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Coordination and Promotion of Military-Civilian Integration and the “One Belt and One Road”

{Editor’s Note: In recent years, since Xi Jinping took office, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been pursuing a strategy of integrating military with civilian usage. It is taking civilian technologies and transforming them so they can be used for military purposes on a massive scale. In a way, a large number of civilian enterprises have thus been tinted with a military color. At the same time, economic development has also been taking the factor of war into account, especially in the manufacturing industry. When needed, a civil society can quickly be mobilized to serve military purposes. The article below is a policy proposal from a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences scholar. It advocates the expansion of the military-civilian integration to the countries and regions along the “One Belt and One Road.” In a sense, the idea would turn the “One Belt and One Road” country bloc into a certain type of cooperation in military technologies.

The following is a translation of selected excerpts from the article.} {1}

Coordination and Promotion of Military-civilian Integration and the
“One Belt and One Road”

April 25, 2017

Red Flag Manuscript

By Shen Yanxin

The strategy issue is a fundamental issue for a political party and a country. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that “military-civilian integration is a national strategy that concerns the overall security and development of our country. It is a move to rejuvenate the nation as well as a strategy for strengthening the military.” Promoting military-civilian integration and strengthening the military through technology “must be coordinated within the overall national strategic layout in line with the national strategic plan.” “The construction of the ‘One Belt and One Road’ is also a major strategic decision that the Party’s Central Committee made. Both are part of the national strategy. It is a topic worthy of in-depth research on how to ensure that both the strategic military-civilian integration and the “One Belt and One Road” work hand in hand to achieve coordinated progress and mutual reinforcement.

I. With “One Belt and One Road,” the military-civilian integration has made significant progress.

“Defense technology and munitions are the focus of the military-civilian integration, as well as an important indicator for measuring the level of military-civilian integration.” {2} The implementation of the “One Belt and One Road” initiative has pushed forward military technology exchanges and cooperation between China and the countries along the route so that the integration takes place on a larger scale, at a higher level, and goes deeper. The national defense technology industry is a natural carrier for military-civilian integration. So far, with the promotion of the “One Belt and One Road,” international exchange and cooperation in the national defense technology industry have achieved important results.

International cooperation in the field of nuclear technology has also deepened. At present, “nuclear power” has become the representative “business card” of China, just like the “high-speed rail.” Since the launch of the “One Belt and One Road” initiative, China’s nuclear power technology has seen steady breakthroughs. Statistics show that among the countries and regions along the “One Belt and One Road,” in addition to China, there are 19 countries and regions already equipped with nuclear power and more than 20 countries and regions are planning to develop nuclear power. China has already signed cooperation agreements with Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, France, Jordan, Armenia, and other countries. It is estimated that a total of 240 nuclear power units will be built by 2030, 80 percent of which will be built in the neighboring countries along the “One Belt and One Road.” China alone is striving to build about 30 nuclear power units in the countries along the “One Belt and One Road” by 2030.

Aerospace multilateral (bilateral) international scientific and technological cooperation has advanced and delivered results. With the opportunities derived from the “One Belt and One Road,” China’s aviation industry is further integrated into the world aviation industrial chain. In the aerospace field, China has signed space cooperation agreements with more than 30 countries, and established good government and commercial cooperation mechanisms with countries along the “One Belt and One Road,” thus laying a good foundation for the promotion and application of spatial information technology. At present, on the southern route of the “One Belt and One Road,” China promotes technical cooperation with Asian and African countries on helicopters, regional aircraft, and general aviation industries. It also promotes the development of the aviation industry in relevant countries through the establishment of customer service bases. On the northern route of the “One Belt and One Road,” China and Russia will cooperate on wide-body aircraft and heavy-duty helicopters, and will make it an important achievement in Sino-Russian cooperation in the field of equipment manufacturing.

The spatial information corridor of the “One Belt and One Road” has been developed and promoted. In 2016, the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) and the China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) issued the “Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Development and Application of the “One Belt and One Road” Spatial Information Corridor.” The spatial information corridor is mainly based on communication satellites, navigation satellites, and remote sensing satellite resources that are in orbit or in the planning stage. These appropriately complement the space-based resources and the ground information sharing network to form a four-in-one spatial information service system of “sensation, transmission, knowledge, and use.” The spatial information service system provides spatial information service capabilities for countries and regions along the “One Belt and One Road” to achieve information interconnection.

