China Medical Insurance Coverage Exceeds 95%


According to CCTV primetime news on February 12, China has achieved breakthrough in medical reform to raise medical insurance coverage to more than 95%. Per capita government subsidy for the insurance was 450 yuan ($71) in 2017.

Last year, refund of medical expense urban and rural resident got rose 12% on average while that for rural poor people rose from 57% to 81%.

Major health indexes in China are above the average level of medium- and high-income countries with life expectancy rose from 74.83 in 2010 to 76.5 years in 2016,

Source: CCTV primetime news “Basic medical insurance covers 1.35 billion people: China has made breakthrough in its medical reform” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese, full text of which can be viewed at http://tv.cctv.com/2018/02/12/VIDEMRviKeu7z0E1pr6NlwK4180212.shtml.

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China Is Selling a New Tank. Could It Beat the M1 Abrams in a Fight?


China’s VT-4 tank for export. National Interest photo

Charlie Gao
February 10, 2018

While China’s primary tank is the ZTZ-99, its military industry (in the Western tradition) has also developed completely original designs for export. One of the designs that’s achieved considerable success is the VT-4, which has been recently adopted in significant numbers by the Royal Thai Army. The VT-4 is China’s premier export tank, built on technology and designs behind the earlier Al-Khalid tank that was built with cooperation from Pakistan and Ukraine. But how does the VT-4’s technology stack up against Russia’s T-90S, America’s M1 Abrams export models or the Leopard 2?

The VT-4’s roots are in the Al-Khalid tank developed in the 1990s. The Al-Khalid tank was largely built with mostly Chinese and Pakistani technology, but a sore spot for the Chinese designers was their lack of ability to provide a power plant for the tank. The engines for the tank had to be sourced from Germany or Ukraine. Ukraine ended up providing the production run for the Al-Khalid tank. As a result, the VT-4 program’s primary objective when it began in 2009 was to build an indigenous power plant for future domestic and export tanks. Due to the success of this engine development program, many VT-4 marketing materials tout the reliability and performance of its engine.

The Thai decision to acquire the VT-4 was a result of Ukraine’s failure to deliver T-84 Oplots on schedule. Originally, the decision was between the T-90S and the T-84 Oplot, but American diplomatic pressure resulted in the selection of the T-84 over the T-90S. However, due to various problems and the war in Ukraine, Ukraine has delivered the ordered T-84s at a slow rate. Thus, a program was initiated in 2016 to select another modern tank to take the place of the T-84. The new contenders were the Chinese VT-4 and the Russian T-90MS. Again, the post-coup Thai government’s pivot towards China and waning Russian influence in the region resulted in the selection of the VT-4 over the T-90, despite the T-90’s greater export success and the VT-4 being an unproven design. The Thai contract is the first adoption of the VT-4.

The VT-4 uses 125-millimeter Chinese BT-4 ammunition. BT-4 is the export designation for the DTW125 round, a last-generation Chinese APFSDS round with a tungsten penetrator, which is rated at seven hundred millimeters of RHA penetration at two kilometers. A new round is also in development for the export market based on technology from the current generation DTC125 round (which is rumored to penetrate 750 millimeters at the same range). While 125 millimeters is the standard caliber, the VT-4 may also be exported with a 120-millimeter gun upon a customer’s request. A 140-millimeter cannon was once considered for the VT-4 and future Chinese domestic tanks, but it is currently shelved in favor of research into better ammunition or ETC technology. The VT-4’s autoloader is also practically identical to those found in the T-72 series of tanks, with horizontal ammo stowage around the turret floor (this can be seen as the autoloader uses a hoist system in the picture, similar to the hoist system of the T-72, illustrated here). The VT-4 in Thai service is also compatible with Ukrainian ammunition, including the gun-launched ATGMs. While the original designer of the VT-4 didn’t see the need for GLATGM on the VT-4, stating that the capability given by kinetic penetrators is enough for developing countries, the feature was added to Thai VT-4s in order to make use of delivered GLATGMs that came with the T-84s. The hull armor of the VT-4 is estimated to be around five to six hundred millimeters’ RHA protection without ERA, and seven to eight hundred with the ERA package. Turret armor statistics remain restricted to potential clients. Other features on the VT-4 include laser warning receivers and a fully stabilized, independent, thermal commander sight (a feature still lacking on some modern Russian tanks).

