SteveWire – SCW NEWSWATCH: “Trade frictions raise questions about China’s fentanyl promise” – Reuters 5.13.19
“China has pledged to stem a flood of the synthetic opioid fentanyl onto America’s streets, where it kills thousands … [per] month, but U.S. security experts are skeptical about whether Beijing is willing, or even able, to follow through. Ten current and former U.S. officials, congressional sources and China and trade experts … [said] that China cooperates only when it believes it will get something in return. In this case, several said, Beijing appears to have offered … help … [to] get the best deal possible from Washington in trade negotiations. ….”
SteveWire – SCW NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Trade Fight Escalates as China Hits U.S. With Higher Tariffs Washington lays out nearly $300 billion of imports that would face fresh 25% levies.” – Wall Street Journal/ Chao Deng, Josh Zumbrun, Vivian Salama 5.13.19
“The U.S.-China trade dispute escalated sharply Monday, as Beijing retaliated against higher U.S. tariffs with plans to increase levies on $60 billion in U.S. imports and Washington laid out nearly $300 billion of new Chinese imports that would face 25% levies as early as this summer. The higher tariffs are expected to raise costs for both consumers and businesses and act as a brake on economic growth in both countries. Neither side appeared ready to compromise ….”
SCW NEWSWATCH: “The New Geopolitics of the Arctic; Russia’s and China’s Evolving Role in the Region” – RAND/ Stephanie Pezard/ Canadian House of Commons Testimony
“Russia’s Arctic region is strategically important for the Kremlin …. First, it contains major population centers: With 350,000 inhabitants, Arkhangelsk is the largest Arctic town, followed by Murmansk, with 300,000 … Under … Putin, the Russian Arctic has been emphasized as a patriotic and nationalistic theme. Secondly, Russia’s economy relies heavily on its oil and gas industry, and such resources are heavily present in the Arctic, including in the Yamal region, where Russia has recently developed a massive liquified natural gas (LNG) plant and terminal. Russia … is particularly sensitive to security issues around energy infrastructure …. Thirdly, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) … along Russia’s northern shore, between the Kara Sea and the Bering Strait  is becoming increasingly navigable. … Russia’s Northern Fleet is based in the Kola Peninsula, near Murmansk, and contains two-thirds of Russia’s nuclear submarine fleet … the Arctic … protects Russia’s strategic deterrent and … allows a sizable share of its Navy to reach the northern Atlantic. Russia’s military capabilities in the Arctic have steadily increased over the past ten years. Russia has opened new airfields and refurbished old ones; created a dedicated northern command for the region; and set up two Arctic brigades. It also is planning to substantially increase its icebreaker fleet … already … the largest in the world. Russia’s new military base on Aleksandra Land is touted as the ‘largest building in the entire circumpolar high Arctic.’ …”
Click here for: “The New Geopolitics of the Arctic; Russia’s and China’s Evolving Role in the Region” – RAND/ Stephanie Pezard/ Canadian House of Commons Testimony
SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties” – RAND/World Politics Review
“In the largest Russian military exercise since the height of the Cold War, Moscow … [in September] deploy[ed] 300,000 troops, 900 tanks and 1,000 aircraft in central and eastern Russia. … [for] ‘Vostok 2018,’ or East Exercise 2018 …. for the first time ever, Chinese military forces … participate[d], with plans to send 3,200 troops and 30 aircraft over the border into eastern Russia. … highlight[ing] two important, seemingly contradictory [aspects of] the relationship between China and Russia. First, the appearance of military cooperation masks deep strategic distrust and suspicion below the surface. … [Yet] strong incentives and a lack of alternatives provide a sturdy foundation for a continued strategic partnership going forward. Vostok 2018 represents the latest in a series of combined Chinese-Russian military exercises stretching back more than a decade. Their militaries have been training together since 2005, and China and Russia have been holding joint naval exercises every year since 2012, including near each other’s respective hotspots. Last year, China sent three naval ships to its first jointly held exercise with Russian forces in the Baltic Sea. In 2016, the two navies carried out a joint exercise in the South China Sea … [after] a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejecting China’s territorial claims in the contested waterway. Warm political statements by top Chinese and Russian leaders have complemented these military actions. …”
