April 10, 2017

China (中国) Today

 

Events Review (03.04–09.04.2017)

 

Major Events and Trends in the Development of the Situation around the PRC

6–7 April 2017, first official meeting between President of China Xi Jinping and US President United Donald Trump took place in the United States. It showed that the strategic partnership of the two countries continues.

The first official meeting between Xi Jinping and Donald TrumpThe first official meeting between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump

The Presidents discussed the most important issues of China–US relations and the problems of global and regional security. The leaders of the two countries paid great attention to seeking ways to resolve mutual contradictions between the PRC and the USA in the trade- economic sphere and in the Asia-Pacific region and to improve cooperation in preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and combating international terrorism.

The main outcome of the talks can be considered Xi Jinping and D. Trump's strategic decision to bring the relations of the two countries to a qualitatively new level within the framework of the “Comprehensive Dialogue” between China and the United States. The conversation was, in particular, about security, economics, law, cyber space, science and culture. The leaders of China and the USA decided to further expand military cooperation, eliminate possible trade and economic problems (within 100 days the relevant proposals will be developed), and also cooperate to contain North Korea's nuclear missile program.

According to Xi Jinping, it is military security that should become the basis of strategic trust between China and the United States. Therefore, in his opinion, it is necessary to maintain military contacts between the two countries at all levels, to develop mechanisms for dialogue and consultations of their defense departments concerning the problems of the Asia-Pacific region, and to improve standards of conduct for ensuring security in the sea and air spaces. Xi Jinping also welcomed the USA's participation in the Chinese project “One Belt, One Road”.

In his turn, D. Trump said it is possible to overcome the imbalances in the forms and scale of the Chinese presence in the US economy, as well as in the USA and PRC's attitude to the problem of disputed islands in the South China and East China Seas.

China–USA trade and economic relationsChina–USA trade and economic relations

The negotiations between the two leaders took place against the background of the sharply exacerbated situation around Syria. Despite the common in China and Russia's positions on Syria's problem, the leadership of the PRC demonstrated its silent agreeing to the US missile strike at the Shayrat airbase of the Syrian government forces, which had used chemical weapons against the opposition.

In general, this all confirms that Russia will not be able to create a strategic alliance with China on an anti-American basis. Moscow reacted to this in its usual manner — by intensifying military activity near the border with the PRC. Thus, the day before and during the meeting between Xi Jinping and D. Trump, a complex of trainings of ground and aviation components of Russian Armed Forces in the Primorsky Territory of the RF (bordering the northeast region of the PRC) was conducted.

In particular, on 29–31 March 2017, combat readiness of the formations and units of the 5th Combined-Arms Army (headquarters — in Ussuriisk, Primorsky Territory) of the Eastern Military District of the RF Armed Forces was checked. During the inspection, motorized rifle, tank and missile-artillery units and subunits were withdrawn to training fields for live firing from conventional weapons.

At the same time, in early April 2017, there were trainings to strengthen the RF Armed Forces' tactical aviation grouping in the Primorsky Territory. Crews of interceptor aircraft MiG-31 and MiG-31BM from the Kamchatka air base of the Russian Pacific Fleet's naval aviation (Yelizovo airfield near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky) carried out a flight over a distance of more than 2,000 km to the airfield of the 22nd Fighter Aviation Regiment (Artem, Primorsky Territory) of the 11th Air Force and Air Defense Army (headquarters — in Khabarovsk). After the flight, at the active stage of the trainings, the aircraft of naval aviation mastered intercepting enemy air targets.

Besides, the military command of the Russian Federation rearms the troops of the Air Defense Forces with new types of weapons and military equipment. In March 2017, a new artillery reconnaissance system “Zoopark-1M” (had been tested in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine) entered the arsenal of the 30th Artillery Brigade of the 36th Combined-Arms Army (headquarters — in Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia, Trans-Baikal region).

Commenting on this issue, some Russian media report that China “has renewed its claims to Lake Baikal”. To confirm this they cite the proposal of the Institute for Planning and Design of Cities and Rural Areas of the People's Republic of China to build a water pipeline from Lake Baikal to Lanzhou City. The project should address the problem of drought and lack of drinking water in Gansu Province — in the North of Central China.

