Janes reporting on China

Latest reporting on Chinese military and security affairs from Janes

Janes provides a wide range of data, insight and news across global defence and security. Here you will find a summary and curation of the most recent content around China derived from Janes connected intelligence solutions.

Special Focus: Chinese/Taiwan Relations Amidst the Ukrainian Crisis

Ukraine crisis: China deploys aircraft in Taiwan's ADIZ but no increase in activity following start of Ukraine conflict

Feb 26: China has continued military aircraft deployments in Taiwan's air defence identification zone (ADIZ), the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has said, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine has not yet coincided with an increase in such sorties.

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Ukraine conflict: US-Taiwan meet to warn off ‘rising Chinese threat' 

Jan 13: Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen met with a senior bipartisan delegation sent by US President Joe Biden on 2 March, with the objective of demonstrating bilateral strength against growing Chinese assertiveness. Tsai said the meetings in Taipei reflected “rock-solid” US-Taiwan ties at a time when China's military threat to the island “continues to rise” and when the “international community is firmly focused on the situation in Ukraine”.

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Taiwan boosts missile production capability

Mar 4: Taiwan's state-run military research and development organisation, the National Chung-Shang Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), has expanded its capacity to produce indigenous missiles in the face of rising tensions with China.

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Technology Developments

China tests QW-12 missile capabilities 

Feb 16: Images of two Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-31 next-generation carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft, which is being commonly referred to as the J-35, have emerged at China's Huangdicun Airbase, suggesting that this could now be an official People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force's (PLANAF's) programme.

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China's first Type 075 amphibious assault ship achieves initial operating capability 

Mar 4: The People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN's) first Yushen (Type 075)-class amphibious assault ship, Hainan , has achieved initial operating capability, state-controlled media Global Times reported on 2 March.

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Domestic Affairs

China's maritime surveillance network: bold moves for ocean dominance 

Feb 17: The People's Republic of China (PRC) has been developing a capable and long-range maritime surveillance network designed to push its naval defensive perimeter away from China's shores. Sam Cranny-Evans reports on the network and what it is designed to do.

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China increases 2022 defence budget by 7.1% 

Mar 7: The Chinese government has announced a 2022 defence budget of CNY1.45 trillion (USD229.5 billion), a nominal year-on-year increase of 7.1%. The expenditure – announced on 5 March at the opening session of the annual National People's Congress (NPC) – represents the seventh consecutive year of single-digit growth.

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International Affairs

Images emerge of J-10C fighters for Pakistan

Feb 16: Images have emerged of two Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) J-10C ‘Firebird' multi-role fighter aircraft in Pakistan Air Force's (PAF's) markings, suggesting that a contract is in place and deliveries will start soon.

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Washington prepares to tighten regulations on US investments in China

Feb 17: The United States is planning to tighten regulations that restrict investments in Chinese enterprises deemed to have links with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and its supporting military-industrial complex.

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China to sanction US firms over military sales to Taiwan

 

Feb 22: The Type 901 is the largest replenishment ship in service with the PLAN and the vessel type has likely been deployed to maximise the amount of relief material that can be carried on this deployment. The PLAN operates two vessels in the class, which have been designed to replenish the service's fleet of new aircraft carriers.

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UAE to buy Chinese jet trainer aircraft 

Feb 23: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to acquire advanced jet trainer aircraft from China, under a deal announced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 23 February. The deal signed between the MoD and China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) will see the UAE Air Force and Air Defence (AFAD) receive 12 AVIC Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation Industry L-15 aircraft, with options for a further 36 to follow.

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February 2022

Special Focus: Chinese/Taiwan Relations Amidst the Ukrainian Crisis

Ukraine crisis: China deploys aircraft in Taiwan's ADIZ but no increase in activity following start of Ukraine conflict

Feb 26: China has continued military aircraft deployments in Taiwan's air defence identification zone (ADIZ), the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has said, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine has not yet coincided with an increase in such sorties.

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Ukraine conflict: US-Taiwan meet to warn off ‘rising Chinese threat' 

Jan 13: Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen met with a senior bipartisan delegation sent by US President Joe Biden on 2 March, with the objective of demonstrating bilateral strength against growing Chinese assertiveness. Tsai said the meetings in Taipei reflected “rock-solid” US-Taiwan ties at a time when China's military threat to the island “continues to rise” and when the “international community is firmly focused on the situation in Ukraine”.

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Taiwan boosts missile production capability

Mar 4: Taiwan's state-run military research and development organisation, the National Chung-Shang Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), has expanded its capacity to produce indigenous missiles in the face of rising tensions with China.

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Technology Developments

China tests QW-12 missile capabilities 

Feb 16: Images of two Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-31 next-generation carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft, which is being commonly referred to as the J-35, have emerged at China's Huangdicun Airbase, suggesting that this could now be an official People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force's (PLANAF's) programme.

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China's first Type 075 amphibious assault ship achieves initial operating capability 

Mar 4: The People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN's) first Yushen (Type 075)-class amphibious assault ship, Hainan , has achieved initial operating capability, state-controlled media Global Times reported on 2 March.

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Domestic Affairs

China's maritime surveillance network: bold moves for ocean dominance 

Feb 17: The People's Republic of China (PRC) has been developing a capable and long-range maritime surveillance network designed to push its naval defensive perimeter away from China's shores. Sam Cranny-Evans reports on the network and what it is designed to do.

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China increases 2022 defence budget by 7.1% 

Mar 7: The Chinese government has announced a 2022 defence budget of CNY1.45 trillion (USD229.5 billion), a nominal year-on-year increase of 7.1%. The expenditure – announced on 5 March at the opening session of the annual National People's Congress (NPC) – represents the seventh consecutive year of single-digit growth.

