• China’s Aircraft Carrier Making Taiwan Nervous; Russia Hits Obama, Looks Forward to Trump

    28/Dec/2016 // 382 Viewers

     

    Cruise control. Taiwan has been nervously watching as Beijing’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, cruised past Taiwan on its way to the South China Sea in recent days, though Chinese officials said the movement was a routine drill. Taiwan has emerged as a point of contention between President-elect Donald Trump and China after Trump’s phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and his statement suggesting that his administration might ignore with the decades-old One China policy.
     
    “The threat of our enemies is growing day by day. We should always be maintaining our combat alertness,” Taiwan Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan said on Tuesday. China, of course, does not recognize the independence of Taiwan, which has purchased billions in U.S. weaponry over the decades. Last December, the government in Beijing confirmed that it was building a second aircraft carrier, and China likely has the ability to build multiple carriers over the next 15 years, the Pentagon said in a report earlier this year.
     
    Beijing, Moscow have complains about that U.S. defense spending bill. Chinese officials aren’t happy over a provision contained in the $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Barack Obama last week calling for more cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries. In a statement, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry said, “we urge the U.S. side to abide by its promises made to China on the Taiwan issue, stop U.S.-Taiwan military contacts and arms sales to Taiwan, to avoid damaging Sino-U.S. ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
     
    Moscow and Syria. On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling Washington’s plans to drop some restrictions on supplying weapons to Syrian rebels a “hostile act” that threatened Russian warplanes operating in the country. “The passing of this law in the last days of team Obama is an indication the administration is planting a landmine for the future administration of Donald Trump, in an attempt to complicate affairs in the international arena,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
     
    Sanctions. Likewise, the decision to renew U.S. sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014 was an attempt to impose the Obama administration’s “vicious anti-Russian course” on the incoming Trump administration, she added. “We hope that those who succeed them will be wiser.” Still, U.S. officials tell the AP that talks between American and Russian military officials to ensure their aircraft don’t run into one another over Syria have been fruitful, and have at times progressed beyond merely tactical communications.
     
    To the Baltics. In an open message to Donald Trump — who has celebrated Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian tactics and questioned NATO’s relevance, unnerving the alliance’s Baltic members — Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham arrived in Estonia on Tuesday on a trip widely perceived as an attempt to reassure Baltic states concerned Trump may not be committed to their defense.
     
    “I think this visit is being done to emphasize that, whatever happens after the inauguration, the U.S. Senate will be something the Baltic states can calmly rely upon,” Zygimantas Pavilionis, Lithuania’s former ambassador to Washington, told Reuters. McCain and Graham will next travel to Latvia and Lithuania on Thursday where they’ll meet heads of state and defense officials.
     
    In recent days, Trump has Tweeted approvingly about Putin’s criticism of Hillary Clinton, his opponent for president, and showed off a congratulatory note the Russian leader sent him after the election.
     
    Good morning and as always, if you have any thoughts, announcements, tips, or national  security-related events to share, please pass them along to SitRep HQ. Best way is to send them to: paul.mcleary@foreignpolicy.com or on Twitter: @paulmcleary or @arawnsley
     
    Russia
     
    Russian officials are saying they don’t believe that terrorism caused the crash of a Russian military plane that killed 92 people when it crashed into the Black Sea, according to the New York Times. The Tupolev 154 took off from Sochi on Sunday with 68 entertainers on board headed for a holiday concert in Latakia, Syria, where Russian forces in the country are based. Russian authorities are currently mounting search operations and say they’ve found the “black box.” Russian Interior Minister Maxim Sokolov says terrorism has been ruled out already and Russian Air Force has vouched for both the pilot and the aircraft involved.
     
    Afghanistan
     
    The New York Times reveals the story behind a Norwegian diplomat’s secretive, backchannel talks with Taliban leaders and the story of a peace deal that might have been. Alf Arne Ramslien tells the paper he started meeting with Taliban officials sent by the group’s late emir Mullah Omar to talk about a possible peace deal to end the fighting in Afghanistan starting in 2007. Norwegian diplomats managed to arrange for Taliban and an Afghan government delegations to meet in Norway for talks in 2008 but the effort was sabotaged when a Taliban delegation member’s family was attacked in an explosion in Quetta — an act officials believed was a warning that Pakistan didn’t want the talks to continue.
     
    Capt. Niloofar Rahmani, the Afghan military’s only female pilot, used to be a symbol of things going right with the country. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports, Rahmani is in the U.S. asking for asylum. After a C-130 training course Rahmani was attending ended last week, she refused to return to Afghanistan and sought asylum, saying she hoped to fly either for an airline or the U.S. Air Force if her request is accepted. The Afghan military has had repeated problems with troops deserting once they arrive in the United States for training.
     
