31 May 2016

Think Tank: Sea, air and land updates (31-May-2016)

Zumwalt class Destroyer
(Image: Flickr User - Official U.S. Navy Page)
Ashleigh Sharp and Lachlan Wilson

Sea State

Take a step into the future and have a quick look at the US Navy’s new railgun, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal. Using electromagnetic rails, the high-powered weapon fires an 11kg projectile at Mach 6, which can penetrate through seven steel plates leaving a 5-inch hole. Currently, the only class of Navy ship with the electrical energy required to fire a railgun is the US Navy’s new Zumwalt-class destroyer. For those wanting to learn more about the ship, USNI News recently published an in-depth feature on the challenges and opportunities of the Zumwalt.

With a new generation of long-range missiles—like China’s DF-21Carrier Killer’—potentially spelling the end of the US’s aircraft carriers’ time on the front line and capability concerns regarding the readiness of the USN’s strike fighter squadrons, things are looking a bit tough for the US Navy. But it doesn’t stop there—the USN is undertaking a complex prioritisation of its operations and maintenance schedules due to a mid-year review of funding that discovered an US$848 million shortfall.

In a fresh Natuna Islands incident, last Friday the Indonesian Navy arrested a Chinese fishing vessel, the Gui Bei Yu 27088, and its eight crew members for illegally fishing inside Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone. The Indonesian Navy fired shots at the trawler when it refused to stop illegally fishing, with the assertive action ‘made to show the world that Indonesia will take firm action against ships that violate our territory,’ according to Western fleet command spokesman Maj Budi Amin. It’s the second significant engagement in the South China Sea between Indonesia and China this year, with the events working to elevate tensions between the two countries.

AUS: Mammoth Milestone for KC-30A in Operation OKRA

A RAAF KC-30A refuels a RAAF E-7A via the Boom system
A staggering 50 million pounds of fuel has been offloaded by the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) deployed for Operation OKRA.

That figure equates to 22,679 tonnes of fuel, or more than 28 million litres, offloaded for RAAF and Coalition aircraft in the Middle East Region since September 2014.

Flying as part of Air Task Group (ATG) 630 for Operation OKRA, the KC-30A reached the milestone figure on April 27 during a sortie with a pair of RAAF F/A-18 Hornets.

As of May 2016, the ATG630 Air Mobility Element has conducted 631 sorties with the KC-30A, and flown more than 5,000 hours.

Commander of ATG630, Air Commodore Antony Martin, said the KC-30A MRTT was an essential enabler for Operation OKRA missions.

USA: Teamwork, training key to USNS Mercy MEDEVAC of South Korean sailor

By MC1 Elizabeth Merriam, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs

An MH-60S Seahawk assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 performs a medical evacuation of a sailor from Republic of Korea Submarine SSK Lee Eok Gi (SS 071) to hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19). (U.S. Navy/MC1 Elizabeth Merriman) >>

PACIFIC OCEAN - The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) conducted a medical evacuation May 27 to assist a Republic of Korea sailor in need of medical attention. Pacific Partnership 2016 Mission Commander, Capt. Tom Williams, praised the work of the entire mission team to complete the MEDEVAC successfully.

“I appreciate the flexibility and teamwork of the [Military Sealift Command] crew who worked hard this morning to get us in position, as well as our HSC 21 teammates who went out and conducted the personnel transfer with professionalism and safety,” said Williams.

Embarked Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 launched an MH-60S helicopter from Mercy to recover the sailor and returned him to the hospital ship. Crew members facing the challenge of airlifting the sailor from the surfaced submarine relied on training and past experience to find the right procedure to transport him safely.

News Story: China risks 'Great Wall of self-isolation' - Pentagon chief

Fiery Cross Reef (Sep 2015)
China risks creating a "Great Wall of self-isolation" through its continued military expansion in the South China Sea and its hacks on US companies, Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said Friday.

Carter's remarks came ahead of his trip next week to an Asian security summit in Singapore, where China's actions in the contested waterway will likely dominate discussions.

"China's actions could erect a Great Wall of self-isolation," Carter told graduating officers at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

"Countries across the region -- allies, partners, and the unaligned -- are voicing concerns publicly and privately at the highest levels."