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International Affairs

Images emerge of J-10C fighters for Pakistan

Feb 16: Images have emerged of two Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) J-10C ‘Firebird' multi-role fighter aircraft in Pakistan Air Force's (PAF's) markings, suggesting that a contract is in place and deliveries will start soon.

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Washington prepares to tighten regulations on US investments in China

Feb 17: The United States is planning to tighten regulations that restrict investments in Chinese enterprises deemed to have links with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and its supporting military-industrial complex.

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China to sanction US firms over military sales to Taiwan

Feb 22: The Type 901 is the largest replenishment ship in service with the PLAN and the vessel type has likely been deployed to maximise the amount of relief material that can be carried on this deployment. The PLAN operates two vessels in the class, which have been designed to replenish the service's fleet of new aircraft carriers.

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UAE to buy Chinese jet trainer aircraft 

Feb 23: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to acquire advanced jet trainer aircraft from China, under a deal announced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 23 February. The deal signed between the MoD and China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) will see the UAE Air Force and Air Defence (AFAD) receive 12 AVIC Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation Industry L-15 aircraft, with options for a further 36 to follow.

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December 2021

Region in Focus: Pakistan/Chinese Relations

Pressures build on China-Pakistan bilateral relationship

Nov 16: China and Pakistan's relationship is underpinned by strong ties in the defence industry sector and by significant Chinese influence in the Pakistani economy. Ongoing attacks against Chinese personnel and assets in Pakistan have soured the relationship temporarily but are unlikely to break it. The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan has placed renewed importance on the Beijing-Islamabad relationship as both countries seek influence in Kabul.

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Pakistan Navy commissions its first of four Type 054A/P frigates

Nov 9: The Pakistan Navy (PN) announced on 8 November that it has inducted into service its first of four Type   054A/P multirole frigates being built by China's Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard. Named PNS Tughril , the 134 m-long frigate – which was launched in August 2020 – entered service in a ceremony held at the shipbuilder's facilities in Shanghai that was also attended by Pakistan's Ambassador to China, Moin Ul Haque. The commissioning comes after the shipbuilder launched the third ship of the Tughril class around early August while the second entered the water in January. The fourth and final frigate is also under construction and expected to be launched later this year.

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Technology Developments

AVIC reaches milestone with new FL-64 wind tunnel 

Nov 22: The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has announced the development of a new transonic wind tunnel capable of simulating velocities up to Mach 8. AVIC said in a post to its WeChat social media channel on 21 November that the large-scale FL-64 wind tunnel has recently passed calibration tests, indicating that the facility is “formally capable of conducting tests for [hypersonic] development projects”. AVIC added that the wind tunnel – developed by its subsidiary, the Aerodynamics Research Institute in Shenyang – was built in two years, which it said is the fastest it has built such a facility. According to AVIC, the FL-64 test facility, which has a diameter of 1 m, can simulate flight speeds from Mach 4 to Mach 8 at an altitude of 48 km under a total temperature of 90 K (626.8°C).

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Sea change: Flat-top helicopter carriers transform naval warfare in the Asia-Pacific region 

Nov 16: During the past decade, a number of navies across the Asia Pacific have deployed flat-top helicopter carriers for the first time. Ridzwan Rahmat examines how these vessels are changing the nature of naval operations in the region. Before 2007, when South Korea commissioned its first Dokdo-class helicopter carrier, the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) was the only post-Second World War operator of a helicopter carrier with through-deck landing capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region. Today there are 10 flat-top amphibious assault ships in service with Asia-Pacific navies.

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Domestic Affairs

PLANAF deploys H-6J in mine-laying, bombing drills in South China Sea

Dec 7: The People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force's (PLANAF's) Xi'an Aircraft Corporation H-6J long-range strategic bombers have been recently spotted carrying out sea mine-laying and bombing drills as part of a live-fire exercise in the South China Sea. According to video footage released by the state-owned China Central Television (CCTV) on 3 December, several aircraft took off at night and arrived at the designated area in the South China Sea at dawn, where they practised laying sea mines and dropping bombs on targets located on islands and reefs. The aircraft carried out two waves of bombing, and were refuelled and resupplied with munitions between the two sorties at Guiping Mengshu Air Base, according to the CCTV report.

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China's 77th Group Army boosts combat capability 

Dec 8: A medium combined arms brigade under the People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) 77th Group Army has received new armoured vehicles. Images and videos published in early December by Chinese media showed 48 new vehicles being handed over to the brigade at a ceremony at its headquarters, which is believed to be located in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The Western Theatre Command unit is known as the Diamond Brigade. The vehicles handed over to the brigade included 12 Dongfeng Mengshi (Warrior) 4×4 platforms in command-and-control, reconnaissance, and assault variants. Identified Mengshi models included the CSK131 and CSK141. The former is regarded as a multirole platform while the latter is described by Dongfeng as a ‘protective assault' platform.

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International Affairs

China, Russia approve 2021–25 road map to increase military co-operation 

Nov 24: China and Russia have agreed to expand military collaboration over the coming five years, Russia's Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 23 November. The move will facilitate deeper co-operation in joint patrols and military exercises. The ‘road map for military co-operation for 2021-2025' was approved in a video conference chaired by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe, said the MoD. It said the road map will focus on increasing bilateral collaboration on “strategic military exercises and joint patrols”.

