30 July 2019 11:40 AFP3 min read
Videos falsely claiming to show a Chinese military crackdown against pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have flooded social media over the past week, according to an AFP investigation that has debunked multiple posts.
The videos, which have been viewed millions of times, have compounded fears about China’s potential intervention into a two-month crisis that has seen increasingly violent confrontations between protesters and Hong Kong’s police.
Some of the false posts appeared shortly after a Chinese defense ministry spokesman last week highlighted during a press conference a law that allows troops to be deployed across Hong Kong at the request of the city’s government.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has maintained a garrison in Hong Kong since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.
A Hong Kong government fact sheet on the law, which includes an estimate of 8,000-10,000 PLA troops in Hong Kong, is available online.
But those troops generally keep a low profile and are rarely seen in uniform in public.
And while various senior Chinese government officials and Hong Kong’s leaders have voiced outrage at the protesters, city authorities have also repeatedly denied that PLA troops have been deployed.
AFP has, however, detected posts on Facebook, Twitter, Weibo and other social media platforms with millions of views or interactions that claim to show masses of Chinese soldiers on foot and in tanks across Hong Kong.
“For your own safety all the HK residents are asvised (sic) not to go to public places and sea sides for next 48 hrs and avoid gatherings as PRC army is taking control of HK,” said one purported Hong Kong government announcement posted on Facebook five hours after the Chinese defense ministry’s comments on July 24.
The Hong Kong government has issued no such announcement. And the video used in the post to purportedly show the crackdown was actually of Chinese military vehicles driving through the Hong Kong city of Kowloon in 2018.
In another piece of misinformation that emerged within hours of the Chinese defense ministry spokesman’s comments, a tweet shared footage of PLA troops walking at a train station alongside a claim they were “entering Hong Kong.”
By Tuesday afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 1.4 million times.
AFP found the video was actually filmed in the Chinese mainland.
Other videos posted on July 24 had the same claims of Chinese troops “entering Hong Kong” while using video from other situations to mislead.
Source: HKFP “Surge in false online videos of Chinese military crackdown in Hong Kong”
Note: This is HKFP’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
J-20 now ‘combat-ready’ in PLA’s Eastern Theater Command before US could formally approve F-16 sale
ByK.G. Chan July 29, 2019
Chinese party mouthpieces including the Global Times and PLA Daily have again talked up the might of the J-20, the People’s Liberation Army’s fifth-generation stealth fighter.
They warned that the fighter jet designed for supremacy in the air could fly close to Taiwan to fend off “adversaries from near and far” and reclaim and guard the “Chinese island.”
The warning came after the PLA confirmed the combat-ready deployment of the J-20 in the air wing of the force’s Eastern Theatre Command, a military region headquartered in Nanjing tasked with recapturing Taiwan, which Chinese media often describe as a renegade province that must be put back under Beijing’s rule.
The Eastern Theatre Command encompasses Taiwan and the East China Sea. The distance between Nanjing and Taipei is a little more than 800 kilometers and the J-20 could also be based and serviced on a number of strategically-located airbases in Shanghai, Ningbo and along the coastline of southeastern Fujian province.
A white paper on China’s defense policy published last week also contained a salvo of similar threats: secessionists in Taiwan are the PLA’s bete noire, more so than those troublemakers in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, and the PLA has been ready for a swift takeover of the self-ruled island in the eventuality of a war.
A day after the paper was released, however, a US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait, amid continuing overflights above strategic areas such as the South China Sea.
Stationing the J-20 close to the frontier facing Taiwan would give more substance to Beijing’s protest against Washington’s upcoming sale of 66 F-16V fighters to beef up Taiwan’s air-defense.
The fourth-generation F-16V is seen as “outmoded” and would hardly stand a chance in a dogfight against the more advanced, highly maneuverable J-20, according to the Chinese media.
Previous reports have hinted that one or two J-20s could have already buzzed vessels in the Taiwan Strait close to a tacit line delineating Chinese and Taiwanese airspace.
An F-16 fighter in service with the Taiwanese Army takes off from a highway in Changhua country during an anti-PLA invasion drill. Photo: Reuters
Meanwhile, in Taiwan, some observers have lashed out at President Tsai Ing-wen’s “silly” decision to shell out billions of dollars on the F-16s, a deal that not only irked Beijing but also drew the closer deployment of the J-20 and other PLA assets.
But sources close to the island’s defense ministry noted that Taiwan had first opted for the F-35, arguably the most formidable fifth-generation aircraft from Lockheed Martin, a proposal snubbed by the Pentagon.
The ministry insisted that Taiwan would never sit idle and let itself be bludgeoned into “reunification” with China and that its army had the capabilities to defend itself should hostilities break out in the Taiwan Strait.
