Wednesday, June 22, 2011

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.

India and China have resumed military exchanges that were halted since mid-2010 after Beijing refused to provide a visa to a top Indian commander intending to visit China.  A retired Indian Major General described the impact of this meeting on India's threat perception of China: "The resumption of military ties between the two countries is merely confined to routine exchange of military personnel, or a military exercise.  Defense planners here are, in fact, very anxious about the buildup of Chinese weaponry and equipment."

CHINA'S SUPERHIGHWAY IN KENYA.  Chinese companies have been scouring Africa for natural resources to fuel its growing economy back home.  This effort has won China some friends, opened some markets and caused some unease.  Now China is building a massive highway through Kenya and is hoping to construct a new port.  There is no doubt that this highway will have a positive impact on Kenya.  However, from a Chinese perspective, this road appears to be an attempt to purchase good will and penetrate the continent for Chinese businesses.


CHINA UPS THE ANTE IN SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTES.  An op-ed by Michael Richardson lays out China's key considerations in South China Sea territorial disputes, one of which being U.S. involvement.  From the piece: "Sometimes strategic ambiguity serves as the best assurance of regional stability.  However, if it is seen in Beijing as a sign of U.S. weakness, it may embolden China to continue its assertive policy in the South China Sea."

CHINA, U.S. LAUNCH RIVAL MERCY AID SHIPS.  A piece from Australia's Herald Sun reports that China and the U.S. are competing to win the hearts and minds of Third World nations by treating the sick via rival hospital ships.  From the piece: "China embarked on its foray into naval medical diplomacy last year with a three-month voyage to African and Indian Ocean nations by the new hospital ship Peace-Ark.  The U.S. has a head start, however, after launching the Pacific Partnership and Continuing Promise programs in 2006 with the large hospital ships USNS Mercy and Comfort visiting Pacific and South American nations."


CHINA LOOMS OVER RUSSIAN FAR EAST.  A piece from The Diplomat explains that, while trade has been blossoming, lingering concerns  over military technology and worries over an influx of Chinese workers could undermine Sino-Russo relations.  From the piece: "if Russia feels like it is backstopped by a friendly but resource-hungry China, it's likely to be tougher to deal with on economic and security issues because the Kremlin will feel it has more leverage. Correspondingly, colder Sino-Russian ties could steer Moscow toward a more Atlanticist course and favor relations with Europe and the United States."

CHINA DEFENDS VISIT BY SUDAN PRESIDENT OMAR al-BASHIR.  China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei defended the decision to invite Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to China next week by arguing that China has every right to invite Mr. Bashir and is reserving its opinion towards the International Criminal Court (ICC) lawsuit against the Sudanese President.  The ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Bashir for alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

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.

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