China has in recent years dredged reefs, islets and other maritime features and built these up into larger islands capable of sustaining a military presence.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Uganda angered at claim of halt to N.Korea military ties

Uganda hit back Sunday at South Korea's claim that Kampala had ordered a halt to military ties with North Korea in line with UN sanctions, denying it had made such an announcement.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye's spokesman had earlier Sunday told reporters that Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni had ordered officials to honour the latest sanctions during a summit in Kampala.

Spokesman Jung Yeon-Guk quoted Museveni as saying: "We instructed officials to faithfully enforce the UN Security Council resolutions, including the halt of cooperation with North Korea in the security, military and police sectors."

But Ugandan authorities responded swiftly, saying there had been no "public declaration" to this effect.

"That is not true. It is propaganda," deputy government spokesman Shaban Bantariza told AFP.

"Even if (such an order) was to be made by the president, it cannot be public. It cannot be therefore true and it can't happen. That is international politics at play," he added.

Dozens of North Korean military and police officials are believed to be working in Uganda as military trainers under a cooperation programme.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Chinese navy ships in Tanzania share counter-piracy experience

Chinese Warships (File Photo)
ARUSHA, Tanzania, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Three Chinese navy ships on Monday docked at Tanzania's Dar es Salaam Port for a four-day visit, aimed at sharing experience with their Tanzanian counterparts in how to curb piracy in the Indian Ocean.

A welcome ceremony was held at the port, attended by Chinese diplomats and Tanzanian Navy officials.

Speaking soon after receiving the Chinese navy, the Major General of the Tanzania People's Defence Force, Simon Mumwi, praised the relations between Tanzania and China, which dates back to 1960s.

He described China as a true partner as it has been at the forefront in supporting Tanzania in different areas, including security.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Australian warship visits southern Vietnam

HMAS ANZAC in Sydney Harbour (File Photo)
HO CHI MINH CITY, May 30 (Xinhua) -- A Royal Australian Navy warship, HMAS Anzac, with a crew of 215 officers and sailors on board, arrived here Monday, kicking off its four-day goodwill visit.

The ship and its crew were welcomed by representatives from the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, the Military Region 7, and the Navy High Command, along with those from the Australian Consulate General in the city, Vietnam News Agency reported.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: War not a solution between India, Pakistan, says Islamabad's envoy

NEW DELHI, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan's envoy to India Abdul Basit on Monday said that war is not a solution between the two countries and bilateral issues can be resolved only through talks.

"Only foolish people would consider war as a solution to the problems. Five months have passed since Pathankot (attack) but the dialogue process between India and Pakistan has not resumed," he told the media in the national capital.

"We hope that the dialogue process will resume, because all our issues can be resolved through talks."

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Philippine gov't holds talks with MILF in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government ended a two-day meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest Muslim rebel group, here on Monday, Malaysian media reported.

The two parties signed the Declaration of Continuity of the Partnership in the Bangsamoro Peace Process that seeks to ensure the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in the next administration, reported Malaysia's state news agency Bernama, quoting a joint statement.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Uganda calls for peaceful resolution of South China Sea dispute

KAMPALA, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Uganda has called for the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute through negotiations, honoring bilateral agreements and regional efforts.

Henry Okello Oryem, Uganda's minister of state for foreign affairs told Xinhua in an interview that although Uganda and Africa are far away from the disputed area, they have keen interest.

He said the parties involved in the dispute should not allow it to escalate.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China says not interested in any form of "Cold War" (China's View)

BEIJING, May 30 (Xinhua) -- China on Monday expressed disinterest in any form of cold war and firmly opposed anything that might threaten or harm the country's sovereignty and security.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the comments at a daily press briefing, in response to U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's remarks that China could be erecting "a Great Wall of self-isolation."

Hua said Carter's commencement speech at the U.S. Naval Academy reflected "American-style mentality" and "American-style hegemony."

"Indeed, some people on the American side have physically entered the 21st century while mentally remaining in the Cold War era," Hua said, adding that these people have "made up stories" and "found rivals and enemies everywhere around the world."

