China as Strong as US, Russia in Nuke after Major Breakthrough


DF-41 train. Photo: Asian Arms Control Project

DF-41 train. Photo: Asian Arms Control Project

Mil.huanqiu.com says in its report yesterday that in an interview with Russia sputniknews website, Vassily Kashin, an expert of Russia’s Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, pointed out that 2015 is an important year in China’s development of strategic nuclear force as it obtained lots of brand new combat capabilities such as DF-5B MIRV ICBMs displayed in its September military parade.

In addition, China has developed new DF-41 ICBM and its train-mobile version, DF-31 and its improved version DF-31B with MIRV and the new road launch vehicles for the ICBMs and made progress in developing hypersonic warheads.

Kashin believes that due to the above-mentioned developments, it is better justified to say that China is as strong as Russia and the US in nuclear capabilities.

In its report “China says carrying out tests of new long-range missile” yesterday, Reuters says, “The Washington Free Beacon said last week U.S. intelligence agencies had recently monitored a test of the DF-41 on the train, a missile that could hit U.S. targets.” Reuters quotes Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun, as saying when he was asked about the Washington Free Beacon’s report, “The scientific research tests carried out domestically are done in accordance with plans”. Obviously Yang confirmed the report.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Russia media: China has made major breakthrough in its nuclear capabilities, which enables it to be as strong as the US and Russia” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Source: Reuters “China says carrying out tests of new long-range missile”

Source: Washington Free Beacon “China Tests New ICBM from Railroad Car”

Full text of Rueters and Washington Free Beacon’s reports can be viewed respectively at http://www.reuters.com/article/china-defence-missile-idUSL3N14K2CM20151231 and http://freebeacon.com/national-security/china-tests-new-icbm-from-railroad-car/


Amid maritime disputes, China confirms building second carrier


After months of speculation, China confirmed on Thursday it is building a second aircraft carrier to go with an existing one bought second-hand, as neighbors worry about Beijing’s new assertiveness to claims in the South China Sea.

Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the carrier had been designed in China and was being built in the port of Dalian. Foreign military analysts and Chinese media have for months published satellite images, photographs and news stories purporting to show the second carrier’s development.

“China has a long coast line and a vast maritime area under our jurisdiction. To safeguard our maritime sovereignty, interests and rights is the sacred mission of the Chinese armed forces,” Yang said.

The design draws on experiences from the country’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, bought from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China, Yang said.

Yang said the conventionally powered carrier has a displacement of 50,000 tonnes, will be able to operate the Shenyang J-15 fighter and, unlike the 60,000-tonne Liaoning, have a ski-jump take-off.

Little is known about China’s aircraft carrier program, which is a state secret.

Yang would not say when the second carrier would enter service, saying it depended on progress in the design process.

A Shanghai-based naval expert who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter said tensions in the South China Sea made the carrier particularly necessary to furthering Chinese interests.

“The U.S. has many aircraft carriers that are traveling all over the place in the South China Sea, which has caused problems for us,” he said. “Having a second aircraft carrier reduces the pressure on us. It will keep us from being bullied.”

China claims almost all the South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and has been building up military facilities like runways on the islands it controls.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

China says it has no hostile intent and wants to manage the dispute through bilateral talks with the other claimants. Yang also announced the defense ministry had just set up a new hotline with Vietnam, as it seeks to manage the tensions.

But Beijing has been involved in a diplomatic spat with Washington too over ship and aircraft patrols in the region.

Asked whether China was thinking of a third carrier, Yang said that “relevant authorities” would take various factors into consideration about future carrier plans.

The Pentagon, in a report earlier this year, said Beijing could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in September China was building two aircraft carriers that would be the same size as the Liaoning.

Successfully operating the Liaoning is the first step in what state media and some military experts believe will be the deployment of domestically built carriers by 2020.

The Liaoning has taken part in military exercises, including in the South China Sea, but is not yet fully operational.

Last week, the military said the Liaoning had made a “key breakthrough” in shifting from the testing phase to being able to operate ship-borne aircraft, as the country’s navy chief paid a visit.

(Reporting By Ben Blanchard, Writing By Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “Amid maritime disputes, China confirms building second carrier


The Hotline Between China and Taiwan Is Now Operational


The first call was made to share New Year’s greetings

The first official hotline between Beijing and Taipei became operational on Wednesday in a move to calm tensions across the Taiwan Straits.

The director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhang Zhijun, and the head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, Andrew Hsia, placed the first call on the line to share New Year’s greetings, according to Reuters.

The decision to institute the hotline was made during a historic meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou in November, Reuters reports.

It was the first official meeting between the leaders of both sides since the Chinese Communist Party’s Mao Zedong and the Chinese Nationalist Party’s Chiang Kai-shek met in 1945. The Nationalists fled to Taiwan following a war with the communists in 1949.

