Foreign geographic information software collects sensitive data, posing threat to national security: ministry

China’s national security agencies have discovered that foreign geographic information system software used in important industries in China has been collecting and transmitting geographic information data with some of the information collected involving state secrets, posing a serious threat to national security, China’s Ministry of State Security said on Monday, noting that national security agencies will establish and improve a collaborative mechanism for data security protection to safeguard the protection of important national data.

Geographic information data are not only an important strategic data resource, but also a new production factor that can be widely applied in various industries, however, some organizations and individuals with ulterior motives have attempted to steal sensitive geographic information data using geographic information system software, according to an article released on the ministry’s WeChat public account on Monday. 

Geographic information system software is professional software that has functions such as geographic information data collection, storage, analysis, management, and sharing. Such software has powerful functions and can annotate various types of geographic information collected on maps, and analyze and display them in various formats. Coordinate accuracy can even reach the centimeter level. 

However, some foreign organizations, institutions, and individuals have set their sights on the geographic information data, attempting to conduct intelligence espionage activities using geographic information system software, according to the WeChat article.

The methods of these foreign organizations and individuals include automatically connecting to foreign servers during software usage to collect user data without restrictions, and pre-installing backdoors in the software to facilitate network attacks and data theft.

Moreover,a small number of users have limited awareness of data security and mark high-precision geographic coordinates of urban pipelines, military targets, and sensitive units on maps, creating serious risks of leakage and potential irreparable losses, according to the article. 

It also noted that geographic data are a high-value intelligence resource and are a key target for foreign intelligence agencies’ espionage activities. 

“By stealing high-precision geographic information data from our country, they can reconstruct three-dimensional topographic maps of specific areas in important fields such as transportation, energy, and military, providing crucial support for reconnaissance, surveillance, and military operations, posing a serious threat to our military security,” the ministry said. 

Recently, national security agencies have discovered that foreign geographic information system software used in important domestic industries has been collecting and transmitting geographic information data, and some of the data are important and sensitive, even involving state secrets, posing a serious threat to our national security. 

In response, national security agencies, together with relevant departments, are conducting special investigations and governance of geographic information data security risks, guiding and assisting relevant units in conducting inspections and rectifications, and promptly eliminating major security risks such as data theft and leakage.

China’s data security law stipulates that data processing activities should be carried out in accordance with the provisions of laws and regulations, establish and improve a comprehensive data security management system, organize data security education and training, adopt corresponding technical measures and other necessary measures to ensure data security.

When units and individuals engage in geographic information data collection and processing activities, they should choose secure and reliable geographic information system software, set strict access permissions based on the importance of the data, and ensure no sensitive information is available on the internet.

National security agencies will establish and improve a collaborative mechanism for data security protection in cooperation with relevant departments to jointly safeguard the protection of important national data, the Ministry of State Security said in the article. 

The ministry also warned that the theft, espionage, bribery, or illegal provision of data that arerelated to national security and interests by foreign organizations, institutions, individuals, or collusion with domestic organizations, institutions, individuals constitute espionage under Chinese law. 

Citizens who discover such behaviors can report them by calling the 12339 tip-off hotline, logging on to the www.12339.gov.cn , or reporting to the national security agencies through the official WeChat account, the article instructed. 

Central government’s office for safeguarding national security in HK supports police arresting five more fleeing anti-China figures

The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) said on Thursday that it resolutely supports the Hong Kong police in arresting five fleeing anti-China figures in accordance with the law, and effectively preventing, stopping and punishing those who have fled to oppose the country and disrupt Hong Kong. 

The office said that “we must effectively safeguard the authority of the rule of law and consolidate the hard-won good situation in Hong Kong.”

The Hong Kong Police Force’s National Security Department announced on Thursday to place five more figures in exile into its warrant list, who are suspected of colluding with foreign or external forces including anti-government figures Joey Siu and Simon Cheng. 

In July, the police issued a HK$1 million ($128,000) bounty each for eight anti-government figures in exile, including Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Ted Hui Chi-fung. 

