China’s Civil-military Integration for PLA to Get Civilian Innovation


The following is the full text of SubChina’s report titled “Hot stocks and the military industrial complex”:

Jeremy Goldkorn  April 10, 2018

Last year, Chinese official media began talking up the concept of “civil-military integration” (军民融合 jūnmín rónghé). This refers to the creation of a military industrial complex similar to America’s, which would allow the People’s Liberation Army to exploit the fruits of China’s private sector innovation.
•“Military reform” is one of Xi Jinping’s key themes, and civil-military integration has been pronounced an important part of those reforms.
•“The PLA has traditionally dealt with large, state-owned enterprises for procurement and R&D needs,” but the Chinese military is now looking to new partners, such as ecommerce giant JD.com, according to Lorand Laskai in this piece on civil-military integration and the PLA’s pursuit of dominance in emerging technologies.
•“Innovation challenges” and dual-use technology competitions have been organized by the Central Military Commission to develop “ties with private enterprises and research institutes.”
•“Asia’s hottest stock is a bet on China’s military expansion,” says Bloomberg in a related story. The share price of AviChina Industry & Technology, which makes training jets, transport helicopters, and airplane electronics systems, has jumped 40 percent in Hong Kong since the start of February.

Source: SubChina “Hot stocks and the military industrial complex”

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

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China Sets up Special Ministry to Take Good Care of Veterans


Xi Jinping speaks on taking good care of veterans. Photo from CCTV footage.

Reuters says in its report “China to improve veterans’ care after protests with new ministry” yesterday “China will set up a Ministry of Veterans Affairs as part of a government reshuffle presented to parliament on Tuesday, aiming to better look after former soldiers whose complaints about poor treatment have flared into scattered protests in recent years.”

CCTV primetime news on March 12 shows Chinese President speaking on that matter when he attend a meeting of all the NPC deputies from PLA and armed police, “Who are our most beloved people? We shall not let our heroes shed tears as well as blood. We shall make our servicemen enjoy respect and veneration. That is most fundamental. That shall be guaranteed.”

It is natural for Xi to say so as Xi’s China dream includes making China militarily strong, for which Xi stresses hard training of the military in light of real war of our times. However, how can China be militarily strong if servicemen are not venerated and taken good care of? The establishment of the ministry is a wise move in right direction.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters and CCTV’s report. Reuters’ report is reblogged below while CCTV’s report in Chinese can be viewed at http://tv.cctv.com/2018/03/12/VIDEdsr08DNYwjDIruufbtdf180312.shtml:

REUTERS
China to improve veterans’ care after protests with new ministry

Reuters Staff March 13, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will set up a Ministry of Veterans Affairs as part of a government reshuffle presented to parliament on Tuesday, aiming to better look after former soldiers whose complaints about poor treatment have flared into scattered protests in recent years.

The new agency will be formed as part of a broad shake-up of government departments that the country’s largely rubber-stamp parliament will formally approve on Saturday.

The ministry will centralize the handling of resettlements and finding new jobs for former soldiers and ensuring those in the military are treated as “revered members of society”, State Councillor Wang Yong told parliament, unveiling details of the reshuffle.

It will also be responsible for supporting veterans’ family members and for taking care of graves and memorials, he added.

The tasks were previously handled by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Central Military Commission, which President Xi Jinping heads and which has overall command of the armed forces.

In February of last year, Chinese military veterans staged two days of demonstrations in central Beijing, demanding unpaid retirement benefits in a new wave of protests highlighting the difficulty in managing demobilized troops.

Xi announced in 2015 the People’s Liberation Army would cut troop levels by 300,000, aiming to make the bulk of the reductions by the end of 2017.

Premier Li Keqiang said last week China had basically completed those efforts.

China hopes the measure will leave it more money to spend on high-tech weapons for its navy and air force, and result in a leaner and more strategic military.

