ALERT The Winds of War Blow in Korea and The Far East

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB
I hope that this isn't the camel's nose under the tent.



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ASEAN, China, other partners set world’s biggest trade pact
By ELAINE KURTENBACHtoday



1 of 11
This image made from a teleconference provided by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) shows the leaders and trade ministers of 15 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries pose for a virtual group photo in Hanoi, Vietnam on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. China and 14 other countries have agreed to set up the world’s largest trading bloc, encompassing nearly a third of all economic activity, in a deal many in Asia are hoping will help hasten a recovery from the shocks of the pandemic. (VNA via AP)

China and 14 other countries agreed Sunday to set up the world’s largest trading bloc, encompassing nearly a third of all economic activity, in a deal many in Asia are hoping will help hasten a recovery from the shocks of the pandemic.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was signed virtually on Sunday on the sidelines of the annual summit of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“I am delighted to say that after eight years of hard work, as of today, we have officially brought RCEP negotiations to a conclusion for signing,” said host country Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

“The conclusion of RCEP negotiation, the largest free trade agreement in the world, will send a strong message that affirms ASEAN’s leading role in supporting the multilateral trading system, creating a new trading structure in the region, enabling sustainable trade facilitation, revitalizing the supply chains disrupted by COVID-19 and assisting the post pandemic recovery,” Phuc said.

The accord will take already low tariffs on trade between member countries still lower, over time, and is less comprehensive than an 11-nation trans-Pacific trade deal that President Donald Trump pulled out of shortly after taking office.

Apart from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, it includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States. Officials said the accord leaves the door open for India, which dropped out due to fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, to rejoin the bloc.

It is not expected to go as far as the European Union in integrating member economies but does build on existing free trade arrangements.

The deal has powerful symbolic ramifications, showing that nearly four years after Trump launched his “America First” policy of forging trade deals with individual countries, Asia remains committed to multi-nation efforts toward freer trade that are seen as a formula for future prosperity.

Ahead of Sunday’s RCEP “special summit” meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would firmly convey his government’s support for “broadening a free and fair economic zone, including a possibility of India’s future return to the deal, and hope to gain support from the other countries.”

The accord is also a coup for China, by far the biggest market in the region with more than 1.3 billion people, allowing Beijing to cast itself as a “champion of globalization and multilateral cooperation” and giving it greater influence over rules governing regional trade, Gareth Leather, senior Asian economist for Capital Economics, said in a report.


China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted Premier Li Keqiang hailing the agreement as a victory against protectionism, in remarks delivered via a video link.

“The signing of the RCEP is not only a landmark achievement of East Asian regional cooperation, but also a victory of multilateralism and free trade,” Li said.

Now that Trump’s opponent Joe Biden has been declared president-elect, the region is watching to see how U.S. policy on trade and other issues will evolve.

Analysts are skeptical Biden will push hard to rejoin the trans-Pacific trade pact or to roll back many of the U.S. trade sanctions imposed on China by the Trump administration given widespread frustration with Beijing’s trade and human rights records and accusations of spying and technology theft.

Critics of free trade agreements say they tend to encourage companies to move manufacturing jobs overseas. So, having won over disaffected rust-belt voters in Michigan and western Pennsylvania in the Nov. 3 election, Biden is “not going to squander that by going back into TPP,” Michael Jonathan Green of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a web seminar.

But given concerns over China’s growing influence, Biden is likely to seek much more engagement with Southeast Asia to protect U.S. interests, he said.

The fast-growing and increasingly affluent Southeast Asian market of 650 million people has been hit hard by the pandemic and is urgently seeking fresh drivers for growth.

RCEP originally would have included about 3.6 billion people and encompassed about a third of world trade and global GDP. Minus India, it still covers more than 2 billion people and close to a third of all trade and business activity.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, the retooled version of the North American Free Trade Agreement under Trump, covers slightly less economic activity but less than a tenth of the world’s population. The EU and Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, the revised version of the deal Trump rejected, also are smaller. RCEP includes six of the 11 remaining CPTPP members.

India balked at exposing its farmers and factories to more foreign competition. Among other concerns, Indian dairy farmers are worried about competition from New Zealand and Australian milk and cheese producers. Automakers fear imports from across the region. But overall the biggest fear is over a flood of manufactured goods from China.

Trade and investment flows within Asia have vastly expanded over the past decade, a trend that has accelerated amid feuding between the U.S. and China, which have imposed billions of dollars’ worth of punitive tariffs on each other’s exports.

The RCEP agreement is loose enough to stretch to fit the disparate needs of member countries as diverse as Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam and Australia. Unlike the CPTPP and EU, it does not establish unified standards on labor and the environment or commit countries to open services and other vulnerable areas of their economies.

