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.

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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)


Chinese military developing unmanned supply truck


A still from a video released by the MND in Beijing showing what appears to be a prototype of an unmanned supply truck being developed for the Chinese military. Source: Chinese MND

Gabriel Dominguez – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly 18 July 2017

The Chinese military is developing an unmanned supply truck. Video footage recently released by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Beijing shows what appears to be a prototype of an 8×8 unmanned supply truck conducting trials at an undisclosed location demonstrating its ability to navigate obstacles and control speed.

The footage, which does not provide further details about the truck or the programme, is part of an English-language video entitled ‘PLA Today’ that showcases China’s growing military capabilities, including in so-called battlefield smart supply vehicles.
The MND released the video on 16 July, two weeks ahead of the 90th birthday of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The prototype shown in the footage appears to be somewhat similar in appearance to the US 8×8 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT).

In the past China has used technology from Western suppliers as the base for its logistics vehicles. For example the SX2300, which is built by the Shaanxi Automotive company, is based on technology from Steyr, and Shaanxi also signed a co-operation deal with Germany-based truck manufacturer MAN in 2003.

The result is that the origins of the new unmanned vehicle are uncertain. However, the prototype does appear to be optionally manned, and may employ a leader-following system or way points and GPS to navigate roads.

Forerunners to this prototype include the Norinco Crew Task Support Unmanned Mobile Platform, which is capable of autonomous operation, teleoperation, follower behaviour, and waypoint navigation. With this technology already having been developed and tested by the Chinese defence industry, it is possible that the system has been transplanted onto the recently shown prototype truck for trials.

Source: IHS Jane’s “Chinese military developing unmanned supply truck”

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


What America Can Learn from China’s People’s Liberation Army


PLA repleshment tanker Hongzehu. Image: US Navy

Annie Kowalewski  April 18, 2017

President Trump recently called for a $54 billion increase in military spending to “send a message to the world… of American strength, security, and resolve.” The U.S. defense establishment is currently grappling with how these additional funds should be spent to achieve the stated objective. Merely investing in increasing the size of our forces is ineffective. Instead, the United States must prioritize modernizing its capabilities to meet new types of threats. As the United States advances down this path, it could look towards an unlikely source for inspiration: the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). China watchers around the world continue to characterize the PLA as a “paper tiger”, but the United States could stand to learn a thing or two about force modernization from its Asian counterpart.

Do Not Underestimate the Paper Tiger

China’s last major conflict with a foreign adversary, its failed offensive in the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese war, led foreign commentators and military experts to deem the PLA a “ragtag” military that was disorganized and underfunded. Generally, the PLA lacked the technology and organizational wherewithal needed to fight even the smallest of adversaries. Today, the PLA has undergone massive military modernization efforts. They still note that the PLA is “not ready” to fight in a modern war due to technological gaps in China’s air defense, the nature of the bureaucratic and corrupt Chinese state, and its lack of combat experience.

The Chinese bureaucracy is cumbersome and beset with corruption. Yet its centralized nature has historically allowed China to rapidly adapt its fighting force to meet the shifting military-technological environment. Take, for instance, Deng Xiaoping and the first wave of PLA reform in the 1980s. The Chinese government recognized that mass alone could no longer assure its national security. Deng, therefore, shifted China’s military doctrine from a “people’s war” to a “people’s war with modern conditions.” In keeping with this doctrinal shift, the PLA rapidly deprioritized recruitment and manpower and instead focused efforts on acquiring a relatively modern arsenal. In just a few years’ time, Deng’s administration reduced the PLA’s military personnel by nearly one million and reformed China’s defense industry to focus on producing precision-guided weapons.

China shifted its military doctrine once more in 2015. This time Chinese strategists called for a return to an “active” defense, a notion reminiscent of an idea first surfaced by Mao Zedong in the early 1970s of using a large, mobilized army to protect China’s borders. Unlike Mao’s version, the modern notion of ‘active defense’ would have the PLA protect Chinese interests beyond the mainland’s borders by investing in new sea and air control technologies and reorganizing its services accordingly. The objective of these reforms is to create a force that is organizationally—and technologically—equipped to pursue joint, high-tech wars in the future multi-domain battlespace.

China’s Military-Technological and Organizational Investments

Pursuant to this doctrinal change, China is investing heavily in key areas of potential asymmetric technological advantage. China has, for instance, implemented a massive-scale ‘space dream’ project that aims to propel China to become a “global space power by 2030.” This effort is largely directed at interdicting U.S. space infrastructure since the U.S. battle network relies heavily on its military space constellation.

