Threat From Russian and Chinese Warplanes Mounts

Chinese and Russian warplanes have been increasingly aggressive intercepting U.S. military aircraft and patrolling near America’s West Coast, prompting the Air Force’s top combat officer to label their provocations one of his top worries.

Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, who leads Air Combat Command, said in an interview with USA TODAY that meeting the challenge from the Russian and Chinese to flights in international airspace is essential but dangerous . . .

Both countries are intent on expanding their spheres of influence — Russia in eastern Europe and the Pacific with China focusing much of its effort over the disputed South China Sea.

“Their intent is to get us not to be there,” Carlisle said. “So that the influence in those international spaces is controlled only by them. My belief is that we cannot allow that to happen. We have to continue to operate legally in international airspace and international waterways. We have to continue to call them out when they are being aggressive and unsafe.”

The stakes are high. Aggressive intercepts of U.S. patrol planes run the risk of mid-air collisions that would escalate tensions among nuclear powers. (Read more from “Threat From Russian and Chinese Warplanes Mounts” HERE)

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Tensions Rising With China After Near Collision

To say the bilateral relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China is ‘complex’ might just be the ultimate of understatements.

Consider the facts: Beijing and Washington enjoy rich historic and cultural ties that date back generations. Over 300,000 Chinese students today attend American universities, only adding to the richness and cultural diversity of these important institutions. And most important of all, the U.S.-China bilateral trade relationship is worth over $591 Billion and rising.

Bearing in mind how much both sides gain from a productive and strong partnership, many in Washington—and certainly many around the world—hoped that strong ties would serve as a springboard towards Beijing’s “peaceful rise.”

Indeed, China’s economy is now the second largest by measure of gross domestic product (ranked number one if you consider purchasing power parity) and has only fueled hopes of Beijing becoming what is popularly termed a “responsible stakeholder”—that China, with a ‘stake’ in the stability of the international system thanks to strong global economic ties, would follow widely accepted international relations norms and practices.

Cooperation on areas of shared and mutual interest would be emphasized with a clear hope any areas of competition—with a clear understanding that there would be competition in multiple domains—would not derail or weaken what had been accomplished.

Sadly, such hopes have not transcended into reality.

Unfortunately for the United States and its allies in Asia, it seems Beijing has decided to undertake a very different direction in its foreign policy and security goals over the last several years—one that very well undermines the very peace and security Asia has known for decades, the very bedrock of the region’s awe inspiring economic transformation.

In what can only be described as an arch of instability stretching North from the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands all the way to the very southern edges of the South China Sea and now moving west to what is commonly referred to the Second Island Chain, Beijing has decided that an aggressive policy of slowly but surely weakening the status quo serves its interests.

And Chinese actions clearly demonstrate the above approach. In just the last several years (and far from a comprehensive list), Beijing has sought to enforce lines drawn over vast expanses of the South China Sea along with building islands in this hotly contested area, declared an Air-Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea without any prior warning along with booting regional allies like the Philippines out of disputed reefs far closer to the Philippines than China.

The goal, many would argue, is to dominate Asia, but more importantly, displace the United States as the preeminent power in the region.

In fact, it now seems America, along with its allies and partners, are slowly moving towards a much more intense security competition with China in the months and years to come, the consequences of which cannot be simply swept aside—especially considering Washington and Beijing both have nuclear weapons.

Sadly, recent headlines only prove Beijing’s aggressive actions throughout the region could spark a superpower clash that has not been seen in decades.

On Tuesday, a U.S. EP-3 Orion aircraft flying in international airspace over the South China Sea was approached by two Chinese advanced J-11 fighter jets.

While close monitoring of a military aircraft or naval vessel in international space is certainly a standard practice this interaction was anything but normal. Chinese aviators came within 50 feet of the U.S. plane, prompting the pilot to descend several thousand feet out of safety considerations.

Sound familiar? It should, as China has utilized this playbook before.

In 2014, a Chinese fighter jet came dangerously close to a P-8 U.S. surveillance plane and preformed a barrel roll over it. According to reports, “the Chinese J-11 fighter passed the P-8 Poseidon at 90 degrees, with its belly toward the U.S. aircraft to show off its weapons.”

Thankfully, recent incidents like the ones described above have not led to any injuries or deaths—but that has not always been the case.

Back in 2001, an American EP-3 aircraft collided with a Chinese J-8 fighter jet. The pilot of the J-8 was killed while the U.S. aircraft was forced to undertake an emergency landing in China on Hainan Island. A tense standoff ensued. Thankfully the U.S. crew was released weeks later.

When one considers carefully incidents like the above combined with Beijing’s clear attempts to alter the status quo, it is vital that Washington respond accordingly to not only reinforce America’s commitment to the region but demonstrate clear American leadership.

There are two clear ways to ensure China understands American resolve despite its constant testing of the international order in Asia.

