Yesterday, in central China (Hubei province), the army opened a new field hospital in Wuhan, the provincial capital. It took ten days to build the temporary thousand bed hospital and staff it with 1,400 army medical personnel. The army is building a second field hospital in Wuhan, with 1,600 beds, that will open in five or six days. These new facilities are for dealing with the coronavirus, another epidemic that first broke out in China. The last one was the SARS (avian flu) in 2002-3 which killed 349 in China and led to the destruction of much of the domestic poultry in China, a loss that took several years to recover from.
The original influenza disease breaks out anew every year, infects 350 to 900 million and kills 300,000 to 700,000 a year worldwide. Every decade or so there is an especially deadly strain of the flu that increases the normal deaths by five to ten times. More rarely there are severe pandemics that can kill 20 million or more worldwide.
Whenever a new type of virus appears, like SARS or the current coronavirus, there is the risk of it being a major pandemic and the degree of risk is not confirmed until the new disease can be thoroughly studied. Despite decades of new medical tech, it still takes weeks or months to confirm how destructive a new epidemic disease will be. In the meantime, you have to prepare for the worst and that means shutting down travel to or from China. Inside China, the government has reacted like the communist police state it still is and restricted access to information about what it is doing to deal with the new disease. Despite that, communications tech like cellphones and the Internet, even though tightly controlled and censored in China, still gets details out to the world. It takes longer but the facts do emerge no matter what the government does. Apparently the coronavirus is highly infectious, like the common flu or SARS and has a fatality rate of about two percent. Work is already underway worldwide to develop a vaccine and other medical tech to deal with the new disease.
Diseases like this tend to come from China for cultural reasons. Chinese are big fans of exotic food. Cuisine plays a bigger role in Chinese history and life than just about anywhere else on the planet. Wild game is particularly popular and the more exotic the better. The increasing affluence since the 1980s greatly expanded the demand for exotic live animals, who are openly displayed and sold in markets that are popular for visitors as well as shoppers. Bringing all those different species together so often provides more opportunities for a new disease to be created by a virus moving from one species to the other via these animals breathing near each other. The transferred virus cannot survive long outside the animal that exhaled them and in the wild, there is miniscule chance of such transfers. But in crowded markets, where cages containing many wild species are stacked up for people to closely examine, you get more viral transfers that turn very, very bad. Most viral transfers have no impact at all or one that is benign and often not noticed at all.
For thousands of years, China has had the largest population of any political entity on the planet. Most of the people were farmers who lived closely (often in the same building during bad weather) with domestic animals like swine and poultry (especially ducks). This led to influenza and periodically new strains of the flu. Less often it brings us SARS or the coronavirus. This disease creation phenomena is known to Chinese medical professionals but the government has refused to do anything about the hugely popular wild animal trade. It’s a matter of priorities.
The long term impact of the coronavirus is to accelerate the departure of foreign companies from China. Depending on how severe the disease is, the Chinese military will be diverted for a while to help deal with the crises. The military has questionable combat effectiveness, but it has proved increasingly useful during natural disasters. There are very few combat opportunities but a steady supply of natural disasters. What you have to deal with, you get better taking care of.
The Other Epidemic
Chinese neighbors, near and far, are increasingly resisting Chinese offers of more trade, and large investments and loans for building transportation and other economic infrastructure. The resistance comes from the fear that Chinese investment means eventual annexation of some or all their territory. It works like this. After all that Chinese investment there are a lot more Chinese living, working and investing in the newly developed area. Even Russia and North Korea are threatened by this. Former Soviet Union territories in Central Asia, which have been independent countries since 1991, are seeking closer ties with nuclear armed Russia for defense against these Chinese moves. China would be all over North Korea if it weren’t for the fiercely nationalistic North Korean dictatorship. All Koreans know that the historical “Greater Korea” used to include large portions of northeast China that once had a majority Korean population. These areas now have a large Korean minority population but are indisputably Chinese.
The same thing is happening in northwest China where Xinjiang province was once known as East Turkestan and had a majority Uighur Moslem population. Centuries of Chinese efforts to turn Xinjiang from a conquered province into a Han (ethnic Chinese) majority region have succeeded in the last few decades. A similar effort is underway in Tibet, where the local population are distant cousins to the Han but have for over a thousand years resisted Chinese occupation and domination. Tibet is losing that battle.
