China: Take The Money And Shut Up

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August 17, 2011: China has played down the importance of its new aircraft carrier, the Shi Lang, even going so far as to describe the ship as intended for scientific research. At the same time, China announced that it is continuing reforms in its armed forces. This is mainly being done by introducing more modern weapons and equipment, along with higher quality and better trained personnel.

China is also improving its ability to build, and even develop, modern weapons. This is assisted by the theft of much Russian and Western (particularly American) military technology. This is done either by obtaining examples of the technology, or using Internet based espionage to steal technical details. Russian weapons are often for sale by nations that used to be part of the Soviet Union (and inherited such weapons after the breakup). American weapons can be examined via access to lost (usually crashed) American aircraft and missiles. The latest example is a crashed (during the May 2nd raid to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan) American stealth helicopter. China denies all such espionage efforts, but much evidence indicates otherwise. 

Western and Russian Internet security experts have made it quite clear that they believe China has been engaging in Internet based espionage for over five years. China denies everything, but the evidence keeps piling up that many, if not most, of these hacking efforts are coming out of China. There have been several recent major attacks, and the victims are getting increasingly angry at lame Chinese denials. There is increasing talk of striking back, but no one has quite figured out how to do it, especially since any such retaliation is currently illegal.

India is accusing China of supplying tribal rebels in northeastern India (Assam) with weapons. Most frequently mentioned is the Chinese Type 81 rifle. These are obsolete weapons in China, and began getting replaced in the 1990s. Smugglers have been more frequently offering these weapons (which are improved AK-47s) in the black market over the last decade. That said, China claims adjacent Indian lands as part of Tibet. Supporting rebels in neighboring nations is an ancient Chinese tactic.

The recent sea trials of the Chinese carrier Shi Lang elicited complaints from neighboring countries that this is a bad thing. The neighbors (Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan) recognize similar Chinese strategies, which have been used time and again over the centuries. The pattern consists of lots of Chinese complaints (in this case, backing Chinese claims on everything in the South China Sea), followed by a military build-up meant to intimidate the neighbors into backing down. This time, the United States is backing the neighbors, which accounts for the energetic anti-American campaign that has been going on in China for decades. This propaganda about the “inevitable future war with the United States” is largely kept inside China, and denied when foreigners ask about it. But within China, the military makes no secret of who it is preparing to fight. Little of this stuff every gets translated into English, leaving most Americans unaware of it.

August 16, 2011: China launched a second Haiyang-2 (Ocean-2) maritime monitoring satellite. Haiyang-2 monitors water temperature, level and movement, as well as wind speeds.

August 15, 2011:  In southwest China, a Tibetan Buddhist monk (Tsewang Norbu) set himself on fire and died, to protest Chinese occupation of Tibet. About a thousand soldiers and police quickly surrounded the monastery Norbu lived in (along with about a hundred other monks). This is the second such suicide in the area this year, and the large Tibetan populations in southwest China have rioted before to protest Chinese rule in Tibet. 

August 14, 2011: China announced that a chemical plant, near the northeastern city of Dalian, will be moved to a more remote area. This was after a recent peaceful demonstration by over 12,000 people. There are thousands of such (usually smaller) demonstrations each year. As long as the protestors are dealing with a local economic issue, and not something political, there will often be some positive response. But the response is usually much less than what the protestors are demanding. The Dailan protest was so successful because the chemical plant produced poisonous stuff near large residential areas, and there have been some close calls recently.

August 12, 2011: The Chinese state owned railway announced that over fifty of its new “bullet trains” would be recalled by the manufacturers so that design flaws could be fixed. The design flaws were responsible for a fatal crash last year. These flaws are believed the result of rampant corruption in the state owned railroad bureaucracy. The government is making some well-publicized leadership changes in the state owned railway company, including some prosecutions for high-level corruption.

August 11, 2011:  China has launched a two month military/police operation in western China (Xinjiang) where the population contains a lot of Moslem Turks (Uighur). The lead unit in this operation is the elite Snow Leopard commandos, a counter-terror organization. The thousands of additional troops and police will conduct patrols and man checkpoints. Moslems will have their IDs checked searches will be made for weapons and other terrorist materials.

In southwest China (Guizhou province) thousands of people rioted to protest recent police brutality. There are over 90,000 incidents like this each year, although most are peaceful.

August 10, 2011:  After years of refurbishment, former Russian aircraft carrier, now the Shi Lang, began five days of sea trials.

July 31, 2011:  In the western China city of Kashgar, 13 people died in several days of ethnic violence by local Moslem Turks (Uighurs). China claimed that some of the attackers were trained in Pakistani terrorist camps. Pakistan, a close ally of China, promised to look into the claim and act if such a camp was found. Pakistan has long tolerated many different Islamic terror groups, including those from Central Asia and western China.

July 29, 2011:  Chinese lawyers have been ordered not to take cases involving victims of the July 23rd railway crash (which killed 40 and injured 191). While the government has offered twice the usual compensation to over 200 families of victims, some kin of the victims still want to sue corrupt railroad officials. The government does not want that kind of publicity, and is willing to imprison any lawyer (along with their clients) who pursues the corruption angle in court. The government has also ordered the state owned media to back away from crash reporting. Internet based reporters are also being hunted down and punished.

 

 

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