May 11, 2017

China (中国) Today

Events Review (03.05–09.05.2017)

 

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

In the Asia-Pacific region, the tension caused by North Korea's actions in the nuclear missile sphere does not diminish, which makes the world's leading countries, including China, look for effective ways out of this difficult situation.

If we pay attention to the role that the USA seeks to play in this regard, it should be noted that on 4 May 2017, the House of Representatives of the US Congress approved a bill on strengthening sanctions against the DPRK. These sanctions provide for additional restrictions against individuals and enterprises of North Korea who work in the field of developing rocket and nuclear weapons. The document contains fundamentally new provisions for the establishment of US control over seaports of other countries in the region in order to verify the fulfillment of the conditions of the sanctions regime.

The Russian leadership reacted very sharply to this decision, having accepted the promised verification as the actual “declaration of the war on Russia”. A corresponding statement was made by the Chairman of the Federation Council Committee for International Affairs K. Kosachev. The implementation of the American bill, he believes, “involves a force scenario with the forced inspection by US Navy of all ships”. Stressing the inadmissibility of such actions towards Russia, he compared the situation with the “Caribbean crisis” of 1962.

As for the PRC, its Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging all parties to refrain from any actions that could complicate the already difficult situation in the Korean Peninsula and threaten the peace and security of the region. The first task, according to them, is to de-escalate tension in the APR by immediately resuming dialogue and consultations on the North Korean nuclear missile program.

 

China's Strategic Initiative “Belt and Road” in the Context of Chinese and Regional Interests

A key event in determining the future prospects for implementing the PRC's strategic initiative “Belt and Road” should be the High-Level Forum on this issue, which is scheduled for May 14–15 this year. The Chinese leadership intends to use the Forum to build a more open and effective platform for cooperation with partner countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Central and South Asia, Europe, Africa and America.

To date, more than 100 countries and international organizations have already joined this initiative, of which more than 40 have signed an agreement on cooperation with China. The “Belt and Road” initiative was included or reflected in the documents and resolutions of the UN General Assembly and Security Council and the organization of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

With the launch of the project, a breakthrough was achieved in the implementation of a series of major projects in the spheres of transport, energy and communications. Among the main ones is the launch of the route of international railway communications between China and Europe, and creation of economic corridors, including: China — Pakistan; China — Mongolia — Russia; China — Central Asia — Caspian and Black Sea regions — Middle East.

 

An important achievement is the increase in the volume of mutual trade within the framework of the “Belt and Road” project, which currently amounts to more than 900 billion US dollars a year (more than a quarter of China's total foreign trade). Chinese investments in the economy of the countries participating in the “Belt and Road” have amounted to more than 50 billion US dollars. Due to this, 56 zones of trade and economic cooperation have emerged, meaning creation of about 200 thousand new jobs.

More than 1.2 thousand people, including officials, experts, businessmen, financial experts and journalists from 110 countries, as well as representatives of 60 different international organizations will take part in the work of the Forum. In particular, leaders and heads of government of 28 countries, UN Secretary General A. Guterres, World Bank President J. Kim and the head of the International Monetary Fund K. Lagarde have promised to arrive in Beijing. It is expected that at the Forum agreements will be signed on the PRC's cooperation with at least 25 countries and more than 20 international organizations.

 

In preparation for the Forum, on 4–5 May 2017, a Security Cooperation Dialogue was held in Beijing in the context of implementing the “Belt and Road” strategy. Head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Meng Jianzhu and China's Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Public Security of China and state security agencies from more than 20 countries participated in the event. Meng Jianzhu spoke in favor of strengthening cooperation between the countries participating in the “Belt and Road” project in the fight against terrorism and other threats to collective security. This issue was considered one of those that improve trade and economic ties.

 

Particular attention was paid to other trends and events that influenced the state of affairs in and around China.

