mardi 24 avril 2018

Sina Delenda Est

Short of war, China already controls the South China Sea: US admiral

U.S. Navy Adm. Philip S. Davidson addresses U.S. Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and sailors with the USS Bataan during a ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City May 27, 2016. Davidson has been nominated to head U.S. Pacific Command.
If Chinese leaders thought that saying goodbye to their least favorite US military commander, current US Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris, would mean a more amenable replacement is on the way, they had better guess again.
The nominee to take the spot when Harris becomes ambassador to Australia is sounding the alarm bells about China’s operations in the South China Sea, calling for the US to maintain a strong presence in the region and step up advanced weapons development.
In written testimony to the US Senate Armed Services Committee released last week, the likely pick, Admiral Philip Davidson, said that China has already taken control of the South China Sea.
“In short,” he wrote, “China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”
“Once occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania,” Davidson said of forward operating bases that have already been completed. 
“The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge US presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants.”
News Corp Australia noted the admiral’s statements on Sunday in the context of the news that Australian warships had been “challenged” in the waters. 
The meeting of the two navies was downplayed by the Australian Navy, but hyped in the media as a sign of China’s growing assertiveness. 
In response to questions for how to respond to China’s increased military presence in the region, Admiral Davidson advocated a sustained US military presence and investing in weapons technology.
“US operations in the South China Sea—to include freedom of navigation operations—must remain regular and routine. In my view, any decrease in air or maritime presence would reinvigorate PRC expansion.”
Regarding military technology, Davidson outlined a number of crucial areas in which to invest. 
“A more effective Joint Force requires sustained investment in the following critical areas: undersea warfare, critical munitions stockpiles, standoff weapons (Air-Air, Air-Surface, Surface-Surface, Anti-Ship), intermediate range cruise missiles, low cost / high capacity cruise missile defense, hypersonic weapons, air and surface lift capacity, cyber capabilities, air-air refueling capacity, and resilient communication and navigation systems.”

Taiwan to simulate repelling invasion amid China tensions
A Taiwanese flag is seen behind standard Type II missiles on Kee Lung (DDG-1801) destroyer during a drill near Yilan naval base, Taiwan April 13, 2018. 

TAIPEI -- Taiwan will simulate repelling an invading force, emergency repairs of a major air base and using civilian-operated drones as part of military exercises starting next week, the defense ministry said on Tuesday amid growing tensions with China.
Over the past year or so, China has ramped up military drills around self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around the island.
China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory, and its hostility toward the island has grown since the 2016 election as president of Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.
China has been issuing increasingly strident calls for Taiwan to toe the line, even as Tsai has pledged to maintain the status quo and keep the peace.
Taiwan’s annual Han Kuang drills, which start next week with a computer-aided command post exercise, do not make explicit mention of China, instead referring to “offensive forces invading Taiwan”.
The major part of it will be a live-fire field training exercise from June 4-8, including “enemy elimination on beaches”, the ministry said. 
“Civilian resources will also be integrated into this exercise to support military operations,” it added.
Tech companies will offer support with drones to mark targets and provide battlefield surveillance, and building companies will help with emergency runway repairs for the Ching Chuan Kang air base in central Taiwan, the ministry said.
The Air Combat Command will issue air raid alerts with an “aerial threat warning system” during the air defense drills, and the Coast Guard will also join in exercises with the navy, it added.
Taiwan is well equipped with mostly U.S.-made weaponry, but has been pushing for Washington to sell it more advanced equipment, including new fighter jets, to help it better deter its giant neighbor.
Military experts say the balance of power between Taiwan and China has now shifted decisively in China’s favor, and China could likely overwhelm the island unless U.S. forces came quickly to Taiwan’s aid.
The United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but it is unclear whether Washington would want to be dragged into what would likely be a hugely destructive war with China over the island.

