Thursday, June 30, 2011

Caucus Brief: Admiral Mullen To Visit China Next Month

ADMIRAL MULLEN TO VISIT CHINA NEXT MONTH.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, will visit China from July 9-13.  According to Chinese state-run media Xinhua, "China will promote the advancement of relations between the two military forces under the framework of China-U.S. ties."  The announcement of Mullen's visit comes after the U.S. and the Philippines launched 11 days of joint naval exercises June 28 amid a simmering maritime row over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

CHINESE COUNTERFEIT MICROCHIPS IN U.S. MILITARY.  According to Wired Magazine, in 2010 the U.S. military bought over 59,000 microchips for everything from missile defense to communications that turned out to be counterfeits from China. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Caucus Brief: Taiwan Supersonic Missile Test Flops

TAIWAN SUPERSONIC MISSILE TEST FLOPS.  Taiwan's defense ministry has confirmed reports that a new supersonic anti-ship missile missed its target during a recent routine naval drill.  This missile, the island's first domestically developed supersonic anti-ship missile, has suffered from several earlier failed tests.  This latest failed test coincided with Beijing's well publicized naval drills in the South China Sea in mid-June.

U.S. BLOCKS TAIWAN'S F-16 REQUEST AGAIN.  DefenseNews reports that the U.S. State Department, under orders from the U.S. National Security Council, blocked Taiwan's June 24 petition to submit a letter of request for new F-16 fighter jets. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Caucus Brief: U.S. Senate Resolution Deplores China's Use of Force in S. China Sea

U.S. SENATE RESOLUTION DEPLORES CHINA'S USE OF FORCE IN S. CHINA SEA.  Yesterday the U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent a resolution deploring China's "use of force" in the South China Sea and urging a peaceful resolution of territorial disputes.  The resolution was introduced by Senators Webb and Inhofe.   China's Response that the Senate Resolution "doesn't hold water.":  


Monday, June 27, 2011

Caucus Brief: China Releases Prominent Dissident After More Than 3 Years

CHINA RELEASES PROMINENT DISSIDENT AFTER MORE THAN 3 YEARS.  One of China's most prominent social and political activists, Hu Jia, was released from prison after more than 3 years.  Mr. Hu was first detained in 2007 after testifying on China's human rights situation before a European Parliament committee, and sentenced to prison in early 2008.  His release comes within weeks of news that Mr. Hu's wife was being harassed by Chinese police and threatened with eviction.  Background on charges against Mr. Hu from the NYT piece: "The accusation that he had subverted state power was based in part on a caustic essay posted on his blog in which he detailed the torture of two people who protested the illegal seizure of their Beijing home. That essay broadly criticized the Communist Party's human rights record."  


Friday, June 24, 2011

Caucus Brief: China Says There Is No Cyber Warfare with U.S.

CHINA SAYS THERE IS NO CYBER WARFARE WITH U.S.   A senior Chinese official has said that no cyber warfare is taking place between China and the United States.  China's Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai told a group of foreign reporters: "I want to clear something up: there are not contradictions between China and the United States.  Though hackers attack the U.S. Internet and China's Internet, I believe they do not represent any country."


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Caucus Brief: Dissident Chinese Artist Is Released

DISSIDENT CHINESE ARTIST IS RELEASED.  Internationally known Chinese artiest Ai Weiwei has been released by the Chinese government following three months of detainment.  This case had become a focal point of criticism of China's eroding human rights record.  The NYT reports that Mr. Ai was visibly thinner after his release.  From the piece: "The release of Mr. Ai, who is widely known and admired outside of China, appeared to be a rare example in recent years of Beijing bowing to international pressure on human rights."


11 CHINESE WARSHIPS CROSS HIGH SEAS OFF JAPANESE SOUTHERN ISLAND.  Japan's Defense Ministry said today that 11 Chinese warships were spotted in international waters off of the southern island of Okinawa.  No territorial violations were claimed by Japan, but the movements are sensitive because Japan and China dispute territorial claims over small islands in the East China Sea.

WEAKNESS OF THE ASEAN WAY.  A new piece from AEI argues that the recent escalation of tensions in the South China Sea raises questions over the sustainability of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  From the piece: "China's influence aside, the internal contradiction that has for so long characterized ASEAN - namely, vastly different political systems - may be finally taking its toll. The organization has been unable to solve some of the most pressing problems amongst its own members, let alone those involving external states."

CHINA CONTINUES TO WARN U.S. OVER INVOLVEMENT IN S. CHINA SEA.  A piece from the FT details how the Chinese government has warned Washington not to become involved in its territorial dispute with Vietnam over the South China Sea, casting a shadow over a new U.S.-China strategic dialogue to be held this coming weekend.  China's vice-foreign minister: "If the United States does want to play a role, it may counsel restraint to those countries that have frequently been taking provocative action and ask them to be more responsible in their behavior…I believe that individual countries are actually playing with fire, and I hope that fire will not be drawn to the United States."

