Mil News China Military & Political news

The Chinese Army has released footage of training exercises by a group of snipers from the 92nd Brigade of the 73rd Army of the Chinese Eastern Command. During the exercises, snipers used QBU-10 rifles. The Chinese QBU-10 sniper rifle, 12.7 mm caliber, was put into service in 2011. The rifle can be easily disassembled into its main components and can be carried in a backpack. According to Chinese sources, the firing accuracy of the QBU-10 rifle is about 2-3 arc minutes; the declared effective firing range against manpower is up to 1000 meters. Rifle length 1380 mm, rifle barrel 780 mm, weight without cartridges 13.3 kg. The rifle magazine capacity is 5 rounds.

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The Peoples Republic of Covid (like Russia) is well known for telling porkies when it comes to what they manufacture and its performance, so I would take the claims with a few kilos of salt.
The new Chinese aircraft carrier Fujian type 003 went to sea and began its first sea trials. Fujian Type 003 is China's third aircraft carrier and the first designed and built by China. Construction of the 4th aircraft carrier has already begun. Unlike previous aircraft carriers, the ship is equipped with three electromagnetic catapults to launch aircraft. The Fujian aircraft carrier has a length of 316 meters and a displacement of about 80,000 tons, the power plant with a capacity of 220,000 hp is equipped with steam turbines and has 8 boilers. The ship will presumably carry 50 J-15 aircraft, possibly fifth-generation J-31 fighters as well as UAVs. Upon completion of the test, the formation of the third Chinese aircraft carrier group, consisting of Type 55 destroyers and Type 54 frigates, will begin.

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The People's Republic of China has launched a two-day military exercise, Joint-Sword 2024A, around Taiwan. China's exercises began after the inauguration of Taiwan's new president, Lai Qingde, on May 20. The representative of the Chinese command, Li Xi, informed that the ground forces, naval forces, air force and missile forces are involved in the exercises. He also noted that the purpose of the exercise is to test the “real combat capabilities” of the forces of the Eastern Combat Command Zone. In response to China's exercises, Taiwan brought to the coast launchers of Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile systems with a range of hitting targets up to 400 kilometers. 10 F-16V fighters were also lifted into the air from Hualien Air Base. The Taiwan General Staff reported that 33 aircraft and 31 Chinese ships were recorded approaching the island.

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Xi Jinping Thought (XJT) is now the principal ideology governing China. It carries deep implications for the ways democratic nations deal with the country in an increasingly confrontational era of strategic competition.

Yet this ideology promulgated by President Xi Jinping is rarely analysed in any depth in the West. It is superficially understood, commonly misinterpreted, or even dismissed as an insufficient vision for national development to replace the ethos of the era of opening up and market reform.

XJT is a sprawling concept. Among its main ideas is that China must strengthen the party and itself by ‘waging great struggles, building great projects, promoting great enterprises and realising great dreams.’ Reminiscent of the language of Chairman Mao, these so-called Four Greats generically refer to China undertaking big development efforts, to the expansion and outward movement of enterprises, and to dreams of the country taking a new great leap forward in socialist modernization—all under the supreme leadership and guidance of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

It is a totalising ideology that enshrines the absolute leadership of the party over the state constitution. There is no state separate from the party. The decisive function of the market, a key aspect of the reform era, is now subservient to XJT and the party cells that are embedded in businesses and required to guide them.

Strategic competition with China encompasses global economics, finance, and global governance models, including contestation over the directions of institutions such as the UN, World Trade Organization, World Health Organization and World Bank. It also extends to multilateral and bilateral trade dealings, cyber development, defence alliances and soft-power relationships. There is no longer any significant area that is not heavily contested, including space.

The implications are that those who simply (or unquestioningly) want business with China to return to what they think of as normal (that is, as it was in the defunct market-reform and opening-up era) and who are not recognising the realpolitik of XJT are either wilfully blind, making serious miscalculations, or both. This applies more than ever to those celebratory moments when China makes a trade concession (or removes a coercive measure) to one of its minions. Dealing with a relentless and emboldened Middle Kingdom must start with a recognition and understanding of the realpolitik of XJT.