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Harsh talk from U.S. miliatry only undermines peace in Asia-Pacific (China's View)

BEIJING, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Issuing a series of harsh rhetoric lately against China's actions in the South China Sea, the U.S. military seems to be determined to turn itself into a destructive force against peace and development in the Asia Pacific.

During his speech at the U.S. Naval Academy on Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned Beijing that it was on a path to erect a "Great Wall of self-isolation."

In reasserting the right to freedom of navigation in international waters, Caters said the United States will continue to "fly, sail and operate" where law allows it, adding the Pentagon's best weapons will be deployed to the Pacific region.

Also on Wednesday, Carter claimed that the U.S. military's efforts in the Asia-Pacific region against a rising China is akin to the 50-year Cold-War standoff with the Soviet Union. It's "going to be a long campaign of firmness, and gentle but strong pushback for probably quite a number of years," he added.

Advocating U.S.-China confrontation, such rhetoric is nothing but flagrant provocations against China's maritime security interests.

The tough talk is also very dangerous and irresponsible as it can only seriously undermine the foundation of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Though tensions have been escalating in the region over recent years and huge differences remain among claimants in the South China Sea dispute, no claimant state has actually threatened to resort to force to solve the issue, as it is the common wish of all countries in the region to safeguard peace in the South China Sea.

Although some Chinese islands in the region have been illegally occupied by others, Beijing has always insisted on settling the disputes through peaceful means, and has never made such remarks as "to deploy the best weapons to the region."

As a matter of fact, China hopes the South China Sea is a sea of peace, and it has kept its door for dialogue and negotiations open all the time.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Lies and hypocrisy in South China Sea arbitration (China's View)

BEIJING, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Since when did the international community judge disputes based on the one-sided rhetoric of the so-called weaker side instead of the rights and wrongs?

Many outsiders take for granted that the Philippines filed the South China Sea dispute case with the arbitral tribunal in The Hague because it was being bullied by China.

It is understandable for the Philippines to entertain the idea that it, having less power and leverage, could not negotiate a most desirable deal out of the dispute with China bilaterally. But just because the Philippines is smaller and weaker than China does not necessarily make its claims valid.

First and foremost, by unilaterally initiating the arbitration, the Philippines not only abandoned the "Pacta sunt servanda" principle in international law, which means "agreements must be kept," but also violated China's right as a State Party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to seek a dispute settlement means of its own choice.

Accusing China of not respecting the tribunal, the Philippines has never explained why it brought the case to The Hague in 2012 when it still had an agreement to honor with China -- both countries had undertaken to resolve disputes through negotiations.

Then we come to the abuse of power by the arbitral tribunal, which doesn't even have the right to hear the case and exercise jurisdiction.

In essence, the Philippines' requests are about territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation, which are subject to general international law, not the UNCLOS. And China already made a declaration on optional exceptions in 2006 in accordance with the UNCLOS, which excluded disputes concerning maritime delimitation, historic bays or titles, as well as military and law enforcement activities from the dispute settlement procedures provided for in the convention.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China, U.S. officials to meet for annual dialogue

BEIJING, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Officials from China and the United States will hold annual meetings next week in Beijing, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesperson Monday.

The eighth China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) and the seventh China-U.S. High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) will be held on June 6 and 7, spokesperson Lu Kang announced.

The S&ED will be co-chaired by Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew present as representatives of the two heads of state.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: 56 killed in S. Philippine military operation

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines, May 30 (Xinhua) -- At least 54 militants and two soldiers were killed in an ongoing military offensive operation started last Thursday in south Philippine province of Lanao del Sur, military officials said on Monday.

The military said nine other troopers were also injured in the operation.

Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the intense operation was launched against a local terrorist group led by the Maute brothers at Barangay Ragayan, Butig town.

Tan said involved in the offensive attack were the combined military forces from the 5th Mechanized Battalion, 51st Infantry Battalion, and Philippine Air Force.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Thai government rejects plan to build southern "Thai canal"

Map of possible plans for Thai Canal
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)
BANGKOK, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The Thai deputy prime minister Monday denied the need for building a canal to link the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea in the south as it would hurt the national security.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Gen Prawit Wongsuwan reiterated that the government would not consider to dig a so-called "Khlong Thai" or Thai Canal in the southern region and to create an artificial island in Songkhla and Krabi provinces despite the proposal by the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) to give the project a new lease on life.

