China’s Next Homegrown Aircraft Carrier Will Use 4 Steam Catapults


China’s Science and Technology Daily says in its report yesterday that there has been recent media report that China’s next homegrown Type 002 aircraft carrier to be launched by the end of this year the earliest will be equipped with 4 steam catapults instead of electromagnetic ones.

The newspaper interviewed Chinese naval expert Li Jie for that. According to Li, steam catapults have been in use for half a century and proved very reliable while electromagnetic one is a brand new technology that needs actual proof of its reliability in spite of its great advantages compared with steam ones. China had better wait and see.

Moreover, electromagnetic catapult consumes lots of electricity so that the aircraft carrier must be a nuclear one with total power exceeding 60 MW. Judging by Li’s words, China’s next aircraft carrier will not be a nuclear one.

Source: Science and Technology Daily “Will China’s Type 002 aircraft carrier be equipped with 4 steam catapults? Expert gives explanation” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


Navy Whistleblower Raised More Alleged Safety Violations at Aircraft Maintenance Facility Before Being Fired


An F-18 / Getty Images

Safety concerns in military riding high after KC-130 crashed, killing 16 last week

BY: Susan Crabtree
July 17, 2017 10:19 am

A whistleblower who uncovered life-threatening fuel risks to Navy pilots and others was raising new safety complaints before managers fired him in early June.

Glenn Schwarz, a civilian aeronautical-engineering technician, says his civilian managers placed him in a highly technical job calibrating equipment used for testing weapons systems and equipment that support aircraft—a position for which he did not have the training or knowledge to perform. He also has asserted that the on-the-job training managers provided did not comply with Navy regulations.

“Glenn is unqualified, and thus not authorized by Navy regulation to conduct calibration activities,” his lawyer said in an email to an attorney for the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center-East in Cherry Point, N.C., Schwarz’s employer. “On-the-job training is not going to correct that deficiency.”

Cheri Cannon, his attorney, said Schwarz’s placement in a job for which he was unqualified reflects a larger problem with workers lacking credentials in violation of Navy regulations at the Metrology and Calibration (METCAL) laboratory and across the Fleet Readiness Center-East (FRC-E).

“Glenn is one of several employees at the METCAL lab who apparently lack either the proper education, training, or experience to properly do the job and this is an accident waiting to happen because of it,” she said.

The lax training and qualification standards is part of a broader history of flouting of Navy safety standards at FRC-E, some of which Schwarz has already played a role in exposing, she said.

The Office of Special Counsel, an internal federal government watchdog, is investigating Schwarz’s firing as an act of reprisal. Another quasi-judicial government agency for federal employees, the Merit Systems Protection, imposed a temporary 45-day halt to Schwarz’s firing while the OSC investigates.

A spokesman for the FRC-E declined to comment on the agency’s reasons for firing Schwarz, citing privacy laws designed to protect personnel. The U.S. Navy’s Air System Command public affairs office did not return calls seeking comment.

Safety concerns are running high across U.S. military communities in recent days after a Marine Corps KC-130 crashed in rural Mississippi a week ago, killing 16 people aboard and spreading debris for miles. The Marine Corps has officially said only that the aircraft “experienced a mishap” but provided no details on whether it was related to maintenance problems or pilot-error.

The KC-130 was coming from the Marine Corps Station in Cherry Point, the same location of the FRC-E maintenance and refueling facility at issue in Schwarz’s initial substantiated safety disclosures.

In addition, the Air Force temporarily grounded an F-35 fighter wing in Arizona last week after five incidents in which pilots suffered from oxygen-deprivation problems. Navy officials in recent months have described a rising rate of “physiological episodes” of those affecting pilots who fly all models of the F-18 aircraft, which is often described as the backbone of naval aviation.

Navy officials have categorized the episodes into two general groups: Those related to “pilot breathing gas” and those caused by “unscheduled pressure changes” in the cabin. A team of Navy investigators have assessed 382 cases so far, determining that 130 involved some form of oxygen contamination and 114 involved a failure of the jet’s system that maintains cabin pressure.

It remains a mystery whether the aging fleet or maintenance problems—or a combination of both—are leading to the sharp uptick in oxygen-related problems for pilots.

John Cochran, a professor emeritus of aerospace engineering at Auburn University, said any decision by managers to disregard required qualifications for highly technical jobs such as fixing support systems troubles him.