The government this month unveiled its largest defense spending increase in three years, setting an 8.1 percent growth target this year, fuelling an ambitious military modernization program and making its neighbors nervous.

Grievances over military pensions and perceived poor treatment of veterans have been a long-running issue, and have at times led to organized protests.

More than 1,000 veterans also demonstrated outside Defence Ministry headquarters in Beijing in 2016, and reports of protests in parts of the country surface every few months.

Demobilized soldiers who protested have included some who fought against Vietnam in 1979 – China’s last major foreign military engagement – and complained about problems with their pensions.

China’s defense ministry, responding to the protests last year, said the government cared about veterans’ welfare, attached great importance to resolving their difficulties and had done much to better their conditions.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Richard Pullin and Clarence Fernandez


China’s 2nd-Generation Military Exoskeleton System as Good as US One


China’s 2nd-generation exoskeleton system. Photo: mil.huanqiu.com

China’s first generation of exoskeleton. Photo: mil.huanqiu.com

China’s 2nd generation exoskeleton. Photo: mil.huanqiu.com

Mil.huanqiu.com provides the above photos of China’s first and second generations of exoskeleton system in its report “China’s new breakthrough in development of exoskeleton: Disclosure of the appearance of second-generation system”.

The photos show China’s wearable exoskeleton robot that may greatly enhance a serviceman’s combat capabilities. The report reveals that the system has been developed by Northwest Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Research Institute for both civilian and military purposes.

The team in charge of the development has made breakthroughs in human-machine coordinated intellegent sensing control technology, the technology to design the bearing mechanism that adapts to human movements, light, small and highly efficient hydraulic driving technology, etc. to successfully make their second-generation wearable exoskeleton robot as shown in the above photos.

The report says the prototype of the system is equal to US similar equipment in functions and technical indexes.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “China’s new breakthrough in development of exoskeleton: Disclosure of the appearance of second-generation system” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese, full text of which can be viewed at http://mil.huanqiu.com/gt/2018-02/2893048.html).


Artificial Intelligence and Chinese Power


Beijing’s Push for a Smart Military—and How to Respond

By Elsa B. Kania

The United States’ technological sophistication has long supported its military predominance. In the 1990s, the U.S. military started to hold an uncontested advantage over its adversaries in the technologies of information-age warfare—from stealth and precision weapons to high-tech sensors and command-and-control systems. Those technologies remain critical to its forces today.

For years, China has closely watched the United States’ progress, developing asymmetric tools—including space, cyber, and electronic capabilities—that exploit the U.S. military’s vulnerabilities. Today, however, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is pursuing innovations in many of the same emerging technologies that the U.S. military has itself prioritized. Artificial intelligence is chief among these.

In the decades ahead, AI could transform warfare, creating disruptive new capabilities and changing the ways that militaries command, train, and deploy their forces. Those changes will shape the military balance among the world’s great powers.

For now, the United States remains the world’s leader in AI, thanks mostly to the dynamism of its private sector. But China seeks to surpass the United States, and it may be close to doing so. The Chinese leadership has started to prioritize AI at the highest levels. In July, Beijing released the New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, articulating an ambitious agenda to “lead the world” in artificial intelligence by 2030. It is backing up that commitment with deep funding for cutting-edge AI research. As China advances in the field, the United States will face the challenge of a new kind of peer competitor.

BRAIN GAMES

By most measures, China is already an AI powerhouse. China produces more AI-related patent applications than any other country except for the United States, and Chinese scholars have already published more papers on AI than their American peers. But the country’s ascendance in AI is not a matter of quantity alone. In 2017, the annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence accepted as many papers from Chinese as from American researchers for the first time—a sign of the increasing sophistication of AI research under way in China. And in November, a Chinese facial recognition start-up took first place in a contest hosted by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, a U.S. government organization. Thanks to China’s billions of dollars in private and government investment, its access to huge amounts of data, and its efforts to attract and educate top talent, the country is on track to overtake the United States.