XJT, incorporated into the CCP constitution at its 19th Party Congress in October 2017 and consolidated in 2022, now represents China’s state ideology. It encompasses the interrelated narratives of building a moderately prosperous society, deepening economic reform, governing the nation according to law, and tightening party discipline. Xi’s philosophy is projected globally through Chinese enterprises being encouraged to develop abroad—especially under the Belt and Road Initiative.

‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’ is tied to a dream of national rejuvenation by 2050 that includes reunification with Taiwan. The overall goal is to create one patriotic people: united by one party, one ideology and one leader. With Xi officially at the core, ideological indoctrination is firmly controlled by the CCP emphasising strict discipline and a highly centralised hierarchy. Indoctrination through XJT is regarded as ineffective if it is not all encompassing. That is to say, it must penetrate civil society completely and be embedded in minds from an early age.

Making China great revolves around the supremacy of a CCP that can guide everyone everywhere in all policy areas. This cannot always work in a nation of so many people, and frail edges have appeared since the end of Covid-19 pandemic controls in late 2022. Xi and Putin have further affirmed their no limits partnership, but Xi’s global vision embraces a principle of China First—for China to be the world’s top power by mid-century.

The realpolitik of the CCP’s totalising grand narrative places the party at the centre of economic and technical development, social cohesion, law, and governance. CCP supremacy is presented as the only way to realise the Chinese Dream. With this totalising discourse, however, a climate of fear and control has arisen, like a dangerous phoenix not seen since Mao’s cultural revolution era. As with any totalising discourse, there is no room for dissent on decided policy—as revealed in the silencing of Chinese legal rights lawyers, citizen journalists and other activists. Indeed, senior business leaders have been disappeared to make examples for others and ensure compliance.

This rule-by-fear element has affected China’s outwards expansion, especially since its loss-of-face when a UN arbitral tribunal ruled unanimously against it in 2016 in the Law of the Sea case Republic of the Philippines v the People’s Republic of China. China’s more assertive approach to its neighbours and the rest of the world have since become clearer, with what it calls US hegemony perceived as its enemy number one.

In short, China’s reform and opening-up era is over. The core factors that characterised it—political stability, some ideological openness and rapid economic growth—are unravelling. Economic cleavages have widened despite the party’s rhetoric around ‘common prosperity’. Ideological indoctrination has deepened along with digital surveillance of the general population. China’s messaging about its peaceful outward expansion under an authoritarian leadership model is inconsistent.

That narrative is no longer convincing to anyone other than diehards still convinced the reform and opening-up era can yet prevail. This is wishful thinking. China has greatly enhanced its technological capacities, significantly enlarged its arsenal of weapons, and successfully landed spacecraft on the moon and even Mars. There is no longer a business-as-usual environment when engaging with China because all Chinese enterprises must fall into line with the requirements of XJT and the supremacy of the CCP. present implications for democratic nations

Dialogue has many meanings and purposes. But substantial dialogue in the true Socratic sense isn’t just having a conversation or swapping views. Rather, it aims to reveal the truth and to change the other person’s mind.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese leant heavily on the value of dialogue during Chinese Premier Li Qiang’s visit this week, mentioning it seven times in his solo press conference after talks in Canberra. Sure, it’s hard to argue with dialogue—communicating is better than not communicating.

But what’s happened this week looks awfully like dialogue without depth and without real purpose. Indeed it cannot be the case, as Albanese said, that ‘dialogue is at the core of the bilateral relationship’. The core for Australia must be our security and sovereignty. And we should use mechanisms such as dialogue to resolve differences and achieve outcomes in our favour, not just for the sake of talking.

These talks can’t be treated as just a chance for both sides to air their differences. We should not simply agree to disagree; we should express, both privately and publicly, our dissatisfaction with Beijing’s positions, state our own, and explain why the gap matters.

Speaking frankly in this way should have the goal of influencing China’s behaviour. That’s a tough ask when we’re dealing with an insecurely stubborn autocracy and major power, but we can aim to show Beijing that its coercion will not pay off, that we will work with our democratic friends to achieve a strength-in-numbers, and will impose a reputational cost by calling out malign behaviour.

