Sunday, October 31, 2010

Temporary ideological confusion?

If the Korean conflict was a proxy war between communism and imperial-capitalism, then one can't ignore the irony of finding a Century 21 advertisement among the pages of a book that celebrates the victory over such western ideologies. Temporary ideological confusion? No, not really. As a hyper-capitalistic nation, the Chinese publishers merely paint what sells, even if its advertisements are in conflict with its content.

If writing about China's glorious anti-capitalistic past helps bring in the dollars, then by all means, revel in the celebration of anti-capitalism! Why worry about ideological confusion when there is a dollar to be made?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Welcome home PLAN nuclear submariners

In this typical (here) PLA Daily write up -- 400 members of the 92730 Naval Unit, South Sea Fleet, await for their love one. The submariners of this unit triumphantly return after the completion of "an important tour that sets a number of records".

PR aside, this article confirms publicly for the first time that the Hainan nuclear submarine base is operational.

Notice the Type 093 Shang Class SSN in the background

MSA 75 commissioned on October 26th in Guangzhou.

This new class of maritime surveillance patrol ship has a 1317 tons displacement and a crew of 43. Its twin-engine is rated at 2380 kilowatts each capable of pushing it to the top speed to 20.6 knots. Range is reported to be 5000 KM within a 30-days patrol.

Photo of MSA 75 taken in Oct 6th.

28 October 2010 Last updated at 13:22 ET

China boosts maritime surveillance fleet amid disputes

China boosts maritime surveillance fleet amid disputes
A Japanese coast guard vessel (top) and a Chinese fisheries patrol vessel near near the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku isles in Japan, Diaoyu in China - 28 September 2010 China says it needs more vessels to patrol the seas around the country

China is expanding its fleet of naval surveillance ships amid maritime disputes with several neighbouring countries, state media have reported.

A new high-speed inspection ship was launched this week and 36 more would be added later, an official said.

China needed the ships to better protect its maritime rights, another official was quoted as saying.

Japan and China are locked in their worst dispute in years over a naval collision near islands both claim.

The islands in the East China Sea, known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu, are controlled by Japan, but claimed by China.

The dispute began when a Chinese trawler captain was arrested near the islands by Japan's coastguard in early September after colliding with two Japanese patrol boats.

The row has sparked nationalist protests in both countries. China has sent fisheries patrol vessels to the islands while reports in Japan say Tokyo plans to add six submarines to its navy.

The islands are uninhabited but surrounded by rich fishing grounds and potentially significant oil and gas reserves.

Other disputed island chains include the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea, which are claimed by China as well as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

Newly constructed KJ-200 AWAC spotted.

Notice the extra "antennas" on top of the cockpit.

The current KJ-200 service model. Notice there are no antennas in the "forehead"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

China says manned space station possible around 2020

China says manned space station possible around 2020
BEIJING — China said Wednesday that it planned to complete a manned space station around 2020, as the Asian nation pushes ahead with its ambitious space exploration programme.

China's Manned Space Engineering Project announced in a statement that it expected to launch a space laboratory before 2016 to study key technology involved in a space station, such as living conditions for astronauts.

The country would then develop and launch a core cabin and a second laboratory module around 2020, which would be assembled in orbit into a space station, it added.

The station would study technologies involved in long-term manned space flights, the statement said.

China had already announced plans to launch two unmanned modules next year, which are expected to undergo the nation's first space docking -- an essential step towards building the space station.

These steps are all part of the nation's ambitious space exploration programme, which experts say it wants to put on a par with those of the United States and Russia.

China sees the programme as a symbol of its global stature, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the formerly poverty-stricken nation.

The nation became only the third in the world to put a man in space independently -- after the United States and Russia -- when Yang Liwei piloted the one-man Shenzhou-5 space mission in 2003.

And in September 2008, the Shenzhou-7, piloted by three astronauts, carried out China's first space walk.

China has also made strides in lunar exploration, aiming to become the second country to put a man on the moon.

It launched its second lunar probe on October 1, hopes to bring a moon rock sample back to Earth in 2017, and has planned a manned mission to the moon for around 2020, according to state media.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chinese MP5 Clone by Norinco

One would wonder why the Chinese bothered to copy this overly complicated, over-priced and overrated status symbol of an old subgun design? when they already have couple of contemporary PDW designs of their own.