Sina Delenda Est


Every year on April 23, China’s People Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Day commemorates the founding of the service in 1949. 
This year’s celebrations have special significance, as a chance to display the hardware that will define the country’s future place among the world's great powers.
China is preparing to launch its first domestically produced aircraft carrier, the steam-powered Type 001A, for sea trials. 
Naval operations are scheduled from April 20-28 in the Bohai and Yellow seas, and Chinese experts believe the Type 001A could be put to sea during that window.
China has two particularly pressing strategic concerns in East Asia: the continued independence of Taiwan, and the dispute over territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Type 001A, China's second aircraft carrier, is transferred from a dry dock into the water during a launch ceremony at Dalian shipyard in Dalian, northeast China, on April 26, 2017. The carrier could be set for its first sea trials this week.

Beijing is looking to ensure its domination of the region and therefore must have a military capable of standing up to U.S. hegemony. 
In recent weeks the country made a point of executing huge military drills to signify its determination to protect and advance its national interests.
According to the Global Times, the Chinese Ministry of Defense released footage on social media and official websites that detailed China's nuclear submarines and amphibious landing military exercises, among other achievements.
“The Chinese know from history [that] major powers must have a strong navy, and they are moving quickly in that direction,” said retired Rear Admiral Terence Edward McKnight, who commanded a multinational anti-piracy task force in the Gulf of Aden.
China now fields one of the world's largest and most technologically advanced navies. 
Its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was introduced in 2012, having been purchased from Ukraine. Adding more carriers and ensuring the ability to produce them domestically are further signs of China’s ambition.
The significance of China’s carrier program is practical as well as symbolic, explained Matthew Funaiole, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies
China is investing heavily in its navy, “and the Type 001A is a massive push in the right direction,” Funaiole said.
“It’s one thing to refit an old Soviet carrier, like the Chinese did with the Liaoning. It’s something else entirely to build one from the ground up, even with the help of some reverse engineering,” Funaiole continued.
This photo, taken on December 24, 2016 shows the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier, sailing during military drills in the Pacific.

China likely wants to field somewhere between six and 10 carriers, though not all will be top-tier vessels, Funaiole suggested. 
That would make its navy the second most powerful force in the world by some distance, and belies ambitions beyond the South China Sea and Taiwan. 
Indeed, Beijing has already established a naval base in Djibouti, Africa, and is working on a network of ports and airfields in the Indian Ocean.
“China has an interest in shoring up its perceived security closer to home,” Funaiole explained. 
“That said, it is actively looking to expand its navy for far-seas operations, and it's well on its way to seeing this goal through to fruition. It will be interesting to watch what types of missions the PLA Navy is tasked with, in the Indian Ocean in particular.”
It might be moving in the right direction, but the PLA Navy is still behind America in both technology and operational capability. 
The U.S. has a long history of carrier production and operations, and fields the most advanced launch systems, power plants and carrier-based aircraft in the world.
"With China's fast-growing overseas national interests, the [Chinese] navy's mission will be more complicated and significant. 
China now has only one overseas logistics base in Africa, but in the future, the Chinese navy will need more bases around the globe, especially in key regions, to support its overseas mission," Xu Guangyu, a retired major general of the PLA, told Global Times.
One of the main reasons for the purchase of the Liaoning was training: A carrier is nothing without its crew. 
The U.S. has a major personnel and logistical advantage, and China “will face some hurdles in getting a corps of trained pilots, operators and technicians in place,” Funaiole said.
The U.S. Navy has roughly 325,000 service members and approximately 282 deployable battle force vessels, including 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. 
The U.S. Navy also has 3,700 aircraft, the second largest air fleet in the world—only the U.S. Air Force has more. 
That count does not include around 200 auxiliary and reserve ships.
The PLA Navy has around 235,000 personnel and over 700 aircraft
Though it has over 700 vessels in total, the number is bloated by a large number of patrol and support ships as well as outdated boats. 
Only approximately 220 are combat ships. 
Beijing hopes to increase that number to 351 by 2020 and is fast retiring outdated vessels.
China's Peoples' Liberation Army Navy sailors march during Hong Kong's Special Administrative Region Establishment Day on July 1, 2015.
Though the U.S. has the more powerful navy, the gap between the U.S. and China “is getting smaller and smaller each day,” McKnight said. 
American naval leaders are well aware of this and have set an expansion target of 355 combat ships by the end of the 2050s
But according to McKnight, America simply “can’t build ships fast enough right now to keep up with the Chinese.”
Projecting force is more difficult than fighting close to home. 
The Chinese “know they would never win fighting us off the coast of California… but in the South China Sea we will have a major problem fighting the number of Chinese forces,” McKnight explained.
It may already be too late to challenge China in its home waters. 
For all its protests, the U.S. has been unable to stop or slow the construction of artificial islands in the sea, which have effectively fortified China’s disputed claims
“As our young service members fought hard and died in the Middle East the last decade, China has taken control of the South China Sea without losing one sailor,” McKnight said.
Chinese dredging vessels purportedly in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, on May 21, 2015.
Admiral Phil Davidson, a nominee to lead U.S. Pacific Command and current head of the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command on the East Coast, told the Senate Armed Services Committee this week that China “is no longer a rising power but an arrived great power and peer competitor.”
The U.S. is moving to meet the Chinese challenge in Asia-Pacific. 
Warships and planes have been conducting freedom of navigation operations near China’s artificial island bases; carriers have been deployed to ports in the region; and new weapons have been made available to Pacific ships. 
America won’t cede influence in East Asia easily.
“They don’t want a war with us, but they want to show us they can control their own backyard—the South China Sea—and be recognized as a true maritime power,” McKnight said. 
“You need a powerful navy to command the seas.”