[Reuters]

Source: Time “The Hotline Between China and Taiwan Is Now Operational”


China Builds Its Own ‘Wild Weasel’ To Suppress Air Defenses


J-16D brings hammer down on SAMs

J-16D Using the J-16/Su-30 airframe, the J-16D deletes some air to air combat gear for cramming in electronic attack equipment that includes electronic intelligence pods. ..

J-16D
Using the J-16/Su-30 airframe, the J-16D deletes some air to air combat gear for cramming in electronic attack equipment that includes electronic intelligence pods.

While China’s Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) operations rely on heavy air defenses, Chinese air force planners may also have to account for enemy surface to air missiles, all the more with Taiwan and Japan embarking on a new buildup of missile shields. In December, one of the responses was revealed: the Shenyang J-16D.

The J-16D's wingtips have built in electronic intelligence pods, which intercept enemy electronic signals like radar transmissions, for processing in the fighter's computers, which then tell the J-16D's jammers how to scramble, confuse and block enemy usage of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The J-16D’s wingtips have built in electronic intelligence pods, which intercept enemy electronic signals like radar transmissions, for processing in the fighter’s computers, which then tell the J-16D’s jammers how to scramble, confuse and block enemy usage of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The J-16D is a J-16/Su-30 multi-role fighter optimized for “Wild Weasel” missions. Starting in the Vietnam War, Wild Weasels are fighters designed to take on surface-to-air missile batteries in a SEAD (Supression of Enemy Air Defense) role. Armed with anti-radiation missiles (which lock on and target radars by their electronic emissions) and electronic intelligence and electronic warfare jammers, they are designed to engage and suppress defenses, opening the way for traditional air attacks.

Electronic Flanker This comparision of the J-16D to the baseline J-16, done by noted aviation journalist Andreas Rupprecht, shows that the J-16D has removed its IRST sensor and 30mm cannon, as well as installing addition antennas. Comparison made by Andreas Rupprecht

Electronic Flanker
This comparision of the J-16D to the baseline J-16, done by noted aviation journalist Andreas Rupprecht, shows that the J-16D has removed its IRST sensor and 30mm cannon, as well as installing addition antennas. Comparison made by Andreas Rupprecht

Compared to the baseline J-16, the J-16D has removed its Infrared Search Tracking sensor and 30mm cannon to accommodate more electronics inside its fuselage. It also has several antennas mounted around its fuselage. The J-16D also two large ELINT pods on its wingtips, similar to those on the E/A-18 Growler, to collect enemy radar and electronic activity. Additionally, the J-16D has smaller radome, likely to include an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar optimized for electronic warfare, including signals collection and jamming. The J-16D will be fitted with large AESA jamming pods, a development of current jammers on JH-7A attack aircraft; its attack ability will come from YJ-91, LD-10 and other anti-radiation missiles.

EW JH-7 The Xian JH-7 is China's first generation twin seat strike fighter (a role now being taken over by the J-16). The JH-7 and JH-7A can carry two large electronic warfare jamming pods under their wings to jam enemy missiles and radar. The more capable J-16D will also carry such large pods (though upgraded with technology like AESA elements) as it flies alongside J-16 and other Chinese fighters. Photo: Chinese Military Aviation

EW JH-7
The Xian JH-7 is China’s first generation twin seat strike fighter (a role now being taken over by the J-16). The JH-7 and JH-7A can carry two large electronic warfare jamming pods under their wings to jam enemy missiles and radar. The more capable J-16D will also carry such large pods (though upgraded with technology like AESA elements) as it flies alongside J-16 and other Chinese fighters. Photo: Chinese Military Aviation

The J-16D provides Chinese aerial operations with a fast, maneuverable and long range EW and Wild Weasel platform that can protect Chinese fighters and bombers like the J-10, J-11, J-15, J-20, J-31 and H-6K bomber. This will be an important requirement in combat operations in increasingly militarized areas like the Taiwan Straits and South China Seas. In combat operations, the J-16 would first use its jammers to disrupt the target and fire control of enemy air defenses, before firing its long range anti-radiation missiles, which are equally deadly against both mobile and fixed air defenses. As a fighter, it can still take part in aerial combat in self defense and to protect other aircraft against enemy fighters.

CM-102 The CM-102 anti-radiation missile, first seen here at the 2014 Zhuhai Air Show, is a supersonic, 100km range air launched missile with an anti-radiation warhead that homes in on the electronic activity of enemy transmitters like radars. The CM-102 is one of the many attack options for the J-16 to destroy enemy radars and other electronic equipment as part of its Wild Weasel mission. Photo: Sinodefence Forum

CM-102
The CM-102 anti-radiation missile, first seen here at the 2014 Zhuhai Air Show, is a supersonic, 100km range air launched missile with an anti-radiation warhead that homes in on the electronic activity of enemy transmitters like radars. The CM-102 is one of the many attack options for the J-16 to destroy enemy radars and other electronic equipment as part of its Wild Weasel mission. Photo: Sinodefence Forum

China’s increasing ability to protect its power projection capabilities shows that its advances in military technology are just as much focused on taking action aboard to advance its interests, as opposed to the A2AD narrative of hunkering down against enemy threats. And, much as the US plans for F-35/22, Chinese Wild Weasel capabilities can be expected to migrate to fifth-generation stealth fighters, carrier aircraft, and drones large and small.