    Pakistan
     
    Fake news has generated some very real threats in international relations as Pakistan defense minister threatened Israel with nuclear war over a bogus online story. The AP reports that a fake news purveyor AWD News published a story about a non-existent threat by a former Israeli defense minister threatening to use nuclear weapons against Pakistan if it sent troops to Syria. Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif read and believed the story, leading him to tweet ominously at Israel that “Pakistan is a nuclear state too.”
     
    Saudi Arabia
     
    Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry estimates that about 2,093 Saudi citizens have joined up with jihadist groups abroad as foreign fighters. Agence France Presse reports that the ministry believes that 70 percent of fighters are currently with groups in Syria. The rest of the foreign fighters were either in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan, or Iraq.
     
    Business of defense
     
    This year is ending with a bang for U.S. arms sales, according to Defense News. Arms sales greenlit by the State Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency up until late December amount to around $45.2 billion. The end-of-year blowout sale of F-15QA  and F/A-18E fighter jets to Gulf countries pushed the 2016 total up by around $31.2 billion


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  • JUST IN: Tension as Indonesian Government sends strong warning to Abuja

    28/Dec/2016 // 12881 Viewers

     

    PARIS, DECEMBER 28, 2016: (DGW) The Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Harry Purwanto, has issued a stern warning on what his country would continue to do to the Nigerian Government regarding its citizens living in the country or traveling from any part of the world into the country.

    This was in reaction to the rampant cases of Nigerians who deal in and bring hard drugs into the country.

    Speaking on Wednesday, he advised Nigerians to desist henceforth from engaging in or allowing themselves to be used for trafficking of drugs to Indonesia and warned that his government there is an existing legislation which now carries the death penalty not only for Nigerians but for everyone including Indonesians found dealing in or in possession of hard drugs. 

    He said: “Let me once again remind Nigerians wishing to travel to Indonesia, that the Indonesian Government, like every other government, has its laws and regulations.

    “It is, therefore, expected of Nigerians and other foreigners visiting Indonesia to always obey her laws prohibiting anybody’s involvement in drug crimes.

    “There are very strict laws for anyone arrested for drug-related offences in any part of Indonesia today.”


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  • First made-in-China jetliner makes debut commercial flight

    28/Jun/2016 // 203 Viewers

     


    SHANGHAI (AP) — The first regional jet produced in China's initiative to compete in the commercial aircraft market made its debut flight Tuesday carrying 70 passengers.

    The ARJ21-700 jet is one of a series of initiatives launched by the ruling Communist Party to transform China from the world's low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology in aviation, clean energy and other fields.

    The plane operated by Chengdu Airlines took its passengers from the western city of Chengdu to Shanghai in two hours.

    China is one of the biggest aviation markets but relies on foreign-made aircraft. Beijing wants to capture more of those sales. Its major airlines are state-owned, which gives the ruling party a captive pool of potential customers that can be ordered to buy Chinese-made aircraft.

    The ARJ21 — or Asian Regional Jet for the 21st Century — is intended to make its state-owned manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, a competitor to Bombardier Inc. of Canada and Brazil's Embraer SA.

    "The first flight of the ARJ21 marks the beginning of commercial, or passenger, operations for the ARJ21 and signifies the first time a domestically made regional jet has been used by a Chinese airline," said the COMAC chairman, Jin Zhuanglong.

    The ARJ21 initiative was launched in 2002. It was scheduled to deliver its first plane in 2007 but that was pushed back due to technical problems.

    A full-size jetliner under development by another state-owned company, the C919, is aimed at competing with Boeing Co. and Airbus. After delays blamed on manufacturing problems, the C919 is due to fly this year and enter service in about 2019.

    Boeing forecasts China's total demand for civilian jetliners over the next two decades at 5,580 planes worth a total of $780 billion.


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  • China says extremely dissatisfied with G7 statement on South China Sea

    28/May/2016 // 543 Viewers

     

    BEIJING (Reuters) - China is extremely dissatisfied with a statement by Group of Seven (G7) leaders on the contentious South China Sea, where Beijing is locked in territorial disputes with several southeast Asian countries, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

    Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks at a regular briefing. China's increasingly assertive stance in the region has sparked concern from the United States and its Asian allies.

    "This G7 summit organized by Japan's hyping up of the South China Sea issue and exaggeration of tensions is not beneficial to stability in the South China Sea and does accord with the G7's position as a platform for managing the economies of developed nations," Hua said. "China is extremely dissatisfied with what Japan and the G7 have done."

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that Japan welcomed China's peaceful rise while repeating Tokyo's opposition to acts that try to change the status quo by force.

    China has said that the South China Sea issue has nothing to do with G7 or its member countries.

    China is not in the G7 club but its rise as a global power has put it at the heart of some discussions at the advanced nations' summit in Ise-Shima, central Japan. G7 leaders agreed on Thursday to send a strong message on maritime claims in the western Pacific.


