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13 Nov 20. Factbox: List of 31 Chinese companies designated by the U.S. as military-backed. The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled an executive order prohibiting U.S. investments in Chinese firms that Washington says are owned or controlled by the Chinese military.
FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is seen at the IFA consumer technology fair, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Germany September 3, 2020. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
The order could impact some of China’s biggest companies. It is designed to deter U.S. investment firms, pension funds and others from buying and selling shares of 31 Chinese companies that were designated by the Defense Department as backed by the Chinese military earlier this year.
Below is a list of those companies based on Department of Defense data found here here and here here. Most of them have subsidiaries listed in mainland China and/or Hong Kong.
Aviation Industry Corporation of China
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp
China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp
China Electronics Technology Group Corp
China South Industries Group Corp
China State Shipbuilding Corp
China North Industries Group Corp (Norinco Group)
Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology 002415.SZ
Aero Engine Corporation of China
China Railway Construction Corp 601186.SS1186.HK
CRRC Corp 601766.SS1766.HK
Panda Electronics Group
Dawning Information Industry Co 603019.SS
China Mobile Communications Group
China General Nuclear Power Group
China National Nuclear Corp
China Telecommunications Corp 0728.HK
China Communications Technology
China Communications Construction Company 601800.SS (CCCC)
China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT)
China Spacesat 600118.SS
China United Network Communications Group
China Electronics Corporation
China National Chemical Engineering Group Co Ltd
China National Chemical Corporation(ChemChina)
SinoChem Group Co Ltd 600500.SS
China State Construction Group
China Three Gorges Corporation
China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Corporation
10 Nov 20. Israel Launches Iran Command; Talks With Biden Team Planned. While Israel anxiously awaits a Biden Administration, it has made operational a new command focused entirely on Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Naetanyahu is repeating — again and again — his intention to stop Iran from achieving a nuclear capability: “Israel will not allow Iran to have the bomb.”
The IDF says that the new Iran Command is needed to accumulate intelligence and operational options in one place, to understand how new weapon systems like the F-35 can be used efficiently should hostilities with Iran break out, and how new relations with some Gulf states might change those scenarios.
The new command will be directly responsible for preparing strike plans against Iran. In recent years Israel has invested roughly $3 billion in what is dubbed as “getting ready for a war with Iran.” Details of this investment are highly classified.
The UAE and Bahrain met with Israelis recently and expressed their concerns about the potential of Iranian aggression, especially is it develops a military nuclear capability.
The Israeli defense establishment expects that within weeks they will begin a series of talks with Biden’s inner circle to stop the guessing and really understand the elected president’s policies relevant to Jerusalem.
Earlier this month, Iran unveiled a new missile launch system capable of consecutively launching multiple, long-range ballistic missiles. Teheran claims the automated launcher was locally developed and manufactured. With Iran continuing to heavily invest in new weapons, Israel is getting ready to act. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
11 Nov 20. Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Azeris claim victory over Armenia as Putin sends in peacekeepers. Russia is deploying thousands of soldiers as a peacekeeping force to Nagorno-Karabakh after the Kremlin brokered a ceasefire to end weeks of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region.
Moscow will deploy almost 2,000 troops, 90 armoured personnel carriers, and 380 vehicles and pieces of other military hardware to the region, the defence ministry said, and state media aired footage of Russia’s 15th Motorised Rifle Brigade heading into Nagorno-Karabakh.
News of the truce sparked unrest in Armenia, however, where hundreds of people stormed parliament to demand the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan, the prime minister, who described the deal as “unspeakably painful” for Armenia. Ararat Mirzoyan, the parliamentary speaker, was beaten unconscious by protesters. President Sarkissian, whose post is largely symbolic, said he had not been consulted.
Arayik Harutyunyan, the leader of the Nagorno-Karabakh government, said the ceasefire was necessary to prevent further loss of life and territory. “If the fighting had continued, we would have lost the whole of Artsakh within a few days, and we would have had more victims,” he said, using the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Thousands of people, including scores of civilians, have been killed and more than 100,000 displaced since Azerbaijan, backed by its ally Turkey, launched a military campaign in late September to recapture the mountainous region claimed by both sides.
