China Russia Military Parade, During Economic Spiral

In part LATimesPresident Xi Jinping announced Thursday that China will cut its military by 300,000 troops, a significant reduction in one of the largest militaries in the world and a move that the Chinese leader called a gesture of peace. China’s ruling Communist Party staged a massive military parade in central Beijing, sending a stream of goose-stepping troops, tanks, and ballistic missiles down a major east-west thoroughfare as fighter jets zoomed overhead trailing multicolored smoke.

Xi’s speech kicked off the parade — officially called the “Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Victory of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War.”

An estimated 12,000 troops – about 1,000 of whom hailed from Belarus, Cuba, Tajikistan, and other countries – marched along the 10-lane Changan Avenue from the commercial center Wangfujing to Tiananmen Square, about 1.5 miles away. They were joined by 200 fighter jets and 500 pieces of military hardware, including tanks and ballistic missiles.

Representatives from 49 countries were in attendance, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Rory Medcalf, head of the national security college at Australian National University, said that Beijing may have decided to cut 300,000 troops “in the name of efficiency and cost saving so that the defense budget can be reallocated to 21st century capabilities.” More here.

The friendship between Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi is becoming strained

BEIJING: They have met more than a dozen times and stood shoulder to shoulder during Thursday’s military parade here. But the once-vaunted relationship between the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, has come under strain as the economies of their countries have faltered.

Two landmark energy deals signed last year for Russian natural gas to flow to China have made little progress and were barely mentioned when the two men met for talks after watching the show of weapons Thursday on Tiananmen Square. The bilateral trade that was predicted to amount to more than $100 billion this year instead reached only about $30 billion in the first six months, largely because of a reduced Chinese demand for Russian oil.

Putin has enjoyed basking in the stature of Xi, who leads one of the world’s largest economies. But with the recent stock market turmoil in China and the slowest economic growth in a quarter-century, Beijing will be unable to provide the ballast Putin has sought against economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Europe and the United States after its annexation of Crimea, not to mention plummeting oil prices worldwide.

“Russia was dependent on China growing and driving the demand for its commodities: oil, gas and minerals,” said Fiona Hill, a Russia specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “China was an alternative to Europe.”

The linchpin of the relationship between Xi and Putin was a May 2014 accord on a 30-year deal for China to buy natural gas from fields in Eastern Siberia, for a reported $400 billion with first delivery between 2019 and 2021. During the signing in Shanghai, Putin bragged that the deal was an “epochal event,” and expressed relief that Russia, under pressure from European sanctions, would be able to diversify its gas sales. More details here.

Analysts: Beijing Parade a ‘Bazaar’ of Stolen Technology

Saibal Dasgupta, Voice of America

The massive military parade in Beijing this week showcased China’s latest weapons, unveiling many to the public for the first time. But weapons experts say the systems on display showed hallmarks of China’s reputation for stealing technology and adapting it to its requirements.
 
The show involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft. The Chinese government said that all the equipment had been made indigenously, attesting to the success of the country’s military industrial capability and the estimated $145 billion spent on the military in 2015.

“The parade was a bazaar of stolen intellectual property,” said Michael Raska, senior fellow at the Singapore-based Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies.

The researcher said it is possible to identify components and designs in different equipment, which have been sourced from other countries in a dubious manner.

Cloned Technology

Citing a specific example, Raska said, “The HQ-6A launchers that we saw at the parade are based conceptually on the cloned Italian Alenia Aspide missile, itself which is based on the US RIM-7E/F Sparrow.”

Raska said the Chinese J-15 naval fighter is based on adaptation of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-33.
 
The United States has repeatedly accused China in recent years of cybertheft of U.S. technology and weapons systems on a grand scale. U.S. defense contractors have alleged that China’s J-31 stealth fighter is largely based on stolen technology of the U.S. F-35.

The United States last year said that Chinese army hackers had stolen trade secrets from six U.S. nuclear, steel and clean-energy companies, directly resulting in “substantial” loss of jobs, competitive edge and markets.
 
“This is a case alleging economic espionage by members of the Chinese military… to advantage state-owned companies and other interests in China,” then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.

But Raska said China has passed the stage where they were “emulators and copiers” and reached what experts describe as the point of “IDAR,” which means identify, digest, absorb and reinvest technologies.
 
Mix-and-Match

Analysts said it is not easy for countries and companies that produced an original technology to prove that it was stolen by China. Component designs are mixed and matched across different categories of weapons before they are remodeled and manufactured in China.
 
