Tag Archives: China

Anger and Tensions Grow as North Korea Carries out ‘Biggest’ Nuclear Test

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World leaders on Friday reacted with anger after North Korea carried out its fifth, and reportedly biggest, nuclear test.

The latest test was announced on state TV after a 5.3 magnitude tremor was detected near the Punggye-ri underground nuclear site. Estimates of the explosive yield of the latest blast have varied, with South Korea’s military reporting that it was about 10 kilotonnes, enough to make it the North’s “strongest nuclear test ever.” Other experts have disclosed that initial indications suggest 20 kilotonnes or more. The bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima in 1045 had a yield of about 15 kilotonnes.

In its statement announcing the underground test, North Korea disclosed that it was aimed at further developing the miniaturisation of nuclear warheads so that they could be mounted on ballistic missiles. In its statement, the North disclosed that it could not produce “at will, and as many as it wants, a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power.” While the North ahs previously made claims on “miniaturised” nuclear warheads, they have never been independently confirmed. North Korea also expressed anger at the “racket of threat and sanctions…kicked up by the US-led hostile forces” to deny a “sovereign state’s exercise of the right to self-defense.” The country has also been angered by a US and South Korean plan to install an anti-missile defense system in the South and by the allies’ massive annual joint military exercises, which are still taking place. The test comes on the country’s National Day, which celebrates the founding of the current regime and which is often used in order to show its military strength.

Shortly after the confirmation of the nuclear test, South Korea accused North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of “maniacal recklessness,” adding that “such provocation will further accelerate its path to self-destruction.” China also “firmly opposed” the test, while Japan “protested adamantly,” adding that North Korea is an “outlaw nation in the neighbourhood.” Russia disclosed in a statement “we insist that the North Korean side stop its dangerous escapades and unconditionally implement all resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. Meanwhile the United States warned of “serious consequences,” including “new sanctions,” with President Barack Obama stating that he had agreed with South Korea and Japan to work with the UN Security Council “to vigorously implement existing measures imposed in previous resolutions, and to take additional significant steps, including new sanctions.” The United Nations Security Council is due to meet later behind closed doors in order to discuss the issue. Such nuclear tests are banned by the UN, however this is Pyongyang’s second test in 2016.

Since its first test in 2006, the isolated communist country has been targeted by five sets of UN sanctions. Talks involving world and regional powers have failed to rein in the North’s nuclear programme. In recent months, the North has conducted a series of ballistic missile launches and has in the past often stated that its aim is to hit US targets. The North’s recent actions have tested its relations with its only ally, China. China condemned January’s test and repeated that on Friday after the latest. China’s foreign ministry stated that it would lodge a diplomatic protest and urged North Korea to avoid further action that would worsen the situation.  Analysts have also reported that Kim Jong-un’s rhetoric is increasingly becoming aggressive.

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Sino-Indian Relations: Between Tensions and Rivalry

Posted on in China, India title_rule


In 1962, China and India were at war. The conflict was a territorial dispute about two portions of the border: the Askai Chin in the western part and the Arunachal Pradesh eastward. India considered these areas as part of its national territory due to the frontier legacy of the British Indian Empire. China, one its hand, rejects the legitimacy of these “colonial” plots and believes that the two areas are an extension of its regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. Winning the war, Beijing had imposed its sovereignty over Aksai Chin while withdrawing troops from Arunachal Pradesh, allowing New Delhi to re-establish its authority. Since then, the status quo prevails but the dispute keeps poisoning the bilateral relationship of the two asian giants.


Territorial tensions: towards a peaceful border?

In September 1993, China and India signed an agreement “to maintain peace and tranquillity” along their disputed Himalayan border. This agreement between the two Asian giants – which required both sides to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC), that is to maintain the status quo pending a peaceful, final boundary settlement and to reduce military forces along the border in accordance with the principle of “mutual and equal security” – has been described as a “landmark agreement” and “a significant step forward” in their uneasy relations since the 1950s.

However, incidents might still occur within the border. In April 2013, in the border between the Chinese Tibet and the Indian Ladakh, an incident happened between the two. In April, around 50 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army entered in a territory the Indian considers their territory. Chinese militaries established a camp of about 5 tents whereas the Indian soldiers established their position about 300 meters away. The face to face lasted about 3 weeks and stopped in May, when an agreement has been signed by both parties, requiring each side to withdraw from the disputed area. Hence, this Himalayan region seems to remain a source of unsolved tension between India and China.


Maritime rivalry

In the South China Sea (SCS), the rivalry between India and China is also a current issue. Indeed, SCS is a multi-party maritime dispute involving China, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Of the 3.5 million sq. km. area of the SCS, almost 70 per cent is disputed. Even though India does not claim any of the islands of this area, India, under Vietnam’s request, explores oil within the region. China opposes this oil exploration in the SCS) by calling the area of exploration a ‘disputed’ area and asserting ‘Chinese sovereignty’ over the SCS. It has been continuously expressing its reservation in this regard in the last few years. India has taken note of the Chinese reservation and has carefully gone ahead in signing a few agreements with Vietnam for oil exploration in the SCS.