Cheng and others have long been engaged in anti-China and Hong Kong destabilization activities. After fleeing overseas, they continue to build platforms for disruptive activities in Hong Kong, spreading political rumors and “Hong Kong independence” fallacies about the country and Hong Kong, slandering Hong Kong’s rule of law, and pleading for foreign forces to sanction Hong Kong or interfere in Hong Kong affairs, the office said.

They openly challenge the authority of the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong and undermine Hong Kong’s development. The Hong Kong Police, based on facts and in accordance with the law, have lawfully issued warrants for these fugitives involved in anti-China and Hong Kong destabilization activities. This aligns with the fundamental interests of Hong Kong, reflects the common will of society, and it’s an inevitable requirement for the comprehensive and accurate implementation of the NSL for Hong Kong, a righteous act to safeguard national security in accordance with the law, and a necessary measure to ensure the prosperous and stable development of Hong Kong, the office said.

This issuance of warrant marks another lawful action following the July warrants against anti-government figure Kevin Yam and eight other fugitives for their leading roles in anti-China and Hong Kong destabilization activities. It targets five individuals suspected of committing crimes of inciting secession, inciting subversion of state power, and colluding with foreign or overseas forces to endanger national security, the office said. 

This demonstrates the Hong Kong Police’s courageous responsibility, firm commitment to defending the authority of the NSL for Hong Kong, and unwavering determination to safeguard national security. It is believed that the Hong Kong police will take all necessary measures according to the law to hold these fugitives accountable for their crimes. 

They will also lawfully deal with those who assist, incite, or fund acts endangering national security, striking at the arrogance of these fugitives involved in anti-China and Hong Kong destabilization activities, the office said. 

The 33-year-old Cheng was suspected of inciting secession and colluding with foreign or overseas forces to endanger national security. Since August 2020, he, along with others, established political organizations and frequently advocated for “Hong Kong independence” on social media platforms, calling for foreign sanctions and hostile actions against Hong Kong government officials and judicial personnel. 

Cheng, a former employee at the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong, was detained by the mainland police at the West Kowloon high-speed rail station on August 8, 2019. Later, the Luohu public security in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong, revealed that he had been “involved in prostitution activities multiple times,” resulting in a 15-day administrative detention, according to media reports. 

Pandas returning from overseas in good condition at Chengdu research base

In 2023, a total of 15 giant pandas returned to China from overseas after expiry of loan agreements. Among these 15 pandas, four are currently residing at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province and are in good condition, the Global Times learned during a recent visit.

On February 22, giant panda Yong Ming arrived in Chengdu from Japan with his twin daughters, Ying Bang and Tao Bang. On July 26, giant panda cub Yuan Meng, who was born in France, arrived in Chengdu and also joined the base, a staff member surnamed Liu at the research base told the Global Times.

Among all the returning pandas, Yong Ming is the oldest at 31 years old, which is about 100 years old in human terms. He is also the second oldest captive male giant panda in the world.

After arriving at the base, the pandas undergo quarantine and a period of isolation, said Liu. Once their condition stabilizes, they will be moved to open enclosures to meet the public.

During the visit, the Global Times reporter saw these pandas eating bamboo and enjoying their time at the base. All of them appeared to be in good physical and mental health, which was confirmed by the base’s staff.

At the base, each panda has an outdoor activity area ranging from 500 to 800 square meters in size, which ensures that they have ample space to move around, Liu said. They also each have an “indoor apartment.”

Since the return of the panda cub Xiang Xiang in February, a total of 15 pandas have returned to China in 2023 from countries including the US, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Malaysia, and the UK. In 2024, several more pandas are expected to return to China after their loan agreements expire. 

These pandas, who have lived abroad for a long time, have also become favorites among Chinese tourists after returning to China. The Global Times has learned that many make special trips to the breeding base to visit these national treasures.

On the same visit, representatives from Pakistani media and think tanks expressed admiration for China’s panda conservation efforts and shared their expectations for cooperation between China and Pakistan in this field.

“In the past, pandas were a globally endangered species, but China has taken special measures to protect them. Here, all the pandas receive excellent care,” said Faiyan Zia Bangash, a senior reporter from Pakistan’s The News.