In practice, Thai tankers have complained about the ERA on the VT-4 being thinner than that of the Oplot. The Oplot’s soft-kill active-protection system design has been proven in combat (as the Ukrainian Varta system is a close clone of the Shtora system, which has proven effective in Syria), whereas the VT4’s system has not been tested at all. However, in firing drills, the VT-4’s fire control system has proven to be more accurate than the Oplot’s.

While the capabilities of the VT-4 are not revolutionary in any way (unlike some claims from Norinco), it is a solid tank for its price, that will likely have good support from the manufacturing base in China. Survivability wise, it has the same potential issues of the T-72 and T-90 series due to the same ammo layout. While the gun performance is unlikely to be on the same level as the latest American, Chinese or Russian guns, due to being based on last-generation round technology, it should be enough to counter most armored threats that aren’t top tier. As such, the VT-4 is likely to be a popular export to nations without the budget or political connections to Russia, Europe or the United States, as a “good enough” tank. Then again, similar things were said about the Stingray light tank, for which the Royal Thai Army is also the only user.

Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national-security issues.

Source: National Interest “China Is Selling a New Tank. Could It Beat the M1 Abrams in a Fight?”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Duterte Wise to See China’s Militarization of Islands Directed at US


In its report “Philippines’ Duterte plays down China military facilities in disputed sea” yesterday, Reuters quotes Philippine President Duterte as saying that China’s construction of military bases on its artificial islands aims at defense against the US rather than confronting its neighboring states.

That is obvious. The construction has been costing China billions of dollars. China’s military has already been much stronger than its neighbors. Shall China have incurred such huge costs to deal with them?

However, Reuters has been trying hard to vilify China by describing China’s nine-dash line as aggression, the construction on the islands as aiming at restricting freedom of navigation in the area and the Court of International Arbitration at the Hague as a UN agency in spite of UN’s denial.

China built the islands to prevent attack by US submarines from the South China Sea when there were obvious danger of that but it refrained from militarizing them to avoid scaring its neighbors. However US Navy’s stupid freedom of navigation operations have provided China with the excuse to militarize them.

Duterte is wise enough to see that, but Philippine pro-US media want to spread false fear among Philippine people to please the US.

Duterte knows clearly that the Philippines cannot rely on the US in its disputes with China over the South China Sea so that it is entirely unable to confront China militarily.

What the Philippines has been fighting for is the rich fishery and energy resources in the South China Sea. China is entirely capable of taking the resources alone as proved by its ban of Philippine fishing at the Scarborough Shoal after the standoff there. The US simply refused to help the Philippines in the standoff as it will not fight for Philippines’ interests.

At the time of the Scarborough standoff, China has not built the artificial islands but the Philippines dared not to confront China militarily without US assistance. That clearly proves that the artificial islands are not necessary for China to deal with its neighbors.

Duterte is wise to become friendly with China so as to enable the Philippine to fish in the area around Scarborough Shoal and share the energy resources with China. Otherwise as China has the military strength and technology to extract the energy resources in the disputed waters alone and the Philippines will simply get nothing.

We shall regard China as generous to allow the Philippines to share the resources that China is wholly entitled to.

China has thus proved that it wants its relations with other countries to be mutually beneficial. That is why in spite of Western media’s vilification China is and will be more popular in the world.

The situation in the South China Sea now is:

China will be able to get the resources in the areas without disputes. In the areas with disputes, it will share with other claimants;

China has built and militarized its artificial islands sufficiently to make the South China Sea its lake; and

The US is unable to attack China with its navy and has to spend billions of dollars for development of new bombers to attack China.

US media such as the Reuters are unhappy with the situation, but they can do nothing except vilifying China. However, as China grows increasingly popular, they will become increasingly unpopular due to their unfounded vilification.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be found at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-china-southchinasea/philippines-duterte-plays-down-china-military-facilities-in-disputed-sea-idUSKCN1G31KQ.


Australia, U.S., India and Japan in talks to establish Belt and Road alternative: report


Reuters Staff February 19, 2018

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia, the United States, India and Japan are talking about establishing a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative in an attempt to counter Beijing’s spreading influence, the Australian Financial Review reported on Monday, citing a senior U.S. official.

The unnamed official was quoted as saying the plan involving the four regional partners was still ”nascent“ and ”won’t be ripe enough to be announced’ during Australian Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to the United States later this week.