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Philippines makes rare rebuke of China at ASEAN-Beijing summit

Nov 23: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has issued harsh words against China in his statement during a summit hosted by Beijing with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries on 22 November. The rare rebuke came in the wake of a stand-off between Chinese and Philippine vessels at the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. The feature, also known as the Ayungin Shoal in the Philippines, is claimed by both Beijing and Manila as part of their respective maritime territories. In 1999 the Philippine Navy deliberately grounded a landing ship tank, BRP Sierra Madre, on the feature to stake Manila's claim to the shoal and its surrounding features. The Armed Forces of the Philippines maintains a small detachment of personnel on Sierra Madre and supplies the men with water and victuals.

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China, Russia conduct joint air patrol over Sea of Japan 

Nov 22: Chinese and Russian air forces held a joint aerial patrol over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea on 19 November, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MND) has said. The patrol was the third joint Sino-Russian military exercise in 2021, underscoring growing bilateral military ties. According to the MND, the air patrols featured two Xian Aircraft Company H-6K strategic bombers from the People's Liberation Army Air Force and two Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95 ‘Bear' bombers. It said the aircraft abided by international protocols and did not enter the airspace of other countries. Despite this, Japan and South Korea expressed concern about the patrol.

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November 2021

Region of Focus: US/Chinese Relations

US State Department calls on China to join dialogue on nuclear arms control

5th Nov: The US State Department has urged the Chinese government to join a dialogue on nuclear arms control following the publication of a Pentagon report stating that China is rapidly expanding its nuclear weapon capabilities and intends to have “at least 1,000” nuclear warheads by 2030. Speaking to reporters on 4 November, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Beijing's plan to boost its nuclear arsenal suggests it is “leaving behind its previous nuclear doctrine of limited deterrence”. “We have called for dialogue. We think all responsible countries that have these weapons should engage in an arms control dialogue. We remain ready and willing to do that, and we've made that known to PRC [People's Republic of China] authorities.”

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Biden says US would defend Taiwan if China attacked but White House backtracks

25th Oct: US President Joe Biden said on 21 October that the United States is committed to defending Taiwan if the island were to be attacked by China. However, the remarks, which seemed to mark a departure from Washington's long-held policy of ‘strategic ambiguity', prompted the White House and the US State Department to backtrack and clarify that there has been “no change in our policy” vis-à-vis Taiwan. The statements made by Biden on 21 October seemed to contradict the long-held US position of ‘strategic ambiguity' regarding Taiwan, which leaves unanswered whether and how Washington would intervene in a conflict across the Taiwan Strait. 

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Chinese test accelerates hypersonics weapons race with US

29th Oct: China's recent ‘hypersonic' vehicle testing is pushing the development race with the US for such a weapon into higher gear at a time when the Pentagon is seeking to secure more budget funding to keep pace with the overall Chinese threat. “It is an escalation,” Brent Sandler, senior fellow for naval warfare and advanced technology at the Heritage Foundation's Center for National Defense, told Janes. Bryan Clark, senior fellow and director of the Center for Defense Concepts and Technology at Hudson Institute, told Janes , “This test does show that China may be further ahead than the US in operationalising this capability. However, this is not a ‘Sputnik moment'. In some ways China did what the US has been able to do for years – put a vehicle in orbit around the Earth at least once,” he added.

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Technology Developments:

Chinese air force equips 16th Air Division with WZ-7 HALE UAVs

11th Nov: Video footage provided by Chinese state-owned media indicates that the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has been equipping its 16th Special Mission Air Division with the WZ-7 Xianglong (Soaring Dragon) high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Released by China Central Television (CCTV) on 10 November, the footage shows at least two examples of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)-capable UAV painted in a low-visibility, grey colour scheme and featuring PLAAF insignia.

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Chinese air force deploying recently unveiled J-16D in combat training

8th Nov: China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has begun using the new electronic warfare (EW)-capable variant of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-16 fighter aircraft in combat training. Footage released by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on 6 November shows at least two J-16D examples taking off from an undisclosed location in China and conducting flight maneuvers, with the media outlet noting that the aircraft, which were shown bearing PLAAF insignia, were deployed in “combat-oriented drills”. The images confirm that the variant has formally entered PLAAF service, although it is unclear when they were taken. CCTV reported that that J-16D will be used to provide EW support for the other combat aircraft, including the service's J-20 fifth-generation multirole fighter.

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Domestic Affairs:

China introduces new military equipment procurement regulations

2nd Nov: Chinese President Xi Jinping has signed into effect a new set of military equipment procurement regulations as part of efforts to boost the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) combat capabilities and its level of preparedness, according to a 1 November article published by the Xinhua news agency. The ‘Army Equipment Order Regulations', which came into effect on 1 November, were described by the state-owned media outlet as “the [new] basic rules governing military equipment procurement”.Very few details have emerged about what they actually entail, but the People's Daily newspaper reported that they bring into force a “military modernisation management concept” aimed at improving current equipment procurement procedures while also resolving “contradictory problems that restrict equipment development”.

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President Xi calls for accelerated development of military technologies

28th Oct: Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the country's defence-industrial base to ‘step up' efforts to develop new military technologies and advanced weaponry. The drive is needed, he said, to enable the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to achieve its modernisation milestones later this decade. Speaking at a conference on military equipment and weapons in Beijing on 26 October, Xi claimed China achieved “leapfrog development” in military technologies during the country's 13th Five Year Plan (FYP), which ended in 2020. This progress served as the “material and technological underpinning for the country's strategic capabilities”, said Xi in comments published by the official Xinhua news agency.