China may also be using its diplomatic relationships with countries that have acquired Western weapons and do not mind passing on acquired technologies to Chinese scientists.
 
But even with such technology sharing from countries friendly with China, Jagganath Panda, a research fellow at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis, said the country’s investments in its military have paid off.

“We need to accept that China has been hugely successful in developing a strong military industrial production capability,” he said.
 
In recent years China has sold drones, warships, submarines and air defense systems to developing countries, becoming the world’s third largest arms exporter behind the United States and Russia.
 
Indeed, one major point of Thursday’s military parade may have been to display the country’s newest advanced systems to interested buyers, and bolster China’s reputation as an emerging military power.

Hillary’s Server-Gate: Email Hell

How many servers? How many techs? How many vendors? An epic national security compromise that appears to have no end. But the Hillary hired techs appear to have attempted to use Dark Web tactics and features.

There is a good bet that the FBI by this time has already cracked the erased hard-drive and discovered the contents on the pesky Hillary server and the data, documents and users are being fully investigated. This is investigation is not merely performed by an FBI field office but more it has been assigned to the entire FBI bureau where results and truth are under demand of the intelligence community.

An obscure Bill Clinton domain is noted here.

  1. In part from the Examiner:Hillary Clinton tapped into the vast network of donors cultivated by her family’s foundation to fund one of her first major initiatives as secretary of state: constructing the U.S. pavilion at the 2010 World’s Fair in Shanghai.

    Emails included in the 7,000 pages of records published by the State Department Monday suggest Clinton’s close relationships with corporate executives helped bring in the $61 million needed to build the pavilion.

    Kris Balderston, State’s special representative for global partnerships, led a frantic push to find the sponsors necessary for the expo before it opened in May 2010, relying on many of the same donors that support the Clinton Foundation to pay for the sprawling U.S. exhibit.

    Thirty-nine of the 70 corporate donors to the pavilion were also donors to the Clinton Foundation — a significant portion given that some of the sponsors were Chinese companies.

  2. Beyond Platte River, there were other vendors used by the Clinton Operation where an encryption company was hired and that platform was feeble at best. The server was done a minimum of 3 times.
  3. EXCLUSIVE: Hillary Paid to Hide Identity of the People Running Her Email Server by Breitbart:  Her attempt to hide details about her server has allowed another faceless company access to her classified email information, while doing little to nothing to secure that information from hackers.Clinton’s private email domain clintonemail.com was initially purchased by Clinton aide Eric Hoteham, who listed the Clintons’ Chappaqua, New York home as the contact address for his purchase. But the domain is actually registered to an Internet company designed to hide the true identity of the people running it.

    Clintonemail.com is currently registered to a company called Perfect Privacy, LLC.

    The company has a listed address of 12808 Gran Bay Parkway West in Jacksonville, Florida. But don’t try to get someone from “Perfect Privacy” on the phone. The company merely serves to mask its clients’ personal information by providing its own meaningless contact information on official databases.

    “Did you know that every time you register a domain name, the law requires that your personal information is added to the public “WHOIS” database, where it becomes instantly available to anyone, anywhere, anytime?,” according to the Perfect Privacy website. “Perfect Privacy eliminates these risks by ensuring that your personal information stays private. By signing up for Perfect Privacy when you register your domain, our information is published in the WHOIS database, instead of yours.”

    “We won’t reveal your identity unless required by law or if you breach our Perfect Privacy Service Agreement,” the company explains.

    Perfect Privacy, LLC is owned by Network Solutions, which in turn is owned by Web.com. Network Solutions advertises Perfect Privacy as a way to “Keep Your Contact Information Hidden With Private Registration.”

    The Jacksonville address listed for Perfect Privacy, LLC is actually just the headquarters for Web.com. It is an unassuming gray building just off Interstate 95.

    Breitbart News called a number listed for Network Solutions and, after some on-hold elevator music, an operator confirmed that clintonemail.com is one of the domains that it manages. The company has access to information in the account. But the company does not provide any kind of security for the domain, and instead encourages its clients to buy a standard Norton AntiVirus package like the kind available at retail stores.

    “No, we don’t do that,” a Network Solutions operator told Breitbart News when asked if it provides security for its clients. But, the operator, noted, “Our server automatically checks for known SPAM.”

    Network Solutions, the operator explained, can identify major hacks and can access and change information related to the email account in the event of a hack. The company declined to provide more information without speaking to the domain’s administrator.