Source: Popular Science “China Builds Its Own ‘Wild Weasel’ To Suppress Air Defenses”


China Will Perhaps Start Stealth Bomber Project


Test flight of brand new J-20 no. 2101

Test flight of brand new series-produced J-20 no. 2101

Due to secrecy, China’s official media’s military forum is used to reveal China’s development of advanced weapons through foreign media’s speculation.

This blogger has said that in order to prevent US military attack at China, China has to develop the capabilities of attacking US homeland. That is what China’s strategy of active defense really means as attack is the best defense. It is also what Chinese President Xi Jinping means in his instruction to Chinese air force on speeding up the development of China’s integrated space and air capabilities for both attack and defense.

To have such capabilities, China must have long-range strategic stealth bombers able to wipe out US aircraft carrier battle groups at high seas and attack US homeland.

China has already obtained and displayed its nuclear second-strike capabilities for nuclear deterrence, but it needs the above-mentioned capabilities as conventional deterrence.

To make a point of that, China’s official military column mil.huanqiu.com gives an almost full translation of well-known US science media Popular Science December 28 article “Chinese Stealth Fighter J-20 Starts Production”.

What especially worth noticing is the conclusion of the article: “As J-20 testing wraps up, the PLAAF will also have many other new projects to roll out, like the J-31 stealth fighter, H-20 stealth bomber, Sharp Sword stealth UAV and hypersonic weaponry.”

In fact, all the said new projects except H-20 stealth bomber have already been made public by China’s official sources. What we are not clear is whether China is developing H-20 stealth bomber or a strategic bomber with more advanced technology.

In my post “China to Build Huge Super Nuclear Bomber Carrying Over 200 Nuclear Bombs” on November 2, 2013 based on the military column of qianzhan.com (which has been closed perhaps due to its revelation of too much of Chinese military secret), I said that according to a Russian media, China is developing a nuclear strategic bomber with a cruise speed of Mach 3.6 and ability to remain in the air for 3.5 months incessantly and carry 170 to 210 sets of nuclear bombs depending on the density and scale of its targets.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “US media: If J-20 is series produced, China will perhaps start stealth bomber project” (summary and comments by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


China’s 4th Type 071 Landing Platform Dock Sets Out for Sea Test


China’s new 4th landing platform dock setting out for sea test.

China’s new 4th landing platform dock setting out for sea test.

China’s new 4th landing platform dock setting out for sea test. Photo: dingsheng.com/DD sailor)

China’s new 4th landing platform dock setting out for sea test. Photo: dingsheng.com/DD sailor)

China’s new 4th landing platform dock setting out for sea test. Photo: dingsheng.com/DD sailor)

China’s new 4th landing platform dock setting out for sea test. Photo: dingsheng.com/DD sailor)

China’s new 4th landing platform dock setting out for sea test. Photo: dingsheng.com/DD sailor)

China’s new 4th landing platform dock setting out for sea test. Photo: dingsheng.com/DD sailor)

Photos posted on the Internet show that China’s 4th Type 071 large landing platform dock (LPD) has been built by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding and is setting out for sea test. So far China has commissioned 3 such new-type LPDs in its South Sea Fleet. They are respectively named the Kunlunshan, Jinggangshan and Changbaishan.

Note: Type 071 LPD is China’s largest LPD with a displacement of about 20,000 tons.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “China’s 4th Type 071 Landing Platform Dock Sets Out for Sea Test” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


China Launches Aircraft Carrier Hunter Gaofen-4 Geostationary Satellite


An earlier nighttime Long March 3B rocket launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, lofting the APSTAR-9 satellite on October 16, 2015.

An earlier nighttime Long March 3B rocket launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, lofting the APSTAR-9 satellite on October 16, 2015.

Gbtimes.com says in its report “China launches Gaofen-4 dual-use geostationary satellite”, “Defensenews.com, citing China Youth Daily, claims that the express purpose of Gaofen-4 is hunting US aircraft carriers and forms part of a network that ‘will work together to locate, target and destroy aircraft carriers and destroyers’” though “Official Chinese sources state the main functions of the satellite as monitoring resources and environment, tracking climate change and economic and social development, with clients including the Ministry of Environmental Protection.”

Anyway, according to Professor Bhupendra Jasani at King’s College London, satellites in geostationary orbit (GSO) are usually used for early warning purposes, with sensors on board able to detect launches of missiles much earlier than land-based sensors.