There is a similar situation in Chinese “Inner Mongolia”, a portion of neighboring Mongolia where centuries of Chinese trade and Han migration turned a large portion of Mongolia into what is now the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia. China started its Hanification of the area in the 14th century, after the Mongol dynasty in China was overthrown, and China sought to eliminate any future Mongo threats by gradually absorbing Mongolia. Currently the rest of Mongolia is called Outer Mongolia by the Chinese and is independent only because of alliances with Russia. In time the Chinese will make all of Mongolia Chinese.
Russia faces the loss of its far eastern (Pacific coast) territories. Communist China never renounced Chinese claims on these territories and there was some fighting on the border over that in the 1970s. Those battles ended in a stalemate. Since then China has reorganized its government and economy. This has been a successful transition from classical communism to a Chinese version of post-World War I German fascism. The current Chinese rulers are actually a bunch of communist party leaders trying to stay in power using the appeal of lost (centuries earlier) imperial glories. Just as Hitler described his imperial effort as the “Third Reich (empire)” in the tradition of the Holy Roman Empire and the 19th century German Reich, so does China claim legitimacy because of ancient claims by earlier Chinese empires.
Since the 1980s China adopted a market economy and shed most of its socialist (state ownership of everything) responsibilities. So with the presence of a nationalist dictatorship government, you actually have a repeat of what happened nearly a century ago. China has a self-appointed “leader-for-life” running what is officially known as a socialist dictatorship. Back in the 1930s Germany had a (relatively) free-market economy in a country controlled by the NSDAP (“National Socialist German Worker’s Party”) or, Nazis. Spain had a similar government with a dictator technically acting as regent for a deposed monarchy. Japan had a market economy but its constitutional monarchy had been usurped by a military coup that put a military dictatorship in power that ruled “in the name of the emperor.” Italy was run by a dictator who was a lifelong socialist but also a nationalist dictator promising to revive the Roman Empire on the cheap. That did not end well.
But that was then, today the fascists are the same but a bit different. Fascist China now and Fascist Germany in the 1930s were very similar but there were some key differences. In the 1930s the U.S. had the largest GDP in the world and Germany’s was second. But back then the American GDP was more than twice the size of Germany’s while today the Chinese GDP is about 64 percent the size of the American one. The German military was one of the most effective on the planet with an impressive record of winning battles, and losing wars. The Chinese military has a much less illustrious track record and tended to eventually prevail because of its ability to mobilize more soldiers for a longer war than their opponents could handle. Historically Chinese armies often looked good on paper but usually proved to be paper tigers at the start of a war. In contrast, the American peacetime military has become one of the most effective on the planet.
China has similar goals to 1930s Germany, as in territorial claims on neighbors. Like the Nazis, China claims it needs more territory and resources for its huge population. The Nazis proclaimed Germans were the master race and all others must submit or be exterminated. The Chinese believe in the racial superiority of the Han ethnic group, which most Chinese belong to. The Chinese claim a historical destiny to rule the largest possible empire.
Unlike the Nazis, the Chinese have a historical record of successful empires. Until the 18th century China was the largest and often most powerful nation-state on the planet but then went into decline for two centuries. Most Chinese agree that it is time for China to once again be the most powerful state in the world. This is causing problems.
The neighbors, and the rest of the world, are more alarmed than inclined to submit. Two potential victims (Russia and India) have nukes. This was something earlier Chinese empire builders never had to face although the Mongols did a pretty impressive job of “killing everyone and burning everything” over a wide area. Like current nuclear powers, the Mongols preferred to use the application of massive violence more as a threat than as a regular practice.
February 2, 2020: North Korea revealed that it managed to keep the country free of the coronavirus. This is probably true because North Korea has the most heavily guarded borders on the planet and normally gets few legal visitors. North Korea has halted all Chinese tourism (a major source of foreign currency) and curbed normal (business and government) travel to China. North Korea is also very poor and in no condition to deal with an outbreak of the new virus.
February 1, 2020: Despite, or perhaps because of the coronavirus the Hong Kong protests continue. Protestors want their border with the rest of China closed but so far that has not happened. Meanwhile, the ongoing protests continue to cause economic damage with the local GDP contracting at an annual rate of 5-7 percent in the last few months. That has not discouraged most of the locals, who see the coronavirus as another example of how dangerous it is to let the national government run things in Hong Kong.
