US Pushing Japan, South Korea to China’s Side


Foreign Affairs says in its article “How an Alliance System Withers: Washington Is Sleeping Through the Japanese-Korean Dispute. China Isn’t” that the US fails but China is active in mediating the disputes between US allies Japan and South Korea.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and their South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha in Beijing, August 2019
Wu Hong / Reuters

That is indeed quite natural as US President finds the US suffers in having obligations to defend Japan and South Korea while China believed having the two in China-initiated Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will benefit not only China but also Japan and South Korea. Diplomacy is mainly driven by interests. Both Japan and South Korea have great interests in the markets of RCEP members while the US is trying hard to make their trade with the US less beneficial.

Therefore, it is normal for the US to push Japan and South Korea to China’s arms.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Affairs’ article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2019-09-09/how-alliance-system-withers?utm_medium=newsletters&utm_source=twofa&utm_content=20190913&utm_campaign=TWOFA%20091319%20Bolton%20Was%20Trump%E2%80%99s%20Best%20Match%2C%20Until%20He%20Wasn%E2%80%99t&utm_term=FA%20This%20Week%20-%20112017.

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RCEP Possible without India by the End of This Year


Bloomberg’s report “India Criticizes Chinese Trade Policies” shows India’s lack of enthusiasm in RCEP, the pan-Asian free trade agreement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

When RCEP was initiated seven years ago, it was regarded as China’s efforts to counter US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) aimed at containing China.

However, when TTP was signed by all its members, India was anxious to set up RCEP to counter it as India found that TTP would contain India more severely than China. Now, as the US has withdrawn from TTP, the harm to India has been mostly removed so that Indian trade deficit with China becomes India’s major concerns, which RECP cannot satisfactorily deal with so that India has lost its enthusiasm in RCEP.

The report quotes Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar as saying on Monday, “The big concerns of India are of course, one, its relationship with China because we have an enormous trade deficit with China,” in response to a question regarding the ongoing negotiations for RCEP.

However, ASEAN is anxious to set up RECP as it will be greatly benefited by it. The report says, “Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who was also on the panel, urged India to reconsider its position on RCEP, saying that Beijing and New Delhi would have to come to terms on trade eventually.”

The report quotes Balakrishnan as saying, “I am making the argument that it is worth making the effort, because this would be a game changer.”

Japan had great enthusiasm in TPP to ally with the US to contain China. However, since US withdrawal from TPP, Japan has switched its enthusiasm to RCEP for a larger share of the growing Asian market especially the huge Chinese market.

ASEAN, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand have already had free trade agreements with China. As the Chinese market is much more important for them and Japan, all potential RCEP members want anxiously to set up RCEP as soon as possible; therefore, they may well sign an agreement on the establishment of RCEP without India by the end of this year if India is unwilling to be RCEP’s founding member.

Therefore, Bloomberg’s “doubt over progress of negotiations for a pan-Asian free trade agreement” is merely the doubt about India’s participation in RCEP.

As Indian market is much less important than China and ASEAN’s, RCEP will very likely be set up without India.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Bloomberg’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-09/india-criticizes-chinese-trade-policies-as-rcep-talks-resume.


RCEP meet: ASEAN members, partners reaffirm their resolve to conclude free trade deal talks


The 16 negotiating partners have agreed that they should not lose the long-term vision of deepening and expanding the value chains in the RCEP

Joe C Mathew New Delhi Last Updated: September 8, 2019 | 22:30 IST

Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal during the plenary session of the 7th RCEP Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok on Sunday.

The 7th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ministerial meeting of the 10 members of ASEAN countries and their six FTA (free trade agreement) partners, including India, said the ongoing global uncertainties have added to the urgency to conclude the mega free trade agreement between these nations. The joint statement issued after the meeting, which reviewed the RCEP negotiations on September 8 in Bangkok, Thailand, said the 16 negotiating partners agreed that they should not lose the long-term vision of deepening and expanding the value chains in the RCEP.

