Janes reporting on China

An overview of January 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.

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.” 

October 2020

Region of Focus – Chinese/Indian Border:

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.

 

Technology Developments:

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.

 

Domestic Affairs:

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.

 

International Affairs:

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.

 

September 2020

Region of Focus – South China Sea:

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.”

 

Technology Developments:

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.”

 

Domestic Affairs:

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.”

 

International Affairs:

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.”  

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