January 29, 2020: China has apparently become the second-largest weapons producer on the planet, ousting Russia from that position. Despite secrecy about such matters in both countries, SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), an independent defense research organization tracks such things and has a good track record for accuracy. A year ago SIPRI declared that as of 2017 Russia had become the second-largest arms manufacturer in the world. Russia passed Britain for the first time since the Cold War ended in 1991. The United States remains in first place, with $227 billion in sales by 42 major firms. Russia was second with $38 billion and Britain third $36 billion. Taken together Western European nations had total sales of $94 billion which is about the same as Chinese arms firms, whose published data shows about $95 billion for 2017. SPIRI notes that it leaves China out because it has not got comparable data for China going back to 2002, which is when the current data begins for the “Top 100 Defense firms”. During the Cold War SIPRI did not include Russia or other communist nations with command economies (most of East Europe, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and China) for the same reason. But unofficial (and eventually verified) estimates put Russia in second place during most of the Cold War.
January 22, 2020: The U.S. Navy conducted its first 2020 FONOP (freedom of navigation operation) in the South China Sea by sending an LCS type warship passing close (with 22 kilometers) of a Chinese base in the Spratly Islands. China issues warnings and accuses the Americans of troublemaking because of these FONOPS. There were seven South China Sea FONOPs in 2019, five 2018, six in 2017 and three in 2016. Since 2015, when the Chinese South China Sea claims became a major issue, the Americans have carried out more FONOPS in the South China Sea each year. China lays claim to two million square kilometers of open sea (57 percent of the South China Sea). China continued its policy of not interfering with FONOPS but does send warships to follow the foreign ships. There are two ways China can enforce its sovereignty exert control over its territorial waters. The traditional response is to attack intruders with gunfire or missiles. Then there is the preferred Chinese method of swarming around the intruder with commercial, coast guard and even navy warships and combat aircraft. This has included causing collisions (often just “bumping”). China does not want a war with the United States, mainly because of the economic risks which could lead to more unrest inside China. Interference with seaborne trade and trading relationships, in general, would disrupt the Chinese economy and threaten CCP control. What China has demonstrated is a willingness to do everything short of war, especially if they can remain able to claim victim status.
January 21, 2020:
The U.S. confirmed that North Korea has failed to comply with the December 22 deadline to bring all foreign workers home. This was mainly about 50,000 North Korean workers in China and 30,000 in Russia who were supposed to be back in North Korea by December 22nd, as per the UN sanctions. Russia had sent home all the North Korean workers officially still in Far East Russia, where there is a labor shortage and cheap North Korean workers have been popular. Many of the departing North Koreas said they expected to return soon and they did with tourists or other deceptive visas. Using various visas and other deceptions China and Russian managed to keep or replace (with other North Koreans) all their North Korean workers. The UN economic sanctions on North Korea called for all North Korean workers employed in other countries (mainly China and Russia) to be sent home by late December. That did not happen in China, which has long been North Koreas’ major trading partner. China has been allowing more North Korean workers to enter and work, many with no visa at all. Half of the workers’ pay goes to the North Korean government as “tax” but the North Korean workers are still making more than they could in North Korea and most of that pay supports family back in North Korea while the exported workers have more food and heat than they would back home. China and Russia are officially supporting the sanctions but are unofficially tolerating all manner of smuggling and sanctions evasion. The end result is that China and Russia cooperated with North Korea to ignore these economic sanctions. North Korea earns about $500 million year via this exported labor. North Korea has recently sent more security personnel to China to ensure that the North Korean workers do not try to escape from China and North Korean control. The U.S. subsequently put individual sanctions on two China-based but North Korean controlled companies that provided various support (housing and transportation) services for the foreign workers and the security personnel who keep them under control.
January 17, 2020: The Chinese leader began a two-day state visit to Myanmar. This was mainly about discussing matters of mutual interest with Burmese leaders. There a lot of things to discuss, including the Rohingya refugees, tribal rebel violence on the Chinese border and Chinese investments in Burma. China has been protecting Burma in the UN, where there are calls for punishing Burma over the Rohingya mess. The tribal rebels are largely an internal Burmese matters. Burmese negotiations with the tribal rebels have been heavily influenced by China. That is because China is part of the problem. This state visit was to try and get Burmese leaders to be more cooperative with Chinese investors. That did not happen. There were some token concessions but Burma remains wary of Chinese investments.
Before the local military gave up power in 2011 Burmese officers had made a lot of money allowing China to do business in the tribal north, often at the expense of local civilians, most of them tribal people. This continues to cause problems as China tries to maintain many of these economic projects by including them in the new CMEC (China-Myanmar Economic Corridor) agreement China and Burma signed in late 2018. That agreement called for both countries to begin detailed negotiations on where a 1,700 kilometer long transportation corridor from southern China (Yunan province) to central Burma (Mandalay) and then west to the coast at the Kyaukpyu SEZ (Special Economic Zone) will be built and what it will consist of. The corridor would improve roads, railroads and build, as needed, pipelines and electrical transmission lines. This would be financed by China and built mainly by Chinese construction firms.