“I have always had a special love for pandas, but it wasn’t until today when I saw them with my own eyes that I truly experienced their cuteness,” said Fahd Gauhar Malik, editor of the Pakistan Observer. 

“I really hope that in the future, China and Pakistan can also have relevant cooperation so that the people of Pakistan can see pandas in their own zoos,” Malik said.

FISU Games conclude, yet friendship and solidarity continue among youth

The 31st FISU World University Games, after offering exciting competitions and diverse cultural exposure, concluded on Tuesday in Southwest China’s Chengdu with a splendid ceremony that wrapped up shining moments during the Games and delivered wishes for a happier and brighter future.

The Chengdu FISU Games were not only a gathering for sports, but also a gathering to enhance mutual understanding and make friends, and the friendship will pass on among youth from all over the world with their traits of openness, inclusiveness, solidarity and vitality, analysts said.

The appearance of delegations features the process of a dove tree’s growing from root to giant plant with lush branches and leaves. The dove-like flowers, a symbol of peace, then start to bloom.

The dove tree is a species indigenous to China which survived the ice age and its flower resembles a flying dove with two snow-white bracts. The ceremony incorporates the elements of the dove tree and its flowers to stress the resilience of life and the hope for everlasting peace.

Chinese State Councilor Shen Yiqin and FISU acting president Leonz Eder attended the ceremony.

The ceremony stage was designed based on a “cell phone” and captured the concept of livestreaming. Through the camera of a “livestreamer,” young people from all over the world were able to be part of the FISU Games.

The master display presented 3D visual effects with naked-eye 3D technology, offering novel, amazing, special and delicate spectating experience.

After lowering the FISU flag along the playing of the FISU anthem, the flag was handed over to Rhine-Ruhr, host city of next FISU Games in 2025.

The FISU Games ran from July 28 to August 8 and featured 269 events across 18 sports. The Chinese delegation participated in all 18 sports of the games and claimed 103 gold medals, 40 silvers and 35 bronzes in total, ranking on top of the medal tally.

Besides performance on the competition ground, China’s performance in terms of hosting this international event is also well recognized.

“The preparations and setup of the venues are just unbelievable. Everything has been running smoothly and the competitions are going very well. We can only praise the organizing committee for the great work it’s done,” Eder said in an earlier exclusive interview with the Global Times.

Making friends

For the participants, from athletes and coaches to staff and volunteers, the past weeks have made Chengdu, known for its tasty cuisines, adorable pandas and a leisure lifestyle, an unforgettable place where they’ve shed sweat and tears, challenged themselves and make breakthroughs, and more importantly, make friends beyond borders, analysts said.

One touching moment which can elucidate the sportsmanship of the youth event happened on Friday. When Uganda’s badminton player Amos Muyanja broke his racket without a replacement, his competitor from China Wang Zhengxing offered Muyanja a backup racket.

The FISU Games organizer wrote on Twitter that “we unite to push our limits and inspire each other… We wish all the participants not only to take home victories but also friendship and cherished memories!”

Azerbaijan badminton player Agil Gabilov told the Global Times on Tuesday that Chengdu has been a great experience for him. He made friends with athletes and volunteers and was impressed by the friendliness he received.

Brazilian swimmer Fernanda Gomes Celidonio said that volunteers at the Chengdu Games made her feel “at home.”

Athletes including German volleyball player Yann Bohme got a birthday surprise as after a match, the cheering squad and mascot Rongbao wished him happy birthday and the audience sang in chorus the birthday melody for him.

Athletes also received special gifts, including 3D-printed figurine and local artifacts such as palm fiber weavings and embroidery badges, according to media reports.

The Games also provide a great platform for cultural exchanges other than competition, which Zambian tennis player Esther Sakala appreciated a lot.

Sakala, as a lover of art and an artist herself, was excited to meet those crafty and talented people and see their skills. She had a chance to paint a cup which was later given as a gift and Sakala said she “Loved it so much.”A range of Chinese cultural elements, from handicrafts to musical instruments, have intrigued FISU Game participants at a culture fair held next to the Games Village.