Although Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory, it has been ruled by ethnic Armenians with the backing of the Armenian government since the end of a 1994 war between the two former Soviet states that killed 30,000 people.
Under the agreement, announced on Monday, Azerbaijan will retain control over areas it has captured during the six-week conflict, including Nagorno-Karabakh’s second city, Shusha. Armenian officials will continue to govern Stepanakert, the capital.
Russia is deploying thousands of soldiers as a peacekeeping force to the Nagorno-Karabakh region
The ceasefire, which came into force immediately, also stipulates the exchange of prisoners and bodies. The agreement also requires Armenia to give up some contested areas it held outside the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh. Russian peacekeepers will ensure security along a three-mile-wide corridor connecting Stepanakert to Armenia through Azerbaijani-controlled territory.
President Putin said yesterday that he hoped the deal would lead to a “long-lasting and full-scale settlement of the crisis over Nagorno-Karabakh”.
Moscow moved quickly to rebut a statement by President Aliyev of Azerbaijan on the deployment of Turkish peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh as part of a joint peacekeeping mission with Russia. “The deployment of Turkish soldiers in Karabakh has not been agreed on,” said Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s spokesman.
The ceasefire came shortly after a Russian helicopter was shot down in error by the Azerbaijani military over Armenia, killing two crew members and injuring another. Azerbaijan apologised and said it would pay compensation to the servicemen’s families.
While Russia considers Nagorno-Karabakh part of its traditional sphere of influence, it has had to contend with an increasingly confident Turkish presence in what it calls its “near abroad”. Turkey has vowed to support Azerbaijan both on and off the battlefield.
Moscow showed little appetite for a military confrontation with Turkish-backed Azerbaijan.
Some analysts say that Russia was reluctant to damage relations with Azerbaijan over fears that it would seek closer ties with the West, including Nato. (Source: The Times)
10 Nov 20. British military Joint Helicopter Command sustain airpower operation in Mali. The British military Tri-Service Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) is leading the UK’s support to the French Counter Insurgency Operations in West Africa by conducting heavy lift helicopter operations.
The deployment of Royal Air Force CH 47 Chinooks began in 2018 and it has been JHC that has sustained this operation for two years now by providing the enabling personnel, together with the planning needed to ensure the operations continue.
JHC planners have recently led the work to ensure that equipment, including a Chinook could be rotated to allow long term maintenance. The complicated planning ensured a RAF C-17 Globemaster from RAF Brize Norton based 99 Squadron to be able to conduct the changeover of Chinook air frames successfully.
JHC personnel are also deployed in Mali at Gao Air base, to support 1310 Flight which is currently from C Flight 18 (B) Squadron RAF and their supporting ground crew. One of the JHC units that is supporting the operation is the Tactical Supply Wing (TSW).
The four strong TSW detachment is a key enabling element for the deployment as they carry out the fuelling of helicopters and other aircraft as needed. To do this they also have to be able to maintain the equipment and conduct fuels quality assurance testing prior to any refuel to ensure that the fuel is fit for use.
The detachment is equipped with a very large Oshkosh Tactical Aircraft Refueller tanker that can hold 15,000 litres of fuel. All of the detachment are qualified to operate the Oshkosh pumping compartment or to be on the hose end of refuels, connecting the hose to the aircraft and conducting the refuel.
The fuel that is used is drawn from the main French fuel depot based at the airfield and then the detachment blend in additives that brings the fuel to UK military grade specifications.
Corporal Russ Purcell, the TSW detachment commander said: “It is very satisfying to be able to put all of our training into practice in such a challenging situation and to see that our skills contribute to the successful completion of the various missions we are supporting.”