    As Breitbart News revealed, Hillary’s email account clintonemail.com was operating with the same IP addresses as presidentclinton.com, an email account managed by the private Clinton Foundation and used by top Clinton Foundation staffers. The IP addresses were based in New York City, meaning that they were sharing the same email network at the same physical location, likely at one of the Clintons’ Midtown Manhtattan offices. Additionally, Chelsea Clinton’s work email account chelseaoffice.com was sharing the same email server.

    wjcoffice.com, an email account used by Bill Clinton staffers, including his former communications director Jay Carson, also shared the same IP address as clintonemail.com.

    Breitbart News has also discovered that clintonemail.com and presidentclinton.com were using the same IP port: port 443.

    That Hillary Clinton shared a server with the Clinton Foundation and the offices of her husband and daughter raises further concerns about the illegality of her private email use, since other Clinton-World employees not affiliated with the State Department certainly had physical access to her server and the classified information on it.

    Hillary’s private server also used the McAfee-owned MXLogic spam-filtering software, which is susceptible to a security breach and which made the information on her server accessible to McAfee employees during the numerous intervals in which her emails were passed through the MXLogic system.

    The server was prone to crashes.

    Hillary Clinton’s private email server went down in February 2010, and the State Department IT team didn’t even know that she was using a private email address, indicating that Clinton Foundation staff was working on her server as opposed to the agency’s IT professionals.

    After the State Department Help Desk sent Clinton’s private email address a routine warning notifying her that her messages were being flagged with fatal errors, Hillary’s top aide Huma Abedin sent the Secretary an email explaining to her what was going on.

    “Ur email must be back up!!,” Abedin wrote. “What happened is judith sent you an email. It bounced back. She called the email help desk at state (I guess assuming u had state email) and told them that. They had no idea it was YOU, just some random address so they emailed. Sorry about that. But regardless, means ur email must be back! R u getting other messages?”

    Hillary’s server went down again during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Soros and China vs. M1A1’s and F-35’s: Irregular Warfare

A kinder, gentler weapon, software, economic terrorism and exploiting weakness. What the U.S. military knows and what government leaders know but find difficult to defeat, IRREGULAR WARFARE.

The main protagonist in this section of the history book will not be a statesman or a military strategist; rather, it will be George Soros. Of course, Soros does not have an exclusive monopoly on using the financial weapon for fighting wars. Before Soros, Helmut Kohl used the deutsche mark to breach the Berlin Wall–a wall that no one had ever been able to knock down using artillery shells [see Endnote 13]. After Soros began his activities, Li Denghui [Li Teng-hui 2621 4098 6540] used the financial crisis in Southeast Asia to devalue the New Taiwan dollar, so as to launch an attack on the Hong Kong dollar and Hong Kong stocks, especially the “red-chip stocks.” [Translator’s note: “red-chip stocks” refers to stocks of companies listed on the Hong Kong stock market but controlled by mainland interests.] In addition, we have yet to mention the crowd of large and small speculators who have come en masse to this huge dinner party for money gluttons, including Morgan Stanley and Moody’s, which are famous for the credit rating reports that they issue, and which point out promising targets of attack for the benefit of the big fish in the financial world [see Endnote 14]. These two companies are typical of those entities that participate indirectly in the great feast and reap the benefits.

Soros pours out all his bitterness in his book, The Crisis of Global Capitalism. On the basis of a ghastly account of his investments in 1998, Soros analyzes the lessons to be learned from this economic crisis.

When it comes to the axiom, Know Thy Enemy, China has made an art of this objective. China does so by any means possible with notable success.

In 1999, China used analysts to understand their adversaries such that the primary mission was to achieve a wide set of competitive edges, all under the ethos of ‘Unrestricted Warfare’.

Going beyond the common air or ground war operations, there are countless other methods to gain advantage or defeat others in a competitive world.

A 200 page essay published in 1999 came to the attention of U.S. military leaders. It is a compelling read and germane to conflicts today and well into the future.

Unrestricted Warfare  by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui 

Qiao Liang is a Chinese Air Force Major in the People’s Liberation Army and co-authored a book titled  ‘Unrestricted Warfare’. The scope of the book is China’s Master Plan to Destroy America.

Meanwhile, if you can stand more, there is Russia. The two countries are using the very same software warfare tactical playbook and it too has not gone unnoticed.

EU sets up unit to counter Russia’s disinformation campaigns

Janes: The EU announced on 27 August that it is forming a small “rapid response” team of officials within the European External Action Service (EEAS) to deal with Russian propaganda.

