By Michael Ardaiolo
Photo by Xinhuanet
Amidst unofficial photos of China’s first aircraft carrier commencing a sea trial and on-going territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the International Crisis Group has released a report criticizing China’s government structure and maritime policies. According to their findings, a lack of coordination among government agencies, many of which have little experience in foreign affairs, jockeying for money and power is needlessly stoking tensions in the South China Sea. Furthermore, the problem is being compounded by China’s navy using the maritime scuffles to justify modernization of its equipment while agitating nationalist sentiment in the process.
Over at Defense Tech, the analysts are breaking down China’s entire carrier-based fighter fleet: four jets that are basically updated copies of 1980s-vintage Sukhoi Su-33 fighters. Does the ex-Soviet Varyag carrier paired with these jets make for a mighty navy upgrade? Perhaps, if their goal is only to project power in the immediate neighborhood. There will need to be a significant upgrade before making an impact on the world stage.
For those of you quick to debate China-U.S. military relations/analogies, The Economist is hosting a nuanced back-and-forth concerning China’s military build-up and their recent belligerent statements in the dispute over the South China Sea claims. Andrew Krepinevich, the President of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C., weighs in for the U.S. while Dingli Shen, the Executive Dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, holds forth for China.
In other news, China is withdrawing two law enforcement vessels from the disputed Huangyan Islands/Scarborough Shoal effectively de-escalating the two-week maritime standoff with the Philippines. Well, at least according to Zhang Hua, the spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines. Others are reporting the opposite. Offbeat China assesses Sina Weibo’s mixed emotions with a few choice quotes (“Show some balls, Chinese government!”) on the topic.
Finally, The Chicago Tribune has an exclusive concerning the China-exported missile launcher spotted in Pyongyang two weeks ago. U.N. diplomats told Reuters that the Chinese firm responsible for the vehicle, Hubei Sanjiang Space Wanshan Special Vehicle Co., actually boasted about the sale on their website. The chassis in question was sold last year. Soon after, a press release was posted bragging about the customer satisfaction of the sale and the possibility of future cooperation with the buyer. It did not state the name of the buyer, though “intelligence officials are ’99 percent certain’ the press release referred to the vehicle the North Koreans used to transport a missile in a recent military parade.” What is most troubling is that Hubei Sanjiang is a state-owned company, which would put China in violation of the U.N. ban on selling North Korea technology supporting its ballistic missile program. Hubei Sanjiang is denying the claim. The Chinese Foreign Ministry is reaffirming its stance on the issue of non-proliferation.