Tillerson affirms importance of constructive U.S.-China ties


FILE PHOTO: Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to become U.S. Secretary of State on Capitol Hill in Washington January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to become U.S. Secretary of State on Capitol Hill in Washington January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

By David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON Tue Feb 21, 2017 | 8:14pm EST

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke by telephone with China’s top diplomat on Tuesday and affirmed the importance of a constructive U.S.-China relationship, and the two agreed on the need to address the threat posed by North Korea, the State Department said.

Tillerson and Yang Jiechi, China’s state councilor who outranks the foreign minister, also discussed economics and trade as well as potential cooperation on counterterrorism, law enforcement and transnational crime, the State Department said in a statement.

The call appeared to be the latest effort by the world’s two largest economies to put relations back on an even keel after a rocky start following U.S. President Donald Trump’s November election victory.

“Secretary Tillerson and State Councilor Yang affirmed the importance of a constructive bilateral relationship,” the U.S. statement said. “The two sides agreed on the need to address the threat that North Korea poses to regional stability.”

The call follows a meeting between China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Tillerson on Friday, their first face-to-face encounter since Tillerson began his job at the start of this month.

In that meeting, Wang stressed that common interests between China and the United States far outweigh their differences.

Trump angered Beijing in December by talking to the president of Taiwan and saying the United States did not have to stick to the “one China” policy, under which Washington acknowledges the Chinese position that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of it.

Trump also accused China of not doing enough to rein in its neighbor North Korea.

However, in a phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping last week, Trump agreed to honor the “one China” policy, a major diplomatic boost for Beijing, which brooks no criticism of its claim to self-ruled Taiwan.

“China hopes the two countries, following through on the spirit of the phone conversation, could uphold the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation as well as enhance high-level exchanges,” Yang told Tillerson, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

China’s readout of the call did not mention any specific issues, with Xinhua noting only that they also “exchanged some views on a number of international issues.”

On Saturday, China’s Commerce Ministry said it would ban all coal imports from North Korea until the end of this year after Pyongyang tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile in its first direct challenge to the international community since Trump took office.

China announced in April it would ban North Korean coal imports to comply with U.N. sanctions aimed at starving Pyongyang of funds for its nuclear and missile programs.

However, it made exceptions for deliveries intended for “the people’s wellbeing” and not connected to the weapons programs.

Other areas of disagreement between the United States and China include trade imbalances and China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Cynthia Oserman and Paul Tait)

Source: Reuters “Tillerson affirms importance of constructive U.S.-China ties”

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


Stealth-Killer: How Russia or China Could Crush America’s F-35 or F-22 Raptor


F-22. Image credit: Creative Commons

F-22. Image credit: Creative Commons

Dave Majumdar February 20, 2017

With a missile warhead large enough, the range resolution does not have to be precise. For example, the now antiquated S-75 Dvina—known in NATO parlance as the SA-2 Guideline—has a 440-pound warhead with a lethal radius of more than 100 feet. Thus, a notional twenty-microsecond compressed pulse with a range resolution of 150 feet should have the range resolution to get the warhead close enough—according to Pietrucha’s theory. The directional and elevation resolution would have to be similar with an angular resolution of roughly 0.3 degrees for a target at thirty nautical miles because the launching radar is the only system guiding the SA-2. For example, a missile equipped with its own sensor—perhaps an infrared sensor with a scan volume of a cubic kilometer—would be an even more dangerous foe against an F-22 or F-35.

The United States has poured ten of billions of dollars into developing fifth-generation stealth fighters such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. However, relatively simple signal processing enhancements, combined with a missile with a large warhead and its own terminal guidance system, could potentially allow low-frequency radars and such weapons systems to target and fire on the latest generation U.S. aircraft.

It is a well-known fact within Pentagon and industry circles that low-frequency radars operating in the VHF and UHF bands can detect and track low-observable aircraft. It has generally been held that such radars can’t guide a missile onto a target—i.e. generate a “weapons quality” track. But that is not exactly correct—there are ways to get around the problem according to some experts.

Traditionally, guiding weapons with low frequency radars has been limited by two factors. One factor is the width of the radar beam, while the second is the width of the radar pulse—but both limitations can be overcome with signal processing.

