24 January 2017

News Report: Beijing Not Backing Down - South China Sea War Games the New Normal

China's 1st Carrier Group underway
Foreign interests should expect Chinese military exercises in the South China Sea to become the new normal, according to a recent article in The People’s Daily, a Chinese state-run media outlet.

Foreign provocations and pressure, according to the news outlet, will not impact what Beijing considers to be basic territory defense drills. "Henceforth, the Chinese military’s exercises far out at sea will become a kind of normal, extremely normal drills," the state-run Global Times op-ed said.

China has sent its lone aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, through the Taiwan Strait in recent months. US President Donald Trump has courted the conversational companionship of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, drawing ire from Beijing for violating its "One China" policy, refusing to acknowledge Taiwan as a sovereign state. In response to China’s recent demonstrations of force, Taipei vowed “enhanced training 365 days a year.” Last Monday, the Taiwanese foreign ministry announced that Taipei simulated military mobilization procedures in the event of an attack from China where the Liaoning crossed the dividing line of the Taiwan Strait.

"Meddling and disruption of countries from outside the region can only run counter to the consensus of common interests that accords with this region and the world," the news outlet stated. 

News Report: North Korea Threatens to ‘Pour Further Misery’ on US and Trump Administration

On Monday North Korea threatened to “pour further misery” on Washington. The announcement came on the 49th anniversary of Pyongyang’s 1968 capture of the USS Pueblo intelligence ship.

According to North Korea’s Central TV network, "The US will face a position more miserable than that in the Pueblo case if it forgets that lesson and frantically pursues new ways to provoke war against the north." 

This intimidation comes after a Friday White House statement announcing that a "state of the art" missile defense system was being developed specifically to stave off threats from Pyongyang and Iran.

This, along with an increased focus on cyber warfare and benefits for veterans are part President Donald Trump’s plan for "Making Our Military Strong Again."

South Korean Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn also spoke of beefing up defence against the DPRK, telling local reporters on Monday, "[North Korean] nuclear and missile capabilities are developing at an unprecedented rate…They are a real and obvious threat. They are also miniaturizing nuclear weapons." 

News Report: Will the US Undermine Russian-Chinese Relations Under New Administration?

The new US administration under President Donald Trump will attempt to create a divide between Russia and China according to the head of the Russian-Chinese economic and financial research center, Nikolai Kotlyarov.

“They will of course try and drive a wedge in relations; they have to do that in terms of global confrontation. Our task is not to let that happen. In this case, we must build relations with China,” Kotlyarov said during the round table conference held at the Rossiya Segodnya news agency.

The conference called, “The arrival of Trump and results of the summit in Davos: Transition to a new political and economic architecture of the world,” held at the news agency, saw experts from economic and political backgrounds discuss the current global situation and Russia’s position on it.

News Report: Russia Has the Right to Defend Kurils, Japan Has the Right to Have a Voice

Japan and Russia are concentrating on joint economic projects on the Kuril Islands in hope it will help to tackle the 70-year-old territorial dispute. However, Japan has protested the strengthening of the Russian military presence in the region. Experts believe Japan has only a voice as far as in Russian national security is concerned.

The Japanese government will concentrate on economic projects important for both Russia and Japan when working on settling the Kuril Islands dispute, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the parliament on Monday.

According to Abe, during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, he expressed regret over the growing Russian military presence on the Southern Kuril Islands.

In November 2016, Russia deployed the Bal and Bastion coastal missile systems to the islands.

Irina Romanova, the expert of the Russian International Affairs Council and assistant professor of the Institute of Asian and African Countries at Moscow State University, in an interview with RIA Novosti was not inclined to attach much significance to Abe’s protests as a kind of “the last Chinese warning.”

“It not the first time in post-war history that this has happened, especially, in the past 20 to 25 years,” she said. 

News Report: South Korea Reaffirms THAAD Deployment Despite Growing Opposition

Jenny Lee

Amid reports that China may be bringing economic retribution against South Korea for the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Seoul vowed a swift deployment of the U.S. anti-missile system.

Acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn said Monday his country will move ahead with the THAAD deployment plan because the anti-missile system is a "prerequisite" to enhance the country's defensive capabilities.

The decision to deploy THAAD in South Korea came in early July, drawing vehement objection from China, which insists the system would compromise its regional security interests. Some South Korean opposition leaders also are calling for a delay or cancellation of the deployment. The U.S. and South Korea, however, believe the system is necessary to counter growing missile threats emanating from North Korea. The two allies agreed to complete the deployment by the end of this year.

