Declining Life Expectancy in America ‘May Be the New Norm’


By Joshua A. Krisch – Live Science Contributor 4 days ago Health

A new study reveals some of the reasons behind the alarming trend.

After increasing for decades, U.S. life expectancy is on the decline, and a new study reveals some of the reasons behind the alarming trend.

The study, published today (Nov. 26) in the journal JAMA, found that the decline is mostly among “working-age” Americans, or those ages 25 to 64. In this group, the risk of dying from drug abuse, suicide, hypertension and more than 30 other causes is increasing, the authors said..

The findings suggest that life expectancy in the U.S. is rapidly falling behind that of other wealthy countries. Indeed, the particular decline among working-age adults has not been seen in other countries, and is a “distinctly American phenomenon,” said study co-author Steven H. Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

“Death rates among working-age adults are on the rise,” Woolf told Live Science. “We have known for years that the health of Americans is inferior to that of other wealthy nations, but our research shows that the decline in U.S. health relative to other countries began as early as the 1980s.”

Concerning decline

The new study analyzed more than five decades of data on U.S. life expectancy. The results showed that, although U.S. life expectancy increased from 1959 to 2014, those figures plateaued in 2011 and began decreasing in 2014.

The main culprits behind the decline appear to be drug overdose, alcohol abuse, suicide and a wide variety of organ system diseases among young and middle-age adults, especially individuals who did not complete high school. In particular, declines were seen among people living in some parts of New England, including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont; as well as those living in the “Ohio Valley,” which includes Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

These specific regions have been battered by the opioid epidemic and were among the most hard-hit victims of the collapse of the United States manufacturing sector. Indeed, more than one-third of excess deaths since 2010 have occured in the Ohio Valley states.

In contrast, life expectancy increased for those living along the Pacific coast from 2010 to 2017.

“American phenomenon”

Data from past decades showed that U.S. life expectancy began to lose pace with that of other countries starting in the 1980s, the authors said.

“Historically this [period] was the beginning of the opioid epidemic, the shrinking of the middle class and the widening of income inequality,” Woolf said.

Although many countries experienced economic shifts in the 1980s, Woolf suspects that the unique drop is U.S life expectancy may be due to lack of support for struggling families.

“In other countries, families that fall on hard times have programs and services available to cushion the blow. In America, people often have to fend for themselves,” Woolf said. Absence of social services may also explain why the study found larger relative increases in mortality among women, “who have even fewer support systems, and more childcare responsibilities,” he added.

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Howard Koh of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study, described the findings as “the most exhaustive and detailed analysis of this topic to date.”

In addition to weeding out the causes of death, Koh told Live Science that one solution to America’s declining life expectancy may be “embracing the leading causes of life” — that is, paying more attention to how social connections and strong community networks impact wellbeing. “Other countries spend relatively more in terms of social services,” Koh said. “Health is much more than what happens in a doctor’s office. It starts where people live, learn, labor and pray.”

The stakes are no less than the life span of the average American. Before a few years ago “it was largely assumed that life expectancy would always increase in the future,” Koh said. “Now the nation risks a future in which declining life expectancy may be the new norm.”

Originally published on Live Science.

Source: Live Science “Declining Life Expectancy in America ‘May Be the New Norm’”

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


Landmark Siberian gas to test CNPC’s marketing mettle in China’s backwaters


Muyu Xu, Chen Aizhu, Olesya Astakhova

November 29, 2019 / 3:13 PM / Updated 17 hours ago

HARBIN, China/SINGAPORE/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Across China’s coal-burning northeastern provinces, pipelines are being laid, contracts signed and coal-fired boilers ripped out ahead of the arrival next week of the country’s first piped natural gas from Russia.

FILE PHOTO: Workers are seen at the construction site of a natural gas pipeline as part of China-Russia gas pipeline project in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, China October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

The ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline, due to open on Dec. 2, will pipe natural gas around 3,000 km (1,865 miles) from Russia’s Siberian fields to the fading industrial region, which has lagged the push to gas in China’s south and east.

The pipeline – which will deliver gas under a 30-year, $400 billion deal signed in 2014 – has the potential to transform northeast China’s energy landscape and even slow the country’s surging imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

It will also make Russia a key supplier to China, to rival Turkmenistan and Australia, boosting ties amid Beijing’s trade war with the United States.

More immediately, it poses a challenge for the sole marketer of the gas, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), or PetroChina, as it looks to drum up demand in the relatively sparsely populated region that has relied on coal for heating during sub-zero winters.

The pipeline will emerge in Heilongjiang, which borders Russia, and feed on to Jilin and Liaoning, China’s top grain hub, where rust belt industries have long been overshadowed elsewhere.

The region’s industry and 68 million city dwellers consume just 14 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year, well below the 38 bcm the pipeline will deliver at full capacity by 2025.

Russia’s Gazprom has said it expects to supply 4.6 bcm in 2020, rising to 10 bcm in 2021, 16 bcm in 2022, 21 bcm in 2023 and 25 bcm in 2024.

(GRAPHIC: Map of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline through China – here)

With local power prices capped by authorities to support manufacturing, and cheaper imported coal available via Liaoning’s Dalian port, CNPC faces a tough task to sell gas.

It will take a long time to nurture a market in the northeast where gas-fired power generation barely exists and the industrial sector is weak,” said Li Yao, chief executive of consultancy SIA Energy.

With no take-or-pay contracts in place (domestically), CNPC shoulders most of the marketing risk.”

PRICE TAKER, LOSS MAKER

Neither PetroChina nor Gazprom has revealed the gas pricing terms, but Beijing-based analysts said the price is linked to crude oil or a basket of competing fuels.

Ling Xiao, a PetroChina vice president in charge of gas marketing, said last month Siberian supplies would be priced “slightly lower” than piped imports from Turkmenistan, but the company “will still be making a loss as (the price) exceeds that of domestic city-gate benchmark rates.”

Several Russian gas industry sources said the pricing could be revised down as volumes increase due to a fall in global oil prices from around $100 a barrel when the deal was signed to around $60 now.

However, the pricing formula remains known by only a few due to its commercial sensitivity, according to one source. Gazprom said it will not comment on pricing.

PetroChina declined to comment on the pipeline or its plans to boost gas take-up.

However the company, which supplies 70% of China’s gas, has been working for the past five years to put distribution infrastructure in place.

A 3,371 km (2,095 mile) trunkline linking the arrival point in Heihe to Shanghai is being laid in phases and slated for completion by 2024, state media reported.

PetroChina completed a 728 km (452 mile) section to Changling in Jilin province in July, and slashed construction time on a short leg that will ensure gas to parts of north China this winter. A 1,100 km extension to Yongqing in Hebei province is due by end-2020.

PetroChina has also made its first foray into regional midstream delivery – between national pipelines and city networks – building part of a planned Heilongjiang grid connecting a dozen key cities, Caixin reported in November.