Prawit said that the canal project could spark conflicts between supporters and opponents, noting that any implementation with the possibility of troubling the country's stabilization will be backed away.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: S.Korea's military tracking possible DPRK ballistic missile launch

SEOUL, May 30 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's military said on Monday that it was tracking signs of possible ballistic missile launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) after a Japanese broadcaster's report on it.

An official at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) told Xinhua on the phone that it was trailing the signs of the DPRK's ballistic missile launch and has made complete preparations for possible launches.

The comments came after Japan's state broadcaster NHK reported that Japan had put its military on alert for possible DPRK ballistic missile launch in order to shoot down any projectile heading for Japan.

Japan's military reportedly advanced Aegis-equipped destroyers in the country's western waters and deployed Patriot PAC-3 anti-ballistic missile batteries in Tokyo and other areas to intercept possible projectiles flying from the DPRK.

According to South Korea's military cited by Yonhap news agency, the DPRK forces have already deployed an unidentified number of Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missiles, mounted on mobile launchers, in the DPRK's east coastal region of Wonsan.

Read the full story at Xinhua

30 May 2016

Think Tank: Australia in the South China Sea - time to act, not react (A USA View)

Tom Hanson

The rapidly changing strategic landscape in the South China Sea threatens to marginalise Australia unless the government takes positive action now to remain a relevant and influential player in the region’s strategic calculus. Positive action includes taking a much more visible and unqualified stance against Chinese territorial aggrandisement and invitations to regional powers to create a coordinated maritime domain security and surveillance regime. Perhaps most importantly, Australia must direct the ADF to undertake concrete measures (including independent FONOPs) to demonstrate that despite political differences with the current and at least one potential future US administration, Oz can be relied upon to uphold the globally accepted set of norms embodied in the phrase ‘rules-based international order.’

The passage by USS William P. Lawrence on May 10 within 12 nautical miles of Fiery Cross Reef reinforced statements by the US government that it won’t be deterred from sailing where international law allows. China’s military overreaction similarly reinforced its determination to oppose any attempt to thwart its goal of exclusive regional domination.Quartz’s Steve Mollman is just the latest commentator to predict that China’s actions are part of a concerted plan to initiate a war with the US at a time and place of its choosing.

AUS: Heavy lifters hone in on helicopter dock

Photographer: LSIS Helen Frank (© Australian DoD)
LSIS Helen Frank (author and photographer), POIS Yuri Ramsey (photographer)

Leading Seaman Aviation Support Michael Wenzel directs a Chinook CH-47F aircraft, from the 5th Aviation Regiment in Townsville, as it makes an approach to land on HMAS Canberra while the ship is alongside in her home port of Sydney >>

Amphibious ship, HMAS Canberra has conducted deck and handling trials with two Chinook helicopters alongside in Sydney recently.

The aircraft, from the 5th Aviation Regiment, based in Townsville will go on to conduct first of class flight trials with Canberra's sister ship, HMAS Adelaide.

Canberra's Aviation Operations Officer, Major Paul Lewis, said the two aircraft were on ship for approximately a week.

Industry: Raytheon Australia announces Australian Submarine Industry Incubator

Adelaide – 30 May 2016: The country’s largest combat systems integrator, Raytheon Australia, today announced its new Australian Submarine Industry Incubator (ASII) in Adelaide, which will complement its existing Incubator in Sydney, giving Australian businesses the opportunity to engage in combat system integration work for Australia’s Submarines.

Raytheon Australia’s Managing Director, Michael Ward, said that the Incubator further demonstrates the company’s commitment to assisting innovative Australian businesses in playing an active role in Australia’s submarine combat systems. 

“This is about real submarine work for Australians. The Incubator aims to create new and sustainable submarine combat systems work right here in this country”, Mr Ward said. 

“For more than fifteen years Raytheon’s investment in Australia has centred on the people, tools, processes and know-how necessary to create the largest and most capable Combat System Integrator in the country. The Incubator demonstrates Raytheon Australia’s ongoing commitment to supporting Australian businesses in pursuing an active role in Australian submarine combat system development.”

