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An overview of December reporting on China
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.
of Focus – China/US Relations
US set to move towards less combative China policy
Dec. 29: With Joe Biden having won the presidential election, a shift in China policy is almost certain in the US.Although a Biden administration may seek a less combative policy towards Beijing, it will maintain a level of strategic competition and is unlikely to lessen pressure in areas such as trade.Tensions may become less visible, but there will remain friction in the Sino-US relationship, with multifaceted competition across trade, technology, and diplomacy.
US blacklists more Chinese firms
Dec. 21: The US Department of Commerce (DoC) has added dozens of Chinese companies to its trading blacklist over the alleged acquisition of sensitive US technologies. The DoC said on 18 December that 59 Chinese enterprises had been added to its ‘entity list’, which identifies firms that are prohibited from involvement in the export, re-export, or in-country transfers of US dual-use technologies.
US warns of investment into ‘Chinese military firms’
Dec. 15: The US State Department has warned of continuing US investment into Chinese companies that it says are linked to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The State Department said in a recently published ‘fact sheet’ that the “Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) threat to American national security extends into our financial markets and impacts American investors”.
China Shipbuilding signs another banking deal
Dec. 22: The China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSC) and China’s Bank of Communications have signed a strategic co-operation agreement in Beijing that will provide the shipbuilding giant with CNY100 billion (USD15.3 billion) in credit over the coming five years.
PLA border patrol unit in Tibet using new exoskeleton system
Dec. 11: Chinese broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) revealed in a 9 December report that a new, locally developed exoskeleton system is being used by at least one People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) border defence unit in Tibet.
China Shipbuilding, CASC sign deal on military technologies
Dec. 10: The China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSC) has entered a “strategic co-operation agreement” with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) to develop military technologies. The agreement was announced on 11 December just a few days after CSC – also known as China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) – signed a similar strategic accord with CASC’s sister enterprise, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).
China looks to ‘protect’ defence investors
Dec. 23: China is preparing to introduce legislation that will look to protect the interests of investors in the country’s defence sector. The proposal to amend the ‘Law of the People’s Republic of China on National Defence’ is seen as a countermeasure to recent initiatives announced by the United States government to deter US firms from investing in Chinese companies linked to the country’s military.
China introduces national security rules for foreign investment
Dec. 21: The Chinese government has introduced guidelines for foreign investment in strategic sectors including defence, requiring proposals to be reviewed on national security grounds. Beijing said the new rules – known as ‘security review measures’ – are in line with international trends. The measures were approved by the State Council on 19 December and published on the same day by the government’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
EU, China sign investment treaty
Jan. 4: The European Union and China have agreed in principle an accord to facilitate greater levels of EU investment in the Asian country. The treaty includes clauses relevant to national security and China’s efforts to develop military capability through advanced commercial technologies. The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) – announced on 30 December – took seven years of bilateral talks to conclude and, according to the EU, is intended to “significantly improve the market access conditions for EU companies in China”. The agreement will come into effect once formally approved and ratified by Beijing and Brussels.
Bolstering the north: India shifts its strategic position after border clash with China
Jan. 5: Six months after a clash with Chinese forces in the Karakoram mountains, India has undergone a sea change in its defence policy and position. Christian Le Miere reports. India and China are nuclear-armed states and boast two of the largest militaries in the world, with advanced high-technology equipment. However, it was a chaotic clash with clubs and bats in June 2020 that brought these two neighbours to a new low point in their relationship and hastened a significant shift in India’s defence and security posture.
Biden says Article 5 of US-Japan defence treaty also applies to disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands
Nov. 12: US President-elect Joe Biden has reaffirmed the United States’ defence commitment to Japan and confirmed that Article 5 of the Japan-US Security Treaty also applies to the Japan-controlled but China-claimed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Janes Analysis – “The latest developments come after an all-party parliamentary group on national defence within Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) urged Tokyo in September to strengthen control of the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.”
Philippines looks to ‘revitalise’ national defence industry
Nov. 24: The bill – named the Self-Reliance Defense Posture (SRDP) Revitalization Act – states that Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and rising threats related to cyber attacks have heightened the requirement for greater domestic defence industrial capability. Janes Analysis – “One of the major themes of the initiative is to support the establishment of defence industrial zones in the country. These zones, the development of which has been hindered by the economic impact of Covid-19, are being developed in two regions: in Bataan in the northern Central Luzon region, about 120 km west of Manila, and in Cebu, 860 km south of Manila.”
Indonesian Navy plans to relocate combat unit headquarters to Natuna Islands
Nov. 26: The Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut: TNI-AL) has announced plans to transfer its combat unit headquarters to the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea (SCS) amid what it regards as repeated incursions from Chinese and Vietnamese fishing boats into Indonesian waters. Janes Analysis – “The plan to transfer the TNI-AL’s combat unit to Natuna is likely part of the Indonesian military’s drive to set up regional defence commands across the archipelago.”
