Tag Archives: China

China commissions first aircraft carrier

China commissions its first aircraft carrier after years of sea tests. The carrier, which was bought by the Soviet Union as an unfinished carrier, will be named Liaoning.

Aircraft carriers have become less of an effective weapon of war in modern warfare, and instead are more seen as tools for projecting power. However, for China the ability to move airstrike capability beyond its own shores is seen as very important given that the country is surrounded by hostile forces. China doesn’t yet have airplanes that would be capable of taking off and landing on the ship though.

Chinese aircraft carrier at dock in the northern city of Dalian

Audi apologises to Japan following incident in China

The German car manufacturer Audi has apologised to Japan after staff in one of its dealerships in China called for the killing of Japanese as part of the disturbances over the contested islands of Diaoyu, or Senkaku as they are called in Japanese.

Anti-Japanese protests at Audi dealership in China

The 6 meter (20 foot) banner held up by the staff at Audi reads:

“Japanese must all be killed even if it means China is covered in graves. Diaoyu must be reclaimed even if China becomes barren land.”

Audi has not taken any actions against the staff of the dealership apart from telling them not to protest in this manner. It’s a sure reflection of how important the Chinese market is to the luxury car manufacturer.

Decreasing importance of US – China trade

Interesting piece by Australian military intelligence officer Dominic Skerritt at the always excellent website LowyInterpreter.org, which is run by the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia.

This graph shows how US-China trade is becoming less important for the Chinese economy as domestic demand and trade with other countries increases.

US-China trade decreasing as % of total Chinese foreign trade

Dominic points out that Chinese leadership is concerned about its exposure to US debt. Once the trust in the US dollar slips away, will the US still be able to run large deficits or will we see a Greece-style collapse?

Germany has world’s biggest trade surplus

Germany has passed China and Saudi Arabia to declare the largest trade surplus in the world, some $200 Billion in current account surplus  this year. A big reason for the rise is increasing industrial exports to China, but a decrease in imports from the Asian giant. A strength in industrial products such as automobiles and heavy industry are big reasons for the successful exports, while an emphasis on producing rather than consuming seem to keep imports down.

 

Global trade balances – surplus countries in blue, deficit countries in red, the darker the color, the larger the imbalance

Competition for influence heats up in the Indian Ocean

The Dutch Parliament voted last week to boost its military contribution to the NATO force fighting piracy in Somali. The country will spend $16.5 million to provide extra personnel, two Cougar helicopters and an unmanned aerial vehicle to join NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield. Also part of the new deployment will be an additional submarine to join the mission in the second half of 2012.

This week the Dutch frigate HNLMS Van Amstel set to return to the Netherlands after anti-piracy service in the western Indian Ocean. It is being replaced by HNLMS Evertsen up until September.

Unrelated, the Indonesian Navy has agreed to buy a guided missile destroyer from the Dutch shipyard Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding for a total contract of $220 million.

Military activity by foreign powers have been stepped up in the western Indian Ocean in the last decade. The immediate reason is the occurrence of Somali based pirates off the coast of East Africa. On a more strategic level the growing Asian powers are looking to take position in the waters that are vital to global shipping lanes.

The traditional maritime powers in the region, the US, Britain and France have seen the Chinese taking up the hunt for pirates, but also an agreement and plans to set up a naval base in the Seychelles. It is believed that China is also negotiating with other countries in the region for further naval bases e.g. Gwadar Port in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

India is upgrading its own navy to include nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers to get supremacy over the ocean it regards as its backyard. India is clearly annoyed with Chinese activity in the Seychelles and on the island of Mauritius, which India considers part of its sphere of influence.

Japan has opened a naval base in Djibouti in order to support its anti-pirate operations in the Gulf of Aden. This has further prompted China to seek a land base in the region.

Even Brazil has stepped up its involvement in the region although mostly using economical and soft power. The activities have mostly involved increased trade and investments with fellow partner countries in the organisation Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa (CPLP), an organisation comprising Portuguese-speaking countries. Projects include investments in Mozambique e.g. the Nacala Airport in the north and the construction of a coal terminal in the port city of Beira

Where does this leave the traditional powers? One of the most important strategic military bases to the US, the island of Diego Garcia which it leases from the UK, is kept busy as a staging base for B-2 bomber raids over Afghanistan. France is also clinging on to its bases in the region namely Réunion, Mayotte, Djibouti and the newly established base in United Arab Emirates. Together these form what the French calls quadrilatère français in order to secure France’s interests in the all important region.

Given China’s massive investments in Africa – with the increasing clout this brings with African governments – it would not be surprising to see China trying to create a permanent land base on continental East Africa which would include naval and air support.

Iranian sources report on future Iran-China-Russian exercise in Syria

According to Israeli news outlet DEBKAfile, which is known to be close to Israeli secret services, a joint military exercise is to be held in less than a months time by Iran, China, Russia and Syria on Syrian soil. The exercise would be one of the biggest ever held in the Middle East with over 90,000 personnel. According to the report, Beijing have already asked Egyptian authorities to permit the passage through the Suez Canal in late June of 12 naval ships heading for the Syrian port of Tartus, where Moscow maintains a naval and marine base.

The news has not yet been confirmed by official sources and could, of course, be a case of deception. What has been confirmed though is that Russia is deploying two warships to the Syrian port of Tartus, both ships are said to carry large number of marine soldiers.

Chinese manned spacecraft docks with space station module

Picture credit: Xinhua

China’s manned spacecraft Shenzhou 9 docked successfully with the Chinese space station Tianggong-1 module on Monday. The spacecraft took off with a crew of 3 taikonauts, including one woman, on a Long March 2F rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Saturday.

The Swedish space and satellite company Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) is playing a part in the Chinese space program by leasing satellite tracking antennae at one of its facilities to China’s satellite launch company. The tracking facility situated in Dongara East in western Australia has provided services to the Chinese company since 2009. The Chinese claim that the facility is only used for civilian purposes and not by the military.

The Swedish Space Corporation is based in Solna outside of Stockholm and has around 700 employees worldwide including a representative office in Beijing.