The RCEP underscored issues raised by India by stating that certain developments in the global trade environment might affect the negotiating countries’ individual positions. “The ministers underscored the RCEP will provide the much-needed stability and certainty to the market, which will in turn boost trade and investment in the region. To this end, ministers reaffirmed their collective resolve to bring negotiations to a conclusion,” the joint statement said.

“The ministers recognised that negotiations have reached a critical milestone. Notwithstanding the remaining challenges in the negotiations, the RCEP participating countries are working on addressing outstanding issues that are fundamental to conclude the agreement this year as mandated by the leaders,” it stated. The meeting, held to review developments in the RCEP negotiations since the ministers last met in Beijing on August 2-3, was chaired by Jurin Laksanawisit, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce of Thailand.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam), and its six partners (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).

Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s economic wing, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, has asked the Centre not to sacrifice the interests of key industries like agriculture, diary and manufacturing. “We firmly believe that national interests especially of agriculture, dairy, manufacturing will not be sacrificed at RCEP Meet. #SayNoToRCEP & Renegotiate ASEAN FTA, which is imperative for protecting agriculture & mfg,” SJM Co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan tweeted.

Source: businesstoday.in “RCEP meet: ASEAN members, partners reaffirm their resolve to conclude free trade deal talks”

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


BRI Spells the End of US World Hegemony, US Dollar Dominance


Popularresistance.org’s article “U.S. imperialism views the One Belt One Road as an existential threat to the domination and monopoly of the dollar” points out the reason of US attacks at China’s BRI initiatives though I do not agree with its orthodox socialist views.

The article says,“U.S. imperialism views the One Belt One Road as an existential threat to the domination and monopoly of the dollar. China is becoming deeply connected to Asia, Europe, and Africa and this spells doom for U.S. imperial hegemony.”

The article has the vision to point out the threat of BRI to the dominance of US dollars.

According to the article BRI has promoted economic growth of participating countries so that trade between China and BRI countries has grown fast to a quarther of China’s entire trade. It says, “The more that China dominates trade and investment worldwide, the less likely that these nations will continue to use the U.S. dollar to conduct its economic affairs.” No wonder the US has been attacking BRI so fiercely.

The article’s orthodox socialist view regards EU as US ally in attacking BRI. No, EU has been fighting against dominance of US dollar for a long time as proved by its development of a unified European currency the Euro.

Moreover, EU has becoming interest in BRI since Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy and France. It is certainly interested in the expansion of the market in developing countries cause by BRI.

So is Japan and South Korea as proved by their desire for the establishment of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

I have to point out that China pursues harmony and cooperation instead of conflicts as advocated by the article. It is the US that is used to create conflicts and resort to force when it is able to. US trade war with China is a typical example. China is forced to fight back, but it is still sincere in seeking win-win cooperation with the US. However, the US is fond of conflicts. It always refuses win-win cooperation in the world.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on popularresistance.org’s article, full text of which can be viewed at https://popularresistance.org/u-s-imperial-decline-and-the-belt-and-road-initiative-the-most-important-global-struggle-of-the-century/


RCEP expected to be finalised by year-end: ASEAN General Secretary


Update: August, 01/2019 – 17:31

ASEAN General Secretary Dato Lim Jock Hoi delivers a speech at the 3rd ASEAN Media Forum held in Bangkok on July 29. — Photos courtesy of ASEAN Secretariat

Ngọc Bích

BANGKOK — ASEAN General Secretary Dato Lim Jock Hoi has expressed his optimism over the likelihood that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between 10 ASEAN member countries and six partners will be finalised by the end of the year.

RCEP is considered the world’s largest regional trade agreement as it covers a market of almost half of the world’s population and around one third of global gross domestic product.

There are 27 rounds of RCEP negotiations over the past seven years but “we don’t want to go beyond that, if we don’t do it this year, it will be very difficult for us to go beyond next year,” Hoi said.

According to the General Secretary, political difficulties have already been resolved and under the situation of trade tension among economic giants, there is urgency for all ASEAN members to push the agreement to its conclusion.