But it does set rules for trade that will facilitate investment and other business within the region, Jeffrey Wilson, research director at the Perth USAsia Center, said in a report for the Asia Society.

“RCEP, therefore, is a much-needed platform for the Indo-Pacific’s post-COVID recovery,” he wrote.

ASEAN members include Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
___
Associated Press writers Hau Dinh in Hanoi and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed.
 

jward

passin' thru
Is there something substantially different in this article than the one I posted yesterday on the issue? It certainly had the feel of a paradigm shift, didn't it.

I hope that this isn't the camel's nose under the tent.

 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Is there something substantially different in this article than the one I posted yesterday on the issue? It certainly had the feel of a paradigm shift, didn't it.
Great question!

I don't see a significant difference between the articles but for the image of the signing. All those world leaders, one event, but in separate places. It sort of looks like a Hunger Games image but the reality of the military alliances being formed to defend AGAINST CHINA creates a cognitive dissonance.

It's like this was done "for show " but to what end?
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
India, US, Japan, Australia resume naval exercises
The navies of India, the United States, Australia and Japan are holding exercises in the Northern Arabian Sea in the second phase of a naval drill seen as part of a regional initiative to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific
ByThe Associated Press
17 November 2020, 16:17

Aircraft carriers and warships participate in the second phase of Malabar naval exercise, a joint exercise comprising of India, US, Japan and Australia, in the Northern Arabian Sea on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. The four countries form the Quadrilateral

Image Icon
The Associated Press
Aircraft carriers and warships participate in the second phase of Malabar naval exercise, a joint exercise comprising of India, US, Japan and Australia, in the Northern Arabian Sea on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. The four countries form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad. (Indian Navy via AP)

NEW DELHI -- The navies of India, the United States, Australia and Japan held exercises Tuesday in the Northern Arabian Sea in the second phase of a naval drill seen as part of a regional initiative to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.

The Malabar naval exercise “highlights enhanced convergence of views amongst the four vibrant democracies on maritime issues,” India’s Defense Ministry said.

This is the second time that the four countries — an informal grouping known as the Quad — have participated in a combined military exercise of this size. The first phase of the Malabar drill took place Nov. 3-6 in the Bay of Bengal.

This phase consists of operations centered on the Indian navy’s Vikramaditya carrier battle group and the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz carrier strike group, the ministry said.

The Australian frigate Ballarat, Japan's Murasame destroyer, and submarines and aircraft are also participating in the exercise.

India has been locked for months in a military standoff with China along their disputed border. It hopes the exercise will act as a deterrent against Beijing, analysts say.

The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian and U.S. navies. Japan joined in 2015. This year the Australian navy is participating for the first time since 2007.

 

OldArcher

Has No Life - Lives on TB
November Sierra Charlie Brown.....
Everybody ascribes 5D chess to DJT. As regards the CCP and the Norks, I just don’t see it... Obviously I’m thick as a brick, not seeing the how and why of all this...

Can anyone help me here?

Is there method here, to this madness?

Thanks!

OldArcher
 

jward

passin' thru
Great question!

I don't see a significant difference between the articles but for the image of the signing. All those world leaders, one event, but in separate places. It sort of looks like a Hunger Games image but the reality of the military alliances being formed to defend AGAINST CHINA creates a cognitive dissonance.

It's like this was done "for show " but to what end?
Good questions. I just assumed it was a case of "business is business" baby, much like the way everyone sells munitions to both sides of a conflict. I think it's pretty SOP and not that unusual of an occurrence as the region, and the world, seeks to re-balance power? I'm not well versed enough to reach meaningful conclusion, but also would suggest that trade "is" a tool of war, no?.
First thing I read this morning when I got back to the news was this blip:
which just made me smile...short honeymoon eh.
Reuters
@Reuters


China to impose temporary anti-dumping measures on Australian wine imports http://reut.rs/3fGX4og
1606459373984.png
___________________________________________
..but wait. there's more..
Already the push back is that the fta they walked away from with Taiwan should be revisited... :: shrug ::
Indo-Pacific News
@IndoPac_Info

20m

#China cuts imports of #Australian copper concentrate by more than half in October Speculation #Beijing has placed an unofficial ban on shipments as part of its trade war on Australia Australia accounted for 4.8% of China’s total copper imports in 2019.
View: https://twitter.com/IndoPac_Info/status/1332213026326413316?s=20
 
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jward

passin' thru
Everybody ascribes 5D chess to DJT. As regards the CCP and the Norks, I just don’t see it... Obviously I’m thick as a brick, not seeing the how and why of all this...

Can anyone help me here?

Is there method here, to this madness?

Thanks!

OldArcher
Well if you're a brick, I'm a monolith. I'm not sure to what specific action, or lack there of, you refer. Norks having the capability? Short of a time traveling machine (which I believe Q does credit DJT with possessing) how could he impact something that happened prior to his tenure?