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Foreign Affairs:

US intelligence fails to establish Covid-19 origins

2nd Nov: A declassified paper from US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines has concluded that the exact origins of the Covid-19 coronavirus may never be known, although the US intelligence community (USIC) has ruled out the possibility that the virus was manufactured as a biological weapon. The DNI's conclusions, which provide more detail on the 90-day review ordered by President Joe Biden in August, were published on 29 October. Notably, there does not appear to be consensus within the USIC about the virus's origins, with four unnamed agencies and one multi-agency body assessing with “low confidence” that a natural animal-to-human zoonotic transmission was responsible, while a fifth agency judged with “moderate confidence” that a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was behind the outbreak. The lack of any high-confidence judgement within the USIC indicates that key epidemiological or intelligence evidence is lacking, with the report admitting that there are “numerous information gaps, particularly related to technical data”. 

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Chinese, Russian navies conclude first joint patrols in Western Pacific

27th Oct: The Chinese and Russian navies have concluded their first-ever joint patrols in international waters east of Japan in the Western Pacific: a further indication of the growing defence co-operation between the two countries that has been raising concerns among the United States and its allies. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement that the patrols, which took place from 17 to 23 October, involved five warships from each navy, with the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) being represented by Type 055 destroyer Nanchang, Type 052D destroyer Kumming, Type 054A frigates Liuzhou and Binzhou, and Type 903A replenishment vessel Dongpinghu.

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Chinese influence over Afghanistan set to increase

25th Oct: Following the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban's takeover of power in August 2021, Chinese commentary suggests that China has three interconnected interests in Afghanistan: first, to ensure stability in the country to contain possible spillover effects in China's periphery; second, to increase Afghanistan's involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); and third, to emphasise the failures of Western normative values. None of these three objectives require China to step up as a security provider within Afghanistan, despite reports of a Chinese military presence at Bagram Air Base that were denied in early September by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Indeed, as early as 8 March 2021, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi had said, “There is no ‘vacuum' in Afghanistan that needs to be filled.” Despite this stance, Chinese official statements blame the US withdrawal for the chaotic situation in Afghanistan.

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October 2021

Airshow China 2021

CASIC showcases production-ready WJ-700 Falcon UAV and Unmanned Combat System concept 

Oct 4: China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) used Airshow China 2021, which was held from 28 September to 3 October in Zhuhai, to highlight a production-ready version of its WJ-700 Lieying (Falcon) medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which the company is pushing as an integral part of its new Unmanned Combat System network. First unveiled during Airshow China 2018, the turbofan-powered WJ-700 has a stated maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 3,500 kg and an endurance of up to 20 hours, is a development of CASIC's UAV Technology Institute, and is being marketed by Hiwing General Aviation Equipment, the commercial arm of CASIC's Third Academy, which specialises in the research and development and production of cruise missiles, and has since expanded its portfolio to include UAVs.

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Tengden debuts three-engine Twin Tailed Scorpion A armed reconnaissance UAV 

Oct 4: China's Sichuan Tengden Technology Company (Tengden) officially unveiled the three-engine variant of its medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE)-class TW328/TB001 Twin Tailed Scorpion unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the Airshow China 2021 aerospace and defence exhibition held from 28 September to 3 October in Zhuhai. First revealed as an unnamed prototype during its maiden flight in January, the unique three-engine platform was identified by Tengden as the ‘Twin Tailed Scorpion A'. A production-ready example was used by the company to highlight the type's maturity during flying performances at the event, with the air vehicle demonstrating its ability through low-altitude passes and lazy eight manoeuvres.

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CASC unveils airdrop AUV concept 

Sep 30: Chinese defence prime China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is showcasing for the first time its airdroppable autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) concept at Airshow China 2021, which is being held in Zhuhai from 28 September to 3 October. Developed by CASC subsidiary China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA, also known as the 11th Academy) in Beijing, the Multi-mission Reconfigurable Autonomous Underwater Vehicle features a modular seaframe that has a diameter of 0.32 m and measures between 3 m and 4 m in length depending on its configuration.

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China showcases export variant of YJ-18 submarine-launched cruise missile 

Sep 29: China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) is showcasing an export variant of the YJ-18 submarine-launched anti-ship cruise missile at Airshow China 2021, which is being held from 28 September to 3 October in Zhuhai. The missile has been designated as the YJ-18E and CASIC has received approval from the Chinese government to sell the sea-skimming weapon to overseas users, the English-language website of the state-owned China News Service, ECNS, reported on 29 September.

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AVIC to announce next-generation, carrier-based fighter before end of 2021 

Sep 29: The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) plans to disclose new information on its next-generation, carrier-based fighter aircraft before the end of 2021.The announcement was made on 29 September during a press conference organised by AVIC at the Airshow China 2021 defence exhibition, which is being held from 28 September to 3 October in Zhuhai. Sun Cong, the chief designer of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-15 carrier-borne multirole fighter as well as the SAC FC-31 fifth-generation multirole fighter prototype, said during the press conference that progress on the new carrier-borne fighter will be announced by the end of the year, adding that the aircraft will be unveiled as soon as it is ready.

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Chinese air force unveils EW variant of J-16 multirole fighter aircraft 

Sep 29: The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has unveiled an electronic warfare (EW) variant of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-16 multirole fighter aircraft at the Airshow China 2021 defence exhibition being held from 28 September to 3 October in Zhuhai. Known as the J-16D, the two-seat aircraft was seen parked in the static display area of the exhibition bearing standard PLAAF insignia. Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of the Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, was quoted by the Global Times newspaper as saying that this suggests the platform is in service. Additionally, the aircraft bears construction number ‘0109' on the side of its engine intakes, indicating that it is the ninth aircraft from the first production batch. However, the platform features no serial number on its tail, making it difficult to determine which unit it has been assigned to.

