In November and December 2017, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force conducted at least nine long-distance training flights over maritime areas along China’s periphery, continuing a trend that began in 2015. Since 2015, long-distance over-water training has become more frequent, featured a greater variety of aircraft, and extended into areas in which the air force had not previously operated. The long-distance over-water training is part of a broader PLA Air Force effort to transition from a service focused on territorial air defense to one capable of conducting offensive and defensive operations beyond China’s coast. These flight activities potentially challenge U.S. interests by (1) improving the PLA Air Force’s capability to execute maritime missions against the United States and U.S. allies and partners in the region; (2) gathering intelligence against the U.S. military and U.S. allies and partners; and (3) reinforcing claims in maritime disputes and pressuring Taiwan.
Highlights of This Month’s Edition
• Bilateral trade: In January 2018, the U.S. goods deficit with China grew 14.8 percent year-on-year to reach $36 billion—its highest ever for January and its highest monthly level since September 2015.
• Bilateral policy issues: The U.S. Department of Commerce submits its Section 232 recommendations for tariffs or quotas on U.S. steel and aluminum imports; SEC blocks acquisition of Chicago Stock Exchange by Chinese-led investor group based on concerns over transparency, oversight, and compliance with ownership limits; AmCham and USCBC surveys of U.S. businesses in China find some signs of rising optimism due to increasing profits and confidence in China’s economic growth, but regulatory and market access challenges persist as firms feel increasingly unwelcome in Chinese markets.
• Policy trends in China’s economy: In their continuing battle against financial risks, Chinese regulators maintain focus on shadow banking, issuing a series of measures to curb riskier forms of lending.
• Sector focus – Sorghum and Soybeans: In response to defensive U.S. trade measures, China considers duties against U.S. sorghum and soybeans, putting 67 percent of U.S. agricultural exports to China at risk.
This hearing will compare and contrast U.S. and Chinese pursuit of next generation connected devices and networks and the implications for U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. The hearing will focus on U.S. and Chinese 5th generation wireless technology (5G) and Internet of Things standards and technology development, U.S. usage of Chinese Internet of Things technologies and 5G networks, and the ability of Chinese firms to collect and utilize data from U.S. consumers through Internet of Things technologies.
The Commission’s February hearing on “China’s Military Reforms and Modernization: Implications for the United States” will provide insight into how China’s ongoing military reform efforts and President Xi’s vision for achieving the “China Dream” are shaping PLA long-term defense planning, weapons development, and acquisition programs. The hearing will specifically assess the political and security drivers shaping China’s military modernization efforts; the reformed Central Military Commission’s role in coordinating modernization priorities with the military services; the development of forces capable of conducting joint operations; and implications for the United States.
Highlights of This Month’s Edition
• Bilateral trade: In 2017, the U.S. goods trade deficit with China climbed 8.1 percent on the previous year to $375.2 billion, the highest deficit on record; U.S. services exports to China grow at the slowest rate since 2009 due to a slowdown in tourism to the United States.
• Bilateral policy issues: The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s 2017 report on China’s adherence to WTO commitments criticizes China’s noncompliance, noting “it is now clear that the WTO rules are not sufficient to constrain China’s market-distorting behavior.”
• Quarterly review of China’s economy: China’s economy grew 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2017, driven by greater domestic consumption, higher industrial output, and global demand.
• Policy trends in China’s economy: The Chinese government takes steps to discourage bitcoin mining in its latest crackdown on the cryptocurrency; China’s central bank adjusts exchange rate management regime.
• Sector focus – Chinese Outbound Investment: Chinese investment into the United States drops 35 percent following China’s imposition of capital control measures; newly announced Chinese investment deals in the United States are 90 percent lower in 2017 than 2016; concerns over espionage activity, opaque ownership structures, and a lack of privacy protections for U.S. customers cause HNA and Ant Financial’s U.S. acquisition transactions to flounder and terminate Huawei’s mobile phone partnerships with U.S. carriers.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action.