So far, China’s big technology firms—notably Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent—have tended to lead the charge in AI. That could have important implications for the PLA, which could use the private sector’s progress for military purposes. For example, the technologies behind self-driving cars could be used for intelligent unmanned military systems, and advances in computer vision and machine learning could improve weapons systems’ abilities to recognize targets.

Chinese military leaders have good reason to draw on the private sector’s advances, since they believe that AI could transform the nature of war. In the PLA’s jargon, AI will set off a shift from “informatized” to “intelligentized” warfare, becoming as central to future conflicts as more rudimentary forms of information technology are to warfare today. Liu Guozhi, a lieutenant general in the PLA and the director of its Science and Technology Commission, has suggested that artificial intelligence will transform militaries’ operational styles, equipment systems, and more. AI could eventually support autonomous robots, including swarms of drones. It could improve war-gaming and simulated training exercises by creating clever artificial adversaries—a major benefit for China’s forces, which largely lack combat experience. And it could elevate commanders’ abilities to make quick decisions on the battlefield. Indeed, the Central Military Commission Joint Staff Department, the PLA’s top command organ, has called on the military to use AI to help commanders do just that.

Even as AI mitigates some of the PLA’s systemic problems, it could exacerbate others.

China’s recent advances in swarm intelligence—which involves autonomous cooperative behavior among masses of distributed robots—have been on prominent display in official media. In June 2017, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, a state-owned defense conglomerate, successfully flight-tested a swarm of 119 drones—a new record. In a conflict, the PLA could use swarms to cheaply target high-value U.S. weapons platforms, such as aircraft carriers.

As AI and robotics become pervasive in warfare, some PLA thinkers even anticipate the arrival of a so-called singularity on the battlefield. At that point, human minds might not be able to keep up with the speed of the decision-making demanded by AI-enabled combat—and so militaries could start to remove people from the battlefield, place them into supervisory roles, and let unmanned systems do most of the fighting. Such an inflection point may seem distant, but militaries are already trending toward more automation. For instance, many air and missile defense platforms, such as the U.S. military’s Patriot system, can automatically track and select their targets. Even now, a number of militaries, including the United States’ and China’s, are starting to use AI to anticipate failures in critical equipment and to analyze intelligence more efficiently. In the foreseeable future, AI will also have applications in cyber-operations, helping militaries discover and then patch or exploit vulnerabilities far faster than a human cyberwarrior could.

Some observers have suggested that authoritarian regimes such as China’s could eventually opt for fully automated approaches to war. That could raise a number of ethical and operational risks: an automated system could, for example, fail to differentiate legitimate military targets from civilian ones. In fact, Chinese military thinkers seem to value the role that humans will play in the machine age. Liu, for instance, has suggested that human minds augmented with artificial intelligence will eventually be more powerful than AI programs on their own. And some aspects of the PLA’s culture—especially its commanders’ interest in preserving centralized control—could encourage officers to keep humans in the loop on important decisions.

ALL TOO HUMAN

Despite its advances in military hardware, the PLA has struggled to recruit and retain highly educated, technologically proficient personnel. PLA officials might see AI as a solution. AI could help to automate some military specialties and functions, replacing or compensating for missing human talent. Along with virtual and augmented reality, AI could improve the realism and sophistication of the PLA’s training programs.

But there’s a catch: even as AI mitigates some of the PLA’s systemic problems, it could exacerbate others. Complex AI systems, for instance, can require highly trained personnel, and it could be difficult for the PLA to assemble such talent. The introduction of AI to support commanders could also create new issues of so-called automation bias, encouraging officers to rely on programs that are prone to error.

The trajectory of China’s advances in AI remains to be seen. But in light of the progress that the PLA has already achieved, the U.S. military should recognize that China is quickly becoming a peer competitor in AI—and adjust its own plans accordingly.