U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) reports also show that the PLA is investing heavily into “developing its counter-space, offensive cyber operations, and electronic warfare capabilities meant to deny adversaries the advantages of modern, information technology-driven warfare.” Corroborating DoD assertions, China’s most recent White Paper on defense revealed that the PLA aims to “win informationized local wars” and integrate emerging domains like cyber and space into its current training programs to create a joint and flexible fighting force.

The PLA has matched high technological investments with efforts to overhaul its organizational structure. Indeed, since December 2015, the PLA has completely transformed its command structure. The PLA’s old, Soviet-style centralized command structure has been replaced with seven geographically-aligned Theatre Commands (TCs). Each Chinese TC is tasked with managing threats within its geographic purview by capitalizing on recent Chinese military-technology advances and coordinating with other TCs. China’s Eastern and Southern TCs—which oversee Taiwan operations and territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas, respectively—specialize in sea control and amphibious assault operations. From the U.S. perspective, these operations represent components of China’s broader A2/AD strategy for deterring or, if necessary, defeating U.S. power projection in East Asia. From Beijing’s vantage point, they are required steps for defending the Chinese mainland. Critically, the Eastern and Southern TCs’ train to conduct these missions by leveraging high-level coordination and technological capabilities that China lacked just a few years ago.

Lessons from the Paper Tiger

The PLA has, and will no doubt continue, to encounter a learning curve as it sustains modernizations efforts. Yet China has already demonstrated its ability to rapidly pivot its military-technological base to exploit U.S. asymmetric vulnerabilities. This explains the shrinking U.S.-China weapons capabilities gap. At the same time, the PLA has shown its ability to adapt its organization to the realities of the emerging battlespace—a critical input if its military technological advances are to inform military victory. Together, these trends explain how China has come to challenge U.S. power in the Asian-Pacific region.

China’s progress on military modernization notwithstanding, some U.S. analysts maintain that China’s military will continue to be hamstrung—and, therefore, remain a “paper tiger”—by its lack of recent combat experience. In support of this argument, U.S. analysts often reference American forces’ combat experience in the Middle East over the past fifteen years as a source of great advantage in any potential conflict with China.

It is true that U.S. forces have gained extensive experience fighting in a fluid, unconventional military landscape, but the overall utility of that experience remains in question. U.S. forces are very experienced—and effective—at targeting non-state actors for kill or capture. They have less experience with highly-trained conventional opponents. U.S. air forces likewise have a great deal of experience performing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike missions in un- or limitedly-contested airspace. They have not flown large-scale operations in contested airspace in many decades. The U.S. military also has no experience fighting an adversary that aims, as the PLA does, to offset U.S. operational advantages by exploiting its vulnerabilities in the cyber, space, air, and sea domains.

U.S. forces’ experience conducting expansive counterterrorism and counterinsurgency campaigns could further hinder U.S. adaptiveness in other ways. The U.S. military bureaucracy is not famously agile. Its focus on these types of operations have already impeded efforts to adapt to the future of warfare. The training necessary to combat insurgent groups with limited weaponry greatly differs from the training necessary to operate and utilize high-end technologies against a modern adversary. The Department of Defense’s entrenched bureaucracy also makes it difficult to adapt to new types of threats that require a quicker response time. This problem is chronicled by those who discuss U.S. struggles with adapting to cyber, space, and informational warfare. It is also evident in the numbers. Reports reveal that U.S. modernization funding, which includes cyber and space capabilities, has decreased in the past five years.
Looking to the Future

The United States thus stands to gain the most from deeper inspection of the Chinese military’s ongoing modernization efforts. The PLA has shown remarkable flexibility in its efforts to evolve—technologically and organizationally—to conduct more complex, technology-intensive forms of warfare. The United States has recognized the need to do the same. To send a message of “strength, security and resolve,” and to compete with modern adversaries like the PLA, the United States must commit its additional defense funding to undertaking the organizational and technological innovations required to win an increasingly-complex threat environment.

Annie Kowalewski is a Research Intern for the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security and a Masters student at Georgetown University. She focuses on emerging technology, defense strategy, and U.S.-Chinese security relations.