News Story: South Korea's DAPA Selects HHI for KDX-III Batch II Destroyer Design & Construction

Sejong the Great class Destroyer
South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced last week that Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) was selected as contractor for “KDX-III Batch-II Design and construction of the first hull”. The existing 7,600-ton KDX-III Batch I Aegis destroyers of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROK Navy) are based on the DDG 51 class of the US Navy.

In December 2013, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff decided to increase the number of Aegis destroyers from the current three to six by 2027 to strengthen its maritime combat capabilities against possible provocation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

While all three destroyers of the second batch will likely not be build by HHI (most ROK Navy orders are split between HHI and DSME the two largest Korean naval shipyards), the Batch II will be designed by Hyundai. Delivery timetable is 2021 for launch of first ship after keel laying in 2020.

Read the full story at Navy Recognition

News Story: Russia to raise military presence on disputed Kuril islands

Russia said Friday it was taking unprecedented measures to upgrade its military presence on the far-eastern Kuril islands claimed by Japan, including plans to set up a new base on an uninhabited island.

Colonel-General Sergei Surovikin, commander of the eastern military district, announced the launch of "unprecedented measures to develop military infrastructure in the area", the defence ministry said in a statement.

He said Russia was taking the steps to "exclude the emergence of even the smallest risks."

Russia has military bases on the Kuril Pacific archipelago, while Japan claims four of the islands in a dispute that has simmered since World War II, preventing the countries ever signing a peace treaty.

Soviet troops seized the four at the end of World War II just after Japan surrendered.

Surovikin listed the measures being taken as "a planned rearmament of the formations and units and boosting the level of social protection for all categories of serving soldiers and their family members."

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Uncle Sam's more frequent military moves only escalate tensions in South China Sea (China's View)

BEIJING, May 29 (Xinhua) -- The United States' more frequent military moves in the Sea China Sea in violation of international law and in defiance of protests from a sovereign country concerned, only leads to escalation of tensions in the region.

Over recent years, the United States has insisted on its military operations across the South China Sea, with some senior U.S. officials making statements saying that such moves will be even more frequent in future.

Some Western media on Sunday called the recent U.S. military moves in the South China Sea the "new normal" in spite of continuous opposition from China.

A former U.S. defense official, quoted by media reports, said what's the United States doing was for "freedom of navigation" and "following the rules."

By launching frequent moves in the South China Sea one after another, Washington is just deliberately blurring the distinction between commercial navigation and military operation in the region. But such unlawful moves by the United States can never serve to cover up its gross violation of other countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity, or to whitewash its excessive ambition of maintaining a dominant presence in the region.

In the name of "freedom of navigation or overflight," Washington repeatedly shows its force as a global sheriff, neglecting the fact that the South China Sea had enjoyed decades of peace and commercial prosperity before the 1970s.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Old map shows the Philippines' claim over South China Sea islands groundless

NEW YORK, May 29 (Xinhua) -- An old map published in 1899 by geographer J. Martin Miller shows that islands in the South China Sea have never been Philippine territory, Zeng Yingjing, the owner of the map, has told Xinhua.

The map was included in a book titled "The Twentieth Century ATLAS and Illustrated World," which was purchased by Zeng, a Chinese-American, at a flea market in New York in 2015.

The map shows the boundary of the U.S. possession in the Philippines agreed by the United States and Spanish Peace Commissioner at the Treaty of Paris in 1898.

The boundaries of the Philippines on the map were marked by a red line, which the South China Sea islands, including the Nansha Islands and the Huangyan Island, clearly lie out of.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Australian man killed while fighting against IS in Syria

CANBERRA, May 30 (Xinhua) -- An Australian man has reportedly been killed while fighting against Islamic State (IS) in Syria, local Kurdish forces said on Monday.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has been unable to confirm the death of 45-year-old Jamie Briggs as the government's limited presence in the Middle Eastern hotspot of Syria was limited, but Briggs' death was announced by the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG.

"Sadly another Australian volunteer who joined the YPG has died," the group posted to social media website Facebook.

