China’s Hypersonic ICBM Challenges US Missile Defense


DF-41 multi-warhead ICBM. Photo from CCTV footage in late January

SCMP says in its report “China fires up advanced hypersonic missile challenge to US defences” yesterday that China tested its DF-17 hypersonic missile twice on November 1 and two weeks after the first. As both tests were successful, DF-17 may be operational by around 2020, US intelligence sources were quoted as saying.

The HGV technology can also be used on China’s DF-41 multi-warhead ICBM with a range of 12,000 km to hit anywhere in the US.

Previously China conducted at least 7 tests of DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) with only one failure. Experts say that DF-17 is a weaponized model of DF-ZF prototype. So far missile defense has less than 50% success rate in intercepting ICBM, but ICBM with HGV technology is even more complex and difficult to defend.

The US depends on THAAD to intercept China’s ICBMs but short-range HGV ballistic missile can destroy THAAD’s radar to make the US unable to detect the launch of ICBMs in time, according to experts.

The US, Russia and China are all developing HGV but the US lags behind China due to its focus on hypersonic aircraft.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2126420/china-fires-advanced-hypersonic-missile-challenge-us.

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South Korean firms flock to Beijing hoping summit will hasten thaw with China


File photo: South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in attends the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Joyce Lee, Christine Kim December 13, 2017

SEOUL (Reuters) – Hoping a thaw in relations with China will reopen opportunities after a diplomatic spat earlier this year cost many of them business, some 300 South Korean executives joined President Moon Jae-in for the start of his four-day trip to China on Wednesday.

The delegation was the largest to accompany a South Korean leader abroad, and reflected the value the firms placed on mending ties with their country’s biggest trading partner.

Trade and business exchanges between the two countries froze earlier this year after South Korea deployed U.S.-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system regardless of vehement objections from Beijing.

Among those who traveled were executives from some of the firms hit hardest by the backlash, including Lotte Group and cosmetics and entertainment firms such as Amorepacific and S.M. Entertainment.

Addressing around 500 Chinese and South Korean businessmen at a forum in Beijing, Moon stressed the need to “build a systemic foundation for a stable economic cooperation”.

Moon said he expects to sign a memorandum with President Xi Jinping at a summit on Thursday, a step toward follow-up negotiations of the South Korea-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) concerning services and investments.

“This is expected to expand the entry of both countries’ companies into service industries, and revitalize mutual investments,” he said.

GRADUAL STEPS

The THAAD disagreement knocked about 0.4 percentage points off expected economic growth in South Korea this year and resulted in lost revenues of around $6.5 billion from Chinese tourists in the first nine months of the year, as the number of visitors fell by half.

Anti-South Korean sentiment also battered firms’ sales of entertainment, cosmetics and cars in China.

Multiple officials from South Korea’s largest companies told Reuters they hoped that Moon’s visit to China would mark the next step toward improving ties after the two governments reached an initial agreement in late October to move past the dispute.

Still, they were doubtful whether a sudden turnaround in business relations would be achieved over the coming days.

“If you look at earlier cases, it takes several, gradual steps for unspoken reprisals to be eased,” said an official from a Korean firm accompanying Moon who declined to be identified as the matter was sensitive.

“We’re hoping this is a key step.”

Reuters spoke to around 20 of the South Korean firms represented in the delegation, and none had any fresh investment or business deal announcements planned.

Instead, an official at game developer Wemade Entertainment Co Ltd, whose CEO attended the forum, said executives would be looking to reopen dialogue with Chinese counterparts.

“Rather than having a specific agenda, we are hoping for a space to discuss various matters,” the official said.

A POSSIBLE OPENING

In late November, China allowed travel agencies in Beijing and Shandong to resume some sales of group tours to South Korea, but tour agencies were told not to include South Korean retail-to-chemicals giant Lotte Group in travel packages.

Lotte, which provided the land where the THAAD system was installed, was hardest hit in the diplomatic standoff.

Its chain of hypermarkets and supermarkets in China were largely shuttered, and it is expected to sell the stores for a fraction of what it invested.

The conglomerate previously said it planned to sell the stores by the end of this year, but the talks have been in “a stalemate,” a Lotte Group official said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivities.

Still, the official hoped the summit would ease the way for the planned sales of hypermarkets in China and lead to a full lifting of group tour bans.

“We have big hopes about the summit,” the official said.

