31 December 2016

News Report: Infuriating China - US to Allow Taiwanese President to Travel Through America

President Tsai Ing-wen (Image: Wiki Commons)
The administration of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has confirmed that she will be passing through San Francisco and Houston during a diplomatic trip to Latin America. This news has again angered China, who has warned the US not to allow the visit.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a US mission in the island country, has said Tsai’s visit will be "private and unofficial," but it is not clear whether she will meet with President-elect Donald Trump, who angered Beijing when he spoke to Tsai over the phone in early December following his election win. 

The call caused China to question the commitment of the US to its "One China" policy. Beijing is accusing Tsai of using a US visit to push for Taipei’s independence.

Beijing has claimed rule over Taipei since nationalists fled mainland China to the island in 1949, following the victory of Mao Zedong’s Communist forces in the Chinese Civil War.

News Report: Communist Party of China Says to Prosecute Former Spy Chief for Corruption

The Communist Party of China announced Friday that it will prosecute Ma Jian, former vice minister in China's Ministry of State Security in charge of counterintelligence operations, for bribery and abuse of power.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Ma had "seriously violated political discipline and political rules … confronted investigations by the commission and tried to transfer and hide financial possessions involved in his case," the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party's watchdog, said a statement as cited by the South China Morning Post newspaper.

The statement continued to say that Ma used his power for personal benefits, received a "huge amount" of bribes, and did not "restrain himself" in his wrongdoings.

The probes into Ma's corruption scandal began in January 2015. On Friday, the former spy chief was expelled from the Communist Party.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Interpol Arrests 1,500 Across Asia for Telephone, Email Scams

More than 1,500 individuals have been arrested in a two-month operation First Light 2016 for committing social engineering and payment card fraud as well as romance scams, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) announced in a press release on Friday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Police across the region conducted raids of suspicious call centers, with the largest one in the Philippines, where officers "arrested some 1,300 Chinese nationals working in a single location as part of a massive criminal operation."

"More than 1,500 people have been arrested in an Interpol operation targeting a multi-million Euro telephone and e-mail scam across Asia," the release stated.

Social engineering fraud refers to scams which manipulate or trick people into giving out confidential or personal information that can then be used for financial gain, the release explained.

News Report: China Wants Vatican to Mend Fences With Beijing, Ditch Taiwan

St Peter's Square, Vatican City - by DAVID ILIFF. 
License: CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wiki Commons
China is ready to engage in constructive dialogue with the Vatican and is hopeful that the Holy See will take practical steps to mend fences with Beijing, a senior Chinese official said.

Wang Zuo’an, Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, made the overture in an address to the participants of China’s National Catholic Congress.

Earlier, the Vatican held out hope for a normalization of relations with Beijing following its criticism of the recent ordainment of Catholic priests by Chinese bishop.

In an interview with Sputnik China, Ren Yuanzhe, an expert at China’s Diplomatic Academy, underscored the importance of normal relations with the Vatican.

“China and the Vatican are trying to improve bilateral ties and Wang Zuo’an statement is fresh proof of Beijing’s dersire to mend fences with the Holy See. In 2014, on his way to South Korea, the Pope sent his best wishes to President Xi Jinping and expressed a strong desire to visit China,” he said.

News Report: China 'Taking Control' Over Infrastructure Centers of Asian Economy

China continues to invest in building close economic and trade cooperation with its Asian neighbors. In addition, Beijing is seeking to take control over infrastructure centers of the Asian economy, in a bid to become the regional economic leader.

Pakistan thanked China for contributing to strengthening its national energy security. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took part in a ceremony to launch the third block of the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant in Punjab.

The facility was built with technological and financial assistance from China, according to the Pakistani newspaper Hindustan Times.

One of the priorities of the Pakistani government is to end daily countrywide power cuts and to provide electricity supplies to each household, the prime minister said.

The Pakistani government hopes to resolve the problem with the Chashma NPP by 2018.

News Report: New Draft Proposal Opens Opportunity for India to Join NSG

A new draft formula for the entry of non-NPT countries into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) may open a window of opportunity for India to join while leaving out its bête noire Pakistan. But it remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will enthusiastically back India’s case.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Expectations in India about membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) have risen following reports of a draft proposal circulated among the elite group's members in early December. Its outcome, however, remains uncertain as a new administration takes over in the US next month.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the former chair of NSG, has prepared a draft membership formula for countries like India and Pakistan, which are unwilling to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but want to join the NSG. The proposal, reportedly first obtained by Bloomberg, suggests several general commitments that non-NPT countries could fulfill to get the maximum benefits of nuclear trading.

