Expanded coordination poses significant threat to U.S., allies in Asia Pacific
BY: Natalie Johnson March 21, 2017 4:59 am
Russia and China are displaying the highest level of military cooperation in three decades, posing an escalated threat to the United States and its allies, according to a government report released Monday.
U.S. air superiority in the Asia Pacific is particularly vulnerable due to sustained Russian arms sales to Beijing and a new focus between the two militaries on missile defense, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission detailed in its new report.
Russian deliveries of Su-35 strike fighter jets to China, which began in December 2015, along with deliveries of its S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system, which are set to begin in 2018, will expand Beijing’s reach in the Taiwan Strait and threaten air assets of U.S. allies in the South China and East China Seas.
Ethan Meick, a policy analyst in security and foreign affairs at USCC who authored the report, predicted missile defense cooperation between Moscow and Beijing would continue for years to come. The two militaries held their first joint missile defense exercise in May 2016 and have announced a second exercise to be conducted in 2017.
Both Beijing and Moscow are opposed to U.S. plans to install the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile defense system in South Korea to combat North Korean aggression. Meick anticipated the second Russia-China anti-missile exercise would coincide with the U.S. deployment of THAAD, which began earlier this month.
Since Chinese President Xi Jinping took office in 2012, the People’s Liberation Army and Russian Armed Forces have staged increasingly complex military exercises. The drills have expanded drastically in geographic scope, suggesting increasingly aligned security interests.
Russian and Chinese military officials have repeatedly denied that the exercises are aimed at any one country, but the timing and location of the drills has led the West to believe otherwise, the report noted.
Following the July ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that rejected China’s territorial claims to the South China Sea, the Kremlin and Beijing conducted their annual naval exercise in the South China Sea. Western officials believed the drills were a “show of unity” between the two countries, coinciding with President Vladimir Putin’s announcement just weeks earlier that he did not recognize the tribunal’s decision, according to the report.
The joint exercises have also led to more frequent meetings between senior-level Chinese and Russian military officers. These contacts have allowed defense officials to conduct arms deals, prepare for joint exercises, and outline regional and global security concerns.
Despite mutual distrust between Moscow and Beijing stemming from geopolitical and economic tensions, the report predicted the two countries would “further deepen” defense relations in the coming years to resist U.S. influence in the region.
Source: Washington Free Beacon “Military Cooperation Between Russia, China Hits Three-Decade High”
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
By Yeganeh Torbati and James Pearson | SEOUL Fri Mar 17, 2017 | 6:19pm EDT
The liberal South Korean politician most likely to become the country’s next president would, if elected, review how the government would deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system and would consult China, two of his top advisers said on Friday.
If Moon Jae-in, front-runner for the May 9 presidential election, reverses policy on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, it will place him at odds with the United States, South Korea’s biggest ally.
The conservative government of impeached president Park Geun-hye agreed to deploy the THAAD to guard against attack by North Korea, but the decision sparked outrage in China, which responded with restrictions on some companies doing business with and in South Korea.
China says the system’s radar can be used to spy into its territory.
Moon would likely “do a review of the validity of the decision”, Choi Jong Kun, an adviser to Moon on foreign policy told Reuters. “While doing it, he will consult with the United States, as well as China.”
“At the end of the day, if the reality unfolds in a way that South Korea’s national security and the economy were damaged because of the THAAD, not because of the North Korea issue, then it’s not really a rational situation, is it?”
The comments are at variance with a tough stand taken by the new U.S. administration on North Korea.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, visiting Seoul for the first time since taking office, said on Friday a U.S. policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended and military action would be “on the table” if North Korea if Pyongyang took action to threaten South Korean and U.S. forces.
Tillerson also said he expected the next South Korean government would “continue to be supportive” of THAAD.
A Pentagon spokesman said THAAD deployment was “a critical measure” to defend South Koreans and U.S. forces against North Korean missiles.
China is South Korea’s largest trading partner and the dispute over THAAD has left shopping districts in Seoul devoid of their usual crowds of Chinese tourists.
In China, the row has led to a freeze of South Korean television dramas and music, and product boycotts.
Moon, a liberal facing little in the way of a significant conservative challenger, said in a debate this week China should stop the economic retaliation and South Korea had to make diplomatic efforts to assuage Chinese anger.