The following is the full text of gbtimes.com’s report:

China launches Gaofen-4 dual-use geostationary satellite

China on Monday launched its Gaofen-4 Earth observation satellite toward a geostationary orbit, from which it will able to perform a range of civilian and military applications – including detecting US aircraft carriers.

A Long March 3B rocket, currently China’s most powerful in use, lofted the satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the southwestern Sichuan province at 16:04 UTC (00:04 Beijing time, Tuesday).

Gaofen-4 will offer optical spatial resolution of better than 50 metres and infrared sensing capabilities from geostationary orbit. It is designed to operate for eight years at an altitude of almost 37,000km above the Earth.

The 4,600kg satellite is part of the China High-resolution Earth Observation System (CHEOS).

According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA), CHEOS aims to provide China with all-weather, all-day and global Earth observation coverage by 2020.

Gaofen-4 will cover an imaging area of 7,000 km × 7,000 km. The mission follows the launch of Gaofen-1, -2, -8 and -9 satellites, providing high-resolution images of Beijing and other areas.

Professor Li Bin, of the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University, told gbtimes that: “The main breakthrough of Gaofen-4 is it will realise high-precision survey and image synthesis, long-distance imaging and data processing and transmission.”

Li says Gaofen-4 has adopted sophisticated photo-electronic imaging technologies and belongs to the advanced level of international satellites.

Aircraft carrier hunter?

Official Chinese sources state the main functions of the satellite as monitoring resources and environment, tracking climate change and economic and social development, with clients including the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Contrary this, reports in Chinese media – later picked up by US outlets – claim that the satellite can and will be used to detect US aircraft carriers in China’s neighbourhood.

Defensenews.com, citing China Youth Daily, claims that the express purpose of Gaofen-4 is hunting US aircraft carriers and forms part of a network that “will work together to locate, target and destroy aircraft carriers and destroyers.”

Professor Li Bin says however that spotting aircraft carriers is not the main goal of the satellite.

“If an aircraft carrier comes into Gaofen-4’s view, it should be able to spot it. [However] The main goal is to serve China’s economic development. Of course there will be security functions, but obviously they are not the major functions.

“[Gaofen-4] will provide information for oil exploration, agricultural harvest, natural disaster and maritime search and rescue,” Li says.

Professor Bhupendra Jasani at King’s College London explains that satellites in geostationary orbit (GSO) are usually used for early warning purposes, with sensors on board able to detect launches of missiles much earlier than land-based sensors.

He notes that such a satellite is of great importance for China’s security, stating that China’s interest would be to observe the US, Russia and other states in the region for launches of missiles.

“Satellites form an essential element of terrestrial weapons, nuclear as well as conventional ones. As a nuclear weapon state and constantly trying to exert its influence in world affairs, early warning satellite and others would be essential for China, who is concerned particularly about the USA and Russia from its security point of view,” Professor Jasani notes.

Professor Jasani also explains that GSO weather satellites measure a number of characteristics of the atmosphere, for example, temperature, pressure and particular content.

“The knowledge of these enable improvement of missile trajectory for accurate delivery of weapons.”

Such information could be used to assist delivery of China’s Dongfeng 21D “carrier killer” missiles and its intercontinental ballistic missiles.

While there are clear dual-uses to the satellite, as with many space assets, Professor Li states that the Gaofen series is not military in nature.

“Gaofen satellites have nothing to do with militarisation of outer space, but it is undeniable that Gaofen-4 could detect lots of information, some of which could also be used for military purposes. Both China and other countries could do this.”

The US will use the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) for infrared space surveillance, taking over from its Defense Support Program (DSP) for early warning and reconnaissance.

Li adds that such an association is a wrong way to look at things. “It neither helps the world understand China’s foreign policy and technological development policy, nor helps other countries to arrange their own technological projects. If people use this view point of antagonism, it is not cooperative.”

Conversely, Li says, the focus should be on how to use China’s rapid development of economy and technology to benefit both Chinese people and people from other countries and boost cooperation.

China’s 2015 space activities

Gaofen-4 was China’s 19th orbital launch of busy year and follows on from the DAMPE/Wukong dark matter probe launched on December 17.

Previous missions include the lofting of four Beidou global positioning satellites, the high-resolution Gaofen-8 andGaofen-9 earth observation satellites and related Yaogan-27,-28 and -29 birds.

In a leap for Chinese carrier rockets, the autumn saw the debut launch of the next-gen, kerosene/liquid oxygen Long March 6, which put 20 small satellites in orbit. The maiden flight of the solid-fuelled Long March 11 also marked new, rapid-response launch capabilities.

Other notable missions include Jilin-1, China’s first self-developed commercial remote sensing satellite, and APSTAR-9, developed and launched on behalf of a major regional satellite fleet operator. China also lofted the first satellite for the southeast Asian nation of Laos, LaoSat-1.