As to CCP, I dunno. I think that I, and perhaps others, often forget that balance of power is very much a whole systems construct, and that focusing on individual components will poorly capture the net change / impact occurring.
 

jward

passin' thru

jward

passin' thru
New Chinese stealth bomber 'can target US bases thousands of kilometres away'
By Richard Wood • Senior Journalist
2:12pm Nov 27, 2020


A new Chinese stealth bomber will give the rising superpower a "truly intercontinental capability" including the ability to target US territory, according to a British think tank.
Capable of carrying nuclear weapons, the H-20 bomber marks a major advance from China's status as only a regional power, the South China Morning Post reports.
China is still developing the aircraft but when completed the Pentagon believes it will be able to reach US overseas territories such as the island of Guam in the Pacific.
The Chinese H-20 stealth aircraft is based on the design of the US B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, above. (US Air Force). (Supplied)

The report by the London-based Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies gave an overview of how Russia and China were modernising their air forces.
"Armed with nuclear and conventional stand-off missiles, the H-20 would represent a major break from previous People's Liberation Army Air Force doctrine and equipment development practice," said the report.
While China's air force is organised around targeting a series of Pacific island targets including Japan and the Philippines, the H-20 - when operational - would significantly expand that range.
A model of the H-20 stealth bomber that is still in development stage. (Twitter)
The aircraft's subsonic speeds, range, armaments and radar-evading stealth technology could tilt the strategic balance in the Asia Pacific, some analysts said.
Related
A report by the US Defence Department earlier this year, said the H-20 is expected to enter service by 2025. And with a payload of 45 tonnes, the H-20 is designed to carry four stealth or hypersonic cruise missiles.
It has an estimated range of about 8500km that would bring the island of Guam within range.
The US Pacific territory of Guam has important naval and air force bases that could come within range of the new Chinese stealth bomber.. (Rick Cruz/The Pacific Daily via AP, File) (AP/AAP)
Chinese defence expert Adam Ni, from Sydney's Macquarie University, told Nine.com.au last year the aircraft's development is aimed to deter Western nations such as the US.
Japan – $66.3 billion
Countries with the highest military expenditure in the world
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"China is making clear progress in acquiring an effective strategic bomber that would enhance its strategic deterrence against its competitors, such as the US," he said at the time.
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Everybody ascribes 5D chess to DJT. As regards the CCP and the Norks, I just don’t see it... Obviously I’m thick as a brick, not seeing the how and why of all this...

Can anyone help me here?

Is there method here, to this madness?

Thanks!

OldArcher
Following Sun Tzu, Clausewitz et al IMHO isn't "5D chess", but everyone involved is bringing the best game to the board that they can.
 

OldArcher

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Well if you're a brick, I'm a monolith. I'm not sure to what specific action, or lack there of, you refer. Norks having the capability? Short of a time traveling machine (which I believe Q does credit DJT with possessing) how could he impact something that happened prior to his tenure?

As to CCP, I dunno. I think that I, and perhaps others, often forget that balance of power is very much a whole systems construct, and that focusing on individual components will poorly capture the net change / impact occurring.
I’m in awe, Ma’am!

All the Best to You and Yours!

OldArcher
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Taiwan begins construction of first indigenous submarine
by Gabriel Dominguez
Jane's
November 25 2020

Taiwan has officially begun construction of the first of a planned eight locally designed and developed diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs) for the Republic of China Navy (RoCN) as the island aims to enhance its defence capabilities amid rising tensions with mainland China.

On 24 November Taiwan marked the start of construction of its first indigenous submarine in a ceremony held at the southern port city of Kaohsiung. (Taiwanese MND )


On 24 November Taiwan marked the start of construction of its first indigenous submarine in a ceremony held at the southern port city of Kaohsiung. (Taiwanese MND )

During a 24 November ceremony to mark the event at the southern port city of Kaohsiung Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen referred to the beginning of the construction project as a “milestone” for Taiwan’s defence industry, noting that it also demonstrates the island’s strong will “to protect its sovereignty”.

“Submarines are important equipment for the development of the Taiwanese navy’s asymmetric warfare capabilities and to deter enemy ships from encircling Taiwan,” Tsai was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

The island’s largest shipbuilder, CSBC Corporation (formerly the China Shipbuilding Corporation), will construct the boats at a purpose-built facility in Kaohsiung that only recently became operational.

According to the shipbuilder, which is partly owned by the state, the first boat is slated for completion in the third quarter of 2024, with sea trials and commissioning scheduled for 2025. The boats will be built under the Indigenous Defence Submarine Programme, also known as the Hai Ch’ang programme.