 

Politics

A meeting of Xi Jinping and Finnish President Sauli NiinistoA meeting of Xi Jinping and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto

One of the main priorities of China's foreign policy is the establishment and deepening of relations with potential participants of the Chinese project “One Belt, One Road”. On 5 April 2017, on his way to the USA, President of China Xi Jinping visited Finland, where he met with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto, Prime Minister Uha Sipila and Speaker of Parliament Maria Lohela. The prospects of development of bilateral cooperation in political, economic, cultural and other spheres were discussed at the meetings. In particular, Xi Jinping pointed out Finland's importance for China which will help the PRC enter the region of Northern Europe. For example, today China is Finland's largest trading partner in Asia, and Finland is the third largest trading partner of the PRC in Northern Europe. In fact, deepening the ties between China and Finland creates prerequisites for extending the scope of the Chinese initiative “One Belt, One Road” also to Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meets with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna SolbergChinese Premier Li Keqiang meets with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg

As part of the implementation of such plans, April 7, 2017, in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Zhang Dejiang met with Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg. The parties agreed to consolidate the positive results of bilateral cooperation, which became possible after the restoration of full-fledged relations between the two countries in 2016 (since 2010 relations between China and Norway were actually frozen due to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo).

In this context, the PRC is most interested in access to the ports of Norway as the final point of the transport and economic corridor from the Asia-Pacific region to Northern Europe. Besides, both sides are interested in creating a free trade zone, deepening cooperation in agriculture, industrial fishing, studying the hydrosphere of the seas and oceans, and water transport.

 

At the same time, there are contradictions between the PRC and other countries of the Asian and Asian-Pacific region. April 6, 2017, China declared an official protest to India because of the visit of the Dalai Lama XIV (the religious leader of Tibet, fighting for the separation of the region from the PRC, is in India in political exile) to the disputed area on the Sino-Indian border.

Also, China's Foreign Ministry expressed its concern about the intentions of the leadership of the Philippines to deploy its troops on the disputed islands in the South China Sea. The negative reaction of the PRC is also caused by the plans of the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte to visit the disputed islands in the middle of June this year (on the Independence Day of the Philippines) and raise the Philippine flag above them.

 

Economy

Despite the increased external and internal problems in the Chinese economy, the PRC's government, through its effective work, manages to ensure a positive development of the country. For example, according to the Ministry of Finance of China, during the first two months of 2017, the incomes of Chinese state-owned enterprises increased by 40.3 % compared to the same period last year. The most noticeable successes in this regard are recorded in the transport, electronics and light industries. The situation has also improved in the petrochemical, coal and steel industries, which had negative indicators last year.

In 2016, the incomes of small and medium-sized enterprises of the PRC increased by 25 %, which allowed them to increase their investments into the development of innovative activities.

 

Unveiling ceremony of the first subway train in Boston produced by the Chinese corporation CRRCUnveiling ceremony of the first subway train in Boston produced by the Chinese corporation CRRC

China's trade and economic cooperation with other countries plays an important role in the development of the Chinese economy. As an example — in early April 2017, in the US city of Boston, China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation's metro trains were put into operation for the first time. Since the CRRC's arrival in the US market in 2014, such Chinese trains have been operating in Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. To consolidate the CRRC's positions in the United States, a number of joint Sino-American enterprises have been created to produce such trains. American workers and specialists are being trained to operate the equipment of the subway.

At the beginning of April 2017, Dalian branch of the largest in China rolling stock manufacturer “CRRC Dalian” received an order to make 69 trains for two subway lines in the Indian city of Nagpur. The order also provides servicing trains. Besides, an agreement was signed on the construction of a high-speed railway between the capital of Indonesia — Jakarta and the fourth-largest city of the country — Bandung. The highway will be built using Chinese technologies and Chinese equipment.

 

Economic cooperation between China and Russia is also developing. Thus, the Fangchengang City Administration (Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region) and the Guangxi Investment Company “New Aviation Town” signed a framework agreement with the Russian Scientific and Engineering Company (“NIK”) to build a Chinese-Russian industrial fleet of civil aircraft. Under the agreement, the Chinese-Russian Center for Research and Development of Aircraft, the aircraft assembly plant, and the International Pilot Training School are planned to open on the territory of the park.