Exercise demonstrates PLAGF’s ability to requisition and modify commercial flatbed trucks to transport MBTs
Nov. 18: China’s People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) has conducted an exercise in the municipality of Chongqing demonstrating its ability to requisition and modify civilian flatbed trucks to transport Type 59D main battle tanks (MBTs), as seen in a 17 November report by state-owned China Central Television 7 (CCTV 7) channel. Janes Analysis – “while exercises such as this are important – as they allow the PLA to build relations with civil companies and improve readiness – the real impact of CMI can be measured in the extent to which it assists the PLA in its modernisation and informatisation.”
Images show PLAGF Mi-171 helo equipped with possible ECM pods
Nov. 20: Chinese state-owned media have released images showing for the first time a People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) Mi-171-series multirole medium helicopter equipped with what appear to be electronic countermeasure (ECM) pods under its stub wings. Janes Analysis – “No information was provided about the pods or their capabilities but given that they were shown being used in an exercise involving Z-10s, it is likely that they are aimed at providing electronic jamming coverage for PLA attack helicopters.”
Proposed law authorises China Coast Guard’s use of firepower
Nov. 09: Beijing’s publication on 4 November of a draft bill detailing the ‘Maritime Police Law of the People’s Republic of China’, including the circumstances under which China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels may open fire on ships in waters “under China’s jurisdiction”, has raised international concerns. Janes Analysis – “With guns ranging from 20 mm to 76 mm mounted on ships ranging from 500 tonnes to 10,000 tonnes, the nominally civilian-manned coastguard ships will be equally effective as the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s predominantly missile-armed warships at enforcing Beijing’s will over non-naval ships.”
Chinese MND outlines key aspects of military modernisation drive
Dec. 01: The Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Beijing has outlined four key steps set to be undertaken by China by 2027 – the 100th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – to speed up its military modernisation drive. Janes Analysis - “the remarks indicate just how keen Beijing is in modernising its armed forces and enhancing its capabilities to deter the United States from possible military action as China continues to drive forward its objectives
Strategic agreement between China and Iran could bring intelligence concerns
Nov. 09: A proposed major agreement between China and Iran could include provisions for increased military and intelligence co-operation between Beijing and Tehran. Janes Analysis – “Any stationing of Russian Krasukha-2/-4 electronic warfare (EW) complexes at Chabahar – in addition to ongoing Iranian jamming of GPS for ships operating in the region – would raise major concerns for the US Navy.”
US bans investments in firms linked to China’s military
Nov. 13: The US government has issued a directive to prohibit US investments into Chinese firms that are deemed to be owned or controlled by China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Janes Analysis – “The executive order comes amid growing tensions between the US and China. The two countries’ ties have been strained recently through conflict over trade; US military sales to Taiwan, which China regards as a province; US criticism of China’s handling of Covid-19 and Beijing’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong; and a series of trade sanctions placed on each other’s defence companies.”
Winter offers respite for India and China border conflict
28 Oct: No diplomatic solution is in sight to the dispute between China and India along the Line of Actual Control, as imagery and radio-frequency analysis show both sides preparing to keep forces deployed during the winter months on the border.
PLA provides thermally insulated shelters to troops near disputed border with India
9 Oct: Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops stationed near the country’s disputed border with India in the Himalayas have been provided with ready-to-assemble thermal shelters to get them through the harsh winter and support their combat readiness in extreme weather conditions.
China extends range of its hypersonic missile system
2 Nov: China appears to be making progress in the development of its DF-17 hypersonic missile system and claims to have successfully carried out scramjet engine tests that would substantially increase the system’s range.
More details emerge about detection capabilities of Type 055 destroyer’s radar
13 Oct: The radar system on China’s Type 055 (Renhai)-class destroyers has the ability to track satellites in low-Earth orbits, according to a report broadcast on China Central Television (CCTV) that led the state-owned Global Times newspaper to claim that the vessels also have an anti-satellite capability.
China to deepen ‘civil-military fusion’ in 14th Five Year Plan
2 Nov: The Chinese government has outlined a commitment to accelerate military-technology development during the country’s next five-year plan from 2021 to 2025. A communique issued on 29 October by the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee said a key target during the 14th Five Year Plan (FYP) will be to “make major strides in the modernisation of national defence and the armed forces”.
China practises area denial operations in Tibet
16 Oct: An engineering and chemical reconnaissance brigade within the Tibet Military District (MD) of China’s People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) has practised area denial operations through the use of multiple rocket launcher (MRL)-deployed mines, according to video footage released by the district on 14 October via its WeChat account.
China enacts new defence export legislation
28 Oct: China has formally enacted legislation to strengthen controls of military exports. The ‘Export Control Law’, which was released in draft versions in 2017 and 2019, replaces several sets of regulations that had governed China’s international military sales for several decades and is also seen as a Chinese response to international criticism of its military export policy.