As Janes reported, CSBC Corporation – and its development partner, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) – were awarded a contract in 2017 to design and construct the submarines. The project is supported by a submarine development centre that CSBC inaugurated in 2016.

Taiwan begins construction of first indigenous submarine (janes.com)
 

jward

passin' thru
Kim Jong Un is cutting off his economic lifeline, China, to stave off Covid-19
CNN Digital Expansion Shoot, Joshua Berlinger
Analysis by Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Updated 1:07 AM ET, Mon November 30, 2020
How US policy toward North Korea may change under Biden



How US policy toward North Korea may change under Biden 02:20
(CNN)Kim Jong Un appears to have kicked North Korea's pandemic prevention plan into overdrive, further tightening the country's nearly impassible borders, cutting off nearly all trade with China, and even allegedly executing a customs official for failing to handle imported goods appropriately.
Beijing exported just $253,000 worth of goods to Pyongyang in October -- a drop of 99% from September to October, according to data published by China's customs administration. For context, that's less in terms of dollar value than China exported to Liechtenstein and Monaco during October.

China is North Korea's biggest trading partner and effectively the Kim regime's economic lifeline -- the country basically doesn't import significantly from anywhere else. Before major UN sanctions were put in place as punishment for North Korea's nuclear weapons program in 2016 and 2017, Beijing accounted for more than 90% of Pyongyang's foreign trade.The new customs figures, if accurate, show that Kim appears to be willing to pare back -- or even cut off -- trade with China to prevent the virus from entering North Korea, even if it means risking the country's food and fuel supply. The move is even more extreme considering mainland China is only reporting a handful of cases each day.
https://www.cnn.com/specials/asia/north-korea
North Korea has not publicly acknowledged the drop in trade, or the reason behind it, but the pandemic is the most likely explanation. Kim reportedly had two people executed for Covid-19 related crimes, including a customs official who did not follow virus prevention rules while importing goods from China, a South Korean lawmaker said after being briefed by the country's spy agency.
CNN has not been able to independently confirm news of the execution, nor have North Korean officials publicly confirmed it. But if true, the killing is another sign of just how seriously Kim is taking Covid-19.
North Korean state media reported Sunday that authorities were enacting new, stricter anti-epidemic measures across the country, including increasing the number of guard posts at border crossings and tightening the rules of sea entry in coastal areas. Authorities have even been ordered to "incinerate seaborne rubbish."

Pyongyang's decision to scale back imports from China has affected trade in the other direction. The October customs data, from Beijing, showed that Chinese imports from North Korea are down 74% year-on-year. That's forced industries in China, such as hair and wig manufacturers, to search elsewhere for cheap labor.
Chinese hair factories often outsourced intensive manual labor to North Korea, sending in raw materials and paying North Korean companies to have their workers finish the products. But since the North Korea-China border closed in January to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the trade flow dried up and prices soared.

Why North Korea can't afford an outbreak
North Korea was one of the first countries in the world to shut its borders when news of Covid-19 emerged from Wuhan, China. Almost all travel into the country ceased shortly after, and this summer the city of Kaesong was placed under lockdown after reports that a defector may have brought the virus in. North Korean state media regularly carries pieces reminding its people on the importance of its emergency anti-epidemic campaign.
Experts believe Pyongyang's vigilant response is in place because Kim's regime recognizes just how much trouble it would have containing a pandemic that has overwhelmed some of the world's best health care systems.

Reuters: North Korean hackers suspected of targeting AstraZeneca



Reuters: North Korean hackers suspected of targeting AstraZeneca 01:53
North Korea's crumbling health care infrastructure is unlikely to be up to the task of treating a large number of patients sickened with a virus that the global health care community still does not fully understand. North Korea already has trouble treating other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.
Defectors who have fled the country and aide workers who have volunteered there say North Korean hospitals and medical facilities are often dilapidated and lack proper equipment and medicine. People who fled during the famine of the 1990s shared stories of amputations done without anesthesia or doctors selling medicine to buy food to survive.

Pyongyang has not publicly admitted to a single case of Covid-19 within its borders, but many question that an infectious disease that has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide and infected 62.6 million did not make it inside North Korea.
Evans Revere, a former US assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, believes the latest steps taken by the Kim regime "suggest that an already serious situation -- the pandemic -- has gotten a lot worse."
Revere said the situation in North Korea is looking particularly dire because of a combination of factors that the pandemic is exacerbating: severe weather, potential crop shortages, the impact of international sanctions, and cutting off trade with China. These are major challenges that Kim must deal with as his country prepares for an important meeting of the ruling Workers' Party in January, where a new five-year plan is expected to be announced.
"The fact that we're getting so many reports suggesting that there's been a massive lockdown and crackdown and possible executions, tells me that something significant is up. And it's it doesn't bode well for not only North Korea's economy, but for the ability of many people to get by on a day-to-day basis in North Korea," Revere said.

