Security Issues

In the eyes of Beijing, the Quad poses a more menacing threat than Aukus

In the eyes of Beijing, the Quad poses a more menacing threat than Aukus

In the eyes of Beijing, the Quad poses a more menacing threat than Aukus

·5 min read
Quad Leaders Summit  in the East Room at the White House (EPA)
 
Quad Leaders Summit in the East Room at the White House (EPA)

The Quad is a “sinister gang” whose members are “four ward mates with four different diseases” who “will become cannon fodder” if they dare to take on China, warned Global Times, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party in Beijing.

The ire expressed in the editorial was focused on the first in-person summit between the leaders of the so-called “gang”: the US, Japan, India and Australia, at the White House. The US president, Joe Biden, continued the newspaper, is putting “America first” even more than the former president, Donald Trump.

The last meeting of the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), held virtually in March, announced the delivery of a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to countries in Asia by the end of 2022. On this occasion, however, China and its aggressive policies is the main issue on the agenda. The group poses, strategically and militarily, more of a problem for Beijing than the much publicised Aukus agreement between Australia, UK and the US with its building of a nuclear submarine fleet for Australia.

All four member states have substantial armed presence in the Indo-Pacific, are augmenting it to counter Chinese expansion, and all feel that they face a threat from China, although the language used to described that threat is tempered in public pronouncements.

Two of the members have been in confrontation with China: India on the Himalayan border and Japan over disputed waters and Senkaku islands in the East China Sea.

Last month the navies of the Quad countries carried out the Malabar exercises off the coast of Guam. It originated as an annual bilateral naval drill between the US and India in the 1990s, then fell into abeyance but has now been reinvigorated on a larger scale to include Japan and then Australia. In April, these navies took part in the La Perouse exercise in the Bay of Bengal with France, in line with the Macron government’s decision to have a more prominent military presence in the Indo-Pacific. Despite the Aukus row between Australia and France over the cancellation of a submarine contract, more such exercises with French participation are expected to take place in the future.

The fact that this is the first face-to-face meeting since the Quad was set up 14 years ago is a sign of the group seeking to play a much more effective role. And that has come about directly as a result of China’s uncompromising approach on issues ranging from ownership of mineral-rich waters, crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, threats to invade Taiwan and the coronavirus pandemic.

India had, until recently, been lukewarm about the Quad, but the clashes on its northern border with China appear to have concentrated minds in Narendra Modi’s government – it is now an enthusiastic member.

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s prime minister, spoke on his way to Washington of Beijing’s growing “military influence and unilateral changing of status quo” which present a risk to Japan. Incursions by Chinese vessels near the Senkaku Islands took place on a record 157 days in a row earlier this year – part of a steady rise in such incidents. Defence minister Nobuo Kishi added that China’s actions have led to “strong concerns in regards to the safety and security of not only our own country and the region but for the global community”.

Australia, which faced punitive Chinese tariffs on exports and cyberattacks after calling for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid, joined the Malabar exercises last year. It is now also part of Aukus, despite the fact that China remains its main trading partner and further sanctions by Beijing will undoubtedly hurt the economy.

The talks between Mr Biden, Mr Modi, Mr Suga and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison are expected to be followed by an announcement on Covid and action on the climate crisis. They are also due to discuss cybersecurity and supply chains for semi-conductors and co-operation in developing 5G technology. Beijing has been accused of widespread use of cyberattacks and it currently effectively controls the semi-conductor market. The presence of Chinese companies in the telecoms infrastructure including, until recently, Huawei in the UK, has raised security concerns.

China had, in the past, sought to dismiss the Quad as being of no consequence. Three years ago Wang Yi, foreign minister and state councillor, said the group was “seafoam in the Pacific or the Indian Ocean; it may get some attention, but soon will dissipate”. But by last year he was warning that it was a “security threat” and the “new Nato” in the region.

Asked about the White House summit, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: “It should not target any third party or harm their interest … to form exclusive cliques targeting other countries won’t be popular and has no future.