“It’s only right for the THAAD deployment issue to be decided by the next administration,” Moon told foreign media recently.
A 63-year-old human rights lawyer, Moon has said he will extend an olive branch to North Korea if elected and visit Pyongyang before making a trip to the United States.
Just two North-South summits have been held since the 1950-53 Korean war.
Choi said the decision to deploy the THAAD battery had been made hastily. China’s reaction was foreseeable and yet was largely ignored by Park’s government, he said.
“We had a strategic partnership with Beijing, until this THAAD issue,” Choi said. “Our relationship had been pretty OK and pretty good.”
Kim Ki-Jung, another foreign policy adviser to Moon, said he had tried to convince U.S. military officials and diplomats in Washington last month that the deployment of the THAAD should be left to the leader who succeeds Park.
“We are going to acknowledge that two governments made an agreement … but the actual process of deployment, that should be given to the next government,” he said.
Instead, the United States started to deploy the first elements of the system this month, after North Korea fired off four ballistic missiles into the sea off northwest Japan.
Moon has criticized the two former conservative presidents – Park and her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak – for derailing progress made in inter-Korean relations under previous liberal administrations.
He calls for a “two-step” approach on North Korea, with talks leading to “economic unification” and ultimately “political and military unification.”
His viewpoints could spark friction with Washington, but Moon would have no problem distancing South Korea’s interests from those of the United States, Kim said.
“The basic assumption is that we are going to maintain the success of our bilateral alliance,” Kim said.
“We are going to keep it … as long as we admit that South Korea is not the 51st state of the United States. We are an independent country, we have our own national interest, and we should have our own foreign policy strategy.”
(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Robert Birsel and Raju Gopalkrishnan)
Source: Reuters “Top South Korean presidential candidate would review THAAD process: advisers”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
The website of Chosun Ilbo says in its report “China is deploying radar for surveillance of Korean Penisula and Japan” on March 14 that China deployed an over-the-horizon radar (OTHR) in Inner Mongolia with a range of 3,000 km, much stronger than that of THAAD.
Now, China has begun work on the deployment of a new radar with the range of 5,500 km at Shuangya Hill, Heilongjiang Province. It is said that the over-the-horizon radar can detect F-35B stealth fighter jet.
Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Is China deploying new over-the-horizon radar for surveillance of Japan and Korea? F-35B no longer invisible perhaps” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)
By Jack Kim and Christine Kim | SEOUL Tue Mar 14, 2017 | 3:23am EDT
The South Korean politician expected to become its next president, Moon Jae-in, called on China on Tuesday to stop economic retaliation against South Korean firms over the deployment of a U.S. missile-defense system.
Moon, speaking in a debate with other presidential contenders from the main opposition Democratic Party, said South Korea must stand up to China and protest against any unjust moves, but also make diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue.
“We should complain about what needs to be complained about and we should make diplomatic efforts to persuade China,” Moon said.
“It is also not desirable for China to harm our relationship with excessive retaliation,” Moon said.
“I call on China to immediately stop”.
China has increased pressure, and imposed some restrictions, on some companies doing business with and in South Korea, which many in South Korea perceive as retaliation for deployment of the missile system.
But Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said on Monday that South Korea did not have firm evidence of Chinese retaliation and China has not directly said it is targeting South Korean firms.
South Korea will hold a presidential election by May 9 after the impeachment and dismissal last week of its former president, Park Geun-hye.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system is likely to be contentious issues in the campaign.
Moon, a human rights lawyer and prominent liberal politician who has been leading in opinion polls, said the government had mishandled the deployment plan by rushing into it and without public consensus.
China is vehemently opposed to South Korea’s agreement with the United States to deploy the THAAD system in the South against North Korea’s missile threat.
The United States and South Korea say THAAD is for defense against North Korea, but China fears its powerful radar can probe deep into its territory and compromise its security.
The United States began to deploy the system a week ago, a day after North Korea test-fired four missiles.
Russia also worries the deployment could compromise its security, and said it would lead to a stalemate on the Korean peninsula.
(Writing by James Pearson; Editing by Robert Birsel and Michael Perry)
Source: Reuters “Top South Korean presidential candidate demands China stop retaliation over THAAD”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
By Adam Jourdan and Cynthia Kim | SHANGHAI/SEOUL Fri Mar 10, 2017 | 4:46am EST
Pressure in China on travel firms forced airlines and cruise operators to cut routes to South Korea, as the fallout spread on Friday from a diplomatic row over Seoul’s plans to deploy a U.S. missile defense system against Beijing’s objections.