As the operation has developed the small TSW team’s role has increased. This means they are now routinely able to refuel the RAF C-17 and Atlas A400M’s that provide the logistical airbridge that sustains the operation. Additionally, however the TSW detachment has increasingly taken the lead in introducing specialist refuelling activities for all of the helicopters currently based at Gao, including the Danish Merlins and the French Tiger helicopters as well at the RAF Chinooks.
The programme of interoperability training has introduced rotors turning refuels. This means the helicopter is refuelled without the engines being shut down and the rotors are still turning. This refuelling procedure is a specialist activity that requires additional training and is an activity the UK military refuellers from the RAF and Army Air Corps specialise in.
Following this training the TSW personnel have been using their unique expertise to support UK, Danish and French flying operations both on base and out on the ground. The RAF Chinooks can deploy with additional fuel to allow refuelling away from the airbase and so extend the range of operations of French and Danish helicopters.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Brining, the UK’s National Component Commander and senior officer in Mali said: “The role of JHC has been critical to the success of the UK’s helicopter operations in the African Sahel region. The enablers that are deployed provide the critical mission support that is needed to conduct these operations successfully together with the support we receive from the Joint Helicopter Command Headquarters back in the UK.” (Source: Warfare.Today/RAF)
10 Nov 20. Australia’s China bubble bursting shouldn’t come as a surprise: ASPI. After nearly four decades of growth buoyed by the voracious appetites of a developing China, Australia’s dream run has come to an end, but for ASPI’s Michael Shoebridge, this shouldn’t come as a shock and learning the oft-repeated lessons of history is now a necessity.
At the end of the Cold War, Australia like much of the victorious, US-led “free world” bought into two comforting myths, first the victory of the US meant the “end of history” and the era of great power competition had forever been relegated to the pages of antiquity, and, as China continues to grow, it would shake off authoritarianism and become more liberal.
Far from Francis Fukuyama’s promise of the “end of history”, across the globe the US-led liberal-democratic and capitalist economic, political and strategic order is under siege, driven by mounting waves of civil unrest, the impact of sustained economic stagnation across the West, concerns about climate change and the increasing geostrategic competition between the world’s great powers.
Adding further fuel to the fire is the global and more localised impacts of COVID-19, which range from recognising the impact of vulnerable, global supply chains upon national security as many leading nations, long advocates of ‘closer collaboration and economic integration’, grasp at the lifeboats of the nation-state to secure their national interests.
Despite its relative isolation, Australia’s position as a global trading nation, entrenched in the maintenance and expansion of the post-Second World War order, has left the nation at a unique and troubling crossroads, particularly as it’s two largest and most influential “great and powerful” friends: the US and the UK appear to be floundering against the tide of history.
Furthermore, the fragility of these two nations has prompted many global dictators to take advantage of the absence – as the old saying states, “When the cat is away, the mice will play”, leaving Australia and many other allies, including Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, exposed to the whims of nations dedicated to the end of post-war order.
While the nation’s geographic isolation, encapsulated by the ‘tyranny of distance’, has provided Australia with a degree of protection from the major, epoch-defining and empire ending conflagrations of the 20th century, the economic, political, societal and strategic challenges of the 21st century hit far closer to home.
Nowhere is this more evident than across the Indo-Pacific as an emboldened Beijing continues to punish Australia for pursuing a global inquiry into the origins and China’s handling of COVID-19, while also leveraging the comparatively diminished presence of the US military in the region to project power and intimidate both Japan and, critically, Taiwan.
Further compounding this is the growing antagonism and attempted economic, political and strategic coercion policies, including those increasingly targetting Australian exports, many would rightfully claim that Australia’s dream economic run with the “China bubble” has come to an abrupt end.
We’ve been here before and we still haven’t learned
This startling and concerning recognition has been gaining traction in Australia’s public policy community, and is identified by ASPI’s director of the defence, strategy and national security program, Michael Shoebridge, in a piece titled ‘The end of Australia’s China boom shouldn’t be such a surprise’.