“Relevant countries should abandon outdated zero-sum game thinking and narrow geopolitical concepts, take a correct view of China’s development, respect the hearts of the people in the region, and do more things that are conducive to promoting unity and cooperation of regional countries.”

But David Shullman, a China analyst with the Atlantic Council, held that Beijing should “really get the lion’s share of credit” for rejuvenating the Quad. Its aggressions against India, Japan and Australia, suppression in Hong Kong and threats against Taiwan “have given leaders in the region a new sense of urgency and common purpose”.

Robert Emerson, a British security analyst, added: “A lot of what is happening is made in China. The combative way the Chinese have driven through their policies was going to have consequences, and that is what’s happening now. They shouldn’t be surprised by this.”

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Chinese police take away HNA chairman, CEO on suspicion of crimes

Chinese police take away HNA chairman, CEO on suspicion of crimes

Chinese police take away HNA chairman, CEO on suspicion of crimes

 
FILE PHOTO: A HNA Group logo is seen on the building of HNA Plaza in Beijing
·3 min read

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -China’s HNA Group, once one of the country’s most acquisitive conglomerates, said on Friday that its chairman and its chief executive had been taken away by police due to suspected criminal offences.

The company, placed in bankruptcy administration in February, said in a statement on its official WeChat account it had been notified by police in its home province of Hainan, southern China, that Chairman Chen Feng and CEO Tan Xiangdong had been taken.

“The operations of HNA Group and its member companies are stable and orderly, and the bankruptcy and restructuring work is progressing smoothly according to the law,” the company said.

A separate HNA statement on Friday said the company’s Communist Party members were informed in a meeting that police had taken away Chen and Tan. Attendees were urged to strengthen the party’s leadership in HNA.

In the 2010s HNA Group, whose flagship business is carrier Hainan Airlines, used a $50 billion global acquisition spree, mainly fuelled by debt, to build an empire with stakes in businesses from Deutsche Bank to Hilton Worldwide.

But its spending drew scrutiny from the Chinese government and overseas regulators. As concerns grew over its mounting debts, it sold assets such as airport services company Swissport and electronics distributors Ingram Micro to focus on its airline and tourism businesses.

In early 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic paralysed travel demand, the Hainan government sent in a work group to HNA to help resolve its liquidity problems.

Last week HNA said it would be reorganised into four independently operated sections, including ones for aviation and financial, and that all equity held by its old shareholders would be wiped out after the reorganisation.

Chen, 68, became HNA’s sole chairman in 2018 when his co-founder and then co-chairman Wang Jian died in France https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hna-chairman-idUSKBN1JU0SQ in what local police said appeared to be an accidental fall from a wall while posing for a photograph.

54-year-old Tan Xiangdong, also known as Adam Tan, became HNA Group’s CEO in 2016. He stepped down as chairman of Dublin-based aircraft leasing giant Avolon, in which HNA affiliate Bohai Leasing owns a majority stake, in February this year.

A filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for Park Hotels & Resorts Inc., dated March 15, 2017, indicates that Tan is a U.S. citizen.

Hainan Airlines said in a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange earlier on Friday that trading in its shares would be halted on Monday, as participants in its restructuring meet for discussions, and would resume on Tuesday.

The stock is up 48% year-to-date.

Chinese stocks have been rattled in recent weeks by concerns over the financial health of property developer China Evergrande Group, a collapse of which could send shockwaves through China’s economy and beyond.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Twinnie Siu and Min Zhang; Writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Philippa Fletcher, Jan Harvey and William Mallard)

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China looms large over Biden’s meeting with ‘Quad’ leaders of India, Australia and Japan

China looms large over Biden's meeting with 'Quad' leaders of India, Australia and Japan

China looms large over Biden’s meeting with ‘Quad’ leaders of India, Australia and Japan

·6 min read
In this article:
 
46th and current president of the United States

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WASHINGTON – China has ramped up its deadly border dispute with India, launched a punishing trade blockage against Australia, and stepped up military patrols around Japanese-controlled islands.