Click here for: “Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties” – RAND/World Politics Review/Timothy R. Heath … or click here for longer version
NEWSLINK: “Russia and China bombard Blighty with 188 cyberattacks in 3 months; Security secrets and private businesses are all fair game” – Register (UK)
“Britain has been hit by 188 “high-level attacks” in the last three months. Some of these attempts include Russian state-sponsored hackers trying to steal defence and foreign policy secrets, according to the UK’s newly appointed National Cyber Security Centre chief Ciaran Martin. Russian and Chinese attacks on defence and foreign policy servers are among those being investigated by the organisation. Security vendors said that high-level malfeasance by foreign espionage agencies is an issue for Western businesses as well as governments. …”
“U.S.-based Seagate, the world’s biggest maker of hard disk drives, closed its factory in Suzhou near Shanghai last month with the loss of 2,000 jobs, in a move that has rekindled fears that #China is becoming increasingly hostile towards foreign firms operating in the country. … Seagate joined a spate of foreign companies to shutter operations in China in recent years, for various reasons, but most have attributed the country’s high tax regime, rising labor costs and fierce competition from domestic companies. Panasonic, for instance, stopped all its manufacturing of televisions in the country in 2015 after 37 years of operating in China. …”
(Voice of America – voanews.vom) BEIJING — China saw a smaller than expected uptick in the number of births following its landmark decision to end the country’s controversial one-child policy
In 2016, the number of births in China increased following its landmark decision to end the country’s controversial one-child policy and allow all parents to have two children.
Officials were quick to claim success, arguing that the increase of around 1.4 million new births (compared with an average from 2010-2015) was a sign the new policy was working.
Nearly half of the 17.86 million births last year were second children, but the increase was much smaller than officials and experts expected.
For many families, it is not the statistics that are worrisome, but the financial demands parents face in raising a second child.
Liu, a government employee spending the day with his family at Houhai Lake in the central part of Beijing, said after the policy was rolled out a year ago, he and his wife considered having another. In the end however, they felt the burden was too much to bear.
“[I] wish we could have a second child. One child on his own, is too lonely,” Liu said. “It would be better to have two children.”
Many parents noted the extreme costs of living in China, in particular larger cities such as Beijing.
More than just food and clothing expenses, parents said they spend as much as $1,000 to $2,000 (some even more) each month on extracurricular classes for everything from art to dancing and skating lessons.
In many cases, parents said they are taking a wide range of courses to see where their children’s interests are and to give them an edge in a highly competitive country.
Education and extracurricular activities are not the only expenses, added James King.
“Of course, there’s also travel overseas, which is very expensive,” King said. “We try to travel abroad at least once a year.”
James and his wife Lucy, who have a second child, said that they feel the benefits outweigh the costs, but added each family’s situation is different.
“In the future, [a] child must deal with four elderly parents, but having a brother or sister can make it easier to divide up those responsibilities.”
What is clear is the two-child policy is really more a question that those with residence in China’s major coastal cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, are struggling with. For those from other provinces, bigger families are more common, despite the restrictions.
But that doesn’t mean their children see things differently.
Bai, a young hotel management worker from neighboring Hebei province, said his family, like many others where he is from, ignored fines in the past, to have more children. Especially until a boy was born.
Although Bai has two older sisters and comes from a big family by China standards, he was cautious when asked about his eventual plans for having children.
“Life is very stressful, but if I was to have a child, one would be enough,” Bai said. “Either a boy or girl would be fine.”
Traditional Chinese culture puts more emphasis on giving birth to boys as they carry on the family name. And according to tradition, girls are expected to take care of the family they join through marriage.
The over-emphasis on boys has led to a massive gender gap in China, and for critics it is one of the tragedies of the one-child policy. And that’s not the only demographic challenge China faces despite its massive population.