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Domestic Affairs

China deploying record number of military aircraft near Taiwan 

Oct 5: Amid heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait, China has been deploying a record number of military aircraft near Taiwan in a show of force that began on 1 October: the same day Beijing celebrated the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. In the latest developments Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on 4 October that 56 People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft, including 38 J-16 and two Su-30 multirole fighters, two KQ-200 anti-submarine warfare (ASW)-capable aircraft, two KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platforms, and 12 H-6-series strategic bombers, had entered the island's southwestern air-defence identification zone (ADIZ) that day: the largest number registered since the MND began making public PLA aircraft movements near Taiwan in mid-September 2020.

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Taiwan reports increased military threat from China 

Sep 2: The Taiwanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on 1 September 2021 that China posed an increased risk to Taiwan compared with the previous year. According to Reuters, the 2021 People's Liberation Army [PLA] Capability Report noted that China “still lacked the capability to launch a full assault on Taiwan”. The report assessed that China had improved its reconnaissance – through its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and other intelligence-gathering operations – and air and sea transport capabilities. However, it also assessed that the PLA still suffered from a lack of equipment and logistics support for landing operations, but that it had increased its air-drop capabilities.

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International Affairs

Argentina allocates JF-17 funding in latest fighter recapitalisation twist 

Sep 20: Argentina has allocated funding to procure the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC)/ Pakistan Aeronautical Complex FC-1/JF-17 in the country's latest effort to recapitalise its fighter aircraft capabilities. Announced on 15 September, the draft budget for fiscal year (FY) 2022 includes USD664 million towards the purchase of 12 JF-17 Thunder Block III jets (including USD20 million for infrastructure). This development marks the latest step in Argentina's attempts to buy a new combat type that go back several years. Having retired its Dassault Mirage IIIEA and Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) Dagger fleets, and with the Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawks suffering availability issues, the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina – FAA) has scoured the globe for a replacement aircraft type.

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Malaysia to hold talks with China on AUKUS 

Sep 24: A Malaysian delegation will visit China to hold talks with the country's leadership on AUKUS and understand the concerns that Beijing may have over the newly announced partnership. The matter was disclosed by the country's Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein in response to a parliamentary question on 22 September. On 15 September the leaders of the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom announced the establishment of a new security partnership known as AUKUS. As part of the partnership, the US and the UK would assist Australia in procuring a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Australia has since clarified that it is looking to procure a fleet of at least eight nuclear-powered boats that will be built in-country.

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USMC commandant points to logistics hurdles in Indo-Pacific region 

Sep 3: Moving primarily from land-based operations in the Middle East and Central Asian regions to planning for distributed ones in the maritime-dominated Indo-Pacific theatre means the US military must rapidly shore up its logistics chain and better prepare troops to survive on their own, US Marine Corps (USMC) Commandant General David Berger said during a 1 September Center for Strategic and International Studies event. The USMC is transforming how it will fight in the future, in part, by becoming smaller and more nimble in support of naval expeditionary warfare operations, while the other services also move forward with their respective initiatives. While service leaders often tout new equipment and weapons as a vital part of this effort, an array of logistical challenges – from sourcing weapons parts to how troops obtain water while in the field – is of vital importance.

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September 2021

Region of Focus: Taiwan

Taiwan proposes defence budget increase for 2022

27th Aug: Taiwan has proposed a defence budget increase amid continuing tension with China. The island's Executive Yuan said on 26 August that the defence expenditure for 2022 will be TWD471.7 billion (USD16.8 billion). Taiwan's procurement of the F-16V represents one of its most high-profile programmes. Other acquisitions currently under way include purchases of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) missiles, and MS-110 multispectral airborne reconnaissance pods.

Janes Analysis: In terms of military modernisation, Taiwan's procurement of the F-16V represents one of its most high-profile programmes. Other acquisitions currently under way include purchases of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) missiles, and MS-110 multispectral airborne reconnaissance pods.

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Taiwan reports increased military threat from China

2nd Sep: The Taiwanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on 1 September 2021 that China posed an increased risk to Taiwan compared with the previous year. According to Reuters, the 2021 People's Liberation Army [PLA] Capability Report noted that China “still lacked the capability to launch a full assault on Taiwan”. The report assessed that China had improved its reconnaissance – through its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and other intelligence-gathering operations – and air and sea transport capabilities. However, it also assessed that the PLA still suffered from a lack of equipment and logistics support for landing operations, but that it had increased its air-drop capabilities.

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Technology Developments:

China launches 32nd Type 054A frigate for PLAN

10th Aug: Photographs circulating on Chinese social media show that the 32nd Type 054A (Jiangkai II-class) frigate for China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been launched at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai. The number of ships on order under the latest Type 054A production batch has not been made public as China does not release information on the future size and shape of its armed forces. However, between 2009 and 2018 Type 054A frigates were launched at a rate of about three ships per year.

Janes Analysis: The number of ships on order under the latest Type 054A production batch has not been made public as China does not release information on the future size and shape of its armed forces. However, between 2009 and 2018 Type 054A frigates were launched at a rate of about three ships per year.

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China unveils improved short-range ballistic missile

23rd Aug: Chinese state-owned media reported on 21 August that the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) successfully conducted live firings of what it described as two new conventionally armed short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs). The adoption of more sophisticated terminal guidance systems than the original DF-15's inertial guidance package will have significantly improved the accuracy of the missiles but introduced vulnerabilities that can be exploited to reduce the missile's effectiveness. In response to this it is likely that modifications have been made to the warhead to minimise the effect of countermeasures.

Janes Analysis: The adoption of more sophisticated terminal guidance systems than the original DF-15's inertial guidance package will have significantly improved the accuracy of the missiles but introduced vulnerabilities that can be exploited to reduce the missile's effectiveness. In response to this it is likely that modifications have been made to the warhead to minimise the effect of countermeasures.