Shoebridge establishes the nation’s growing realisation that its primary trading partner, might not have our best interests in mind, stating, “Australian lobster, wine, beef, barley, cotton and copper ore sales to Chinese consumers and companies are being stopped by the Chinese government. What’s happening is not just a transitory interruption, regardless of whether the blanket bans foreshadowed last week are about to emerge or stay blurry.
“Last week’s threats are simply the most recent and clearest indication that the temporary but highly profitable China market boom for Australia’s commodity and services exports that has run since 2014 is ending — and probably pretty quickly.
“That’s what booms do, and it’s never a happy time as the painful realisation emerges.
“We’ve been here before, and the psychology and political analysis aren’t that different. During the 2000s into the 2010s, we welcomed the cash flowing from the mining and mining investment booms. We had warnings from bodies like the International Monetary Fund about the economic risks that made those income streams vulnerable, but we told ourselves it was the new normal. As the Australian National University’s Warwick McKibbin said, ‘All politicians and certainly a lot of public servants seemed to believe that this boom would go forever.’ But it didn’t.”
These warnings have it would seem have been similarly supported by long-held concerns Australia is doing little to maximise the boom times and economic opportunity they presented to the nation, something Shoebridge expands on, stating:
“There were suggestions that Australia wasn’t taking advantage of the fat times from the boom to make provision for the future. Ideas were floated like starting a sovereign wealth fund with the government revenue received from the big miners, as Norway had done so successfully from its oil and gas revenues. But Treasury discounted these suggestions. Nevertheless, the investment boom ended, as we all knew it would.”
We can’t ignore the dramatic shift in Chinese policy
COVID-19 and the ensuing economic, political and strategic turmoil has also paved the way for the world to recognise the easily bruised ego of China’s President Xi Jinping as nations, including Australia, place pressure on the Chinese government for an inquiry into the origins of the pandemic.
This push, spearheaded by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has seen Beijing take direct aim at Australian exports, something Shoebridge believes needs to be taken into account by Australian policymakers as the nation seeks to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic: “Why is the China market boom ending? Because China has changed under Xi Jinping, and Xi has changed the terms under which companies and countries can access the China market.
“He’s also changed the terms on which Chinese businesses can run their companies and access things like stock markets, as Alibaba owner Jack Ma has discovered as he’s tried to float Ant Group on the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges. International banks are discovering this in Hong Kong as the national security law affects far more than ‘the few’ Carrie Lam promised.
“Chinese policymakers talk about ‘reform and opening up’ and making China a better, more predictable place for foreign trade, investors and companies. But the government’s relentless drive to exert greater control over trade and economic partnerships and to intervene in unexpected ways is sending the opposite message — and not just to Australia.
“China’s market is becoming more closed, more difficult and more unpredictable, not more open and reciprocal. And, for companies operating from jurisdictions whose governments are not on board with the policy directions and strategic imperatives of Xi’s government, market access is being used as a weapon.
“It’s a weapon designed to punish such governments, like Australia’s, to pressure them through domestic business lobbies that simply want sales to continue, and to intimidate other governments that might be contemplating similar policies.”
What this recognition does establish is the need for a strategic rethink about the nation’s economic relationships, particularly the growing need for market diversification and the introduction and expansion of a national industry policy and supporting framework to support the government’s $1.5bn Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI)
Economic resilience as strategic deterrence
The last time Australia’s public policy community was called upon to respond to such a predicament was the combined challenges of the Great Depression and the Second World War, both of which had a dramatic impact on the national psyche and the post-war period of rebuilding and expansion.
This model is perfectly summarised by Ricky French in a piece for the Weekend Australian, titled ‘After catastrophe, opportunity knocks’, stating: “We’ve seen it time and time again.
“After bust comes boom. Major disruptions and economic calamities have historically opened the doors for positive change and left lasting imprints on our built landscapes.
“Against the backdrop of COVID-19, we’re seeing it again, with the rediscovery of the local neighbourhood counterpointing the tragedies of unemployment and its associated issues. We’ve started once again looking for a legacy, wondering how our country might visibly change for the better, seeking out that light in the gloom.”