Youth spirit

On and off the competition ground, youth across the world are demonstrating the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and solidarity, igniting a world of division and turbulence, analysts noted.

The Chengdu FISU Games were postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this successful holding marked the resumption of face-to-face communication and exchanges among youth via sports and can leverage more interactions in other fields, such as culture, they said.

Li Haidong, a professor with the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that sport can be an easy bridge to connect people from different countries and regions and help them build friendship.

The FISU World University Games in Chengdu are a precious opportunity for athletes and people from all around the world to deepen mutual understanding and trust, which will also lay the foundation for closer cooperation and solidarity, Li noted.

FISU Universiade was first held during the Cold War in 1959. It not only encourages young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but also seeks to promote young people communicating across cultural, political and religious barriers through sports, Ren Hai, a professor at the Olympic Research Center of Beijing Sports University, told the Global Times.

When the world is experiencing uncertainty and turbulence, China hopes to deliver a message of peace, communication and cooperation through this gathering of young people, who represent hope and the future, analysts said.

Eder, the acting president of the FISU, has visited China more than 20 times and observed the country’s fast economic development, as well as its increased confidence and openness. “I can feel the country’s readiness to cooperate with many countries whether they come from the East, West, North, or South,” Eder said.

Asian Para Games kicks off

The Hangzhou Asian Para Games unfolded with a heartwarming opening ceremony that showcased the spirit of “optimism, harmony, perseverance and sharing” in East China’s Zhejiang Province on Sunday. 

Themed “Hearts Meet, Dreams Shine,” the 85-minute opening ceremony revolved around the image of the osmanthus, the official city flower of Hangzhou. The Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, or “Big Lotus,” was turned into a spectacle of golden osmanthus flowers in full blossom thanks to digital technology. 

From the 22 massive bouquets of golden osmanthus flowers that highlighted the charm of Hangzhou, the flower transformed into water and then arched bridges and eventually became a giant golden crown in the air over the packed 80,000 capacity stadium to welcome the athletes of the participating countries and regions. 

More than 3,000 athletes from over 40 countries and regions across Asia will show their perseverance and pursue their dreams in Hangzhou. They will join hands to write a new chapter of harmony, unity and sharing for the Asian community. 

The Chinese delegation, which consists of 723 people with a total of 439 athletes, will compete in 22 sports and 397 events at the Para Games, which are scheduled to run until Saturday.

People with disabilities were invited to participate in the ceremony to demonstrate their indomitable spirit and positive mentality toward life. 

China’s national flag was carried into the stadium by four children, two with disabilities and two without. A group of performers gave a rendition of the national anthem using sign language.

A dance show featuring 36 able-bodied dancers and 36 wheelchair dancers displayed the touching scenes of athletes going hand in hand on the journey to realize their dreams, highlighting the spirit of integration of able-bodied people and people with disabilities. 

Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang declared the 4th Asian Para Games open. 

The flame of hope and love was lit as the last torchbearer, fitted with a robotic arm operated by a brain control system, ignited the cauldron together with the Games mascot Feifei.

Majid Rashed, president of the Asian Paralympic Committee, told the Global Times that the Hangzhou Games are the best ever Para Games and that they offer athletes across Asia the opportunity to present their talents.

“Beyond the competitions, the Games convey the message of inclusiveness and aim to raise people’s awareness about people with disabilities,” said Majid. “Over the next six days of competitions, you will see stories of determination and inspiration.” 

“Hangzhou has been a great role model for hosting such a big event. The facilities and the venues are outstanding and will be one of the legacies for people of this beautiful city,” Majid noted. 

“I look forward to coming to Hangzhou with my family in the future.”

Sha Xiaolan, general director of the opening ceremony of the Asian Para Games, told the Global Times that the image of the golden osmanthus crown was designed to extend the wishes of “winning laurels” to every athlete.

The Chinese character for osmanthus also means “laurels” in Putonghua (Standard Chinese). 

“From a small osmanthus flower to an osmanthus crown, we hope to convey the idea that athletes’ unrelenting efforts in training will accrue accomplishments. Every little effort counts in making their dream come true,” said Sha. 