The width of the beam is directly related to the design of the antenna—which is necessarily large because of the low frequencies involved. Early low-frequency radars like the Soviet-built P-14 Tall King VHF-band radars was enormous in size and used a semi-parabolic shape to limit the width of the beam. Later radars like the P-18 Spoon Rest used a Yagi-Uda array—which were lighter and somewhat smaller. But these early low frequency radars had some serious limitations in determining the range and the precise direction of a contact. Furthermore, they could not determine altitude because the radar beams produced by these systems are several degrees wide in azimuth and tens of degrees wide in elevation.

Another traditional limitation of VHF and UHF-band radars is that their pulse width is long and they have a low pulse repetition frequency [PRF]—which means such systems are poor at accurately determining range. As Mike Pietrucha, a former Air Force an electronic warfare officer who flew on the McDonnell Douglas F-4G Wild Weasel and Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle once described to me, a pulse width of twenty microseconds yields a pulse that is roughly 19,600 ft long—range resolution is half the length of that pulse. That means that range can’t be determined accurately within 10,000 feet. Furthermore, two targets near one another can’t be distinguished as separate contacts.

Signal processing partially solved the range resolution problem as early as in the 1970s. The key is a process called frequency modulation on pulse, which is used to compress a radar pulse. The advantage of using pulse compression is that with a twenty-microsecond pulse, the range resolution is reduced to about 180 feet or so. There are also several other techniques that can be used to compress a radar pulse such as phase shift keying. Indeed, according to Pietrucha, the technology for pulse compression is decades old and was taught to Air Force electronic warfare officers during the 1980s. The computer processing power required for this is negligible by current standards, Pietrucha said.

Engineers solved the problem of directional or azimuth resolution by using phased array radar designs, which dispensed with the need for a parabolic array. Unlike older mechanically scanned arrays, phased array radars steer their radar beams electronically. Such radars can generate multiple beams and can shape those beams for width, sweep rate and other characteristics. The necessary computing power to accomplish that task was available in the late 1970s for what eventually became the Navy’s Aegis combat system found on the Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. An active electronically scanned array is better still, being even more precise.

With a missile warhead large enough, the range resolution does not have to be precise. For example, the now antiquated S-75 Dvina—known in NATO parlance as the SA-2 Guideline—has a 440-pound warhead with a lethal radius of more than 100 feet. Thus, a notional twenty-microsecond compressed pulse with a range resolution of 150 feet should have the range resolution to get the warhead close enough—according to Pietrucha’s theory.

The directional and elevation resolution would have to be similar with an angular resolution of roughly 0.3 degrees for a target at thirty nautical miles because the launching radar is the only system guiding the SA-2. For example, a missile equipped with its own sensor—perhaps an infrared sensor with a scan volume of a cubic kilometer—would be an even more dangerous foe against an F-22 or F-35.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.

Source: National Interest “Stealth-Killer: How Russia or China Could Crush America’s F-35 or F-22 Raptor”

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.


Why China Fears (And Plans to Sink) America’s Aircraft Carriers


USS Ronald Reagan conducts rudder checks. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy

USS Ronald Reagan conducts rudder checks. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy

Kyle Mizokami February 19, 2017

More than twenty years ago, a military confrontation in East Asia pushed the United States and China uncomfortably close to conflict. Largely unknown in America, the event made a lasting impression on China, especially Chinese military planners. The Third Taiwan Crisis, as historians call it, was China’s introduction to the power and flexibility of the aircraft carrier, something it obsesses about to this day.

The crisis began in 1995. Taiwan’s first-ever democratic elections for president were set for 1996, a major event that Beijing naturally opposed. The sitting president, Lee Teng-hui of the Kuomintang party, was invited to the United States to speak at his alma mater, Cornell University. Lee was already disliked by Beijing for his emphasis on “Taiwanization,” which favored home rule and established a separate Taiwanese identity away from mainland China. Now he was being asked to speak at Cornell on Taiwan’s democratization, and Beijing was furious.

The Clinton administration was reluctant to grant Lee a visa—he had been denied one for a similar talk at Cornell the year before—but near-unanimous support from Congress forced the White House’s hand. Lee was granted a visa and visited Cornell in June. The Xinhua state news agency warned, “The issue of Taiwan is as explosive as a barrel of gunpowder. It is extremely dangerous to warm it up, no matter whether the warming is done by the United States or by Lee Teng-hui. This wanton wound inflicted upon China will help the Chinese people more clearly realize what kind of a country the United States is.”