And the firm plans 5-6 bcm of underground storage, to be built in depleted gas wells in Daqing, Liaohe and Jilin to cope with the off-season demand trough, said Ding Guosheng, a gas storage expert with the company.

CLOSER TIES

The pipeline will cement China’s spot as Russia’s top export market and give Russia a potentially enormous new market outside Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said trade between the neighbors would reach a record $100 billion this year, up from $87 billion in 2018. Moscow sees that figure rising to $200 billion by 2024 thanks in part to gas.

Russia is leveraging well on (China’s) trade war … In the aftermath of western sanctions, Russia has turned to China and won investment, markets and technology,” said Professor Feng Yujun, director of Russia and Central Asia Research at Fudan University.

As Beijing battles air pollution, analysts at IHS market say China’s gas demand is poised to surge by half between 2018 and 2025, at which point Siberian gas is slated to supply a tenth of China’s total gas demand.

(GRAPHIC: Russia trade balance with China hits 13-year high as crude shipments scale new record – here)

If the northeast region is unable to absorb the full 38 bcm gas by 2025, some fuel will be diverted to north China, where it could likely compete on cost against imported LNG, said Jenny Yang of IHS Markit.

RETAIL JOSTLING

Meanwhile, city gas distributors in Heilongjiang such as China Gas Holdings and Hongkong and China Gas Co. Ltd that provide “last-mile” connections to users are eyeing a potential boon.

China Gas has over the past 10 years spent more than 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) winning distribution licenses and laying pipelines in northeast region,” Frank Li, assistant to president of China Gas Holdings, told Reuters. “Now it’s time to reap the fruits.”

In Heilongjiang’s capital Harbin, the firm, together with PetroChina’s Kunlun Energy, is converting hundreds of heating stations – centers that pipe hot water to nearby residents – from coal to gas.

Recent heavy snow pushed temperatures below freezing, but workers are still racing to get ready for Russian gas.

The pipelines are all settled and we are just waiting to connect them into our boilers,” said a worker at a Harbin heating station.

Reporting by Muyu Xu in Harbin, China and Chen Aizhu in Singapore; additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore and Vladimir Soldatkin & Maria Grabar in Moscow; editing by Richard Pullin

Source: Reuters “Landmark Siberian gas to test CNPC’s marketing mettle in China’s backwaters”

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 tests killer drones for street-to-street urban warfare, plans sales overseas


Liu Zhen

South China Morning Post 28 November 2019

A Chinese technology firm is testing a new attack drone specifically designed to help ground troops in street-level combat, in the hope that it can sell the unit abroad, reports say.

Engineers recently completed a successful air-to-ground test firing exercise for the mini quadcopter named Tianyi, Modern Weaponry reported.

The developer, Tianjin Zhongwei Aerospace Data System Technology, said the unmanned aerial vehicle had been designed to carry out both reconnaissance missions and close-range strikes against armoured vehicles or individuals in an urban environment.

It is suitable for circumstances that include asymmetric combat, counterterrorism and special forces [operations] and street battles,” the report said.

The report said the manufacturers were analysing the data from the most recent test, but did not say when the Tianyi would move from development into production.

The Tianyi mini quadcopter is seen here; the intention is to use it to increase the army’s street effectiveness. Photo: Weibo

It had previously been reported that the People’s Liberation Army has commissioned large fixed-wing drones to carry out missile strikes, but there has been little information about its possible use of smaller aerial vehicles that can be operated by troops on the ground.

Military commentator Song Zhongping said quadcopters such as the Tianyi, which are powered by four rotors, were easy to manoeuvre and could navigate their way round buildings and carry out precision strikes – even firing through windows at close range.

It is light, cheap, adaptable and can easily survive in battle, so when [it is] mass-produced, the People’s Liberation Army could deploy this kind of mini-drone on the front line and improve [their] combat ability,” he said.

The makers say the drone, which is designed to be controlled by soldiers on the ground, has an operational distance of 5km (3 miles) and has a vertical range of 6km.

It will be fitted with infrared and laser detectors to enable night surveillance operations and armed with two 50mm rockets designed to strike from a distance of up to 1km.

Tianyi, developed by a subsidiary of state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, was first unveiled at last year’s Zhuhai Air Show .

The manufacturer said that it wanted to follow the example of other Chinese drone makers by selling its products internationally.

Chinese drones are usually much cheaper than similar products from the US. This is a great advantage, making them attractive to buyers from developing countries,” Song said.

Chinese drone manufacturers are also able to sell to markets that Western companies are barred from due to political concerns or other reasons.

The country’s main drone exports include the fixed-wing CH-4 and CH-5 drones, developed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, which have proved popular with buyers from central Asia and the Middle East due to their versatility, fire power and relatively low cost.

By early 2017, the CH series had been sold to more than 10 countries with more than 200 being shipped abroad each year.

Last year Pakistan signed an agreement to buy 48 Wing Loong IIs, made by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, in the biggest single Chinese drone deal so far.

More from South China Morning Post:

This article China tests killer drones for street-to-street urban warfare, plans sales overseas first appeared on South China Morning Post

Source: sg.news.yahoo.com “ China tests killer drones for street-to-street urban warfare, plans sales overseas”

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


China small manufacturers’ rising exports to Africa help offset plunging sales to US amid trade war


Some Chinese exporters say a sharp uptick in exports to belt and road countries, particularly in Africa, has helped offset declining demand in the US

Sales are being supported by cheap lending to foreign buyers by Chinese banks and improved transport links, exporters say

He Huifeng

Published: 4:15pm, 29 Nov, 2019

Updated: 11:41pm, 29 Nov, 2019

Chinese car part exporters say they have seen an uptick in sales in Africa. Photo: Reuters

Growing optimism is spreading among some small Chinese manufacturers in sectors ranging from car parts to textiles, as a spike in exports to countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative is starting to offset a portion of lost demand from the United States due to the trade war.

Exporters say they have seen a sharp uptick in demand from nations involved in Beijing’s trademark foreign policy initiative, which aims to link Asia, Europe and Africa with a network of ports, motorways and railways.

Take the textile industry as an example, many export-oriented factories in Zhejiang that I know have doubled or even tripled their orders to the African market this year,” said Steve Xie, a textile exporter from the Chinese manufacturing hub, whose own business has seen a 40 per cent increase in orders.

Every textile factory in Haining and Yiwu city is talking because there have been a particularly large number of African buyers placing orders this year. The increase in orders from Nigeria and Ethiopia is huge.”

Every textile factory in Haining and Yiwu city is talking because there have been a particularly large number of African buyers placing orders this year. The increase in orders from Nigeria and Ethiopia is huge

Steve Xie

Africa in particular has emerged as a fast growing market for Chinese goods, thanks in part to easy access to loans from Chinese banks. While orders from European and American buyers are often of higher value, companies were making up for it with quantity, Xie said.