On Friday, the leaders of those three countries dealing with tensions with China convened at the White House for a meeting with President Joe Biden. China’s growing economic and military prowess wasn’t officially on the agenda, but Beijing was the elephant in the room.

Friday’s meeting of “the Quad” – the diplomatic moniker for this increasingly important alliance among the U.S., India, Japan and Australia – was intended to send a clear signal to Beijing that the U.S. and its allies in the Indo-Pacific are serious about countering China’s global ambitions.

“We stand here together, in the Indo-Pacific region, a region that we wish to be always free from coercion, where the sovereign rights of all nations are respected and where disputes are settled peacefully and accordance with international law,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at the beginning of the meeting.

President Joe Biden hosts a Quad Leaders Summit along with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide in the East Room of the White House on September 24, 2021 in Washington, DC.
 
President Joe Biden hosts a Quad Leaders Summit along with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide in the East Room of the White House on September 24, 2021 in Washington, DC.

The president welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Morrison, whom Biden met earlier this week, for the first in-person meeting of the Quad partnership. Biden separately met with Modi, who met with Vice President Kamala Harris Thursday, and will later hold a meeting on the sidelines with Suga.

“We’re four major democracies with a long history of cooperation,” Biden told his foreign counterparts. “We know how to get things done and we are up to the challenge.”

David Shullman, an expert on China with the Atlantic Council think tank and a former U.S. intelligence official, said China’s recent aggressions against India, Japan and Australia – as well as its threats against Taiwan and its crackdown on Hong Kong – have given leaders in the region a new sense of urgency and common purpose.

“China really gets the lion’s share of the credit for making this happen,” he said during an Atlantic Council briefing ahead of Friday’s meeting.

Biden and his foreign counterparts are expected to discuss the pandemic, climate change and the steps each country is taking to bolster critical infrastructure resilience against cyber threats, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity in order to preview the meeting.

It’s not clear if Friday’s session will result in any new agreements, but experts hope the four leaders can cooperate on everything from supply chain problems to the COVID-19 pandemic – arenas where China is already exercising its economic and diplomatic power.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, right, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, left, participate in the inaugural Quad leaders meeting with the President of the United States Joe Biden, the Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga and the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in a virtual meeting in Sydney, Saturday, March 13, 2021.
 

The leaders are expected to announce a new supply chain initiative to address a global semiconductor chip shortage and cooperation on 5G technology deployment.

The president also announced a joint fellowship that will bring students from all four countries to elite U.S. universities to study science and technology over the next year.

Biden said the partnering countries are on track to produce an additional 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in India to boost global supply, a promise that was delayed after India banned international exports of vaccines amid at outbreak in April.

India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, announced earlier this week it would resume exports in October and prioritize the United Nations-backed global vaccine sharing alliance known as COVAX. The Quad pledged to deliver 1 billion doses throughout Asia by the end of 2022.

Modi is among some global leaders who’ve pressed the World Trade Organization to waive a patent provision that would enable drug companies to share their COVID-19 formulas with other manufacturers, opening up access to poorer nations in desperate need of shots.

Friday’s meeting comes on the heels of a high-profile defense agreement under which the U.S. and the United Kingdom agreed to help Australia develop a fleet of nuclear powered submarines. China’s navy recently surpassed the U.S. Navy in terms of battle force ships, and the new pact with Australia could serve as a counterweight to Beijing’s military might.

A new Cold War?

Chinese officials denounced the deal as “extremely irresponsible” and said it was part of an “outdated, Cold War, zero-sum mentality.” They are equally irked by the rise of the Quad, which one foreign ministry spokesperson has described as an “exclusive clique” designed to sow discord between China and its neighbors.