In August 1995, China announced a series of missiles exercises in the East China Sea. Although the exercises weren’t unusual, their announcement was, and there was speculation that this was the beginning of an intimidation campaign by China, both as retaliation against the Cornell visit and intimidation of Taiwan’s electorate ahead of the next year’s elections. The exercises involved the People’s Liberation Army’s Second Artillery Corps (now the PLA Rocket Forces) and the redeployment of Chinese F-7 fighters (China’s version of the MiG-21 Fishbed fighter) 250 miles from Taiwan. Also, in a move that would sound very familiar in 2017, up to one hundred Chinese civilian fishing boats entered territorial waters around the Taiwanese island of Matsu, just off the coast of the mainland.

According to Globalsecurity.org, redeployments of Chinese long-range missile forces continued into 1996, and the Chinese military actually prepared for military action. China drew up contingency plans for thirty days of missile strikes against Taiwan, one strike a day, shortly after the March 1996 presidential elections. These strikes were not carried out, but preparations were likely detected by U.S. intelligence.

In March 1996, China announced its fourth major military exercises since the Cornell visit. The country’s military announced a series of missile test zones off the Chinese coastline, which also put the missiles in the approximate direction of Taiwan. In reality, China fired three missiles, two of which splashed down just thirty miles from the Taiwanese capital of Taipei and one of which splashed down thirty-five miles from Kaohsiung. Together, the two cities handled most of the country’s commercial shipping traffic. For an export-driven country like Taiwan, the missile launches seemed like an ominous shot across the country’s economic bow.

American forces were already operating in the area. The USS Bunker Hill, a Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruiser, was stationed off southern Taiwan to monitor Chinese missile tests with its SPY-1 radar system. The Japan-based USS Independence, along with the destroyers Hewitt and O’Brien and frigate McClusky, took up position on the eastern side of the island.

After the missile tests, the carrier USS Nimitz left the Persian Gulf region and raced back to the western Pacific. This was an even more powerful carrier battle group, consisting of the Aegis cruiser Port Royal, guided missile destroyers Oldendorf and Callaghan (which would later be transferred to the Taiwanese Navy), guided missile frigate USS Ford, and nuclear attack submarine USS Portsmouth. Nimitz and its escorts took up station in the Philippine Sea, ready to assist Independence. Contrary to popular belief, neither carrier actually entered the Taiwan Strait.

The People’s Liberation Army, unable to do anything about the American aircraft carriers, was utterly humiliated. China, which was just beginning to show the consequences of rapid economic expansion, still did not have a military capable of posing a credible threat to American ships just a short distance from of its coastline.

While we might never know the discussions that later took place, we know what has happened since. Just two years later a Chinese businessman purchased the hulk of the unfinished Russian aircraft carrier Riga, with the stated intention of turning it into a resort and casino. We know this ship today as China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, after it was transferred to the PLA Navy and underwent a fifteen-year refurbishment. At least one other carrier is under construction, and the ultimate goal may be as many as five Chinese carriers.

At the same time, the Second Artillery Corps leveraged its expertise in long-range rockets to create the DF-21D antiship ballistic missile. The DF-21 has obvious applications against large capital ships, such as aircraft carriers, and in a future crisis could force the U.S. Navy to operate eight to nine hundred miles off Taiwan and the rest of the so-called “First Island Chain.”

The Third Taiwan Crisis was a brutal lesson for a China that had long prepared to fight wars inside of its own borders. Still, the PLA Navy deserves credit for learning from the incident and now, twenty-two years later, it is quite possible that China could seriously damage or even sink an American carrier. Also unlike the United States, China is in the unique position of both seeing the value of carriers and building its own fleet while at the same time devoting a lot of time and resources to the subject of sinking them. The United States may soon find itself in the same position.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

Source: National Interest “Why China Fears (And Plans to Sink) America’s Aircraft Carriers”

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.


Ivanka’s Popularity in China Bodes Well for China-US Relations


Ivanka Trump’s popularity has grown in China since she and her daughter visited the Chinese embassy in Washington at Lunar New Year. Photo: Xinhua

Ivanka Trump’s popularity has grown in China since she and her daughter visited the Chinese embassy in Washington at Lunar New Year. Photo: Xinhua

While Trump spoke harshly on China, his daughter Invanka Trump brought her daughter to Chinese embassy in Washington at Chinese Lunar New Year, where her daughter gave performance of a Chinese song. The message was quite clear. Trump wants good relations with China. As Chinese people also want good relations with the US, Ivanka has become very popular in China.