China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd (600115.SS) and Spring Airlines Co Ltd (601021.SS) stopped offering flights on their websites between the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo and popular South Korean tourist island Jeju from next week.
Korea’s Eastar Jet said it was halting flights between the South Korean cities of Cheongju and tourist hotspot Jeju with various Chinese cities including Ningbo, Jinjiang and Harbin.
This followed Carnival Corp’s (CCL.N) Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL.N) cutting South Korean visits by their China ships. Royal Caribbean cited “recent developments regarding the situation in South Korea”.
The moves reflect a more aggressive and blatant stance against South Korean business in China, although Beijing has not directly said it is targeting South Korean firms.
An internal South Korean government document seen by Reuters said Chinese authorities gave a “7-point” verbal instruction to travel firms to curtail or ban trips to South Korea.
These included a ban on tour groups visiting South Korea from March 15, cruise ships not being allowed to dock in South Korea ports and a warning that those who violated the guidance would face “severe punishment”.
Reuters could not immediately reach China’s tourism administration for comment. China Eastern and Spring Airlines did not respond to requests for comment.
The crackdown has sent a chill across South Korea’s retail and tourism sectors, which rely heavily on China trade, and prompted South Korea to say it will consider filing a complaint against China to the World Trade Organization.
South Korea sold $124 billion worth of goods and services to China last year, about five times the amount it exported to nearby Japan and double the amount it shipped to its second-biggest overseas market, the United States.
Tourism is a particularly sensitive sector, with official South Korean data showing almost half of the visitors to the country come from China.
Asked about cruise operators cancelling South Korean port visits, an official from South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy told Reuters the ministry was checking if any WTO rules have been violated.
“If we are to launch a dispute, we still need to make sure if anything has been ordered by Beijing,” the official said.
Political risk analysts said the widespread actions against South Korean firms pointed to centralized coordination.
Princess Cruises, also owned by Carnival, said in a statement on Friday it would remove visits to South Korea from routes after talks with “relevant departments”.
“Due to the current situation, Princess Cruises’ China team has been in close dialogue and prudent discussions with relevant departments,” the firm said. “All routes which involve South Korea have been altered.”
The diplomatic problems with its biggest trade partner have come at a difficult time for South Korea.
On Friday, South Korea’s Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye from office on Friday over a graft scandal involving the country’s conglomerates.
Analysts said the upheaval had given China the opportunity to put pressure on Park’s possible successors to ditch or delay the installation of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile system.
“I think they’ll keep up this pressure well into the period where we get a new government in South Korea,” said Andrew Gilholm, director of analysis for China and North Asia at risk consultancy Control Risks.
“Possibly the reason they’re pushing so hard is that they are trying to influence whatever policy the next government in Seoul takes.”
Meantime, South Koreans living in China have been advised by business groups to adopt a low profile, while residents and shopkeepers in a Shanghai neighborhood where many South Koreans live told Reuters of a growing sense of anxiety.
“I feel wherever I am people are watching me. On the street, in the car and at restaurants, I don’t feel I can freely speak Korean,” said Seo Lan Kyung, 48, a housewife who said she has been living in China for 18 years.
“I want to keep living here but increasingly there’s a feeling of impending crisis.”
(Additional reporting by Christian Shepherd and Muyu Xu in BEIJING, Alexandra Harney in SHANGHAI, Heekyong Yang and Hyunjoo Jun in SEOUL; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
Source: Reuters “Cruise control: China squeezes South Korea as boats and planes stay away”
China’s official media Global Times suggests in a March-9 article:
1. Economic sanctions on South Korea. China’s sanction on the US cannot hurt the US much but will hurt itself. However, South Korea’s economy is relatively small and it has substantial trade surplus with China. It is, therefore, vulnerable to economic sanctions.
2. Greatly increase and improve China’s nuclear weapons to recover the balance of nuclear strength between China and the US. China has sufficient financial resources for that. As China’s arms race with the US is limited only to the protection of its core interests instead of the pursuit of world hegemony, China will not be crushed by the burden of arms race in the same way as the Soviet Union that pursued world hegemony like the US. China may even withdraw its promise not to be the first to use nuclear weapons.