Reporting by Joyce Lee and Christine Kim; Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin, Heekyong Yang, Yuna Park and Jane Chung; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Source: Reuters “South Korean firms flock to Beijing hoping summit will hasten thaw with China”

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


US-Japan-South Korea Mini NATO Impossible, China Does Not Fear


SCMP’s article “Why South Korea’s promises on THAAD and a US-Japan alliance are so important to China” today on China’s fear of a ‘mini Nato’ of the US, Japan and South Korea shows the media’s ignorance of East Asian situation.

South Korea has to deploy the THAAD to strengthen its missile defense against North Korea’s threat of nuclear weapons and missiles. China shall make allowance for that even though the missile defense to some extent weakens China’s second-strike capabilities.

That is why China agrees to ease one-year’s tension when South Korea has made the three promises described in SCMP’s article. China simply finds the promises convenient steps to go down from its hardline high ground.

The most important factor is that South Korea may become a very important member of China and Russia’s Asian Union.

As for the so-called mini NATO, China simply does not fear it. The entire Japan is within the range of China’s a thousand medium-range ballistic missiles. US aircraft carriers cannot go near China due to China’s saturate attack of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles. US F-22s cannot obtain air supremacy from China’s J-20s. Moreover, they have the weakness of the necessity of aerial refueling and their airfields are within the range of China’s ballistic missiles and H-6K bombers.

Can South Korea help the US and Japan if it joins the “mini NATO”?

South Korea will not give them any help but wants them to protect it because if there is a war between the so-called “mini NATO” and China, South Korea will become their burden as it needs their protection against the attack of North Korea’s huge army supported by China’s dominant air force.

Moreover, a NATO to Russia’s west is enough threat to Russia. Will Russia allow a “mini NATO” to its east? Russia will certainly join its de facto ally China in fighting the “mini NATO”.

China simply does not fear the so-called “mini NATO” as it is strong enough itself and has useful allies.

In addition, China does not fear it as such a military organization is simply impossible.

South Korea remains Japan’s latent bitter enemy due to the 50 years of Japanese cruel colonization in the past. Now, Japan is its major competitor in its largest market China. Its economic relations with China are very important. Unlike Japan, it has a free trade agreement with China while Japan, though has an earnest desire to contain China, is courting China in order to have such an advantageous agreement (see my post “Can Abe Succeed in Exploiting China’s Huge Market While Containing China” on November 4).

When all Western leaders were unwilling to be China’s guests to China’s military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of World War II, South Korean President Park Geun Hye was conspicuously present. China’s victory in World War II was mainly the victory against Japan. President Park’s presence was obviously favorable to China and unfavorable to Japan.

Only those who are living in their dreams may imagine that South Korea will join the US and Japan in a “mini NATO” directed at China.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2118499/why-south-koreas-promises-thaad-and-us-japan-alliance


South Korea and China make nice


Xinhua News Agency reports that the Chinese foreign ministry says that Beijing has been “maintaining communications on the Korean Peninsula issue through diplomatic channels” with Seoul, and that “both sides agree to return communication and cooperation in various fields to the normal track as soon as possible.”

This was the first positive signal about a relationship that thrived for most of the last two decades, but has deteriorated significantly over the last year — mostly because of China’s objections to the deployment of the American THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, which began in March this year.

• As part of the agreement, “South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries in Vietnam on November 10-11,” Reuters reports.

• China’s foreign ministry understood that South Korea recognized China’s concerns over THAAD, but clarified that the deployment “was not aimed at any third country and did not harm China’s strategic security interests.” China also “reiterated its opposition to the deployment of THAAD, but noted South Korea’s position.”

• South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha “first hinted at a possible breakthrough on Monday, when she said that despite the Thaad deployment, South Korea had no intention of joining the United States’ efforts to build a regionwide missile-defense system aimed at countering China’s expansion of its military capabilities,” according to (paywall) the New York Times. She also said that “South Korea would not accept any additional THAAD batteries,” nor enter any trilateral military alliance with the United States and Japan. (Her comments are reported in Chinese by Xinhua here.)

• From the point of view of South Korean companies, the political détente “formalizes a thawing that’s been in the making for months,” according to Bloomberg, although one executive says that “Korean companies will keep a two-track business for their post-China strategy…they cannot depend on the Chinese only.”

•“It is necessary to recognize that the achievement of this consensus does not mean that the THAAD problem has been fundamentally resolved,” says a Xinhua commentary (in Chinese) on the agreement to renormalize relations.