"This is a pretty serious situation for the North Korean leader, and this also may explain the relative quiet that we've seen from North Korea since the US presidential election. They may very well be inward looking right now and trying to figure out how to get through the next few months."
North Korea has yet to comment on President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the US elections. Biden will likely approach negotiations with Pyongyang much differently than President Donald Trump, who established a personal relationship with Kim in the hopes that it could lead to a diplomatic breakthrough.
CNN's Yoonjung Seo, Gawon Bae and Rebecca Wright contributed to this report
 

jward

passin' thru
:: shakes head :: Just can't play nice with anyone, can they.

Indo-Pacific News
@IndoPac_Info

9m

#China’s ominous #SouthChinaSea warning to #Australia China’s state-controlled media has bluntly warned Australia’s warships to stay out of the South China Sea or risk the “bitter pill” of confrontation. It's time to send #Australian ships there then...
“As a warhound of the US, Australia should restrain its arrogance. Particularly, its warships must not come to China’s coastal areas to flex muscles, or else it will swallow the bitter pills,’’ the editorial states.
View: https://twitter.com/IndoPac_Info/status/1333651194674233344?s=20
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Posted for fair use.....
For embedded videos please see article source.....

Australia Teams Up With U.S. To Get Hypersonic Missiles For Its Super Hornets In Five Years
Plans call for the rapid prototyping of a new air-breathing long-range missile for the Royal Australian Air Force.
ByThomas Newdick
November 30, 2020
SGT Pete Gammie / Commonwealth of Australia
SHARE



Australia is gearing up to start testing a new air-launched hypersonic missile “within months.” Details of the joint U.S.-Australian program are still emerging but point to a multi-million-dollar effort to develop an air-breathing, long-range missile that could ultimately be carried by a range of Royal Australian Air Force aircraft.

The new weapon is due to be formally announced tomorrow and prototypes are being developed together with the United States under the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment, or SCIFiRE. Hypersonic weapons are generally understood to be capable of flying at least five times the speed of sound, giving them faster response time for striking critical targets and making them much harder to defend against than their slower counterparts



The United States and Australia Quietly Test Hypersonic Missiles
By Joseph Trevithick Posted in The War Zone

Northrop And Raytheon Have Been Secretly Working On Scramjet Powered Hypersonic Missile
By Joseph Trevithick Posted in The War Zone

Australia’s Loyal Wingman Drone It’s Developing With Boeing Has Been Photographed In The Wild
By Thomas Newdick Posted in The War Zone

B-52 Bomber Flies For The First Time With New Hypersonic Missile Under Its Wing
By Joseph Trevithick Posted in The War Zone

New Lockheed Concept Shows Navy F-35C Armed With Hypersonic Cruise Missiles
By Joseph Trevithick Posted in The War Zone

In an official release, the U.S. Department of Defense noted that “The SCIFiRE effort aims to cooperatively advance air-breathing hypersonic technologies into full-size prototypes that are affordable and provide a flexible, long-range capability, culminating in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions.”

“Developing this game-changing capability with the United States from an early stage is providing opportunities for Australian industry,” said Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds. “Investing in capabilities that deter actions against Australia also benefits our region, our allies, and our security partners. We remain committed to peace and stability in the region, and an open, inclusive, and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”


Commonwealth of Australia
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds in the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet, flanked by No. 75 Squadron Executive Officer, Squadron Leader Daniel Truitt, and Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld.

“SCIFiRE is a true testament to the enduring friendship and strong partnership between the United States and Australia,” added Michael Kratsios, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “This initiative will be essential to the future of hypersonic research and development, ensuring the U.S. and our allies lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability.”

The ambitious timeline, including missile tests in the coming months, is intended to yield an operationally ready weapon within the next five to 10 years, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

While Australia has apparently struck a new deal with the United States regarding SCIFiRE in the last few days, this program dates back as long as 15 years. It has included joint research on hypersonic scramjets, rocket motors, sensors, and advanced manufacturing materials.

In the past, The War Zone has examined previous U.S. and Australian hypersonic experiments, including the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HiFIRE) program, which you can read more about here. A U.S. Air Force contract announcement as long ago as 2008 indicated that one of the aims of the HiFIRE program was to gather information that could be “applicable to the design of next-generation high-speed strike weapons.”





Hypersonic weapons were also among the technologies earmarked for investment in Australia’s Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan that was released earlier this year. That document included provisions for between AUS $6.2 billion and $9.3 billion to be invested in “high-speed long-range strike, including hypersonic research” up to 2040.

Other than the fact it will be air-breathing, details of the new hypersonic missile itself are scarce, but it seems clear that it will involve Australian contractors, as the country seeks to build up its high-tech defense industrial base. A meeting between Australia’s Department of Defence and industry representatives is scheduled for this week.