The song “Our Asia,” which was used for the opening ceremony of the Asian Games, was played again to usher the athletes into the stadium.

“Using the same song is to express the notion of the integration of the disabled and able-bodied,” said Sha. The beloved song was penned 33 years ago for the 11th Asian Games in Beijing.

Cui Wei, vice director of the opening ceremony of the Asian Para Games, told the Global Times that the ceremony was dedicated to inviting everyone to Hangzhou as the city is permeated with the aroma of osmanthus in October. 

“If the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games was romantic and spectacular, then the ceremony of the Asian Para Games is warm, touching and inspiring,” said Cui.

“We want to take this opportunity to show Hangzhou’s humanistic care for disabled people and reflect the country’s progress and achievements in the cause of disabled people,” Cui said.

Lü Yuan, chief writer of the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, said the osmanthus was chosen as the main image of the opening ceremony for its touching symbolic meaning in traditional Chinese culture.

“After communicating with many visually impaired people, we thought the aroma of osmanthus can be shared by nearly everyone,” Lü noted. 

“We want to convey the power of community, companionship and solidarity. This small osmanthus flower does not bloom alone, but blooms in clusters. None of us walks alone. The power of love and companionship keeps us going forward,” said Lü.

Chen Weiqiang, spokesperson of the Hangzhou Para Games, said that by Sunday, over 320,000 tickets had been sold, going on to note that the Games have helped Hangzhou become a more accessible city for people with disabilities. 

Chinese tourists witness chaotic scene in Bangkok’s Siam Paragon mall shooting

A chaotic scene unfolded at the Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday afternoon as gunshots rang out near an upscale retail area, resulting in the tragic deaths of at least three people, according to Thai local media. The incident took place around 4.20pm local time.

Local police authorities reported the arrest of a 14-year-old male suspect, apprehended by police on the third floor of the nearby Siam Kempinski Hotel.

Security camera footage captured the suspect shooter, who was seen kneeling with his hands on his head as three police officers closed in on him. In a swift action, one of the officers subdued the suspect on the ground.

Several Chinese tourists near the scene of the shooting incident told the Chinese news outlet Southern Metropolis Daily that they had heard multiple gunshots, and many people were fleeing, as chaos gripped the area. 

The incident occurred near a high-end handbag store on the “M” level inside the building, Chinese media learned. A Chinese tourist who was in the vicinity told the South Metropolis Daily that both the Paragon and Siam Center malls were closed in the wake of the incident. They were initially trapped inside Siam Center, but have since been allowed to evacuate.

Another Chinese tourist was quoted as telling reporters that they were shopping inside Siam Paragon when they witnessed many tourists fleeing. Subsequently, while escaping, they heard multiple gunshots. 

“If I remember correctly, I heard three gunshots while I was running. I have now exited and am not entirely sure about the situation inside,” the tourist said. 

Thailand recently granted visa exemptions for Chinese nationals from September 25 to February 29, 2024 to boost local tourism. The temporary waiver is expected to attract five million additional visitors, according to media reports, citing Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol.

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin also welcomed Chinese tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, Thailand on September 25.

According to the latest data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), from January 1 to September 17, Thailand has hosted over 2.34 million Chinese tourists, approximately 37 percent of the same period in 2019.

One Chinese national was killed and another injured in the shooting incident in Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday, the China Central Television reported, citing information from the Chinese Embassy in Thailand.  

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not confirmed any details as of Tuesday evening. 

A number of Chinese netizens expressed their concern about whether it’s still safe to travel to Thailand, sharing their anxiety on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo platform on Tuesday, with news of the shooting incident attracting more than 32 million views on the platform. 

IFRC continues to provide relief items to quake-affected Afghans, says IFRC official

The Asia-Pacific Regional Director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Alexander Matheous has described the situation of quake-affected people in west Afghanistan’s Herat province as extremely impoverished, and said the body would continue to assist them.

“We will continue to provide relief items in the coming days. Our plan is to work with the Afghan Red Crescent on suitable shelters for the people to live in the short term,” Matheous told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.