We were once very worried about the impact of the US trade war on our exports,” the businessman said. “Now, although orders on the whole cannot be said to be completely balanced [with pre-trade war levels], the belt and road market, including the African market, can make up … up to about 70 per cent.”

The total value of imports and exports between China and the 61 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative was 6.65 trillion yuan (US$945 billion) in the first 10 months of this year, up 9.5 per cent, official data from China’s statistics agency showed. The figure accounted for 29 per cent of the value of China’s total foreign trade.

China-US trade was worth 2.75 trillion yuan (US$390.9 billion) over the same period, down 10.3 per cent, accounting for about 12 per cent of China’s total trade value.

The US and China, the world’s first and second largest economies, have been embroiled in a trade war for the past 17 months, slapping billions of dollars worth of tariffs on each other’s goods and disrupting global supply chains.

The effects of the tariff battle, coupled with domestic headwinds, are weighing on the Chinese economy, which is growing at its slowest pace in nearly three decades.

Still, many exporters like Jason Ding, who purchases car parts in bulk from factories in Dongguan city and ships them mainly to East Africa, have a new-found optimism because of growing sales to belt and road countries.

Because we are targeting the African market, we luckily avoided the impact of weak domestic demand and the trade war,” said the 36-year-old Ding who started his business in 2017. “In addition, our profits are benefiting from the yuan’s depreciation.”

The company now has seven Chinese employees and 30 African employees. Between January and November this year, the company’s sales increased by 30 per cent to about 50 million yuan (US$7.1 million), and Ding conservatively estimates they will rise another 30 per cent next year. Last month, he expanded the size of their warehouse in Guangzhou from 500 to 2,000 square metres (21,528 sq ft).

Now everyone is rushing to the belt and road market to cushion the decline in both the domestic and US markets due to the high cost of [US trade] tariffs and sharply weaker domestic consumption power

Wang Wei

Another car part exporter, Wang Wei, said: “Now everyone is rushing to the belt and road market to cushion the decline in both the domestic and US markets due to the high cost of [US trade] tariffs and sharply weaker domestic consumption power.”

In 2014, amid China’s booming car sales market and rapidly rising logistics and transport industry, Wang and her husband invested 300 million yuan (US$42 million) to establish Beststone, a recycled tire factory in Dongguan.

Sales totalled 120 million yuan (US$17 million) in 2016 – 99 per cent of which came from the mainland Chinese market. But in 2017 domestic demand began to shrink amid oversupply and sales slipped to 103 million yuan (US$14.6 million), and further again last year, Wang said.

Increased sales to belt and road countries saved the firm, she added.

Since May last year, we rushed to several developing countries to participate in exhibitions and contacted agents,” Wang said. “Our tires were sold in many countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

They do not have the capacity to produce tires and are now very friendly with China. So in just six months, we exported 40,000 tires.”

One key to rising sales in belt and road nations was cheap loans being offered by Chinese banks and financial institutes, said Xie, the textile exporter.

Now, as long as they import goods from China, even small and middle-sized African merchants can easily borrow money from Chinese banks, like the China Development Bank,” Xie said. “That means for buyers purchasing Chinese goods, the risk is so low.

They used to buy only one container a month, but now they can buy triple the amount in a month and then go back to Africa to sell with low capital risk.”

China’s large-scale infrastructure investment in Africa has also helped business, cutting the cost of shipping to the continent from 80,000 yuan (US$11,300) per container to about 26,000 yuan (US$3,600), Ding said.

But despite the growing trade ties, China needs to be alert to financial risks that could hinder trade with belt and road markets in the future, according to Liu Kaiming, head of the Shenzhen-based Institute of Contemporary Observation, which monitors working conditions and performance among hundreds of Chinese contract manufacturers.

We need to understand that trade is sustainable only if these developing countries have healthy economic growth and domestic consumer power.” he said.

He added China’s rising debt burden could also bring uncertainty, undermining its ability to support such trade links in the future.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Chinese exports to Africa offset plunging US sales

Source: SCMP “China small manufacturers’ rising exports to Africa help offset plunging sales to US amid trade war”

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 isn’t gaming global trade through its industrial policies or unique economic model – the problem is out-of-date WTO rules


There’s a myth that says China got a pass into the WTO, and has used state-owned enterprises to break the rules ever since. But those rules were written before the digital age, and perhaps the state role in the market needs to be reconsidered

David Dodwell

Published: 3:00am, 25 Nov, 2019

Updated: 3:04am, 25 Nov, 2019

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He chat at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. Lighthizer, a lawyer with decades of experience in both international trade law and Republican politics, has long been a critic of Chinese trade practices. Photo: AFP

I want to look at the tiresome myths at the heart of the “Washington consensus” – that the Western market economies must “get tough” on China because it represents an existential threat to the global trading system, the global economy even.

The elements of the myth trip glibly off the tongue of even thoughtful trade commentators, and many that should know better.

First is the claim that China has a unique market model that is fundamentally incompatible with trade rules as practised by the world’s market economies since the Bretton Woods institutions were created half a century ago.

Second is the myth that China was given an unacceptably easy pass into the World Trade Organisation in 2001, and has since then been enriching itself at everyone else’s expense by playing fast and loose with the WTO’s fundamental trade rule book.

Third is that China exploits the market power of its state-owned enterprises, showering them with subsidies and preferential funding, frustrating competition through the use of an array of obscure behind-the-border barriers. It also steals intellectual property and forces the transfer of technology.

Champions of these general mythical theses are the likes of Michael Pillsbury, who argues in his book The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower that “China … regularly hacks into foreign commercial entities … making [it] the world’s largest perpetrator of IP theft. This allows the Chinese to cheat their way up the technology ladder.”

Steve Olson at the Hinrich Foundation joined the herd last week in an otherwise thoughtful piece on China’s work with others to unscramble the mess facing the WTO. He talked of “systemic frictions and incompatibilities” between China and Western market economies: “As China’s economic might continues to grow, the incompatibilities between its system and the assumptions about how trade would be conducted under a WTO rules-based system are coming into sharper relief.”

Let’s walk through each of the components of this widely accepted mythology. It is perfectly true that China’s economic system is very different from that of the US, but so too is Japan’s economic system, and that of Germany, India and dozens of other smaller nations. There is nothing existential or unique about China’s challenge.

Yes, it has massive state-owned enterprises, and yes its industry policy is a carefully crafted set of policies intended to modernise an economy left in ruins after the first half of the 20th century, to lift its population out of poverty and to create a middle-class consumer society. Yes, it has used subsidies extensively.

But, in what way are these characteristics unique? According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, more than 80 countries have well-articulated industrial policies (including the US). It is surely preposterous and hypocritical to claim that China’s industry policies have “laid bare” new and distinctive “incompatibilities” that shake the foundations of international trade.

Look at US, Japanese, Canadian or European use of farm subsidies, or Indian subsidies to the rural poor, or the arguments over subsidies to Airbus and Boeing and try to explain what might be unique about China’s use of subsidies.