News Report: Man Arrested in Sydney on Suspicion of Plotting New Year’s Attacks

A man has been arrested at Sydney Airport over his alleged threats to disrupt New Year’s celebrations, media report.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The 40-year-old will appear in court on Friday, The New Zealand Herald said, adding that a residence in inner Sydney has been searched in connection with the arrest, as well as a storage facility where certain documents and hard drives were found.

Last week, police arrested several people in Melbourne on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack on Christmas Day in the capital of Victoria state.

Earlier this month, two Sydney men were sentenced to 20 years in jail for plotting an Islamic State-inspired terrorist attack in the Australian capital.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Chinese Carrier Moves Ahead Following Year of Increased Activity in South China Sea

Chinese Carrier group underway
Steve Miller

Chinese warships, led by the country’s first aircraft carrier, the Soviet built Liaoning, sailed past Taiwan and into the South China Sea earlier this week. It was a move that caught the attention of both Taiwan and Japan, who closely observed the six-vessel group.

“China is developing a regional military capability,” said Brad Glosserman, security analyst at Pacific Forum. "The Chinese believe that they need to have the capacity and the ability to protect their interests as they become increasingly far flung. They see that a power that aspires to the status it has, will have the a fully fledged military... they're going to go from a green water, in other words a close-water navy, to blue water, which is one capable of sailing in the oceans.”

Glosserman says part of that progression is possessing an aircraft carrier, and he says the world may be “very quick to tie it to other developments, and I think that we should look at this as something that China is going to do regardless.”

News Story: Resolute Support Warns Of Intensified War Next Year

By Samim Faramarz

Charles Cleveland, a spokesperson for the Resolute Support (RS) mission in Afghanistan, has warned that the war will intensify next fighting season as the Taliban have already started preparing for it. 

“The Taliban’s public statements that they are going to reduce the civilian casualty toll and protect infrastructure - the facts on the ground dispute that and the facts on the ground highlight that they just indiscriminately (carry out) violence against civilians and Afghans,” he said.

According to RS, out of 98 foreign terrorist groups around the world, 20 of them are active along the Afghanistan-Pakistan defacto border and that 13 international terrorist groups are active in the country.

RS statistics show that the number of Daesh fighters decreased to 1,000 of which 700 are in Nangarhar province and the rest in Kunar province.

Cleveland said that Daesh controlled 11 districts at the start of 2016 but are now active in only three districts. 

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Officials Move To ‘Withdraw’ Troops From Baghlan-e-Markazi

By Hamid Shirzai

Documents in TOLOnews’ possession show the Baghlan military council has decided to withdraw Afghan National Army (ANA) forces from two large military bases, Alavuddin and Mangalha, which are in Baghlan-e-Markazi district of Baghlan province.

The documents show that the head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) police chief and governor of Baghlan signed the order which states security forces should withdraw from the two  military bases.

Of the officials who signed the document, only Noor Habib Gulbahari, Baghlan police chief, shared his views with TOLOnews in this regard.

He said he was not aware of the importance of the military bases in Baghlan-e-Markazi when signing the document.

“Now as I look at the region, I am against this decision because if we withdraw from here, the enemy can easily go to Baghlan-e-Markazi,” Gulbahari said.

Baghlan provincial council however warned that if security forces withdraw from the region, more than 13 villages and two military bases will fall to the Taliban.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Special Forces Undergo Intense Training To Combat Insurgents

By Karim Amini

Afghan National Army (ANA) and Police Special Forces have recently undergone intense training programs in preparation for operations against the Taliban on the battlefields.

The special forces units have been undergoing training programs organized by foreign troops in order to hone their skills.

One U.S military officer who is part of the team training special forces said: “We are training the different branches of the Afghanistan special forces.” 

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Helmand-Kandahar Road Closure Enters 4th Day

By Abdullah Achekzai

The closure of Helmand-Kandahar Highway for the past four days - due to the presence of Taliban and its damaged bridges – has raised concerns among residents of the two provinces.

Helmand residents said the Taliban has destroyed majority of bridges along the road.

A number of passengers meanwhile said they travel through alternative routes where Taliban has built check posts and are stopping people on the way to Helmand.

