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China

By Thomas French

North Korea's 'Falklands Moment'?

Argentina launched its bid to recapture the Falkland Islands from Britain in 1982 largely in response to bolster the Junta's tottering legitimacy and popularity. This move aimed at diverting the people's attention from the country's chronic economic problems and the regime's ongoing human rights violations through uniting them in a patriotic struggle in defence of their homeland.

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The UK Defence Forum has just published the above Regional Study, written by Adam Dempsey, Research Associate.

Vietnam's full integration into the international system has allowed the country's armed forces to embark upon a programme of modernisation. This has seen Vietnam rejuvenate arms transfer partnerships with traditional allies as well as cultivating relationships with old foes. Also underpinning recent procurement programmes is a commitment to improve Vietnam's parlous defence-industrial base. Modernisation on all fronts is deemed crucial to Vietnamese efforts to contend with the growing influence of China. Yet until such programmes reach maturation, Vietnam will use its newly-forged partnerships for geopolitical leverage.

The full study can be read here.

 

By Guy Birks

The dissolution of the bipolar bloc system that broadly defined and framed the purpose of modern armed forces in the West has been supplanted by a more integrated and interdependent international environment. The purpose of modern armed forces has consequently been altered and adjusted to fit the changing nature of international relations. The principle of sovereignty has shifted from a position of inviolability to one where the international community can become involved in the internal affairs of a state and a region if it is deemed that a state poses a threat to international stability. Intervention in Somalia, Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan are examples of the proactive, expeditionary defence against instability. The direct defence of the homeland as a strategic premise and priority for Britain and the United States has been replaced by a concern to defend against instability through expeditionary intervention. The focus of defence now resolves around the shift from a conventional all-embrasive threat towards the expeditionary defence against unconventional threats from failing or failed states.   However, the examples of India and China - key geostrategic states with prominent armed forces indicate that defending against instability frequently involves activities which protect and defend the homeland and its immediate locale.

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By Peter Zeihan

The global system is undergoing profound change. Three powers Germany, China and Iran face challenges forcing them to refashion the way they interact with their regions and the world. We are exploring each of these three states in detail in three geopolitical weeklies, highlighting how STRATFOR's assessments of these states are evolving. First we examined Germany. We now examine China.

U.S.-Chinese relations have become tenser in recent months, with the United States threatening to impose tariffs unless China agrees to revalue its currency and, ideally, allow it to become convertible like the yen or euro. China now follows Japan and Germany as one of the three major economies after the United States. Unlike the other two, it controls its currency's value, allowing it to decrease the price of its exports and giving it an advantage not only over other exporters to the United States but also over domestic American manufacturers. The same is true in other regions that receive Chinese exports, such as Europe.

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Sr. Colonel Yao Yunzhu, People's Liberation Army of China

M y topic is about China's perspective on deterrence, but before I deal with the topic, I must point out that for a long time in the Cold War, China strongly opposed the concept of nuclear deterrence, which, as so frequently used by the US government, had carried with it such derogatory connotations as "nuclear blackmail," "nuclear coercion," "nuclear containment," and "nuclear threat." And China, as the country most frequently threatened by nuclear attack, was understandably reluctant to use such a term. Not until the late 1980s or early 1990s, when China's drive toward defence modernization inspired academic debate, did deterrence gain acceptance as a key concept in strategic studies and lose its pejorative sense. However, even though the term remained taboo for some time, the logic of deterrence has always played a major role in Chinese nuclear thinking. To facilitate understanding, I explain China's nuclear policy, making use of US deterrence terminology, and compare China's deterrence thinking with that of the United States.

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By Adam Dempsey, Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

Debates have polarised around whether China is engaged in a project of resource exploitation withAfrica for its own needs, or if it is offering the continent an opportunity to focus on trade rather than Western aid. Chinese arms sales to African states provide fuel for both sides of the debate. Yet they also contribute to challenges to the security of the continent. The international community should consider opportunities or strategies to counter Chinese arms sales to Africa.

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A recent Gallup poll shows that Americans see the U.S. as the world's top military power now but doubt whether this will be true in 20 years. Only about a third of Americans believe the U.S. will still be ranked first militarily in 2029.

Americans are intuitively smart, and they have taken note of a disturbing trend occurring outside the headlines: investment in military modernization is declining during a time of rapid military build-ups abroad. They are right to be concerned.

In recent months, Heritage has drawn attention to several areas where the U.S. Armed Forces are at risk of losing vital capabilities the nation has enjoyed for the last half-century. Continued cuts in future defence investments proposed in President Obama's 2010 and now 2011 budgets are putting long-held U.S. military advantages in jeopardy. These cuts are coming at a time when the U.S. military is already experiencing shrinking margins of technological superiority relative to the rest of the world.

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By Jennifer Richmond and Roger Baker

China's National People's Congress (NPC) remains in session. As usual, the meeting has provided Beijing an opportunity to highlight the past year's successes and lay out the problems that lie ahead. On the surface at least, China has shown remarkable resilience in the face of global economic crisis. It has posted enviable gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates while keeping factories running (if at a loss) and workers employed. But the economic crisis has exposed the inefficiencies of China's export-dependent economic model, and the government has had to pump money into a major investment stimulus package to make up for the net drain the export sector currently is exacting on the economy.

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by Brad Glosserman

The United States has scaled back plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. While that decision reflects a new assessment of the Iranian threat to Europe, most attention is being paid to its impact on relations with Russia. But the decision has equally important implications for Asia. It underscores two critical facts: first, the notion of discrete "theaters" is a fiction; second, the U.S. has to closely engage its Asian allies as it develops its strategic doctrine.