CMEC paid special attention to the risk of a “debt trap” where Burma might find itself with debt it could not repay unless it turned over new facilities to Chinese ownership or control. This has happened in other nations, most obviously in Sri Lanka. Burma needs the investment and since 1988 China has been the major foreign investor in Burma with projects totaling $20 billion so far. Burma told China it was working on special “debt trap” provisions and the main one is for China to allow foreign nations to provide some of the loans needed for the CMEC work. Details of this deal are still being negotiated. This explains why only a few of the 38 projects that comprise CMEC have so far been approved by Burma. Reaching agreement on the rest of those projects gives Burma some leverage over China.
CMEC is the Burma component of the massive Chinese Obor (One Belt, One Road) effort. Also called BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), Obor is all about China building roads, railroads, pipelines and ports to make it easier for Chinese imports and exports to move around, from East Asia to Europe, Africa and more. Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand Sri Lanka and Burma are all BRI participants that are seeing billions of dollars in construction Chinese projects taking place and the terms of these deal tend to favor China, not the country where the construction takes place. Not surprisingly many people in these BRI countries see Chinese investments as another form of colonialism. China prefers not to call it colonialism but rather seeking to expand its commercial activities. All the disagreements over border security and CMEC have not slowed down the growth in trade with China. In 2019 that trade increased 38.5 percent over 2018 to $17.7 billion. That is huge considering that the Burmese GDP is $67 billion.
January 16, 2020:
Corruption remains a major problem for China and years of well-publicized efforts to deal with it have failed and that can be seen in the international surveys of nations to determine who is clean and who is corrupt. For 2019 China ranked 80th out of 180 nations in international rankings compared with 87th in 2018. Corruption in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index is measured on a 1 (most corrupt) to 100 (not corrupt) scale. The most corrupt nations (usually Yemen/15, Syria/13, South Sudan/12 and Somalia/9) have a rating of under 15 while of the least corrupt (Finland, New Zealand and Denmark) are over 85.
The current Chinese score is 41 (versus 39 in 2018) compared to 30 (30) for Ukraine, 45 (44) for Belarus, 58 (60) for Poland, 80 (81) Germany, 65 (61) for Taiwan, 39 (40) for Turkey, 41 (40) for India, 28 (28) for Russia, 57 (54) for South Korea, 14 (17) for North Korea, 37 (35) for Vietnam, 85 (84) for Singapore, 73 (73) for Japan, 40 (37) for Indonesia, 38 (38) for Sri Lanka, 29 (33) for the Maldives, 34 (34) for the Philippines, 32 (32) for Pakistan, 26 (28) for Bangladesh, 26 (30) for Iran, 16 (15) for Afghanistan, 29 (30) for Burma, 71 (71) for the UAE (United Arab Emirates), 60 (64) for Israel, 69 (75) for the United States, 26 (27) for Nigeria, 44 (43) for South Africa, 20 (18) for Iraq, 39 (40) for Turkey, 53 (49) for Saudi Arabia and 28 (28) for Lebanon.
The Chinese corruption score has not changed much since 2012 when it was 39.
January 15, 2020: A recent study of Internet censorship concluded that North Korea had the most heavily controlled Internet with China coming in second followed by Russia, Iran, and Turkmenistan.
January 12, 2020: In the Philippines the navy tracked a Chinese coast guard ship spending a lot of time circling a Filipino base
on Second Thomas Reef. Although this reef is 200 kilometers from Palawan (indisputably part of the Philippines) and thus recognized by international law as Filipino, China also claims ownership. This was going on while Chinese coast guard officials were making a “goodwill” visit to the Filipino capital. China still claims that Second Thomas Reef is Chinese and that Filipinos are trespassing. Since late 2019 China and the Philippines have been negotiating, unsuccessfully so far, to create a COC (Code of Conduct) for operations in contested areas.
January 8, 2020: The most valuable service China has done for the socialist Venezuelan government (aside from helping rebuild the collapsed oil industry) has been to help use police state tech to better control an angry population. China has such tech and has agreed to export it to Venezuela and assist with the installation of its newly developed SCR (Social Credit Rating). This has been developed over the last decade in northwestern China (Xinjiang province) where extensive networks of vidcams and other forms of population monitoring have enabled more control over large populations. China already boasts that nationwide millions of people have been identified and punished because of their low SCR. A bad SCR makes it more difficult to get a good job, a bank loan or a passport. SCR scores depend on what the government sees, hears or reads via that growing network of sensors and informants.