Source: gbtimes.com “China launches Gaofen-4 dual-use geostationary satellite”


Busy Rebalance by Russia, India, Japan Other than US Rebalance in Asia


Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 24, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 24, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (L) is greeted by South Korea's President Park Geun-hye at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, December 28, 2015. REUTERS/Baek Seung-ryol/Yonhap

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (L) is greeted by South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, December 28, 2015. REUTERS/Baek Seung-ryol/Yonhap

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi shares a moment during a signing of agreement at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, December 12, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi shares a moment during a signing of agreement at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, December 12, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Russia is courting India according to Reuters’ report titled “Russia and India cement ties with energy and defence deals”. Russia is doing so for the establishment of a Russia-China-India alliance in Asia to counter the US. Japan is also courting India according to Reuters’ another report titled “India to get Japan’s bullet train, deepens defence and nuclear ties”.

Who is more successful? Russia must be regarded as more successful taking into consideration of India’s participation in Russia and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization last July in spite of Pakistan’s participation at the same time. India’s Modi’s friendly visit to Pakistan after that was especially impressive.

Japan’s Abe reversed his hardline attitude towards South Korea regarding to historical issue must be more impressive. Reuters described it in its report titled “South Korea, Japan agree to irreversibly end ‘comfort women’ row”.

The US is pleased that Japan has done so. However, Japan does that in order to have a free trade area with South Korea, China and ASEAN. It is indeed not doing so to please the US. Japan has always been selfish as proved by its history.

In fact, China’s rise worries not only Japan but also Russia, India, South Korea and other Asian nations. Without US rebalance in Asia, those countries would certainly have made their efforts of rebalance in Asia with respect to China’s rise. What the US has done by its rebalance in Asia has given rise to a de facto Chinese-Russian alliance. In addition, US TPP that aims at containing China is more detrimental to India. That will also help Russia in drawing India into its camp.

“Do nothing, everything is done.” That is Chinese philosopher Laozi’s advice that the US had better take.

If the US had not conducted its rebalance in Asia, Asian countries would have conduct rebalance to counter China’s rise much better. US rebalance has only made things worse for it.

Comments by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ reports.

Full text of the Reuters’ reports can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/russia-india-nuclear-putin-modi-idUSKBN0U719M20151225, http://www.reuters.com/article/india-japan-idUSKBN0TV07D20151212 and http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-southkorea-comfortwomen-idUSKBN0UB0EC20151228


Much Improvement Needed for China’s Series-produced J-20: Expert


Successful landing of the maiden flight of the first series-produced J-20 stealth fighter jet

Successful landing of the maiden flight of the first series-produced J-20 stealth fighter jet

Successful landing of the maiden flight of the first series-produced J-20 stealth fighter jet

Successful landing of the maiden flight of the first series-produced J-20 stealth fighter jet

Successful landing of the maiden flight of the first series-produced J-20 stealth fighter jet

Successful landing of the maiden flight of the first series-produced J-20 stealth fighter jet

In its report yesterday on the series production of China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet, mil.huanqiu.com says that according to experts, it takes less than five years for China from the maiden flight of the first experimental prototype to series production, the shortest ever in the world. That is indeed impressive, but there have not been enough test flights. They believe there will be more test flights of even the existing prototypes.

This blogger said in his previous posts that China began the series production of J-20 due to its urgent need for air supremacy in case of a military conflict with the US.

This is also proved by its import of Russian S-400 air defense system and Su-35 fighter jets, especially the high price of US$1.5 billion it pays for 24 Su-35s. In fact, its improved version of J-11, the J-11C, comes near to Su-35 in functions. Why is China willing to pay such a high price? Because, it can learn some technology it urgently needs from Su-35 especially its engine.

Global Times quotes an anonymous Chinese military expert as saying that like F-35, there is a large software in J-20 that needs much test; therefore, there must be further improvement during the trial use when the series-produced J-20s have been put into trial service in Chinese air force.

The expert believes that there is still a long way to go for China’s J-20 as the engines it uses cannot meet its designed standards. Only when a J-20 is installed with engines with a thrust-weight ratio of 10 can J-20 be regarded as a perfect fourth-generation fighter jet.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Has trial series production of J-20 begun?: Perhaps like F-35, it will be improved while being used” (summary and comments by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


Who Enables China’s Entry into Central Asia, Russia’s Backyard?


Map of China's Silk Road through Kazakhstan

Map of China’s Silk Road through Kazakhstan

The Washington Post publishes today a report titled “In Central Asia, Chinese inroads in Russia’s back yard” that describes Russia’s fear of China’s growing influence in Central Asia, its backyard. It quotes Alexander Gabuyev, head of the Russia in the Asia Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, as saying,“When China announced its Silk Road plan in Kazakhstan, it was met with a lot of skepticism and even fear by the Russian leadership.”

Moreover, its says, “In 2014, Russia attempted to draw the region more closely into its embrace by establishing a Eurasian Economic Union, with Kazakhstan a founding member.” That was certainly aimed at balancing China’s growing influence in the region.