DFAT told News Corp on Monday that it was extremely likely the news of Briggs' deathw as true, but it could not confirm the killing as the Australian government's reach in Syria was "extremely limited" and that any official information could take days or even weeks to filter through.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China, Bangladesh vow to boost military exchange, cooperation

DHAKA, May 29 (Xinhua) -- China and Bangladesh vowed here Sunday to further boost exchange and cooperation between the two militaries.

The pledge came after Chang Wanquan, China's defense minister, met with Bangladesh's Chief of Army Staff General Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Hug, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Nizamuddin Ahmed and Chief of Air Staff Marshal Abu Esrar respectively.

The visiting Chinese defense minister said the cooperation in the sectors of politics, economy and trade, and culture between the two sides have scored great achievements since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1975.

Cultivated and pushed by the leaders of the two countries, the development of the military ties between the two countries has maintained good momentum with cooperation in all fields further deepening, Chang said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Pakistan registers U.S. drone strike case that killed Afghan Taliban chief

ISLAMABAD, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Police in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province Sunday registered a case against unnamed American officials for the U.S. drone strike that killed Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, and driver of a taxi in which he was travelling on May 21.

Akhtar Mansoor, who had been living in Pakistan as Muhammad Wali, was killed in the drone strike in Noshki district as he crossed the border from Iran, officials said.

The police registered the case on a complaint by Muhammad Qasim, brother of the cab driver, Muhammad Azam, who was also killed in the attack.

The report did not mention any American by name but the applicant said several American officials have publicly claimed responsibility for the attack and action should be taken against them.

Police in the region said that terrorism sections have also been included in the case.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: (Chinese) Experts call for better protection of data security

GUIYANG, May 29 (Xinhua) -- With about 13 percent of all online data in the world originating in China, data experts are calling for more to be done to ensure data security.

Big Data, large volumes of data that can be analyzed to reveal patterns, was a hot topic at the "China Big Data Industry Summit & China E-commerce Innovation and Development Summit" in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, with experts underscoring the need to improve data security.

"Big data is a double-edged sword. It can be huge business, but also increases risks," said Qi Xiangdong, president of Qihoo 360, China's leading Internet security service provider.

"You can control your oven and washing machine remotely through your smart phone. However, if someone can gain access to your information on the cloud, they can, for example, make your washing machine operate at its maximum speed and temperature," he said.

China has seen an explosive growth of data in recent years. Its information economy grossed over 18 trillion yuan (about 2.76 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2015, with an e-commerce transaction volume totaling over 20 trillion yuan.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia agree to enhance cooperation to curb sea crimes

MANILA, May 29 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia had agreed to enhance defense cooperation to curb rising piracy, smuggling and other criminal activities in the Sulu Sea, the border area common to the three Southeast Asian countries, a government statement said Sunday.

The Philippine National Defense Department said in a statement Sunday that the agreement to have a "coordinated patrol" was reached during a meeting of Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu at the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting in Vientiane, Laos on Thursday.

The three ministers also agreed "to pursue joint training, with Indonesia proposing to have joint exercises at least twice a year" among the three countries, the statement read.

"They agreed to ensure timely sharing of relevant information and to this end direct their respective intelligence units to be more open in sharing databases of criminals," it said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Pakistan arrests 2 officers for helping Afghan Taliban chief get ID card

ISLAMABAD, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan said on Saturday that two officers have been arrested for helping the Afghan Taliban chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, get fake Pakistani identity card and Pakistani citizenship for his second wife and children.

Mansour, who had been living in Pakistan as Wali Muhammad, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in southwestern Balochistan province on May 21.

A Pakistani computerized identity card and a passport were found at the site identifying the victim as Wali Muhammad, a resident of the port city of Karachi.

The Interior Ministry spokesman said that an accused, Aziz Ahmad, who was working as Major in the Levies force in Baluchistan, had verified the Pakistani ID card form for Wali Muhammad in 2001.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Afghan army kills 2 Taliban local leaders in S. province

KABUL, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Two local Taliban leaders were killed Saturday after Afghan army struck a militants' hideout in southern province of Uruzgan, the country's Defense Ministry said Sunday.