The missile is likely to be carried, initially at least, by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets, but could also potentially be integrated on P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.


Commonwealth of Australia
An F/A-18F Super Hornet from No. 1 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force.

While the F-35A Lightning II has been mentioned as a possible launch platform, it seems unlikely that a hypersonic weapon would be small enough for internal carriage by the stealth fighter. Lockheed Martin has previously revealed a concept for a variant of its air-launched Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept hypersonic missile, or HAWC, as an external armament option for U.S. Navy F-35C Joint Strike Fighters.


Joseph Trevithick
An artist’s concept of a follow-on to the HAWC missile for the U.S. Navy.

It’s notable, too, that efforts are underway in the United States to provide a similar hypersonic capability for the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, with a project run by the Air Force Research Lab and contracted to Boeing, which is working on a dual-mode scramjet design. Separately, Boeing is also engaged in a project developing a ramjet-powered high-speed missile demonstrator for the U.S. Navy, with that service’s F/A-18E/Fs again among the likely carriers.

While the initial focus of the SCIFiRE work seems to be firmly on an air-launched missile for the RAAF, Australia is also looking to develop hypersonic weapons for launch from the ground or from warships, and it’s possible that a family of weapons may eventually be developed for different launch platform applications.

Australia is the latest nation to move to develop a hypersonic strike missile and development has likely been accelerated in response to China’s increasing activity in the field of long-range hypersonic and ballistic missiles. Australia also has a keen eye on China’s growing ability to threaten different types of targets in the Asia-Pacific region with a variety of weapons.

Canberra has already committed to a major overhaul of its defenses in light of China’s military advances, and the tensions between Beijing and the United States, which is Australia’s close military partner and primary provider of aircraft and air-launched weapons.

“We must face the reality that we have moved into a new and less benign strategic era — one in which the institutions and patterns of cooperation that have benefited our prosperity and security for decades are under increasing strain,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier this year.

Australia’s recalibration of military priorities toward the Asia-Pacific has included the purchase of the highly capable and stealthy AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM, from the United States to arm the F/A-18F. That missile travels at subsonic speeds.




Now, by moving toward adding hypersonic missiles to the inventory within an ambitious timeframe, Australia is looking to harness significant technological advances as it seeks to maintain its military edge.

Contact the author: thomas@thedrive.com
 

OldArcher

Has No Life - Lives on TB
:: shakes head :: Just can't play nice with anyone, can they.
Indo-Pacific News
@IndoPac_Info

9m

#China’s ominous #SouthChinaSea warning to #Australia China’s state-controlled media has bluntly warned Australia’s warships to stay out of the South China Sea or risk the “bitter pill” of confrontation. It's time to send #Australian ships there then...
“As a warhound of the US, Australia should restrain its arrogance. Particularly, its warships must not come to China’s coastal areas to flex muscles, or else it will swallow the bitter pills,’’ the editorial states.
View: https://twitter.com/IndoPac_Info/status/1333651194674233344?s=20
Yes, plus some U.S. subs and Arleigh Burkes, as well...
Mare those Chinese asswholes bleed!

OldArcher
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Russia deploys missiles to Pacific islands claimed by Japan
The Russian military says it has deployed state-of-the-art air defense missiles to the Pacific islands claimed by Japan
By The Associated Press
1 December 2020, 10:03

MOSCOW -- The Russian military on Tuesday announced the deployment of state-of-the-art air defense missiles to the Pacific islands claimed by Japan.

Russia's Eastern Military District said in a statement that the S-300V4 air defense missile systems have entered combat duty on the Kuril Islands, adding punch to the shorter range Tor M2 missile systems deployed there earlier.

The Russian Defense Ministry's TV station, Zvezda, reported that the air defense missile systems were deployed on Iturup, one of the four southernmost Kuril islands.

The new deployment marked the latest move in a continuous Russian military buildup on the islands, which has included stationing advanced fighter jets and anti-ship missiles there.

Japan asserts territorial rights to the islands it calls the Northern Territories. The Soviet Union took them in the final days of World War II, and the dispute has kept the countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their hostilities.

Decades of diplomatic efforts to negotiate a settlement haven't produced any visible results.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spent a lot of time and effort in the hope of negotiating a solution during his nearly eight years in office but scored little progress.

Shortly after taking office in September, newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga discussed the territorial dispute in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Suga said he hopes to find a settlement and sign a peace treaty.