 

Politics

The leadership of the PRC actively defends its interests in the South China Sea region. May 2, 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China supported the final statement of the ASEAN Summit, which points out the progress made in the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. The PRC reports that it is ready to deepen its cooperation with the ASEAN countries for this end.

 

China also develops ties with countries from other regions. Thus, after the talks between Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates Zayed Al Nahyan in early May 2017, the parties have stated that they intend to expand cooperation in different spheres. In particular, in the oil and gas industry, construction of ports, nuclear and clean energy, aviation and aerospace.

 

May 2–5, 2017, Prime Minister of Denmark L. Rasmussen visited China on an official visit. At the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier of the State Council of China Li Keqiang and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Zhang Dejiang, he discussed the prospects for establishing a new type of relations between the two countries in the political, economic and cultural spheres, both bilaterally and within the framework of the UN, the Arctic Council and other international organizations. As a result of the talks, six bilateral documents were signed, including the General Work Plan for China and Denmark for 2017–2020.

 

Economy

Actively developing international cooperation, the PRC is steadily increasing its foreign trade. According to the General Administration of Customs of China, in April 2017, China's foreign trade turnover increased by 16.2 % compared to the same month last year, to 2.22 trillion Yuan (322 billion US dollars). At this, exports increased by 14.3 % to 1.24 trillion Yuan (180 billion US dollars), and import by 18.6 % to 979.1 billion Yuan (142 billion US dollars). Thanks to this, the trade surplus of the PRC was 262.2 billion Yuan (38 billion US dollars).

All in all, within the first four months of this year, the volume of China's foreign trade increased by 20.3 % to 8.42 trillion Yuan (1.22 trillion US dollars). Including export grew by 14.7 % — to 4.57 trillion Yuan (663 billion US dollars), import — by 27.8 %, up to 3.85 trillion Yuan (559 billion US dollars). During the same period, the foreign trade surplus decreased by 26.2 % to 715 billion Yuan (103.7 billion US dollars).

Since the beginning of 2017, the largest trading partner of the PRC has been the European Union. Thus, the volume of their bilateral trade has increased by 15.5 % to 1.24 trillion Yuan (179 billion US dollars). The trade with the EU has accounted for 14.8 % of China's total trade. The USA, ASEAN and Japan have also entered the top four of the largest trading partners of the PRC.

The basis of Chinese exports, as before, has been the production of machinery, high-tech products. China has been mainly importing commodities, including iron ore and crude oil.

As for the gold and foreign exchange reserves of the People's Republic of China, since the beginning of this year they keep growing. In April 2017 alone, their volumes increased from 3.0091 to 3.0295 trillion US dollars.

 

Security and Law Enforcement Agencies

One of the main spheres of military reform in China is the improvement of the National Strategic Nuclear Forces, which are assigned the role of the main deterrent to the probable enemy. Based on the analysis of exercises and scientific research, priority in the reform of the Strategic Nuclear Forces is to increase the mobility of missile systems, to improve their survivability, secrecy and autonomy of functioning. Attention is also paid to increasing the accuracy of target destruction, as well as the ability to break through the enemy's AD systems.

It is these principles that underlie the development of the Strategic Nuclear Forces of the PRC. Thus, to date, the Missile Forces of the People's Liberation Army of China have up to 180 combat-ready ground-based missile systems with DF-5 ICBMs (”East Wind-5”), about the same number of mobile missile systems DG-31/DF-31A and medium-range ballistic missiles DF-21/DF-21A. At this, the mobile ICBMs grouping is gradually being built up, including by formation of new missile units.

A complex of programs for upgrading the mobile ICBMs with the DF-31/DF-31A is being implemented, and a new universal mobile DF-41 ICBM is being developed with the prospect of adopting it for service before 2020. At this, Chinese specialists use their scientific and technical achievements, as well as those obtained from other countries, in particular, Russia.