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China's new hypersonic wind tunnel expected to be ready next year

14th Aug: China's new JF-22 hypersonic wind tunnel is expected to be ready for use in 2022, according to a 22 August report by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV). The report confirmed that the wind tunnel has been designed to be capable of simulating conditions for vehicles travelling at speeds of up to Mach 30 at altitudes between 40 km and 100 km.

Janes Analysis: China is investing heavily in research and development of hypersonic technology and aims to open up a significant lead over the United States in its application.

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New Chinese satellite likely has military function

27th Aug: On 24 August, China launched a satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre (XSLC) using a Long March 3B (CZ-3B) rocket. US military tracking data cited by spaceflightnow.com recorded that the TJSW-7 satellite deployed into an “elongated geostationary transfer orbit with a perigee, or low point, of 122 miles (197 kilometers) and an apogee, or high point, of 22,255 miles (35,816 kilometers)”. Multiple media outlets reported the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) as stating that the TJSW-7 would be used for communications technology test missions.

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Domestic Affairs:

China's new ‘Military Service Law' aims to address recruitment difficulties

26th Aug: The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC) adopted on 20 August a new version of the country's ‘Military Service Law' aimed at improving recruitment into the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and better aligning the military with national policies and the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Both Sheng and Professor Fu Dalin, the director of the Military Judicial Work Department of the Political College of the National Defense University (NDU), said that the revised law will improve the quality of the PLA, which is seeking to become a more professional military by enlisting better educated recruits, especially those with university degrees.

Janes Analysis: Both Sheng and Professor Fu Dalin, the director of the Military Judicial Work Department of the Political College of the National Defense University (NDU), said that the revised law will improve the quality of the PLA, which is seeking to become a more professional military by enlisting better educated recruits, especially those with university degrees.

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Chinese military using commercial Ro-Ro shipping to enhance its amphibious capabilities

23rd Aug: China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is continuing to develop its amphibious capabilities by using commercial ships to increase its capacity to transport military equipment. Video footage released by state broadcaster China Centra Television (CCTV) on 17 August showed military vehicles of the 73rd Group Army being embarked on Bohai Zhen Zhu (‘Bohai Pearl'): a 24,000-tonne roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) commercial ferry with the capacity to transport more than 200 vehicles.

Janes Analysis: The frequency and scale of the use of commercial shipping in exercises related to amphibious operations indicates that they are a fundamental component of the PLA's operational planning and would likely be key to any invasion of Taiwan.

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China's armed forces conduct over 120 maritime exercises in three months

26th Aug: China's naval, air, and army amphibious forces have conducted more than 120 maritime exercises during the past three months, the state-owned Global Times newspaper reported on 24 August, an indication that the country's maritime forces are striving to achieve a high level of operational readiness.

Janes Analysis: Taiwan appears to be the main factor behind much of the current tempo of maritime exercises of the PLA, and the PLAN in particular. The focus of the amphibious exercises is unambiguous and much of the other activity can be viewed in the context of ‘anti-access/area denial' – that is, to prevent US or other forces from intervening in PLA operations against Taiwan.

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Foreign Affairs:

Large-scale exercise points to growing Sino-Russian military co-operation

11th Aug: In a sign of growing military co-operation between Moscow and Beijing, about 13,000 Russian and Chinese troops have taken part in the ‘Sibu/Interaction 2021' exercise, marking the first time that such joint strategic military drills are held in China. As Janes previously reported, the exercise was held against a backdrop of expanding bilateral military collaboration, which has been driven by an increasing alignment of interests and security concerns between Russia and China.

Janes Analysis: As Janes previously reported, the exercise was held against a backdrop of expanding bilateral military collaboration, which has been driven by an increasing alignment of interests and security concerns between Russia and China.

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August 2021

Region of Focus: Russian Strategic Relationship

China, Russia look to deepen military-technical ties – 9 Aug

China and Russia are preparing to participate in joint military exercises during 9–13 August, an event that aims to support military-technical co-operation between the two countries. The ‘Sibu/Interaction 2021' drills in Ningxia, north-central China – in which 13,000 troops and more than 400 military platforms from both sides will participate – are being held against a backdrop of expanding bilateral military collaboration. In late July, China and Russia outlined a commitment to strengthen military-technology ties, with such efforts expected to be framed around a new military co-operation accord. Janes Analysis: While the sales of military mission systems will provide Russia with a relatively constant stream of contracts in the near to mid-term, opportunities for big-ticket platform sales are limited. Janes identifies possible opportunities for additional sales of air defence systems, and, less likely, submarines.

Russian troops training with Chinese equipment ahead of strategic exercise with PLA – 6 Aug

Russian troops set to take part in the 9–13 August ‘Sibu/Interaction 2021' strategic military exercise with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) have been familiarising themselves with Chinese military equipment in preparation for the joint manoeuvres: an indication of the growing military co-operation between Moscow and Beijing. Janes Analysis: The Sino-Russian military-technical co-operation has accelerated in recent years driven by an increasing alignment of interests and security concerns. The main reason behind this is the mutual desire to challenge the dominant position of the United States in the international sphere and to provide a level of insulation from some US foreign policy decisions.

Technology Developments

China launches more surveillance satellites – 20 Jul

Three more Yaogan 30-series military surveillance satellites were launched from China's Xichang Satellite Launch Centre on 19 July, bringing the total number of satellites in the constellation to 30. The state-owned People's Daily newspaper reported that the satellites were launched aboard a Long March 2C carrier rocket and successfully deployed in orbit. It described the function of the satellites as “conducting electromagnetic environmental detection and other experimental observations” but did not acknowledge their military utility. Janes Analysis: Although the official description of the Yaogan 30-10 satellites' function is very generic, they are likely intended to intercept and monitor radio communications and radar transmissions from units and equipment operating between latitude 35° north and south, primarily on China's periphery.