Abdul Samad, a resident of Helmand, said they urge government to reopen the road and launch a large-scale military operation to clear it of militants.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Daesh Recruiting In Nangarhar (Afghanistan)

By Ziar Yaad

A former member of Daesh fighters in Nangarhar has told TOLOnews that the group recruits teenagers to fight security forces in the eastern province.

Nangarhar provincial council meanwhile confirmed the claim and said Daesh recruits the teenagers who lack battle experience.

“Children and teenagers under the age of 18 are recruited by Daesh, because they are immature and emotional and the Daesh propaganda can easily affect their minds,” member of Nangarhar provincial council Asrarullah Murad said.

“Recruiting teenagers is a notorious act. They [youths] should have gone to school and learn religious taught,” said Malik Nazir, a tribal elder in Nangarhar.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Taliban Welcomes Moscow Talks

Taliban has welcomed the trilateral session between Russia, China and Pakistan, held this week in Moscow, where the three countries agreed to get the Afghan Taliban individuals delisted from the United Nations sanctions list.

Suhail Shahin, Taliban’s spokesman for their political office in Qatar, said in a press release on Friday that the group welcomes the agreement made by the trilateral meeting.

He stated that removing the names of Taliban members from UN sanctions list is a good step to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan. 

This comes after the Afghan government criticized the move for its absence in the trilateral session in Moscow.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: 11 Police Force Members Killed In Farah

At least 11 police force members were killed after their outpost was attacked by a group of Taliban militants in Farah city on Thursday night, sources told TOLOnews.

Farah governor’s spokesman Mohammad Nasir Mehri confirmed the incident, but said two policemen were killed in the attack. 

According to him, the militants took away all weapons following the raid on the police outpost.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Ministry Confirms 10 Helicopters Crash Landed In Two Months

A Russian made Mi-17 in Afghan service (Image: Wiki Commons)
By Abdul Wali Arian

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Thursday confirmed that at least 10 army helicopters made emergency landings or crash landed over the past two months. 

The MoD meanwhile called on the United States and NATO to support the Afghan Air Force and equip them with state-of-the-art warplanes.

“They [the helicopters] are almost 10 in number. However, we have managed to repair them. The helicopters have either made emergency landings or they have been hit by bullet and also they have had technical problems,” the MoD deputy spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: China flexes military muscle before Trump takes office

China's Carrier group underway
By Patrick BAERT

An aircraft carrier in the Pacific and a newly upgraded combat aircraft: China's military is showing off its newest equipment less than a month before the swearing-in of US President-elect Donald Trump, who has raised tensions between Beijing and Taipei.

In recent days state media announced that the country's only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was on its way to the Pacific for the first time, while a new fighter, the FC-31, had its debut flight test.

They are the latest steps in the years-long build-up of China's military, as Beijing seeks greater global power to match its economic might and asserts itself more aggressively in its own backyard, but the timing raises questions about its intentions.

The show of strength comes after Trump broke four decades of US policy by accepting a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, even though China objects to any official contact between its foreign partners and leaders of Taiwan.

China views self-ruling Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting unification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war.

With its escort warships, the Liaoning was in the South China Sea on Monday, according to the Taiwanese defence ministry which monitored the carrier's passage off its shores.

The manoeuvres were preceded by exercises on "refuelling and confrontation in flight", according to the official news agency Xinhua.

"The threat from our enemy is increasing day by day," Taiwan's defence minister Feng Shih-kuan said Tuesday during a promotion ceremony for generals.

"We need to maintain combat vigilance at any time."

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: China police kill three over Xinjiang attack

Chinese police have shot dead three people who allegedly attacked a Communist Party office in the restive Xinjiang region on Wednesday, state media said, in the bloodiest such incident in months.

The three "rioters" drove up to a local party office in Moyu County and "detonated (an) explosive device", killing two and injuring three others, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement from the local authorities.

The three assailants were then "shot dead by police", Xinhua added, without specifying whether they were killed on the spot or later in the day.

A previous account had said that four attackers were shot dead after killing one civilian.

The brief report described the assault as a "terrorist attack".

China tends to reserve the "terrorist" label for attacks involving the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority.

Read the full story at SpaceWar

News Story: Vietnam, Cambodia border guards hold friendly exchange

Tay Ninh (VNA) – Border guards of Vietnam’s southern Tay Ninh province and military officials and police from Cambodia’s Svay Rieng province held the first friendly exchange in Tay Ninh on December 29.