Russia deploys missiles to Pacific islands claimed by Japan - ABC News (go.com)
 

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Vincent Lee
@Rover829

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Chinese state media warned that some damage to Sino-US ties are "beyond repair" amid a new wave of measures by the Trump administration, with an ugly Twitter spat between a US senator and Chinese reporter underlining the rising rancour
Reuters: An exchange of insults on Thursday between U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn and China Daily journalist Chen Weihua underscored persistent animosity.
View: https://twitter.com/Rover829/status/1334705530011590656?s=20
 

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More and More Taiwanese Favor Independence – and Think the US Would Help Fight for It

The latest Taiwan National Security Survey contains both good and bad news for cross-strait stability.



By Dennis V. Hickey

December 03, 2020
More and More Taiwanese Favor Independence – and Think the US Would Help Fight for It

Credit: Office of the President, ROC (Taiwan)
On January 11, 2020, Tsai Ing-wen won a second term as president of Taiwan with an impressive 57.1 percent of the popular vote. The victory was especially notable when one considers that her party – the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – had suffered a crushing defeat in the island’s 2018 mid-term elections. That drubbing forced Tsai to resign as party chair, while the DPP lost control over some key cities.

Does the DPP landslide in the 2020 election reflect a shift in political party alignments within Taiwan? Is popular support for the DPP’s independence-leaning agenda growing? Has opinion shifted with respect to Taipei’s complex relations with Beijing and Washington? The discussion below seeks to shed some light on these and other questions by comparing the findings of the latest Taiwan National Security Survey (TNSS) – conducted on October 27-31 of this year – with the TNSS polls of January 3-7, 2019 and November 29-December 5, 2017. Since 2002, this survey has been conducted 13 times by the Election Study Center of National Chengchi University, under the auspices of the Asian Security Studies Program at Duke University.

Following the Kuomintang’s (KMT’s) sweeping victory in Taiwan’s midterm elections, the 2019 TNSS poll showed that support for the party rose to 28 percent – a significant jump from the 2017 survey – while the DPP’s support dipped to 18 percent. In the 2020 survey, the results were reversed. Today, 19 percent support the KMT and 29 percent favor the DPP. Like earlier polls, however, a plurality of Taiwanese (40.7 percent) do not identify with any party. Considering past survey results and shifts in party loyalty, it appears unlikely that the 2020 election signaled a political realignment in Taiwan.

During the 2015-16 election cycle, promises to revitalize Taiwan’s stagnant economy played a key role in the DPP’s campaign strategy. All subsequent TNSS polls, however, reveal that few Taiwanese have noticed any improvement. In fact, the 2020 poll found that a plurality (43 percent) of respondents believe the economic situation is worse than the previous year. Roughly 41 percent see no change and only 12.3 percent believe the economy has improved. In the 2019 survey, 65 percent saw no change and 28 percent claimed conditions were worse.

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Given Taiwan’s sluggish economy and the DPP’s poor showing in the mid-term elections, Tsai tried to shift voters’ attention away from “bread and butter” issues during the 2020 campaign. Rather, she sought to capitalize on hostile words and actions from Beijing, the tragic events unfolding in Hong Kong, and her seemingly cozy relationship with U.S. President Donald J. Trump. But it was the China factor – Taipei’s troubled relationship with Beijing – that loomed large throughout the election. Consequently, DPP leaders proclaimed themselves the true defenders of Taiwan’s democracy against China.

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Not surprisingly, a plurality of those polled (48 percent) now characterize the relationship with the Chinese mainland as hostile. The percentage that believes relations are “extremely hostile” has quadrupled from 3 percent in 2017 to 12 percent today. In 2017, the majority had described relations as friendly.

Despite the deterioration in cross-strait relations, a plurality of Taiwanese – 40.2 percent – still favor strengthening economic and trade relations with the mainland. But this support dropped from 53 percent in the previous poll, while those preferring a weakening of economic ties has grown to 35.2 percent. Like all past polls, a majority fears that increased economic dependence will lead Beijing to pressure Taipei into political concessions.

When it comes to strategies employed to handle cross-strait relations, 51.3 percent of Taiwanese still support diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions. Only 38.4 percent favor an increase in military capabilities. Moreover, despite the DPP’s unrelenting effort to demonize the so-called “1992 Consensus,” a plurality of respondents (46 percent as compared to 57 percent in 2019) continue to support the “one China, different interpretations” formula as the best means to handle relations with the Chinese mainland. This understanding served as the foundation for the unprecedented cross-strait détente engineered by the previous administration. And there continues to be little confidence in Taiwan’s military to prevail in a conflict should diplomacy fail. A majority – roughly 60 percent – say Taiwan cannot successfully defend itself and 75.7 percent agree that the length of compulsory military training in Taiwan, which now stands at four months, is too short. A majority supports strengthening cooperation with the United States and Japan to counter China.

