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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

China to Build a World Class Anti-Terrorist Force That Is Ready to Be Deployed Overseas to Protect National Interest

Voice of America reported that, on Saturday, September 29, a senior Chinese intelligence Officer told Xinhua that, if China’s national interest is under threat, China will build a world class anti-terrorist Special Forces unit that will be deployed overseas. According to a quote from Xinhua, “The Special Forces must follow the development of national security interests and must be prepared to fight against terrorism.” According to VOA, there are extensive terrorist groups in countries along the Belt and Road project. In Pakistan alone, thousands of Chinese workers could be the new target for terrorist groups. In the Anti-Terrorist law China passed in 2015, it stated that, after a serious terrorist attack on Chinese institutions or personnel abroad, China’s counter-terrorism department can, after consultation with the relevant countries, “send staff to go abroad to carry out response work.” China currently sends police to other countries to help maintain the safety of Chinese tourists, but, in the past decade, it has not sent warfare personnel to other countries.

1. Voice of America, September 29, 2018
2. Xinhua, September 29, 2018

Beidou and the “Space Silk Road”

On Wednesday September 19, China launched two Beidou navigation satellites so as to join the network with the previously launched Beidou-3 navigation satellite. By 2020, Beidou is expected to boast of having 35 satellites covering the earth. This year alone, China has launched more than 10 Beidou satellites.

The Beidou navigation system has seen an increasing application in China. In Ningxia, farmers use it to provide navigation for unmanned agricultural machinery; in Inner Mongolia, herders in remote areas can send text messages through Beidou, and remotely control the water supply for livestock. In Beijing, 33,500 taxis and 21,000 buses have already installed Beidou chips. The Chinese government has set a goal to install Beidou chips in all new cars by 2020.

China is keen to upgrade its technological capabilities. After completing the global network by 2020, the Beidou system is expected to be a world-class navigation system and comparable to the U.S. GPS system.

Beidou was originally designed for the Chinese military to reduce its dependence on the U.S. GPS system. With the expansion of its coverage, business opportunities have also emerged.

Beidou’s ambitious expansion is coupled with China’s foreign policy. By the end of 2018, Beidou will cover the countries along the “Belt and Road,” and create a “Space Silk Road.” At present, Beidou covers 30 countries along the route, including Pakistan, Laos, and Indonesia. If these countries join the “Space Silk Road,” they could become dependent on the space services that Beijing provides, which will have more influence on their policies.

Three other satellite navigation systems are currently in place – Glonass in Russia, Galileo in Europe, and GPS in the United States. Blaine Curcio, founder of Hong Kong-based space and satellite consulting firm Orbital Gateway, said that we may see the world gradually split into “pro-China” and “pro-U.S.” camps. Those who are “pro-China” may be less likely to trust the satellite navigation services of the U.S. or the EU, and would therefore choose Beidou.

The Beidou chips have been widely deployed in Chinese made mobile phones, such as Xiaomi, Huawei and OnePlus, although Apple hasn’t incorporated Beidou in its latest iPhone which was released on September 12. Chinese official media said that this choice “does not rule out political reasons.”

Source: BBC Chinese, September 21, 2018

Report: China Tops the World in Nuclear Reactor Startups

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report is an annual report that explores the global challenges facing the nuclear power industry. Mycle Schneider, an independent energy expert, produces it; he provides a detailed overview of the global nuclear industry and a special analysis of key events and trends. The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2018 was released on September 4.

The report highlighted the following information with regard to China:
– Nuclear power generation in the world increased by 1 percent due to an 18 percent increase in China.
– Global nuclear power generation, excluding China, declined for the third year in a row.
– Out of four reactors that started up in 2017, three were in China and one was in Pakistan (built by a Chinese company).
– Five units started up in the first half of 2018, of which three were in China—including the world’s first EPR and AP1000—and two were in Russia.
– Of five construction startups in the world in 2017, one was a demonstration fast reactor project in China.
– There has been no startup of the construction of any commercial reactor in China since December 2016.
– The number of units under construction globally declined for the fifth year in a row, from 68 reactors at the end of 2013 to 50 by mid-2018, of which 16 were in China.
– China spent a record US$126 billion on renewables in 2017.

Source: World Nuclear Industry Status Report.