These tensions over the SCS seem to be not only about oil but also about influence within the region of South East Asia. China is in conflict with all the other parties involved in the SCS and numerous incidents happen with ships and fishermen boats within this region. India, on the other hand, seems to use this conflict to enhance its influence by supporting China’s rivals in the SCS. In addition, India is able to send warships into the South China Sea and that can make China nervous.


Sino-Pakistani relations: a source of tension

The cooperation between China and Pakistan is another source of tension and of preoccupation for India. Indeed, Pakistan is the historical rival of India and the territorial dispute over the Kashmir region has been unresolved for the last half century.

Started in 1962, China and Pakistan got closer whereas Pakistan was the historical rival of India. In 1963, both countries signed a Border Agreement. The cooperation is deep and various: for example, the Pakistani army’s equipment is 60% Chinese. Also, China is currently engaged on a variety of investment projects and infrastructural building activities in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), and these will be expanded under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Hence, Chinese officials call their investment and activities in POK as ‘livelihood project’; not being ‘political’, they are just ‘commercial’ in nature. Until now, China has maintained a ‘neutral’ position on the Kashmir dispute in recent times, particularly after the Kargil conflict, terming it as a ‘bilateral historical dispute’ between India and Pakistan. China’s presence in PoK has emerged is an issue between India and China. China’s massive commercial presence in PoK through CPEC would render China’s formal neutrality over the Kashmir issue irrelevant.


Two giant’s partnerships

Even though tensions occur within the two countries, many partnerships and diplomatic gestures illustrate their relations. Several agreements have been signed between Shanghai and New Delhi such as the India-China Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in 2005. The May 2015’s agreements is another example: China and India signed in Shanghai 21 commercial and cooperation agreements for an amount of 22 billion of dollars. From an economic point of view, commercial trades have significantly increased: from 3 billion in 2000 to 61,7 billion in 2010. China became one of the first economic partners of India.

These agreements also shows the diplomatic relations between China and India with different agreements such as: “(…) with both sides showing mutual respect and sensitivity to each other’s concerns, interests and aspiration” or The two sides believed that enhanced military ties are conducive to building mutual trust and confidence”.

Moreover, the respective leaders have been welcomed in the other country several times in the last decades.

(The full Joint Statement here: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=121755)


Battle for spheres of influence

India and China do play a great game of sorts, competing for economic and military influence in Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. But these places are generally within the Greater Indian subcontinent, so that China is taking the struggle to India’s backyard. The whole map of Asia now spreads out in front of defence planners in New Delhi and Beijing, as it becomes apparent that the two nations with the largest populations in the world are encroaching upon each other’s spheres of influence. And so, India and China are eyeing each other warily.

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China’s Offensive Cyber Warfare

Posted on in China, Cyber title_rule

Hacking is has been a rising trend within the PRC since the Internet entered the country in 1994 and on November 8th 2012 the Chinese president officially announced, “China will speed up full military IT applications”. China alone accounts for the largest national population of Internet users—some 300 million, nearly one-fifth of the global number. Ever since the 90’s, creation of a lot of hacking groups: The Green Corps, The Hong Kong Blonds and the most famous recent one: the Red Honker Union They created an important hacking culture in China. Some evidences link civilian hackers to the government and the States’ creation of a cyber army. Since 1998, according to Timothy Thomas of the U.S Foreign Military Studies Office, the Chinese army has even recruited civilians into its ‘net militia units’ (Militia Information Technology Battalions), the most famous being the unit 61398.

The State cyber army: unit 61398

As everything on the Internet, it is always difficult to prove the origin of a cyber attack. Nevertheless, the company Mandiant has investigated since 2004 the cyber capacity of China, especially through the unit 61398 considered as a part of the Communist Party of China under the Central Military Commission in the GSD 3rd department (2nd Bureau). Since 2006, a rising number of cyber attacks are believed to have come from this unit and most of them targeted the U.S.

The four most important sectors attacked are: Information Technology, Transportation, High-Tech Electronics and Financial Services. China seems to base its cyber warfare on a method often referred as “Acupuncture warfare”: based on attacking critical IT nodes or pressure points, this method capitalizes on optimizing effects on adversary vulnerabilities and follows the principle of acupuncture practiced for medicine—identifying points that serve as “a tunnel, or access route, to the deeper circulatory channels within”. One application of this theory would be finding the key choke points or supply chain vulnerabilities for an enemy military deployments and influencing them by attacking the supporting civilian infrastructure.

Intents and motivation of the cyber attacks

The first reason for China’s cyber offensive is to gain increased military knowledge through cyber espionage: China also has an interest in accelerating its military development since it is still behind the West, especially the U.S. who often has the lead for new military technology. Different cyber attacks can be quoted as examples, the most famous being the “Titain Rain” in 2007: a massive cyber attack against United States defence contractor computer networks (10 to 20 terabytes including Lockheed Martin and NASA) believed to come from China. Furthermore, numerous attackers originating in China have been accused of infiltrating government computers of numerous countries: the United States, Britain, France, Germany, South Korea, and Taiwan.