Of course, Norinco is doing it for the money! This sells for $1800-$2000, which translated to a lot of Renminbi.

....Norinco NR08 is now available for all your Tier-3 operators, 3rd World SWAT and submersible door gunners. The Shamwow guy approved this message and "There's a sucker born every minute."

- Timothy Yan

Monday, October 25, 2010

China Sends General Guo to Mark North Korea's `Historical Great Victory'

China Sends General Guo to Mark North Korea's `Historical Great Victory'
By Bloomberg News - Oct 24, 2010 9:09 PM PT

Chinese General Guo Marks Korean War ‘Victory’ in Pyongyang

China's Top General Guo Boxiong. Photographer: Angelia M. Rorison/U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images

China sent top-ranking general Guo Boxiong to North Korea to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its entry into the Korean War that he said resulted in “victory” over the “imperialist aggression” led by U.S. troops.

Guo, a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, headed the military delegation to North Korea, attending ceremonies in the Stalinist state yesterday, according to a report on the website of China’s defense ministry. The delegation laid wreaths in the name of Chinese President Hu Jintao and other leaders at a memorial for Chinese soldiers killed in the 1950-1953 conflict.

“Sixty years ago, in order to support the Korean people against imperialist aggression and to defend justice and peace, the Chinese People’s Volunteers crossed the Yalu River and began military operations and close coordination with the Korean people and army, winning a historical great victory,” Guo said at a ceremony in South Pyongan province. The Chinese sacrifices “cemented with blood the unbreakable friendship between China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

Guo’s visit is at least the second by a member of the Communist Party’s ruling Politburo in two weeks, demonstrating close ties between China and North Korea following years of United Nations sanctions for its nuclear program. China has publicly resisted calls to back the findings of an international probe blaming North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in March.

Later yesterday, Guo joined North Korean Premier Choe Yong Rim and other leaders for a banquet in Pyongyang to mark the anniversary, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Forced Retreat

In late 1950, U.S.-led forces fighting in the Korean War overran North Korea’s military, with advance elements reaching the Chinese border on the Yalu River. On Oct. 25 of that year, Chinese troops entered the conflict, forcing the U.S.-led contingent into a retreat. The front eventually settled near the 38th parallel at the present-day demarcation between the two Koreas.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il depends on China, his nation’s biggest trading partner and closest ally, to bolster his regime amid continued international sanctions. North Korea’s economy is about 3 percent the size of South Korea’s, according to Bank of Korea data released June 25.

Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, China’s top law-enforcement official, stood to the left of Kim on the reviewing stands during an Oct. 10 military parade in Pyongyang. The night before, as many as 50,000 North Korean dancers, acrobats, soldiers and children took part in the annual Arirang festival celebrating ties between the two countries, donning panda costumes and clashing cymbals in Pyongyang’s May Day stadium. Placards proclaimed “North Korea-China friendship” in Chinese characters.

Kim Jong Il has made an unprecedented two trips to China this year, both times meeting with President Hu.

Guo, speaking at the veterans’ memorial, said that both countries must “make new great new contributions to safeguard regional and world peace and stability,” the Defense Ministry report said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Forsythe in Beijing at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Austin at

Understanding Asia-Pacific Sea Power by James Holmes & Toshi Yoshihara

James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara's latest article reminds us not to "bean count" as numbers by themselves aren't enough to portrayal the complete picture.

Understanding Asia-Pacific Sea Power
East Asia | Security | China
October 21, 2010By James Holmes & Toshi Yoshihara

In this first in a series on the region’s navies, The Diplomat looks at how best to compare naval power—including the US and China’s.

Image credit:US Navy

It's a sobering thought that even analysts steeped in naval affairs disagree about how to tally up who exactly has the strongest fleet. Writing in the Washington Post last month, Robert Kaplan declared in passing that China had constructed ‘the world's second-largest naval service, after only the United States.’

In contrast, though, other reputable commentators maintain that the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in fact now boasts the world's largest fleet. For example, in August, The Economist published a story titled ‘Naval Gazing’, noting that the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies said China now has more warships than the United States. And sure enough, accompanying the story was a graphic showing that the PLAN has edged ahead of the US Navy in terms of ‘major combatants.’

Surely seasoned defence officials have a reliable formula for comparing navies? Not necessarily. Speaking in front of the Navy Leaguein May, US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates questioned the need to keep investing in a mammoth fleet and rattled off statistics intended to convey the US Navy's overwhelming size and strength.