Image suggests China is producing fourth batch of J-15 fighter aircraft – 2 Aug

China's Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) seems to be continuing production of the J-15 carrier-borne multirole fighter, with a recently released image showing an aircraft that appears to be from the fourth production batch. The photograph, which was released on 1 August via the Weibo social media platform, shows a J-15 in People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF) markings bearing what appears to be production number ‘0401' on the intake: an indication that it is part of the fourth and latest batch. The aircraft was photographed in a hangar, with several naval personnel seen saluting, possibly as part of an event to mark the 94th anniversary of the founding of the PLA. Janes Analysis: The J-15s from the third and fourth production batches production will complement the 24 aircraft from the first and second batches that were built before production was suspended in mid-2017. Although it is not clear how many J-15s have been built since SAC resumed production of the fighter, a total of 42 examples have been spotted thus far.

Image suggests HJ-12 ATGW is in service with PLA's Tibet Military Command – 26 Jul

Chinese state-owned media have released an image suggesting that the Hongjian-12 (J-12) manportable anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) system is being operated by the People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF). A photograph released on 22 July via the WeChat account of the PLA's Tibet Military Command shows a soldier carrying a launch tube assembly (LTA) that is very similar in appearance to that used by the HJ-12 system. The picture was released as part of a report about a PLAGF brigade conducting exercises on a Tibetan plateau and about how the unit is “improving its level of combat training”. Janes Analysis: The PLA currently relies on a wide variety of ATGW systems of different generations. These include the HJ-73 – an improved version of the Soviet designed 9K11 ‘Malyutka' – the HJ-8, HJ-9, HJ-10, and HJ-11.

Questions remain over identification of China's missile silos – 6 Aug

In April 2021, Commander of US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) Admiral Charles Richard remarked to the US House Armed Services Committee that China's nuclear arsenal was undergoing a significant expansion. Open-source intelligence may be providing evidence of that expansion, although many questions remain. Janes Analysis: There is some evidence to suggest that missile silo construction is occurring near Yumen and Hami, although the imagery-based evidence remains largely circumstantial at the time of writing. There is also imagery-based evidence suggesting that the existing wind farms are being expanded at Yumen. The available evidence does not enable Janes to make a definitive assessment of the new construction at Hami, although work at the site resembles that at Yumen.

Domestic Affairs

China's military-civil fusion aids the growth of wargames – 27 Aug

Wargames (兵棋推演, bīngqí tuīyǎn) have experienced a renaissance in China, with computer wargames in particular becoming popular among university students, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), think-tanks, and scientific research institutions. Driven by the government's strategy of shifting from military-civil integration (军民结合 jūnmín jiéhé) to military-civil fusion (MCF) (军民融合 jūnmín rónghé) and to enhance national defence education among the public, a series of yearly national wargame competitions has been created. Janes Analysis: The fifth National Wargaming Competition is scheduled to take place in the second half of 2021 and will feature Huashu Defense's Mozi joint warfare wargaming platform, according to a Chinese source. Mozi reflects two key elements of PLA doctrine and modernisation: first, joint warfare (a key aspiration for the PLA under its current modernisation programme); and second, the human role within automation and AI.

China's defence exports stay strong despite dip in 2020, Janes data shows – 15 Jul

Newly compiled Janes data shows China's defence exports declined mildly in 2020, interrupting a period of solid growth since 2016. According to the data, China's international military sales in 2020 were equal to USD2.65 billion, a 4% decline on the figure in 2019. Janes Analysis: Beijing does not disclose any information about the value of its defence exports, although Chinese state media sometimes acknowledges that the sales effort has become an important part of the country's strategies to boost revenues and to expand its international profile.

Crouching tiger: Chinese military doctrine – 13 Jul

Chinese President Xi Jinping has embarked upon an ambitious reform of his country's armed forces, as well as China's international relations and internal politics. The result, whether intentional or not, is the perception among Western militaries that China and the United States have now entered a new period of great power competition. Janes Analysis: It is understandable that much of the analysis of the PLA focuses on the likely apocalyptic conflict that would arise if it went to war with the US. However, the development of modern precision capabilities and networked ISR assets may enable the PLA to become a dominant military in smaller conflicts too.

Foreign Affairs

US adds more Chinese firms to Entity List – 12 Jul

The US government has included 23 more Chinese companies to its trading blacklist over their alleged enabling of human rights abuses or for their involvement in developing technologies for the Chinese military. The US Department of Commerce (DoC) said on 9 July that the firms were added to Entity List, inclusion on which prohibits the identified entities from involvement in the export, re-export, or in-country transfer of US dual-use technologies. Janes Analysis: As of early July, several hundred Chinese entities and their subsidiaries are included on the US Entity List, far more than any other country. Chinese inclusion on the list has expanded substantially in the past few years as US-China relations have deteriorated and US concerns about China's military-technology acquisition methods have grown.

UK government to investigate Chinese acquisition of semiconductor firm – 12 Jul

The UK government is to investigate a Chinese firm's acquisition of a UK producer of semiconductors on national security grounds. The move follows Shanghai-based Wingtech's announcement on 6 July that its Dutch subsidiary had acquired 100% ownership in Welsh company Newport Wafer Fab (NWF). Janes Analysis: The UK investigation into Wingtech's acquisition follows several moves by the US government in recent months to restrict Chinese firms' acquisition of US technologies and intellectual property. The United States has also put pressure on key allies, such as the UK, to introduce similar restrictions. A

July 2021

Region of Focus: Taiwan

Chinese MND warns US Indo-Pacific strategy will ‘only create antagonism and chaos'

4th May: Sharp criticism was levelled at the Australia, Japan, and the United States by Chinese Ministry of National Defence (MND) spokesperson Senior Colonel Tan Kefei at the ministry's monthly press conference held on 27 May. Janes Analysis: Although the lines taken by Snr Col Tan were very familiar, the breadth of the critical responses suggests that China is feeling under pressure from the US and its allies, although not to the extent of conceding any ground over the sovereignty disputes that underlie much of the military tensions.