The expansion of the country's resource base is also positive for China. For example, following the results of geological researches, the largest deposit of manganese ore in Asia was discovered in the South-Chinese province of Guizhou. The total reserves of raw materials are 203 million tons, and their potential value is estimated at more than 14.5 billion US dollars. In total, four large deposits of manganese ore with total reserves of 600 million tons have been discovered in the territory of Guizhou Province.

Against this background, the trade and economic cooperation between China and the EU is getting somewhat complicated. Since April 7, 2017, the European Union introduced additional anti-dumping duties on imports of hot-rolled steel from China. In response, the leadership of the PRC expressed its intention to take adequate measures against the EU.

 

Security and Law Enforcement Agencies

China's Type 075 new amphibious assault shipChina's Type 075 new amphibious assault ship

The leadership of the People's Republic of China continues to implement the program to build up the combat capabilities of the country's Navy, that is to strengthen the PRC's positions in the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, in April 2017, the Chinese shipyard “Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding Company” started constructing China's Type 075 largest landing helicopter dock.

The ship will have a length of 250 m, a width of 30 m, a displacement of 40 thousand tons and a speed of up to 23 knots (corresponding to American Type “Wasp” ships of the same class — 40.5 thousand tons). On board the ship will be accommodated up to 30 different helicopters. The helicopter carrier is planned to be introduced into the PRC Navy in 2020. It will be mainly used for patrolling in the East China and South China Seas.

As part of the development program of the Chinese Navy, new frigates, corvettes, Type 001A aircraft carrier are being built; a new generation of low-noise submarines and a Type 002 aircraft carrier with an atomic power plant are being designed. Today, the “Liaoning” aircraft carrier created on the basis of the aircraft carrier “Varyag” (the Soviet project 1143.6 “Krechet”), which China purchased from Ukraine, is part of the Chinese Navy.

 

Chinese Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun at a session of the SCO’ security council secretaries meeting in AstanaChinese Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun at a session of the SCO’ security council secretaries meeting
in Astana

It should be noted that the PRC is taking adequate measures in response to Russia's increased military activity on the Chinese direction. At the end of March, in the Northern Military Command of the PLA (formed in 2016 on the basis of Shenyang and Jinan Military Districts, borders on the RF Primorsky Territory), exercises were held to refuel tactical aircraft in the air. Today, the basis of the fleet of modern tanker-aircrafts of the Chinese Air Force of the PLA is three Il-78, which were repaired, modernized and handed over to China by Ukraine in 2014–2016. The aircrafts are part of the 38th Transport Aviation Regiment of the 13th Airborne Transport Division of the PLA Air Force.

 

China also confidently takes the lead from Russia in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). April 6, 2017, at the meeting of the Secretaries of the Security Councils of the SCO member states in Astana (Kazakhstan), the State Councilor of the PRC, Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun voiced China's basic conceptual approaches to the strategic directions of the Organization's work. In this regard, he expressed Beijing's plans to lead the activities of the SCO in order to turn the Organization into one of the leading international structures in the sphere of ensuring world security. In this regard, a need was recognized to unite efforts in the field of combating terrorism.

 

Science and Technology

The PRC's government is trying to gain access to world reserves of natural resources, including in the Arctic and Antarctic zones. In early April 2017, China successfully tested the technology and technical equipment for drilling 1.5 km deep wells on ice shelves. Final testing of the system is planned to be carried out on the Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica in the area of the Chinese Antarctic Zhongshan Station. Today, only USA and Australia have such technologies.

Cargo drones prototypes by the Chinese “JD.com” corporationCargo drones prototypes
by the Chinese “JD.com” corporation

In addition, under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport of China, an underwater robot with a depth of immersion up to 3 thousand meters was created. The device can perform rescue work, explore the sea and ocean floor.

 

Interesting are the plans of the Chinese corporation “JD.com” for the construction of a network of special airports for unmanned aircrafts of the cargo delivery service. In April of this year, work will begin on the preparation of seven flight routes for such UAVs. At the first stage, the vehicles will be able to carry loads of up to 50 kg, and after the introduction of new UAVs — up to 0.5 tons.

 

 

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