China

US B-52s fly near contested islands amid China tensions

The US Air Force conducted two bomber flights this week into areas considered sensitive by the Chinese military, missions that have come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. Earlier this week, US B-52 bombers flew from Guam and transited through the South China Sea, an area where the Chinese government has built islands and established military facilities on disputed features. “That just goes on, if it was 20 years ago and had they not militarized those features there it would have been just another bomber on its way to Diego Garcia or wherever,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday when asked about the bomber flight. “There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it,” Mattis added. On Tuesday, US B-52s also “participated in a regularly scheduled, combined operation in the vicinity of the East China Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn told CNN. A US defense official told CNN that the bombers were escorted by Japanese fighter jets and flew in proximity to the Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands which China lays claim to. The bombers also flew into the Chinese military’s unilaterally declared Air Defense Identification Zone which extends over the area. The two missions comes amid heightened tensions over a series of issues in the last week. Earlier on Wednesday, President Donald Trump accused China of attempting to interfere in the 2018 US elections and the countries are involved in a high profile trade dispute. In the last week, the Chinese government denied a US Navy warship permission to visit Hong Kong, the US sanctioned a Chinese defense entity over its purchase of Russian-made weapons, the State Department approved a military equipment sale to Taiwan and a high-ranking Chinese naval officer canceled a meeting with his American counterpart. “We’re sorting out obviously a period with some tension there, trade tension and all, so we’ll get to the bottom of it but I don’t think that we’re seeing a fundamental shift in anything, we’re just going through one of those periodic points where we got to learn to manage our differences,” Mattis said when asked about the tensions.

Well said, Sec. Mattis.  That’s exactly right.  Nothing really newsworthy about this military flight.  It’s just in the context of the other areas where we’re having some differences with China, that it’s somewhat relevant.

Pentagon: China ‘Likely’ Training Bomber Pilots to Hit American Targets

The Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military and security developments warns this week that China is building up a fleet of long-range nuclear-capable bombers and is “likely” training its pilots to attack American targets. The relevant section of the report concerns China’s “overwater bomber operations,” which have rapidly expanded over the past three years. The Pentagon sees Chinese pilots “gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets.” The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is currently the largest air force in Asia, and the third-largest in the world. Since 2017, new commander Lt. Gen. Ding Laihang has focused on developing a capacity for projecting long-range air power comparable to the U.S. Air Force. “The PLAAF continues to modernize and is closing the gap with the U.S. Air Force across a broad spectrum of capabilities, gradually eroding the United States’ longstanding significant technical advantage,” the Pentagon report cautioned. U.S. analysts are particularly concerned about the latest evolution of China’s H-6 “Badger” bomber, the H-6K, which is capable of launching from Chinese airbases and hitting Guam with standoff precision weapons. The PLAAF is also working on midair refueling techniques and might be able to field nuclear-capable stealth bombers as early as 2025. China’s use of militarized islands in the South China Sea as bases for long-range bomber activity is noted as an area of particular concern. “H-6s could, if deployed to airfields in the Spratly Islands, extend their range through the Balabac Strait into the Celebes Sea or through the Sunda or Malacca Strait to fly into the Indian Ocean,” the report stated. To secure their claims in disputed waters, the Chinese employ a unique naval command that has been given little attention until now, the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM). The Pentagon judged the PAFMM to be the “only government-sanctioned maritime militia in the world.” The militia plays a “major role in coercive activities to achieve China’s political goals without fighting.” In other words, the maritime militia intimidates civilian vessels from other nations that attempt to access waters claimed by Beijing, with just enough operational separation from the regular military to give the Chinese government political cover. China portrays its militia vessels as fishing boats that just happen to have armored hulls and ammunition storage bays. U.S. defense analysts are concerned that China will not only militarize the South China Sea, but nuclearize it.

Nice..  For more, click on the text above.

China’s Economy Weakens as Trade Fight Heats Up, Emboldening Xi’s Critics

China’s ability to go toe to toe with the United States in the ongoing trade dispute was cast into doubt by economic data released this week showing an economy that had slowed down by far more than expected. Fixed income investment, which includes spending on machinery and infrastructure, rose 5.5 percent compared with a year ago, down from 6.0 percent in the prior month. Economists had expected 6.0 percent. It was the lowest level of fixed income investment growth since 1999, before China ascended to the World Trade Organization. Industrial production was up 6.0 percent, below the 6.3perrcent forecast. Unemployment rose to 5.1 percent last month, up from 4.8 percent in June. Retail sales annual gains were expected to rise from June’s 9.0 percent to 9.2 percent. Instead, sales fell to 8.8 percent.

Clearly China has FAR more to lose in this trade dispute than America does.  Maybe Trump’s tariffs strategy IS working after all..  For more, click on the text above.