Indeed, in looking for the “legacy” as French states, the Australian public are seeking to reignite not only Australia’s sense of identity, but equally reignite Australia’s potential and indeed the promise our still young nation has to offer both to the citizens and the world, particularly as we will be increasingly required to provide for our own prosperity, stability and security in an era of great power competition.
Recognising this, French poses an important question for consideration: “So, where to now? Our borders are shut, there will be no influx of migration to fulfil grand infrastructure schemes, or create demand for them.
“As we step into our first recession in almost 30 years, what lessons from the past can we learn? Will any shining landmarks stand out when we look back on this time 30 years from now?”
Well, that is an important question to ask, and it is critical to identify that Australia’s state, territory and Commonwealth government have made small strides to shore up industries across the economy. The approach is unfortunately fragmented and fails to be guided by a broader strategy and indeed vision for the nation at a time when both the public and the world are calling for Australia’s level-headed approach to life.
However, the simple reality is we can’t offer the world our best if we’re not at our best.
Addressing this requires a considered, targeted and integrated approach to develop not only economic resilience, but equally, economic competitiveness, industry diversity and, above all, trade diversity in an increasingly competitive and contested global environment.
For Shoebridge, embracing the possibilities is a policy no brainer: “The direction we need to take is pretty clear, even if it’s not easy. We need to make the China market matter less to us, just as it did for the sectors mentioned above only six years ago. Because this is such a recent phenomenon, we know we can change the structure and direction of trade in these items. And the more difficult the Chinese government makes it for us to access the China market, the more this will happen.
“No single market can replace China, but wealthy consumers across the world want to buy more lobsters and more wine than the world can supply, and our commodities and resources are, as they were before the pandemic, high quality and well priced.
“Making the China market matter less, ironically, is also the best way to reduce the likelihood the Chinese government will use our trade against us, because it makes that trade much less of a weapon. If 20 per cent of our wine and lobster sales go to China in 2024, for example, bilateral trade will have returned to being more a simple calculation of mutual benefit that’s easier to divorce from politics and power.” (Source: Defence Connect)
09 Nov 20. US Speeds Arms Sales for Taiwan as Island Revamps China Strategy. U.S. officials are speeding arms sales to Taiwan this year as the Asian island revamps its defense strategy against old, and more powerful, foe China, and experts on both sides say Washington is extra keen to show support.
Taiwan is shifting toward asymmetric warfare — the use of unconventional tactics against a stronger enemy — and analysts believe the U.S. government figures the right defensive weaponry should follow. U.S. officials for their part want to show China they will consistently oppose perceived threats of force against Taiwan, the experts say.
“Probably Washington’s consensus is that the Chinese intimidation is growing, the cross-Strait balance is tilting, heavily, and Taiwan’s arms procurement strategy or items have been in the past too much focused on force-on-force capability rather than asymmetrical capability,” said Alexander Huang, a strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan.
Three years of sales
In the latest case, the U.S. State Department approved a $600m arms package Tuesday that includes four unmanned maritime patrol aircraft, along with maritime radar and other hardware to support the aircraft.
On October 21 the department greenlighted the potential sale of three weapons systems, including missiles, artillery and sensors. The full price was estimated at $1.8bn. Five days later it approved a $2.37bn sale of 100 Boeing-made Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems. Two other arms sale authorizations were announced earlier in the year for a total $800m.
“Now what we’re seeing is the transfer of weaponry that can certainly help Taiwan become fortress Taiwan, quote unquote, to make it that impenetrable fortress against Chinese attack,” said Derek Grossman, a senior analyst with the Rand Corp. research institution.
Washington cleared sales for Taiwan twice in 2019. They covered three separate arms systems, including F-16 fighter jets and M1A2T battle tanks for a total price of about $10.2bn. A single $330m spare parts sale was approved in 2018. President Donald Trump’s administration came out with its first arms package in June 2017 – the only one that year – for a total of $1.42bn.