Main activities include the implementation of joint patrols and crime prevention in the border area from border marker 150 to 151 (about 2.8 km long) according to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Vietnam’s Border Guards High Command and Cambodia’s National Police under the Ministry of Interior in December 2015.

A battalion of Svay Rieng border guards signed a coordination agreement with Tay Ninh’s Phuoc Tan, Vam Trang Trau, and Ninh Dien border posts to maintain regular information exchanges on border situation and outcomes in anti-crime, rescue of victims, illegal immigration, and trafficking.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: Seminar discuss security, defence strategies in Asia - Pacific

Bangkok (VNA) – An international seminar on defence strategies and regional security in Asia - Pacific took place in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 28 and 29.

Organised by the German - Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG) under the Thai Thammasat University, the seminar gathered scholars, political experts, diplomats and policy-makers in Thailand and other countries, such as the United States, Japan, China, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam.

In his speech opening the seminar, CPG Director Henning Glaser presented an overview on security challenges facing the Asia - Pacific, saying the East (South China) Sea issue is the biggest challenge with far-reaching implications on peace as well as the security and safety of navigation and overflight in the region. 

He noted that the region’s security environment contains various risks due to the rising trend of arms races, acute territorial disputes and disrespect for international law.

These risks need to be countered using peaceful measures, based on the common benefits of all countries and international law, Henning Glaser stressed.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: Cambodia, Japan look towards extensive strategic partnership

Phnom Penh (VNA) – Cambodia and Japan are looking towards elevating their relations from strategic partnership to extensive strategic partnership.

Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Prak Sokhonn and Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Hidehisa Horinouchi made the commitment at a recent meeting in Phnom Penh.

Spokesperson of Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Chum Sontary quoted Minister Prak Sokhonn as saying that Cambodia welcomes Japan’s wish to lift their relationship to a new level.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: Philippines - explosion injures at least 33

Hanoi (VNA) – At least 33 people were injured in a blast in Hilongos town, the Philippines’ central province of Leyte on December 28, reported the country’s media.

Local police and authorities revealed that the explosion hit a busy park at about 21:00 (the Philippines time) when a boxing match was underway in the town, hurting at least 33.

No deaths have been confirmed so far.

The Philippine government said the accident was caused by bombs which were activated in remote by a mobile phone.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

30 December 2016

USA: Carl Vinson Strike Group set for deployment to Western Pacific

From U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs

In this file photo ships of the Carl Vinson Strike Group steam in formation during pre-deployment training in August. (U.S. Navy/MCSN Daniel P. Jackson Norgart) >>

SAN DIEGO - Ships and units from the Carl Vinson Strike Group (CVNSG) will depart San Diego for a regularly-scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific, Jan. 5 and Jan. 6.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, and embarked Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 1 will deploy with Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108).

Homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Michael Murphy will join CVNSG later this month as the strike group makes its way to the Western Pacific.

News Report: Furious China Reiterates Warning to US Over Taiwan President Visit

Despite protests from China, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry announced Thursday that President Tsai Ing-wen will stop in the US on her way to a diplomatic trip to Latin America.

The visit will further provoke a China already irritated by a recent telephone call between Tsai and US President-elect Donald Trump, the first such contact between an American and Taiwanese head of state since the administration of President Jimmy Carter. 

Since 1979, the US has functioned on the "One China" principle, that holds that Taiwan is a part of China and is therefore incapable of conducting its own diplomatic relations. Beijing still considers Taipei to be a province, and Chinese officials say that Tsai’s US visit is a transparent attempt to lobby for the country’s full independence.

Increasing tensions between the two countries, a US-deployed research drone was recently intercepted by the Chinese Navy, despite Beijing being made aware that it was US property. Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, told The Guardian that, "This looks like signalling from the Chinese in response to Trump’s Taiwan call…The Chinese now have much better control over the military, particularly the navy. It is in China’s interest to send signals before Trump is inaugurated, so that he gets the message and be more restrained once he is office." 

News Report: India to Station Special Ops Aircraft on Border With China

Indian C-130J (File Photo)
India is supplementing its strategy of reactivating old landing strips near the border with China. It is now going to position its US made special ops aircraft within a short flying distance from these strips.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — India has decided to position its six C-130J in Panagarh in West Bengal to improve the mobility of armed forces on the border with China. The location is some distance away from the border but within easy reach of the planes earmarked for special operations and rapid troop redeployment.

