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Updated: 3 days 6 hours ago

Kasser II MRAP consignment seen in UAE

Thu, 04/08/2022 - 17:50
A production batch of Kasser II mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles was seen when the United Arab Emirates' (UAE's) minister of industry and advanced...
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Russia unveils naval doctrine amid Navy Day celebrations

Thu, 04/08/2022 - 17:20
Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a new naval doctrine on 31 July that offers a glimpse of Russia's global maritime ambitions.
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Rocket Lab launches surveillance satellite for Australian DoD, US NRO

Thu, 04/08/2022 - 16:50
The second of the two surveillance satellites co-developed by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) of the United States and the Australian Department of Defence...
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China conducts largest air breach of median line to date

Thu, 04/08/2022 - 16:20
China conducted its most significant air breach of the median line in the contentious Taiwan Strait on 3 August.
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US-China relations: tensions almost certain to increase following Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

Thu, 04/08/2022 - 14:54
Key points
  • US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan on 2 August, addressing the Taiwanese parliament, meeting with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, and becoming the highest-ranking US official to visit the island since 1997.
  • The Chinese government strongly condemned the visit, accusing the US of “hollowing-up” the One China principle and the foundations of US-China relations, and launching a series of retaliatory measures against Taiwan that are highly likely to develop further in the coming months.
  • The visit added tension to US-China relations, and is likely to negatively affect co-operation between the two countries and worsen Taiwan's security environment as China's response and Taiwan's countermeasures increase the risk of an accident leading to military escalation.

On 2 August, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan, becoming the highest-ranking US official to visit Taipei since then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997. Pelosi addressed the Taiwanese parliament and met with President Tsai Ing-wen, reiterating US support for Taiwan's security and democracy, and stating that solidarity with the Taiwanese people is “crucial”. In response, China, which claims Taiwan as one of its provinces and had voiced its strong opposition to the trip through several stern warnings in previous days, approved a series of trade bans against Taiwan and launched military drills in the waters surrounding the island, accusing the US government of jeopardising US-China relations and cross-strait security.

Chinese perceptions of Pelosi's visit and US-China relations

Pelosi's visit adds stress to the already tense relationship between China and the US, in which cross-strait security has become an increasingly central issue since President Joe Biden was elected in 2020. For the Communist Party of China (CPC) the foundation of US-China relations is the One China principle: that there is only one China, that Taiwan is part of China, and that the People's Republic is the only legitimate government of China.

Under these conditions, the Chinese government tolerates US commercial and cultural exchanges with Taiwan to an extent but sees any sort of political support as an attack to its own national sovereignty. The US response to the One China principle is the One China policy, whereby the US government acknowledges China's position and follows a policy of strategic ambiguity to prevent any unilateral challenge to the status quo by either side of the Taiwan Strait.

However, as President Xi Jinping's rhetoric on reunification and actions around Taiwan intensify, maintaining strategic ambiguity is becoming increasingly difficult for the US, with Biden stating on three different occasions in the last year that the US would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese invasion. Although White House officials have scrambled to explain on each occasion that this did not mark a departure from the policy of strategic ambiguity, the CPC has perceived arms sales, visits by lower-ranking officials and former policy makers, and US military activity in the Strait as a demonstration of increasing US support for Taiwan. Consequently, the CPC perceives Pelosi's trip as the latest in a series of actions effectively supporting Taiwan independence, threatening the sovereignty of the People's Republic, and ultimately aiming to prevent China from achieving “national rejuvenation” and becoming a global power.

The CPC increasingly sees US conduct as proof that the US is gradually abandoning its One China policy, despite Biden's clarification to Xi and the media that Pelosi's trip was not endorsed by the US presidency or the Department of Defense. For the Chinese government, these are threats to China's integrity and future, and there is no room for compromise.


Pelosi's 19-hour visit is a significant diplomatic victory for Taiwan, as it reinforces ties with the US at a crucial point in the island's relationship with China, and it has the potential to encourage allies to intensify contacts with Taiwan. Tsai referred to Pelosi as “Taiwan's most steadfast friend” and stated that her conduct demonstrated “the United States Congress' rock solid support for Taiwan”. However, this success is perceived in mainland China as a humiliation, and the CPC is highly likely to seek to deter foreign diplomats from emulating the US House Speaker.

Additionally, China's strong rhetoric in the days leading to Pelosi's visit, the CPC's perception of the visit as an attack against the country's sovereignty, and the proximity of Xi Jinping's probable re-election at the 20th National Congress of the CPC in October-November 2022, will almost certainly result in Chinese government retaliation to avoid losing face. Such a response is almost certain to focus on several aspects, including:

  • Trade: China accounted for 33% of the total trade value of Taiwan in 2021, including 42% of Taiwan's exports. At the time of writing, China had approved bans on thousands of Taiwanese products, as well as sand exports to the island. These are likely to stay in place and expand in the coming weeks.
    • Military: On 2 August, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theatre command announced live-fire, overnight military drills around Taiwan as a “deterrence” and a “warning”. The scale of this response represents an escalation on the live fire exercises conducted during the 1995-6 Third Taiwan Crisis, signalling a strong military component in China's retaliatory actions in the coming weeks. Although this will increase the risk of escalation, an open military conflict between China and Taiwan and the US is highly unlikely, as the CPC is almost certain to prioritise stability in the months leading up to its 20th National Congress.
    • Diplomatic: Pelosi's visit prompted a flurry of statements by China's main governmental and party agencies, including the Central Committee of the CPC, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the Ministry of National Defence, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All statements framed the event as a provocation by the US, accusing it of attacking Chinese sovereignty, undermining regional stability, and challenging the status quo. Chinese officials are almost certain to use this narrative against the US in international forums and bilateral exchanges with third countries, seeking to diminish US influence and garner support against Taiwan.
    • Information: Cyber attacks are highly likely to play an important role in China's response against Taiwan in the coming weeks and months. On 2 August, as Pelosi landed in Taipei, at least four high profile websites were targeted and brought down, including those of President Tsai Ing-wen, the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defence, and of the Taiwan Taoyuan International airport. Taiwanese policymakers, ministerial agencies, and critical national infrastructure are likely targets of future cyber attacks.