To be launched on 1 September, the team will monitor Moscow’s propaganda manoeuvres and advise EU and national authorities and their media campaigns accordingly, said EU officials.

The move comes in response to a request in March by EU leaders to Federica Mogherini, the EU’s chief of foreign and security policy, to mount a response to “Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaign”.

The team will be comprised of 8-10 Russian-speaking officials from Sweden, the UK and other countries within the EEAS, the EU’s foreign policy wing.

***

The Cyber War: As tension between the United States, Russia and China continues to escalate, reports of cyber warfare between the nations has become increasingly prominent. Modern warfare can be waged in numerous ways, and it seems that this virtual form of conflict will be an increasing theme as the 21st century develops.

 

The cyber warfare between the United States, Russia and China is part of an overall epoch-defining conflict between the three nations. This is largely based on economic disagreement and rivalry, but has also spilled over into military and territorial disputes as well. Although this war has remained physically peaceful thus far, the potential for future conflict between the three nations remains significant. And with the likes of Edward Snowden revealing the extent of government snooping, we can expect more reports of governmental cyber attacks in the future.

 

Meet Criminal Ebrahim Shabudin Costs Taxpayers Millions

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Thomas S. Wu, Ebrahim Shabudin, and Thomas T. Yu 

Exec at center of first TARP bank failure gets 8 years in prison

Fraud scheme cost taxpayers more than $300 million

More from Drew Harwell at the Washington Post: In 2009, less than a year after its $300 million taxpayer-funded rescue, the United Commercial Bank burned through the cash to become America’s first bailout-boosted bank to fail during the financial meltdown.

But this week, one of the imploded bank’s former senior executives was sentenced to eight years in prison for covering up its collapsing loans, becoming one of the few high-ranking bankers to face punishment for crisis-era crimes.

Ebrahim Shabudin, a former chief credit officer for the San Francisco-based bank, falsified records to hide major loan losses from auditors and investors in what prosecutors called a “delay-and-pray” scheme, even as the bank sought and pocketed cash from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

The bank, which once managed nearly $11 billion in assets and ran more than 50 branches across the United States, China and Taiwan, became the ninth largest to fail since 2007 even with help from the multitrillion-dollar bailout. Its dramatic failure cost the federal fund that insures Americans’ deposits more than $675 million.

The bailout’s chief watchdog called the years-long investigation into Shabudin “one of the most significant prosecutions” for crimes in the shadow of the financial meltdown. In March, after a six-week trial, a federal jury convicted Shabudin, 66, of seven counts of conspiracy and corporate fraud, making him one of the rare high-level bankers to head to court due to crisis-era crimes.

“Shabudin had every opportunity to do the right thing, but he was motivated instead to preserve the bank’s reputation at all costs, even if it meant committing a crime,” said Christy Goldsmith Romero, the special inspector general for TARP. “He was essentially gambling with taxpayers’ bailout dollars, and it was taxpayers who ultimately lost.”

But his sentencing may do little to quiet criticism that few big fraudsters have been punished in the meltdown’s long aftermath. The watchdog has secured convictions against 200 bank officers and other officials, but most were involved in smaller community banks, not Wall Street titans like those that used taxpayer money to pave over bad bets or dole out big bonuses.

Originally specializing in lending to Chinese Americans, the bank grew aggressively through commercial real-estate loans, becoming the first U.S. financial institution to buy a Chinese bank.

Its high-risk lending nearly doubled the bank’s loan portfolio between 2004 and 2007, to more than $8 billion, and made a rising star of chief executive Thomas Shiu-Kit (“Tommy”) Wu, who in 2006 was named auditing giant Ernst & Young’s financial-services Entrepreneur of the Year.

But as the bank’s river of risky loans began to fail, Shabudin and Wu held off on downgrading loans they knew were falling apart, ordered subordinates to understate the bank’s losses by at least $65 million, and blasted out false information in press releases, earning calls and annual reports.

Federal watchdogs including from the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the FBI joined the case, making Shabudin and bank senior vice president Thomas Yu the first senior bank officials charged with fraud at a bailout-boosted financial institution.

Shabudin was the bank’s third officer to be criminally convicted, after Yu and chief financial officer Craig S. On pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges late last year. An outstanding warrant is in place for Wu, the chief executive, who has not yet been apprehended.

[SIGTARP proves that some bankers aren’t too big to jail]

Though credited with helping stabilize the wobbling economy, the bailout is remembered by many for its corporate largesse, including the hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses paid to the heads of failing banks rescued by taxpayer cash.