The Chinese Car Invasion Is Coming

China's rising automakers want to sell the future of driving all over the world.
Bloomberg News

On a bright spring day in Amsterdam, car buffs stepped inside a blacked-out warehouse to nibble on lamb skewers and sip rhubarb cocktails courtesy of Lynk & Co., which was showing off its new hybrid SUV.
What seemed like just another launch of a new vehicle was actually something more: the coming-out party for China’s globally ambitious auto industry. 
For the first time, a Chinese-branded car will be made in Western Europe for sale there, with the ultimate goal of landing in U.S. showrooms.
That’s the master plan of billionaire Li Shufu, who has catapulted from founding Geely Group as a refrigerator maker in the 1980s to owning Volvo Cars, British sports carmaker Lotus, London Black Cabs and the largest stake in Daimler AG—the inventor of the automobile. 
Li is spearheading China’s aspirations to wedge itself among the big three of the global car industry—the U.S., Germany and Japan—so they become the Big Four.
“I want the whole world to hear the cacophony generated by Geely and other made-in-China cars,” Li told Bloomberg News. 
“Geely’s dream is to become a globalized company. To do that, we must get out of the country.”

Inside a London EV Co. plant in Coventry, U.K. The company, owned by China’s Geely Group, makes electric black cabs used in London.

He’s not alone: At least four Chinese carmakers and three Chinese-owned startups—SF Motors Inc., NIO and Byton—plan to sell cars in the U.S. starting next year. 
At the same time, Warren Buffett-backed BYD Co. is building electric buses in California; Baidu partnering with Microsoft Corp., TomTom NV and Nvidia Corp. on a self-driving platform; and Beijing-based TuSimple Inc. is testing autonomous-driving big rigs in Arizona.
The industry is set for more upheaval as China unravels a two-decade policy that capped foreign ownership of carmaking ventures at 50 percent. 
The change may energize companies such as Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co. to seek a bigger piece of the world’s largest car market and allow Tesla Inc. to set up a fully owned unit. 
Carmakers may get better visibility of their futures, and those Chinese companies that fear losing sales at home may sense a greater impetus to go abroad.
“They are in a better position now than they ever have been,” Anna-Marie Baisden, head of autos research in London with BMI Research, said of Chinese carmakers. 
“They’ve had so much time working with international manufacturers and have become a lot more mature.”
We’ve seen this movie before from China—in the smartphone industry. 
The nation used the shift in technology from basic flip phones to hand-sized computers to dominate the manufacturing industry, trouncing then-dominant makers from Finland, Sweden, the U.S., Japan and Germany.
Last year, three of the top five smartphone handset makers in the world were Chinese, according to Gartner Inc.
Yet the sequel may take longer to become a hit, given the brand loyalty that has existed since Henry Ford debuted the Model T in 1908. 
How will Chinese automakers convince Midwesterners to give up their Ford F-150 pickups or Tokyo residents to switch from their Toyotas?
“Chinese carmakers intend to come over, but what need will they fill?” said Doug Betts, senior vice president of global automotive practice at J.D. Power. 
“What is the reason to buy their cars?”
Chinese cars probably would compete more directly with Japanese and Korean models, said Bob Lutz, the retired vice chairman of GM. 
American consumers mostly cross-shop Asian brands.