SCMP says in its report “Dozens of Chinese firms apply to use ‘Ivanka’ as their trademark, “Dozens of Chinese businesses and individuals have submitted at least 65 applications to Beijing to use “Ivanka” as a trademark for their products, ranging from wallpaper to alcohol, according to the national trademark office.”

Due to Invanka’s popularity, according to SCMP, about 40 Chinese companies have used the Chinese characters of her name in their company registrations.

Such favorable response to Ivanka’s visit bodes well for US-China relations.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/economy/article/2072337/dozens-chinese-firms-apply-use-ivanka-their-trademark.


The Conundrum of China-North Korea Relations 2


 FILE PHOTO: People look through binoculars towards North Korea from the destroyed bridge across Yalu River that once linked North Korea's Sinuiju and Dandong, China's Liaoning province, September 10, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo People look through binoculars towards North Korea from the destroyed bridge across Yalu River that once linked North Korea's Sinuiju and Dandong, China's Liaoning province, September 10, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

People look through binoculars towards North Korea from the destroyed bridge across Yalu River that once linked North Korea’s Sinuiju and Dandong, China’s Liaoning province, September 10, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

In my post “The Conundrum of China-North Korea Relations” the day before yesterday, I said that China satisfied US President Trump in yuan exchange rate, import tariffs and intellectual property as those are what China has already had intention to do, but has difficulties to be hard on North Korea.

I described in my post the kinship between Chinese and North Korean peoples.

Some believe that China benefits from the trouble created by North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests to the US, Japan and South Korea as the three form an iron triangle against China. However, China will be in great trouble if Trump has Japan and South Korea develop nuclear weapons to deal with North Korea and put China under direct threat of Japan and South Korea’s nuclear weapons; therefore, China has to stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, especially when Trump has shown his desire in his phone call with Xi for win-win cooperation with China.

To please the US and put pressure on North Korea, China has recently announced that it would suspend import of North Korean coal, that accounts for $1.89 billion of the $2.5 billion in total Chinese imports from North Korea.

However, China does not want to punish North Korea too hard for fear of the collapse of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un regime.

Reuters says in its report “China wields stick with North Korea, but is still pushing for talks” yesterday that China fears that the collapse may give rise to flood of hundreds of thousands North Korean refugees into China.

In addition, “Beijing would also be concerned that U.S. and South Korean armed forces would move into North Korea and soon be on the Chinese border.”

That is why Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Munich over the weekend that China had not given up hope for a new round of diplomacy with North Korea, even as he pledged support for UN sanctions.

Anyway, Trump must be satisfied. I hope that the win-win cooperation between the US and China will make both of them strong and prosperous perhaps at the expense of Japan. North Korea will also be happy about that as Kim Jong-un in fact wants good relations with the US. His nuclear and missile tests are but bargaining chips for improvement of relations with the US. However, North Korea hates Japan bitterly.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-northkorea-analysis-idUSKBN15Z11M.


Inbound China M&A takes flight on consumer promise


FILE PHOTO: People queue outside of a newly opened duty free shop in Shanghai, China, August 8, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: People queue outside of a newly opened duty free shop in Shanghai, China, August 8, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS/File Photo

By Elzio Barreto | HONG KONG Sun Feb 19, 2017 | 6:19pm EST

Overseas acquisitions by Chinese buyers are cooling after two record years as Beijing reins in capital outflows, but deals into China are on the rise, and new rules will make it easier for foreign buyers to tap China’s giant consumer potential.

Inbound M&A deals have already reached $7.1 billion so far in 2017, almost double the amount in the same period last year and are well on track to beat the 2016 total of $46 billion, while outbound deals tumbled more than 40 percent to $8.4 billion, Thomson Reuters data showed.

Deals in retail and consumer staples accounted for nearly half those early transactions, far outpacing real estate and financial deals, which usually dominate inbound M&A.

Belgian investment firm Verlinvest is ahead of the trend.

It set up a $300 million venture last year with Chinese state-owned conglomerate China Resources and has already deployed more than half of the funds.

