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China’s Lunar Rover Mission to the Dark Side of the Moon

According to Chinese official media, the successful landing of Chang’e 4 is the first touchdown of a spacecraft on the far side of the moon in human history, the first Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 relay and exploration, and the first moon based low-frequency radio astronomical observation. It is also the first time in China for the measurement of the nighttime lunar soil temperature.

The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) conducted the mission. The lunar rover carried a list of equipment to the Von Kármán Crater on the moon, including a topographic camera, a landing camera, a low-frequency radio spectrum analyzer, a panoramic camera, an infrared imaging spectrometer, and moon-receiving radar.

Source: The Paper, December 9, 2018

The U.S. Launches Encirclement Campaign against Huawei

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu recently reported that the U.S government is undertaking an unusual “encirclement campaign” to work with its allied countries to cut off Huawei’s breathing room internationally. These governments include Germany, Italy, and Japan. The U.S. excuse for the campaign is national security and these countries all have U.S. military bases. The U.S. argued that the military operations have partial but significant communications dependency on the local communications infrastructure, and Huawei’s equipment introduces uncertainty and security concerns into that infrastructure. However, Huawei is now the world’s largest communications equipment provider (around 22 percent of the global market) and has a competitive pricing advantage. Realizing Huawei’s pricing power, the U.S. government has been offering subsidies to the allies who obtain communications equipment from any non-Huawei suppliers. For years, the U.S. government has also been mounting pressure on domestic Huawei buyers such as Best Buy. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had no detailed knowledge and was unclear about the situation, but that China always asks its companies to obey domestic laws in foreign countries.

Source: Sohu, November 24, 2018

PLA Daily: Army to Transition into the Type Oriented toward a “Proactive Strategy”

On November 12, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily, the official voice of the Chinese military, published an opinion article titled, “Promoting the Transition of an Army into the Type Oriented toward a ‘Proactive Strategy.’”

“For a long time, the army has grown with the background of ‘active defense’ warfare, carrying out a ‘shield’ style of build-up and readiness. That is, the army has only passively responded when the enemy entered the country. This type of army is looking at the borders of the territory; its combat guideline is ‘defending the country and fighting against aggression.’ As history enters into the 21st century, the form of warfare is undergoing accelerated and profound changes. The development of the army must be based on the country’s strategic needs. It should have the courage to become the ‘backbone’ of information warfare and take the initiative to transition into the type that has a ‘proactive strategy.’”

“This strategy means planning and designing. It means to take the initiative, instead of relying on external forces, to make strategic plans and calculations. The army that has a ‘proactive strategy’ is in line with the trend of the evolution of the world’s military. It focuses on national strategic needs, works for the goal of ‘protecting its territory and its interests,’ proactively designs land warfare, and actively plans the development of a powerful modern new-type army.”

“Such an army has distinct characteristics: a strong sense of crisis, … a vast and broad strategic vision, … and a forward-looking land warfare design.”

Source: People’s Liberation Army Daily, November 12, 2018

China to Build First Permanent Airport in Antarctica

Science and Technology Daily, an official newspaper of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, quoted someone familiar with the matter on Sunday and reported that the Chinese government plans to build the first permanent airport in Antarctica within a few years in order to receive tourists and researchers regularly.

“The infrastructure will include the runway and a terminal building. According to the plan, the airport will be built in a selected place. It will take several years before the airport is built.” he said. The source said that the airport will be built directly on the glacier covering the surface of Antarctica.

The source also said that as early as 2009 and 2010, Chinese experts built two runways dedicated to emergency landings and refueling for fixed-wing aircraft. One of them was three kilometers west of the Chinese Kunlun Station in Antarctica. He said that China has a more and more urgent need to build a regular airport at the other end of the earth.

Experts believe that, to this end, China needs to negotiate regular flight issues with countries that can provide support for temporary landings. China’s polar plane, “Snow Eagle 601,” which will fly such a long route, will be forced to stop midway for technical support, fuel, or handling bad weather.

Source: Sputnik News, October 29, 2018

Xi Furthers Anti-Corruption Purge in the Military

Media report outlets inside and outside of China suggest that the Chinese military may be going through another “anti-corruption” purge. Sources say 120 military officers are being “investigated.”

On August 1, which is the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Day, a time when a few military officers are usually promoted to the rank of full general, Xi broke the tradition and did not make any announcement. It was also the first time since Xi became the commander-in-chief of the PLA in 2012 that he did not name any generals. China’s official media kept silent on this and the military officials issued no response of confirmation or clarification.

In one of Xi Jinping’s talks on Aug 9 regarding the military, Xi emphasized “absolute loyalty” from the PLA and the importance of “centralized leadership.” He also talked about the issue of corruption in the PLA.

On Oct 16, the Beijing authority officially announced the “investigation results” of two more military “tigers,” — Fang Fenghui and Zhang Yang. These two former generals have since been expelled from the Communist Party and the Chinese military and their ranks of general have been removed.

Zhang, who once served as Director of the PLA’s Political Work Department, committed suicide last Nov. Fang, former Chief of the Joint Staff and a member of the Central Military Commission, is now facing formal charges in court. The “investigation results” said they were “disloyal, dishonest and had been acting two-faced.” A number of media sources pointed out that more military officials might be involved in this current purge — many of the next targets may be those who have ties with those “big tigers” who have already been purged.

Source: Radio France International, October 24, 2018

China Refused to Allow U.S. Naval Vessel to Visit Hong Kong

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that the Chinese government refused a request from the U.S. Navy to visit Hong Kong. In the meantime, China also called back the Chinese Naval commander, who was visiting the U.S. and cancelled a high-level military meeting. This was in response to the earlier U.S. sanctions against a high-ranking Chinese military officer. In the past, China does have a history of refusing to allow U.S. Naval vessels to visit Hong Kong – as a way of expressing unhappiness. The spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented that China typically evaluates this kind of request on a case by case basis.

Source: Sina, September 25, 2018