Geely Chairman Li Shufu plans to launch a global automaker from China. “To do that,” he says, “we must get out of the country.”

“If they start coming in, they won’t be any more competent than Korean and Japanese cars,” Lutz said. 
“They would probably take share from other Asian brands because the vehicles will be more Asian in character. They’re not going to get much market share.”
And then there’s President Donald Trump
Trade tensions between the U.S. and China are simmering as both nations move to slap tariffs on each other’s products. 
This month, China said it would levy an additional 25 percent levy on about $50 billion of U.S. imports, including automobiles and aircraft. 
The move matched the scale of proposed U.S. tariffs, with Trump threatening an escalation.
That’s not to say the road is impassable. 
A few decades ago, South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group was knocked for fragile engines and rust-sensitive body panels. 
Now it’s one of the five biggest manufacturers in the world, selling about 1.25 million cars in the U.S. last year, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. 
The group also has factories in Alabama and Georgia.
“Competitors emerging from China must be taken seriously,” said Matthias Mueller, former chief executive officer of Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker. 
“I visited China for the first time in 1989, and the development that has happened there since then is just impressive.”
The creeping global influence of China’s industry isn’t limited to getting their wheels on U.S. and European roads.
Equally important, the Chinese are getting under the hoods of foreign brands by buying up parts suppliers, making batteries for the world’s EV fleet and corralling supplies of the metals that give those batteries life.
Automakers such as Geely, Chery Automobile Co. and BYD started talking a decade ago about cracking the U.S. auto market with an array of low-cost passenger vehicles. 
Those efforts stalled, so the industry built a global presence through acquisitions.
Chinese companies have announced at least $31 billion in overseas deals during the past five years, buying stakes in carmakers and parts producers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The most prolific buyer is Li, who spent almost $13 billion on stakes in Daimler and truckmaker Volvo. 
Tencent Holdings Ltd., Asia’s biggest internet company, paid about $1.8 billion for 5 percent of Tesla.
As software and electronics become just as critical to a car as the engine, China is ensuring it doesn’t lag behind in that market, either. 
Baidu, owner of the nation’s biggest search engine, announced a $1.5 billion Apollo Fund to invest in 100 autonomous-driving projects during the next three years.
“We have secured a chance to compete in the U.S. market of self-driving cars through those partnerships,” Li Zhengyu, a vice president overseeing Baidu’s intelligent-driving unit, told Bloomberg News. 
“Everyone has a good chance to win if it has good development plans.”
“I want the whole world to hear the cacophony generated by... made-in-China cars”
Baidu and Tencent are among the Chinese corporations racing Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, Uber Technologies Inc. and the major automakers to develop autonomous driving, with an aim for mass adoption by 2021.
The government’s aspiration to deploy 30 million autonomous vehicles within a decade is seeding a fledgling chip industry, with startups like Horizon Robotics Inc. emerging to build the brains behind those wheels.
Then there’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd., the maker of electric-vehicle batteries that’s planning a $1.3 billion factory with enough capacity to surpass the output of Tesla and dwarf the suppliers for GM, Nissan and Audi.
The Ningde-based company plans to raise 13.1 billion yuan as soon as this year by selling a 10 percent stake, at a valuation of about $20 billion. 
The bulk of the new funds would pay for a manufacturing plant that would make CATL the world’s biggest maker of Lithium-ion batteries.
CATL already supplies Volkswagen and owns 22 percent of Finland’s Valmet Automotive Oy, a contract manufacturer for Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz.
To juice those batteries, Chinese companies are leading the way in securing necessary raw materials like cobalt and lithium
Chinese companies make about 60 percent of the world’s refined cobalt, according to trading firm Darton Commodities Ltd.
China Molybdenum Co. is the world’s second-biggest cobalt miner after Glencore Plc.
The company, with a market value of more than $24 billion, became a major force in battery metal in 2016 after buying control of the cobalt-rich Tenke Fungurume mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Glencore said in March it agreed to sell about a third of its output during the next three years to GEM Co., a Chinese supplier of battery chemicals.
“China has made no secret of its ambition to have a really big and powerful auto industry,” said Michael Dunne, president of consulting firm Dunne Automotive Ltd. in Hong Kong. 
“China does intend to lead and dominate the electric-vehicle industry.”
The Chinese government sees EVs as its best chance to seize global leadership in an emerging powertrain technology. 
Cleaning the notoriously smoggy air and reducing a dependency on foreign petroleum are bonuses.
China, already the world’s biggest vehicle market, overtook the U.S. as No. 1 for EVs in 2015. 
This week’s Beijing auto show will feature 174 EV models, with 124 of them developed domestically.
Xi Jinping showed his determination to rewrite the rules of the automotive industry during a 2014 trip to Shanghai. 
“Developing new-energy vehicles is the only way for China to move from a big automobile country to a powerful automobile hub,” he said when visiting SAIC Motor Corp., a Shanghai government-owned company that partners with GM and Volkswagen in China.
That set off a chain reaction. 
SAIC, the country’s largest automaker by unit sales, invested more than 20 billion yuan in new-energy vehicles, or NEVs, which include electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles.
Western companies dominated for almost a century because they refined the internal-combustion engine. 
The electric motor threatens to erase that disadvantage, said Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology.
“NEVs can help China to become a global leader in the auto industry,” Hu said. 
“China and the rest of the world can now start from the same starting line.”