In a WTO rule book that virtually ignores services trade, wholly omits internal and regulatory barriers to trade and investment, and was written before the digital revolution was even a glint in anyone’s eye, there is nothing unique or existential about China’s challenge.

The reality is that the WTO’s rule book is out of date and riddled with inconsistencies and contrasting visions, none of which are in any fundamental way aggravated by China’s rise as a global economic power.

The only clear conclusion is that the rule book needs updating, and the most fundamental fallacy at the heart of these mythologies is that, in the good old days before China joined the WTO, there existed a homogeneous group of like-minded market economies that had drafted a coherent body of rules by which to conduct international trade. False.

My recollection of the Uruguay Round negotiations that eventually created the WTO in 1994 was that it was a brutal scrummage between economies that had very deep disagreements over all aspects of how trade should be ruled.

A Guangzhou man reads a newspaper supplement about China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation in November 2001. Photo: AFP

But what about this second element of the mythology, about China’s WTO entry? Olson noted: “China has benefited enormously from a range of policies and practices that, strictly speaking, it should never have been allowed to get away with in the first place.”

This is nonsense. When Beijing officials angrily insist that they have complied faithfully with all their WTO commitments – which, by the way, were among the toughest ever demanded of economies trying to join the organisation, according to many directly involved in the negotiations – they do not lie. Beijing has not broken the rules – at least, not broken them any more egregiously than everyone else.

That is not because its practices are good, but because the WTO’s “founding fathers” never managed to agree rules in those areas where Chinese practices are now being attacked.

Rules on state-owned enterprises or competition law in general barely exist; rules on IP protection remain to this day unclear; rules on subsidies are impossibly murky – not because of China’s practices, but because so many other members of the WTO have massive long-standing arguments over what subsidies are acceptable and what are not.

So, the sooner the advanced Western economies that laid the original rules for the WTO get off their pompous high horses, the better. The sooner they recognise that China’s practices do not constitute a unique and existential challenge, but rather raise important 21st-century questions about how original trade rules need to be updated, the better.

Once upon a time, the Milton Friedman consensus was that market-based competition between fleet-of-foot private enterprises funded by private capital was inherently more efficient, productive and competitive than the blundering bureaucratic management of state-owned enterprises using subsidies and state capital.

If that remains true, then there is surely nothing to fear from China’s SOEs, or its use of subsidies: these SOEs will in due course crumble under their own bureaucratic inefficiency, impoverishing their economy in the process.

But if Friedman was wrong, and the Chinese have stumbled on trade and investment practices that can deliver economic progress on a par with the progress our private enterprises have driven over the past 50 years, then we should examine them, and look afresh at our WTO rule book. Fresh thinking at the WTO’s high table can be no bad thing.

David Dodwell researches and writes about global, regional and Hong Kong challenges from a Hong Kong point of view

Source: SCMP “China isn’t gaming global trade through its industrial policies or unique economic model – the problem is out-of-date WTO rules”

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


No F-35, But a Real Killer: Don’t Underestimate China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter


Just because it isn’t as powerful as an F-22 or F-35, doesn’t mean it isn’t a tough plane.

by David Axe November 27, 2019

Key Point: The J-20 stealth fighter is a design success and is a large boost to China’s already growing military power.

China’s J-20 stealth fighter was a disappointment at the 2018 edition of the country’s annual air show in Zhuhai in southern China.

Three of the twin-engine warplanes put on what one reporter called a “conservative” aerial display lacking quick turns and other high-energy maneuvers.

Likewise, it was apparent that the J-20s at Zhuhai didn’t feature the latest, Chinese-made WS-15 engine, and instead were still flying with older, Russian-made AL-31 engines.

But fighter type’s unimpressive air-show performance probably is not indicative of its usefulness in combat, nor the transformation of Chinese air power that it’s helping to propel.

The J-20 first appeared in public in blurry photos that circulated on-line in late 2011, surprising foreign observers and even some military officials who assumed Beijing would need more time to complete a true stealth fighter.

A low-observable warplane design requires precise shaping and hard-to-manufacture radar-absorbing materials. Mastering those qualities is expensive and time-consuming. Before the J-20 finally entered front-line service in September 2017, only the United States was capable of designing, building and operating stealth fighters.

But with strong government support and benefiting from intensive industrial espionage targeting U.S. and European aerospace firms, China’s aviation industry has developed quickly in recent decades. “We have become capable of designing and making what we want to have,” Yang Wei, AVIC’s deputy director of science and technology, told the government-owned China Daily newspaper in March 2018.

The J-20 in many ways is the main focus of Beijing’s military aviation modernization efforts. A prototype flew for the first time in January 2012. Subsequent prototypes benefitted from a steep learning curve, boasting tighter manufacturing tolerances, more sophisticated coatings and better sensors.

J-20s began taking part in realistic war games as early as March 2017, flying alongside H-6 bombers and Y-20 transport planes. By mid-2018, AVIC had built around 20 J-20s against an apparent requirement for at least 200 of the type, and was continuing to improve the plane.

“We are not complacent about what we have achieved,” Yang said. “We will develop the J-20 into a large family and keep strengthening its information-processing and intelligent capacities.”

Critics point out the J-20’s weaknesses compared to the U.S.-made F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters. The J-20’s frontal canards boost its radar signature. Its greater size and weight could reduce its maneuverability. Flying with stock AL-31 engines rather than custom-made WS-15s holds back the fighter’s performance.

But no one disputes that the J-20 is stealthier than older Chinese fighter types are. No one disputes that it’s fast and boasts a capacious weapons bay and a long range of a thousand miles or more. Just because the J-20 isn’t a clone of the F-22 or F-35 doesn’t mean it’s not an effective warplane and a great improvement over older Chinese fighters.

Stealth “is not … an all or nothing capability, as some critiques have suggested,” Mark Barrett and Mace Carpenter, a retired U.S. Air Force general and colonel, respectively, wrote in a 2017 study for the Virginia-based Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “Stealth is most effective when employed in concert with other aircraft, tactics and capabilities.”

No fighter exists in a vacuum. Warplanes equip squadrons staffed by human beings who support military operations in pursuit of national strategy.

China’s strategic goals are to annex Taiwan, extend its influence around its periphery and secure its vital trade routes across the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Eurasian landmass. For that strategy, anti-access operations — in particular, limiting the ability of the U.S. Navy to intervene — perhaps matter most.

The U.S. Naval War College claimed the J-20 could be an “effective surface-attack platform for out to several hundred nautical miles at sea.” Likely able to strike American ships and naval planes at great distance with a higher chance of survival than older fighters could do, the J-20 could make Chinese squadrons more effective.

Assuming, of course, that the type’s pilots possess the skill to operate it. And they probably do.

In May 2018, J-20s participated in a mock encirclement of Taiwan that the Chinese air force claimed reflected “actual war conditions.” China appears to be training up good pilots for a new fighter whose attributes contribute to a sound national strategy.