First, Washington must ensure and forge deeper relations with other nations in East Asia—especially important allies. As explained in The Heritage Foundation’s recent Solutions 2016 report:

The U.S. has five treaty allies in the Asia–Pacific region (Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and Thailand). The U.S. should be unequivocal in its commitment to mutual defense under these treaties. The U.S. should engage these and other, non-ally nations in the region so that they do not perceive China as the sole game in town.

Also, considering that China is using military instruments of power to push back against America’s place in the region, maintaining a strong U.S. military presence is vital—in fact, it should be strengthened:

U.S. Navy and Coast Guard shipbuilding and modernization programs should be fully funded. The U.S. should also invest in long-range power projection systems (such as unmanned aerial vehicles, bombers, and nuclear attack submarines) and other systems that would counter efforts to deny U.S. forces access to the region or interfere with the freedom of the seas. In addition, the U.S. should maintain robust bases in the region to support U.S. forces.

Clearly the above only serves as a down payment in what can only be part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure China’s rise does not become Asia’s nightmare.

It is clear that only Washington has the power to balance Beijing and keep its increasing assertiveness in check. While America will certainly work with China in areas of cooperation which are certainly vast, Beijing must know Washington will resist any attempts to alter the status-quo while preserving the peace, security and freedom of the Asia-Pacific region. (For more from the author of “Tensions Rising With China After Near Collision” please click HERE)

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China Denies Shipping Marinated Human Flesh in Cans to Be Sold as FOOD in Africa

China has strenuously denied reports that it’s routinely canning human flesh and selling it as food to African nations.

A top official has dismissed reports in Zambia which queried the provenance of some ‘meat products’ being shipped from China to the African continent.

In the media reports, an unnamed Zambian woman living in China reportedly issued warnings to Africans not to eat corned beef.

She claimed that dead human bodies were being collected and marinated before being canned and labelled as corned beef for human consumption .

But the statement, issued by the Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, Yang Youming, blames people spreading “malicious” rumours. (Read more from “China Denies Shipping Marinated Human Flesh in Cans to Be Sold as FOOD in Africa” HERE)

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Wife of Chinese Church Leader Reportedly Buried Alive and Killed After Protesting Church’s Demolition

summit-cross-225578_960_720 (1)Two members of a church demolition team in China’s central Henan province buried a house church leader and his wife alive Thursday when the pair tried to prevent the destruction of their church, according to local news sources. Though the church leader managed to escape, his wife suffocated to death before she could be freed.

The couple had petitioned the destruction of their church, China Aid reported Monday.

On April 14, a government-sponsored company sent workers to bulldoze Beitou Church in Zhumadian. The order came after a local developer expressed interest in the church’s valuable land.

When the demolition crew showed up, Li Jiangong, the church leader, and his wife, Ding Cuimei, stepped in front of the bulldozers to protest the demolition.

“Bury them alive for me,” one of the workers said, according to China Aid. “I will be responsible for their lives.” (Read more from “Wife of Chinese Church Leader Reportedly Buried Alive and Killed After Protesting Church’s Demolition” HERE)

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Why China’s Economy Is on Borrowed Time

maxresdefault (93)On Friday China announced its economy had expanded at a 6.7 percent rate in the first quarter of 2016. While this is the slowest growth since the depths of the great recession, it conveniently remains within the government’s official target of 6.5-7.0 percent. Unlike all developed countries, there will be no revisions to this figure in the coming months or quarters.

There were two factors that kept Beijing’s growth within its target range: Easy money and the property market. The level of “total social financing,” or borrowing, rose 16 percent in March from a year ago.

This was fueled by the bond issuance by local governments as part of its bailout program and investment in ‘fixed asset investment’ which is largely composed of infrastructure and factories.

With total debt approaching 300 percent of GDP and massive overcapacity in many industries such as coal, cement, chemicals and refining, this development only exacerbates China’s serious structural problems.

The property market witnessed a strong recovery in China’s largest cities, causing property investment to rise at its fastest pace in a year. Outside the largest four cities, however, where 95 percent of home sales occurred, the housing sector remains sluggish. With an estimated 70 million inventory of unsold homes, China’s housing construction rebound does nothing to begin resolving this problem.

If this pattern sounds eerily familiar, it should. Debt issuance, investment in factories and the property market have been consistently the engines for growth since the economic crisis and beyond. China’s economic plan to move toward a more market-oriented policy, such as improving property rights, financial sector liberalization and Hukou reform (giving the massive migrant work force basic rights in urban areas) have been slow in development or nonexistent.

How long can this trend last? As the well-known economist Herb Stein once said, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” (For more from the author of “Why China’s Economy Is on Borrowed Time” please click HERE)

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Chinese Scientists Genetically Modify Human Embryos—Again

Just one year after scientists in China made history by modifying the DNA of human embryos, a second team of Chinese researchers has done it again. Using CRISPR/Cas9, the researchers introduced HIV-resistance into the embryos, showcasing the tremendous potential for gene-editing.

In that earlier work, the Chinese scientists modified a gene responsible for a fatal blood disorder, but the embryos were quickly destroyed after the experiment. It was a watershed moment in biotechnology, showcasing the tremendous potential of CRISPR—a powerful gene editing tool—to alter our offspring at the genetic level. Should this technology ever reach the clinical stage, it could be used to eliminate all sorts of genetic diseases, but it could also be used to introduce entirely new capacities.