Threats from China
China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists lost and rebased in Taipei. Beijing does not rule out the use of force to unify the two sides, and Chinese military planes flew into a zone Taiwan claims as its airspace a number of times in October.
Taiwan and China ended formal negotiations in 2016, when Beijing took issue with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s refusal to see both sides as part of a single country. Opinion surveys in Taiwan show most people oppose unification with China.
“Beijing’s increasing threats against Taiwan and incursions into Taiwanese airspace demonstrate the need for Taipei to bulk up militarily where it can,” said Sean King, vice president of the Park Strategies political consultants in New York.
Taiwan welcomes arms sales to upgrade technologically as signs of support from China’s chief geopolitical rival and keeper of the world’s strongest armed forces. Taiwan’s government has the money to buy whatever weaponry Washington offers, said Joanna Lei, a former legislator in Taipei and CEO of Chunghua 21st Century Think Tank in Taiwan.
Only the U.S. side, not Taiwan, has authority over timing of arms sales, a media official with the government in Taipei said Thursday. State Department spokespeople have said the sales are aimed at helping Taiwan maintain defense in a self-sufficient way. The U.S. government sees Taiwan as one in a chain of Asian allies that it can use, as needed, to counter Chinese expansion. White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said last month Taiwan should prepare for an invasion from China.
“I think Taiwan needs to start looking at some asymmetric and anti-access area denial strategies and so on and really fortify itself in a manner that would deter the Chinese from any sort of amphibious invasion or even a gray zone operation against them,” O’Brien told an Aspen Institute event.
Trump hopes to lay down a “marker” for the frequency of arms sales and have that trend outlast his presidency, King said. Sales are popular across party lines in the U.S. Congress as a way to resist China, Grossman said.
Under the previous two U.S. presidents, arms sales to Taiwan were “frequently delayed or aborted” because of Washington’s concerns about relations with China or due to political disagreements in Taiwan, the Jamestown Foundation policy research organization said in a July 2019 study.
Stronger frequency of sales would prepare China to accept them as routine, said Denny Roy, senior fellow at the East-West Center think tank in Honolulu.
“Many U.S. officials are trying to make arms sales to Taiwan regular and routine, so that there is a steady pipeline flow, rather than a long buildup between each transaction which results in a major showdown with Beijing every year or two,” Roy said.
Some U.S. policymakers see arms sales as a way to make Taiwan strong enough that the United States would bear less of a “burden,” Huang said. The U.S. government is obligated to consider defending Taiwan with its own forces if the island is attacked.(Source: defense-aerospace.com/Voice of America News)
06 Nov 20. India’s top general says face-off with China could spark bigger conflict. India’s top military commander said on Friday a tense border standoff with Chinese forces in the western Himalayas could spark a larger conflict, even as senior commanders from both sides met near the frontline for their eighth round of talks.
Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat said the situation was tense at the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border, in eastern Ladakh, where thousands of Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a months-long confrontation.
“We will not accept any shifting of the Line of Actual Control,” Rawat said in an online address.
“In the overall security calculus, border confrontations, transgressions and unprovoked tactical military actions spiralling into a larger conflict cannot therefore be discounted,” he said.
Brutal hand-to-hand combat in June left 20 Indian and an undisclosed number of Chinese soldiers dead, escalating tensions and triggering large deployments on the remote, desolate border area.
Both sides have since attempted to ease the situation through diplomatic and military channels, but have made little headway, leaving soldiers facing-off in sub-zero temperatures in Ladakh’s snow deserts.
Senior Indian and Chinese commanders were meeting on Friday in Ladakh, the eight round of talks between the military leaderships since the crisis began, officials in New Delhi said.
The talks would likely include discussions on a Chinese proposal to pull some troops back from a contested area on the northern bank of Pangong Tso lake, where soldiers were separated by a few hundred metres, according to an Indian official.
Infantry troops, backed by artillery and armoured vehicles, are also facing off on the southern bank of the lake, where China has been pushing India to pull back, the official said. (Source: Reuters)
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