The Afghan National Army pounded a Taliban hideout in Chora district by several artillery rounds, killing Maulawi Jan Aqa, Taliban shadow governor for neighboring Daykundi province, and Assadullah alias Shekaib, head of military commission of Taliban in Uruzgan, the ministry said in a statement.

The statement said that three militants were also wounded as a result of the strike.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Afghan forces kill would-be suicide bomber, foil terror attack

KABUL, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Afghan security forces on Saturday shot dead a would-be suicide bomber in Kabul, the National Directorate for Security (NDS) said.

"A would-be suicide bomber named Abbas was killed after personnel of NDS recognized and intercepted him in 17th Police District of Kabul city," the country's spy agency said in a statement.

One explosive vest was seized, the statement said, adding that the killed terrorist belonging to Haqqani terrorist group tried to conduct a suicide attack in a crowded area of the district.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: 15 militants killed, 13 injured in northern Afghan district

PUL-E-KHUMRI, Afghanistan, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Afghan government forces backed by airpower have killed and injured more than two dozen Taliban militants in Baghlan-e-Markazi district of the northern Baghlan province with Pul-e-Khumri as its capital 160 km north of Kabul over the past two days, a local official said Saturday.

"Up to 15 Taliban rebels have been killed and 13 others injured in Baghlan-e-Markazi district since Friday morning," district governor Gohar Khan Babri told Xinhua.

Several villages have also been liberated from Taliban clutches, the official added.

Read the full story at Xinhua

28 May 2016

USA: Carter to Travel to Singapore for Asia Security Summit

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2016 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter will travel to Singapore to lead the U.S. delegation and deliver a keynote address June 4 at the 15th Asia Security Summit at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual conference hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Pentagon officials announced today.

The secretary will be joined in Singapore by senior military leaders, including Chief of Naval Operations Navy Adm. John Richardson and the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Navy Adm. Harry Harris.

Bilateral Meetings

While in Singapore, the secretary will hold a number of bilateral meetings with regional counterparts, including Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen and Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, officials said. The annual forum will feature in-depth discussion on critical regional security topics, bringing together defense ministers, military chiefs, leading defense and security experts and representatives of the private sector from the Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe and other regions, they added.

On his way to Singapore, officials said, the secretary will stop May 31 in Arizona, where he will visit Fort Huachuca, home of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and a hub of Army activity in cybersecurity and remotely piloted vehicles. He will visit with troops at Fort Huachuca and get an update from leadership on key initiatives. 

News Story: S. Korea navy fires warning shots after North incursion

A South Korean naval vessel fired warning shots Friday after a North Korean patrol boat and fishing boat crossed the countries' disputed maritime border, Seoul's defence ministry said.

The incident coincided with a prolonged push by North Korea for talks to reduce military tensions that escalated sharply after Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.

The two North Korean vessels crossed the Yellow Sea border around 7:30am (2230 GMT Thursday) but swiftly retreated after a South Korean navy patrol boat fired five warning shots, a ministry official said.

The de-facto maritime boundary between the two Koreas -- the Northern Limit Line -- is not recognised by Pyongyang, which argues it was unilaterally drawn by US-led United Nations forces after the 1950-53 Korean War.

Both sides complain of frequent incursions by the other and there were limited naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

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News Story: North Korea is a 'big worry for all of us' - Obama at G7

US President Barack Obama took aim at North Korea Thursday, calling it a "big worry" after a meeting with his G7 counterparts, as tensions escalate following Pyongyang's series of nuclear tests.

Obama made the remark at a briefing on the sidelines of Group of Seven talks in Japan where North Korea's provocations and its nuclear ambitions are among the topics on a packed agenda.

"North Korea is a big worry for all of us," Obama said.

"It is not the thing that poses necessarily the most immediate risk. (But) when you have such an unstable regime that is so isolated, that poses the kind of medium-term threat that we have to pay a lot of attention to."

Tensions between North and South Korea have been running high since Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.

In recent weeks, the North has made repeated proposals for military talks aimed at de-escalating the situation -- but the South has dismissed the offer as an "insincere" propaganda ploy.

The current administration of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye is adamant that substantive inter-Korean talks can only begin once the North makes a tangible commitment to denuclearisation.

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