Cochran has served as consultant and expert witness in the analysis and reconstruction of accidents involving more than 30 airplane and helicopter crashes, many of them military aircraft.

“The regulations are written for a purpose, of course, and the purpose is to maintain a certain level of safety,” he said. “And if you have violations of those—any one little violation—the wrong type of violation at the wrong time—could cause an accident.”

C-130 military cargo aircraft had problems in the late 1970s and 1980s in cases he worked on with throttle-cables breaking, and those caused accidents, he said. The cables, and other sensitive systems on the aircraft, require accurate servicing and maintenance to avoid calamities.

“I don’t know all the regulations as far as what the Navy has on the books, but the smallest thing can sometimes cause a major problem—that’s the bottom line for aircraft,” he said. “We’ve had some of these aircraft for a long time, and they’re very reliable in most cases. But if you don’t follow the regulations, then you’re risking a lot.”

Schwarz was fired June 8 for what his lawyer describes as “trumped up” attendance-procedure charges and other false allegations she said would not have been leveled if he were not a whistleblower whose complaints caused friction and new safety standards at the FRC-E facility.

A Navy Inspector General report in 2015 substantiated many of Schwarz’s complaints about the improper testing of aircraft fueling equipment and the jet fuel itself, as well as the improper disposal of thousands of pounds of jet fuel.

The IG found that fuel hoses and the gauges on fuel trucks had not been tested in years, creating a possibility that contaminants could enter the fuel and pass by aircraft filtering systems, leading to potentially life-threatening engine performance issues and the deadly fire risks on the ground.

That Navy IG report was sent to then-President Obama and the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. The audit recommended more than a dozen steps to bring the FRC-E into compliance with Navy rules.

At the time of his initial fuel-safety complaints, Schwarz was responsible for administratively releasing aircraft for flight and ensuring all required maintenance and inspections were completed. After disagreements with his managers and legal action to try to mitigate what he says were threats of further reprisals, Schwarz agreed to accept a new aeronautical-engineering technician job in the hope of putting the issues behind him, his attorney said.

The settlement included a position description for a new job that Schwarz would accept that specified that his employers would continue to place him in an aeronautical engineering-technician job, according to his attorney. The new position’s description is classified as a “metrology-engineering technician.”

That job deals with the highly technical equipment calibration for which he is unqualified, according to Navy manuals his lawyer cited in a letter to the FRC-E’s attorney and Office of Special Counsel mediators.

According to Navy guidelines, known as “an instruction,” “all calibration processes utilize metrological measurement techniques. To ensure accurate and reliable technical expertise, it is necessary to employ high-caliber technicians and enhance their technical capability through additional training.”

The instruction goes on to say that civilian employees hired to perform calibration procedures and functions must have certain educational or training backgrounds, including a Bachelor of Science in engineering or physical science, completion of a METCAL apprentice training program of four years, an Associate of Science in physical science degree, vocational school or physical/mechanical background, or equivalent skills and four years of experience.

Specifically, the METCAL job description for his current role said applicants must have “extensive practical application experience in the field of metrology or calibration” including knowledge of all the “assigned platforms” relating to several aircraft and their “associated engines, test stands, peculiar/common support equipment and weapons systems, and operational plans to enable the incumbent to make technical decisions on problems and concerns.”

Additionally, the job requires an “ability to recognize anomalies and determine if they are due to equipment, experimental or other errors” and “takes [sic] action to make changes to equipment calibration procedures to resolve problems.”

“”Mr. Schwarz has none of these educational credentials, experiences or formal training,” Cannon said. “He is ill-equipped to meet the demands of the calibration lab, and using him is unauthorized.”

“He must be put through school in order to comply with the [Navy regulation],” she said. “Simply put, putting an untrained, unqualified person like Glenn in a position required by NAVAIR instructions to have certain training and education that he does not have, is a safety hazard which can easily be avoided.”

She also pointed out that placing Schwarz in the position exposes the FRC-E command “to some risk should something be missed or go awry with equipment Glenn is asked to work on.”

Source: Washington Free Beacon “Navy Whistleblower Raised More Alleged Safety Violations at Aircraft Maintenance Facility Before Being Fired”

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


China’s Official Media Advocates War if US Sends Warship to Taiwan


Reuters says in its report today titled “China upset about ‘negative’ Taiwan content in U.S. defense bill”, “China said on Monday it had lodged a stern complaint with the United States after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of a big annual defense bill that would expand exchanges with self-ruled Taiwan.”