Now, as reported in Nature News, a research team led by Yong Fan at Guangzhou Medical University has used CRISPR to introduce a beneficial mutation that cripples an immune-cell gene called CCR5. Some humans naturally have this built-in immunity to HIV, making it impossible for the virus to infiltrate human immune cells.

For the study, the researchers collected 213 fertilized human eggs, donated by 87 patients. All of the embryos were unsuitable for in vitro fertilization because they contained an extra set of chromosomes. The researchers destroyed the embryos after three days. (Read more from “Chinese Scientists Genetically Modify Human Embryos—Again” HERE)

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China Acquiring U.S.A. One Company at a Time

What’s the best way for a country like China to exert its influence over the U.S. economy? Acquire American-owned companies like Chinese-owned Haier just did when they purchased General Electric’s (GE) appliance business for $5.4 billion . . .

America can no longer claim to be an independent nation when our manufacturing base is under foreign ownership or foreign control. After all, ownership equals control, and control equals sovereignty. We lose our sovereignty as a nation when foreign companies buy our land, factories, and companies.

How so? Because the more Chinese and other foreign companies establish ownership of American assets, plants and factories, the more they have the right to demand how our U.S economy is run, because how it is run affects them, too.

So since GE’s appliance business (not the entire company) is now under foreign ownership and therefore foreign control, what options are left for patriotic American consumers who want to keep profits, jobs, and tax revenue within the borders of the United States?

Whirlpool just happens to be the only remaining major American-owned appliance company in the United States, and we need to support them with our consumer dollars when we shop for appliances. Whirlpool owns such popular brands as Maytag, Amana, KitchenAid, and Jenn-Air. (Read more from “China Acquiring U.S.A. One Company at a Time” HERE)

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China, Russia Planning Space Attacks on U.S. Satellites

China and Russia are preparing to attack and disrupt critical U.S. military and intelligence satellites in a future conflict with crippling space missile, maneuvering satellite, and laser attacks, senior Pentagon and intelligence officials told Congress on Tuesday.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the Air Force Space Command, said the threat to U.S. space systems has reached a new tipping point, and after years of post-Cold War stagnation foreign states are focused on curbing U.S. space systems.

“Adversaries are developing kinetic, directed-energy, and cyber tools to deny, degrade, and destroy our space capabilities,” Hyten said in a prepared statement for a hearing of the House Armed Service strategic forces subcommittee.

“They understand our reliance on space, and they understand the competitive advantage we derive from space. The need for vigilance has never been greater,” the four-star general said.

Hyten said U.S. Global Positioning System satellites remain vulnerable to attack or jamming. The satellites’ extremely accurate time-keeping feature is even more critical to U.S. guided weapons than their ability to provide navigation guidance, he said. (Read more from “China, Russia Planning Space Attacks on U.S. Satellites” HERE)

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The U.S. Is Heading Toward a Dangerous Showdown With China

The Obama administration is moving toward what could be a dangerous showdown with China over the South China Sea.

The confrontation has been building for the past three years, as China has constructed artificial islands off its southern coast and installed missiles and radar in disputed waters, despite U.S. warnings. It could come to a head this spring, when an arbitration panel in The Hague is expected to rule that China is making “excessive” claims about its maritime sovereignty.

What makes this dispute so explosive is that it pits an American president who needs to affirm his credibility as a strong leader against a risk-taking Chinese president who has shown disregard for U.S. military power and who faces potent political enemies at home.

“This isn’t Pearl Harbor, but if people on all sides aren’t careful, it could be ‘The Guns of August,’” says Kurt Campbell, former assistant secretary of state for Asia, referring to the chain of miscalculations that led to World War I. The administration, he says, is facing “another red line moment where it has to figure out how to carry through on past warnings.” (Read more from “The U.S. Is Heading Toward a Dangerous Showdown With China” HERE)

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Unease Over Chinese Investors Buying Farms Down Under

With Chinese buyers eyeing farm land in Australia and New Zealand, authorities are coming under growing pressure to balance the need for foreign investment against accusations of “selling out.”

Currently up for sale is the S. Kidman and Co. Limited cattle empire — a vast Outback estate which covers 1.3 percent of Australia’s land mass and has an average herd of 185,000 cattle.

Treasurer Scott Morrison blocked its sale to all foreign investors in November, including from China, saying it was contrary to the national interest given part of the holding overlaps with a military testing range.

But Morrison recently approved the sale of Australia’s largest dairy farming business to a Chinese buyer, despite criticism that businessman Lu Xianfeng’s Aus$280 million (US$210 million) purchase of Tasmania’s Van Diemen’s Land Company could impact food security.

In a statement headed “Sell Out”, independent Senator Nick Xenophon labelled the decision “wrong, wrong, wrong” saying Morrison failed to give sufficient weight to an alternative Australian bid. (Read more from “Unease Over Chinese Investors Buying Farms Down Under” HERE)

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