CHINA'S J-15 NO GAME CHANGER.  A piece from The Diplomat explains why China's J-15 jet fighter for use on aircraft carriers is not a "great leap forward" in fighter technology, but is nevertheless an indicator of China's blue water navy ambitions.


A CHALLENGE TO CHINA'S SELF-LOOTING.  A piece from the NYT questions whether China's economic and governmental system is sustainable.  From the piece: "China today is awash with cash, and many people value the government for the economic growth and stability it has brought.  But it is also faced with seemingly entrenched corruption, a sense of lack of access to justice, and a large wealth gap."  The piece goes on to quote Zhang Musheng, a well known intellectual who has specialized in rural development: "A form of crony capitalism has emerged, with special interests using government connections to create vast wealth.  The result is a divided, often antagonistic society."


CHINA RESTRICTS POPULAR REPORT-A-BRIBE WEBSITE.  Frustrated with endless corruption, a Chinese public relations consultant set up a website to let people post anonymous tips on official bribery.  The website drew 200,000 unique visitors in only two weeks and accused officials of driving luxury vehicles and accepting bribes.  Over the weekend the website was blocked for anyone inside of China and the host, fearing government backlash, took down the website.

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

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Caucus Brief: China's First Aircraft Carrier to Begin Sea Trials

CHINA'S FIRST AIRCRAFT CARRIER TO BEGIN SEA TRIALS.  A new report out of Hong Kong says that China's first aircraft carrier – a remodeled Soviet-era vessel – will begin sea trials next week.  Unnamed military officials have told the Hong Kong Commercial Daily that the carrier will begin trials but will not be officially launched until October 2012.  The military sources also said that these tests have been expedited due to rising tensions in the South China Sea.  "China's military 'hopes it will show the strength of the Chinese maritime forces to deter other nations, which are eyeing the South China Sea, in order to calm tensions,'" the sources said.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Caucus Brief: Libyan Rebel Leader Visits China, Bolstering Ties

LIBYAN REBEL LEADER VISITS CHINA, BOLSTERING TIES.  China has announced that a top leader from Libya's rebel National Transitional Council will begin a two-day visit today, the second publicly announced meeting between Chinese officials and Libya's main rebel group.  According to the WSJ, analysts say this trip signals deepening ties between anti-Gadhafi forces and China, even as Beijing opposes NATO operations in the country.  From the piece: "Analysts described that meeting as part of an effort by China to appear neutral in the conflict even as it shored up relations with rebel leaders in anticipation of Mr. Gadhafi's fall."

SORTING AMERICAN PRIORITIES IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA.  A new piece from the Heritage Foundation outlines U.S. interests in the South China Sea in light of the deteriorating security situation.  From the piece: "The security situation in the South China Sea is deteriorating in a way unseen since the mid-1990s.  And given the growth of China's military power and global influence since then, it is a much bigger problem for the United States.  China's challenge in the South China Sea – its expansive extralegal claims to maritime territory – demands a strong, clear, interest-based response."

SINGAPORE URGES CHINA TO CLARIFY S. CHINA SEAS CLAIM.  The British Broadcasting Company reports that Singapore has called on China to clarify its territorial claims to the South China Sea.  Singapore's foreign ministry said: "We…think it is in China's own interests to clarify its claims to the South China Sea with more precision as the current ambiguity as to their extent has caused serious concerns in the international maritime community."

CHINA URGING MIGRANTS TO INFORM ON THEIR COLLEAGUES.  China has begun offering rewards to migrant workers willing to inform on colleagues involved in recent mass riots in south-east China.  The regional paper has published a notice offering $1,500 cash rewards in exchange for information towards tracking down riot suspects.


RISING PRICES IN CHINA HIT U.S. PURSE.  The WSJ is reporting that as China develops, allows the yuan to appreciate, and experiences a scarcity of cheap labor, the cost of products in the U.S. is rising.  U.S. import prices, excluding oil, rose 8% over the past two years, a historic shift from their downward drift for two decades.  From the piece: "For years, U.S. consumers feasted on cheap imported goods – cheap partly because the Chinese currency was kept undervalued.  This bred large U.S. trade deficits."


TRADES REVEAL CHINA'S SHIFT FROM DOLLAR.  According to estimates from Standard Chartered Bank, China has been diversifying away from the U.S. dollar in the first four months of this year, most likely by buying far more European government debt than U.S. dollar assets.  However, the bank's chief China economist Stephen Green warns that it is possible that China is disguising its purchases of U.S. government debt – or could be buying riskier U.S. assets that don't show up in monthly data.

THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN BEIJING AND CHINA'S LOCAL GOVERNANCE.  An op-ed from the WSJ describes China's critical disconnect between national policies and local government implementation.  From the piece: "Underfunded local governments frequently dilute and undercut implementation of national laws and policies in their effort to sustain growth and increase local revenues.  Some examples of the consequences of this practice include not only illegal expropriation of land, but also tolerance of violations of laws on product safety, intellectual property rights and the protection of the environment."

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Caucus Brief: China's Growing Military Muscle

CHINA'S GROWING MILITARY MUSCLE.  A piece from NPR examines China's growing military capability in relation to the statements of China's military leadership.  The piece quotes senior Chinese military officials as describing China's modernization as intended to provide a deterrent to the U.S. in the region: "If our army is strong enough, it will be no war.  If our army is not strong enough, the war will come."  The piece goes on to quote Andrei Chang from Kanwa Asian Defense in describing the nature of China's modernization: "Compared with Russia and U.S., only China simultaneously is building aircraft carriers, strategic ballistic missile submarines, GPS satellite – everything simultaneously."

CHINA PLANS TO BEEF UP MARITIME SURVEILLANCE.  China has announced it will be growing its maritime surveillance forces to 15,000 people from 9,000 by 2020.  This increase in manpower will be partnered with 16 aircraft and 520 sea vessels for maritime surveillance operations.  This announcement comes in the midst of heightened tensions between China and its neighbors over claims to the South China Sea. 

PHILIPPINES DOWNPLAYS CHINA NAVAL DRILLS.  Over the weekend the Philippines tried to downplay the significance of Chinese naval exercises in the South China Sea amid mounting regional tensions.  Philippine armed forces spokesman Commodore Rodriguez characterized the Chinese exercises as the normal activities of navies and expressed a hope that the Philippine Navy would have the opportunity to exercise with the Chinese at some future date.

INDIA MILITARY DELEGATON ARRIVES IN CHINA.  An Indian military delegation arrived in Beijing after defense ties between the two nations had been frozen for over a year regarding a visa dispute.  The eight-member delegation will visit Beijing and is expected to discuss border disputes as well as China's support for Pakistan's claim to Kashmir.

NEAR TERM MISSIONS FOR CHINA'S MAIDEN AIRCRAFT CARRIER.  The Jamestown Foundation analyzes the early role of China's maiden aircraft carrier as China prepares the carrier for deployment.  From the piece: "The People's Liberation Army Navy must first undergo an extensive period of trials, testing and training before the ship is mission-ready to the extent that will be useful for China's most vexing regional and international flashpoints.  Yet, the meaning the Chinese officials, experts, press and even everyday Chinese people assign to an aircraft carrier seems to imply otherwise." 


CHINA'S LEADERS LAUD 'RED' CAMPAIGN.  The WSJ reports that rising stars in the Chinese Communist Party have begun singing the praises of Mao Zedong, worrying some who had hoped that the 2012 elections in China might yield more moderate leadership.

MILLIONS SUFFER IN CHINA FLOODS.  Two provinces of China have suffered from torrential rains with nearly 1,000 businesses being disrupted and crops destroyed, pushing up food prices.  These floods come after months of crop-destroying drought in the center and north of China.  The British Broadcasting Channel reports that economic analysts say shortages in China from these floods could affect prices around the world. 

PROTESTS CONTINUE IN CHINA.  Violent protests in China over the treatment of migrant workers have continued throughout the weekend.  It was earlier reported that these protests had been suppressed.  However, over the weekend looting and violence remained widespread despite the presence of security forces. 

CHINA CLAIMS ITS PLACE AT PARIS AIRSHOW.  This week China will communicate its intentions to a major player in global aviation when government-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) makes its first appearance at the Le Bourget Paris Airshow.  The company is hoping that is can garner foreign orders which have eluded COMAC thus far.

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Caucus Brief: Major Chinese Legal Activist Alleges Beating of Himself and Wife

MAJOR CHINESE LEGAL ACTIVIST ALLEGES BEATING OF HIMSELF AND WIFE.  One of China's most prominent legal activists, the blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng, has been under house arrest after being released from prison last year.  Reports have now surfaced that he was beaten and tortured by Communist Party officials while his wife was wrapped in a blanket and repeatedly kicked on the ground.  Chen Guangcheng was first arrested for helping to uncover government forced sterilizations and abortions in the eastern Chinese city of Linyi.  The reports of the beatings come from Chen Guangcheng's wife.

CONTINUED CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT FOR TAIWAN F-16 SALES.  U.S. lawmakers from across party lines have stepped up pressure on the President to move forward with a proposed sale of F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan, with some accusing the Administration of showing deference to China.  Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said, "With over 1,600 missiles pointed directly across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan needs the means to defend itself from the threats and intimidation…Taiwan needs the next generation of F-16 fighter jets now in order to protect its skies."