But Shullman says China is to blame for the Quad’s “staying power.” He pointed to China’s military aggression on the disputed border with India and Beijing’s decision to slap tariffs on Australian products after the country’s leaders called for further investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

“It points up the fallacy of China’s argument that this Quad gathering is somehow a provocation to a stability-loving China in the region,” he said. “It’s China’s coercion and military aggression that has ultimately caused these countries to overcome differences and together deal with what is the manifest threats posed to them by China’s growing power.”

Some defense experts fear the confrontation could mushroom into a new Cold War, particularly as China continues to threaten the sovereignty of Taiwan, moved to expand its control of the South China Sea and deployed vessels into the waters around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands.

Biden has framed U.S. policy toward China as an ideological battle between democracy and authoritarianism but insisted he’s not interested in seeking a new Cold War in remarks to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week.

“Our approach to China is one of competition, and not one of conflicts,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday.

She emphasized the summit was not a security meeting but a chance for the group to discuss cooperation on COVID, climate change, emerging technology and infrastructure.

Daniel DePetris, a fellow at Defense Priorities, a Washington-based think tank that advocates for military restraint, warned against any move to transform the Quad into a military alliance. He said doing so could be counterproductive for Japan, India and Australia and leave Washington with a new security burden as the countries would depend almost entirely on U.S. military power to balance China.

“If they go down that route, it’s the exact opposite of the what the administration is publicly warning against, which is a new Cold War,” DePetris said. “I fear that if it does kind of cement itself into a military alliance exclusively against the Chinese military, it could kind of divide the region into democratic and authoritarian blocs, which would make cooperation with the Chinese on issues like COVID and climate change much harder.”

But Paula Dobriansky, a retired diplomat and national security official, said the Quad can keep the confrontation with China from escalating further.

“I see this as a deterrent to not just a Cold War but actually to an outbreak of conflict,” she said during the Atlantic Council briefing.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: China looms over Biden meeting with Quad: India, Australia, Japan

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Houston has a problem: Chinese backdoor threatens next Texas blackout

Houston has a problem: Chinese backdoor threatens next Texas blackout

Houston has a problem: Chinese backdoor threatens next Texas blackout

 
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American security experts have long worried about the threat of hackers targeting the U.S. critical infrastructure. American citizens have increasingly begun to see the real world results, such as the Colonial Pipeline cyber-attack, which forced Americans to stand in massive lines for dwindling fuel for days.

But what if foreign adversaries didn’t even need to use hackers to breach our network defenses to cause havoc?  What if they were the ones who built the most critical parts of our infrastructure in the first place?

That’s the warning recently raised by a Texas resident, in a complaint lodged with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the nation’s federal agency that regulates the “bulk power system.”

According to the documents provided in the complaint, 300 large power transformers, the backbone of the electric grid, were imported into the United States from a Chinese company named JiangSu HuaPeng Transformer Co., Ltd. (JSHP).  Copies of bills of lading indicate that at least 20 of these transformers passed through the Port of Houston, Texas on the way to destinations all over the country. At least one of them, according to the manufacturer, remains in Houston.

Why is this a problem? At least two transformers from JSHP have already been discovered to contain hardware backdoors that could enable Chinese agents to maliciously remote-access and manipulate them. In the summer of 2018 the U.S. government seized a JSHP transformer in the Port of Houston and transported it to Sandia National Laboratories for a comprehensive examination.

“They found hardware that was put into that that had the ability for somebody in China to switch it off,” said Latham Saddler, the former Director of Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council in the last administration.

Yet, despite some efforts of the Federal Government to address these supply chain vulnerabilities, U.S. utilities just keep importing Chinese transformers. JSHP’s website boasts that that their transformers handle 20% of the electrical load for Las Vegas and 10% of the load for New York City.

But it’s not just JSHP and its transformers.  The recent complaint also revealed that U.S. utilities are purchasing a whole host of grid “protection” and “monitoring” products from companies with direct links and even ownership ties to the Chinese Communist government. Chinese law obligates all Chinese corporations to provide assistance whenever the Communist regime’s intelligence agencies demand.