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  • China urges Japan to act prudently in military field

    28/Nov/2016 // 140 Viewers

     

    BEIJING: China urged Japan on Monday to act prudently in military and security fields and avoid unsettling regional stability.

    Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks at a routine press briefing in response to a question regarding Japan's plan to install an advanced US missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

    According to Japanese media reports, Tokyo plans to set up a panel to discuss ways to reinforce its missile defense system.

    "We were concerned about the news reports. China's position on the deployment of the THAAD is very clear and remains unchanged," Geng said.

    Japan's military and security activities are watched closely by its Asian neighbours and the international community because of its history, he said.

    "We hope Japan [will] play a constructive role in boosting regional peace and stability, not to the contrary," said the spokesperson.

    Calling the current Korean Peninsula situation "complicated and sensitive," he urged parties concerned to solve related issues through political and diplomatic channels.


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  • US to sail again near islets claimed by China: official

    28/Oct/2015 // 202 Viewers

    © Pool/AFP/File | A Philippine soldier patrols a beach in Pagasa Island (Thitu Island) at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, on May 11, 2015

     

    WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

    The US Navy will send more warships to sail close to artificial islands built by Beijing in the South China Sea, a US official said Tuesday.

    The USS Lassen guided missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of at least one of the land formations claimed by China in the disputed Spratly Islands chain early Tuesday local time.

    The move infuriated Beijing, which summoned the US ambassador and denounced what it called a threat to its sovereignty.

    "We will do it again," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    "We sail in international waters at a time and place of our choosing."

    The USS Lassen sailed through waters claimed by China, the Philippines and Vietnam near Mischief Reef in the Spratlys. The official said the sailing lasted about two hours.

    China said two of its vessels had shadowed the USS Lassen. Another US official said there had been "routine" communication between the US and Chinese ships.

    Testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee, US Defense Chief Ashton Carter earlier suggested there would be additional activity within the 12-mile zones around the artificial islands.

    "We are acting on the basis that we will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits and whenever our operational needs require," Carter said.

    Tensions have mounted since China transformed reefs in the area -- also claimed by several neighboring countries -- into small islands capable of supporting military facilities, a move the US says threatens freedom of navigation.

    Washington has repeatedly said it does not recognize Chinese claims to territorial waters around the artificial islands.


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  • Taliban fighters enter northern Afghan city of Kunduz

    28/Sep/2015 // 177 Viewers

    Taliban fighters launched a three-pronged offensive on the capital of the northern Afghan province of Kunduz on Monday, fighting their way through the main entrances to the city, burning buildings and briefly taking over a hospital.

    Breaching a provincial capital marks a troubling milestone in the nearly 14-year-old insurgency, though Afghan forces this year have driven the Taliban from most territory they’ve gained in the warm-weather fighting season.

    The assault was the second time this year that the Taliban have besieged Kunduz city, as the NATO-trained Afghan police and army fight largely without the help of foreign forces.

    By mid-morning, the Taliban fighters were inside the city limits. A Reuters witness saw buildings on fire in the south of the city, and he saw Taliban fighters entering a 200-bed government-run hospital.

    Dozens of panicked residents fled to the city’s main airport but were turned away by security forces. By afternoon, the fighting had reached about a kilometre (0.62 mile) from the city’s main government compound, according to a Reuters witness.

    Afghan military helicopters were firing rockets at militants in three areas on the city’s outskirts, a police spokesman said. Artillery and gunfire could be heard in the city centre from just after daybreak.

    “Right now heavy fighting is ongoing in Khanabad, Chardara and at Imam Saheb, the main entrances to the city,” Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a spokesman for Kunduz police, said. “We have enough forces and will drive them out soon.”

    He said 20 Taliban fighters were killed and three Afghan police wounded in the clashes.

    But if Afghan forces cannot drive out the Taliban from any of the city’s three main entrances, it would appear be difficult for the government to maintain control.

    Special forces of the Afghan police and army were on their way from neighbouring Balkh province to help defend Kunduz, a Balkh police commander said.

    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Majahid urged Kunduz residents to stay inside.

    “The mujahideen are trying to avoid any harm to Kunduz residents,” he said on his official Twitter account, referring to Taliban fighters.

    “Residents have to be assured they will not face any problem from our side.”

    Later in the day, Mujahid said that Taliban fighters had seized the hospital and taken over government buildings.

    A hospital official confirmed Taliban fighters had entered the hospital briefly, apparently looking for wounded government fighters.

    “They just visited our rooms. They didn’t harm anybody and didn’t damage anything. They left soon after,” said the official, who declined to be identified as he feared repercussions.

    The once-quiet north of Afghanistan has seen escalating violence in recent years. Kunduz city was the centre of fierce fighting in April as the Taliban, driven from power by a 2001 U.S.-backed military intervention, sought to gain territory after the end of NATO’s combat mission last year.