CHINA, RUSSIA FAIL TO FINALIZE GAS DEAL.  China and Russia have failed to reach final agreement on a natural-gas supply deal involving two massive pipelines that they agreed to in principle two years ago.  The disagreement is reportedly the result of a divide on pricing.  The WSJ outlines the deal: "The potential stakes are huge.  The planned construction of two pipelines, extending from natural-gas fields in eastern and western Siberia into Chinese cities, would likely cost around $100 billion, and gas exported through the lines could amount to up to 2% of Russia's GDP every year."


BURMA CLASHES SPUR FLIGHT TO CHINA.  Violence between government troops and rebels in northern Myanmar (Burma) has China concerned as thousands of refugees have attempted to flee into China.  Many have been refused entry as China has temporarily closed the border.  Now, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman has called for an end to the fighting before it ignites a broader conflict.

MONGOLIA'S MINING TWO-STEP WITH U.S., CHINA.  For decades, Mongolia's vast expanse has served as a buffer between Russia and China, with the nation in the middle being no stranger to balancing the interests of major powers.  Today Mongolia is attempting to divvy up its mineral wealth between the U.S. and China.  From the WSJ piece: "Mongolia's head may be with China, since its populous next-door neighbor is the natural market for its resources…But Mongolia's heart may be closer to the U.S., the nation that inspired its democratic system, which President Elbegdorj refers to as the freest 'in this part of the world.'"

RARE EARTH PRICES DOUBLE ON CHINA CONTROLS.  In the past two weeks the prices of rare earths have more than doubled as China tightened control of mining, production and exports.  China controls over 95% of the world's rare earth elements that are used in technology ranging from guided missiles to energy saving light bulbs.

CHINESE TECHNOLOGY POLICY AND AMERICAN INNOVATION.  Council on Foreign Relations Ira A. Lipman Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism, and National Security Studies' Adam Segal's testimony in front of the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission on China's technology policies and the need for the U.S. to push back against them to maintain its comparative advantage.

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Caucus Brief: China Navy Reaches Far, Unsettling the Region

CHINA NAVY REACHES FAR, UNSETTLING THE REGION.  Last week China conducted a naval exercise involving sailing Chinese ships through the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako.  The People's Liberation Army asserts that this exercise was regularly scheduled and was in compliance with international law.  In recent weeks Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan have voiced concerns over Chinese nautical movements in which Chinese vessels have deployed ships into disputed waters.  In Japan this most recent Chinese exercise was reminiscent of a large Chinese flotilla that passed near Okinawa last year.

CHINA DISPATCHES PATROL SHIP TO SINGAPORE AMID S. CHINA SEA TENSIONS.  China has dispatched one of its largest maritime patrol ships on a first-ever visit to Singapore, amid a spike in tensions over disputed territory in the South China Sea.  The Chinese ship will stay in Singapore for two weeks of exchanges on search and rescue, anti-piracy and port management operations.  Similar Chinese ships have been accused of harassing foreign shipping in the South China Sea, including U.S. Navy surveillance vessels.

INSECURITY AMONG CHINESE LEADERSHIP.  An article in the NYT reports that as the Chinese Communist Party prepares to celebrate its 90th birthday this July 1st, the crackdown on dissent and increase in police violence reveals the Party Leadership's insecurity.  The Party's control is being challenged by widespread perceptions of corruption among the Chinese people, a problem the Party admits but does not seem to know how to handle.  Kerry Brown, head of the Asia Program at Chatham House, says in the piece: "The party has long admitted that corruption is a problem.  Yet reporting on the use of violence against the people is taboo, even if the public is increasingly aware of it via the Internet."

CHINA BACKS RUSSIA AGAINST U.S. MISSILE SHIELD.  Russia won the backing of China in criticizing U.S. plans for a missile shield, saying yesterday that it could undermine global security.  The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security bloc grouping of Russia, China and four ex-Soviet Central Asian states, signed a declaration condemning any unilateral build-up of missile defenses.  From the declaration: "the unilateral and unlimited build-up missile defense by a single state or by a narrow group of states could damage strategic stability and international security."

CORRUPT CHINESE OFFICIALS TAKE $123 BILLION OVERSEAS.  A new report out of China suggests that corrupt government officials are illegally transferring billions of dollars to banks and family overseas.  The top destinations for these officials and their money are the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

CHINA CLOSES TIBET TO FOREIGNERS AHEAD OF ANNIVERSARY.  China has closed Tibet to foreigners ahead of the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1.  This move, most likely prompted by insecurity towards a perceived threat to one-party rule, has been planned for months.  A Beijing-based travel agent says that they have been notified of the policy but have no idea why it is being implemented.  A Beijing-based travel agent spoke to Reuters via phone: "We had to make a lot of cancellations, but we don't know the reasons behind it.  Perhaps it has to do with something political."