Digging deeper, support for immediate unification with the mainland continues to find no market in Taiwan – it stands at roughly 1 percent – and over 60 percent oppose Beijing’s “one country, two systems” unification scheme. Support for immediate independence also remains in single digits (6 percent). Rather, a majority favors the status quo. And the percentage of people who prefer the status quo indefinitely has grown from roughly 24 percent in 2019 to 31 percent today. It’s noteworthy that an impressive majority – almost 75 percent – continue to believe that Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China.

Like past TNSS polls, the 2020 survey includes questions about a cross-strait conflict. How Taiwan’s citizenry plan to respond to a war is not reassuring. On the one hand, roughly 11 percent will join the military, 11 percent will support the war effort, and 10 percent will follow government orders. On the other hand, 21 percent plan to go about their daily lives and/or do nothing, 11 percent will flee to another country, and 24 percent say they don’t know. As in the past, a majority believes that most other Taiwanese will join the fighting.

Perceptions of an American response to an attack on Taiwan merit attention. The TNSS poll normally asks respondents how they believe the United States will react to an attack by China in the event that Taipei declares independence. In 2017, 40.5 percent thought America would commit troops to a conflict, while more (43.4 percent) said it would not. In 2019, the number claiming Washington would provide troops jumped to 48.5 percent, while 35.3 percent disagreed. Today, however, a majority believes the United States would deploy its military to help defend Taiwan if it triggers conflict by declaring de jure independence from China. The 2020 poll found that 53.2 percent now expect the U.S. to protect Taiwan, and 35 percent think it would not. Like past findings, over 60 percent believe the United States would intervene in the event of an unprovoked attack.

In addition to a growing belief that Washington will support Taipei militarily if it declares independence, the new TNSS poll identifies another trend. As described, most Taiwanese seem to favor the status quo and oppose an immediate declaration of independence. In the 2017 and 2019 polls, however, almost 60 percent oppose independence if it triggers a Chinese attack. In the 2020 poll, those opposing a war over independence dropped to 51 percent, while the number supporting armed conflict jumped to 37 percent. And most Taiwanese no longer believe that unification is inevitable. For the first time, a plurality of respondents (47.5 percent) now believe that Taiwan independence is more likely than unification.

What do the new TNSS survey results mean? The TNSS has raised concerns ever since its initial release in 2002. But it’s often possible to find a few nuggets of good news in every poll. For example, almost no one supports an immediate declaration of independence. This is good news for the U.S. as de jure independence is the most likely trigger for a cross-strait war – a cataclysmic conflict that might conceivably involve the U.S. armed forces. Despite a rise in anti-China sentiment, the majority of Americans continue to oppose military intervention in any clash between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. Moreover, most Taiwanese continue to favor diplomatic efforts to resolve differences with Beijing and support an increase in economic ties. And most still believe the two sides can best resolve differences peacefully by using diplomacy and the “one China, two interpretations” framework.

Those concerned with growing threats to democracy within Taiwan – most recently illustrated by the DPP move to silence pro-KMT media outlets – should be reassured by the fact that the 2020 election does not signal an end to competitive party politics. As described, the TNSS poll found that most Taiwanese continue to refuse to identify with either party. It is conceivable that the KMT or an independent candidate not aligned with either camp could win the 2024 presidential election.

The Taiwan Relations Act – the law that guides U.S. policy toward Taiwan – does not include an “iron-clad” commitment to defend Taiwan. Therefore, the finding that most Taiwanese believe the U.S. will support Taiwan militarily if it declares independence will likely raise some eyebrows in Washington. However, it is unclear whether this shift in attitude reflects a meaningful change in public opinion or if it’s a temporary spike that will recede over time. After all, similar results may be found in some earlier TNSS polls.

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Another matter that merits attention is the rise in the number of respondents who now agree that independence – not unification – is the most likely future for Taiwan. Given the fact that the majority believes China will attack Taiwan if it declares independence and fear that the military cannot defend the island, this finding might be related to the perception (or misperception) that Washington will intervene. It is also troubling that, while the majority still opposes a war over independence, the number supporting such a conflict has risen to 37 percent. This points to the possibility that the “independence-leaning” DPP might encounter growing pressure from elements within its constituency to do more than just “lean” toward independence.

In sum, the 2020 TNSS poll exhibits similarities and differences when compared to earlier surveys. Some of the changes in perceptions of island’s security equation might be traced to the Trump administration’s robust support, albeit often symbolic, for Taiwan. Others might be attributed to generational changes within Taiwan. Still others might be traced to the Tsai administration and its troubled relationship with Beijing. Irrespective of the catalysts for change, it appears likely that the most complex and challenging China-related issue that the incoming Joe Biden administration will confront is that of Taiwan. Peace and stability in the Western Pacific might well hinge on how the new administration chooses to manage its relationship with the world’s first Chinese democracy.

Dennis V. Hickey is a foreign policy analyst and professor emeritus at Missouri State University. He is the author of numerous books and articles on international security and relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

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