In addition, the implementation of the “One Belt and One Road” initiative and especially the development of the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” have also brought about important strategic opportunities for Chinese shipping companies, the munitions industry, and electronic technology. The achievements in military-civilian integration have been remarkable.

III. Specific proposals for the coordination and promotion of military-civilian integration and the “One Belt and One Road”

3. Strengthen the coordination of science and technology and strive to improve the innovation ability of the military-civilian synergy.

Scientific and technological innovation have always played a leading role in the development of the “One Belt and One Road.” With the continuous advancement of science and technology, “national strategic competitiveness, social productivity, and military combat effectiveness are becoming more and more intertwined; the defense economy, the social economy, along with military and civilian technology have become more and more integrated.” {3} Therefore, the two strategies of promoting the military-civilian integration and the “One Belt and One Road” have highlighted an urgent need for scientific and technological innovation.

We should take advantage of the “One Belt and One Road” innovation platform in a comprehensive way to accelerate the innovative military-civilian integration. In September 2016, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Commerce jointly issued the “Special Plan for Promoting the ‘One Belt and One Road’ to advance Cooperation in Scientific and Technological Innovation.” This set forth proactive measures for the “One Belt and One Road” technology innovation cooperation: together with countries along the “One Belt and One Road,” China will build a number of research laboratories, joint research centers, technology transfer centers, and advanced technology demonstration and promotion bases to promote the interconnection and service sharing of data and technology resources and to strengthen the application of new technologies in smart grids and information communication networks. The establishment of such an open platform infrastructure will help promote the two-way transfer and transformation of military and civilian technologies, benefit joint research, and enhance research on basic, cutting-edge, and key technologies.

We should comprehensively take advantage of the “One Belt and One Road” talent platform to serve the military-civilian integration. The Communist Party and the State have proposed to improve the military personnel’s support system and train new military talent in large numbers and of high-quality. The “Special Plan for Promoting the ‘One Belt and One Road,’ and to Develop Scientific and Technological Innovation Cooperation” clarifies the talent training goal for scientific and technological innovation cooperation: in three to five years, the exchanges and cooperation between science and technology personnel will be substantially improved and over 150,000 scientific and technical personnel will come to China for exchange training. More than 5,000 outstanding young scientists will be working in China. This provides the possibility for the integration of educational resources for the military-civilian integration. At present, to achieve the coordination of science and technology resources, we need to build a policy regime for the “One Belt and One Road” related resources available to provide services for the military-civilian integration.

Author: Associate Research Fellow, Department of Political History, Institute of Contemporary China, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

{1} Red Flag Manuscript, Shen Yanxin, “Coordination and Promotion of Military-Civilian Integration and the “One Belt and One Road,” April 25, 2017.
{2} A quote from a speech given by Xi Jinping.
{3} Ibid.

Party’s Mouthpiece Newspapers Are Growing in Spite of the Trend

Because online media have had an effect, many media in China have been unable to make ends meet due to the drop in advertising revenue. Around New Year’s Day 2019, more than ten paper-based media such as Beijing Morning Post, Beijing Suburban Daily and Heilongjiang Morning News had ceased publication. Another reason for the suspension is related to the authorities’ tightened control over what the reporters can cover.

A political observer published an article on Monday February 11, pointing out that the Internet is “killing” traditional media. In particular, the popularity of smartphones and social media has led to a “free fall” in the circulation and advertising volume of newspapers and magazines. The advertising revenue of Chinese newspapers has shrunk from 41 billion yuan (US$60.6 billion) in 2012 to 10.2 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in 2016, a drop of three-quarters in just four years. This is also comparable to the decline in the American newspaper industry.

A unique phenomenon in the decline of traditional media in China is that most of the publications that went down or died are local morning and evening newspapers concentrating on stories about local people and events, while the party’s mouthpiece newspapers have not stopped their publications but have generally exhibited a trend of growth. Researchers found that the party’s mouthpiece newspapers have a variety of new sources of income, including local governments’ direct subsidies. For example, Guangzhou Daily, the mouthpiece for the Guangzhou Chinese Communist Party Committee, received a subsidy of 350 million yuan (US$52 million) in 2016. Local governments also put a number of advertisements in the party newspapers to promote their political achievements. Amid the current wave of anti-corruption campaigns, officials dare not put money into their own pockets, but choose to spend money on party newspaper advertisements in order to benefit their careers. In addition, officials need to read the party newspapers to understand the policy trends. They can also showcase their political awareness by subscribing to many party newspapers. All these have led to an increase in the circulation of party newspapers.