However, due to the Ukraine issue and China’s support for Russia in the UN on Syria issue, Russian-Chinese ties have become so close that “In May, Xi and Putin signed a treaty designed to balance the two nations’ interests in Central Asia and integrate the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road.”

Then we know the answer to the question in the title of this article “Who Enables China’s Entry into Central Asia, Russia’s Backyard?”

The United States has pushed Russia to Chinese side by its attempt to remove pro-Russian Syrian leader and imposition of sanctions on Russia and at the same time pushed China to Russian side by its disputes with China over the South China Sea.

Siberia and Central Asia may be issues of confrontation between Russia and China, but compared with Ukraine and Middle East for Russia and South China Sea for China, they are minor issues. Instead of making the issues of confrontation grow to win over China or Russia or both to its side, the US believes it is strong enough to incur the enmity of both China and Russia, but now finds that it is not strong enough in the face of a de facto Russian-Chinese alliance.

Comments by Chan Kai Yee on The Washington Post’s report:

The following is the full text of the report:

In Central Asia, Chinese inroads in Russia’s back yard
By Simon Denyer December 27 at 9:41 PM

Slowly but surely, a four-lane highway is beginning to take shape on the sparsely populated Central Asian steppe. Soviet-era cars, trucks and aging long-distance buses weave past modern yellow bulldozers, cranes and towering construction drills, laboring under Chinese supervision to build a road that could one day stretch from eastern Asia to Western Europe.

This small stretch of blacktop, running past potato fields, bare dun-colored rolling hills and fields of grazing cattle, is a symbol of China’s march westward, an advance into Central Asia that is steadily wresting the region from Russia’s embrace.

Here the oil and gas pipelines, as well as the main roads and the railway lines, always pointed north to the heart of the old Soviet Union. Today, those links are beginning to point toward China.

“This used to be Russia’s back yard,” said Raffaello Pantucci, director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London, “but it is increasingly coming into China’s thrall.”

It is a shift that has shaken up the Russian leadership, which is watching China’s advance across the steppe with apprehension. Moscow and Beijing may speak the language of partnership these days, but Central Asia has emerged as a source of wariness and mistrust.

For China, the region offers rich natural resources, but Beijing’s grander commercial plans — to export its industrial overcapacity and find new markets for its goods — will struggle to find wings in these poor and sparsely populated lands.

In September 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping chose Kazakhstan’s sparkling, modern new capital, Astana, to announce what has since become a cornerstone of his new, assertive foreign policy, a Silk Road Economic Belt that would revive ancient trading routes to bring new prosperity to a long-neglected but strategically important region at the heart of the Eurasian continent.

Bound together by 2,000 years of exchanges dating to the Western Han Dynasty and sharing a 1,100-mile border, the two nations, Xi said, now have a “golden opportunity” to develop their economies and deepen their friendship.

At the China-Kazakhstan border, at a place known as Horgos to the Chinese and Khorgos to the Kazakhs, a massive concrete immigration and customs building is being completed to mark that friendship, rising from the windswept valley floor like a mammoth Communist-style spaceship.

A short distance away, China is building an almost entirely new city, apartment block by apartment block, alongside a two-square-mile free-trade zone, where traders sit in new multi-story shopping malls hawking such items as iPhones and fur coats.

This is reputed to have been a 7th-century stop for Silk Road merchants. Today, the People’s Daily newspaper calls it “the pearl” on the Silk Road Economic Belt.

But this pearl is distinctly lopsided: On the Kazakh side of the zone, opposite all those gleaming malls, a single small building, in the shape of a nomad’s tent or yurt, sits on an expanse of wasteland where a trickle of people stop to buy biscuits, vodka and camel’s milk.

The Silk Road slogan may be new, but many of its goals are not. Beijing has long been working to secure a share of the region’s rich natural resources to fuel China’s industrial economy; it is building a network of security cooperation in Central Asia as a bulwark against Islamist extremism that could leak into China’s restive western province of Xinjiang, and it wants to create alternative trading routes to Europe that bypass Asia’s narrow, congested shipping lanes.

Under the Silk Road plan, China also is promising to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build new infrastructure here, and it hopes to reap benefits of its own: to create new markets for Chinese goods, especially for heavy industries such as steel and cement that have suffered as the Chinese economy has slowed.

But the scene at Horgos underlines the fact that the economies of China’s Central Asian neighbors are simply too small to provide much of a stimulus to China’s giant financial system.

Russian opposition

China’s ambitious Central Asian plans did not go down well, at least initially, in Moscow.

“When China announced its Silk Road plan in Kazakhstan, it was met with a lot of skepticism and even fear by the Russian leadership,” said Alexander Gabuyev, head of the Russia in the Asia Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “The feeling was, ‘It’s a project to steal Central Asia from us; they want to exploit our economic difficulties to be really present in the region.’ ”

Russia had long blocked China’s attempts to create an infrastructure development bank under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional body, fearing it would become a tool for Chinese economic expansion. Beijing responded by sidestepping Moscow, establishing an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in June with a $100 billion capital base.