At the Amsterdam launch event for the Lynk 02, which will become the first Chinese-branded car to be made in Western Europe for sale there.

First in the blocks is Li, a 54-year-old former photographer who started his career with 2,000 yuan from his father and now has a net worth estimated at about $12 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Though Chinese-branded passenger cars are sold throughout Southeast Asia and Africa, none have made it to the U.S. or Europe. 
Li first promised at the 2006 Detroit auto show that he would crack the U.S. market within two years with Geely’s Free Cruiser compact.
That didn’t happen, so he came up with what he considers a better method: make Lynk’s new SUV—called the 02—in Belgium. 
The car will be available from the first half of 2020 in Europe, and then Li plans to hopscotch across the ocean.
“This is the next step,” said Mike Jackson, chief executive officer of AutoNation Inc., the largest U.S. auto-dealer group. 
“And it’s a doable step.”

China’s $6 Billion Propaganda Blitz Is a Snooze

Beijing’s propaganda works at home, but it can't compete globally.

A man walks past a roadside poster of Chinese dictator Xi Jinping in Beijing, on Oct. 24, 2017. 

In a world on the brink of chaos, China has decided that what people everywhere need is more good news — as long as it’s about China. 
China is creating a giant media outlet called Voice of China, combining the three state television and radio broadcasters aimed at overseas audiences: China Global Television Network, China Radio International, and China National Radio. 
The hope is that by combining resources and output, China will have a broader platform to spread its message overseas.
But will Voice of China succeed in boosting China’s international image, especially given the dubious performance of previous global state media pushes?
Chinese dictator Xi Jinping has made no secret that he has very high hopes for China as a new superpower on the world stage, having broken away from his predecessors’ low-key approach. 
Like Xi’s “Chinese Dream,” “Voice of China” is a calque, directly copied from a U.S. model — in this case, “Voice of America.” 
But despite the country’s economic, industrial, and technological might, China has a serious problem with its international image. 
The Chinese Dream doesn’t sell abroad, at least in the developed world — and the censorship and restraints that have always held back Chinese media abroad have been redoubled in the age of Xi.
That’s why the Chinese leadership has put significant effort into improving China’s soft power globally, with state media playing a key part.
Voice of China is the latest move in a global $6.6 billion media expansion campaign involving TV, radio, and newspapers that started in 2009 during the presidency of Hu Jintao, Xi’s predecessor
The merger of the three state media broadcasters was also part of a significant government overhaul in March to streamline departments and centralize control, re-emphasizing the Chinese Communist Party’s ultimate authority. 
Voice of China will also be directly overseen by the State Council and managed by the Communist Party’s Central Publicity Department. 
It’s a long-running idea; there are reports in Chinese media from 2001 about a proposed merger of these three organizations, though nothing apparently came of it until now.
Besides the groups set to merge as Voice of China, the country’s giant state media machine includes newspapers such as the English-language China Daily, the party’s flagship newspaper the People’s Daily, and the Global Times, owned by the People’s Daily, which is a nationalist tabloid with both English and Chinese-language editions. 
(I was an editor for the Global Times in Beijing between 2013 and 2015.) 
All these outlets have expanded significantly since the global media campaign launched in 2009. Large numbers of foreign professionals, such as myself, were hired at media outlets in Beijing, while China Central Television (CCTV) launched bureaus in Kenya and the United States. 
The English-language edition of the Global Times was launched in 2009.
In theory, the global push has been successful. 
CCTV is broadcast in 140 countries in multiple languages, while China Radio International broadcasts in 65 languages. 
CCTV even rebranded its foreign-language news channels as China Global Television Network (CGTN) at the end of 2016. 
The rebranding also included the launch of a CGTN app and increased social media presence on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, all banned in China. 
China Daily puts out international editions in Hong Kong, the United States, and Europe.
In contrast to the staid People’s Daily and China Daily, the Global Times’ English edition has attracted lots of attention — but not necessarily for the right reasons. 
Its aggressive editorials pull no punches excoriating any country or foreign politician whom China has an issue with, such as calling U.S. President Donald Trumpas ignorant as a child” or branding the United Kingdom as fit only for travel and education. 
In March, one feisty editorial urged China to prepare for a “direct military clash” in the Taiwan Strait.
However, despite almost a decade of overseas expansion, China state media are still widely — and largely correctly — seen as being editorially biased and full of propaganda, and they still struggle to attract large audiences.
That’s not going to change. 
In fact, it looks likely to get worse.
Voice of China was formed with the goal of “propagating the party’s theories, directions, principles and policies” as well as “telling good China stories,” according to a Chinese Communist Party document released by Xinhua, the nation’s official news agency, on March 21.
Herein lies the problem. 
The redoubling of efforts to push the party’s theories and principles abroad is at odds with boosting China’s overseas image. 