    A scaled-down NATO mission now mostly trains and advises Afghan forces, although U.S. drones still target militant leaders and a U.S. counter-terrorist force also operates in the country.

    (REUTERS)


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  • Turkey won't host 'inhumane' migrant processing centre: PM

    28/Sep/2015 // 212 Viewers

    AFP | Turkish Prime Minister and Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Ahmet Davutoglu rules out migrant processing centres in Turkey
    ANKARA (AFP) - 
    Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday ruled out creating a processing centre for the thousands of mostly Syrian migrants trying to enter Europe from Turkish territory, calling instead for them to be hosted in "safe zones" inside Syria.

    Responding to repeated calls by EU members for migrants' asylum claims to be handled in the countries from which they set sail for Europe, Davutoglu told Hurriyet newspaper: "We have told Europe that there will be no reception centre in Turkey."

    EU leaders last week agreed to boost aid for Turkey and other countries neighbouring Syria, which have taken in the bulk of the over four million people fleeing the Syrian civil war and Islamic State extremists.

    They also vowed to strengthen the bloc's outer frontiers and create controversial centres in frontline states like Greece and Italy to sort refugees from economic migrants more quickly.

    Davutoglu said such centres were "unacceptable" and "inhumane" and repeated Turkey's call for the formation of a safe zone inside Syria stretching from Azaz to Jarablus in the north.

    "If Azaz-Jarablus is cleared (of Islamic State extremists), we can establish three cities there each hosting 100 thousand people," said the Turkish premier.

    "You (Europe) will undertake the financial costs and we will build it," he proposed.

    Turkey and Germany would join forces to tackle the refugee crisis, he said.

    "We have decided that Turkey and Germany will establish a working group," said Davutoglu, who met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in New York at the weekend, ahead of this week's UN General Assembly.

    "At first, we will form a bilateral mechanism and later will include Greece if necessary," he said, without elaborating further.

    Many of the Syrian refugees pouring into Europe have been living in Turkey for months, even years.

    "What's good here is that we have for years wanted to draw attention to the humanitarian crises caused by the Syrian crisis but the international community left the table and put the burden on Turkey," Davutoglu said.

    ? 2015 AFP


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  • Pyongyang fires short-range missile over sea in another repeated violation

    29/Mar/2016 // 164 Viewers

     

    PARIS, MARCH 29, 2016: (DGW)  - PYONGYANG on Tuesday fired a short-range missile of its east coast in another round of  repeated armed test violations, South Korea News Agency has reported.

    The missile reportedly fired from North Korea resort town of Wonsan at about 5.40 p.m.flew for about 200 km north-east over the sea before landing , the News Agency further reported.

    The hermit kingdom has repeatedly violated armed test ban in recent weeks. Recall the UN had imposed sanction on North Korea for conducting its fourth nuclear test early this year, January to be precise.

     

     


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  • China abandons one-child policy

    29/Oct/2015 // 152 Viewers

    China announced the end of its hugely controversial one-child policy on Thursday, with the official Xinhua news agency saying that all couples would be allowed two children.

    It cited a communiqué issued by the ruling Communist Party after a four-day meeting in Beijing to chart the course of the world's second largest economy over the next five years.

    China is "abandoning its decades-long one-child policy", Xinhua reported.

    The policy restricted most couples to only a single offspring, and for years authorities argued that it was a key contributor to China's economic boom.

    But after years of strict, sometimes brutal enforcement by a dedicated government commission, China's population -- the world's largest -- is now ageing rapidly, gender imbalances are severe, and its workforce is shrinking.

    The concerns led to limited reforms in 2013, including allowing a second child for some couples in urban areas, but relatively few have taken up the opportunity.

    The Communist leadership met in Beijing to discuss ways to put the country's stuttering economy back on a smooth growth path as it struggles with structural inefficiencies and social policies left over from an era before it embraced market reforms.

    Known as the fifth plenum, the conclave discussed the next Five-Year Plan for China -- the 13th since the People's Republic was founded in 1949.

    Over four days of meetings the 205 members of the Central Committee, plus around 170 alternates, examined the specifics of the plan, which was largely worked out through a process of national consultations before the leaders even set foot in the capital.

    The country's rubber-stamp legislature will officially approve the resulting document next year.

    The world's most populous country has enjoyed a decades-long boom since the ruling party embraced market economics and opened up to the rest of the world from the late 1970s.

    The process has transformed the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people and propelled the country to global prominence.

    But growth has been slowing for several years, and analysts say the party needs to embrace further liberalisation to avoid falling into the stagnation of the "middle income trap", when developing countries fail to fulfil their full potential.

    The meeting reiterated the Communist Party's goal to double 2010 GDP by 2020, as part of its aim to achieve a "moderately prosperous society" by the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party's founding.

    (AFP)


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