The IFRC has already provided humanitarian assistance such as blankets, non-food items and hygiene kits, the official said, adding the affected families need more support.

The official who visited the quake-stricken areas in Herat also noted that the quake-affected people need support to rebuild their homes and live in the long term.

Two deadly quakes, each with a magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale, followed by several aftershocks, rocked west Afghanistan with an epicenter in the Zanda Jan district of Herat province last Saturday, and left at least 2,053 dead and thousands more injured.

Another tremor measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale jolted Herat on Wednesday, killing one person, injuring more than 150 others, and causing property damages.

“More than 2,000 people and over 2,000 homes are destroyed,” the official said, adding most of the victims are women and children, and the affected families have lost what they had.

“People need food, water, shelter, medical camp…It was a very dramatic and tragic disaster for the people,” the official told Xinhua.

Praising the contribution of the Afghan Red Crescent Society in tackling the problems of the quake-affected people, the official said that it was the first humanitarian organization to be present after the disaster.

“We will support the Afghan Red Crescent to work not just in this relief phase, but also in the months to come to rebuild the houses and people’s livelihoods,” Matheous emphasized.

Denmark: Opening of the Greenlandic Representation in Beijing

“The most famous classic novel of China, A Journey to the West, as a matter of fact, is one of the few that have been translated and dubbed using Greenlandic voices for our national broadcasting TV. This shows that even though we are very far away from each other, we can build a bridge and a common future with mutual understanding and efforts,” said Vivian Motzfeldt, Greenlandic minister for statehood and foreign affairs, at the official opening of the Greenlandic Representation on Monday at the Royal Danish Embassy in Beijing.  

The reception was attended by the Danish Ambassador to China Thomas Østrup Møller, Greenlandic Minister for Statehood and Foreign Affairs Vivian Motzfeldt, head of the Greenland Representation in Beijing Jacob Isbosethsen, as well as other ministers and ambassadors. 

“Royal Greenland has been present in Qingdao for 20 years now. Other companies, like Polar Seafood have also contributed a lot in exports and trade with China,” Motzfeldt said. 

She expressed her gratitude to the Chinese government and the Chinese People’s Institute for Foreign Affairs for the cooperation between Greenland and China. 

In addition, the Danish Embassy held an insightful seminar on tourism on Tuesday at the Greenland Representation in Beijing. 

In her opening speech at the event, Motzfeldt emphasized the importance of tourism to the Greenlandic economy. 

“The Government of Greenland has invested a lot in a new tourism policy and strategy. The Parliament and Government have decided to expand the runways and build three new airports in Nuuk, Ilulissat, and Qagortoq,” she told the Global Times. 

Air Greenland CEO Jacob Nitter Sørensen, head of Visa and Consular Affairs at the Royal Danish Embassy Charlotte Duelund, Polar Club 66 Co Ltd director Joe Chan, and other guests also introduced Greenlandic gastronomy, beautiful Arctic Circle, and other practical travel tips. 

Turkey celebrates 100th anniversary and investment reception at the embassy in Beijing

The Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey held a reception at the Turkish Embassy in Beijing with the aim of boosting investment cooperation with China. The event, as a part of their “Turkish Century Investment Reception” series, saw more than 500 business people and investors from China’s leading companies to attend. 

Turkish Ambassador to China Ismail Hakkı Musa, President of the Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey Ahmet Burak Daglioglu, and the Silk Road Fund Chairwoman Zhu Jun were also in attendance. 

“This year, we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey and the 52nd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Turkey and China. From e-commerce to telecommunications, from renewable energy to electric vehicles, from cloud technology to the defense industry, we have forged new partnerships with China in a wide range of areas,” the ambassador said. 

In addition, the guests sampled sumptuous Turkish cuisine and discussed cooperation and investment opportunities.

GT investigates: ‘TIGER’ task force established to promote arms sales shows US hypocrisy on Taiwan question, long-standing ills in military industry

Lai Ching-te, deputy leader of the island of Taiwan and the secessionist Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate for the 2024 regional elections, reportedly plans to stop over in the US on Saturday on his way to Paraguay, a blatant provocative act against China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Lai is scheduled to meet some anti-China politicians during his stopover in the US, and discuss topics including US arms sales to the island, Taiwan media sources reported.