In this age of widespread internet use and the popularity of social media and nontraditional forms of media, people have become more averse to clumsy state-run propaganda than ever.
“The creation of Voice of China is about centralizing control and consolidating resources, [in the belief] that this will allow China to project its voice more effectively. But the challenge for China’s leadership will be how to project voices that somehow resonate with people around the world while maintaining a unity of voice,” says David Bandurski, co-director of the Hong Kong-based China Media Project and a fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. 
“This is an internal contradiction China has struggled with for years in its external propaganda. And it’s possible that this consolidation could only worsen the problem.”
It’s also basically impossible to use media to promote China overseas while domestic journalism languishes. 
Not only is media in all forms heavily censored in China, but journalists also have been the target of a crackdown in recent years. 
As a result, there is growing disillusionment in the profession as journalists are allowed to do little more than parrot the official line.
A reporter’s eye roll on live TV during the National People’s Congress in March was a perfect example. 
By rolling her eyes at another reporter asking a long-winded question during a press conference, a Chinese journalist seemed to speak for many in the country who are tired of the charade that local media has become. 
The reality in China is that any journalist who dares ask a government official critical questions would almost definitely face serious punishment. 
The eye roll media storm was followed by censorship, a predictable response from the authorities, and then an official ban on video parodies.
Investigative journalism has been severely curtailed, while reporting has become increasingly censored. 
Beijing’s expulsion of at least tens of thousands of migrant workers last November and December, for instance, saw limited and heavily restricted domestic news coverage.
State media outlets, even the firebrand Global Times, are the ones most subject to these restrictions. At times, Global Times journalists were once able to put out relatively daring pieces on issues like local corruption, rural poverty, and gay and lesbian discrimination. 
But these are increasingly rare — and are drowned out by bombastic nationalistic editorials and news stories on problems in foreign countries or toned-down domestic news reports. 
Sensitive topics like Taiwan, Tibet, or Xinjiang are delicately reported on, and the official party line is adhered to. 
From personal experience, even innocuous quotes such as those from a foreign executive about pollution in Beijing are removed completely.
Voice of China might take its name from Voice of America, but the two will likely be worlds apart. 
A quick look at Voice of America’s website shows stories covering news such as the gun reform rally on March 24 in which tens of thousands of Americans marched on their capital. 
That story would be impossible to run in China. 
For instance, the CGTN website features news sections such as “China Cares,” “China Breakthroughs” and “Tradition of China.”
CGTN pales even when compared to Russian state media, themselves no slouches in the propaganda game. 
Despite the strong anti-Western sentiment of RT’s reporting and programs, they at least feature some newsworthy content. 
This is something CGTN can hardly do, with stodgy news reporting and bland programs dominating its lineup. 
Russian state English-language TV network RT, formerly Russia Today, has gained attention for its strident anti-West reporting and interviews. 
It often features controversial figures such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Nigel Farage, a former leader of the British far-right UK Independence Party, and Edward Snowden, whereas even informed viewers struggle to recognize CGTN’s guests.
RT doesn’t mind whether it goes to the far-left or the far-right. 
But Chinese state media, reporting, and punditry can only act from a very narrow, officially approved scope, and the risk of the political extremes is too much. 
Instead of fascists and radicals, then, Chinese media is left with elderly politicians and business executives. 
Producers and reporters can be punished or fired for reporting on topics or expressing views that go beyond the official stance. 
Even in the relatively liberal era of the 2000s, it was common for reporters to be fined significant sums of money or even lose their jobs for making “political errors.” 
So while CGTN’s studios might seem slick and their overseas bureaus as numerous as those of their Western counterparts, the actual content is a mix of brutally tedious propaganda and bland documentaries. 
The audience is always the bosses in Beijing, not the average viewer overseas.
Yet there is one area of international media where China might actually dominate — overseas Chinese-language media. 
But rather than using state media to make inroads, China has simply bought up existing media outlets or obtained the loyalties of their owners. 
Around the world, from Australia to Hong Kong to Europe, many Chinese-language media outlets are owned by individuals or companies with strong links to the Chinese Communist Party. 
Overseas Chinese communities are increasingly exposed to media coverage that is heavily pro-China and toes the party line in refraining from reporting on sensitive news events in China.
Among Chinese communities with little exposure to wider media, the CCP’s efforts might be paying off. 
But when it comes to reaching a global audience, no amount of repackaging and rebranding can succeed if the product itself is unchanged. 
As long as China’s leadership cannot differentiate between propaganda and journalism, the Voice of China will stay unheard.