For example, he noted that the US Navy ‘operates 11 large carriers…In terms of size and striking power, no other country has even one comparable ship.’ It ‘has 57 nuclear-powered attack and cruise missile submarine—again, more than the rest of the world combined.’ And ‘the displacement of the US battle fleet—a proxy for overall fleet capabilities—exceeds, by one recent estimate, at least the next 13 navies combined.’

According to US Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead, who spoke in Canberra recently, it will take years for the PLAN to master tactics and procedures for handling aircraft-carrier task forces at sea, even after a Chinese carrier does eventually take to the water. If carrier operations represent the gold standard for naval power, naval mastery remains a long way off for Beijing.

Top US defence officials are clearly trying to send foreign and domestic audiences a message: that the United States’ overwhelming material superiority, coupled with China's technological backwardness, will keep the peace in Asian waters. By implication, the United States and its allies can rest easy.

But faulty assumptions can in turn lead to faulty strategy.

So, how should we evaluate naval power? The number of platforms clearly matters, and yet calculating a fleet's strength is about more than crunching the numbers. By our count (taken from, the PLAN boasts 1,045 vessels of all types—more than double the number available to the United States. According to the Naval Vessel Register, the US Navy is currently comprised of 287 ships, of which 257 are in full commission and ready for service. Add in the 163 civilian-crewed non-combatant vessels of the Military Sealift Command (51 of which are laid up in reduced operating status) and the grand total is 450 ships at US policymakers' disposal.

But using such figures to rate the PLAN as twice the strength of the US Navy is clearly nonsensical. And indeed, the figure of 1000+ Chinese vessels includes surveillance vessels, oceanographic survey ships and tugboats (not to mention creaky old scows that would contribute little in a fleet-on-fleet engagement).

So what about Secretary Gates’ use of tonnage as a reliable indicator of overall capability? Well, if it were, Danish shipping firm Maersk Line would boast a fleet far more imposing than the US Navy. Emma Maersk, the biggest freighter in a 500-ship fleet, tips the scales at 156,907 tons—over half again the displacement of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which comes in at a petite 98,235 tons. Indeed, some super-sized crude carriers displace a remarkable 550,000 tons. Yet clearly, no one would mistake such behemoths for warships.

Displacement is a crude measuring stick even among combatants. The Spanish Armada far outweighed the English Navy and yet Medina-Sidonia's ponderous men-of-war found themselves outranged, outgunned and outmanoeuvred when they attempted to invade the British Isles in 1588.

Historian Peter Padfield estimates that Howard and Drake's fleet commanded a decisive two-to-one advantage in long guns over the Armada.Though smaller than their adversaries, English men-of-war boasted a far superior ratio of firepower to tonnage. In a hypothetical fight between a (now-retired) Iowa-class battleship, the premier surface combatant of its day, and today's DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, bet on the Burke every time. Speedy long-range antiship missiles would trump the Iowa's enormous weight of shot unless the battleship managed to close in to gun range. Displacement: 58,000 tons for the dreadnought, 9,494 tons for the latest DDG-51s.

None of this is lost on Beijing. In fact, Chinese commanders count on employing packs of small, nimble, hard-hitting fast attack boats to contest an adversary's attempts to impose sea control along the mainland seaboard. Stealthy Type 022 Houbei catamarans displacing about 220 tons are designed specifically to use hit-and-run tactics against larger warships. Armed with long-range anti-ship cruise missiles, they punch well above their weight. US naval forces operating close to Chinese shores disregard craft like the Houbeis at their peril.

Size matters, then, but it isn't everything. Manpower is another related statistic that can again be misleading when taken in isolation. The US Navy's authorized manpower comes to 329,000 men and women, the US Marine Corps another 202,000. This is around double the total end-strength for the Chinese sea services. It takes more sailors to man a heavier fleet, and the Marines pack a hefty punch of their own. But again, much depends on operational circumstances. Unless a fleet encounter involves ground operations, for example Marines embarked in amphibious transports, it contributes little to the outcome. (Marine pilots embarked in carrier air wings are another matter).

So the most we can say for tonnage and manpower as yardsticks is this: if two fleets are built for the same purposes and missions and one displaces more than the other, then the heavier fleet is probably the stronger. Bigger ships generally carry more munitions, more fuel and more protection, which translates into the ability to fight for longer across greater distances and absorb more damage. That's probably what Gates meant to convey. But this is no ironclad rule, as the example of the Armada shows. Shipbuilding and weapons-development philosophies make an enormous difference.