“The second squadron of C-130J would be located at Panagarh. The flying will start by March-April 2017,” Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said ahead of his retirement on December 31. Currently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) operates a fleet of five C-130J-30s and will receive an additional six C-130J-30s in year 2017. The IAF uses its C-130Js to support a variety of missions, from logistics support to providing vital humanitarian aid.

Panagarh will evolve into a significant logistic base as the Indian Army’s 17 Mountain Corps is to be located here. More than 90,000 armed personnel will constitute the 17 Mountain Corps which is being raised for deployment along the 2,521 mile long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. However, the lack of financial support for raising a corps has delayed the scheduled deployment. “Lack of financial support is creating hurdles for us. We are using our own reserves to raise the formations as of now. But physically on ground, we are on track,” say senior officials of the force. The Indian Army needs approximately $14 billion for the raising of the Mountain Strike Corps in the next four years.

The IAF may also relocate its refueling tankers at Panagarh. The US Air Force had constructed the Panagarh airfield in 1944 during the Second World War as a part of China Burma India Campaign.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: China’s Artificial Islands No Cause for Concern in Philippines – Duterte

Rodrigo Duterte, the president of Philippines stated that China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea waters were not a cause of concern for Philippines.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The president of Philippines said Thursday he did not regard China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea waters as a cause for serious concern and suggested Washington could take the issue in its own hands.

Asked if China’s manmade islands were a cause for concern, Rodrigo Duterte told CNN Philippines, "No, because if it really were a serious concern, the US should lead the way and stop it right in the beginning."

In July, an international tribunal in The Hague rejected China’s claims on disputed islands and rebuked its activity in the South China Sea, including the construction of artificial land.

Duterte said the only way to settle the territorial row with Beijing would be by enforcing the Hague court ruling legally or going to war with China.

The president added he might bring up the court's ruling on the islands "during my time," saying "I cannot let it pass." But he said the United States was the only government that could do something about China’s island construction.

The Philippines and China are both laying claims to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which are also contested by Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia. The US Navy has maintained its presence in the region on allegations it wanted to uphold freedom of navigation.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: 2016 Summary - South China Sea Dispute Shows No Sign of Resolving

The outgoing year saw no full-scale escalation of the territorial dispute over the South China Sea, but the tense situation remains unresolved, Russian expert Anton Tsvetov told Sputnik China.

In an interview with Sputnik China, expert Anton Tsvetov of the Center for Strategic Research, a Moscow-based think-tank, said that although there was no full-blown escalation of the territorial spat over the South China Sea throughout 2016, it can't be said that the situation has changed for the better.

Tsvetov recalled that the main negative expectations regarding the situation in the South China Sea in 2016 were related to the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague on Manila's claim against China.

Beijing, for its part, also added fuel to the fire by lashing out at The Hague's arbitration and its legitimacy, according to Tsvetov, leading to a low-key reaction after The Hague Court announced its decision on the matter.

News Report: Chinese Police Raise Death Toll From Xinjiang Suicide Attack to 5

China’s Public Security Ministry, the top police authority, has put the death toll from a car and bomb attack in the northwestern Xinjiang province at five, local media said Thursday.

BEIJING (Sputnik) – A civil servant and a security guard died Wednesday when attackers smashed a car into a government building and detonated a bomb in Xinjiang’s Hotan prefecture, the CCTV news channel reported, citing police.

The three assailants were shot dead and three other people were injured, the Public Security Ministry said, according to the channel. It said previously that four terrorists had been involved.

Xinjiang is home to China’s mainly Muslim Uyghur minority and has seen violent anti-government insurgency. At least 200 people have died in attacks allegedly carried out by Uyghur separatists over the past two years.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Trilateral Talks Without US - New Trend in Russian Diplomacy

Commenting on the third round of tripartite meetings between Russia, China and Pakistan on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which were held in Moscow on Tuesday, Russian expert in Central Asia Azhdar Kurtov called it a new trend being set by Moscow to deal with the Afghan crisis.

Russia, China and Pakistan warned on Tuesday that the influence of Islamic State (IS/ISIL/Daesh) was growing in Afghanistan and that the security situation there was deteriorating.

The three countries met in Moscow. The United States, which still has nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan more than 15 years after the Islamist Taliban were toppled by US-backed Afghan forces, was not invited to the Moscow talks.