Chinese Aggressions

Incoming US Pacific Command chief wants to increase presence near China
By Mike Yeo

Fishermen on board a small boat pass by the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Carl Vinson at anchor off Manila, Philippines on Feb. 17, 2018. 

MELBOURNE, Australia ― The nominee to be the next chief of the U.S. forces in the Pacific has called for an increase in U.S. forces from all three services stationed in the vital region, adding that China is now effectively able to control the South China Sea and challenge the U.S. presence in the region.
In his testimony at last week’s Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing, Adm. Philip Davidson also said he will work to recalibrate U.S. force posture in the Indo-Pacific region to align with the recently released 2018 National Defense Strategy, an effort he said “entails ensuring the continued combat readiness of assigned forces in the western Pacific (and) developing an updated footprint that accounts for China’s rapid modernization.”
Davidson, who has been nominated to take over U.S. Pacific Command, or PACOM, also said the strategic and operational environment outlined in the NDS clearly identifies the importance of developing and fielding a force posture that is capable of “countering Chinese malign influence in the region,” while describing actions in the South China Sea such as the One Belt One Road Initiative as China executing its own deliberate and thoughtful force posture initiatives.
Due to the distances involved in the Indo-Pacific, Davidson stressed that the U.S. cannot solely rely on surge forces from the continental United States to deter Chinese aggression or prevent a fait accompli. 
He also said PACOM must maintain a robust, blunt layer that effectively deters Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific.

U.S. Navy Adm. Philip Davidson, the incoming PACOM chief, is shown addressing Marines and sailors during a joint promotion and re-enlistment ceremony on May 27, 2016. 

