October and we will exercise that right whenever we next have the opportunity to do so, whenever we have ships or planes in the region,” Fallon said.

RAF Eurofighter EF.2000 Typhoon fighter aircraft.

The United States estimates Beijing has added more than 1,300 hectares on seven facilities in the South China Sea over the past three years, building runways, ports, aircraft hangars and communications equipment.

To counter the perceived Chinese aggression, America has conducted regular freedom of navigation exercises that have angered Beijing.

The US sent two bombers over the region earlier this month, coming just a few months after it sent a warship to carry out a manoeuvring drill within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s artificial islands.

USS Curtis Wilbur sailed within 12 nautical miles of an island claimed by China and two other states in the South China Sea.

China has repeatedly denounced efforts by countries from outside the region to get involved in the South China Sea dispute.

The South China Sea is expected to dominate a regional security meeting in Manila next week, where Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi will meet counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries.

Meeting Asean diplomats in Beijing on Wednesday, Wang told them both sides must “exclude disturbances on the South China Sea issue, and maintain positive momentum”, China’s foreign ministry said.

Source: The South China Morning Post.

 

Taiwan scrambles jets to monitor military planes from mainland China in air defence zone

Bombers, reconnaissance aircraft spotted flying over East China Sea, island’s defence ministry says

It was the first time the defence ministry had published photos of mainland planes since the People’s Liberation Army stepped up its military exercises near Taiwan, local newspaper Liberty Times said. The ministry had published ­reports of mainland warships entering its ­ADIZ in the past.

An H-6 bomber from China’s mainland military is seen flying over the East China Sea in this image released by Taiwan’s Ministry of Defence. Photo: Handout

Earlier this month, the island scrambled jets and navy ships to shadow a flotilla led by the Liaoning aircraft carrier as the warships headed towards Hong Kong.

Former Taiwanese defence minister Yang Nien-dzu, who served in Ma Ying-jeou’s ­administration, said President Tsai Ing-wen had taken a tougher stance in defending the island against PLA threats since she came to power last year, but the photos were not enough to deter Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its “inalienable territory”.

“The photos send a message to Taiwanese that their army won’t back down,” Yang said. “It aims to show that the military has been keeping a close eye on the situation.”

On its website, the defence ministry said it had been monitoring the mainland warplanes during the long-range exercises and said Taiwanese people should “remain at ease”.

Zheng Zhenqing, an expert in cross-strait relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the photos showed Taiwan’s military was on high alert as political tensions rise.

“But in terms of military power, the mainland has a clear advantage,” Zheng said. “It is unlikely to be affected by such warnings.”

Beijing does not recognise Taiwan’s ADIZ, while its own identification zone in the East China Sea covers islands that are also claimed by Tokyo.

Japan has frequently published photos of Chinese warplanes flying over the disputed airspace since China set up its ADIZ in the East China Sea in late 2013.

Japan’s Self-Defence Forces on Thursday also released photos of the Chinese planes taken by Japanese fighter jets.

Taiwan’s United Daily News quoted a military expert as saying that it was quite unusual for China’s military to send an electronic jammer to the “first island chain”. The so-called first island chain is a sea defence line Beijing unilaterally draws running from southern Japan to Taiwan, the Philippines and the southern South China Sea.

The newspaper said the mainland planes flew through the Bashi Channel, which lies ­between southern Taiwan and the Philippines, and the Miyako Strait, between Japan’s southwestern islands of Okinawa and Miyako.

The report also called attention to the increasing number of mainland Chinese planes and long-range training drills in the ADIZs of Taiwan and Japan, a strategy it said was clearly aimed at containing the United States.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

Source: South China Morning Post.

Chinese Air force Conducts ‘several’ long-range drills near Japan as military tells Tokyo to ‘get used to it’

Chinese Harbin H-6 bomber.

China’s air force said Saturday that its warplanes had conducted long-range drills over the Bashi Channel and the Miyako Strait “several times” over the past week, just a day after the country’s Defense Ministry told Japan that it should “get used to” the military exercises.

“China’s air force over the past week conducted multiple drills far out at sea, with H-6K bombers and many other types of aircraft flying through the Bashi Channel and Miyako Strait, testing actual battle capabilities over the sea,” air force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted as saying by the state-run CGTN website.

 Shen said the drills were carried out as part of the air force’s yearly training plan, stressing that they complied with international law and were not aimed “at any specific country, region or target.”

The Miyako Strait lies between the islands of Miyako and Okinawa while the Bashi Channel separates Taiwan and the Philippines. Both are key entryways into the western Pacific Ocean.

Saturday’s announcement came after a Defense Ministry spokesman defended what he called “routine exercises” Thursday that saw six Chinese H-6 bombers fly through the Miyako Strait.

Japan scrambled fighters in response. There was no violation of Japanese airspace.

Mitsubishi F-2 Super Kai

“It is legitimate for Chinese military planes to fly through the strait, and more similar training will be conducted on the high seas as needed,” spokesman Ren Guoqiang Guoqiang said.

“The parties concerned don’t need to overact and make a great fuss about it,” he added. “They will feel better after getting used to such drills.”

Ahead of last week’s exercises, the Chinese military last sent ships and planes through the international but politically sensitive waters and airspace in April as part of its continuing push to hone its ability to operate further from its shores.

Exercises through the Miyako Strait have become more and more commonplace as China seeks to project its military clout farther into the Pacific.

In early March, Japan scrambled fighter jets after a total of 13 Chinese naval aircraft were spotted flying through the strait. That large-scale drill featured fighters, bombers and early warning aircraft.

Beijing has blasted Tokyo for hyping the exercises, calling them part of “regular” drills, while Japan has said it will keep a vigilant eye on the “expanding and increasing” actions of the Chinese military in the area.

According to data released by Japan’s Defense Ministry on Friday, the Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets in response to Chinese aircraft 101 times from April to June, down from 199 last year.

The plunge came after the ASDF scrambled fighters against Chinese planes a record-high 1,168 times in fiscal 2016, which ended in March.

Source: The Japan Times.

Chinese aircraft carrier formation to visit Hong Kong

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning with battle carrier group

Global Times, Source:Xinhua Published: 2 July 2017

A Chinese naval formation including aircraft carrier Liaoning will visit Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in early July in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) being stationed in HKSAR.

Liang Yang, spokesperson for the PLA Navy, said Sunday that the flotilla will also consist of guided-missile destroyers, missile frigates, J-15 fighter jets, and helicopters.

Officers and soldiers will attend various exchanges and activities with Hong Kong residents and the PLA Garrison in the HKSAR, and the warships will be open for the public to visit, Liang said.

The visit will help increase Hong Kong residents’ understanding of achievements made in national defense and army building, especially naval building, Liang said.

The PLA Hong Kong Garrison has been responsible for the defense of Hong Kong since its return to China in 1997.