"The three countries expressed particular concern about the rising activity in the country of extremist groups including the Afghan branch of IS," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters after the meeting.

News Story: Taiwan, Trump, & The Pacific Defense Grid - Towards Deterrence In Depth

Land-based missiles could form a virtual wall against
Chinese aggression - CSBA graphic

The phone call between President-elect Trump and the President of Taiwan sent shock waves through the diplomatic community. But it is time to turn the page and include Taiwan in shaping a 21st century deterrence strategy for Pacific defense.

The People’s Republic of China has made it clear that the regime is moving out into the Pacific, asserting its power and influence, and directly threatening U.S. interests and U.S. allies. It is reaching beyond Taiwan in its military and diplomatic strategy, using its expanded capabilities for power projection into the Pacific to reach out to the Japanese island chains as well as the key maritime access points to Australia.

It is clear how important control of Taiwan would be it shaping a pincer strategy against Japan, Australia, and American military installations in the Pacific. Why would the United States then simply stand by and ignore the defense of Taiwan and its key place in a strategic reshaping of Pacific strategy? That would be turning the Pacific Pivot into the Pacific Divot.

There is little reason to be frozen in time with Kissinger and Nixon who sought to counterbalance the Soviet Union by embracing Communist China. Last time we looked, the Soviet Union had collapsed. Russia is not the Soviet Union: Today’s Kremlin sees no commonality of relationships with China, except and only with regard to realpolitik. As such, there is little to be gained by appeasing the PRC in hopes of containing Russia. Deterring Russia is a task all unto itself, as it forges a 21st century approach to power, using its military capabilities to shape outcomes seen as essential to Russian national interest by Putin. And today China is a power unto it itself, one that has departed dramatically from its place in the global system when Nixon and Kissinger negotiated the Shanghai Communiqué.

As Danny Lam, a Canadian analyst, has underscored: “Normalization of relations with the PRC was accomplished through the issuance of three communiqués in 1972, 1979, and 1982 that defined the relationship. In those documents, the PRC and US explicitly acknowledged their differences….and made clear that the differences are only papered over temporarily for the sake of peace. Temporarily is the operative word.”

This was converted to the “one China policy” at the end of the Carter Administration, where Carter severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and recognized the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China.. But Carter’s policy was also forged during the Cold War with what is now the non-existent Soviet Union and before China turned into a military power seeking to assert that power deep into the region. It is time to exit the Madame Tussaud museum of policy initiatives and shape a Taiwan policy for the 21st century, which is part of a broader deterrent strategy.

Read the full story at BreakingDefense

News Story: Head Of Sikh Community In Kunduz Killed By Unknown Gunmen

By Faridullah Hussainkhail

Lala Del Souz, the head of the Sikh community in Kunduz city, was killed by unknown gunmen Thursday morning, officials confirmed.  

Del Souz, a naturopath, was gunned down at about 9am in the Haji Gulistan Kochi Haman area of the city.

He had reportedly been on his way to his shop when the shooting occurred.

According to relatives of the deceased, he had been shot five years ago but survived the attack.

Kunduz security chief Masoum Stanikzai confirmed the incident and said police have arrested three suspects. Investigations will however continue, he said.

The head of Kunduz regional hospital, Naeem Mangal, also confirmed the death of Del Souz and said he died from his injuries while being taken to hospital.

Del Souz’s uncle, Prem, said the deceased had been well liked and had no enemies.

The shooting meanwhile, sparked an outcry on social media on Thursday with hundreds of people condemning the incident and sending condolences to his family.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Over 30 Insurgents Killed, Wounded In Kunduz Operation

At least 30 insurgents have been killed and wounded in recent Afghan security forces' clearance operations in Kunduz province, officials said Thursday.

In a statement released by the 20th Pamir Army Division several villages in the province have been cleared of insurgents and more than 30 militants have been killed and wounded.

However despite a heavy presence of security forces in several towns and districts in the province, security threats still plague Kunduz city, the provincial capital.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: 11 Insurgents Killed In Laghman, Zabul Operations

At least five insurgents were killed and eight other wounded in an Afghan security forces operation in Laghman province, local officials said Thursday.

According to security officials in Laghman, the operation was conducted in Alishing district.