BEIJING SAYS ITS REACTORS ARE SAFE.  China has declared that all of its active nuclear reactors are safe and that the nation will move forward with plans to build a number of new power plants.  This announcement comes after China halted production of new reactors following the nuclear disaster at the Japanese Fukushima plant.  China currently has 13 nuclear power plants that were determined to be safe with 27 additional reactors currently under construction.

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Caucus Brief: China's Cyberassault On America

CHINA'S CYBERASSAULT ON AMERICA.  In a WSJ op-ed, former national security official Richard Clarke argues that the U.S. government is not doing enough to protect against Chinese cyber attacks.  From the piece: "the administration is ignoring its primary responsibility to protect its own citizens when they are targeted for harm by a foreign government.  Senior U.S. officials know well that the government of China is systematically attacking the computer networks of the U.S. government and American corporations.  Beijing is successfully stealing research and development, software source code, manufacturing know how and government plans.  In a global competition among knowledge-based economies, Chinese cyberoperations are eroding America's advantage."

U.S. SENATORS SLAM CHINA ON MILITARY PARTS PROBE.  Senators Carl Levin and John McCain, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have accused China of hampering a congressional probe into how counterfeit electronics end up in the U.S. military supply chain.  According to the Senators, China has stalled providing visas to congressional staffers trying to visit cities in China that are considered the hub of the counterfeit electronics trade.  Additionally, the Chinese government has so far required that any interviews conducted in China as part of the investigation must include a government representative, a non-starter for Senators Levin and McCain.

CHINA WARNS AGAINST MEDDLING IN S. CHINA SEA.  China's foreign ministry has announced that China will seek to resolve the region's longstanding territorial disputes with its neighbors bilaterally.  This statement came after the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines pledged support for the Philippines "on all sectors," leading some to believe that China's statements, while not specifically mentioning the U.S., were aimed towards the West.  A U.S. embassy spokesman in Beijing classified the U.S. diplomatic approach to the dispute as reflecting the shared interests of the U.S. and its allies in the region.

CHINA 'WILL NOT USE FORCE' IN SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTES.  Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday that China "will not resort to the use of force or the threat of force," and urged those involved to "do more that is beneficial to regional peace and stability."


CHINA STAMPS OUT SOUTHERN RIOTS.  Chinese police have seemingly halted the protests in Southern China by deploying thousands of riot police armed with tear gas and shotguns.  The WSJ reports that the unrest could flare up again if authorities do not address the concerns of migrant workers.  These protests first began after police abused a pregnant migrant street vendor only days after a police in another region killed a popular local official while he was in custody.


COLUMBIA ADVANCES TRADE PACT.  Columbian lawmakers have passed legislation intended to foster increased trade with China, as the U.S. Congress stalls the pending U.S. trade deal with Columbia.  From the WSJ piece: "Trade officials in Bogota expressed frustration with the slow pace of progress in Washington, which they say contrasts with Chinese eagerness to invest in Columbia, Washington's closest ally in South America."

LEAD POISONING IN CHINA SICKENS THOUSANDS.  In recent months, case after case of mass lead poisoning have been discovered across China.  The NYT reports that many of the victims are children, as China's manufacturing sector and government have overlooked environmental contamination in search of expanding economic development.  The most recent lead poisoning case involves 239 adults and 99 children being poisoned by a nearby battery factory.  

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Caucus Brief: U.S. Senator Urges U.S. Action On S. China Sea Dispute

U.S. SENATOR URGES U.S. ACTION ON S. CHINA SEA DISPUTE.  Virginia Senator Jim Webb, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, said yesterday that the U.S. should take action to make it clear it opposes use of force by China in asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea.  Senator Webb has been joined by Senator Inhofe in introducing a Senate resolution of condemnation for Beijing's aggressive behavior in the South China Sea.  Congressional Quarterly quotes Senator Webb: "We have to send a very clear signal to the Chinese on this issue…the interests of the U.S. and those of our allies are not well-served if we don't step forward and state our concerns.  When China uses force improperly, we should stand up.  Otherwise, we have no credibility."   Senate Resolution Press Release.

BRINKSMANSHIP IN THE S. CHINA SEA.  A piece from Foreign Policy analyzes the policies of brinkmanship that are currently being employed by Vietnam and China in the South China Sea, as well as what role the U.S. is playing.  From the piece: "The South China Sea events demonstrate that, in a fight, China cannot rely on perceptions of its ostensible place in the new age to smooth its way out of potential confrontation."