The new DF-41 ICBM will have improved stages with increased energy efficiency, a separated combat warhead with combat blocks of individual guidance and increased accuracy of engagement of enemy targets. Mainly due to the completion of the missile control system. The warhead part is equipped with elements of astro-correction of the flight of combat blocks on the final section of their trajectory. In addition, it is planned to equip the ICBM with effective means of overcoming enemy missile defense. The complexes will be put on wheeled chassis (by the way, of Belarusian make), as well as on special wheeled platforms.

The PLA Missile Forces are also getting improved and new forms and methods of using mobile strategic missile systems are being developed. Special attention is paid to solving the problems of hidden withdrawal from points of permanent deployment, maneuvering to engage and change combat positions, preparing and applying conventional nuclear missile strikes against enemy targets.

The key factor in the implementation of such plans of the leadership of the PRC is the high level of the national economy and the defense industry complex, which makes it possible to accomplish the tasks on time.

 

The leadership of the PRC pays attention to the security issues of the national cybernetic sphere. In early May 2017, the Office for Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) introduced new rules for regulating activities in the Internet space of the country. These rules come into force on 1 June, 2017. The solution of such tasks will be entrusted to a special Committee for Cyber Security consisting of highly qualified professionals in the relevant sectors, which will soon be created.

 

Science and Technology

The purposeful and systematic policy of the leadership of China on the development of science and advanced technologies stipulates the country's rapid coming to the world's leading positions in the spheres of space exploration, aircraft construction, nuclear energy and computer technologies.

May 5, 2017, a powerful Chinese launch vehicle “Chang Zheng-5” (”Long March-5”) was installed at the Wenchang cosmodrome in Hainan Province, and is to bring a new telecommunication satellite “Shijian-18” into space orbit. The launch is scheduled for June this year (this is the second launch of the “Chang Zheng-5” carrier). The rocket was developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). It is a launch vehicle of the second generation (capable of bringing 25 tons of cargo to low earth orbit).

 

A new passenger aircraft S919 is also being developed by the Chinese Commercial Aviation Corporation (COMAC), the first test flight of which took place on 5 May, 2017. It will replace the aircrafts of similar classes Boeing 737 and A320, which are currently in operation in China.

 

In early May this year, tested a new strike disposable UAV, a characteristic feature of which is the use of the screen effect to ensure flight. The height of the flight is 1–6 m above the water surface, the takeoff weight is 3000 kg, the payload is 1000 kg, the flight duration is 1.5 hours.

 

According to the plan for the development of nuclear power in China, the construction of the first mini-nuclear power plant of domestic development began in the island of Hainan. The NPP with the ACP-100 “Linglong” reactor will have a capacity of 100 MW. This is the first mini-reactor in the world to which the IAEA has provided all necessary permits.

 

The PRC is expanding its oceanographic research. By mid-2019, it is planned to put into operation a new modern vessel for the exploration of marine resources, as well as the first floating base for deep-sea manned vehicles. Today, China has 17 oceanographic research vessels and 15 hydrographic vessels for coastal research.

 

Some Aspects of the PRC-Ukraine Cooperation

The studies of the Institute of World Politics, conducted jointly with TRUMAN Agency in the preparation of the analytical document “Ukraine’s Foreign Policy Audit. Index of Relations”, show that since early 2017, Ukraine has improved its relations with China by 2 conventional points — up to plus 27 points (for comparison, in the same period, relations between Ukraine and Russia deteriorated by 22 conventional points — down to minus 61 points). The results are submitted taking into account the analysis of events in Ukraine's foreign policy in terms of their positive or negative impact on Ukrainian relations with other countries.

According to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC in Ukraine Du Wei, the impetus for the development of cooperation between China and Ukraine was given by the meeting of the leaders of the two countries during the World Economic Summit in Davos in January this year, which confirmed the existence of common interests of the parties in many spheres. This creates favorable conditions for the continuation of the positive trend of the increase in the volume of Sino-Ukrainian trade that has been celebrated recently. Thus, in 2016 this indicator grew by 24 %, while in the first quarter of this year — by 7 %.