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.

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.

April 2021

Bordering Region:

Climate change reshapes security dynamics of Indian Ocean Region

Apr 26: Climate change has a serious impact on the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), in terms of environmental and security consequences. The security implications of an increasing number and intensity of environmental disruptions in the IOR will shape conflict and co-operation between the countries of the region, as well as extra-regional powers. As the effects of climate change continue to escalate, militaries and security practitioners will have to adapt practices, equipment, and training to adjust to a new reality

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

May 4: 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. 

Technology Developments:

New space race: China advances its space capabilities for future warfare 

Apr 13: China is investing in capabilities such as space solar power; counterspace systems; positioning, navigation, and timing systems; and launch vehicles to enable it to conduct future operations in space against countries such as the United StatesPat Host reports. Beijing considers space capabilities as vital to its plans for future power projection and its ability to defeat adversaries with high-tech capabilities. According to an October 2020 report by the China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI), China’s military has designated outer space as a warfighting domain that it must fight for – and seize – if it is to win future wars. 

Chinese advancements in disruptive technologies threaten US technology superiority, says DIA chief

Apr 30: China’s high focus on and investment in emerging and disruptive technology research and acquisition will “very likely” present the “greatest threat to US technology superiority”, US Army Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, the director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), said on 29 April. In a written statement to the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, the DIA chief indicated that China has already reached the level of “peer or near-peer” competitor to the United States in many research areas and aspires to be the world leader in these technologies by 2030–35. 


Domestic Affairs:

PLAGF’s 72nd Group Army conducts live-fire drills with new light 122 mm 6×6 SPH 

Apr 26: China’s People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) has conducted a live-fire exercise using its new lightweight 122 mm self-propelled howitzer (SPH), which is being commonly referred to as PCL-171. Footage released on 23 April by China Central Television’s (CCTV’s) ‘Military Report’ programme shows at least six examples of the SPH, which is based on a modified Dongfeng Mengshi 6×6 CTL181A, being deployed by a light combined arms brigade within the PLAGF’s 72nd Group Army at an undisclosed location in China. 

China’s AVIC outlines development plans but challenges remain 

Apr 27: The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has finalised strategies to expand during the coming years in line with Chinese government policies. AVIC said in a recent press release that its development plans are aligned with Beijing’s 14th Five Year Plan (FYP), which runs 2021–25, and the country’s medium and long-term science and technology plan (MLP), which covers 2021–35. 

Foreign Affairs:

US committee proposes co-ordinated exports controls on China 

Apr 12: Leaders of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee have proposed legislation seeking to counter China’s efforts to develop advanced military technologies. Among a range of proposed diplomatic and strategic initiatives, the new law – entitled the Strategic Competition Act of 2021 – looks to impede China’s military-technology progression through greater co-operation between the US and its allies. 

EU aims to strengthen ATT implementation in Asia-Pacific 

Apr 26: The European Union has launched a strategy to deepen defence and security ties with the Asia-Pacific including efforts to strengthen controls of transfers of military technologies. The policy – entitled EU Strategy for co-operation in the Indo-Pacific – was introduced earlier this month and “recommits the EU politically to the region with the aim of contributing to its stability, security, prosperity, and sustainable development”. 

March 2021

Area of Focus – China’s 14th Five Year Plan

China prioritises defence reforms

22 Mar: The Communist Party of China (CPC) has outlined the requirement for deepened reforms in the country’s defence sector. Janes Analysis –A blueprint of the 14th FYP was issued by the CPC in November 2020, with more details revealed in March. According to the plan, focus areas during the five years will include military technologies, skills and training, and a shift towards “intelligentisation”. The plan also highlights the significance that China will place on MCF during the period. 

China in Focus I, II, III

8-18 Mar: China has achieved expansive military-technology advancement over the past 15 years but 2021 represents the start of a new era of progression. During its 14th Five Year Plan (2021–25), China is targeting accelerated modernisation and the development of the disruptive capabilities that will aim to support its longer-term bid to achieve ‘world class’ military status. The following three intelligence briefings assess the defense industry and technology base; land, air, C4ISR, and weapons developments; and maritime power.