An observer told Radio Free Asia, “Because the media is controlled, the media that the party runs still relies on fiscal expenditures. On newspaper subscriptions, every year the provincial government and the provincial propaganda department issue directives to tell us which newspapers we need to subscribe to. People’s Daily and Beijing Daily, (we have to subscribe to them).”

Yang Shaozheng, a former professor at Guizhou University, told RFA that, in mainland China, there is no real market-oriented media. All media have the surname of “party,” but some media are more market-oriented. The cessation of the metropolitan and local newspapers is a good thing for the Chinese Communist Party. “In that case, the Communist Party can shrink the battle’s front line and make sure all the mouthpieces have one voice, which is the voice of the party. The whole country’s ideologies are unified.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 13, 2019

China Times: Chinese Investments in Silicon Valley Dropped Sharply in 2018

Major Taiwanese newspaper China Times recently reported that, as the China-U.S. trade war intensifies, Chinese capital that used to flow continuously into U.S. high-tech companies, in 2018 started to see a dramatic decline. According to Forbes, last year China invested a total of around US$2 billion in the U.S. high-tech field. That was an 80 percent drop from 2017. More and more U.S. start-up companies are avoiding Chinese investments since many U.S. investors are concerned about the additional risks that these Chinese partners may bring to the venture. The Canadian detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou could further cool down the willingness of Chinese investors. According to several experts monitoring the trade war, in the long run, the conflicts in trade will not have a major impact on business activities between China and the Silicon Valley. However, all experts agreed that the era of close cooperation between China and the United States is over.

Source: China Times, February 2, 2019

FBI Detained Chinese Engineer for Stealing Apple Intellectual Property

Well-known Chinese news site Tencent News recently reported that the FBI detained a second Chinese engineer (Chen Jizhong), who worked at Apple, for stealing classified information on Apple’s self-driving car technology. A further search found more unauthorized photos in Chen’s hard disk. Chen admitted that he planned to return to China and work for Xiaopeng Automobiles, a Chinese smart car manufacturer. Xiaopeng later commented on the story and said the company had never interviewed this individual. Last July the FBI arrested another Apple Chinese engineer (Zhang Xiaolang) for stealing self-driving car information. Zhang did join Xiaopeng Automobiles. Xiaopeng later refused to acknowledge that they had any awareness of Zhang’s illegal activities. According to the FBI, Apple confirmed that the materials Chen stole would have been “extremely damaging” if handed to competitors. Apple’s self-driving car team suffered quite a few setbacks in the past and Apple has laid off many people.

Source: Tencent News, January 31, 2019

EU May Ban Huawei Equipment to Please the U.S.

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu recently reported that, according to four European Union officials, the European Commission is considering amending the 2016 network security law in order to stop EU companies from using Huawei’s next generation mobile network equipment. Anonymous sources said this plan is still in an early stage but good enough to demonstrate a “change in the EU position.” Apparently, this will please the United States. However, the new policy will face difficulties in real life even if it gets established, as some of the countries, such as Germany, have already issued their 5G permits. At the moment, most of the EU countries, except Britain, Germany, France, and Poland, do not have a ban on Huawei products. Interestingly, Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia hold the vast majority of the global 5G market. The United States doesn’t even have a presence there.

Source: Sohu, January 31, 2019

By 2022, Every Chinese Will “Own” Two Surveillance Cameras

According to a report that the market research institute IDC released on January 30, the deployment of video surveillance cameras in China will reach 2.76 billion units by 2022. With nearly 1.4 billion Chinese, on average, each person will “own” two surveillance cameras. The report also said that, in the next few years, China will spend another $30 billion on improving the technical capabilities of tracking activities .

China has become the world’s largest market for security and surveillance technology. Research firm IHS Markit predicts that China will purchase three-quarters of the servers used for facial recognition in video footage.

In recent years, with the advancement of smart city projects, the public video surveillance network has achieved rapid development. At present, facial recognition systems have been deployed in streets and alleys across China, recording every move that the people make. The government calls it a “smart city.” China has also built the world’s largest video surveillance system, which can accurately identify a pedestrian’s age, gender, and dress.

After the completion of China’s huge video surveillance system “Skynet Project,” another “Bright-as-Snow Project” targeting rural areas started last year and, for the first time, was included in the “No. 1 Document” of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. A Guangdong company launched a monitoring system for the “Bright-as-Snow Project,” which uses home TVs and smart phones to deliver surveillance videos to the house.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 4, 2019