If the Federal Government isn’t working fast enough to address these vulnerabilities, maybe the Texas government can. On June 18, 2021 Governor Abbott signed into law the “Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act,” co-authored by Texas state Senator Donna Campbell and state Representative Tan Parker. In a statement about the bill Representative Parker said that the legislation “sends a clear message that we will not allow hostile foreign actors to access these vital elements of our great state.”

The legislation appears to be forward looking and prevents investments and contracts occurring after June 18, 2021, that might entangle the Texas grid with a foreign adversary.  It specifically states:

“A business entity may not enter into an agreement relating to critical infrastructure in this state with a company:

  1. if, under the agreement, the company would be granted direct or remote access to or control of critical infrastructure in this state, excluding access specifically allowed by the business entity for product warranty and support purposes; and
  2. if the business entity knows that the company is:

(A) owned by or the majority of stock or other ownership interest of the company is held or controlled by:

    • individuals who are citizens of China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, or a designated country; or
    • a company or other entity, including a governmental entity, that is owned or controlled by citizens of or is directly controlled by the government of China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, or a designated country; or

(B) headquartered in China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, or a designated country.”

Based on the evidence brought forth in the recent complaint, it seems that future purchases of JSHP transformers by Texas-based utilities would be a violation of this Texas law.

But what if the Texas utilities choose to remain “unaware” that their vendors are a front for the Chinese government or its intelligence agencies?  And what about the existing Chinese grid components already in Texas grid? It is unclear whether the Lone Star Protection Act could be a vehicle to remove Chinese-made transformers from the Texas grid or discipline the corporations that import them without performing due diligence.

What has become clear is that governments and corporations must thoroughly investigate the existing Chinese transformers and grid components and the companies selling them.

Experts recommend FERC schedule a technical conference and employ a special task force to find and vet these transformers and grid components, with an emphasis on determining whether these transformers supply electricity to nuclear power stations.

This emphasis on nuclear power stations is important because a loss of offsite power to a nuclear plant requires that it rely upon emergency diesel generators to power the systems that keep the reactor and its spent nuclear fuel safe. Those same experts point to a history of issues with these diesel generators and have stressed the need to prevent nuclear plants from losing offsite power in the first place.

However, the Federal Government has shown little interest in moving quickly to resolve the potential threat posed by the Chinese made transformers and grid components that could be used to take down the grid.

It will be up to the state of Texas to take initiative on their own. State government agencies should immediately begin their own investigations, ideally starting with identifying potentially compromised components supporting offsite power to Texas’ two nuclear power plants.

The state should also put other critical infrastructure owners on notice about the threat of Chinese-made equipment. Joseph Weiss, an international authority on cybersecurity and control systems, recently warned that the same equipment identified in the grid transformers “can be used in many other critical infrastructures such as water/wastewater, pipelines, oil/gas, and manufacturing.”

Failure to act could leave the Lone Star state vulnerable to an even more disastrous blackout than the one suffered this winter: a blackout where the ability to turn the power back on no longer rests in the hands of Texans.

Finally, other states should follow Texas’ lead and pass similar infrastructure protection legislation.

Protecting the national electric grid from malicious manipulation by foreign actors is ultimately the responsibility of the federal government. While states other than Texas do not have the advantage of their own independently regulated electric grid, state governments should not be afraid to take prudent steps to secure their citizens from this foreseeable threat. And, they don’t have to wait for legislators to mandate it.

State public service commissioners, law enforcement, and national guard personnel can and should investigate whether their state is host to any of these Chinese transformers now.

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Agents At O’Hare Seize 19 Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards Shipped From China

Agents At O'Hare Seize 19 Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards Shipped From China

Agents At O’Hare Seize 19 Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards Shipped From China

CBS 2’s Chris Tye reports customs officials at O’Hare International Airport last week intercepted a package containing 19 counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards headed from China to Ohio.