Why does China object so much to THAAD? It is generally understood to be because the radar technology that comes with the missile defense system will alter the regional balance of power. For details on China’s specific fears, see this analysis (paywall) by Ankit Panda, which sees the potential for THAAD to significantly degrade China’s nuclear second-strike capability as the main worry in Beijing.

Why now? Reuters hints at a possible reason for the timing: “The unexpected détente comes just days before U.S. President Donald Trump begins a trip to Asia, where the North Korean nuclear crisis will take center stage.”

Source: SupChina “South Korea and China make nice”

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 Rising while the US Declining, South Korea’s Greatest Concerns


A THAAD interceptor is launched. Photo: Reuters

National Interest publishes Sandy Pho’s article “South Korea’s Greatest Fear (and It Isn’t a North Korean Invasion” on August 31 reflects South Korean people’s concerns on a rising China’s economic pressure due to the deployment of THAAD and fear that the US will not be able to protect South Korea as the US seems even unable to afford the costs of such protection.

South Korean people are unhappy about trump’s withdrawal from TPP, complaints about the U.S.-South Korea trade deficit, and calls for Seoul to pay more of the costs of having U.S. military forces in South Korea.

On the other hand, South Korea’s trade with China has risen to $300 billion greater than its trade with any others and it has substantial trade surplus with China. Moreover In 2015 Chinese travelers account for more than 50% of South Korea’s 17.2 million foreign tourists. Being big spenders, they spent nearly $13.7 billion there.

Now due to China’s opposition to the deployment of THAAD in South Korea, Chinese travelers has decreased nearly 40% and some Chinese people are boycotting South Korean products. Chinese government has created trouble for some South Korean companies involved in the deployment.

The article says, “South Koreans are frustrated over the lack of creative solutions from Washington and Beijing and deeply resent being used as a pawn in a U.S.-China regional competition.”

Indeed, it seems there is nothing South Korea can do to free itself from the predicament. It cannot survive without US nuclear and conventional military protection; therefore, there is limit to its leaders to be more active and independent in dealing with North Korea in spite of being told by their people to do so.

On the other hand, it cannot upset China because it will be in great trouble if China chooses to support North Korea.

The writer of the article wants his president Trump to do some Seoul searching. What is the use of Seoul searching? The US is declining and lacks the financial resources to perform its obligations to protect Europe, Japan, South Korea and many other countries.

Work hard to make the US rich and prosperous. That shall be the correct findings of US people’s Seoul searching.

As for South Korea, it really has lots of better alternatives than the deployment of THAAD. It can simply ask China what protection China can provide it if it does not deploy THAAD. It shall realize its own importance in East Asia. For the US it is an indispensable part of the US security triangle of US, Japan and South Korea in Asia. If it switches to China and Russia’s side and tells US troops to go home, the US will be in real trouble and will never dare to ask South Korea to pay for the costs of its military in South Korea.

Trump wants to reduce US financial burdens as the world’s only hegemon but cannot as he does not want to give up US world hegemony. Even if he wants, Congress and American people will not allow him. That is US weak point that Seoul can exploit.

China wants world leadership in win-win cooperation to benefit itself while benefiting others. Success of its free trade area (FTA) with South Korea has already brought lots of benefits to both countries. The FTA is also very important for China’s ambition to establish the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area, of which South Korea constitutes an important part.

With such weak point and ambition in South Korean leader’s mind, he will has much room of maneuver.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on National Interest’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://nationalinterest.org/feature/south-koreas-greatest-fear-it-isnt-north-korean-invasion-22128.


China’s Xi pledges to address differences with South Korea: Xinhua


BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to make concerted efforts with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in to address differences between the two countries properly, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

Xi made the remarks in a congratulatory message sent to Moon on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-South Korea diplomatic relations, Xinhua said.

Development of China-South Korea relations made a positive contribution to regional peace and development, Xinhua cited Xi as saying. The news agency did not provide further details.

South Korea and the United States agreed to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in response to the growing missile threat from North Korea.

However, the installation of the missile system has angered China, which says its powerful radar will be able to look deep into its territory and undermine regional security.

China has pressed South Korean businesses through boycotts and bans, such as ending Chinese group tours to South Korea and closing most of South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group’s Lotte Mart retail stores in China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the exchange congratulatory messages was consistent with usual practice.

Many tangible and mutual benefits had been delivered to people of both countries since the establishment of diplomatic ties, she told a daily news briefing.