Yet many of SIGTARP’s cases have focused on brazen acts of accounting fraud and smaller banks’ misspent millions. In one case, the executive of Mainstreet Bank, a community bank in Missouri, used nearly $400,000 of the bank’s $1 million bailout to buy a waterfront Florida condo.

The first person convicted of stealing bailout funds, Charles Antonucci, pleaded guilty in 2010 to bribes, fraud and embezzlement while serving as president of the Manhattan-based Park Avenue Bank. He was sentenced last month to 30 months in prison, down from a potential maximum of 135 years, because prosecutors said he cooperated with the bank probe.

William K. Black, a former bank regulator and University of Missouri associate professor specializing in white-collar crime, said Shabudin’s role in only the ninth-largest bank failure highlights the failure of regulators to combat larger frauds.

The Justice Department has still “prosecuted no banking leader for leading the three epidemics of fraud that hyper-inflated the bubble, drove the financial crisis, and caused the Great Recession,” referring to appraisal, loan and secondary-market fraud.

“Thousands of elite bankers reported pathetically inadequate” estimates of their bad debts similar to this bank’s, “and they face no investigations, much less prosecutions,” Black said. “The larger bank frauds were all bailed out this time around.”

Threats from China and Russia with Battleships?

yantar4

U.S. Shadowing Russian Ship in Atlantic Near Nuclear Submarine Areas

FreeBeacon: U.S. intelligence ships, aircraft, and satellites are closely watching a Russian military vessel in the Atlantic that has been sailing near a U.S. nuclear missile submarine base and underwater transit routes, according to Pentagon officials.

The Russian research ship Yantar has been tracked from the northern Atlantic near Canada since late August as it makes its way south toward Cuba.

Defense officials familiar with reports on the Russian ship say the Yantar is believed to be gathering intelligence on underwater sensors and other equipment used by U.S. nuclear submarines based at Kings Bay, Georgia. The submarines, their transit lanes, and training areas stretch from the coastal base through the Atlantic to Europe.

Intelligence analysts believe the ship, one of Russia’s newest military research vessels commissioned earlier this year, is part of a larger strategic intelligence-gathering operation against U.S. nuclear missile submarines and other targets.

One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information, said the ship is a concern because it is equipped with deep-sea surveillance craft and cable-cutting equipment.

In addition to cutting or tapping into undersea cables, the Yantar’s gear also could be used to rescue submarines if they become entangled in underwater cables.

A second defense official said the Yantar’s mission is not only to prepare to disrupt underwater communications. The ship is also part of a Russian underwater reconnaissance program to identify undersea communications trunk lines and nodes.

A major target of the program is the Department of Defense Information Network, known as DoDIN. Moscow is seeking to map the global information network that is vital for U.S. warfighters and policymakers and is a key target of Russian information warfare efforts.

The network includes dedicated military links as well as leased communications and computer systems.

Another concern related to the sea-based intelligence activities is that Russia has been adopting new warfighting techniques the Pentagon has dubbed hybrid warfare.

Hybrid conflict combines traditional military capabilities with information warfare techniques, such as cyber attacks. The disabling of undersea Internet cables could be a part of future hybrid warfare attacks as nations become increasingly reliant on global information networks, officials said.

Non-government military analysts identified the Yantar off the coast of Nova Scotia around Aug. 24.

More recently, an underwater military blog called “7 Feet Beneath the Keel,” reported the Yantar’s location on Sept. 1 as 90 miles north of the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, some 769 miles from Kings Bay.

A Pentagon spokesman said the military is aware of the ship. “We respect the freedom of all nations to operate military vessels in international waters in accordance with international law,” the spokesman said.

The Yantar—Russian for “amber”—was built in a Baltic Sea shipyard of the same name and launched in last spring, the state-run Sputnik news agency reported on May 23. The ship will be used for deep-sea research and rescue operations.

The ship is part of Russia’s Northern Fleet and is equipped with two deep-sea remotely piloted submersibles.

“The ship carries the latest, most innovative equipment for acoustic, biological, physical, and geophysical surveys,” the report said.

“The Yantar is equipped with a unique on-board scientific research complex which enables it to collect data on the ocean environment, both in motion and on hold. There are no similar complexes anywhere,” said Alexei Burilichev, director of deepwater research at the Russian Defense Ministry, Sputnik reported.

Steffan Watkins, a Canadian-based open-source intelligence analyst who monitors Russian ship movements, said the Russian navy sends such auxiliary vessels to the region once or twice a year to check on existing U.S. underwater sensors or cables that have been detected previously. The ships also search for new equipment on the sea floor that would reveal U.S. operations.

