In July 2016, the United States and South Korea announced the alliance decision to deploy a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) antimissile battery in South Korea to defend against the increasing North Korean missile threat. The move has angered Beijing, which perceives THAAD as mostly directed at China and a regional security concern, according to its official statements. In response, Beijing has used economic coercion, among other levers, to try to compel Seoul to abandon the THAAD deployment, but these efforts have proven unsuccessful. This report includes an overview of the THAAD system and its deployment, China’s stated concerns about THAAD, and China’s array of pressure directed against South Korea. It also examines the implications of China’s forceful response to the deployment for the United States and the geopolitical landscape in the Asia Pacific.
Despite areas of tension and distrust between Beijing and Moscow since normalizing relations in 1989, the two countries’ militaries and defense establishments have steadily worked to minimize and overcome these differences and are now experiencing arguably the highest period of cooperation. This staff report analyzes the three main components of military-to-military ties—military exercises, defense industrial cooperation, and high-level military contacts—which show increases in the level and quality of engagement, collectively reflecting closer defense relations. The report also describes the security implications of recent developments in Sino-Russian defense cooperation for the United States and the Asia Pacific.
In December 2016, Sao Tome and Principe—a country consisting of a group of islands and islets off the western coast of central Africa—broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and re-established diplomatic relations with China. The issue brief describes what happened, what it means for Taiwan, and how it fits into a series of measures that Beijing has taken to pressure Taiwan since the election of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.
•This is the second time since President Tsai’s election that Beijing has re-established diplomatic relations with one of Taipei’s former diplomatic partners—of which it now has only 21—marking a change in Beijing’s behavior. In 2008, Taipei and Beijing reached a tacit understanding to stop competing for recognition from each other’s diplomatic partners—a “diplomatic truce.” During the period that followed, Beijing also rejected overtures from several of Taiwan’s diplomatic partners to establish diplomatic relations with China.
•Taiwan’s diplomatic relationships are significant for symbolic and practical reasons. Although, Taiwan almost certainly gains more from its unofficial relations with countries that have extensive international influence, such as the United States, diplomatic relations are an important component of Taiwan’s toolbox for maintaining a presence on the international stage.
•Despite President Tsai’s pragmatic approach to cross-Strait relations and attempts to compromise, Beijing views her with suspicion due to her unwillingness to endorse the “one China” framework for cross-Strait relations. Other measures that Beijing has taken to pressure Taipei since President Tsai’s election include suspending official and semiofficial cross-Strait communication and meetings and excluding Taiwan from meetings of international organizations, among others.
China’s Beidou satellite navigation system—one of the country’s top space projects and only the fourth system of its kind currently in development or operation—is projected to achieve global coverage by 2020. This report examines the objectives behind Beijing’s decision to develop the system as an alternative to GPS, its efforts to build an industry around the system, and the effects this might have in security, economic, and diplomatic terms for the United States. The system’s primary purpose is to end China’s military reliance on GPS, although China’s associated industrial policies will likely affect U.S. firms operating in China’s market. Industry professionals assess there are no inherent risks to products such as smartphones receiving data from Beidou.
On July 12, 2016, the arbitral tribunal adjudicating the Philippines’ case against China in the South China Sea ruled overwhelmingly in favor of the Philippines, determining that major elements of China’s claim—including its nine-dash line, recent land reclamation activities, and other activities in Philippine waters—were unlawful. Predictably, China reacted negatively to the ruling, maintaining it was “null and void.” China may take assertive and inflammatory steps to defend its position. The extent to which China abides by the ruling in the long term, and to which the international community supports and seeks to enforce the ruling, will have consequences for the utility of international law as a tool to ensure the peaceful, stable, and lawful use of the seas going forward.
The report, prepared for the Commission by Murray Scot Tanner and James Bellacqua at CNA, examines the Chinese government’s efforts to combat terrorism by analyzing China’s definition and perception of its terrorist threat, its institutional infrastructure, strategy, and policies for combating terrorism, international counterterrorism cooperation efforts, and the opportunities for, and challenges of, U.S.-China cooperation on countering terrorism.
China’s ability to conduct conventional cruise and ballistic missile strikes on Guam is growing, even as the island’s strategic importance to the United States is increasing. This report examines the reasons behind China’s development of new conventional weapons that can reach Guam, the array of forces it could employ against Guam in a potential conflict, and policy options for the United States to consider in response. Accuracy limitations and platform vulnerabilities render the current risk to U.S. forces on Guam in a potential conflict relatively low, but China’s commitment to continuing to modernize its strike capabilities indicates the risk will likely continue to grow going forward.
From December 2013 to October 2015, China built artificial islands with a total area of close to 3,000 acres on seven coral reefs it occupies in the Spratly Islands in the southern part of the South China Sea. Although dredging, land reclamation, and the building of artificial islands are not unique to China, the scale and speed of China’s activities, the biodiversity of the area, and the significance of the Spratly Islands to the ecology of the region make China’s actions of particular concern. In addition to damage to the reefs, China’s island building activities have negatively impacted fisheries in the immediate area of the reclamation sites, and could negatively impact the health of fisheries in the coastal areas of the South China Sea. The building of these artificial islands will almost certainly lead to increased Chinese fishing in the surrounding waters, which could raise the risk of a clash between Chinese fishing boats and those of other claimant countries. Moreover, China’s island building activities may have violated some of its environmental commitments under international law; the ongoing case initiated by the Philippines at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague regarding China’s claims and activities in the South China Sea is considering this possibility.
While the People’s liberation Army continues to build anti-access/area denial capabilities to deter or delay a U.S. military response to a potential conflict with China, Beijing also appears to be pursuing other options—including nonmilitary options prior to a conflict—likely intended to erode the United States’ strategic position, freedom of action, and operational space in the Asia Pacific. The nonmilitary options being pursued include engagement, coercion, and alliance splitting focused on U.S. allies and partners in the Asia Pacific region. Although Beijing’s attempts to limit U.S. force projection capabilities in Asia through these efforts have produced mixed results, there is little indication Beijing will abandon its efforts to mitigate the U.S. military presence in the region.
This report assesses the extent to which China has enforced its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, and considers the potential conditions and implications of a Chinese ADIZ in the South China Sea.
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.