The defense bill Reuters refers to in its report is the United States’ National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which also proposes expanding training and exercises with Taiwan including what Reuters fails to mention in its report: NDAA provides that US warships may berth in Taiwan ports.

Global Times, a newspaper under Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece People’s Daily is more bellicose in its editorial on that. It regards such move of US warships as US support for Taiwan independence that China can never allow.

Therefore, Global Times says that China shall announce that the US shall not cross that bottom line. If a US warship stays at a Taiwan port, China shall conduct military attack at the military facilities in that port. If Taiwan dares to conduct counterattack, PLA shall attack the Taiwan military that conducts the counterattack. If the US warship participates in Taiwan’s counterattack, China shall sink the warship.

The editorial says that China is making great efforts for its peaceful rise but shall be brave to fight. Only in that way can China’s economic and military strength be powerful deterrence to “Taiwan independence” forces inside and outside Taiwan.

Is that editorial mere bluffing? Global times is often used by Chinese authorities to show its stance that they do not want to uphold openly. China first of all wants win-win cooperation with the US but is also clear of the conflicts between the two powers. The most serious conflict is US support for Taiwan. China and the US are able to maintain good ties as the US has made clear that it opposes Taiwan independence.

However, a US warship in a Taiwan port even a short visit indicates US support for Taiwan independence.

Chinese people remember well the humiliation they suffer in nearly a century in the past when China was bullied by foreign powers. One of the worst humiliations was its loss to Japan in its first war with Japan resulting in its ceding of Taiwan to Japan.

It recovered Taiwan due to the victory of World War II. Will Chinese people allow China to be humiliated in losing Taiwan again? If Chinese Communist Party dare not fight, they will overthrow it.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report and Global Time’s editorial. I give summary translation of Global Times editorial. Full text of the editorial in Chinese can be viewed at http://mil.huanqiu.com/observation/2017-07/10989193.html while that of Reuters report can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-usa-taiwan-idUSKBN1A20QA.


U.S.-China trade talks sputtering at 100-day deadline


FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shake hands prior to a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017.Saul Loeb/ Pool/File Photo

Andrew Galbraith and Dominique Patton July 16, 2017 / 5:07 PM / 14 hours ago

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Bilateral talks aimed at reducing the U.S. trade deficit with China have yielded some initial deals, but U.S. firms say much more needs to be done as a deadline for a 100-day action plan expires on Sunday.

The negotiations, which began in April, have reopened China’s market to U.S. beef after 14 years and prompted Chinese pledges to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas. American firms have also been given access to some parts of China’s financial services sector.

More details on the 100-day plan are expected to be announced in the coming week as senior U.S. and Chinese officials gather in Washington for annual bilateral economic talks, rebranded this year as the “U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue.”

“We hope to report further progress on the 100-day deliverables next week,” a U.S. Commerce Department spokesman said on Saturday. “That will be the basis for judging the extent of progress.”

The spokesman declined to discuss potential areas for new agreements since a May 11 announcement on beef, chicken, financial services and LNG.

Earlier in April, when Chinese President Xi Jinping met U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time at his Florida resort, Xi agreed to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting U.S. exports and trimming the U.S. trade deficit with China.

The U.S. goods trade deficit with China reached $347 billion last year. The gap in the first five months of 2017 widened about 5.3 percent from a year earlier, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

“It is an excellent momentum builder, but much more needs to be done for U.S.-China commercial negotiations to be considered a success,” said Jacob Parker, vice president of China operations at the U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC) in Beijing.

There has been little sign of progress in soothing the biggest trade irritants, such as U.S. demands that China cut excess capacity in steel and aluminum production, lack of access for U.S. firms to China’s services market, and U.S. national security curbs on high-tech exports to China.

The Trump administration is considering broad tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum on national security grounds, partly in response to what it views as a glut of Chinese production that is flooding international markets and driving down prices.

North Korea has cast a long shadow over the relationship, after Pyongyang tested what some experts have described as an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.

Trump has linked progress in trade to China’s ability to rein in North Korea, which counts on Beijing as its chief friend and ally.

“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 percent in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” Trump said on Twitter after the North Korean missile test.

Trading Meat

American beef is now available in Chinese shops for the first time since a 2003 U.S. case of “mad cow” disease, giving U.S. ranchers access to a rapidly growing market worth around $2.6 billion last year.