By those measures, the J-20 is already successful design and a boon to China’s power. Disappointing air shows are irrelevant, as are direct comparisons to the F-22 or F-35 or any other fighter.

David Axe edits War Is Boring . He is the author of the new graphic novels MACHETE SQUAD and THE STAN. This piece was originally featured in November 2018 and is being republished due to reader’s interest.

Source: National Interest “No F-35, But a Real Killer: Don’t Underestimate China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter”

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.


NYT’s “Leaked” Chinese Files Story Covers For Terrorism


By Tony Cartalucci, Journal-neo.org

November 27, 2019

The hyped release of alleged leaked Chinese files on so-called mass detentions immediately raised doubts in my mind. With China as the top target of US national security strategy in this era of Great Power Conflict, everything about China needs to be questioned and confirmed with a doubting review. The source of the files was unknown and among those confirming their legitimacy were Pentagon contractors and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. This added to the doubts. The article below goes into detail about the so-called China Files and shows the NY Times, the Washington Post and others have taken them out of context in their effort to serve the US security state and Great Power Conflict.

This story came following two other recent false stories about China that were hyped by the western media and government officials. First, there was the story of Wang Liqiang who on November 23 claimed to be Beijing-sponsored secret agent who defected to Australia. He claims he undertook undercover espionage work in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia. In reality, he is really a convicted fraudster and wanted criminal suspect, Shanghai police have claimed. Shanghai police say Wang is a 26-year-old unemployed worker from Nanping in the southeastern province of ­Fujian who was given an 18-month suspended sentence in October 2016 for fraud by the Guangze county court in Fujian.

The other story comes from November 20, when Simon Cheng a former British consulate worker claimed he was detained in Shenzhen and tortured by Chinese police. Britain was “outraged” at claims he had been shackled, blindfolded, and beaten during 15 days of detention. The People’s Daily released video tapes showing Cheng confessing to his interrogators that he felt ashamed of his wrongdoings (soliciting prostitution) and promising not to repeat the mistakes. Another video released by the police showed Cheng at a club in Luohu district in Shenzhen and later entering a room with a woman. A report with the videos said Cheng visited the club three times over a fortnight from late July during which he had engaged in “prostitution”. “From the information provided by Luohu police, [we can see that] this was an ordinary case of patronising prostitution and this was supported by clear facts and conclusive evidence,” the report said.

The so-called China Papers are being hyped to support the exaggerated and misrepresented claims about Chinese treatment of the Muslim Uyghur population. To understand what is happening with the Uyghurs, see this article, March of the Uyghurs by Andre Vltchek. We urge people to read this detailed account of the Uyghurs in China and the relationship of some of these Muslims with the United States. It is an antidote to the falsehoods we are being told by the media.

China is a rising power that is threatening US hegemony. The conflict between the US and China will be the defining relationship of the 21st Century. People in the US are going to be fed a constant line of propaganda to build support for this conflict and increase prejudice against the Chinese government and the Chinese people from government officials, the western media and Hollywood. People should brace themselves for this propaganda barrage that is already ongoing so we are not fooled by it and do not allow them to manufacture consent for conflict with China. The job of the popular movement is to question this propaganda and put forward a counter narrative so that we can build a positive relationship with China where the US, China and the world benefit. KZ

The New York Times has once again exposed itself as an organ of US special interests operating under the guise of journalism – contributing to Wall Street and Washington’s ongoing and escalating hybrid war with China with a particularly underhanded piece of war propaganda.

Its article, “‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims,” at face value attempts to bolster allegations made primarily by the United States that China is organizing unwarranted and oppressive “mass detentions” of “Muslims” in China’s western region of Xinjiang.

But just by investigating the quote in the headline alone reveals both the truth behind what is really happening in Xinjiang, why Beijing has reacted the way it has, and that the United States, including its mass media – is deliberately lying about it.

Ten paragraphs into the NYT article, the quote “absolutely no mercy” appears again – only this time it is placed within proper context. It was the response Beijing vowed in the aftermath of a coordinated terrorist attack in 2014 that left 31 people dead at China’s Kunming rail station.

The NYT would write (emphasis added):

President Xi Jinping, the party chief, laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31. Mr. Xi called for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy.”

The NYT – which has actively and eagerly promoted every US war in living memory – would unlikely flinch at the notion of the US showing “absolutely no mercy” against “terrorism, infiltration, and separatist,” yet it demonstrates a particular adversion to it in regards to Beijing just as the prominent newspaper has done regarding Syria and its now 8 year struggle against foreign-funded terrorism.

Despite claiming to have “400 pages of internal Chinese documents” – the most damning allegations made by Washington and indeed the NYT itself – are still left unsubstantiated.

This includes claims that “authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.” No where in the NYT article is evidence derived from these documents to substantiate that claim.

Dubious Origins

Like much of what the US media holds up as “evidence” to bolster establishment narratives – the “leaked files” come with it doubts over their provenance, translation, and the context and manner in which they are being presented to the public. There are also the lies of omission deliberately presented by the NYT and others covering this recent “leak” that need to be considered.

The NYT itself admits (emphasis added):

Though it is unclear how the documents were gathered and selected, the leak suggests greater discontent inside the party apparatus over the crackdown than previously known. The papers were brought to light by a member of the Chinese political establishment who requested anonymity and expressed hope that their disclosure would prevent party leaders, including Mr. Xi, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions.

Regardless – nothing appearing in the NYT article is actually a revelation of any kind. China has made its policies clear regarding terrorism and separatism in Xinjiang. Like every other nation on Earth – China refuses to tolerate violent terrorism and the extremist ideology used to drive it. These policies – when presented out of context as the NYT has deliberately done – appear heavy-handed, oppressive, unwarranted, and authoritarian.

If presented together with the very real violence, terrorism, and foreign-sponsored separatism emanating from Xinjiang – the polices take on an entirely different and understanble light.

Terrorism in Xinjiang is Real, But Omitted When Reporting Beijing’s Counter-terrorism Efforts

The Western corporate media itself has even repeatedly covered deadly terrorism carried out by a minority of extremists among China’s Uyghur population. However – they do so in the most ambiguous way possible – and refuse to mention it when subsequently covering Beijing’s attempts to counter it.

For example, CNN in a 2014 article titled, “China train station killings described as a terrorist attack,” would report:

A day after men armed with long knives stormed a railway station in the southwest Chinese city of Kunming, killing dozens of people and wounding more than 100, authorities described what happened as a premeditated terrorist attack.

The article also admits that Xinjiang is beset with “frequent outbreaks of violence,” in reference to waves of violent terrorism carried out by Uyghur separatists, but falls far short of qualifying just how bad this violence has been.

The BBC would extensively elaborate on what CNN meant by “frequent outbreaks of violence” in a 2014 article titled, “Why is there tension between China and the Uighurs?,” reporting that (emphasis added):

In June 2012, six Uighurs reportedly tried to hijack a plane from Hotan to Urumqi before they were overpowered by passengers and crew.