Laghman governor's office said the operation was conducted to remove security threats in the district and province.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Myanmar - Government troops occupy armed group outpost

Hanoi (VNA) – Myanmar’s government troops have occupied the Point-768 outpost of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and besieged its minor camps, the Army Chief’s Office announced on December 28.

The capture took place on December 27 supported by air force, infantry, artillery, tank and other heavy weapons.

Point-768 , called Lai Hpawng by KIA, located 11.2 kilometres east of Myitgyina-Bhamo road, was built to ensure communication with KIA headquarters Liza.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

29 December 2016

USA: Raytheon awarded foreign military sales contract (Qatar, India, and Italy) for production of Stinger FIM-92H Block 1 missiles, Stinger FIM-92F Block 1 missiles

Raytheon Co. – Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a $207,949,988 firm-fixed-price, foreign military sales contract (Qatar, India, and Italy) for production of Stinger FIM-92H Block 1 missiles, Stinger FIM-92F Block 1 missiles, captive flight trainers, other training devices and associated equipment and spares. 

Bids were solicited via the Internet with one received. Work will be performed in Tucson, Arizona, with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2020. 

Fiscal 2017 other funds in the amount of $207,949,888 were obligated at the time of the award. 

Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-17-C-0057).

News Report: After Nuke-Capable Missile Test, India Official Lashes Out at Beijing Criticism

India's Agni-V Missile launch (File Photo)
In the wake of Beijing’s threats to bring up New Delhi’s test-firing of a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile Agni-V at the UN Security Council, a senior Indian air force official said regional partners should not discuss what India is doing unless it is prohibited, a subject that would ostensibly include nuclear proliferation.

India’s military testing is "common knowledge," Air Chief Marshall Arup Raha said Wednesday. Raha called out Beijing, without naming names, for "transfer of technology which is forbidden," likely a nod to the common Chinese practice of stealing technology and design data from other nations to reverse-engineer for their own military projects. 

On Tuesday, Beijing reacted to the successful Indian ICBM launch saying that it would interfere with UN Security Council rules, where China has a permanent seat, and disrupt strategic geopolitical balance in South Asia.

News Report: Beijing’s Aircraft Carrier Docks After Military Drills in South China Sea

China's Liaoning class Carrier (File Photo)
Liaoning, China’s sole aircraft carrier, recently dropped anchor after conducting a series of military training exercises, alerting Taiwanese officials that the threat posed by Taiwan’s enemies is "growing by the day."

For its part, China fears that Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will cross one of Beijing’s red lines by making a push for formal independence. The prospect of Taiwanese independence could lead to military escalation, but Tsai has maintained she seeks peaceful ties with China.

The carrier led a fleet of warships 90 miles south of the Taiwan-held Pratas islands before docking in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, but a Taiwan military official pointed out that the movement did not necessarily signal that the Liaoning was finished with its exercises.

News Report: Indonesia Rethinks Ukrainian-Built Combat Vehicle After Unsuccessful Trial

Indonesian variant of the BTR-4
Indonesia is reconsidering plans to acquire more Ukraine-built BTR-4 8x8 amphibious armored personnel carriers (APC) after issues cropped up during training activities.

After concluding initial training on the amphibious vehicle, Korps Marinir (KORMAR), the Indonesian Marine Corps, reported several problems, including the APC excessively trimming at the bow while immersed in water and operating at full speed. 

Five of the vehicles were delivered to Jakarta in September as part of a deal with Ukraine state-owned defense manufacturer Ukroboronprom, as Indonesia sought to replace the 100 BTR-50PK APCs it acquired from Kiev in the 1990s.

Indonesian variant of the BTR-4
One Ukroboronprom official told Janes in November, "After official acceptance we will talk about expanding technology transfers to Indonesia and about expanding the order…We know [KORMAR] has a requirement for another 50 vehicles. This could mean some of these vehicles are built in Ukraine followed by technology transfers and local production in Indonesia."

The vehicle’s main weapon is a ZTM-1 30 mm cannon. It also features an AGS-17 30mm grenade launcher and a chemical, nuclear and biological filtration system.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Flying High as Philippines' Duterte Claims Victory in Drug War

President Rodrigo Duterte
The Philippines' presidential palace has claimed victory in the government's protracted, bloody war on drugs, stating that drugs have become a "public health issue."

In a December 27 press conference, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella explained that the brutal crackdown on drug dealers and cartels, which has claimed 6,000 lives, should be looked at with the "right perspective."