More beef deals were signed during an overseas buying mission by the Chinese last week.

“There are hopes there will be even more concrete results,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in Beijing on Friday. He did not elaborate.

Critics of the 100-day process said China had already agreed to lift its ban on U.S. beef last September, with officials just needing to finalize details on quarantine requirements.

China, meanwhile, has delivered its first batch of cooked chicken to U.S. ports after years of negotiating for access to the market.

But unlike the rush by Chinese consumers for a first taste of American beef, Chinese poultry processors have not had a flurry of orders for cooked chicken.

Demand should improve once China is allowed to ship Chinese grown, processed and cooked chicken to the United States, said Li Wei, export manager at Qingdao Nine Alliance Group, China’s top exporter of processed poultry.

Biotech Crops

Other sectors in China under U.S. pressure to open up have moved more slowly.

Beijing had only approved two of the eight biotech crops waiting for import approval, despite gathering experts to review the crops on two occasions in a six-week period.

U.S. industry officials had signalled they were expecting more approvals. U.S. executives say the review process still lacks transparency.

Financial services is another area where little progress has been made, U.S. officials say.

USCBC’s Parker said it is unclear how long it will take for foreign credit rating agencies to be approved, or whether U.S.-owned suppliers of electronic payment services will be able to secure licenses.

The bilateral talks have also not addressed restrictions on foreign investment in life insurance and securities trading, or “the many challenges foreign companies face in China’s cybersecurity enforcement environment,” Parker said.

In an annual report released Thursday, the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said China remained a “difficult market”.

Additional reporting by David Lawder in WASHINGTON, Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Ryan Woo and Bill Tarrant

Source: Reuters “U.S.-China trade talks sputtering at 100-day deadline”

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


Successful Maiden Flight of China’s Mass-produced CH-5 Drone


Maiden flight of China’s mass-produced CH-5 drone. Beijing Daily’s photo

In the afternoon of July 14, China successfully completed maiden flight of its mass-produced Caihong-5 (CH-5) drone at an airport in Hebei Province. It marks the beginning of formal mass production of CH-5 world-first-class advanced drones for both military and civilian purposes.

Since its first appearance in Zhuhai Airshow last year, CH-5 has undergone quite a few improvements. It is now a large reconnaissance-strike drone characterized with long range and duration and heavy fire power.

It has a wingspan of 21 meters with a maximum takeoff weight of 3,300 kg. It can carry a maximum load of 1,000 kg on its wings so that it can carry 8 AR-1 missiles. Its maximum range and duration are respectively 10,000 km and 60 hours with a ceiling of 7,600 m. It can stay in air for 30 hours even when it carries 8 AR-1 missiles.
With such wonderful functions, CH-5 can be used for 24-hour reconnaissance, monitoring, inspection, patrol, accurate positioning and strike of targets and assessment of the results of attack. It is, therefore, a real heavy sniper able to detect and immediately attack ground or sea targets within 2,000 km.

For civilian use, it is able to conduct resources exploration, marine ecology and environment protection, disaster monitoring and relief, inspection of activities in sea areas and islands, marine rights maintenance and law enforcement, etc.

Due to such wonderful functions and performance, users in lots of countries are interested in CH-5 even before the commencement of its mass production.

Source: Beijing Daily “Maiden flight of China’s mass-produced Caihong-5 drone: How advanced are its functions and performance?” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


Xi confidant and rising Chinese political star promoted


Chen Miner in Beijing, China March 6, 2017. Photo by Tyrone Siu

Adam Jourdan and Philip Wen July 15, 2017 / 9:58 AM / 6 hours ago

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Saturday named rising political star Chen Miner as Communist Party boss in southwestern Chongqing, cementing his reputation as a favorite of President Xi Jinping ahead of a leadership reshuffle at a key party congress in the autumn.

The elevation of Chen, a trusted confidant of Xi, is a sign the president is flexing his political muscles as he maneuvers to line up a new Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of political power in China.

Chen previously worked under Xi in Zhejiang province, where Xi was then provincial party leader, and has since ridden the coat-tails of his former boss, climbing rapidly through the party ranks. Foreign diplomats who have met Chen say he talks openly about his closeness to Xi.

Chen, who moves to Chongqing from the poor southwestern province of Guizhou, takes over from Sun Zhengcai, the official news agency Xinhua said, without saying where Sun would go next or including wording to suggest he would get another position.