A second motivation is to make economic gains by stealing technological process. China’s general technological level is also behind that of the United States, which gives it an increased incentive for industrial espionage in order to achieve economic advantage. Numerous attacks believed to come from China supported this theory: the theft of data from U.S. network security company RSA Security in 2011. Moreover, in December 2007, the director-general of the British Security Service (MI5) informed 300 major UK companies that they were under constant attack from “Chinese state organisations”.

One of the last reasons for China to use cyber offensive is to deter other States by infiltrating their critical infrastructure. It puts the other States on notice that any technological edge it believes it enjoys will not be functional in a conflict with China. It also reminds China’s restive domestic audience that unfettered technological advancement alone does not bring security. Deterrence and possible military actions for this reason could be launching probes to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited in armed conflict. Two main examples of this reason is Operation Aurora in 2009 where the U.S company Google’s source code has been stolen along with the attack of Denial of service on the White House website in 1999 after the U.S attacked the Chinese Embassy.

The characteristics of cyber warfare

  • Anonymous: China has an interest in avoiding exposure to political and military pressure from the West and the United States. Chinese embassy representative Geng Shuang maintains that the allegations against China are groundless, stating: The Chinese government prohibits online criminal offenses of all forms, including cyber attacks, and has done what it can to combat such activities in accordance with Chinese law.” The Chinese Defense Ministry in January 2013 stated,It is unprofessional and groundless to accuse the Chinese military of launching cyber attacks without any conclusive evidence.” Here lies a paradox with one of China’s reason for cyber offensive: anonymity prevent from any possible deterrence: China has to find the equilibrium between anonymous to avoid exposure and famous to create deterrence.
  • Cheap: cyber weapons are cheap to build and to use.
  • Diverse: cyber weapons can target multiple types of system.
  • Timeframe: cyber weapons can act quickly and against multiple targets at the same time.
  • Flexible: unlike nukes, a virus or any type of cyber weapon can be used multiple times.

China’s offensive cyber: information warfare

Fitting in the Sun Tzu’s spirit of the need of information, China focus on cyber capabilities as part of its strategy of national asymmetric warfare. The Chinese military and their civilian oversees have hit upon a military strategy that aims all at once to close the gap between U.S. and Chinese technological-military prowess. Hence, China considers the cyber domain to be a battle arena.

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Latest Report Indicates More Journalist Hostages but Fewer Imprisoned in 2015

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In its annual report, which was published on 15 December, media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) disclosed that while fewer journalists were imprisoned this year, the number held hostage increased, noting that China and Egypt were named the worst nations for jailing media workers.

According to the RSF, the number of journalists put in prison fell fourteen percent in 2015 from last year. Furthermore, fifty-four professional journalists were held hostage in 2015, an increase of 35 percent from the last year. The reports points to Syria as the country with the highest number of reporters in the hands of extremist or criminal groups at 26. The report also indicates that the so-called Islamic State (IS) group alone holds eighteen journalists, largely in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

The report also described China as “the world’s biggest prison for journalists,” followed by Egypt, adding that Iran and Eritrea were also condemned for jailing members of the press.

RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire noted that “a full-blown hostage industry has developed in certain conflict zones.” He highlighted Yemen as being the newest problem country for reporters, with thirty-three journalists kidnapped by Houthi militias and al-Qaeda militants in 2015, compared with just two in the previous year. According to Deloire, “we are very alarmed by the increase in the number of reporters held hostage in 2015. The phenomenon is above all linked to the big surge in abductions of journalists in Yemen.”

Meanwhile lawless Libya had the largest number of journalists reported missing this year. With eight members of the press unaccounted for, the RSF noted that the political climate “makes it harder to conduct investigations to locate missing journalists.”

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Chinese National Likely Kidnapped by Islamic State

Posted on in China title_rule

On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry announced Friday that a Chinese national, who was reported as being held hostage by the Islamic State (IS) group, appears to be one of its missing citizens. Earlier this week, IS, which controls territory in Iraq and Syria, published two photographs of men whom they called “prisoners” in its English-language magazine Dabiq. In the magazine, the militant group indicated that one of the hostages was from Norway while the other was a Chinese man identified as Fan Jingui. It shows Fan, who has been identified as a 50-year-old “freelance consultant” from Beijing, against a black background wearing a yellow top. He provides a telegram number for anyone who wishes to pay his ransom. It remains unclear where he is being held and the magazine did not give a ransom amount.

Speaking on Friday to reporters at a regular press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei disclosed that “after initial verification of the relevant media reports of the two hostages, one of them matches the characteristics of a Chinese citizen who has gone missing overseas.” Hong has disclosed that China had launched an emergency response mechanism and reiterated that the Chinese government is firmly opposed to violence against innocent civilians.

In the past, Chinese citizens have been held hostage overseas before, including in Africa and in Pakistan. According to Pakistani officials, a Chinese tourist kidnapped in Pakistan by the Taliban more than a year ago was freed in August, as a result of an intelligence operation.

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