News Story: Trump's win doesn't instantly solve defense budget problems, analysts warn

By: Leo Shane III

Defense advocates have been hopeful that President Donald Trump’s election will mean big boosts in military spending in years to come, but on Monday prominent analysts said those thoughts may just be dreams.

“This is not Christmas in July,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a security fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “All the fights (on the defense budget) are the same as before, it’s just the actors that are different.”

The comments came as part of a Center for Strategic and International Studies event looking at expected defense funding changes in the next administration, and whether Trump’s campaign promises appear realistic. 

For now, they’re skeptical. 

In the first hours of Trump’s presidency, on the new White House website officials posted promises to “end the defense sequester and submit a new budget to Congress outlining a plan to rebuild our military.” This echoes Trump’s past comments about boosting defense spending without increasing the national debt. 

But even though Republicans control the White House and Congress, they’ll still need Democrats to agree in order to make those changes in the federal spending caps, noted Richard Kogan, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 

Legislation to lift caps on defense spending will require 60 votes in the Senate, where Republicans only hold 52 seats. Democratic leaders have thus far refused to increase money for military programs unless the increases are included for other non-defense programs, something that conservatives on Capitol Hill have opposed.  

Read the full story at MilitaryTimes

News Story: Russia Allows Companies to Work With India to Supply Weapon Spares

By: Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — Russia has agreed to allow its defense companies to forge direct ties with Indian defense companies — both public and private sector — to supply, service and jointly manufacture spares for use by Indian defense forces. 

So far, Rosoboronexport of Russia is the sole contractor for spares for a variety of Russian defense platforms and weapons in use by the Indian defense forces, which as been the case for the last five decades. 

India buys Russian spares at a cost of more than $2 billion annually for multiple weapons and platforms. 

Indian defense companies are not permitted to tie up directly with Russian manufacturing companies for the supply of additional spares, and subsystems and all contracts are routed through Rosoboronexport. 

"Supply of spares on time and on 'right price' has been the main problem with Russian systems, and overall problems of spares is critical," a top Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) official said. 

The Indian Navy still continues to face problems in the procurment of critical spares parts for its Russian Kilo-class submarines, warships and aircraft carriers, missiles, electronic warfare control systems, radar communication tools, and navigation systems. 

Despite repeated requests, Russian Embassy officials were unavailable for comment. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Aust'n gov't urges political parties to secure themselves from cyber attacks

CANBERRA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government on Tuesday urged national and state political parties to ensure they are adequately protected from cyber attacks.

Following claims that U.S. presidential election campaigns were manipulated by hackers, Australia's Assistant Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan has warned federal and state political parties to keep up to date with cyber security protocols in order to protect themselves from attacks.

"We're heading into a new election cycle, we've got two state elections coming up this year," Tehan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday.

"We have to make sure our political processes, our democratic processes, are protected from this type of intrusion."

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Malaysian police busts 4-member terror cell linked to IS

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Malaysian police have busted a terror cell linked to Islamic State (IS), which the police suspected of using the state of Sabah to transfer new recruits to southern Philippines.

The IS-linkage was established after four suspects of the cell were arrested during two recent operations by the police counter-terrorism branch in January, said Khalid Abu Bakar, Inspector-General of the police in a statement on Monday.

The police found one of the suspects, a 31-year-old Filipino man who worked as a watch seller when he was caught in Kota Kinabalu, has been taking orders from the so-called "Dr. Mahmud Ahmad," a former university lecturer who joined the IS in southern Philippines as a recruiter for the terror group.

The police chief said the man was instructed to help new recruits to transit via Sabah to Marawi city in Mindanao of the Philippines.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Myanmar state counselor holds talks with peace negotiators on peace process

YANGON, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi held talks with the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) of armed groups in Nay Pyi Taw Monday with the two sides pledging to strive for achieving a firm result in the upcoming 21st Century Second Panglong Conference.

The discussions also covered the current conflicts in northern Shan state, the impact on the peace process, domestic and international aid for the development of the ceasefired areas in the state and efforts in bringing in the non-ceasefired groups to the Nationwide Cease fire Agreement (NCA).

The meeting took place at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center in the capital.

On the same day, Commander-in Chief of the Defense Services Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing also met with the PPST as a follow-up.

Myanmar government and eight armed groups initiated the NCA on Oct. 15, 2015.

Read the full story at Xinhua