The official said, however, that the project was on the agenda for Turnbull’s talks with U.S. President Donald Trump during that trip and was being seriously discussed. The source added that the preferred terminology was to call the plan an “alternative” to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, rather than a “rival.”

“No one is saying China should not build infrastructure,” the official was quoted as saying. “China might build a port which, on its own is not economically viable. We could make it economically viable by building a road or rail line linking that port.”

Representatives for Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, asked at a news conference about the report of four-way cooperation, said Japan, the United States, Australia, and Japan, Australia and India regularly exchanged views on issues of common interest.

“It is not the case that this is to counter China’s Belt and Road,” he said.

Japan, meanwhile, plans to use its official development assistance (ODA) to promote a broader “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” including “high-quality infrastructure”, according to a summary draft of its 2017 white paper on ODA. The Indo-Pacific strategy has been endorsed by Washington and is also seen as a counter to the Belt and Road Initiative.

First mentioned during a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s to university students in Kazakhstan in 2013, China’s Belt and Road plan is a vehicle for the Asian country to take a greater role on the international stage by funding and building global transport and trade links in more than 60 countries.

Xi has heavily promoted the initiative, inviting world leaders to Beijing last May for an inaugural summit at which he pledged $124 billion in funding for the plan, and enshrining it into the ruling Communist Party’s constitution in October.

Local Chinese governments as well as state and private firms have rushed to offer support by investing overseas and making loans.

In January, Beijing outlined its ambitions to extend the initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming, forming a “Polar Silk Road”.

The United States, Japan, India and Australia have recently revived four-way talks to deepen security cooperation and coordinate alternatives for regional infrastructure financing to that offered by China.

The so-called Quad to discuss and cooperate on security first met as an initiative a decade ago – much to the annoyance of China, which saw it as an attempt by regional democracies to contain its advances. The quartet held talks in Manila on the sidelines of the November ASEAN and East Asia Summits.

Reporting by Jane Wardell and Colin Packham; additional reporting by Linda Sieg, Nobuhiro Kubo and Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo; Editing by Peter Cooney and Michael Perry

Source: Reuters “Australia, U.S., India and Japan in talks to establish Belt and Road alternative: report”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Taiwan president wishes China happy new year, gets warm response


Reuters Staff February 15, 2018

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen wished “friends” in China a happy Lunar New Year on Thursday, drawing a surprisingly warm reaction from Chinese state media which is more used to disparaging her as a dangerous separatist

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during the end-of-year news conference in Taipei, Taiwan December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Fabian Hamacher

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potentially dangerous military flashpoint. China considers the self-ruled island its sacred territory and a wayward province and it has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Chinese control.

China has become increasingly hostile to Taiwan since Tsai, from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, won election in 2016, believing she wants to push for the island’s formal independence, a red line for China.

In a video message to mark Chinese New Year, which falls on Friday, Tsai said the festival was an important one for people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait as they share many of the same traditions.

“Through people-to-people exchanges and media broadcasts, this has narrowed the psychological gap between both sides,” Tsai said.

“I want to use this opportunity to send new year’s greetings to friends on the other side (of the Taiwan Strait) and ethnic Chinese in other parts of the world.”

China’s state-run Global Times, known for its stridently nationalistic stance and which often calls the island’s president “provincial governor Tsai”, said it would normally criticize her, but in this case would reciprocate the goodwill.

“If Tsai Ing-wen really wants to use the Spring Festival to show goodwill, of course we welcome it,” it said on its website, using another name for the holiday.

Underscoring China’s continued suspicion though, the Global Times also posted a screenshot of disparaging comments – one extremely vulgar – made by people on Facebook responding to Tsai’s greeting. Facebook is blocked in China.

Tsai, in her message, also expressed condolences to the families of nine Chinese tourists killed in an earthquake in Taiwan last week.

“As I have said, on humanitarian relief there is no distance between the two sides of the strait.”

However, the run-up to the new year was marked by more bickering between Beijing and Taipei.

This week, Taiwan accused China of insensitivity by announcing that Papua New Guinea had downgraded its relations with the island while Taiwan was still dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake.[nL4N1Q24C2]

Taiwan and China have also traded accusations about China opening a new route for civil aircraft over the Taiwan Strait, which Taiwan says could affect flight safety.[nL4N1PQ2LV]

Reporting by Fabian Hamacher; Writing and additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel

Source: Reuters “Taiwan president wishes China happy new year, gets warm response”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China unleashes J-20 Black Eagle fighter jets in ‘SERIOUS THREAT to US aircraft’


CHINESE stealth fighter jets described as a “serious threat” to US air dominance are ready to be sent into combat.