 

Biden says US-Taiwan coastguard co-operation deal will enable US to better respond to shared regional threats

20th May: US President Joe Biden has said that the recently reached co-operation agreement between the US and Taiwanese coast guards will “help ensure” that the United States “is positioned to better respond to shared threats in the [Indo-Pacific] region and to conduct co-ordinated humanitarian and environmental missions”. Janes Analysis: The US-Taiwanese MoU was signed after Beijing passed a law on 22 January authorising the China Coast Guard’s (CCG’s) use of firepower – under certain circumstances – against foreign vessels in waters “under China’s jurisdiction”.

 

Technology Developments

PLANAF J-15 fighters seen operating from Lingshui Airbase in South China Sea

1st Jun: Chinese state-owned media has released video footage showing People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) J-15 naval fighter aircraft being operated from an airbase that Janes identified as Lingshui Airbase on Hainan Island in the South China Sea (SCS). Janes Analysis: As Janes reported, infrastructure improvements began at Lingshui between 2014 and 2016, with hangar construction and associated ramp expansion starting in 2018. To accommodate construction efforts, various aircraft departed Lingshui for other locations on Hainan Island between 2018 and 2020. KQ-200 maritime patrol aircraft now operate from Qionghai Bo'ao airport to the northeast while BZK-005 medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles relocated to Sanya airbase to the west. Their relocation appears to be permanent.

 

China spaceplane development

28th May: The successful launch in September 2020 of a Chinese reusable orbital launch vehicle – commonly known as a ‘spaceplane’ – and the completion of its two-day mission further demonstrated China’s increasing space capabilities, although a veil of secrecy resulted in little open-source information on the launch becoming available. The conclusion of this mission means that China is now the third country to have successfully launched and recovered a spaceplane after the United States (Space Shuttle and X-37B) and the Soviet Union/Russia with the Buran Orbiter.

Norinco’s PCL-181 SPH in service with PLAGF’s 80th Group Army

11th May: Chinese state-owned media revealed on 7 May that the China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco) 155 mm PCL-181 wheeled self-propelled howitzer (SPH) has entered service with a brigade under the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force’s (PLAGF’s) 80th Group Army. Janes Analysis: The growing number of brigades operating the PCL-181 points to how fast the system is being both produced and rolled out to the troops, especially given that the 6×6 SPH was only first publicly displayed in service during the 1 October 2019 military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

 

Domestic Affairs

China operationalises first ‘smart’ satellite factory

14th May: China has started operating its first ‘smart’ factory dedicated to the production of satellites, the country’s official Xinhua news agency has reported. The development reflects China’s progress in automated manufacturing processes in the aerospace domain. Janes Analysis: CASIC is one of China’s most important developers of military technologies, space systems, and advanced weapons. It also plays a leading role in China’s development of 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) capabilities such as autonomous systems, artificial intelligence (AI), and the industrial internet.

 

China's CASIC signs accord with CCCC to expand industrial co-operation

2nd Jun: The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) has signed an agreement with the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) to support industrial and technological co-operation, according to a statement from CASIC. CASIC – one of China's most important developers of advanced weapons and unmanned systems – said that its “strategic co-operation framework agreement” with CCCC will facilitate the co-ordinated construction of new infrastructure, national development projects, and “intelligent high-end equipment”. Janes Analysis: China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–25) calls upon domestic defence industrial enterprises to expand collaboration with both defence and commercial sector companies in the country, with the aim of exploring synergies and efficiencies, and enhancing self-reliance.

 

Foreign Affairs

US extends deadline on Chinese investment ban

20th May: The United States Treasury has extended for the second time the deadline on its ban on US corporate investment in Chinese firms designated by the US government “Communist Chinese Military Companies”. The ban was introduced in November by the Donald Trump administration – through Executive Order (EO) 13959 – and was originally set to be enacted in January. This was extended by the Treasury in early 2021 to late May. The new deadline is 11 June.

Manila accuses China Coast Guard of ‘belligerent actions’ against PCG near Scarborough Shoal

4th May: The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has accused the China Coast Guard (CCG) of “shadowing” and “blocking” Philippine Coast Guard (PGC) vessels that were conducting what it described as “legitimate maritime patrols and training exercises” near Scarborough Shoal (known in the Philippines as Bajo de Masinloc) between 24 and 25 April. Janes Analysis: The latest developments come after the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) announced in June 2020 that it had completed construction of a beaching ramp on Thitu Island, which is the largest of the Philippine-administered Spratly Islands in the SCS but also claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Malaysia scrambles Hawk 208 aircraft to confront PLAAF squadron over South China Sea

2nd Jun: The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has scrambled an unspecified number of Hawk 208 light-attack/lead-in trainer aircraft to confront a squadron of 16 People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) aircraft over the South China Sea. The encounter took place within the Kota Kinabalu flight information region (FIR) at about 1.30 pm local time on 31 May, the RMAF said in a media statement the next day. “The PLAAF aircraft were first detected by the RMAF's air defence radar at the air defence centre in Sarawak at 11.53 am,” said the service, adding that the Chinese aircraft were flying within Malaysia's maritime zone.

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