Chongqing television’s main evening news showed Chen giving a speech to senior city officials, telling them he would not let down the party’s trust in giving him such an important job. His predecessor Sun did not appear to be present in the meeting.

Chongqing is perhaps best known for its association with its disgraced former party boss Bo Xilai, once himself a contender for top leadership before being jailed for life in 2013 in a dramatic corruption scandal.

Chen said officials must “resolutely eliminate the malign influence” of the Bo case, Chongqing television reported.

Sun had been seen as another potential candidate for elevation at the autumn congress, but his star has waned.

Sources with ties to the leadership and foreign diplomats say Sun has been out of favor after the party’s anti-corruption watchdog this year criticized Chongqing authorities for not doing enough to root out Bo’s influence.

Chen was made Guizhou deputy party secretary in 2012, but was promoted to governor less than a year later and within roughly a month of Xi becoming president, before moving up again to his role as Guizhou party boss in 2015.

Sources with ties to the leadership had said Chen could jump straight into the Standing Committee with Xi’s support potentially easing out contenders from rival factions, though Chen is still considered a dark horse candidate.

The switch from Guizhou to the more high-profile Chongqing role signals that Chen is virtually assured of a Politburo spot. But the change so close to the 19th Party Congress may mean he has to wait longer for further promotion, as it would be unusual to move the holder of such an important post within months.

For decades, Guizhou was one of China’s most backward provinces, but in recent years the central government has poured in billions of yuan, with a focus on poverty alleviation and big data.

Xinhua said Guizhou governor Sun Zhigang, who is not related to Sun Zhengcai, had taken over as the province’s party chief.

Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Stephen Powell

Source: Reuters “Xi confidant and rising Chinese political star promoted”

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


Prominent rights activist Xu Zhiyong freed from Chinese jail


File photo: Chinese rights advocate Xu Zhiyong speaks during a meeting in Beijing in this handout photo dated March 30, 2013.Xiao Guozhen/Handout via Reuters

Philip Wen and Natalie Thomas July 15, 2017 / 2:41 PM / 16 minutes ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – One of China’s most prominent rights activists was released by the authorities on Saturday after serving a four-year sentence that prompted international criticism, with his lawyer saying he hoped he would be allowed to live as a free man.

Xu Zhiyong, whose “New Citizens’ Movement” advocated working within the system to press for change, was detained in 2013 and subsequently convicted of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”.

One of the group’s main demands had been for officials to publicly disclose their assets, a demand taken against the backdrop of the ruling Communist Party’s own efforts to crackdown on deep-seat corruption under President Xi Jinping.

Xu’s lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, told Reuters he had brought Xu up to speed with “events on the outside”, including the death of fellow activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo. He said Xu was “upset” upon hearing the news.

Zhang said Xu, who was released from his jail on Beijing’s outskirts on Saturday morning, was in good physical condition and had few immediate plans beyond spending time with family.

At the height of Xu’s activism, he attracted hundreds of supporters who participated in activities related to the movement, having first gained prominence in 2003 for helping victims of tainted baby formula and migrant workers without access to healthcare and education.

It prompted a crackdown from the Communist Party, which swiftly crushes any perceived challenge to its rule.

“The idea of the New Citizens Movement is not to overthrow, but to establish,” he wrote in a 2010 essay. “It’s not one social class displacing another social class, but allowing righteousness to take its place in China.”

Xu refused to defend himself in his 2014 trial, and remained silent as a way to protest what Zhang said was a controlled legal process where a guilty outcome was a foregone conclusion.

As international rights groups and foreign governments call for Chinese authorities to guarantee freedom for Liu Xiaobo’s widow, Liu Xia, Xu’s supporters have also expressed concern whether he will remain under close watch or effective house arrest. Some said on social media they were barred by security guards and plain-clothed officers from entering Xu’s apartment compound on Saturday.

Other high-profile and politically sensitive prisoners released from jail, including rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and journalist Gao Yu, remain closely watched by Chinese authorities.

“I hope he will be completely free,” Zhang said.

Xu taught law at a Beijing university and ran in a local election. He became prominent over a drive to abolish “custody and repatriation” powers, a form of arbitrary detention used by local governments to sweep homeless people off the streets.

Editing by Ben Blanchard and Jacqueline Wong

Source: Reuters “Prominent rights activist Xu Zhiyong freed from Chinese jail”

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