By Joshua Nevett Published 9th February 2018

China defence ministry warns US for ‘causing trouble’

China’s armed forces – the largest in the world – has expanded its airpower by putting a new generation stealth fighter into combat.

The Chengdu J-20, dubbed Black Eagle, is a fifth generation stealth fighters designed to deliver precision airstrikes on enemy warships, aircraft and ground forces.

Chinese President Xi Jinping commissioned the aircraft to rival the radar-evading US F-22 Raptor air-to-air combat jet as part of his plan to modernise the army.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force revealed the J-20s were ready to be deployed for military operations in a brief statement released today.

And China is already developing an array of ULTRA advanced high tech weapons
The jets, costing an estimated £79million ($110million) each, will help China’s “sacred mission” of defending its territory, sovereignty and security, the air force said.

The PLA could seek to rapidly expand its fleet of J-20s – a move that would pose a serious threat to US aircraft, ships and bases, according to the US Naval Institute.

Li Jie, a military analyst from Beijing, said the J-20s will allow China to narrow the military gap with its neighbours and biggest rival, the US.

“With the J-20 entering combat service, China can better counter other countries’ rising military forces,” Li said.

Zhou Chenming, another Beijing-based military expert, said the newly minted jets could be deemed as an aggressive move to protect its assets across the world.

In recent months, China has ramped up naval and military drills in the South China Sea – a strategically key and resource rich region.

Sukhoi Su-35s – China’s deadliest and most advanced fighter jets – were deployed to the region for a military training exercise this week, according to the PLA.

Source: Daily Star “China unleashes J-20 Black Eagle fighter jets in ‘SERIOUS THREAT to US aircraft’”

Note: This is Daily Star’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Spreading Hostility against China among Americans Dangerous


Peter Marino’s commentary “Commentary: China’s next ideological front” published by Reuters the day before yesterday proves quite a few US elites have sunk deep in Thucydides Trap

Mr. Marino accused China of spreading its values in the world in order to spread hostility against China among world people, especially American people.

According to Mr. Marino, as both the US and China are products of revolution, both think now is the time to trumpet and spread their values. China’s Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is indeed trumpeting the success of Chinese system but it by no means spreads Chinese values in the world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it very clear that China does not want to export its model. In fact Xi is wise to have the insight that it is impossible to export a country’s model.

The US has strived and even fought wars for regime changes to export its system. It has succeeded in bringing regime changes in Egypt, Lybia, etc. peacefully and in Iraq and Afghanistan with wars, but has it succeeded in spreading there democracy, openness, civil liberties, and a boisterous public sphere that the US is committed to?

What Mr. Marino accuses China of in his article is all what China has been doing domestically such as censorship of foreign entities’ publication in China and disallowing regarding Taiwan and other parts of China as independent countries. China has never conduct such censorship abroad nor is it able to do so abroad.

Mr. Marino accused the Confucius Institutes China has set up in US colleges. Those are but institutes for cultural exchanges. US universities have also set up lots of American cultural centers in China. Such cultural exchanges aim at enhancing the friendly relationship between the two peoples.

Certainly each country’s cultural exchange institutes advocate its own values in the other’s country. If a country’s values are popular in another country, it will be accepted by the people there. Forcing one’s values on the others will never do.

Mr. Marino’s worry about China’s Confucius Institutes proves that he believes that US cultural centers are unable to make Chinese accept US values but China’s are able to. That is quite normal, Chinese culture has been well established for thousands of years. It is certainly not easy to use American values to convert Chinese people.

If one’s model is wonderful, it will attract lots of others. There is no need of hard sales. That was why Confucius gave the teaching: “If people afar do not obey, develop culture and morality to attract them.”

The US, instead, develops military power to scare others to obey. Does it work? No, even small and backward ISIS would not obey and is determined to fight to the bitter end.

Thucydides Trap has mostly given rise to war. Does Marino want to have a war between the US and China by spreading hostility against China among American people?

Beware of the danger please!

As a matter of fact in spite of the difference in values, China and the US can still be friends if neither of them wants to force its values on the other. They can be friend especially as they have lots of common interests. Even a trade war will hurt both countries severely let alone a disastrous military war.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marino-china-commentary/commentary-chinas-next-ideological-front-idUSKCN1G0233.