China has overtaken Russia to become Central Asia’s biggest trade partner and lender. Pipelines transport increasing amounts of Kazakh oil to China and vast quantities of Turkmen gas east through Horgos. That has served to undermine Russia’s negotiating position when it has tried to sell its own gas to China.

At the same time, however, Xi has worked overtime to calm Russian fears, reassuring his counterpart Vladimir Putin that Beijing has no plans to counter his country’s political and security dominance in Central Asia.

In 2014, Russia attempted to draw the region more closely into its embrace by establishing a Eurasian Economic Union, with Kazakhstan a founding member. But even as Moscow moved to protect its turf, the realization was dawning that Russia lacked the financial resources to provide Central Asia the economic support it needed.

After the breakdown of relations with the West over Ukraine in 2014, and the imposition of sanctions, the dogmatic view that Russia had to be the top economic dog in Central Asia was questioned and then finally, grudgingly abandoned.

It was impossible, Gabuyev said, so Russia’s leaders decided to divide the labor: Russia would provide security, while China would bring its financial muscle.

In May, Xi and Putin signed a treaty designed to balance the two nations’ interests in Central Asia and integrate the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road.

China’s expanding influence has provoked mixed feelings in many Asian states, and it has used “velvet gloves” in its dealings with Central Asia, said Nargis Kassenova, an international relations expert at KIMEP University in Almaty.

About a quarter of Kazakhstan’s citizens are ethnic Russians, while Russian media dominate the airwaves. The Chinese language, by contrast, is nowhere to be seen or heard. Even India has more cultural resonance through Bollywood films, says political scientist Dossym Satpayev in Almaty.

What Beijing can offer is infrastructure loans and investment. It has been careful to frame its plans as more than just a “road” — where Kazakhstan’s natural resources are extracted, and Chinese goods waved through on their way to Europe — but as a “belt” of economic prosperity.

Nevertheless, a survey conducted by independent analyst Elena Sadovskaya found that Kazakh attitudes toward Chinese migrant workers reflect fears that China would one day dominate the country, swamp it with immigrants and cheap goods, grab land or simply suck out its natural resources while giving little in return. “In 2030, we’ll all wake up and find ourselves speaking Chinese,” is one common saying here.

In July, scores of people were injured when a mass brawl broke out between Chinese and local workers at a copper mine near the northern Kazakh city of ­Aktogay.

Kazakhstan’s foreign minister, Erlan Idrissov, plays down concerns. China may outnumber the 17 million Kazakh population by 80 to 1, but its progress and development represent good news, he says.

“Our philosophy is simple: We should get on board that train,” he said in an interview in Astana. “We want to benefit from the growth of China, and we don’t see any risks to us in that growth.”

China’s state-owned investment giant CITIC runs an oil field and an asphalt factory in Kazakhstan and says it has established a $110 billion fund to invest in Silk Road projects, much of the money aimed at Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

But private Chinese companies and ordinary Chinese traders say they have yet to reap the rewards, as the small Kazakh economy is shrinking under the weight of falling commodity prices and Russia’s economic decline.

Meanwhile, Russia is playing interference, they say, imposing new import restrictions under the Eurasian Economic Union in an apparent attempt to keep Chinese goods from flooding the region.

In Almaty, the Yema Group has been importing Chinese bulldozers, diggers and other heavy equipment for more than a decade. Business, once booming, has collapsed in the past two years, as many Chinese vehicles fail to meet tough Russian certification standards that now apply throughout the economic union.

Shi Hairu, a 52-year-old trader from Shanghai who sells Chinese gloves in a small shop in a market in Almaty, arrived two years ago when the economy at home started to slow. But sales have been halved this year — a sharp depreciation in the Kazakh currency, the tenge, has drastically reduced locals’ purchasing power, while customs clearance has become slower and costlier.

In the Horgos free-trade zone, Chinese traders also say business is poor. Many were lured here by tax breaks, cut-price deals to rent shops and enthusiastic cheerleading by state media about the opportunities on offer.

“After we came here, we realized it was all lies,” said one owner of a shop that sells women’s underwear who declined to be named for fear of trouble with the authorities.“We basically got deceived into coming here.”

The Kazakh government is building a “dry port” at Khorgos — with warehouses, an industrial park and rows of cranes to transfer containers across different railroad gauges — in what it hopes will become a major distribution and transshipment hub for goods bound between China and Western Europe, a “mini-Dubai” in the making. But the nearby free-trade zone still boasts just the one small supermarket, guarded by four lonely concrete camels, plastic flowers in their saddlebags. The nearest Kazakh city, Almaty, is a five-hour drive away along a bone-jarring road.