We know that challenges are still there, and we will intensify negotiations among the trade negotiators as well as at the ministerial level,” he said, affirming “the climate seems to be quite positive.”

Economic ministers are scheduled to meet in Thailand in September and “this will be a venue for the ministers to sit down and try to push [the negotiations] ahead.”

When asked about the most challenging problems that still exist, Hoi said: “Sixteen countries with different levels of economic development and different levels in trust. So it is not easy to put into one package. We need to balance the interests of each country, which is the role of ASEAN.”

We have concluded certain chapters in telecoms, the movement in IP, the movement in financial services. But market access negotiations are still going and they will not end until we are all satisfied.”

Some countries are concerned that they would be exposed to many other imports, he said, adding that “They have to be careful and mindful with the domestic pressure.”

However, “they have taken a practical approach toward RCEP. Hopefully they will lead the way to good outcomes in the months ahead,” Hoi said.

There is also a problem with non-ASEAN members because they don’t have free trade agreements (FTAs) among themselves so they need to intensify their negotiations in market access, he added.

Dr Suthad Setboonsarng, Board Member of the Bank of Thailand and former first Thai Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN (right), receives a gift from ASEAN Secretariat. image: http://image.vietnamnews.vn/uploadvnnews/Article/2019/8/1/28934_DrSuthad.jpg

Speaking with Việt Nam News on the sidelines of the 3rd ASEAN Media Forum early this week, Dr Suthad Setboonsarng, Board Member of the Bank of Thailand, said that RCEP is a conglomeration of five FTAs. The first one is the ASEAN-China FTA which was signed in 2003 and the toughest FTA is the one with India.

In RCEP negotiations, one of the rules is we have to give everybody else what we give to one country,” like the Most Favoured Nations mechanism.

What we have to give to China, we must give to India and to Japan. In 2003’s agreement, China liberalises the agriculture sector for ASEAN countries. But now for China to liberalise the agriculture sector for Japan, India and Korea, it is much more difficult,” Setboonsarng said.

However, the former first Thai Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN was also optimistic of the future of RCEP as he saw a new mechanism being implemented in negotiating the trade deal.

In the past, there were trade negotiation working groups but heads of the groups couldnot make any immediate decision at the meeting, he said.

The only way to get RCEP is to come out for outside talks not on the table because going to the table is very difficult.”

Currently, a small group of three countries including Thailand (current ASEAN Chair), Singapore (last year’s ASEAN Chair) and Việt Nam (next year’s ASEAN Chair) are going around other countries and try to talk and see what is the problem that each country has, he said, adding that it will help facilitate the process.

I think it has been used in political arena much more than in economic negotiations. But I saw this one, which is very important for the success of RCEP.”

Dr Hoe Ee Khor, Chief Economist of ASEAN+3 Macro Economic Research Office, said if ASEAN countries and dialogue partners can finalise the RCEP, it will be a very strong signal of commitment to rules-based multilateral trade amidst the rising trend of protectionism and nationalism.

Initiated in 2012, RCEP involves 10 ASEAN member countries, namely Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Myanmar, Việt Nam, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei; and six dialogue partners including China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Korea. — VNS

Source: Viet Nam News “RCEP expected to be finalised by year-end: ASEAN General Secretary”

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


Bad News: China is Building Three Huge Helicopter ‘Aircraft Carriers’


What will Beijing do with them?

by Sebastien Roblin

July 27, 2019

Along the Huangpu River in the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyards in Shanghai, the hull modules of two huge new vessels have been captured in photographs taken by passengers in overflying airliners. Then early in July 2019, ground-level images of the construction leaked onto Chinese social media.

Measuring the length of two-and-half football fields and estimated to displace between 30,000-40,000 tons once in the water, the vessels appear to be the first of three Type 075 Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs), essentially moving naval bases that can carry dozens of helicopters and launch amphibious landing craft from their floodable well deck.