Verlinvest, which manages funds for the founding families of Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR), is investing in minority and majority stakes in leading western brands so it can push them through China Resources’ distribution channels in China, said Nicholas Cator, who is responsible for the Asia business.

“We’re going to be focusing on those high-growth sectors that are based on consumer trends, like health-related food and beverage products, healthcare, education, cinema or entertainment, or anything linked to kind of cultural production and content,” he said.

Verlinvest’s joint venture in December bought an undisclosed stake in Oatly, a Swedish maker of dairy-free products, and plans to expand it into China, and in November it bought a majority stake in Red Sun Enterprise, which owns senior care homes in Shanghai and Nanjing.

LOOSER APPROVALS REGIME

The leadership in Beijing has long been trying to rebalance the economy away from infrastructure, heavy industry and export-led growth and towards domestic consumption, so in theory such investment should be welcome, but in practice foreign capital has fallen foul of barriers to entry.

That appears to be changing. After a trial in a few of its free-trade zones, China in October expanded to the entire country a new liberalization program.

Apart from a “negative list” of industries deemed too sensitive, foreign investments no longer need to go through a cumbersome approval system, and there has even been some loosening in the off-limits list.

“The direction China is going is that for most sectors, provided it’s not in the so-called negative list, where there would be additional scrutiny, the process for corporate establishment and changes including share transfers should be simpler,” said Tracy Wut, M&A partner at law firm Baker McKenzie in Hong Kong.

“From the recently amended negative list, there are further relaxations in certain sectors to which the government is trying to encourage foreign investments.”

CDIB Capital International Corp, part of Taiwanese financial group China Development Financial Holding (CDF) (2883.TW), is also seizing the opportunities.

Last August it invested 200 million yuan ($29.2 million) for a stake in outdoor sports retailer Tutwo (Xiamen) Outdoor Co Ltd, betting on a jump in demand for hiking, skiing and camping gear in China.

“Clearly there’s going to be more of a focus on domestic growth and consumption is one of the themes,” said Lionel de Saint-Exupery, president and CEO of CDIB. “Consumption is still relatively robust, but we’re not just seeking average growth, we’re seeking hyper growth and that you can see in new categories.”

The biggest fly in the ointment, according to David Cogman, a principal focusing on China at consulting firm McKinsey & Co, is the lofty valuations for Chinese assets.

Consumption and services companies listed in Shenzhen and Shanghai trade at about 30 times their earnings, compared with a multiple of 17 for similar companies trading in Hong Kong and about 20 for U.S.-listed companies, Thomson Reuters data shows.

“At the end of the day, particularly if you’re a fund looking across multiple markets, your investment committees still have to think where to put the capital and that’s hard to do with the current numbers you see in China,” he said.

For a Graphic on China’s inbound and outbound M&A since 2000, click: here

(Reporting by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Will Waterman)

Source: Reuters “Inbound China M&A takes flight on consumer promise”

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


U.S. carrier group patrols in tense South China Sea


Sailors man the rails as the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier departs on deployment from Naval Station North Island in Coronado, California, U.S. January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Sailors man the rails as the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier departs on deployment from Naval Station North Island in Coronado, California, U.S. January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A United States aircraft carrier strike group has begun patrols in the South China Sea amid growing tension with China over control of the disputed waterway and concerns it could become a flashpoint under the new U.S. administration.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday warned Washington against challenging its sovereignty in the South China Sea.

The U.S. navy said the force, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, began routine operations in the South China Sea on Saturday. The announcement was posted on the Vinson’s Facebook page.

The strike group’s commander, Rear Admiral James Kilby, said that weeks of training in the Pacific had improved the group’s effectiveness and readiness.

“We are looking forward to demonstrating those capabilities while building upon existing strong relationships with our allies, partners and friends in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” he was quoted as saying by the Navy News Service.

Friction between the United States and China over trade and territory under U.S. President Donald Trump have increased concerns that the South China Sea could become a flashpoint.

China wrapped up its own naval exercises in the South China Sea on Friday. War games involving its own aircraft carrier have unnerved neighbors with which it has long-running territorial disputes.

China lays claim to almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the waters that command strategic sea lanes and have rich fishing grounds, along with oil and gas deposits.

The United States has criticized Beijing’s construction of man-made islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea, and expressed concern they could be used to restrict free movement.

(Reporting by Matthew Tostevin)

Source: Reuters “U.S. carrier group patrols in tense South China Sea”

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