The government expects to have the Big Brother monitoring and SCR systems operating nationwide by 2020, or at least the early 2020s. Already local officials are finding SCR a useful tool. Xinjiang was the laboratory in which it is discovered what works and what does not. For example, Xinjiang factory workers who refuse to accept harsh working conditions and no pay increases can be assigned a low SCR and then told they must either improve their attitude towards bad working conditions or go to a reeducation camp for a while, perhaps a long while if they refuse to behave as ordered. Many Chinese have no problem with SCR and see it as an opportunity. One reason for that, which the government does not like to talk about, or even acknowledge, is that SCR has already been corrupted. Local officials and police have a lot of discretion in deciding which behavior is likely to lower an SCR. In other words, some well-placed or well-timed bribes can keep your SCR healthy. The government is aware of this but knows that despite the vulnerability to bribery the SCR is still a powerful tool for controlling the population. For example, one way of boosting your SCR, and making some legal money (although usually less than $50 a month) is to agree to work for the secret police as a local informer. In some parts of the country, like the capital, there are a lot of these paid informants. In central Beijing, where nearly four million people live and even more work or pass through, about three percent of the population are paid informants. That is in addition to the extensive network of security cameras and extensive surveillance carried out on the Internet. Exactly how the population will react to extensive and sustained use of SCR is an unknown. But at this point, we are beginning to find out, especially in Xinjiang province and some of the major cities. The cost of building and operating the SCR system is one reason why China spends more on internal security (secret police, riot police, coast guard and so on) than they do on the defense budget.
China helped adapt the SCR system to Venezuela, especially the issuance of ID cards (for individuals and businesses) linked to an SCR database. Most of the population depends on the government for basic necessities, like food. Everyone will get an ID card that must be used to get anything from the government. A low SCR score means you go hungry. The more affluent can pay a bribe to get around SCR problems. Venezuela is enormously corrupt but if you cannot pay a bribe you cannot get around the SCR system.
In China, the government continues to find new uses for SCR by trying out new ideas in Xinjiang province. For example, the government wants to suppress the traditional Turkic culture of the native Uighur Moslems. To that end, Uighurs are getting lower SCR scores if they refuse to change the décor in their homes by removing traditional Turkic features and replacing them with fashions favored by the Ham Chinese majority.
January 6, 2020: China has revived its efforts to force Indonesia to acknowledge Chinese claims on the Natuna Islands and the lucrative fishing grounds there. There are potentially natural gas deposits as well. This latest effort began in early December when Chinese fishing boats began entering Indonesian waters off the Natunas and fishing illegally. There were 30 of these incidents, involving over 60 fishing vessels. All were ordered to leave and were escorted to international waters. But the Chinese kept coming
Since 2016 China and Indonesia have been unofficially, but very visibly, at war with each other over illegal fishing. Early on Indonesia seized and destroyed a number of Chinese fishing boats and ignored Chinese complaints and threats. China has long been stealing fish (poaching) from offshore areas where the fishing rights belong to other countries. This poaching has been going on with increasing frequency since the 1990s. But now many of the victims have done the math and noted that the most frequent offenders are Chinese ships. These are either Chinese owned fishing ships or ships from other countries that register themselves as Chinese to gain a measure of immunity from being stopped or punished by the nations being plundered. But some nations are not just complaining, they are fighting back. In the case of Indonesia, the fighting back consists of shooting at poachers and, since 2014, destroying (via explosives or burning) over 170 ships used by guilty poachers. Indonesia calculates that this poaching costs Indonesia over $2 billion a year and that China’s worldwide poaching operation brings in over $20 billion a year. Since China does not officially admit it is organizing and controlling this, and the Indonesians are using large warships with orders to fire on any poacher caught and refusing to surrender, the Chinese are taking most of the losses off Indonesia. For a while, China sent warships to accompany flotillas (often ten or more ocean-going fishing ships) and protect the poachers if caught and keep the police or coast guard boats busy while the poachers escaped. But Indonesia responded by sending out warships (corvettes and frigates) with orders to fire on any foreign warships caught with the poachers. China stopped sending warships but the poachers kept on coming and Indonesia keeps capturing and prosecuting the crews. The poacher ships are often destroyed as media events, with local news being allowed to capture and broadcast videos of the fires and explosions.