VIETNAM HOLDS LIVE-FIRE DRILL AMID CHINA TENSIONS.  DefenseNews reports that Vietnam put on a show of military force yesterday when it conducted a live-fire naval artillery drill in the midst of an ongoing territorial dispute with China.  The drill took place about 25 miles off of Vietnam's central coast and lasted around four hours.  DefenseNews quotes a regional expert from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore: "The exercise is designed to send China a message that Vietnam refuses to be pushed around…I think China will react very badly to this."


CHINA-INDIA RIVALRY TAKES SHAPE.  A piece from the Foreign Policy Research Institute analyzes the evolving strategic and economic rivalry between China and India.  The piece goes into detail on the rivalry's key issues, including, border tensions, the nuclear dynamic, and China's power projection capability.

ASIA'S DISAPPEARING DAUGHTERS.  A new book by Mara Hvistendahl explores the gender gap in China, "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys and Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," analyzes the impact of the one-child policy.  An excerpt from the book: "Lianyungang, a booming port city, has China's most extreme gender ratio for children under four: 163 boys for every 100 girls.  These numbers don't seem terribly grim, but in ten years, the skewed sex ratio will pose a colossal challenge.  By the time those children reach adulthood, their generation will have twenty-four million more men than women."


CHINA'S HIGH-SPEED RAILS SLOWS.  This week, China's Railway Minister announced that the nation's flagship bullet train would travel slower than earlier reported.  China's high-speed rail project has been plagued by charges of corruption and mismanagement while the project's price tag continues to rise.  From the NYT's piece: "Some critics had charged that Mr. Liu (former PRC Railway Minister) built a high-speed-rail empire that was both too costly for average riders and marred by shoddy, quick construction that, at a minimum, might require lower speeds."

INFLATION IN CHINA HITS 34-MONTH HIGH.  According to the FT, consumer inflation in China rose to its highest level in nearly three years in May, up 5.5% from a year earlier.  From the piece: "The benchmark consumer price index accelerated from 5.3% year-on-year rise recorded in April, despite government efforts to rein in liquidity and slow price rises."

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Caucus Brief: China-Vietnam Dispute Grows With Naval Maneuvers

CHINA-VIETNAM DISPUTE GROWS WITH NAVAL MANEUVERS.  Vietnam has announced that this week it will conduct a nine-hour live-fire naval exercise off of its central coast.  This is the first time that the government has publicized a live-ammunition drill, leading many analysts to believe that this drill is intended to send a clear message to China about Vietnam's interests in the South China Sea.  This exercise is the most recent escalation in a long-running dispute with China over control of territory in the South China Sea, a dispute that has substantially ratcheted up in recent weeks. 

VIETNAM SEEKS U.S. SUPPORT IN CHINA DISPUTE.  Vietnam has reached out to the U.S. and other nations for help in resolving escalating territorial disputes in the resource-rich South China Sea. The FT reports that this move is likely to anger Beijing, which opposes what it sees as outside interference.  This request comes after weeks of public protests in Vietnam and a planned live-fire naval drill off of Vietnam's central coast.

U.S. URGES CALM AS VIETNAM-CHINA SPAT ESCALATES.  U.S. officials said June 10, that the U.S. is troubled by tensions in the South China Sea and is calling for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.  U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner: "We support a collaborative diplomatic process and call on all claimants to conform all of their claims, both land and maritime, to international law." 

CHINESE POLICE ARREST 25 AFTER VIOLENT CLASHES.  A crowd threw bricks at police in Southern China after two street vendors were reportedly beaten by police.  This protest follows a separate incident in China's Hubei province in which the BBC reports that, "hundreds of people laid siege to local government offices following the death in custody of a respected local official." 


ETHINC PROTESTS IN CHINA HAVE LENGTHY ROOTS.  A piece in the NYT argues that recent ethnic Mongolian protests in China are a sobering reminder that China cannot repress, with an iron fist, the 8% of its population that is made up of ethnic minorities.  The piece quotes Minxin Pei, a China expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: "The Mongolian situation is very worrying for Chinese leadership because you can't just throw money at an issue like ethnic identity." 

BOMB BLAST ADDS TO CHINESE UNREST.  A man seeking "revenge on society" detonated a bomb outside a government headquarters in northeastern China over the weekend.  This explosion marks the third bomb at a Chinese government facility in the last three weeks.  These bombings mark a trend of increasing dissent and incidents of unrest in China's urban areas as the government continues with its aggressive crackdown. Two people were injured in this most recent blast. 

CHINA TO HALT GRASS-ROOTS CANDIDATES.  The NYT reports that the Chinese government appears to be restricting attempts by certain citizens to run for local legislative office as self proclaimed independent candidates, stating that these candidacies are illegal and that no one can run for office without first clearing a clearing a series of procedural hurdles.  From the piece: "The decision...appeared to some to reflect official concern about the Communist Party's grip on the election process in a society whose members are increasingly linked by the internet. 