In 2017, the Type 075 was detailed (and speculatively illustrated) in a South China Morning Post article by Minnie Chen. It would be the first ship of its type to serve in the PLA Navy—and the largest deployed outside of the United States, which currently operates eight 40,000-ton Wasp-class LHDs and one 45,000-ton America-class ship.

The PLA Navy already has commissioned five smaller 25,000-ton Type 071 Yuzhao-class amphibious transport docks (LPDs), with two more under construction. These can carry hundreds of troops, with supporting tanks and armored vehicles, and up to four Type 726 air-cushion landing craft (LCACs) to ferry them ashore. Four SA-321 helicopters give the Type 071 a limited vertical lift capacity.

By contrast, the Type 075 will be able to carry thirty helicopters, six of which can be taking off or landing at the same time, allowing it to rapidly deploy troops and supplies onto improvised forward landing zones. Meanwhile, its well deck could still accommodate two LCACs to land armored vehicles and larger cargoes.

Chinese internet articles furnish additional unconfirmed details, including claims the Type 075 will be powered by a 65,000-horsepower diesel engine and has a maximum speed of 22-24 knots.

The Type 075 isn’t meant put itself in the line of fire, however. It reportedly will be only lightly armed with two 30-millimeter Gatling-style cannons and two short-range HQ-10 missiles launchers for close protection from incoming missiles and aircraft, meaning it would realistically depend on escorting vessels to provide layered air defenses. Given the increasing capability of modern anti-ship missiles, some question the viability of large vessels like the Type 075.

This begs the question: what roles could huge helicopter carriers play for the PLA Navy?

Supporting an Amphibious Invasion

LHDs are a type of “amphibious assault ships”—vessels that help land and supply troops onto hostile shores. That’s a task a vessel like the Type 075 could perform very efficiently with its capacious hold and large helicopter wing.

Indeed, the People’s Liberation Army maintains significant amphibious warfare forces. Its Marine Corps recently tripled in size to 40,000 personnel, while the PLA Ground Forces also maintain tens of thousands of troops specialized in amphibious warfare, equipped with amphibious Type 63 and ZTD-5 tanks and ZBD-5 fighting vehicles.

These formations are foremost maintained with an eye to being able to credibly threaten an invasion of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

China also has disputes with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam over other islands—and even fought two naval battles with the latter for control of the Paracel and Spratly islands in 1974 and 1988 respectively.

But the transport capacity to deploy Chinese troops on hostile beachheads is limited. Thus vessels like the Type 075 will significantly improve the PLAN’s amphibious-landing “bandwidth.”

Chinese military and paramilitary forces are also building a network of island bases across the western Pacific, many hosting surveillance radars, airfields, docks and missile batteries. Supplying and reinforcing these often isolated island bases poses logistical challenges that LHDs could greatly alleviate.

Countering the Submarine Threat

Helicopters equipped with dipping sonars are particularly effective at detecting and engaging submarines. An LHD with abundant helicopters to deploy could provide a “bubble” of anti-submarine coverage and be deployed on missions to interdict likely submarine transit lanes, escort vulnerable task forces and convoys, and chase down suspicious sonar contacts.

This mission is particularly vital for the PLA Navy because U.S. and Japanese submarines have major advantages in acoustic stealth over their Chinese counterparts and would not have their freedom of maneuver constrained by long-range, land-based anti-ship missiles the way hostile surface ships would be. Thus, Chinese profiles of the Type 075 have stressed its application in anti-submarine warfare.

To a lesser extent, Airborne Early Warning (AEW) helicopters onboard LHDs could also provide forewarning of hostile aerial activity to the benefit of nearby ships. However, LHDs and their helicopters would depend on other assets to actually intercept aerial contacts.

Disaster Relief, Anti-Piracy and Foreign National Evacuation

In the hopeful absence of a major conflict with the United States, Chinese LHDs and their onboard helicopters would be extremely useful for disaster relief missions, expatriate or medical emergency evacuations, anti-piracy and smuggling patrols, and peacekeeping deployment. Such contingencies seem likely to occur as China’s commercial, political and military influence continues to expand across Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Africa.