But all this speculation over a navy’s fighting power could be redundant depending on another critical factor—where a fight takes place. One navy doesn’t necessarily need to match another one on paper. Seldom, if ever, will an entire navy battle another (especially in a place where it can’t augment its strength with land-based air, sea and missile assets). So to prevail, a fleet only needs to be stronger at one particular point on the map.

If that point lies in home waters, so much the better for the defender. In the 1890s, sea-power theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan implored the United States to construct a navy powerful enough to dominate the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico and to defeat the largest hostile fleet (probably British or German) likely to attempt mischief in US waters. If the United States wanted to safeguard shipping lanes connecting US East Coast seaports with the Far East, proclaimed Mahan, it needed a navy able to ‘fight, with reasonable chances of success, the largest force likely to be brought against it’ in the Caribbean or the Gulf. To ‘maximize the power of offensive action,’ which was ‘the great end of a war fleet,’ he said the United States needed a modest force of ‘capital ships’ capable of ‘taking and giving hard knocks’ in a toe-to-toe fight.

Mahan, then, was unconcerned about outbuilding the entire British Royal Navy or German High Seas Fleet. As a regional fleet, the US Navy merely needed enough armoured warships to win the battle most likely to take place in the sea lanes leading to the Central American canal then under construction. Similar logic guides Chinese naval strategy today. The PLAN only needs sufficient strength to prevail against the largest naval contingent likely to challenge it in sea areas Beijing deems important, most notably the Yellow, East China and South China seas. China need not win—or even run—a ship-for-ship arms race with the United States and US allies such as Japan to achieve its goals.

As long as the PLAN contents itself with fighting within range of shore-based aircraft, small surface and subsurface combatants and antiship missiles, that weaponry must be factored into the fleet's overall strength. As Gates pointed out, the all-nuclear US submarine force can fight at great distances. But the PLAN has amassed an even larger undersea fleet optimal for lurking in nearby waters—the waters that will count in any future Sino-American clash. Nor do all the aircraft carriers and missile-toting destroyers in the world mean much if the US Pacific Fleet dare not venture within range of Chinese anti-ship ballistic missilesand so can’t bring its offensive firepower to bear.

So, who has the strongest navy? The perhaps unsatisfying answer is that it really does depend. It matters little whether the United States or China owns the largest fleet on paper—what matters is which nation can mass superior combat power in critical waters in conjunction with allied forces.

By charting the total inventory of major combatants on either side, the IISS study probably comes closest to an accurate assessment because it at least tries to gauge combat potential, counting the ships best positioned to determine the outcome of a fleet engagement. Even so, there’s no substitute for aggregating all relevant data on fleet composition, taking into account the political, strategic and geographic context unique to maritime Asia. Each navy commands considerable advantages; neither holds an obvious decisive edge.

Kaplan, the Economist, Gates and Roughead have started a debate that teaches a valuable lesson about evaluating Chinese and other nations’ sea power. Analysts must take care not to rely on (or cherry pick) indicators that either inflate or underestimate the progress of Chinese naval modernization. The complexity and dynamism of the PLAN defies easy description or prognosis. PLAN-watchers and the statesmen they advise around Asia and the rest of the world must strive for a nuanced, multidimensional, geographically informed understanding of naval power, lest they base their strategies on faulty assumptions.

James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara are associate professors of strategy at the Naval War College and co-authors of ‘Red Star over the Pacific: China's Rise and the Challenge to US Maritime Strategy’. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the Naval War College or the US government.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scans from the recent issue of Ordnance Knowledge.

Ordnance Knowledge Monthly 《兵器知识》is a subsidiary of Norinco -- a certain degree of sales pitch is understandable and expected for its articles.

Type 99 MBT

Peace Mission 2010
PCL09/SH-2 Truck-mounted 122mm Howitzer (D-30)

HQ-6 Mobile SAM System

Friday, October 22, 2010

Yuan Wang 1 Space Event Ship Decommissioned.

After 33 years, 44 tours, China's first space tracking ship for satellite and ballistic missile support is now formally decommissioned.

YuanWang 2 to 6 are still in service.

YuanWang 5 and 6, YuanWang 1 and 2's replacements.