3. Closer cooperation with Russia.
Source: Global Times “US has to pay a price for boosting the deployment of THAAD in South Korea: China may expand its nuclear arsenal” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the article in Chinese)
By Hyunjoo Jin and Adam Jourdan | SEOUL/SHANGHAI Fri Mar 3, 2017 | 6:41am EST
South Korean companies on Friday bore the brunt of a perceived backlash from China over the deployment of a U.S. missile system outside Seoul, with shares tumbling on media reports of Beijing telling tour operators to stop selling trips to the country.
Several of Korea’s biggest news outlets cited unidentified sources as saying Chinese government officials had given the verbal guidance just days after the Seoul government secured land for the missile system from Lotte Group.
South Korea and the United States say the missile system is defence against nuclear-armed North Korea, but China says its territory is the target of the system’s far-reaching radar. To protest the deployment, Chinese state-run media have called for a boycott of South Korean products.
The Chinese are by far the biggest spenders in South Korea’s tourism industry, propping up the world’s biggest duty free market which generates about $8 billion in annual sales.
But on Friday, the price of shares in duty free retailer Hotel Shilla Co Ltd ended 13 percent lower while cosmetics maker Amorepacific Corp closed at a two-year low, as investors feared a decline in Chinese tourist dollars as well as a repeat of a backlash against Japan in 2012 over a territorial dispute and interpretations of history.
The share falls add to difficulties reported by South Korean companies in China since the Seoul and Washington governments in July agreed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. On Thursday, an affiliate of the Lotte Group reported cyber attacks ostensibly originating from China.
Shares of Hyundai Motor Co also finished down 4.4 percent after photos of a vandalised Hyundai car circulated on Chinese social media, in an echo of the damage meted out to Japanese vehicles during protests in 2012.
Local police in a microblog post said the vandalism could be linked to a dispute over debt.
“If it is proved to be related to (the missile issue), such illegal behaviour is a smear on the public boycott campaign,” state-run tabloid Global Times said in an editorial.
South Korea’s embassy in China issued a safety warning for its citizens.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Friday said there was no anti-deployment movement in China, and that authorities would deal with anyone breaking the law.
“I hope the relevant side can listen to the people’s voices and earnestly take steps to avoid further damage to China-South Korea relations and exchanges and cooperation between the two countries,” Geng said.
STAB IN THE BACK
South Korean foreign minister Yun Byung-se said he was reviewing whether the guidance mentioned in the media violate international norms, Yonhap News Agency reported.
“If such reports are true, it would be an unfair action … and very regrettable,” the foreign ministry said earlier on Friday.
An official at South Korea’s culture ministry said Korean tour operators had reported that Chinese peers had told them of the guidance to stop selling tours.
A Korean tourism official later told Reuters that the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) had told tour operators in Beijing and beyond that all group tours to South Korea as well as advertising were banned. The official also said group tours made up about 40 percent of all Chinese visitors to South Korea last year.
CNTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Chinese operators Ctrip and Qunar were accepting bookings to Korea on Friday. A salesperson at LY.com said the site has withdrawn all Korean tours, and Tuniu declined bookings citing the missile issue. LY.com could not be reached for comment, and Tuniu’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to comment.
The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea has nearly quadrupled to 8 million over the past five years, accounting for nearly half of foreign visitors, Korean government data shows.
Yet shares of flag carrier Korean Air Lines Co Ltd also ended down on Friday, by 4.8 percent. A spokesman said the airline was worried about the reports and was monitoring the situation.
South Korean political parties condemned the action.
“It’s despicable and arrogant. China is a G20 nation that should be leading the development of world order,” Liberty Korea Party leader Chung Woo-taik said.
But for Professor Wu Xinbo at China’s prestigious Fudan University, the deployment was akin to “stabbing China in the back”.
“As a sovereign nation, Korea says its decision to deploy THAAD is out of consideration for national security,” Wu told the Global Times. “By the same logic, China has the right to oppose THAAD on the basis of its own national security.”
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in SEOUL and Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Additional reporting by Joyce Lee, Jack Kim, Ju-min Park and Se Young Lee in SEOUL, Ben Blanchard and Muyu Xu in BEIJING, and Christian Shepherd in HONG KONG; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing)
Source: Reuters “Fears of Chinese backlash over missile defence hit South Korean firms”
Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.