Meanwhile, the White House is actively pursuing arms sales to Taiwan, with the latest military aid package worth $345 million announced to be offered to the island, the Associated Press reported on July 29. Earlier in June, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee claimed to have established a specialized task force to speed up processes of the country’s military sales to its foreign clients including the island of Taiwan.

Setting aside VOA’s lie in a recent Chinese-language article that “the US has been selling its most advanced equipment to Taiwan,” military observers from both sides of Taiwan Straits have revealed to the Global Times that the equipment the US exported to the island of Taiwan are only single pieces of weaponry and a handful of weapon systems at least a generation behind those of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The establishment of the task force named TIGER (Technical, Industrial, and Governmental Engagement for Readiness), as well as the frequent military sales and forms of aid extended to Taiwan, have completely exposed the US’ hypocrisy on the Taiwan question, said experts on military and Taiwan studies from the Chinese mainland.

The US employs multifaceted policies toward the Taiwan Straits, which all serve its own interests in the region, said Ni Yongjie, director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies.

“On one hand, several senior US officials visited the mainland this summer in a hope to ease the relations between Beijing and Washington; on the other hand, the US makes provocations toward China’s bottom line on the Taiwan question,” Ni told the Global Times. “These moves are a part of the Biden administration’s public campaign feeding into next year’s presidential elections.”

In an article published by the Wall Street Journal in early June, Lai hyped an alleged military threat from the mainland and emphasized the supposed need for Taiwan to beef up its so-called military dependences with the aid of the US. 

However, what may disappoint Taiwan secessionists like Lai is that evidence has shown the TIGER task force, as well as continued arms sales to the island of Taiwan, are more akin to lip-service that the US pays to the island’s independence forces and a public stunt by the US government against China.

Lip service

Michael McCaul, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, announced the setup of the TIGER Task Force on June 27. 

The bipartisan move was headed by Congressmen Mike Waltz and Seth Moulton. It is built to “modernize US foreign military sales processes in several key areas,” so that it is “responsive to US national security needs and those of our partners and allies,” according a press release published on the committee’s website.

The TIGER task force has never hidden its main goal of completing arms sales to the island of Taiwan. “Our partners, like Taiwan, order American military equipment because they need it,” Moulton said. “They should receive that hardware as quickly as possible.”

According to a VOA Chinese-language article published on June 28, a big reason behind the establishment of TIGER was that many Congressmen were dissatisfied with the US administration’s delay in delivering the weapons that authorities in Taiwan had purchased. “Some of the weapons were even bought as early as 2019.”

The Taiwan DPP authority has bought numerous “weapons-on-paper” with tax payers’ money from the US. It had faced delays in arms shipments from the US of up to $19 billion by 2022, The Defense Post reported in December 2022. Although Tsai Ing-wen is reported to have repeatedly urged US lawmakers to hasten the delivery of the purchased weapons during the latter’s visit to the island, the US simply didn’t keep its cheap promise.

Of a batch of 66 F-16V fighter jets that Tsai authorities purchased in 2020, for instance, two were scheduled to deliver by 2023. But the DDP authority won’t get the two fighter jets this year as the delivery was delayed, said VOA.

Aside from weapon deliveries being delayed, authorities in Taiwan are also far from attaining equipment and technological advantages over the Chinese mainland through weapons bought from the US. “There is a generational gap between weapons the island of Taiwan receives from the US and those used by the PLA,” said Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator.

“Moreover, the US has only provided authorities in Taiwan with single pieces of weaponry and a handful of weapon systems, which are not enough to support the latter in building an independent military combat system,” Song told the Global Times.

The US’ frequent delays in weapon delivery has embarrassed the island’s secessionist authorities and enraged tax payers. On Taiwan’s social media platforms, many residents have lampooned the Tsai administration for volunteering to be a cash dispenser for the US.

