China: We Will Do Anything

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September 17, 2011: Taiwan and Japan have been sending officers and NCOs to the United States to obtain useful tips on how to adapt American military experience from the last decade. China has also been mining this experience, but does not have the same close access to American troops that allies like Japan and Taiwan do. American allies learn that improved American combat capabilities are not just about new weapons and technology, but also new training, organization, tactics and military thinking in general. A lot of this can’t be absorbed unless you can get some of your officers and NCOs up close and personal with their American counterparts.

In the last decade, the Chinese military has become more and more aggressive at recruiting college graduates. Currently, 5.7 percent of military personnel are college graduates. While every Chinese male is technically subject to conscription, in practice the military depends on volunteers, and this year, for the first time, potential recruits can apply on-line. The max age has been raised to 24 to make it easier for college graduates to join (usually for three years.) The military provides more opportunities for college grads (higher paid technical jobs, becoming officers). Despite the booming economy, it’s still hard for many college grads to get a job. But three years' military experience impresses employers, and the military uses that angle to attract recruits.

Wikileaks documents revealed that Chinese officials believe that even China will not be able to prevent the collapse of the North Korean government, especially after current North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il dies (which may happen soon.) China believes the North Korea government may hang on for 2-3 years after Kim is gone. China still expects South Korea to not take over the north and reunite Korea. China is planning to send in troops, establish order, and install a more efficient, and pro-Chinese, dictatorship.

The growing number, and size, of anti-corruption demonstrations has forced the government to carry out more vigorous efforts to curb the abuses. One of the major complaints is local officials seizing people’s homes and farms, without fair compensation, for resale to builders. But getting the corrupt justice system (courts and police) to enforce these new rules is another matter.

September 15, 2011: A Chinese court sentenced the son of an army general to a year in jail for assaulting a couple and damaging their car in a traffic dispute two days earlier. At first, the general’s son had tried to use his father’s stature to get the police to back off. But news of the incident quickly got onto the Internet and the government knew that this could be another public relations disaster. So the police, and the general (Li Shuangjiang) were quickly told to let the law takes its course. Chinese justice, when it works, is usually swift. In this case, it was, but only because there have been several similar incidents in the last few years where the government tried to suppress the Internet firestorm, and lost. Thus this incident demonstrates that the government, and all those officials who have long acted like they were above the law, can be brought to heel if the incident gets onto the Internet.

Despite the recent incident with general Li and his son, the government continues to try and curb this Internet ability to rapidly distribute information the government wants to control. While Twitter is banned in China, a similar service, using blogging (or “micro-blogging” and 140 character blog posts) has become popular. The government is trying to control the micro-blogs, but the success of this effort is still in doubt. And so far, while the government has had some success in controlling the Internet, in general the web has become an uncensored source of news. The government will keep trying to change that, although the policy of jailing (for months or years) the better known Internet activists, is not working either.

September 13, 2011: In Taiwan, two F-5 fighters, one a two-seater, crashed into a mountain at night, killing all three crew. The next day, the 30 remaining F-5s were grounded until the cause of the accident could be determined. Taiwan has been using American built F-5s since the 1970s, and since the 1990s these elderly aircraft have been relegated to training and reconnaissance. About half of them have been retired and put into reserve. The F-5s are still in service in part because Chinese threats against potential suppliers have prevented Taiwan from getting new jets.

September 12, 2011: China recognized the Libyan rebels as the government in Libya. Thus has China abandoned its long relationship with Libyan dictator Moamar Kaddafi. China has always had a policy of doing business with anyone, including political pariahs. This meant that the Chinese government looked the other way as Chinese firms smuggled weapons to nations under international arms embargoes. This recently happened with Libya, and the Chinese government simply said that it was unaware that Chinese firms were selling weapons to Kaddafi earlier this year, despite a UN embargo. China will now offer to do anything to make amends with the new rebel government. “Anything” has a certain appeal to those setting up a new government.

September 8, 2011: Alarmed at China’s growing naval power, Japan has decided to begin building a second, 24,000 ton helicopter carrier. Actually, these Type 22 ships are called destroyers, even though it looks like a carrier and can also carry several hundred infantry (to be delivered by helicopter.)

Taiwan announced that it is building a new air-to-ground missile with a range of several hundred kilometers. Taiwanese warplanes will be able to fire this missile at Chinese air and naval bases, to disrupt any Chinese attempt to invade. The new missile won’t be ready for at least four years.

September 5, 2011: The government issued new regulations that call for more detailed and frequent auditing of military spending, and holding senior commanders responsible for corruption among their subordinates. Corruption in the Chinese military has been a problem for thousands of years, and has gotten worse over the last three decades because, with the rapid growth of the economy, more money has been spent on the military. That has provided more opportunities for officers to steal and misbehave with all that additional cash. Since the 1990s, the government has tried hard to reduce the corruption, with limited success.

 

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