US approves potential FMS to Taiwan of Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems and missiles
27 Oct: On the same day that China announced sanctions against several US companies selling weapons to Taiwan, the US State Department approved another potential multibillion-dollar Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to the island aimed at improving its capabilities to “counter or deter maritime aggressions, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults”.
Researching China’s Expeditionary Capabilities
4 Nov: In episode 25 of The World of Intelligence, Terry Pattar, head of the Janes Intelligence Unit is joined by Chad Peltier, Data and Integration Analyst at Janes to discuss recent research into China's expeditionary capabilities.
China Expands Territorial Claims in South China Sea
2 Sep: China’s pursuit of sovereignty claims along its periphery has led to an exacerbation of tensions with its neighbours. Janes Analysis - “Janes has identified a three-step process of historical and territorial revisionism that China appears to deploy in pursuit of its claims over contested territory.”
Tsai refers to growing PLA activities near Taiwan as ‘a threat of force’
22 Sep: Amid increasing tensions between Beijing and Taipei, Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, has referred to the growing Chinese military activity near the island as constituting “a threat of force”. Janes Analysis – “The latest developments come as the US Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed in its 2020 report to Congress on military and security developments involving China that Taiwan is developing new concepts and capabilities for asymmetric warfare to counter the growing capabilities of the PLA.”
New assault rifle also in service with PLA airborne units
18 Sep: A new assault rifle first unveiled by the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) during the 1 October 2019 military parade in Beijing is also in service with at least some units of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) Airborne Corps. Janes Analysis – “…it will undoubtedly take many years for the PLAGF to be re-equipped with the new QBZ-series rifles. Provided that such endeavour is undertaken and the new QBZ is adopted into service across the force, the PLA will, after a quarter of a century of bullpup rifle use, join the world’s other two major military powers, namely the United States (notwithstanding the current next-generation squad weapon competition) and Russia, both of which remain committed to this day to their extant conventional layout assault rifle designs.”
New Type 05-based amphibious reconnaissance vehicle in PLA service
21 Sep: Chinese state-owned television has released footage showing what appears to be a new amphibious armoured reconnaissance vehicle operated by the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force’s (PLAGF’s) 74th Group Army. Janes Analysis – “The reconnaissance variant of the Type 05 family appears to have been fitted with some of the same equipment found on both the reconnaissance variant of the Type 09 8×8 AFV family, and on the tracked Type 89 derivative, the latter of which is used to support formations equipped with the ZBD-04A infantry fighting vehicle. It is understood that all three vehicles are capable of co-ordinating artillery and air assets to engage ground targets on behalf of a battalion or brigade.”
US highlights advancements made by China’s ‘reorganised’ defence industry
3 Sep: The US government has pointed to a “substantially reorganised” defence industrial base in China as supporting capability advancements in weapons development and production. Janes Analysis – “The emphasis on industrial restructuring during the 13th Five-Year Plan has seen, for example, major Chinese state-run defence corporations, which dominate the sector, divest assets to private firms as well as merge key enterprises to improve efficiencies.”
PLA troops in Tibet deploying UAVs for logistics support
11 Sep: The Tibet Military District of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to provide rapid logistical support to troops operating in areas that are either inaccessible by road or where the provision of supplies by road would be put at high risk by enemy forces. Janes Analysis – “Civil-military integration is one aspect of the PLA Joint Logistics Support Force's (JLSF) role, and it is intended to ensure that the PLAGF can get to where it needs, with what it needs, in a timely fashion. However, the JLSF is also charged with ensuring that the PLAGF has its own state-of-the-art logistics support system capable of achieving short-term or more limited goals without civil support.”
China now has world’s largest navy as Beijing advances towards goal of a ‘world-class’ military by 2049, says US DoD
2 Sep: China now has the largest navy in the world, an expansion driven by Beijing’s aspirations to “return” the country to a position of strength and leadership on the world stage, the US Department of Defense (DoD) said in its 2020 report on military and security developments involving China. Janes Analysis – “Past iterations of the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on the Chinese military seem to have contained only minor amendments to the previous version. In contrast, the 2020 publication appears to be the product of a thorough revision, which is nearly 50% longer than the 2019 report, and contains more details.”
China’s Belt and Road drive falters amid Covid-19 pandemic
8 Sep: China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been severely impaired by the Covid-19 pandemic, but Beijing appears keen to keep building influence through the strategy. Janes Analysis – “Some countries may still receive significant investments, as political will on both sides overrides economic concerns, but three significant effects of Covid-19 are likely to combine to ensure lower levels of activity: first, a reduced demand in recipient countries for debt-financed investments amid greater economic stresses; second, an increase in debt renegotiations that undermines the desire for further debt in the developing world, while also reducing the capacity and appetite of Chinese lenders for further financing; and third, greater wariness in some countries, particularly US allies, of further engagement with Chinese investment projects.”