$119,050,900,000: Merchandise Trade Deficit With China Hit Record Through April

The U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China set a record through April, hitting $119,050,900,000 for the first four months of 2018, according to data released today by the Census Bureau. From January through April, the Census Bureau reports, the United States exported $42,291,500,000 in goods to China while importing $161,342,400,000. In other words, when measured by dollar value, the United States bought about 3.8 times as much in goods from China as China bought from the United States. Prior to this year, the record for the highest trade deficit with China in the first four months of the year came in 2015, when it hit $115,320,000,000 in constant April 2018 dollars (adjusted using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator). The Census Bureau has posted online the month-by-month U.S.-China trade data going back to 1985. In all 34 years from 1985 through 2018, the U.S. has run a merchandise trade deficit with China in the January through April period. The last time the U.S. ran a merchandise trade surplus with China in any given month, according to the Census Bureau data, was in April 1986, when the U.S. ran a $54,000,000 trade surplus with China. In every month since then, the U.S. has run a merchandise trade deficit with China. In 1985, the first year for which the Census Bureau has posted the data online, the U.S. ran a January-through-April merchandise trade deficit with China of $240,000,000 (in constant April 2018 dollars). The $119,050,900,000 U.S.-China merchandise trade deficit in January through April of this year is 496 times that amount. In January through April of 2017, the U.S. ran a $109,120,000,000 merchandise trade deficit with China (in constant April 2018 dollars). Through all of 2017, the U.S. ran a merchandise trade deficit with China of $375,576,400,000 (in 2017 dollars). This resulted from the U.S. importing $505,470,000,000 in goods from China, while exporting only $129,893,600,000. In 2017, according to the Census Bureau, the top products the U.S. imported from China (by dollar value) were cell phones and other household goods ($70,359,818,000); computers ($45,515,206,000); telecommunications equipment ($33,490,521,000); computer accessories ($31,648,577,000); toys, games and sporting goods ($26,751,412,000); apparel, textiles, nonwool or cotton ($24,137,388,000); furniture, household goods ($20,669,126,000); other parts and accessories of vehicles ($14,406,417,000); household appliances ($14,138,581,000); and electric apparatus ($14,080,858,000).

This crazy, WAY out of balance, trade deficit with China has been going on for over 30 years, and has only gotten worse..  Thank goodness Trump is finally addressing this issue!

NASA Chief Bridenstine Warns China Pulling Ahead of U.S. in Some Areas of Space Race

Sunday on AM 970’s “The Cats Roundtable” hosted by John Catsimatidis, newly appointed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said China was pulling ahead of the United States in some aspects of the ‘space race.’ When asked about China, Bridenstine said, “They have been focused on the moon, and they have been focused on other aspects of space that maybe we have not been focused on.… They’ve got a lander on the moon now with a rover. This year they’re planning to land for the first time in history on the far side of the moon with a robot.” He added, “They are certainly doing things, maybe a little differently than us. I wouldn’t say they are ahead of us, maybe they’re ahead of us in some areas, and we are ahead of them in other areas. But they have a very methodical, planned out plan to do space exploration in a major way. And this president wants to see the United States of America lead again in space.”

And we need to..  For FAR too long we’ve been reactive.  It’s time we were proactive in space…and take the lead in all areas of space both civilian (i.e. NASA) and military (i.e. U.S. Air Force Space Command and the U.S. Army’s Space & Missile Defense Command or SMDC, both of which are in Colorado Springs, CO).

China engaged in massive theft of US technology, analysts reveal

China is engaged in large-scale theft of American research and technology from universities, using spies, students, and researchers as collectors, experts told Congress on Wednesday. Compounding the technology theft, the administration of President Barack Obama weakened U.S. counterintelligence efforts against foreign spies by curbing national-level counterspy efforts, a former counterintelligence official disclosed during a House hearing. Michelle Van Cleave, former national counterintelligence executive, said shortly after the creation of the office of the director of national intelligence in 2004, a national counterspy program against foreign spies was restricted during the administration of President George W. Bush. “Unfortunately, the backsliding continued under President Obama,” Van Cleave told two subcommittees of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Van Cleave said a directive issued by then-DNI James Clapper in 2013 and still in force reduced the national counterintelligence program authority by directing all counterspy programs to be run by individual departments or agencies. “The national head of counterintelligence was rebranded director of a security and CI center, his duties further dissipated by the fixation on leaks and insider threats driven by the grievous harm done by Snowden, Manning, et al,” Van Cleave said, referring to intelligence leakers Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor, and Army Sgt. Bradley Manning. “Gone was any dedicated strategic [counterintelligence] program, while elite pockets of proactive capabilities died of neglect,” she said. “Read between the lines of existing CI guidance and you will not find a whiff of a national-level effort left, other than caretaker duties such as taking inventory and writing reports.” Several intelligence and security experts testified during the hearing that China poses the most significant threat of technology theft from an estimated $510 billion spent annually on U.S. research and development. “China has a government-directed, multi-faceted secret program whose primary task is technology acquisition, as well as a highly refined strategy to develop and exploit access to advantageous information through the global telecommunications infrastructure,” Van Cleave said. Along with Russian intelligence agents, Chinese technology spies have developed specific lists of technology for theft. Beijing uses clandestine agents, front companies, and joint research ventures in the theft program. “Indeed, the United States is a spy’s paradise,” Van Cleave said. “Our free and open society is tailor-made for clandestine operations.”

Indeed..  To read more of this outstanding, yet shocking, analysis by best-selling author Bill Gertz, click on the text above.  Bill knows his stuff..

Mozart’s childhood violin heads to China

The violin that Mozart used as a child left Friday for a state visit by Austrian government members to China, where a seven-year-old girl will play it for President Xi Jinping. The girl, Anna Caecilia Pfoess, “will accompany us… as a musical ambassador and represent Austria as a land of culture,” President Alexander Van der Bellen said. “She will do it quite brilliantly, I am sure,” Van der Bellen told reporters before the 200-strong delegation of politicians, business people and others departed. “#Music is a common language understood and appreciated the world over,” he added on Twitter alongside a photo of the grinning seven-year-old clutching the instrument and wearing traditional Austrian garb. The violin is believed to have been made in the 1740s and until 1820 belonged to Mozart’s sister Maria Anna, nicknamed Nannerl, also a child prodigy. Since 1896 it has been in the collection of the Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, and is normally on display at the museum in the house where the composer was born. Pfoess will perform at Sunday’s state banquet attended by Xi and Van der Bellen, playing pieces by, unsurprisingly, Mozart but also other Austrian and Chinese composers.

🙂