China in Focus I: Defence Industry and Technology Base: https://customer.janes.com/IntelBriefings/Display/FG_3910180-JIBR

China in Focus II: Land, Air, C4ISR, and Weapons: https://customer.janes.com/IntelBriefings/Display/FG_3916371-JIBR

China in Focus III: Maritime power: https://customer.janes.com/IntelBriefings/Display/FG_3920717-JIBR

Janes “The World of Intelligence” Podcast (public): China's 14th Five Year Plan (2021–2025)


Technology Developments

China deploys more surveillance satellites

15 Mar: China successfully deployed three Yaogan-31 observation satellites on 13 March, with the orbits they were placed in suggesting they are part of the Jianbing-8 constellation of ocean surveillance satellites. Janes Analysis – “The additional satellites in the Jianbing-8 constellation will make it more difficult for warships to operate in the Western Pacific without being detected and tracked. The revisit time for a Jianbing-8 satellite passing over the East China Sea will now be typically 90 minutes or less.”

China creates mock carrier landing strip at Lingshui Airbase on Hainan Island

16 Mar: Commercial satellite imagery captured on 27 January shows that China has placed a mock carrier landing strip at the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force’s (PLANAF’s) Lingshui Airbase on Hainan Island in the South China Sea. Janes Analysis – “The appearance of the carrier landing strip at Lingshui, coupled with the recent construction of new fighter-size hangars, reinforces the previous Janes assessment that Lingshui could host Shandong ’s J-15 fighter aircraft.”

China updates air bases to house growing fleet

29 Mar: With Chinese military assets becoming more active in or near potential conflict zones, many air bases are receiving infrastructure upgrades. These upgrades can provide the capacity to host additional aircraft, and in some cases infrastructure work may be occurring to provide upkeep and repair, such as runway resurfacing. Janes Analysis – “The scope of China’s air base-related construction efforts derives from general upkeep and maintenance requirements such as periodic runway resurfacing and infrastructure expansion to accommodate newer, more modern aircraft types.”

Internal Affairs

China announces 6.8% increase in 2021 defence budget

5 Mar: China’s defence budget in 2021 will increase by 6.8% to CNY1.355 trillion (USD209.4 billion), according to the Chinese government. Janes Analysis – “China’s new defence budget marks an end to its recent slowdown. However, it does not represent a significant departure from the country’s previous military-expenditure trajectory.”

20 PLA aircraft enter Taiwan’s ADIZ after Taipei and Washington sign coast guard co-operation agreement

29 Mar: Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) accused 20 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft of entering the island’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) on 26 March, a day after Washington and Taipei signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on coast guard co-operation. Janes Analysis –It is unclear whether the recently signed MoU on coast guard co-operation is Taipei and Washington’s answer to China’s new coast guard law, but the recent moves are likely to further increase tensions across the Taiwan Strait. The MoU signing comes after US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral John Aquilino, who is the nominee to succeed Admiral Philip Davidson as commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), told the US Senate Armed Services Committee on 23 March that a potential military takeover of Taiwan by China is the command’s top concern.

US sanctions against mainland Chinese, Hong Kong SAR officials indicate desire to preserve optionality on trade, climate

17 Mar: On 17 March, the United States Department of State released an update to the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA) report, identifying 24 individuals from the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Hong Kong SAR government alleged to have “materially contributed to … failure of China to meet its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration”. Janes Analysis – “The moderately escalatory measure by the US in response to the Decision indicates an intended counterbalance by the US between taking a clear position vis-à-vis mainland China’s action in Hong Kong SAR, and a desire to preserve optionality on key issue areas such as trade and climate, especially ahead of this week’s bilateral meeting of senior government officials.”