China’s working population is shrinking as the number of pensioners increases rapidly.
Starting next year, there is likely to be a persistent decrease in the number of children being born, experts say, as the number of women eligible to have a second child will begin to shrink as more fill their quota.
Like many of its Asian neighbors, China has a low fertility rate and so far the government has offered little in the form of incentives to encourage more births aside from ending its one child policy. And because of that, some critics say, the policy shift may be too little too late.
“… An order that directs federal agencies to ease the ‘regulatory burdens’ of ObamaCare. … ‘… on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.’ * * * An order imposing a hiring freeze for some federal government workers …. This excludes the military, as Trump noted at the signing. * * * a notice that the U.S. will begin withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. * * * … the … ‘Mexico City Policy’ … ban on federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize or promote abortion. …”
If carried out, #Tillerson’s proposal to bar Beijing from some South #China Sea islands would likely trigger #military battle, experts say
Three times in the last two months, the United States has flown B-1 bombers, equipped with the latest non-nuclear cruise missiles, on missions in Europe and Asia meant to show adversaries as well as allies what one U.S. commander called ‘an unshakable commitment.’ … part of strategic missions aimed at sending explicit messages to Russia, China and North Korea. Each of the B-1s is equipped with two dozen non-nuclear cruise missiles with highly accurate, bunker-busting warheads, a new capability. … The latest … took place … over the Korean peninsula, when two B-1 bombers flew within a few miles of the DMZ between North and South Korea, accompanied by U.S. F-16s and South Korean F-15s. … related to North Korea’s latest nuclear weapons test …
NEWSWATCH: “A new front opens up in China’s battle against separatism; Supporters of greater independence for Hong Kong gain a foothold in the city’s legislature” – The Economist
Elections held on September 4th for Hong Kong’s legislature must have shocked the leadership in Beijing. In their highest turnout for any such poll in the territory’s history (58%), voters sent a clear signal of discontent with China’s attempts to stifle democracy. Even more worryingly for Chinese officials, some of them supported radicals who believe Hong Kong should decide its own future regardless of China’s wishes. Several such ‘localists’ gained seats for the first time ….
Click here for The Economist: “A new front opens up in China’s battle against separatism; Supporters of greater independence for Hong Kong gain a foothold in the city’s legislature”
Russian warships will join elements of China’s navy in military exercises in the South China Sea next month as tensions continue to rise over Beijing’s territorial claims. … The September exercise, named Joint Sea 2016, is the fifth time the two nations have conducted such joint naval operations.
It comes amid heightened tensions in the region after an international court of arbitration in The Hague last month rejected Beijing’s claims to sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea as illegal. Since immediately before the ruling, China has staged an almost continuous series of live-fire naval and air exercises — some involving more than 300 ships — in and around the region.
Chinese planes and ships held war games in the Sea of Japan last week, the military said, during which Beijing displayed its latest-generation frigate at a time of bitter territorial disputes with Asian neighbors. … The statement made no mention of what sort of conflict the exercise was intended as a response to, prospective foes or why the Sea of Japan was chosen as the location of the drills. However, China has grown increasingly assertive over its claim to a chain of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan …. * * * China [also] is involved in an intense rivalry with the U.S. over military dominance in the region. Tensions in the South China Sea have also risen after China refused to accept an international arbitration panel’s ruling invalidating its claim [there] …. China plans joint naval exercises with Russia in the South China Sea next month ….
NEWSWATCH: “Caught between a reef and a hard place, Manila’s South China Sea victory runs aground” – Reuters
The Philippines may have won an emphatic legal victory over China in the South China Sea, but the aptly named Mischief Reef shows just how hard it will be for Manila to make its triumph count …. Chinese construction on the reef … includes a … 9,800 feet … runway, extensive housing, parade grounds and radar nests, satellite images show. … the reef and everything on it legally belongs to the Philippines and no amount of time or building will change that. … In private, officials acknowledge they have little hope of recovering Mischief Reef any time soon despite the unequivocal ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.