U.S. defense officials should carefully study the PLA’s advances in the field in the context of China’s broader strategic goals. At the same time, Washington should preserve the underlying advantages that will shape its competitiveness in the future. First, the U.S. government should invest far more in long-term research on AI and its applications. The Trump administration’s initial budget proposal called for a ten percent cut to the National Science Foundation’s funding for research on intelligent systems, to a mere $175 million. China, by contrast, will spend billions in the years to come on next-generation AI research. Second, Washington should make sure to preserve its edge in human capital. (The United States is now home to more AI experts than any other country.) That will require doing more to attract the world’s top AI talent to work in the United States and developing the educational programming in high schools and universities needed to create future professionals in the field. And the U.S. government should work to prevent illicit technology transfers by, for example, increasing its oversight of Chinese investments and acquisitions in sensitive sectors of the American economy, including AI and robotics, even as it takes care that it does not generally discourage foreign investment, which can support innovation. The U.S. military must recognize the challenge of China’s emergence as a would-be AI superpower—and prepare for a future in which the United States’ technological advantage is no longer assured.

Source: Foreign Affairs “Artificial Intelligence and Chinese Power”

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


Chinese President Xi Jinping Calls Troops to “Prepare for Real War”


Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks to PLA to call them to prepare for real battle. SubChina photo

The following is full text of SubChina’s report on Xi’s speech:

Prepare for real combat

Jeremy GoldkornJanuary 4, 2018

With Trump tweeting about his nuclear button and tensions in Northeast Asia as bad as they’ve been for some time, China is not being shy. All Chinese central state media are running a version of this top story (in Chinese): “Xi Jinping — Military training must prepare for real combat, focus strength on building an elite operational force,” or this much briefer version in English.
•Wearing camouflage, Xi addressed around 7,000 soldiers at a military base in Hebei Province, near Beijing, ordering them to ensure they are ready to fight and win real wars.
•Soldiers across the country listened in remotely. The speech was televised nationwide, and heavily featured in state and online media.
•“A tub-thumping display of military brawn involving thousands of heavily armed troops” is how the Guardian characterized the event in an article accompanied by a subtitled video of parts of Xi’s speech.

Source: SubChina “Prepare for real combat”

CCTV footage on that event can be viewed at http://tv.cctv.com/2018/01/03/VIDElak6K8tcggjdN6hA6z0u180103.shtml

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


Huge turnover for military elite at the 19th Party Congress?


Close observer of Chinese elite politics and Brookings Institute senior fellow Cheng Li 李成 has published a piece on China-U.S. Focus that says many analysts of Chinese elite politics were “astonished by the recently released list of military delegates to the 19th Party Congress.”
•Cheng says that most significantly, “it appears that only 17 percent (seven out of 41) of military leaders with full membership on the 18th Central Committee will retain their seats. In other words, about 83 percent of the military representatives who are full members of the 19th Central Committee will be new.”
•This would “constitute the largest-ever turnover of military elite in the history of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).”

What does this mean? To summarize Cheng’s analysis:
•President Xi Jinping is able to make sweeping changes because he has successfully reasserted “civilian command over the military.”
•The likely new leaders of the Chinese military represent “significant strides” in Xi’s campaign to professionalize the military, and to transform China’s defense organizations “from a Soviet-style, army-centric system toward what analysts call a ‘Western-style joint command.’”

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Source: SupChina “Huge turnover for military elite at the 19th Party Congress?”

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


China’s Z-19 Installed with Millimeter-wave Radar like US AH-64E


New version of Z-19 on display in the 4th China Helicopter Exposition has a mystic round box on top of its rotating wing. Mil.huanqiu.com photo

Mil.huanqiu.com says a new version of China’s Z-19 attack helicopter was in display on September 14 when the 4th China Helicopter Exposition opened. The Z-19 has a mystic round box on top of its rotating wing similar to that of US AH-64E Longbow Apache. It is believed that like AH-64E, Z-19 has installed a millimeter-wave radar.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Helicopter Exposition: A mystic device appears on top of the rotating wing of Z-19” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)