UK Integrated Review affirms ‘tilt’ to Asia-Pacific

17 Mar: The United Kingdom has outlined a new ‘tilt’ towards the Asia-Pacific in its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development, and Foreign Policy, which was published 16 March. Janes Analysis – “UK expansion in the Asia-Pacific is being targeted on the back of recent growth in UK defence and security sales to the region. UK defence exports to the region in 2018 were estimated to be worth 2% of total UK defence exports during that year, according to a report published in October 2020 by UKDSE.

Mainland China and Iran sign 25-year agreement, signalling closer engagement; Chinese implementation constrained by other regional interests

1 Apr: On 27 March, during a six-country visit to the Middle East, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Iranian counterpart signed a pending 25-year strategic co-operation agreement. Subsequently, both countries’ foreign ministries described the document as a “general framework” or “roadmap”, rather than a contract specifying quantitative targets. 

February 2021

Region of Focus – China and Europe

UK signals tilt towards Asia-Pacific 

Mar. 02: The United Kingdom is aiming to further expand its presence in the Asia-Pacific over the coming few years by deepening its relationships with regional countries. The commitment is a response to growing Asian security concerns and is intended to support increased efforts to expand defence and security trade links in the region and related industrial collaboration activity. 

The future of China-EU relations 

Mar. 02: Improving Chinese market access for EU businesses has been a key impetus behind the CAI, and the Chinese side has agreed to make progress on removing market entry restrictions, equity caps, and joint-venture (JV) requirements for a variety of sectors. It has also pledged to increase transparency regarding support for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and to set up rules against forced technology transfers in investment agreements. 

Latest Chinese military technology:

China conducts another mid-course anti-ballistic missile test 

Feb. 08: The Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Beijing announced that China conducted another ground-based, mid-course missile interception test on 4 February, but provided no details about the missile fired or the intercepted target. This test-firing relates to the development of a Chinese ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, as noted in the Pentagon’s ‘2020 China Military Power Report’, according to which “China is working to develop ballistic missile defences consisting of exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric kinetic-energy interceptors”. 

Update: Footage suggests PLA’s Xinjiang Military Command operating Z-20 helicopters 

Feb. 08: Published on the Weibo social media platform in early February, the video shows at least two Z-20s conducting what appears to be a joint training mission with a Z-8G transport and several Z-10 attack helicopters assigned to the 84th Army Aviation Brigade in Wujiaqu, Xinjiang, which is under the PLA’s Western Theatre Command. 


Internal Affairs:

Weapons alone do not win a war: China’s Western Theatre Command modernisation 

Mar. 02: The People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) is steadily re-organising and re-equipping to conduct ‘informatised’ warfare in local conditions. Reforms beginning in 2015 have consumed and integrated the modernisation efforts of previous leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and formalised a far greater level of party control over the PLA than had been the norm beforehand. 

China’s geoengineering projects raise climatic concerns 

Feb. 25: China is a global leader in attempts to artificially modify weather patterns and has also created a large network of water diversion projects in an attempt to address droughts. It is almost certain that Beijing will continue to rely upon cloud seeding to increase precipitation and thereby meet the demand for freshwater and irrigation, although this will prompt concerns among neighbouring countries. There is a lack of data on the long-term effects of cloud seeding, but over-use of the technique and increased precipitation could alter soil salinity, monsoon patterns, and agricultural yields in the regions surrounding China.  


Foreign Affairs:

Update: Biden announces creation of Pentagon task force on China

Feb. 11: US President Joe Biden announced on 10 February the formation of a ‘China Task Force’ within the US Department of Defense (DoD) to provide “a baseline assessment of department policies, programmes, and processes in regard to the challenge China poses”. 

January 2021

Region of Focus – International Investment

EU, China sign investment treaty

Jan. 04: The European Union and China have agreed in principle an accord to facilitate greater levels of EU investment in the Asian country. Janes Analysis – “During 2020 China introduced new regulations to encourage foreign investment while also enhancing scrutiny of such proposals on national security grounds. In January China enacted the Foreign Investment Law, which encourages higher levels of foreign investment in the country, and in May it introduced new guidelines to remove discrimination from decisions on inward foreign investment in the aerospace sector.” 