Source: Asia Times “China’s J-20 deployed as Taiwan waits for F-16s”
Note: This is Asia Times’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
M.discuss.com.hk says in its article “A certain elite brigate of Chinese air force has its fighter jets replaced by J-20s; the new planes formally commissioned in operational combat unit!” that an air force regiment well-known as “Wanghai Wing” has formally entered the era of fifth-generation fighter jets as it has now been equipped with J-20s. That means that J-20 has obtained full combat capability and there are a considerable number of them for actual combat.
Though J-20 fighter jets has already commissioned in Chinese air force since 2018, they first entered test and training unites instead of first-line combat units as they were regarded as highly sophisticated rare weapons. Their number was small.
As J-20 production capacity grows, a whole regiment can be equiped with J-20s. According to foreign media’s estimate, more than 50 J-20s will be commissioned in 2019. It is expected that there will be further increase in their number as production has been quickened due to expansion of scale and maturity of technology. Moreover, the commissioning of J-20s in a whole air force regiment means that all systems of J-20 have passed various tests.
Summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the article in Chinese, full text of which in Chinese can be viewed at https://m.discuss.com.hk/index.php?action=thread&tid=28402639.
July 30, 2019 / 12:12 PM / Updated 3 hours ago
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese equity investment in solar, wind and coal power projects in Belt and Road countries has surged from 2014 to 2019, with planned capacity up more than tenfold compared to the previous five-year period, environmental group Greenpeace said.
The Belt and Road initiative is a Beijing-led program to boost economic and trade ties in dozens of countries in Asia, Europe and beyond, mostly through investments in energy and infrastructure.
According to a study published by Greenpeace on Monday, China’s wind and solar power investments in Belt and Road countries amounted to 12.6 gigawatts (GW) since the initiative was launched in 2014. It had invested in just 0.45 GW of solar prior to 2014.
The country has also invested in 67.9 gigawatts of new coal-fired power in Belt and Road countries since 2014, but Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Liu Junyan said the increase in the share of renewables should be welcomed.
“Chinese investors’ ratio of coal to solar is now the same at home and abroad – both are still six-to-one (in favor of) coal, unfortunately, but I’m amazed to see what five years of equity investment in solar made possible,” Liu said.
China has been building dozens of new renewable energy projects at home to reduce the share of coal in its total energy mix to 59% by the end of last year. It has also been encouraging its existing coal-fired power plants to install ultra-low emissions technology.
But China has been criticized for funding coal-fired power projects overseas that would not meet its own emissions standards, with a study published earlier this year saying it is supporting more than a quarter of all new coal-fired plants worldwide.
China is expected to put another 40 GW of solar power capacity in operation at home this year, energy officials said on Friday.
China’s total coal-fired capacity also expected to rise by another 45 GW this year, with the total eventually expected to peak at around 1,300 GW, up from 1,140 GW at the end of last year, researchers from China’s State Grid said this month.
Reporting by David Stanway; editing by Christian Schmollinger
Source: Reuters “China Belt and Road power investments surge from 2014-2019: study”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Defense One’s article “No One’s Joining Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ Coalition” may be an answer to the question, full text of which is reblogged below:
No One’s Joining Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ Coalition
About that Counter-Iran Coalition…
By Jon B. Alterman
The Trump administration called for help, but Washington’s friends have shrugged and calculated it is safer to stay away from “maximum pressure.” There is a better way.
What if the United States threw a party and no one came? It is finding out in the Persian Gulf, where Trump administration’s calls to unite to counter Iranian aggression are being met with caution, circumspection and shrugs.
The reason is not fear of the Iranians. Instead, it is a calculus by Washington’s allies and partners that they may be safer staying far away from whatever the United States really intends and what they might be drawn into.
The Iranian government seems to be pursuing a policy that keeps tensions in the Gulf simmering but not boiling. The goal is to create a crisis but not a war. Iran is trying to force the world to engage with it and seeking to thumb its nose at the U.S.“maximum pressure” campaign that threatens any multinational that does business with the Islamic Republic.
That Iran has any hope of success is a historic change. In years past, the United States would be expected to use its dominant position in the Gulf — built upon its naval base in Bahrain and the Fifth Fleet — to rustle up an alliance. With tens of thousands of sailors, more than one dozen ships, and pervasive intelligence capabilities, the United States would bear the heaviest burden but allies also would contribute ships, aircraft, and personnel. The show of force would matter, but even more important would be the show of unity and resolve.
