Bloomberg News – March 11, 2018
China’s parliament voted to repeal presidential term limits, allowing President Xi Jinping to keep power indefinitely in a formal break from succession rules set up after Mao Zedong’s turbulent rule.
All but five of the almost 3,000 National People’s Congress deputies present Sunday supported the measure to strike a constitutional provision barring the president from serving more than two consecutive terms. The amendment — announced by the Communist Party two weeks ago — removes the only barrier keeping Xi, 64, from staying on after his expected second term ends in 2023.
The vote — never in doubt — gives Xi more time to enact plans to centralize party control, increase global clout and curb financial and environmental risks. It also ties the world’s most populous country more closely to the fate of a single man than at any point since reformer Deng Xiaoping began establishing a system for peaceful power transitions in the aftermath of Mao’s death.
Bill Gertz – February 14, 2018
U.S. intelligence leaders warned Congress Tuesday that China poses a major security threat by stealing and buying sensitive American technology.
Chinese companies linked to the Beijing government are using a variety of methods, including cyber attacks and acquisitions of American companies to gain access to cutting edge know-how, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Daniel Coats said during an annual threat briefing for the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Coats said countering covert Chinese technology acquisition remains a top priority of intelligence agencies and addressing the problem will require greater efforts than in the past.
He also supports congressional legislation now pending in both the Senate and House that would strengthen the Treasury Department-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) that reviews foreign acquisitions of American firms with an eye to the national security risks.
“The Chinese are pervasive on this,” Coats said, “and we’ve seen it happen throughout both the public and the private sector.”
Mac Slavo – March 7, 2018
The world is watching the conflict in the Kashmir region of the India/Pakistan border with bated breath. Not receiving much attention in the mainstream media, is the war breaking out right now on the other side of the globe.
Just last week, Pakistan declared it was “worried” about India’s drone technology, and now the Pakistani military has declared they’ve shot down an Indian drone.
According to The Express UK, the Islamabad military issued a statement yesterday declaring that the craft had been shot down after violating Pakistan airspace. “Pakistan Army troops shot down an Indian spy drone while it violated LoC in Chirikot Sector. The drone has been taken over by Pakistan Army troops. This is 4th drone which has been shot down by Pakistan Army troops in last one year,” the statement read.
This comes just one day after Chinese president Xi Jinping flexed his military muscle in the area of Doklam, a retired lieutenant general from the Indian Army’s Special Forces has claimed. “But war is very much in the realm of reality, and India must be prepared to fight and can ill afford to let its guard down on either the Pakistani or the Chinese front. India must prepare for a two-and-a-half-front war,” said Prakash Katoch.
Bill Powell/Newsweek – March 06, 2018
It was a bland, bureaucratic statement—but its implications could be profound. In late February, China’s Communist Party announced a proposal to abolish term limits for its highest office. The party hasn’t made a final decision, but the news seemed to confirm what many have long suspected: Xi Jinping, the country’s leader, wants to be president for life.
The announcement wasn’t surprising, but many didn’t expect it to come so soon. Aside from being president, Xi is also the general secretary of the Communist Party and commander in chief of the country’s armed forces. The term limits on his presidency effectively constrain his ability to hold the other two jobs. Since Xi took office in March 2013, he’s been consumed with his fight against corruption. This battle is basically a proxy for him and his allies to consolidate control over the highest levels of the party, as well as big state-owned companies. In Chinese politics, personal rivalries and differing agendas are rarely visible to the outside world. So many had assumed Xi’s fight was still ongoing, given how deeply entrenched corruption is in China.
Mac Slavo – March 5, 2018
China’s threat to Taiwan is ratcheting up fears of a third world war. A comment by the Chinese government saying they will “never tolerate Taiwanese independence” has prompted fears an all-out invasion is imminent.
The chilling threat was made by Premier Li Keqiang as top Chinese officials met in Beijing for the annual meeting of parliament on Monday. “We will never tolerate any separatist schemes or activities for Taiwan independence,” Li Keqiang said. He also stated that China will promote the peaceful growth of relations across the Taiwan Strait and “advance China’s peaceful reunification. We will remain firm in safeguarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will never tolerate any separatist schemes or activities for Taiwan independence.”