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Caucus Brief: China Plans Naval Exercises in Western Pacific

CHINA PLANS NAVAL EXERCISES IN WESTERN PACFIC.  China is planning to conduct naval training drills in the Western Pacific later this month.  This announcement comes only days after China's neighbors expressed concern over the nation's growing military power.  These exercises will take place in international waters and are "not targeted at any specific country," according to a statement from China's Defense Ministry.  Military observers will be watching these exercises closely as they await the launch of the People's Liberation Army's first aircraft carrier.

CHINA REBUTS PANETTA'S REMARKS.  Chinese state-run media has accused the United States of trying to provoke trouble between China and its Asian neighbors in light of CIA Director Leon Panetta's remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee.  One of Panetta's statements in particular, which argued that China appears to be developing the capability to "fight and win short-duration, high-intensity conflicts" along its borders, prompted a stern response from the government-run Global Times which described this statement as a provocation intended to exaggerate tensions between China and its neighbors.

CHINA TO DEVELOP N. KOREA TRADE ZONES.  A piece from the FT reports that China has broken ground on two economic development zones in North Korea.  China's Commerce Ministry has announced that the two countries would  develop two separate "government-led, enterprise-based and market oriented" economic zones close to the Chinese border.  This announcement marks the first time that these two nations have jointly pursued such an initiative.

CHINA LOOMS LARGE FOR NEW INDIAN AIR FORCE CHIEF.  In July India's new Air Force Chief will begin a major revamp of India's order of battle that is designed to counter Chinese air force deployments.  A piece from Aviation Week lays out the Indian force deployment shift. Looms Large For New Indian AF Chief&channel=defense

IS CHINA HEDGING FOR GADHAFI'S FALL?   A piece from the WSJ argues that China may be hedging its bets against Moammar Gadafi staying in power.  Thus far, China has repeatedly called for a diplomatic solution and seemingly supported Gadafi staying in power.  However, China has now publicly met with the leader of the Libyan rebels, a move that suggests that Beijing is beginning to look for favor with Gadafi's opposition.  Prior to violence breaking out in Libya, China had invested nearly $19 billion across 50 projects in Libya.

THE FUTURE OF VOICE OF AMERICA BROADCASTING TO CHINA.  Last month, Rep. Dana Rohrbacher led a group of Members of Congress in calling for funding for Voice of America broadcasts into the People's Republic of China.  Rep. Rohrbacher's letter requested that $15 million of the foreign operation's appropriations bill be allocated to supporting VOA mandarin and Cantonese. A piece from the Heritage Foundation explains why this program is an important U.S. strategic asset for penetrating China's "Great Firewall."  

IMF CANDIDATE WOOS CHINA.  French Finance Minister and candidate to lead the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde was a hit with the Chinese media during a recent visit to campaign for China's support.  CNN reports that Minister Lagarde had the entire Chinese press corps in laughter with witty comebacks and easy confidence.  China has recently opposed the idea of the next IMF Director being European, as they believe the European perspective does not take into account the needs of developing nations.


The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Caucus Brief: Leon Panetta, The Pentagon and The China Threat

LEON PANETTA, THE PENTAGON AND THE CHINA THREAT.  Leon Panetta, current CIA Director and nominee for Secretary of Defense, made a point of addressing the growing threat posed by China's military modernization in his answers to the Senate Armed Services Committee's written confirmation questions.  Director Panetta's answers placed a specific focus on the need for the U.S. to continue its own military modernization efforts to prepare our military for an adversary armed with air defense systems, long-range ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles.

PANETTA SAYS CHINA IS BUILDING CAPABILITY TO COUNTER U.S. DEFENSE OF TAIWAN.  CIA Director Leon Panetta, in his written answers to the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation questions, stressed that China is emphasizing anti-access and area capabilities to prepare for "contingencies involving Taiwan, including possible U.S. military intervention."  Director Panetta's statement went on to say: "The complexity of the security environment, both in the Asia-Pacific region and globally, calls for continuous dialogue between the armed forces of the U.S. and China."

HACKERS ESCALATE VIETNAM-CHINA SPRATLY ISLANDS ROW.  Computer hackers from both Vietnam and China have launched campaigns targeting hundreds of websites, including government websites, to post their national flags or post comments in favor of their national territorial claims.  In the last month, Vietnam has seen multiple public protests against China's claim to the South China Sea and recent aggression by Chinese patrol boats.  Hanoi has accused Chinese patrols of cutting communication cables and harassing Vietnamese ships in Vietnamese waters.