There was bloodshed in April 2013 and in June that year, 27 people died in Shanshan county after police opened fire on what state media described as a mob armed with knives attacking local government buildings

At least 31 people were killed and more than 90 suffered injuries in May 2014 when two cars crashed through an Urumqi market and explosives were tossed into the crowd. China called it a “violent terrorist incident”.

It followed a bomb and knife attack at Urumqi’s south railway station in April, which killed three and injured 79 others.

In July, authorities said a knife-wielding gang attacked a police station and government offices in Yarkant, leaving 96 dead. The imam of China’s largest mosque, Jume Tahir, was stabbed to death days later.

In September about 50 died in blasts in Luntai county outside police stations, a market and a shop. Details of both incidents are unclear and activists have contested some accounts of incidents in state media.

Some violence has also spilled out of Xinjiang. A March stabbing spree in Kunming in Yunnan province that killed 29 people was blamed on Xinjiang separatists, as was an October 2013 incident where a car ploughed into a crowd and burst into flames in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

While the NYT also references deadly terrorism in Xinjiang – it does so in a muted, secondary fashion, attempting to decouple it from Beijing’s motivations for pursuing polices with “absolutely no mercy” in response.

One need not imagine what would follow if such violence took place on US or European soil or the polices demonstrating “absolutely no mercy” that would undoubtedly follow not only domestically, but across the globe against nations perceived – or claimed – to have been involved.

The September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington D.C. precipitated a now 20 year long “War on Terror” which has evolved into multiple ongoing wars, military occupations, and covert operations across scores of nations. The US Department of Defense’s own newspaper, Stars and Stripes, in a recent article titled, “Post 9/11 wars have cost American taxpayers $6.4 trillion, study finds,” would admit (emphasis added):

American taxpayers have spent some $6.4 trillion in nearly two decades of post-9/11 wars, which have killed some 800,000 people worldwide, the Cost of Wars Project announced Wednesday.

The numbers reflect the toll of American combat and other military operations across some 80 nations since al-Qaida operatives attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington in 2001, launching the United States into its longest-ever wars aimed at stamping out terrorism worldwide.

By comparison, China’s attempts to rehabilitate extremists through education and employment is a far cry from America’s global war – in which as many have died, as the US claims China is “detaining.”

This is before even considering that out of the 80 nations the US is waging war and killing people in – the one nation from which the majority of the 9/11 hijackers came from – Saudi Arabia – has not only been spared, but is sold record-breaking amounts of US weapons and hosts US troops to protect it from regional states it openly attacks with legions of armed extremists espousing the same toxic ideology that motivated the 9/11 hijackers.

The US Sponsors Xinjiang Unrest

Worse still, the US has been repeatedly caught jointly-sponsoring the very strain of extremism allegedly behind the 9/11 attacks in its various proxy and regime-change wars beforehand and ever since.

Not surprisingly, there is also evidence that the US is fueling the violence in Xinjiang itself as well as recruiting extremists from the region to fight in US proxy wars abroad – most notably in Syria. These militants are then returned to China with extensive experience in terrorism.

US State Department-funded and directed Voice of America (VOA) in an article titled, “Analysts: Uighur Jihadis in Syria Could Pose Threat,” would admit (emphasis added):

Analysts are warning that the jihadi group Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in northwestern Syria could pose a danger to Syria’s volatile Idlib province, where efforts continue to keep a fragile Turkey-Russia-brokered cease-fire between Syrian regime forces and the various rebel groups.

The TIP declared an Islamic emirate in Idlib in late November and has largely remained off the radar of authorities and the media thanks to its low profile. Founded in 2008 in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, the TIP has been one of the major extremist groups in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in the country in 2011.

The TIP is primarily made up of Uighur Muslims from China, but in recent years it also has included other jihadi fighters within its ranks.

Uyghur recruits have been trafficked through Southeast Asia where – when discovered, detained, and deported back to China – are followed by protests from the US State Department.

When Thailand refused to heed US demands that Uyghur recruits be allowed to move onward to Turkey – where they would be armed, trained, and sent into Syria – a deadly bomb would detonate in Bangkok killing 20. The bombing was linked to the Turkish terrorist organization, the Grey Wolves, co-sponsored by the US for decades to augment NATO’s unconventional warfare capabilities.

The US government’s own National Endowment for Democracy (NED) openly funds fronts operating out of Washington D.C. espousing separatism with the NED’s webpage detailing its funding of these groups even including the fictional name of “East Turkestan” used by separatists who reject the official designation of Xinjiang which resides within China’s internationally-recognized borders.

The inclusion of the term “East Turkestan” implies US support for separatism as well as the very real, ongoing deadly terrorism demonstratably used to pursue it.

And more than just implicitly supporting separatism, US government support in the form of NED money is admittedly provided to the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) which exclusively refers to China’s Xinjiang province as “East Turkistan” and refers to China’s administration of Xinjiang as the “Chinese occupation of East Turkistan.” On WUC’s own website, articles like, “Op-ed: A Profile of Rebiya Kadeer, Fearless Uyghur Independence Activist,” admits that WUC leader Rebiya Kadeer seeks “Uyghur independence” from China.

WUC and its various US-funded affiliates often serve as the sole “source” of allegations being made against the Chinese government regarding Xinjiang. As the US does elsewhere it lies to fuel unrest in pursuit of its geopolitical agenda, allegations regarding Xinjiang often come from “anonymous” sources based on hearsay and lacking any actual physical evidence.

The US State Department’s “Radio Free Asia” network even maintains a “Uyghur Service” which pumps out daily accusations aimed at stirring domestic tension within China, and smearing China’s image internationally. RFA allegations are uncritically repeated by other Western corporate media networks in an attempt to bolster the impact of this propaganda.

US Gaslighting on a Global Scale

The US through its policies and propaganda – including this most recent NYT article – accuse Beijing of “repression” for responding to very real, admitted, and extensively documented deadly terrorism plaguing China.

At the same time, the US pursues a global war spanning 80 nations and resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands, destroying entire countries, and displacing or otherwise destroying the lives of millions.

While citing “terrorism” as a pretext for its global aggression, it is simultaneously fueling the very armed extremism it claims it is fighting against. This includes the very real terrorism the NYT attempted to downplay to maximize the propaganda value of its “leaked files” story – despite other Western media networks covering this terrorism for years.

Not only is this US policy disjointed, deceitful, and deadly – it is incredibly dangerous. It is essentially a low-intensity version of what the US has been doing in Syria and had previously done in Libya leading to the North Africa nation’s destruction.

It is all but a declaration of war against China – not through direct military intervention – but through armed proxies, propaganda, and a deliberate, concerted effort to sow instability, division, and strife across Chinese society.