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Turning from Afghanistan, the US sets focus on China

Turning from Afghanistan, the US sets focus on China

Turning from Afghanistan, the US sets focus on China

 
·3 min read
In this article:
 
American lawyer and politician

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After two decades of focus on Afghanistan, the United States’ withdrawal this week allows the country to shift its concentration to the east, where superpower rival China is now the number-one priority.

In an indication of Washington’s strategic turn, Vice President Kamala Harris was in Southeast Asia last week even as the US pullout from Afghanistan moved into its turbulent final days, hoping to strengthen US allies’ pushback against the region’s giant.

Harris accused Beijing of “actions that… threaten the rules-based international order,” particularly its aggressive claims of territory in the South China Sea.

 

Her tour of Singapore and Vietnam was seen as an effort by the administration of President Joe Biden to reassure Asian allies, who were left somewhat disquieted by the US pullout from Kabul after the sudden fall of the Afghan government that Washington had propped up for nearly 20 years.

Ryan Hass, a foreign policy specialist at the Brookings Institution, said the debacle of the US pullout from Afghanistan will not have a lasting impact on Washington’s credibility in Asia.

“America’s standing in Asia is a function of its shared interests with its partners in balancing China’s rise and in preserving the long peace that has underpinned the region’s rapid development,” Hass said.

“None of those factors are diminished by events in Afghanistan,” he said told AFP.

The US turn to East Asia will “open up new opportunities” for the US and its partners in the region, he told AFP.

– No encouragement to Russia –

Lawmaker Adam Smith, head of the Armed Forces Committee in the House of Representatives, said that the US exit from Afghanistan is not likely to change the balance between the United States and rival superpowers Russia and China.

He rejected suggestions Tuesday that the seeming momentary display of weakness by the Americans could encourage China to invade Taiwan or Russia to attack Ukraine, for example.

“I think anyone who thinks that their [Russia’s or China’s] calculation has significantly changed because we just pulled the last 2,500 troops out of Afghanistan — I really don’t see that,” Smith said during an online Brookings conference.

“There are a lot of other issues that go into whether or not Russia and China are going to feel like they have the ability to be aggressive in those parts of the world,” he said.

Derek Grossman, a former Pentagon official and now a defense expert at the Rand Corporation think tank, said China could seek advantage in fostering good relations with the Taliban, the militant Islamist group US forces fought for 20 years before they again seized power in Afghanistan August 15.

Beijing could decide quickly to recognize the Taliban government, even as Washington and other Western governments hold off as they hope to convince Afghanistan’s new rulers to moderate their hardline policies.

“China, as a new great power in competition with the United States, probably wants to demonstrate its unique way of handling world events, which tends to be — often reflexively — the opposite of Washington’s approach,” Grossman said.

“Recognizing Taliban-run Afghanistan would contribute to the perception that it is Beijing, and no longer Washington, that is now setting the agenda and shaping the future regional order,” he said.

sl/pmh/caw

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Taiwan says China can ‘paralyse’ its defences, threat worsening

Taiwan says China can 'paralyse' its defences, threat worsening

Taiwan says China can ‘paralyse’ its defences, threat worsening

 
FILE PHOTO: A Taiwan domestically-built Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) releases flares during annual Han Kuang military drill simulating the China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invading the island, in Pingtung county, southern Taiwan
·2 min read

By Yimou Lee

TAIPEI (Reuters) – China’s armed forces can “paralyse” Taiwan’s defences and are able to fully monitor its deployments, the island’s defence ministry said, offering a stark assessment of the rising threat posed by its giant neighbour.

Beijing is stepping up military activities around the island, which it views as Chinese territory. It has never renounced the use of force to bring democratic Taiwan under its control.

In its annual report to parliament on China’s military, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry presented a far graver view than it did last year, when the report said China still lacked the capability to launch a full assault on Taiwan.