CHINA SCOLDS PHILIPPINES OVER DISPUTED S. CHINA SEA.  China and the Philippines have exchanged harsh words over contested territorial claims to the South China Sea.  The statement from China's Foreign Ministry: "China demands that the Philippines stop unilateral actions that damage China's sovereignty and interests at sea and could lead to the expansion and complication of the South China Sea dispute, and stop issuing irresponsible comments that are inconsistent with facts."  The Philippine President's spokeswoman released this response: "We stand by what we believe in and what is ours.  That is what we are trying to remind them."

CHINA'S SUPPRESSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS.  A piece from Jerome Cohen,  the Council on Foreign Relation's Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies, explores China's treatment of human rights attorneys and why this most recent crackdown on dissent is succeeding.  From the piece: "While in captivity, these lawyers endure humiliation, torture and endless demands to sign 'repenting' alleged misconduct and promising 'good behavior'…One wonders how severe the oppression of China's rights lawyers will have to become in order to prick the conscience of fellow professionals."


WIFE OF DETAINED ACTIVIST TELLS OF EVICTION EFFORTS.  The wife of internationally known human rights activist Hu Jia says that she and her daughter have been forced out of their home only weeks before her husband is expected to complete his 42-month prison sentence.  Mr. Hu's Wife is quoted by the NYT: "If I try to find a job, they threaten my boss.  If I try cooperating with someone, they threaten my partner.  If I try to find some part-time work, they tell the human resources of the company to censor me."

CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY CAN'T TAKE A JOKE.  A retired forestry worker from the Chinese city of Chongqing, went online in April to express his views on the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) rising regional leader.  The online comment compared this particular CCP official to excrement.  The 45 year old retired forestry worker is now serving a year's sentence in a re-education-through-labor camp for his comments.

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Caucus Brief: The Battle for the S.China Sea is Heating Up

THE BATTLE FOR THE S. CHINA SEA IS HEATING UP.  As the world begins to focus on China's claim to almost the entire South China Sea, Foreign Policy has released a piece that puts this issue into context.  One-third of the world's maritime trade goes through the South China Sea, and it is estimated that untapped stores of oil and natural gas in the region could be immense.  Portions of the South China Sea are claimed by eight nations in the region, but China claims territorial sovereignty over the vast majority of the disputed Sea.  The piece describes the events that have increased tensions since 2009.

PLA 20 YEARS BEHIND U.S. MILITARY SAYS PRC DEFENSE MINISTER.  Chinese Defense Minister General Liang Guanglie has announced that China is 20 years behind the U.S. military in equipment, weapons and systems.  Minister General Liang Guanglie: "I would call the gap big, main battle equipment of our services…is mainly second-generation weapons."  This assertion of a 20 year gap was used to support the General's position that China does not, and will not, seek international hegemony.  These comments were made at the annual Asia-Pacific forum in Singapore.

CHINA CONFIRMS AIRCRAFT CARRIER.  The head of the People's Liberation has officially confirmed, for the first time, that China is building and remodeling a Soviet-era aircraft carrier.  The existence of this project has been China's worst kept secret as photos of the carrier have circulated in the media for months.

CHINESE MEDIA RESPONSE TO FRIEDMAN'S OP-ED.  Over the weekend the NYT ran an op-ed by Thomas Friedman that advised Beijing to allow the gradual liberalization of China so as to avoid "Arab Spring"-like dissent.  Yesterday the state-run newspaper the Global Times published a response.  From the response: "Frankly, it was a mediocre article for a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner although Friedman does not shun from his inclination to be a teacher of Chinese leaders…In fact, the U.S. as a whole has the tendency to teach other countries what is best for them.  Many Americans think they are qualified to do so."


CHINA'S TROUBLED NEIGHBORS.  An op-ed in the NYT argues that the behavior of the Chinese Communist Party over the last six months has "stripped away many illusions about the country's 'peaceful rise.'"  Now the region can no longer assume that Chinese military and economic growth will benefit Asia as a whole.  Instead the region's focus is shifting to "managing conflicts and attempting to allay mutual suspicions."

CHINA MOVES INTO CUBA.  China's vice-president Xi Jingping has recently spent three days in Cuba in an effort to shore up Chinese-Cuban relations.  China is already Cuba's second largest trading partner, increasing trade between the two nations by four times since 2001.  Additionally, recent news that there may be 20 billion barrels of oil offshore of Cuba has garnered significant Chinese interest.

CHINESE OFFICIALS WARNS ON DOLLAR ASSETS.  A senior Chinese official recently warned that China is running a major risk in holding so many dollars because the U.S. may be deliberately devaluing its currency.  This comment was made by the head of China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange who argued that the U.S. may find it hard to resist the temptation to weaken the dollar abroad and push up inflation at home.  Despite this official's warning, analysts argue that China has no choice but to recycle its vast foreign currency reserves into dollar-denominated assets.  In an effort to mask the extent of China's holdings in U.S. dollars, Beijing has begun routing investments into U.S. holdings through London and Hong Kong.


The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.