According to The Daily Star, China has been infuriated over plans made by the US to strengthen ties between Washington and Taipei. The plans would allow Taiwan bosses to enter the US “under respectful conditions” and meet their American counterparts. Officials had already told Taiwan on Friday the country would only get burnt if they relied on the US, adding to the warnings from state media about the risk of war.
Aristos Georgiou – February 5, 2018
The European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office has announced that it expects China’s out-of-control Tiangong-1 space station to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere sometime between mid-March and mid-April.
However, the office warns that this estimate is “highly variable” and subject to change due to a variety of factors, such as changes in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The space agency also predicts that the spacecraft will re-enter somewhere between the 43rd north and south parallels. This large portion of the Earth either side of the equator includes many populous countries, including the US, China and Japan. However, it is important to note that the odds of a piece of Tiangong hitting someone are infinitesimally small.
Mac Slavo – February 19, 2018
The flu virus is evolving in unpredictable ways in Chinese poultry. For the first time, the avian flu has mutated and infected a human being.
According to New Scientist, the World Health Organization says no similar bird flu strains have ever crossed over to people before and this unexpected jump from chickens to humans was a surprise. The Chinese government has confirmed the first human case of H7N4 bird flu in the country. The patient, a 68-year-old woman in the Jiangsu province, is in stable condition and health authorities believe she will make a full recovery.
According to The Guardian, the patient contracted the virus in December and began to develop symptoms on Christmas Day. Bird flu symptoms in humans include mild to a severe pink eye, fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. The patient was admitted to a hospital on January 1 and stayed until January 22. Although her identity has not been disclosed, media outlets confirmed she likely contracted the virus from close contact with live birds.
Ben Doherty – February 16, 2018
The navy admiral nominated to be the next US ambassador to Australia has told Congress America must prepare for the possibility of war with China, and said it would rely on Australia to help uphold the international rules-based system in the Asia-Pacific.
In an excoriating assessment of China’s increasingly muscular posture in the region, Harry Harris said Beijing’s “intent is crystal clear” to dominate the South China Sea and that its military might could soon rival American power “across almost every domain”.
Harris, soon to retire as the head of US Pacific Command in Hawaii, told the House armed services committee, the US and its allies should be wary of Beijing’s military expansionism in the region, and condemned China’s foreign influence operations, predatory economic behaviour and coercion of regional neighbours.
“China’s intent is crystal clear. We ignore it at our peril,” he said. “I’m concerned China will now work to undermine the international rules-based order.”
DW – February 8, 2018
With the US’s international role waning, Europe must define its own future, says a highly anticipated report. This assessment sets the agenda for leaders in the run-up to Germany’s pre-eminent conference on security.
Security experts are rarely optimists and security reports rarely optimistic. That holds true for the latest Munich Security Report published on Thursday. Titled “To the Brink — and Back?” it forecasts a new era of uncertainty on the horizon.
“In the last year, the world has gotten closer — much too close — to the brink of a significant conflict,” wrote Munich Security Conference (MSC) Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger, who has served as Germany’s former ambassador to the US and UK.
Ischinger pointed to ever-louder saber rattling between the US and North Korea, the growing rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and ongoing tensions between Russia and NATO in Europe.
Frances Martel – February 5, 2018
China is reportedly moving missile defense batteries and troops closer to its border with North Korea, a potential sign that Beijing anticipates either a large refugee wave north or a military disturbance triggered by the belligerence of communist dictator Kim Jong-un.
The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a report Monday, stating that RFA had compiled evidence that China had “late last year deployed another missile defense battery at an armored division in Helong, west of Longjing in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture.”
The “North Korean source in China” speaking to RFA also noted that Pyongyang had observed the movement of 300,000 troops closer to the North Korean border and “missile defense batteries near North Korean reservoirs by the Apnok and Duman rivers.” The batteries would prevent the violent outpouring of those reservoirs into China in the event of an airstrike.