Source: National Interest “What America Can Learn from China’s People’s Liberation Army”

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


China’s 2017 defense budget rise to slow again


Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) march during the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo

Soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) march during the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo

By Michael Martina and Philip Wen | BEIJING Sat Mar 4, 2017 | 1:30am EST

Defying pressure for a strong increase in defense spending, China said on Saturday its military budget this year would grow about 7 percent, its slowest pace since 2010.

Last year, with China’s economy slowing, the defense budget recorded its lowest increase in six years, 7.6 percent, the first single-digit rise since 2010, following a nearly unbroken two-decade run of double-digit increases.

With the administration of new U.S. President Donald Trump proposing a 10 percent jump in military spending in 2017, and worries about potential disputes with the United States over the South China Sea and the status of Taiwan, some in China had been pressing for a forceful message from this year’s defense budget.

This week influential state-run tabloid the Global Times called for a rise of at least 10 percent to deal with the uncertainty brought by Trump, and a retired senior general told Hong Kong and Taiwan media that 12 percent would be needed to match the U.S. rise.

“It’s not enough,” a source with ties to senior Chinese officers told Reuters. “A lot of people in the military won’t be happy with this.”

Parliament spokeswoman Fu Ying, who announced the increase, said defense spending would account for about 1.3 percent of GDP, the same level as the past few years.

The actual number for defense spending will be released on Sunday, when China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament begins its annual session.

China’s economic growth target for 2017 is expected to be lowered to around 6.5 percent from last year’s 6.5-7 percent when Premier Li Keqiang gives his work report to parliament.

Last year normally talkative military delegates to parliament largely declined to talk to foreign media about the slowing rate of military spending, saying they had been ordered not to speak to foreign reporters.

NERVES RATTLED

China’s military build-up has rattled nerves around the region, particularly because China has taken an increasingly assertive stance in its territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and over Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

Taiwan’s defense ministry expects China to continue to strengthen its military, spokesman Chen Chung-chi told Reuters, while a senior official at Japan’s defense ministry said the spending rise was still large and lacked transparency.

Takashi Kawakami, professor of international politics at Japan’s Takushoku University, said the small rate of increase showed China was taking a cautious approach with the new U.S. government, especially as Presidents Trump and Xi could meet soon.

“There was a view that China would increase its defense budget in line with the rise of the defense budget in the United States. But the fact China kept it at this level means it’s in a wait-and-see mode regarding the Trump administration.”

Spokeswoman Fu dismissed concerns about China’s military.

“Look at the past decade or so; there have been so many conflicts, even wars, around the world resulting in serious, large numbers of casualties and loss of property, so many refugees destitute and homeless. Which one has China caused?” she said.

There are other concerns for China’s military, including how to deal with the 300,000 troops President Xi Jinping announced in 2015 would be cut, mainly by the end of 2017.

Last month Chinese military veterans demonstrated in central Beijing for two consecutive days, demanding unpaid retirement benefits in a new wave of protests highlighting the difficulty in managing demobilized troops.

“It’s not yet certain what is going to happen to these people, and the military is clearly hoping for more money to deal with them,” one senior Beijing-based Asia diplomat said before this year’s defense budget was announced.

The defense budget figure for last year, 954.35 billion yuan ($138.4 billion), likely understates its investment, according to diplomats, though the number is closely watched around the region and in Washington for clues to China’s intentions.

A 7 percent rise for this year based on last year’s budget would bring the figure to 1.02 trillion yuan, still only a quarter or so of the U.S. defense budget.

The White House has proposed a 10 percent increase in military spending to $603 billion, even though the United States has wound down major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is already the world’s pre-eminent military power.

(Additional reporting by J.R. Wu in Taipei and Nobuhiro Kubo in Tokyo; Writing and additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Will Waterman)

Source: Reuters “China’s 2017 defense budget rise to slow again”

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


China’s New Ammunition Doubles the Range of Its Old Artillery


Life ammunition drill with the new ammunition

Life ammunition drill with the new ammunition

China has developed new ammunition for its existing artillery to double their range. In order to effectively use the increase range, a Chinese artillery regiment has replaced its wire communication system with optical fiber telecommunication system supported by relay to wireless and satellite communication networks.

Its reconnaissance capabilities have been enhanced by data sharing with drone units and the army’s air force. As a result, it is able to detect target further and quicker so as to have more time to adjust their cannons to accurately hit their remote targets.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “PLA’s new ammunition doubles the range of its artillery with the help of drones and air force” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)