Yang Shu, director of the Institute of Central Asian Studies at Lanzhou University, calls Horgos “a mistake” because so few people are in its vicinity. Trade between the two nations declined 40 percent in the first six months of this year, to $5.4 billion, just a quarter of 1 percent of China’s global trade.

In Almaty, the Yema Group has been importing Chinese bulldozers, diggers and other heavy equipment for more than a decade. Business, once booming, has collapsed in the past two years, as many Chinese vehicles fail to meet tough Russian certification standards that now apply throughout the economic union.

Shi Hairu, a 52-year-old trader from Shanghai who sells Chinese gloves in a small shop in a market in Almaty, arrived two years ago when the economy at home started to slow. But sales have been halved this year — a sharp depreciation in the Kazakh currency, the tenge, has drastically reduced locals’ purchasing power, while customs clearance has become slower and costlier.

In the Horgos free-trade zone, Chinese traders also say business is poor. Many were lured here by tax breaks, cut-price deals to rent shops and enthusiastic cheerleading by state media about the opportunities on offer.

“After we came here, we realized it was all lies,” said one owner of a shop that sells women’s underwear who declined to be named for fear of trouble with the authorities.“We basically got deceived into coming here.”

The Kazakh government is building a “dry port” at Khorgos — with warehouses, an industrial park and rows of cranes to transfer containers across different railroad gauges — in what it hopes will become a major distribution and transshipment hub for goods bound between China and Western Europe, a “mini-Dubai” in the making. But the nearby free-trade zone still boasts just the one small supermarket, guarded by four lonely concrete camels, plastic flowers in their saddlebags. The nearest Kazakh city, Almaty, is a five-hour drive away along a bone-jarring road.

Yang Shu, director of the Institute of Central Asian Studies at Lanzhou University, calls Horgos “a mistake” because so few people are in its vicinity. Trade between the two nations declined 40 percent in the first six months of this year, to $5.4 billion, just a quarter of 1 percent of China’s global trade.

In Almaty, the Yema Group has been importing Chinese bulldozers, diggers and other heavy equipment for more than a decade. Business, once booming, has collapsed in the past two years, as many Chinese vehicles fail to meet tough Russian certification standards that now apply throughout the economic union.

Shi Hairu, a 52-year-old trader from Shanghai who sells Chinese gloves in a small shop in a market in Almaty, arrived two years ago when the economy at home started to slow. But sales have been halved this year — a sharp depreciation in the Kazakh currency, the tenge, has drastically reduced locals’ purchasing power, while customs clearance has become slower and costlier.

In the Horgos free-trade zone, Chinese traders also say business is poor. Many were lured here by tax breaks, cut-price deals to rent shops and enthusiastic cheerleading by state media about the opportunities on offer.

“After we came here, we realized it was all lies,” said one owner of a shop that sells women’s underwear who declined to be named for fear of trouble with the authorities.“We basically got deceived into coming here.”

The Kazakh government is building a “dry port” at Khorgos — with warehouses, an industrial park and rows of cranes to transfer containers across different railroad gauges — in what it hopes will become a major distribution and transshipment hub for goods bound between China and Western Europe, a “mini-Dubai” in the making. But the nearby free-trade zone still boasts just the one small supermarket, guarded by four lonely concrete camels, plastic flowers in their saddlebags. The nearest Kazakh city, Almaty, is a five-hour drive away along a bone-jarring road.

Yang Shu, director of the Institute of Central Asian Studies at Lanzhou University, calls Horgos “a mistake” because so few people are in its vicinity. Trade between the two nations declined 40 percent in the first six months of this year, to $5.4 billion, just a quarter of 1 percent of China’s global trade.

Nevertheless, experts agree that China’s Silk Road plan has immeasurably more clout than the American New Silk Road plan advanced by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2011 that was meant to bind Afghanistan to Central Asia but that barely got off the ground, or Russia’s own pivot to Asia, mired in economic woes and bureaucratic inertia.

For now, Pantucci, at the Royal United Services Institute, said China and Russia have established some sort of “modus ­vivendi” here. “I used to believe Central Asia would become a bone of contention between the two countries, but the priority in Moscow and Beijing remains the broader strategic relationship,” he said. “Wrinkles like disagreements in Central Asia will get swept underfoot.”

But Tom Miller, at a consulting firm called Gavekal Dragonomics, argues that as Beijing’s investment and financial ties with Central Asia deepen, “its political influence will inevitably strengthen,” too. Harking back to the “Great Game,” the ­19th-century contest between the British and Russian empires’ influence in Central Asia, he says there is only one winner this time around.

“Beijing’s strategists studiously avoid any talk of playing a ‘New Great Game’ in the heart of Asia — but they look set to win it nonetheless,” Miller said.

Gu Jinglu and Adam Dean contributed to this report.

This is part of an occasional series examining China’s efforts to win friends and clients in Asia and to assert a more dominant role across the continent.