Otherwise, we encourage more malign activity.

The position in which Australia now finds itself is a logical outcome of the demure principle of ‘cooperating where we can and disagreeing where we must’, in that we are looking to amplify the limited areas of cooperation while downplaying the disagreements.

Whatever was said behind closed doors—and the government has said that disagreements were discussed—is not enough on its own. Australian leaders must be clear and frank in public as well, to ensure the right messages are received both by China and by the Australian people.

Publicly, Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the barest minimum necessary on the points of difference with China—deep and structural though they are. In doing so, they missed any opportunity to state, emphatically, what our positions are, and how China stands in contradiction to them.

For example, we know that detained Australian Yang Hengjun was discussed but were not told that such arbitrary detention is against international norms, nor that, unless he was immediately released, the bilateral relationship simply couldn’t be stable. Privately, Premier Li should have been told that if this issue was not resolved soon or if Yang were to die while detained in China, he and President Xi Jinping would be considered responsible. And the public message should have been that Magnitsky sanctions would be used against senior Chinese officials across the judiciary, law enforcement and politics.

China loves to keep talk of differences to internal discussions because, as a country with few genuine international friendships, its government bristles at the reputational cost of being called out for its bad behaviour and it knows that, as soon as a smaller country self-censors, the relationship is in Beijing’s control.

Consequently, although the government says no compromises are being made to Australian values, we are in fact doing Beijing a favour by minimising the differences in public. This clearly meets the definition of a compromise.

Combined with the stabilisation rhetoric, crediting the meetings with giving both sides the opportunity to express their different views is actually legitimising China’s wholly unacceptable actions—after all, these issues are not mere differences of opinion but breaches of international rules and agreements that China has signed onto.

Speaking firmly and publicly also brings the country along with our leaders in understanding the differences with China and the risks that the relationship poses. As much as policymakers talk about the need for a ‘social licence’ for increased defence and security spending, we are doing little to build that licence.

In such a vacuum, panda diplomacy gains attention out of all proportion to its importance. Everyone loves pandas, but the fact that Beijing is prepared to loan or remove them as a point of leverage shows that they are another tool for China to achieve its strategic objectives.

The danger of equalising the perspectives held by Australia and China is amplified by the government implying that stabilisation was required because of Australia’s mistakes, not China’s aggression.

Albanese referred to China’s coercive communications freeze as ‘the breakdown where you had not a single phone call from an Australian minister’—as if Beijing was waiting for a call.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong implied that ‘we are now in a state of permanent contest in the Pacific” because ‘Mr Dutton and his colleagues’ abandoned the field in the Pacific—when the primary driver is Beijing’s expansionist agenda.

And Trade Minister Don Farrell said the visit by Premier Li ‘will result in a very successful outcome for lobster producers’—giving Beijing a free pass by ignoring the injustice of the coercive trade measures, which should never have happened in the first place.

This combination of legitimising China’s views and blaming Australia risks undoing the public trust in all the security decisions made in the last decade—including banning Huawei from the 5G network, introducing foreign interference laws and taking a leading stand against China’s aggression in the South China Sea through then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s strong support for the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling in favour of the Philippines.

For a while, after those decisions, Australia was left hanging like a shag on a South China Sea rock by many of its democratic partners but, since then, the world has done a collective 180 degree turn to compete with China as a systemic and pacing threat—across AUKUS, the Quad, Five Eyes, G7, the European Union, NATO and beyond. The Ukraine Peace Summit saw China called out for supporting Russia’s war effort, while last week’s G7 statement directly affirmed the Philippines and the 2016 Tribunal ruling, and opposed ‘China’s militarization, and coercive and intimidation activities’.

Right at the moment when the democratic peloton has caught up to a once breakaway Australia, our policy of quiet diplomacy can’t afford to turn into a hide-and-slide, in which we speak less, do less and return to an era of security compromise. Chinas Premier Li was a missed opportunity

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