Coupled with economic warfare aimed at crippling China’s economy – Beijing finds itself a nation under siege. The fact that it has not responded to this very real, demonstratable existential threat with a fraction of the violence and global-spanning destruction the US has employed to fight its fictional “War on Terror,” is the best proof of all that the dystopian authoritarian regime the NYT tries to portray Beijing as – is as fictional and nonexistent as journalism is at the NYT’s office.

Source: Popular Resistance “NYT’s “Leaked” Chinese Files Story Covers For Terrorism”

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.


New Huawei Warning For Trump And Google: There Is No Turning Back After OS Launch


Zak Doffman Nov 27, 2019, 03:06am

Contributor

I write about security and surveillance.

Huawei has reiterated its warnings to the U.S. government and Google that the time is fast running out for a return to business as usual, that once the company launches an alternative operating system, there will be no turning back. The implications for the U.S., the company says, will be stark. If Huawei is forced to “resort to alternatives” to Google, CEO Ren Zhengfei told CNN, if a Plan B gains momentum, returning to previous versions of its OS and software will become less likely. And we know that any return would, at best, be in parallel with the newer alternatives. At issue is the loss of Google—the theme of the blacklist. Ren described this as “a critical moment for all of us,” suggesting “the U.S. government considers what’s best for American companies.”

In an interview with CNN, released on November 26, Ren also warned Samsung and Apple that it still intends to capture the global top spot for smartphone shipments—despite the U.S. blacklist. “I don’t think this will be a problem, but it will take time.”

Google is the one technology Huawei can’t “un-Americanize.” This has softened sales outside China, but, Huawei is now emphasizing, may hit Google harder in the long term. If Huawei is forced into a Plan B, the company and the U.S. more broadly risk losing their monopoly influence over key elements of worldwide technology standards. Six months after the blacklist hit, Huawei should have been reeling, that was the plan. But the company has been shored up by sales in China, where it has built a 42% market share. This has become the new theme of Huawei’s message platform—the blacklist isn’t working, and you will now pay the long-term price.

As I reported on November 22, Microsoft has now secured a U.S. Commerce Department license to renew its mass-market software supples to Huawei. There remains no word as to whether Google will receive the same, but Ren confirmed that the Google situation remains wait and see, with no decision one way or the other on its license. The lobbying continues and Google has not commented.

And so to the warning. Ren talks of a backup plan. What he means is significant investment in Huawei’s own mobile services to compete with Google’s—the Play Store, Maps, Gmail, Pay. And underpinning this, an ecosystem of app developers and service providers creating a third-way alternative to full-fat Android and iOS. Huawei has committed more than $1 billion to the incubation of this ecosystem, and importantly has signalled that it will offer price breaks to app developers—essentially asking for as little as half of the commissions taken by Google and Apple in their own stores.

Ren referred to this backup plan as “very large scale.” The CEO and other company execs have acknowledged that this is the greatest impediment to continued international growth—convincing an international Android consumer base to shift from the familiarity of Google is no mean feat. Attempts in recent years to carve any alternatives to Google (and Apple) in the mobile sphere have failed. There has been stability for a decade—Huawei would need to change that.

If that happens, if an app ecosystem can be nurtured that competes with the two global operating systems, and if manufacturers from China and South East Asia jump onboard, the tech landscape will have changed materially. None of the U.S. tech giants want to see this, a new landscape driven by Washington’s actions that has a drastic impact on the country’s own tech sector. As I’ve written before, this latest interview is part of a well-orchestrated media campaign. Yes, the company says, the blacklist is having an impact—but not one that is going to change the global technology landscape in the way you want.

Huawei’s twist has been to shift from touting an alternative to Android with its new HarmonyOS, and instead suggesting an evolution. An alternative ecosystem built around the open-source version of Android that is not restricted. “Harmony is not a replacement for Android,” Huawei VP Vincent Pang told the press a week ago. “It’s a next generation of Android,” but one without Google. And so this is a pivotal moment. If Google does receive a license, even with caveats and qualifiers, Huawei will be back onboard—but not exclusively if its alternative is ready. And so the implied threat is that time is fast running out for a return to business as usual. “We cannot wait more, we missed one flagship,” Peng said, referring to the Mate 30. By next year’s releases there needs to be a resolution, there needs to be certainty.

Since the blacklist hit, Huawei has continued to grow its consumer business, leaving Apple further behind and chasing down Samsung for the global crown. Huawei also still leads the pack for network equipment sales, despite a relentless U.S. campaign claiming the company is a national security risk. But with the impact of the blacklist being called into question at a macro level, would Washington be better served using it as leverage in wider negotiations with Beijing? That’s the key question.

Shenzhen has reason for optimism. The company is bullish again, staking claims as to what the next year will hold. Ren told CNN that Huawei will be expanding its international business next year and the year after. There are also rumblings from China that even if Google is restored, the company might continue its efforts to shore up a “break glass in case of emergency” plan for any repeat of the U.S. action. I would venture that what we have seen in the last six months will change the technical landscape for years to come.

Source: Forbes “New Huawei Warning For Trump And Google: There Is No Turning Back After OS Launch”

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


China’s H-20 Stealth Bomber Could Be the U.S. Military’s Worst Nightmare


Be on notice.

by Sebastien Roblin November 26, 2019

Key Point: The new Chinese stealth fighter could be flying through Asian skies as soon as 2025.

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In October 2018, Chinese media announced that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) would publicly unveil its new H-20 stealth bomber during a parade celebrating the air arm’s seventieth anniversary in 2019.

Prior news of the H-20’s development had been teased using techniques pioneered by viral marketing campaigns for Hollywood movies. For example, the Xi’an Aviation Industrial Corporation released a promotional video in May 2018 pointedly imitating Northrop Grumman’s own Superbowl ad for the B-21 stealth bomber, portraying a shrouded flying wing bomber in its final seconds. Later, the silhouette of a possible new bomber appeared at a PLAAF gala. This comes only two years after PLAAF Gen. Ma Xiaotian formally revealed the Hong-20’s existence.

If the H-20 does have the range and passable stealth characteristics attributed to it, it could alter the strategic calculus between the United States and China by exposing U.S. bases and fleets across the Pacific to surprise air attacks.

Only three countries have both the imperative and the resources to develop huge strategic bombers that can strike targets across the globe: the United States, Russia and China. Strategic bombers make sense for China because Beijing perceives dominance of the western half of the Pacific Ocean as essential for its security due to its history of maritime invasion, and the challenge posed by the United States in particular. The two superpowers are separated by five to six thousand miles of ocean—and the United States has spent the last century developing a network of island territories such as Guam, foreign military bases in East Asia and super-carriers with which it can project air and sea power across that span.

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Xi’an Aviation, the H-20’s manufacturer, also builds China’s H-6 strategic jet bombers, a knockoff the 1950s-era Soviet Tu-16 Badger which has recently been upgraded with modern avionics, aerial refueling capability and cruise missiles in the later H-6K and H-6J models. Beijing could easily have produced a successor in a similar vein, basically a giant four-engine airliner-sized cargo plane loaded with fuel and long-range missiles that’s never intended to get close enough for adversaries to shoot back.