    However, there are two main factors that have the potential to mitigate the intensity of China's response:

    • Alienation of Taiwanese people: President Xi will need to balance a firm response with the need to avoid further alienating Taiwanese people, whose opinion of the CPC is highly likely to worsen in the face of strong retaliatory measures. In recognition of this, on1 August Xi spoke about the necessity to win “the hearts and minds” of Taiwanese people at the 95th anniversary of the PLA.
    • High-level political engagement: In the coming weeks, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and President Xi will have the chance to meet with their US counterparts. Wang and Secretary of State Blinken will meet at the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Cambodia on 6 August, and Presidents Xi and Biden signalled in their 28 July call their will to meet in person in November, either at the G20 Summit in Indonesia on 15-16 November or at the APEC summit in Thailand on 18-19 November. Clear communication through high-level contacts is likely to reduce tensions, provide channels to de-escalate, and help find areas of co-operation. Clear communication through high-level contacts is likely to reduce tensions, provide channels to de-escalate, and help find areas of co-operation.

    China's response is almost certain to develop in the short-to-medium term as an accumulation of different measures, and its full extent will better be assessed over the next year. This will provide the opportunity for diplomatic channels to defuse the situation and use this crisis to build structures that prevent US-China tensions from further escalating.

    (Note: Items from news/wire services are abstracted from the originals and are not verbatim)

    Author:  F Xavier Casals, London, UK

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    Update: China conducts expansive military drills around Taiwan in wake of Pelosi's visit

    Thu, 04/08/2022 - 14:05
    China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has announced an expansive series of military exercises around Taiwan following a highly controversial visit by US House Speaker...
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    Japan, US deploy assets near Taiwan amid Chinese military buildup

    Thu, 04/08/2022 - 13:20
    The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the US Navy (USN) have deployed several military assets in the Philippine Sea near Taiwan amid the recent build-up of...
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    Turkey completes MEMATT mine clearing vehicle deliveries to Azerbaijan

    Thu, 04/08/2022 - 12:50
    The Azerbaijan Armed Forces have received 13 additional Mekanik Mayın Temizleme Teçhizatı (Mechanical Mine Clearing Equipment, MEMATT) remote-controlled mine-clearing...
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    Australia launches review into future military capability

    Thu, 04/08/2022 - 11:50
    Australia has announced a sweeping defence strategic review that will urgently examine the posture, preparedness, and structure of the country's military and spending on...
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    Japan working on F-X fighter jet programme amid pending deal with UK on FCAS

    Thu, 04/08/2022 - 09:35
    As momentum builds on a potential merger of the UK's Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and Japan's F-X fighter jet programmes, eight Japanese industries are deepening...
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    Rolls-Royce sale of ITP Aero clears last regulatory hurdle

    Thu, 04/08/2022 - 08:05
    Rolls-Royce's proposal to sell Spanish subsidiary Industria de Turbo Propulsores (ITP Aero) to a consortium has received Spanish government approval, completing the...
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    USSOCOM awards Armed Overwatch contract to L3Harris Technologies

    Thu, 04/08/2022 - 07:05
    US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has selected L3Harris Technologies as the lead contractor for its long-awaited Armed Overwatch programme.
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    Boeing avoids labour strike at three US defence plants

    Thu, 04/08/2022 - 07:05
    Unionised workers at three Boeing military aircraft factories in and near St Louis, Missouri, have approved a new three-year contract, averting a looming labour strike,...
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    Ukraine orders UAVs from German company

    Wed, 03/08/2022 - 18:05
    The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine has acquired an unspecified number of Quantum-Systems Vector unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
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    Australia to assess potential defects of Guardian-class patrol boats

    Fri, 01/07/2022 - 14:20
    Australia's Department of Defence (DoD) and shipbuilder Austal are flying specialists to several Pacific Island countries to assess possible technical defects of...
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    Poland signs for AW149 helicopters

    Fri, 01/07/2022 - 12:35
    Poland has signed for Leonardo AW149 helicopters, two weeks after the country's defence minister said a deal would be sealed “in the near future”.
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    US Army interested in enhanced M-SHORAD capability for ground threats

    Fri, 01/07/2022 - 07:35
    The US Army wants soldiers using the Stryker-based Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) weapon to also be able to target ground threats and is seeking information...
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    Aerojet Rocketdyne shareholders elect CEO slate to board

    Fri, 01/07/2022 - 07:35
    A slate of candidates led by Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake has won the publicly traded company's contentious election for board of directors, defeating a group led...
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    Update: Sikorsky to deliver hundreds more Black Hawks to US Army and FMS customers

    Fri, 01/07/2022 - 02:05
    The US Department of Defense (DoD) has contracted Sikorsky to deliver 255 H-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the US Army and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers.
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    Greece submits letter of request for F-35

    Thu, 30/06/2022 - 17:50
    Greece's plans to acquire the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) have taken a step forward, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis saying on...
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