“The US obtains money [from Tsai authorities] fraudulently. It’s a money game between two crooks,” wrote a netizen who left the message on the island’s media China Times. “The US doesn’t have to keep its promises to its flunkey,” scoffed another netizen.

And the public seldom knows what the TIGER task force has done in the days since it was set up. Its major effort is probably “to hold weekly video conferences” with Tsai authority troops, the China Times reported. 

Obviously, TIGER won’t enable separatists on the island to acquire weapons from the US any sooner, considering the US’ scornful attitude toward Taiwan and its own inadequacy in weapon production, said Song.

The establishment of the task force is merely a superficial conciliation of Taiwan authorities by the US, he said.

“Taiwan authorities have no bargaining power in purchasing US weapons, nor do they dare to pursue claims for the delayed or defaulted orders,” Song told the Global Times. “To the US, Tsai authorities are born suckers being taken for a ride.”

Long-standing ills

TIGER is not the first task force the US has set up to promote its overseas arms sales. 

In August 2022, the Pentagon established a similar “Tiger Team” to streamline foreign military sales mechanic, so as to “harness the speed and urgency of US efforts to equip Ukraine,” Defense News quoted Pentagon policy chief Colin Kahl as saying in September 2022.

Nonetheless, these hastily formed task forces can hardly change the US’ current delays of weapon deliveries due to long-standing problems in its defense industry. 

“The ills are rooted in the US system and labor market issues,” The EurAsian Times also reported in September 2022, mentioning the country’s lengthy contract signing and arms delivery processes, and its labor shortage in the arms industry.

The number of employees working in the US defense industry plummeted by two thirds over the last 40 years, showed a report released by the US National Defense Industrial Association in February.

In 1985, the US had 3 million workers in the defense industry; by 2021, it had 1.1 million workers in the sector, the report said. The US defense ecosystem has suffered a net loss of 17,045 companies in the last five years, it added.

“Key industrial readiness indicators for great power competition are going in the wrong direction,” commented the report.

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, which is exhausting available weapon stocks in the US and Europe, has brought about new problems for US arms exporters, as manufacturers have to spare more time and resources in sending weapons to Ukraine, observers found.

The conflict has caused numerous delivery delays to US weapon purchasers. “In many cases accelerated delivery is not possible,” stated a report delivered by the US State Department to Congress in April, according to a National Review article in June. While the Pentagon is prioritizing Taiwan arms sales to the fullest extent possible, “limited resources cause ongoing strain,” the report added.

Task forces like TIGER can therefore hardly change the status quo, as Russia-Ukraine tensions keep consuming weapons, and moreover, “it’s difficult to change the US’ current arms sales mechanism,” Song said.

A good excuse

The US House and Senate drafts authorized a record $886 billion in defense spending for the fiscal year 2024. China, frequently seen in various US budget application reports, has long been a good excuse for the US government and military to inflate budgets.

Even members of the TIGER task force repeatedly mention China. Many have found that they, along with some US media sources, together, portray China as the biggest rival to the US military industry.

TIGER’s founding was predicated upon the intention to “better compete with China” and to “counter Chinese influence” in the arms sales sector. In a September 2022 article, The EurAsian Times cited a report by a Washington-based think tank as stating that “China exported conventional weapons worth around $17 billion between 2010 and 2020,” attempting to exaggerate the threat of China’s military industry to its US peers.

They ignore the fact that the US, as the world’s largest arms exporter, earns no less than $45 billion in annual weapon sales.

The sensationalization of China’s military industry threat obviously favors US arms manufacturers and other interested parties, experts said. “By hyping up the threat, the US wants to put increasing pressure on China’s weapon exports, and heighten a sense of crisis among its allies,” said Song.

“The US unscrupulously exports offensive weapons to maximize its economic profit, and even offers its allies [destructive] weapons that can change the situation and balance of forces in a region,” Song told the Global Times.

The arms sales to Taiwan are no more than a card played by anti-China politicians and Taiwan separatist forces, said observers, noting that it enriches US weapon manufacturers while the ordinary people of Taiwan and numerous taxpayers suffer from the dirty deal.