In April 2014, the Pentagon said it was watching two Russian spy ships, the Viktor Leonov and Nikolay Chiker operating in the Atlantic near Kings Bay.

“I don’t think the Yantar is actively pulling up underwater cables,” said Watkins. “It seems more likely‎ they’d use their underwater sensors to map out defenses to prepare for future operations, and to avoid, blind, or destroy the sensors.”

Officials said another factor increasing U.S. concerns about Russian reconnaissance is Moscow’s recent adoption of a new military doctrine that places a greater reliance on strategic nuclear forces.

In addition to research ships, Russia’s military also is building a new class of intelligence-gathering and electronic warfare ships called Yuri Ivanov-class vessels.

Germany’s Bilt newspaper reported last month that the new spy ships are designed to track and follow U.S. warships. The ships will also provide communications and fleet management, conduct electronic warfare capabilities, and gather radio and electronic intelligence. The first ship was launched in July and three others are planned.

The new Ivanov spy ship was launched the same day that President Vladimir Putin unveiled a new Russian maritime doctrine that divided naval operating areas into six regions: Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Caspian, Indian Ocean, and Pacific.

Russia’s priority for shipbuilding under the new doctrine will be ballistic missile submarines and nuclear attack submarines for its Northern and Pacific fleets.

Russia is deploying a new class of nuclear missile submarines called the Borey-class and maintaining existing Delta III and Delta IV missile submarines. Another generation of submarines beyond the Borey-class is also planned for 2030 to 2050.

A Russian embassy spokesman did not respond to an email request for comment.

Chinese Warships Spotted Off Alaska Coast, A New Chapter In Chinese Assertiveness

Inquisitor: Five Chinese warships have been spotted operating off the coast of Alaska, Pentagon officials told the Wall Street Journal. The task group includes three “combat ships,” a supply vessel, and an amphibious landing ship. The warships are being tracked in the vicinity of the Aleutian Islands, a territory that is under joint U.S. and Russian control. According to the Department of Defense, this is the first time Chinese warships have been seen in this area. The composition of the task group makes its purpose fairly unambiguous. This is a group of warships designed to conduct an opposed landing.

CHINA MILITARY FRIGATE

This might sound like a big call, so here is an explanation. According to NPR, the task group is made up of three “combat ships,” a supply ship, and an amphibious landing ship. The “combat ships” are likely guided missile frigates or destroyers, deployed to protect the High Value Units (HVU), being the supply vessel and amphibious ship. Anyone familiar with naval operations will know that this is a classic configuration for an expeditionary task group, purposed with landing troops, supplies, armor, or all of the above on a hostile beach.

The frigates or destroyers maintain a dynamic screen around the other warships, acting as missile defense and attack dogs for the more vulnerable units in the group. The amphibious ship carries the troops, armor and supplies, while the supply ship is usually an underway fueling vessel designed to significantly increase operational range.

Given this, the Pentagon’s assessment that the Chinese warships are not acting in “any aggressive way” might seem a bit incongruous. It’s not. The vessels are in international waters and all ships, including Chinese warships, have a legal right of innocent passage. So long as they do not live fire any weapons or menace other shipping in the area, they are perfectly within their rights to be where they are. They may conduct limited military exercises, practice close manoeuvres, steam around in circles, or, in short, do whatever else they like. And one of the things that they can do, without anyone knowing or being able to prevent them, is soak up signals traffic from the area for the purposes of intelligence gathering. Chinese intelligence gathering is famously overt, a good example being the spy ship that observed and presumably recorded the last RIMPAC drills, the first to which the Chinese had been invited.

It has been suggested that the warships may have some link to the huge World War II anniversary parade celebrating China’s victory over Japan 70 years ago. More plausibly, other commentators suggest that the presence of Chinese warships near Alaska might be a direct response to increased U.S. Naval presence in the South China Sea. Whatever the reason, this incident fits neatly into the overall pattern of Chinese military and naval expansion that has been cause for significant concern over the last decade.

Chinese policy is no respecter of diplomatic or military conventions. The Chinese PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) is currently trying to re-write maritime law in the South China Sea by publicly flouting it and has previously sent warships into the zones of interest of countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand. On top of this, its enormous fishing fleet militia is expanding Chinese maritime activity further and further abroad. This latest manifestation of Chinese assertiveness confirms, beyond doubt, that China is serious about its goal to establish a truly global blue water navy. All that’s in doubt now is how the rest of the world will react to this new factor in the global balance of power.