Maritime Strike

Chinese sources have also noted the Type 075 could carry helicopters armed with air-to-surface missiles. This is undoubtedly true but must be appreciated in context: most helicopters lack strike range and survivability versus adversaries with significant air range defenses. However, in hypothetical littoral or archipelago-style battle spaces where the anti-air threat is more limited, maritime strike helicopters could usefully chase down hostile vessels, perform strikes against fixed positions, and provide air support for landed troops.

Chinese Naval Helicopters

One of the early benefits of China’s warming relations with the West in the 1970s was the acquisition of French helicopters. China eventually began license manufacturing its own versions, the Z-8 (based on the SA-320 Super Frelon) and the Z-9, based on the AS-565 Panther, all of which are operated by the PLA Navy.

The three-engine Super Frelons and Z-8s are large and fast. Capable of carrying up to twenty-six troops at once, some are also equipped with torpedoes and dipping sonars for anti-submarine warfare, or specially adapted for search-and-rescue and medical evacuation roles.

China has also evolved the Z-8 into the larger Changhe Z-18. China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, currently operates Z-18F Sea Eagle anti-submarine helicopters and the Z-18J Bat AEW choppers, which have extendible flat-panel active-electronically scanned array radars in their bellies.

The medium-sized Z-9 helicopter family includes models outfitted for anti-submarine warfare, and an AEW variant with a K-Band radar. While the PLA Navy lacks an equivalent to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Sea Cobra gunships, the missile-armed Z-9WA model could conceivably be adapted for shipboard operations.

Finally, the PLAN also operates nineteen bizarre-looking Ka-27 “Helix” anti-submarine helicopters bought from Russia as well as nine Ka-31 AEW choppers, distinguished by their contra-rotating rotors.

However, the PLAN conspicuously lacks two types of aircraft that significantly enhance the combat power of other amphibious assault ships across the globe.

First, China has no tilt-rotor aircraft like the V-22 Osprey, helicopter/airplane hybrids with vertical takeoff capability of the former, and improved range and speed of the latter.

More importantly, the PLAN has no vertical-takeoff capable jump jets like the Harrier or F-35B, which would not only give Chinese amphibious carriers air defense capability but also greatly improve their surface-strike capacity. The PLAN will be particularly keeping an eye on F-35Bs deployed on Japanese—and likely South Korean—carriers. For now, there’s no indication China is seeking to develop such technically challenging (and often accident-prone) aircraft.

According to Rick Joe of The Diplomat, the lead Type 075 may launch late in 2019 or by mid-2020. All three of the initial flights may be launched by 2022 given the current apparent pace of construction, and Joe estimates additional LHDs, possibly of a revised and enlarged configuration, are likely to follow.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

Source: National Interest “Bad News: China is Building Three Huge Helicopter ‘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.


Russian-Chinese Joint Air Patrol Showcases Strong Military Alliance


A Russian TU-95 bomber flies over East China Sea in this handout picture taken by Japan Air Self-Defence Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan July 23, 2019. Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/HANDOUT via REUTERS

Reiters’ report “First Russian-Chinese air patrol in Asia-Pacific draws shots from South Korea” describes Russian-Chinese joint air patrol with strategic bombers and AEW&C warplanes, which aimed at display of Russia-China military alliance and perhaps the possible joint air protection of North Korea when it is attacked.

When the Soviet Union has collapsed and China has refrained to openly declare its commitment to protect North Korea, North Korea is justified to develop nuclear weapons to deal with US military threat. If the US has signed a peace treaty with North Korea to remove its threat and if North Korea has been ensured of joint Russian and Chinese protection, it certainly will be willing to give up its nuclear weapons.

That will be a positive outcome of the patrol. As for Russia-China military alliance, it has been an established fact for a long time as proved by their joint drills and cooperation in development of weapons. It is nothing new.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-russia-aircraft/first-russian-chinese-air-patrol-in-asia-pacific-draws-shots-from-south-korea-idUSKCN1UI072.