This year’s report said that China can launch what it termed “soft and hard electronic attacks”, including blocking communications across the western part of the first island chain, the string of islands that run from the Japanese archipelago, through Taiwan and down to the Philippines.

China “can combine with its internet army to launch wired and wireless attacks against the global internet, which would initially paralyse our air defences, command of the sea and counter-attack system abilities, presenting a huge threat to us”.

China has also improved its reconnaissance abilities using Beidou, China’s answer to the U.S.-owned GPS navigation system, the ministry added.

This means Beijing can monitor movements around Taiwan, helped by China’s regular use of its own spy planes, drones and intelligence gathering ships, it said.

China’s Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Although Taiwan’s report noted, like last year, that China still lacked transport abilities and logistical support for a large-scale invasion, the Chinese military is working to boost those abilities.

With precision missile attacks that can hit anywhere on the island, China is also capable of “paralysing” Taiwan military command centres and combat capacity of its naval and air forces, it said.

Chinese spies in Taiwan could launch a “decapitation strike” to destroy political and economic infrastructure, it added.

With the deployment of mid- and long-range missiles and more exercises involving its aircraft carriers, China is trying to position itself to delay “foreign military intervention” in an attack on Taiwan, the ministry said.

President Tsai Ing-wen has made bolstering Taiwan’s own defences a priority, building up its domestic defence industry and buying more equipment from the United States, the island’s most important arms supplier and international backer.

(Reporting by Yimou Lee; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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China protests US Navy, Coast Guard ships in Taiwan Strait

China protests US Navy, Coast Guard ships in Taiwan Strait

China protests US Navy, Coast Guard ships in Taiwan Strait

 
 
·2 min read

BEIJING (AP) — China’s defense ministry protested Saturday the passage of a U.S. Navy warship and Coast Guard cutter through the waters between China and Taiwan, a self-governing island claimed by China.

A statement posted on the ministry’s website called the move provocative and said it shows that the United States is the biggest threat to peace and stability and creator of security risks in the 160-kilometer (100-mile) wide Taiwan Strait.

“We express firm opposition and strong condemnation,” the statement said.

The USS Kidd guided-missile destroyer and Coast Guard cutter Munro sailed through the strait Friday in international waters, the U.S. Navy said. Such exercises are seen as a warning to China, which recently conducted drills near Taiwan and has not renounced the use of force if needed to bring the island under its control.

“The ships’ lawful transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a statement from the Navy’s Japan-based 7th Fleet said.

Taiwan, home to 23.6 million people, split from China during a civil war that led to the Communist Party taking control of the mainland in 1949. The U.S. does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but maintains a representative office in the capital, Taipei, and is its biggest supplier of military equipment for its defense.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been stepping up its presence in Asia, as the Chinese coast guard patrols near disputed islands that both China and other governments claim in the South and East China Seas.

The 418-foot (127-meter) long Munro, which is based in Alameda, California, arrived in the region in mid-August for what the U.S. Coast Guard said would be a monthslong deployment. It trained with a Japanese coast guard ship, the Aso, in the East China Sea for two days earlier this week.

The U.S. and Taiwan coast guards held talks this month after the two signed a cooperation agreement in March. China has denounced the agreement.

Saturday’s defense ministry statement said that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China,” and that China would not tolerate any interference in what it called its internal affairs.

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U.S. warship transits Taiwan Strait after Chinese assault drills

U.S. warship transits Taiwan Strait after Chinese assault drills

U.S. warship transits Taiwan Strait after Chinese assault drills

 
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd transits the Gulf of Alaska
·3 min read

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. warship and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Friday, the latest in what Washington calls routine operations through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from China, which claims the self-ruled island.

The passage comes amid a spike in military tensions in the past two years between Taiwan and China, and follows Chinese assault drills https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-says-military-drills-near-taiwan-were-response-provocations-2021-08-17 last week, with warships and fighter jets exercising off the island’s southwest and southeast.

The Kidd, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, accompanied by the Coast Guard cutter Munro, transited “through international waters in accordance with international law,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.