Alternately, analyst Andreas Rupprecht reported that China considered developing a late-Cold War style supersonic bomber akin to the U.S. B-1 or Russian Tu-160 called the JH-XX. This would have lugged huge bombloads at high speed and low altitude, while exhibiting partial stealth characteristics for a marginal improvement in survivability. However, such an approach was already considered excessively vulnerable to modern fighters and air defense by the late twentieth century. A Chinese magazine cover sported a concept image of the JH-XX in 2013, but the project appears to have been set aside for now.

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Instead, in the PLAAF elected to pursue a more ambitious approach: a slower but far stealthier flying wing like the U.S. B-2 and forthcoming B-21 Raider. A particular advantage of large flying wings is they are less susceptible to detection by low-bandwidth radar, such as those on the Navy’s E-2 Hawkeye radar planes, which are effective at detecting the approach of smaller stealth fighters.

While China’s development of stealth aircraft technology in the J-20 and J-31 stealth fighter was an obvious prerequisite for the H-20 project, so apparently was Xi’an’s development of the hulking Y-20 ‘Chubby Girl’ cargo plane, which established the company’s capability to build large, long-range aircraft using modern computer-aided design and manufacturing techniques—precision technology essential for mass producing the exterior surfaces of stealth aircraft.

According to a study by Rick Joe at The Diplomat, Chinese publications began speculating about the H-20 in the early 2010s. Postulated characteristics include four non-afterburning WS-10A Taihang turbofans sunk into the top of the wing surface with S-shaped saw-toothed inlets for stealth. It’s worth noting that the WS-10 has been plagued by major problems, but that hasn’t stopped China from manufacturing fighters using WS-10s, with predictably troubled results.

The new strategic bomber is expected to have a maximum un-refueled combat radius exceeding 5,000 miles and payload between the H-6’s ten tons and the B-2’s twenty-three tons. This is because the H-20 is reportedly designed to strike targets beyond the “second island ring” (which includes U.S. bases in Japan, Guam, the Philippines, etc.) from bases on mainland China. The third island chain extends to Hawaii and coastal Australia.

In a U.S.-China conflict, the best method for neutralizing U.S. air power would be to destroy it on the ground (or carrier deck), especially in the opening hours of a war. While ballistic missiles and H-6 bombers can already contribute to this with long-range missiles, these are susceptible to detection and interception given adequate forewarning. A stealth bomber could approach much closer to carrier task forces and air bases before releasing its weapons, giving defenses too little time to react. An initial strike might in fact focus on air defense radars, “opening the breach” for a follow up wave of less stealthy attacks.

The H-20 will also likely be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, finally giving China a full triad of nuclear-capable submarines, ballistic missiles and bombers. Though the H-6 was China’s original nuclear bomber, these are no longer configured for nuclear strike, though that could change if air-launched nuclear-tipped cruise or ballistic missile are devised. Beijing is nervous that the United States’ limited ballistic missile defense capabilities might eventually become adequate for countering China’s small ICBM and SLBM arsenal. The addition of a stealth bomber would contribute to China’s nuclear deterrence by adding a new, difficult-to-stop vector of nuclear attack that the U.S. defenses aren’t designed to protect against.

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Some Chinese publications also argue that the H-20 will do double-duty as a networked reconnaissance and command & control platform similar to U.S. F-35 stealth fighters. This would make sense, as China has developed a diverse arsenal of long-range air-, ground- and sea-launched missiles, but doesn’t necessarily have a robust reconnaissance network to form a kill-chain cueing these missiles to distant targets. Theoretically, an H-20 could rove ahead, spying the position of opposing sea-based assets using a low-probability-of-intercept AESA radar, and fuse that information to a firing platform hundreds or even thousands of miles away. The H-20 could also be used for electronic warfare or to deploy specialized directed energy.

The crescendo of publicity surrounding the H-20 indicates the PLAAF believes the plane will soon be ready enough to show to the public—and international audiences. Once revealed, analysts will pour over the aircraft’s geometry to estimate just how the stealthy it really is, looking for radar-reflective Achilles’ heels such as exposed engine inlets and indiscrete tail stabilizers. However, external analysis cannot provide a full assessment, because the quality of the radar-absorbent materials applied to surfaces, and the finesse of the manufacturing (avoiding seams, protruding screws, etc.) has a major impact on radar cross-section.

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It is worth bearing in mind, however, that an H-20 seeking to slip through the gauntlet of long-range search radars scattered across the Pacific to launch CJ-10K cruise missiles with a range of over nine hundred miles would not require the same degree of stealth as an F-35 intended to penetrate more densely defended airspace and launch small diameter bombs with a range of 70 miles.

Analysts forecast the H-20’s first flight in the early 2020s, with production possibly beginning around 2025. If the H-20 is judged to be of credible design, the Pentagon in turn will have to factor the strategic implications of China’s stealth capabilities, and will likely seek to field implement counter-stealth technologies which formerly have been mostly vaunted by Russia and China. The publicity which the often-secretive Chinese government is according the H-20 also indicates Beijing’s hope the bomber will serve as a strategic deterrent to foreign adversaries—even before its first flight.

Source: National Interest “China’s H-20 Stealth Bomber Could Be the U.S. Military’s Worst Nightmare”

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.


China’s win-win strategy is paying off: US scholar


US expert cites the Belt & Road initiative as actions taken by China to back up its commitment to multilateralism

By Dave Makichuk November 26, 2019

China’s strong commitment to multilateralism is vital to the stability, security and healthy development of the entire world being threatened by an upsurge of unilateralism and protectionism, a leading US expert on China has said.

I am struck by the breadth and scope of China’s engagement with the world. There is now no matter of global importance in which China does not participate,” said Robert Lawrence Kuhn, chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Noting that China needs a “stable international environment to enable its domestic development,” the expert said the Asian nation has also recognized and shouldered its global responsibilities as a major country to make this world a better place.

Speaking at the UN Office at Geneva in 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China will continue to pursue a win-win strategy of opening-up, share development opportunities with other countries and welcome them aboard the fast train of China’s development, the report said.

Among all the actions taken by China to back up its commitment to multilateralism, Kuhn cited the Belt and Road Initiative as a fine example, adding that China’s expertise and experience in infrastructure construction is what the developing world needs to spur their economies.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative expands links between Asia, Africa and Europe and thus reduces imbalances in national development and promotes economic growth,” he said.

It is crucial for the developing world’s economy, and thus it is vital for the peace and prosperity of the entire world,” he added.

Proposed in 2013, the BRI aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

So far, the BRI has become a platform of opportunities and a road to prosperity for all its participants. China has signed cooperation documents with more than 160 countries and international organizations.

Source: Asia Times “China’s win-win strategy is paying off: US scholar”

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