But this is not years past. Tweeting on June 24, President Trump argued that each country should look after its own ships in the Gulf, arguing “We don’t even need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy anywhere in the world!” The next day, he tweeted a warning to Iran that “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force,” implicitly shoving allies out from under a U.S. security umbrella.
The president’s approach was soon reflected in policy. After Iran seized a British oil tanker on July 19, Secretary of State Pompeo shrugged off a U.S. obligation to respond, saying, “The responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships.” That same day, U.S. Central Command announced it was forming a multinational maritime coalition called Operation Sentinel. But nobody is coming to the Operation Sentinel party. The UK, reportedly already stung from being kept in the dark about abortive U.S. plans to strike Iran earlier in the month, set out to create its own Gulf coalition. The UK had had more luck than the United States is at this point, eliciting clear interest from France, Italy, and Denmark (although newly installed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have a very different concept in mind). The country most clearly in the U.S. camp is South Korea, which has limited ability to project naval forces into the Gulf but is deeply beholden to the Trump administration as the United States pursues negotiations with North Korea.
On Thursday, just hours after taking office, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper faced Pentagon reporters who pressed him about the competing U.S. and European efforts. “I describe as complimentary, if you will,” he said, spinning the situation favorably, “whether we do that as one big group or as subgroups.”
But it really does matter how this is organized. The U.S. proposal is reportedly for the United States to share intelligence, while relying on countries to protect their own ships. As such, it represents the worst of all possible worlds. The United States seeks to lash partner countries to U.S. policy without any extension of U.S. protection. If the United States has a military confrontation with Iran, associated countries would face guilt by association and effectively have to go along for the ride. With little confidence in either the U.S. approach of “maximum pressure” nor in Iranian restraint, they justifiably fear things could get ugly fast.
Even absent direct U.S.-Iran hostilities, partner countries aligning with the U.S. and with limited capacity to defend themselves would make their ships more vulnerable to Iranian attack. For the Iranians, provoking weaker powers is far safer than provoking more powerful ones, and singling out smaller countries serves the dual purpose of avoiding warfare while deterring others from uniting with the Americans.
Seen from an Iranian perspective, this turn of events is delightful. The U.S. inability to mount a coalition in the Gulf helps split the United States from its allies and weakens international solidarity more broadly. It encourages the Russians and Chinese even more. Three countries that essentially have no allies are thus able to level the playing field after struggling for decades with broad U.S.-led coalitions.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was surely right when he said on Thursday, “A strong network of like-minded nations that are willing and able to fight together is an advantage that our adversaries do not possess.” He was also right when he continued, “But this means that allies and partners must contribute more equitably to our shared security.”
The problem is trying to treat the security environment in the Gulf as a transaction. It is not. Security in the region affects global security and the global economy, and the United States’ ability to lead regional security efforts over decades has advanced U.S. interests the Gulf and around the globe. One can make a reasonable argument that, over time, other countries should take the lead for some security responses, and the U.S. role should shift. Yet, doing so suddenly at a time of rising tensions invites chaos, torpedoes U.S. influence, and advances the interests of U.S. adversaries. The immediate task is to work in solidarity with others, and the longer-term task is to thrust more responsibility on them. The administration’s approach has the order of operations reversed, and doing so undermines both objectives.
Jon B. Alterman holds the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and directs the Middle East program at CSIS. Full bio
Source: Defense One “No One’s Joining Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ Coalition”
Note: This is Defense One’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
July 28, 2019 / 5:20 PM / Updated 21 hours ago
BEIJING (Reuters) – China said it strongly opposes what it calls “erroneous” claims made by Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Eliot Engel, who criticized China’s Communist Party over its position on protests in Hong Kong.
Engel said in a statement on Friday that he was “deeply concerned” by reports of police brutality in Hong Kong and criticized Beijing’s “increasingly harsh responses and propagandic depictions” of the protesters.
China’s Foreign Ministry Office in Hong Kong responded on Sunday with a sharply-worded statement, saying it “urges foreign politicians to stop sending the wrong signals over this violent behaviour”.
“What are the qualifications of American politicians to criticise Hong Kong’s human rights, freedoms and the rule of law?” it said.
It’s the latest in a series of sharp rebukes by China aimed at U.S. and UK politicians who have criticized Hong Kong authorities’ responses to the protests, as well as Beijing’s growing influence in the independently governed city.
The Hong Kong protests, which have surged again in recent days, were initially against an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China, but have since broadened into calls for wider democratic reforms.
Protesters are also seeking independent inquiries into police use of force and are calling for the resignation of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.
China recently said it believes U.S. officials were behind the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and asked the United States to “withdraw their black hands”.
Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Sam Holmes
Source: Reuters “China rejects U.S. lawmaker’s comments on HK protests, human rights”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.