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People’s Daily Online: Washington Expected to Gauge China’s Response to U.S. Aircraft Carrier Entering South China Sea

Global Times, a subsidiary of People’s Daily Online published an analysis of the U.S. aircraft carrier and guided-missile destroyer deployed over the weekend to patrol the South China Sea. The analysis appeared on February 20 in the military section of the website of the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper.

It cited the U.S. Navy’s press release issued on February 18 that the USS Carl Vinson carrier entered the South China Sea on Saturday.

The analysis cited an article from Japan Times that China watchers believe Washington intends to gauge the Chinese response and then conduct a more beefed up freedom of navigation operation.

Analysts told Global Times reporters that U.S. warships’ patrolling in the South China Sea is different in nature from their entering the adjacent waters of islands in the area. China’s navy has maintained a normalized patrol in the waters of the Nansha Islands, also known as the Spratly Islands. It is paying minute to minute attention to see whether US warships will make any risky moves.

The analysis mentioned an earlier report from U.S.-based Navy Times, that, according to several Navy officials, the U.S. Navy is planning fresh challenges to China’s claims in the South China Sea. It is sailing more warships near the increasingly militarized man-made islands that China claims as its sovereign territory in order to ratchet up potentially provocative operations in the South China Sea. The military’s plans also likely call for sailing within 12 nautical miles of China’s newly built islands in the Spratly and/or Paracel islands.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in the routine press conference on February 15, “China always respects the freedom of navigation and overflight of all countries in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, but we oppose those who threaten and harm China’s sovereignty and security under the pretext of freedom of navigation and overflight.”

Global Times reporters noted that China’s Ministry of Defense has made no official response regarding this latest development. Global Times‘ interpretation is that China is more at ease when confronting U.S. military intimidation coupled with media hype.

Source: People’s Daily Online, February 20, 2017
Japan Times, February 19, 2017

Xinhua: Chinese Military in Beijing Began Full Cessation of Commercial Services

Xinhua recently reported that the Beijing Leadership Group for the Full Cessation of the Military’s Commercial Services held its initial kick-off meeting on February 8. This marked the official beginning of the complete halt of the military providing commercial services in the Beijing area. Cai Qi, Deputy Secretary of the Beijing Party Committee, who is also the Mayor of Beijing, heads the Leadership Group. At the meeting, Cai delivered a speech that clarified the scope of the Cessation, which includes both the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Military Police. Cai emphasized that the order was based on the strategic decision that Chinese President Xi Jinping made so as to strengthen the Military’s discipline. The current policies allowed for-profit military services in the areas of communication, training, entertainment, sports, storage, science, health care, construction, real estate, and mechanical repairs. However, commercial military services have been identified as a key funding source for corruption.

Source: Xinhua, February 8, 2017

Indian Navy Refused Domestic Carrier Fighter Jets

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that the Indian Navy decisively refused a request from its domestic supplier to deploy the Tejas fighter jet <India’s indigenous fighter jet> on its aircraft carriers. The Navy officially issued a global RFI (Request for Information) looking for a new carrier fighter model. The RFI revealed a need for 57 carrier-based fighter jets for two Indian carriers. The November Navy procurement meeting vetoed the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas due to the lack of critical capabilities that the Navy requires. The RFI requires the candidates to have all-day, all-weather, and air-to-ground combat capabilities. There are other requirements on refueling, electronic warfare, and reconnaissance capabilities. The RFI also stated that the delivery should start in three years and should be completed within three years thereafter. To comply with the government’s “Made in India” policy, the RFI asked the bidder whether establishing a manufacturing center in India was an option. The Indian Navy currently uses the Mig-29K for its carriers.

Source: Sina, February 1, 2017

Duowei: New Navy Nominations of “Dark Horses” Sends an Important Signal

At the beginning of 2017, the People’s Liberation Army underwent big personnel changes that surprised outside observers. First, the Chinese Navy commanders of all the three major fleets have been replaced. Then, for the first time, the commander-in-chief of the combat region was promoted from the Navy. This series of personnel changes sends two signals: First, China’s southern combat region, that is, the South China Sea, will become the main strategic focus. Second, one of the objectives of the 2017 military reform is to highlight three-dimensional warfare.
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Global Times: Shen Jinlong Promoted to Navy Commander

Global Times recently reported that Shen Jinlong was mentioned in Chinese Naval News as the Navy Commander. This means Wu Shengli is no longer the Navy Commander and Shen Jinlong was promoted to this position very recently. Shen was previously the Commander of the South China Sea Fleet. Other than some of China’s military founding generals, Shen is the first one promoted to Navy Commander directly from the position of fleet commander. Shen never had any experience in the Chinese military’s central command. However, Shen has been commanding the South China Sea Fleet during the period when the South China Sea has been the most heated region for potential conflicts among many countries. Shen also commanded the Joint Exercise of the three major fleets in July last year. Shen’s South Fleet confronted the United States Navy three times before and, not long ago, managed the incident of capturing the U.S. unmanned vessel. He was also the commander of the Chinese Fleet that participated in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) that the United States led in Hawaii in 2014. That Fleet visited the U.S. San Diego Naval Base afterwards. Shen served as the president the Naval Academy of Commanding between 2011 and 2014. The Academy is the top academy of the Chinese Navy.

Source: Global Times, January 20, 2017

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