“We hope the South Korean side can summarize and look back on the experiences and lessons from the 25 years of diplomatic relations and take constructive actions to appropriately address relevant sensitive issues and differences to improve relations between China and South Korea,” Hua said.

“On the issue of THAAD, China’s position is very clear, resolute and there is no change.”

Moon has also pushed China, North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, to do more to rein in Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and dozens of missile tests since the beginning of last year, significantly raising tension on the heavily militarized Korean peninsula and in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July resulted in a new round of tougher global sanctions.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Additional reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait

Source: Reuters “China’s Xi pledges to address differences with South Korea: Xinhua”

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


‘Shocked’ South Korea leader orders probe into U.S. THAAD additions


FILE PHOTO: A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

By Heekyong Yang and Ju-min Park | SEOUL Tue May 30, 2017 | 5:51pm EDT

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered a probe after his Defence Ministry failed to inform him that four more launchers for the controversial U.S. THAAD anti-missile system had been brought into the country, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system battery was initially deployed in March in the southeastern region of Seongju with just two of its maximum load of six launchers to counter a growing North Korean missile threat.

During his successful campaign for the May 9 presidential election, Moon called for a parliamentary review of the system, the deployment of which infuriated China, North Korea’s lone major ally.

“President Moon said it was very shocking” to hear the four additional launchers had been installed without being reported to the new government or to the public, presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan told a media briefing.

Moon had campaigned on a more moderate approach to Pyongyang, calling for engagement even as the reclusive state pursues nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and threats of more sanctions.

The Pentagon said it had been “very transparent” with South Korea’s government about THAAD deployment. “We continue to work very closely with the Republic of Korea government and we have been very transparent in all of our actions throughout this process,” Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis told a news briefing.

Separately on Tuesday, the U.S. military cheered a successful, first-ever missile defense test involving a simulated attack by an intercontinental ballistic missile, a major milestone for a program meant to defend the United States against North Korea.

The Missile Defense Agency said it was the first live-fire test against a simulated ICBM for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD), a separate system from THAAD, and called it an “incredible accomplishment.” [L1N1IW1MM]

CHINA TENSIONS EASING

Moon’s order of a probe into the THAAD launchers came amid signs of easing tensions between South Korea and China, a major trading partner.

China has been incensed over the THAAD deployment, fearing it could enable the U.S. military to see into its own missile systems and open the door to wider deployment, possibly in Japan and elsewhere, military analysts say.

South Korean companies have faced product boycotts and bans on Chinese tourists visiting South Korea, although China has denied discrimination against them.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s Jeju Air said China had approved a plan for it to double its flights to the Chinese city of Weihai from June 2.

Also, a Korean-Chinese joint drama production “My Goddess, My Mom” starring South Korean actress Lee Da-hae was told by its Chinese partner recently that it will soon be aired, according to Lee’s agent JS Pictures. Previously its broadcast had been indefinitely delayed.

An official at South Korean tour agency Mode Tour told Reuters it hoped China may lift a ban on selling trips to South Korea, which had been in place since March 15, as early as the second week of June. Although there had been no official orders from the Chinese government to lift the ban, a few Chinese travel agencies have sent inquiries about package tours, he said. However, South Korea’s Lotte Group has yet to reopen any of the 74 retail stores in China it was forced to close in March after the group allowed the installation of the THAAD system on land it owned.

BOMBER DRILL

The United States, which has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, has a mutual defence treaty with Seoul dating back to the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce that has left the peninsula in a technical state of war.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday it had conducted a joint drill with a U.S. supersonic B-1B Lancer bomber on Monday, which North Korea’s state media earlier described as “a nuclear bomb-dropping drill”.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked to Moon by phone on Tuesday and told him that dialogue for dialogue’s sake with North Korea would be meaningless, and that China’s role in exerting pressure on the North was important, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported that leader Kim Jong Un supervised the country’s latest missile test on Monday. It said the missile had a new precision guidance system and a new mobile launch vehicle.

Kim said North Korea would develop more powerful weapons to defend against the United States.

“He expressed the conviction that it would make a greater leap forward in this spirit to send a bigger ‘gift package’ to the Yankees” in retaliation for American military provocation, KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim, Hyunjoo Jin, Christine Kim and Suyeong Lee in Seoul, Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo and Phil Stewart and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Nick Macfie and James Dalgleish)

Source: Reuters “’Shocked’ South Korea leader orders probe into U.S. THAAD additions”

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