In mid--2016 an Indonesian warship intercepted a dozen Chinese fishing ships illegally operating off the Natunas islands, fired warning shots and seized one of the Chinese ships and its crew and charged them with poaching. This was the third such incident that year and Indonesia accused China of deliberately sending these fishing boats to poach in order to establish a claim that the Natunas are “traditional Chinese fishing areas” and thus belong to China. The 272 Natuna islands are 3,000 kilometers from China and within the Indonesian EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). Waters 360 kilometers from land are considered the EEZ of the nation controlling the nearest land. The EEZ owner can control who fishes there and extracts natural resources (mostly oil and gas) from the ocean floor. Technically, most of the Natunas are just outside the Chinese South China Sea claims. At first it seemed China was only interested in poaching, which its fishing ships do as far away as Africa and South America. But now China has expressed an interest in purchasing some or all of the Natunas. The implications is that if Indonesia won’t sell, China lay claim to the Natunas and take them along with the rest of the South China Sea claims.
December 30, 2019: Beidou ("Compass"), the Chinese version of GPS (Global Positioning System) is now fully operational, providing worldwide coverage. China achieved this in late December 2019 when it put the last two of its Beidou satellites into orbit some 21,800 kilometer high circular orbits, joining 22 others in similar obits covering the entire planet, plus six more in 36,000 kilometer high geosynchronous (stationary) orbits. The full Beidou network will be open for business as a world-wide service in early 2020.
People got their first experience with Beidou in late 2012 when the first few satellites were made available to anyone with a Beidu GPS receiver. Now China expects Beidou to become a major competitor for the existing global navigation systems among civilian users. China aims to grab a major share of the satellite navigation market from the original U.S GPS system and do it by 2030.
Services available to anyone are less accurate than other systems but Beidu also has a special (more accurate and allows messaging) military mode that is only available to the Chinese and Pakistani military. China will make an effort to monetize its GPS service, which really would make it unique compared to the others.
December 29, 2019: China’s two major shipbuilders, CSSC and CSIC, merged to create the largest shipbuilder in the world with 310,000 employees. A decade ago there were nearly half a million employees but recessions continued competition from rivals South Korea and Japan forced the change. The new company, CSG (China Shipbuilding Group), as well as the two it merged from are all state-owned. The merger is actually a return to the situation in 1999 when CSSC and CSIC were created from the then single state-owned shipbuilding operation. This was meant to encourage competition and it worked.
Chinese shipbuilders, mainly the two large firms, account for most of the shipbuilding in China and have been striving to overtake their main rival South Korea as the largest shipbuilder in the world in all categories. There are several ways to measure shipbuilder output South Korea is the champion in most of them. Japan was once in first place but now has to settle for third place. South Korea and China have been close competitors for first place since 2012 and to that end the two largest South Korean ship builders also merged in 2019.
December 26, 2019: China has not revealed how many carriers it plans to build eventually. China already has two; CV-16 in service and a similar CV-17 (the Shandong) recently completed trials, was commissioned on December 19th and was seen passing near Taiwan on the 26th. It was assumed that China wanted to build two more similar carriers (CV-18 and 19) which would lose the ski jump deck and instead adopt a catapult. These two will be a bit larger than CV-17 and the first one is already under construction and is expected to be in the water by 2020 and in service by 2024. One thing that might delay the Type 002 is the decision on which catapult system (steam or electric) to use. The U.S. Navy has had problems getting its EMALS (electromagnetic aircraft launch system) to work effectively and the Chinese may be waiting to see how that works out before deciding. The Type 002 will have a steam propulsion system but one that will produce a lot more electricity (for laser weapons and catapult). After the two catapult equipped carriers are evaluated, it is believed that two nuclear-powered carriers are planned (CVN-20 and 21). These will be similar to the 100,000 ton American Nimitz class CVNs. Chinese working on nuclear propulsion for submarines had long encountered lots of technical problems that have seriously limited the development of an effective Chinese nuclear submarine force. Apparently these nuclear power experts informed the government that China did not yet have reliable nuclear power plants for surface ships and it would be a while before that technology was achieved.
December 24, 2019: Meeting in China, the leaders of China, South Korea and Japan met to discuss the situation North Korean nukes and missiles had created. Nothing new was agreed to, just the usual “we must continue talking to North Korea and persuade the north to give up its nukes.” Separately the leaders of South Korea and Japan met to discuss their continuing diplomatic and trade disputes.