However, he added there is insufficient forward-deployed and rotational forces from all three services in PACOM’s area of responsibility, or AOR, and the current force structure and presence does “not sufficiently counter the threats in the Indo-Pacific.”
He specifically noted that PACOM only has a quarter of its required intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability in its AOR, although he declined to go into further details of the ISR shortfall, instead saying “the shortfalls are identified and have been highlighted in PACOM’s regular contacts with the Joint Staff.”
Additional requirements for the AOR include command-and-control capabilities, as well as the “integration of long-range, high-speed, lethal, survivable and precision munitions capabilities in ships, submarines, patrol craft, land-based formations, bombers and fighters.” 
These, combined with robust numbers of fifth-generation platforms and the necessary tankers and transports, will provide U.S. forces an advantage in a denied environment in the near term, the officer explained.
Davidson also touched on the continuing effort to field a new generation of weapons such as the Conventional Prompt Global Strike long-range hypersonic weapons, which he said “will help meet military requirements in PACOM” by expanding the competitive space and by taking on adversaries in areas where the U.S. possesses advantages and adversaries lack strength.
Still, he cautioned that China has already been doing the same by weaponizing space and improving its ballistic missile technology and cyber capabilities.
The state of follow-on forces to be deployed to the AOR in the event of a conflict was also an area of worry, with Davidson expressing concern about the manning, training and equipping of U.S. follow-on forces. 
He emphasized that continuing resolutions, delayed appropriations and sequestration stemming from the budget impasse directly impacts the size and speed of a military response.

lundi 23 avril 2018

China Cyberspies Mined Japan Firms for North Korea Secrets

  • Lure related to defense industry suggests possible motive
  • Hackers left text in malware mocking security researchers
By David Tweed

Chinese hackers have targeted Japanese defense companies, possibly to get information on Tokyo’s policy toward resolving the North Korean nuclear impasse, according to cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc.
The attacks are suspected to come from a group known as APT10, a Chinese espionage group that FireEye has been tracking since 2009. 
One of the lures used in a “spear-phishing” email attack was a defense lecture given by former head of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura
Two attacks took place between September and October 2017.
“Lure content related to the defense industry suggests that a possible motive behind the intrusion attempt is gaining insider information on policy prescription to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue,” said Bryce Boland, chief technology officer for the Asia-Pacific region at FireEye.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t respond to a faxed request for comment Friday. 
The suspected attacks coincided with a dramatic escalation in tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program as Kim Jong Un tested a hydrogen bomb and U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the country. 
The U.S. and Japan have been coordinating their diplomatic and military pressure campaigns against the country, and neighboring China is anxious to avoid a clash on its border.
Tensions have eased since the two Koreas started talking ahead of the Winter Olympics and Winter Olympics and Trump granted an unprecedented meeting with the North Korean leader. 
Earlier this month, the foreign ministers of China and Japan agreed to work closely to push the regime to surrender its nuclear weapons program, although Japanese officials continue to express skepticism about Kim’s willingness to make a deal.

Multiple Attacks
The latest cyberattacks mirror other recent hacks with geopolitical overtones investigated by FireEye. Among the most recent, a wave of incursions on mainly U.S. engineering and defense companies linked to the South China Sea, where China’s claims for more than 80 percent of the water clash with five other nations. 
In 2016, the website of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party was attacked months after the party won elections, securing its leader Tsai Ing-wen the presidency.
“We believe APT10 is primarily tasked with collecting critical information in response to shifts in regional geopolitics and frequently targets organizations with long research and development cycles,” Boland said, citing firms in construction and engineering, aerospace and military, telecommunications and high-tech industries.
In an unusual development, the hackers inserted lines of text in the malware associated with the Japanese attacks mocking the security researchers. 
Such gems included, “I’m here waiting for u,” “POWERED BY APT632185, NORTH KOREA,” and “According to the analysis report, some Japanese analysts have always been portrayed as a bit of joke.”
Also under attack since November 2017 have been Japanese healthcare companies. 
“China’s new push on pharmaceutical innovation as a national priority, along with rising cancer rates, will likely drive future espionage operations against the healthcare industry,” Boland said.
Mandiant, a unit of FireEye, alleged in 2013 that China’s military might have been behind a group that had hacked at least 141 companies worldwide since 2006. 
The U.S. issued indictments against five military officials who were purported to be members of that group.