“The ships’ lawful transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” it said.

The U.S. Navy has been conducting such operations about every month or so, angering China https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-warship-transits-taiwan-strait-week-after-large-chinese-air-incursion-2021-06-23, which sees Taiwan as its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the democratic island under its control.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is its most important international backer and a major seller of arms to the island.

Taiwan and the United States in March signed https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-usa/taiwan-u-s-to-strengthen-maritime-coordination-after-china-law-idUSKBN2BI00X an agreement establishing a Coast Guard Working Group to coordinate policy, following China’s passing of a law that allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels.

Friday was not the first time a U.S. Coast Guard cutter has sailed through the Taiwan Strait.

But it was a reminder that it is now keeping vessels in the region and “engaging in more joint training and law enforcement diplomacy to help strengthen partner nation capacity vis-à-vis Chinese encroachments,” said Greg Poling, a maritime security expert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China’s state-controlled media have seized on the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in recent weeks to portray U.S. support for Taiwan and regional allies as fickle.

But U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has been quick to dismiss any comparison between Afghanistan and the United States’ commitment to the Indo-Pacific.

Vice President Kamala Harris accused https://www.reuters.com/world/us/kamala-harris-says-us-will-speak-up-south-china-sea-2021-08-26 China of “bullying and excessive maritime claims” during trips to Vietnam and Singapore this week, the latest in a string of visits by top U.S. officials to the Indo-Pacific aimed at cementing U.S. commitment to the region.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Idrees Ali; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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China will soon surpass Russia as a nuclear threat –senior U.S. military official

China will soon surpass Russia as a nuclear threat –senior U.S. military official

China will soon surpass Russia as a nuclear threat –senior U.S. military official

 
FILE PHOTO: PLA soldiers salute in front of nuclear-capable missiles during a parade in Beijing
 
·2 min read

By Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China, in the midst of a rapid nuclear weapons buildup, will soon surpass Russia as the United States’ top nuclear threat, a senior U.S. military official said on Friday, warning that the two countries have no mechanisms to avert miscommunication.

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas Bussiere, the deputy commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the country’s nuclear arsenal, said China’s development of nuclear capabilities “can no longer be aligned” with its public claim that it wants to maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent.

“There’s going to be a point, a crossover point, where the number of threats presented by China will exceed the number of threats that currently Russia presents,” Bussiere told an online forum.

He said the determination would not be based solely on the number of Beijing’s stockpiled nuclear warheads, but also on how they are “operationally fielded.”

“There will be a crossover point, we believe, in the next few years,” Bussiere said.

Unlike with Russia, the United States did not have any treaties or dialogue mechanism with China on the issue to “alleviate any misperceptions or confusion,” he added.

Bussiere’s comments come as the United States is attempting to realign its foreign policy to put greater emphasis in the Indo-Pacific region to counter China’s growing economic and military might.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed deep concern https://www.reuters.com/world/china/blinken-expresses-us-concern-about-chinas-growing-nuclear-arsenal-2021-08-06 about China’s growing nuclear arsenal during a meeting with foreign ministers of Asian countries and partner nations in early August.

Think-tank reports based on satellite imagery say China appears to be constructing hundreds of new silos for nuclear missiles, and Washington has accused Beijing of resisting nuclear arms talks.

China says its arsenal is dwarfed by those of the United States and Russia, and that it is ready for dialogue, but only if Washington reduces its nuclear stockpile to China’s level.

In a 2020 report to Congress, the Pentagon estimated China’s operational nuclear warhead stockpile to be in “the low 200s,” and said it was projected to at least double in size as Beijing expands and modernizes its forces.

According to a State Department fact sheet, the United States had 1,357 nuclear warheads deployed as of March 1.

China’s advances in missile technology to deliver those warheads are also a concern for the United States, and Bussiere said China last year tested more ballistic missile capabilities than the rest of the world combined.

(Reporting by Michael Martina in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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