Beijing looks to counter US restrictions on Chinese firms

Jan. 11: "Beijing has issued new guidelines to counter restrictions imposed by the US government on Chinese firms deemed to have links to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).” Janes Analysis - “The new guidelines are the second set of countermeasures that China has recently introduced in response to US guidelines aimed at restricting Chinese firms access to US investment and technologies.” 

US delays Chinese investment ban

Jan. 28: The US government has delayed a ban on US investors acquiring shares in listed Chinese firms with alleged links to the Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).  Janes Analysis - “The newly announced delay on the US investment ban is likely indicative of the new Joe Biden administration’s intention to review the various executive orders announced by the Trump administration in relation to China and its military.” 


Technology Developments:

Image suggests J-20 variant powered by indigenous engine may soon enter PLAAF service

Jan. 04: An image has emerged of a Chinese J-20 fighter aircraft fitted with locally produced Shenyang-Liming WS10 ‘Taihang’-series turbofan engines and painted in a low-visibility grey colour scheme instead of in yellow primer: an indication that this upgraded J-20 variant may soon enter service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).Janes Analysis – “The first image of a J-20 prototype using indigenous WS10-series engines emerged in 2017. This particular aircraft (with number 2021) made its maiden flight in September 2017 and was transferred to the China Flight Test Establishment (CFTE) at Xian Yanliang airbase two months later.” 

Internal Affairs:

Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard to relocate to Changxing Island near Shanghai 

Jan. 05: The second phase in the construction of a new shipyard that will result in the relocation of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s (CSSC’s) Hudong-Zhonghua yard from the Huangpu River in Shanghai commenced on 4 January, according to a CSSC post on the Weibo social media outlet. Janes Analysis –“Changxingdao is a better location for the shipyard as the adjacent waterway is much less constrained than the confined Huangpu River, particularly for large amphibious ships. It will also be more difficult for enthusiasts to obtain photographs of warships under construction.” 

China to field more nuclear weapons that can target the United States, says report

Jan. 20: China’s missile force is expanding, with the number of nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) potentially increasing to “well over 200” within the next five years, according to a report by the US Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC). Janes Analysis – “The latest developments come after Pentagon officials said in February 2020 that they believe China will “at least double” the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile over the next 10 years.” 

China’s Norinco Group continues strong growth

Jan. 28: The China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco Group) has reported strong profits and revenues for 2020. The corporation is the latest Chinese defence industrial enterprise to indicate that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on business operations has been minimal. Janes Analysis – “Other major defence groups to announce financial gains include the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), its sister enterprise the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).”  


Foreign Affairs:

Bolstering the north: India shifts its strategic position after border clash with China

Jan. 05: 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. Janes Analysis – “Crises rarely result in new strategic calculations but merely exacerbate and accelerate existing trends in international relations – and this appears to be true for India after its border clash with China.” 

Indian and Chinese troops involved in scuffle along disputed border

Jan. 26: Indian and Chinese army troops were recently involved in a scuffle along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LoAC) in the Himalayas, further aggravating tensions between the two countries. Janes Analysis – “This has resulted into a continuing standoff, during which at least 20 IA soldiers were killed in a clash with the PLA in the Galwan Valley region along the LoAC in June 2020.” 

Pakistan receives five CH-4 UAVs from China

Jan. 27: Pakistan has received five Cai Hong 4 (Rainbow 4, or CH-4) multirole medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from China, according to export-import (EXIM) logs on the Pakistan Exim Trade Info website. Janes Analysis – “This is the first publicly revealed delivery of CH-4s to Pakistan, which already operates Chinese-made Wing Loong I UAVs. Outside China, Iraq is known to have procured an unknown number of CH-4B UAVs.”


December 2020

Region 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”.


Technology Developments:

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). 


Domestic Affairs:

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). 


International Affairs:

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. 

November 2020

Region of Focus – Disputed Territories

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.”

Technology Developments

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.”

Domestic Affairs

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

International Affairs

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.” 

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