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by Lisa Curtis

Testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission May 20, 2009

My name is Lisa Curtis. I am a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in this testimony are my own, and should not be construed as representing any official position of The Heritage Foundation.

Pakistan and China have long-standing strategic ties, dating back five decades. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari wrote in a

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by Tetsuo Kotani

China's possession of aircraft carriers is not a matter of "if," but "when." Last November, an official in China's Ministry of National Defense touched for the first time in a public venue on the possibility of his nation acquiring aircraft carriers. China has purchased three carriers built by the former Soviet Union and one built by Australia, gaining an opportunity to study their structures. One of those, the Varyag, was supposed to serve as a floating casino in Macao, but it is now moored at a shipyard in Dalian, where it has been painted the same gray as other naval vessels and an angled deck has been installed. The Varyag does not have engines and cannot be employed as China's first aircraft carrier, but it can be used for research/training purposes.

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By Rodger Baker and Jennifer Richmond

Due in large part to fears of dire consequences if nothing were done to tackle the economic crisis, China rushed through a 4 trillion yuan (US$586 billion) economic stimulus package in November 2008. The plan cobbled together existing and new initiatives focused on massive infrastructure development projects (designed, among other things, to soak up surplus steel, cement and labor capacity), tax cuts, green energy programs, and rural development.

Ever since the package was passed in November, Beijing has recited the mantra of the need to shift China's economy from

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By Tom French

With the recent apparent concessions by the Iranian government over death by stoning in the face of western pressure, this seeming victory for 'soft power', begs the question whether similar policies might work on North Korea (DPRK).

The EU seems to think so, having recently passed a resolution on human rights in North Korea, which included the appointment of a special representative and calls on the DPRK to 'abolish the death penalty and end to the ongoing grave, widespread and systematic human rights violations, public executions and extra-judicial executions'.

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By Adam Dempsey, Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

In an article in The Washington Times retired Admiral James A. Lyons suggests that with China's influence on the rise in the South China Sea, the United States should reinvigorate military ties with the Philippines. After the U.S. left the islands in 1991, China began laying claim to and occupying contested islands in the region. In 1995 China built a facility on Mischief Reef, a region recognised as within the Philippines' economic zone. According to Lyons, the Clinton administration's failure to effectively respond to China's illegal actions began fifteen years of regional policy inertia. Yet at the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Hanoi, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton signalled a change in U.S. policy. In a challenge to China's bilateral approach to addressing territorial claims, the Secretary of State emphasised that Washington wished to see disputes resolved through collaborative diplomacy. Yet in the case of the Philippines, Lyons suggests the United States should be doing more.

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By Chris Newton

It has been a long, strenuous, and difficult summer in the Ministry of Defence. As part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), it and the entire defence community has been grappling with two fundamental questions about the future. What will the future strategic environment look like? And what does this mean for our Armed Forces? There are those commentators who can, with a remarkable degree of confidence, say that they can predict what the future character of conflict will look like. Future conflict will be similar to the wars we have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, and 9/11 was a significant date that heralded a new kind of warfare.

But is this certainty in predicting the future justified when history always teaches us to expect the unexpected? History does not follow a linear, pre-determined path; it is about men and women making choices between alternative futures and scenarios. A gunshot in 1914, for example, completely destroyed an entire European and world order. So we should at the very least be open to alternative scenarios and future pathways. Moreover, there is another significant date has passed us by that could signal the change the world is about to face, and we could risk harming our future security and prosperity if we choose to ignore its significance.

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By Scott Stewart and Nate Hughes

Over the past decade there has been an ongoing debate over the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to modern civilization. This debate has been the most heated perhaps in the United States, where the commission appointed by Congress to assess the threat to the United States warned of the dangers posed by EMP in reports released in 2004 and 2008. The commission also called for a national commitment to address the EMP threat by hardening the national infrastructure.

There is little doubt that efforts by the United States to harden infrastructure against EMP and its ability to manage critical infrastructure manually in the event of an EMP attack have been eroded in recent decades as the Cold War ended and the threat of nuclear conflict with Russia lessened. This is also true of the U.S. military, which has spent little time contemplating such scenarios in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. The cost of remedying the situation, especially retrofitting older systems rather than simply regulating that new systems be better hardened, is immense. And as with any issue involving massive amounts of money, the debate over guarding against EMP has become quite politicized in recent years.

We have long avoided writing on this topic for precisely that reason. However, as the debate over the EMP threat has continued, a great deal of discussion about the threat has appeared in the media. Many STRATFOR readers have asked for our take on the threat, and we thought it might be helpful to dispassionately discuss the tactical elements involved in such an attack and the various actors that could conduct one. The following is our assessment of the likelihood of an EMP attack against the United States.

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By George Friedman and Reva Bhalla

Strange statements are coming out of Cuba these days. Fidel Castro, in the course of a five-hour interview in late August, reportedly told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations that "the Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."

Once that statement hit the headlines, Castro backtracked. Dressed in military uniform for the first time in four years (which we suspect was his way of signaling that he was not abandoning the revolution), he delivered a rare, 35-minute speech Sept. 3 to students at the University of Havana. In addition to spending several minutes on STRATFOR's Iran analysis, Castro addressed his earlier statement on the Cuban model, saying he was "accurately quoted but misinterpreted" and suggesting that the economic model doesn't work anymore but that the revolution lives on.

Castro, now 84, may be old, but he still seems to have his wits about him. We don't know whether he was grossly misinterpreted by the reporter during the earlier interview, was acknowledging the futility of the Cuban model and/or was dropping hints of a policy shift. Regardless of what he did or did not say, Castro's reported statement on the weakness of the revolution was by no means revolutionary.

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