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The Takshashila PLA Insight
Issue No 10.
July 5, 2019
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The Big Story: China’s Missile Test in South China Sea

The NBC reports that China has fired at least one anti-ship ballistic missile this week in the South China Sea. The missile was launched from the areas around contested Spratly Island. The report attributed this information to two anonymous US military officials with knowledge of the matter.

The
Pentagon has called this test disturbing and has blamed China for not abiding to its pledge of non-militarising the South China Sea. Pentagon spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn said, “Of course the Pentagon was aware of the Chinese missile launch from the man-made structures in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands. I’m not going to speak on behalf of all the sovereign nations in the region, but I’m sure they agree that the PRC’s behaviour is contrary to its claim to want to bring peace to the region and obviously actions like this are coercive acts meant to intimidate other claimants.”

China has neither confirmed nor denied the missile test. China's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the issue and has deferred the question to the Chinese Ministry of Defence.

China, post its humiliation of 1996 Taiwan crisis, has heavily invested in developing deterrence capabilities in San Hai (three seas). The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has assessed China’s Anti Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) - sea denial capacities for the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea. According to CSIS, China’s A2/AD is due to the combination of ballistic and cruise missiles from air, land, and sea.


Following are Beijing’s ballistic and cruise missiles:

Missile             Class                    Range                     Status

DF-11                  SRBM                280-300 km             Operational
DF-26                 IRBM                3,000-4,000 km      Operational
DF-16                 SRBM                800-1,000 km          Operational
DF-4               IRBM/ICBM       4,500-5,500 km       Operational
DF-15                 SRBM               600 km                       Operational
HN 3            Cruise Missile       3,000 km                   Operational
HN 2            Cruise Missile       1,400-1,800 km        Operational

Read the full
report here…
Cambodia: China’s New Military Outpost?

ThePrint reports that a Chinese resort in Cambodia could be turned into a naval base overnight. The report states that China has recently leased 45,000 hectares of land- 20 per cent of coastline- for a paltry annual rent of US$ 1 million in Cambodia. A Chinese private company called Union Development Group (UDG) is building a resort on this land. The report infers that the facilities in this resort extend beyond tourism requirements. The report also shows satellite images of smaller ports within the 10 km radius of this resort.

Earlier, US Vice President, Mike Pence had raised
concerns with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen regarding the possible use of these facilities for military purposes by China. This was after an abrupt cancellation of a renovation request for a training facility and boat depot by Cambodia. These infrastructure facilities were built by the U.S. in 2017. While the US had approved the funds to upgrade these facilities, Cambodia’s Defence Ministry informed the Pentagon that renovations was “no longer necessary.” The sudden turning down of offer has raised suspicion regarding possible plans to host China’s military infrastructure.
PLA Transfers: Ongoing Reforms

A plethora of transfers have happened in the PLA over the last few months. This is a part of President Xi’s ongoing reforms of the PLA. The reasons for these transfers are not yet known.
 
Officers Transferred                           New Office                     Old Office
 Zhou Wugang Political Works Dept. Director (Eastern Theatre) Political Commissar- PLA in Macao
Zhu Bing Chief of Staff, 77th Army Divisional Commander - Former Guangzhou MR
Wang Xinmin Deputy Political Commissar, 77th Army (Western Theatre) Political commissar of Hengyang Garrison- Hunan Province.
Yu Yonghong Secretary New army discpline committee Political Commissar- 79th Army
Bai Jinfeng Vice President- NDU graduate school Deputy Director- General Political Department
Huang Ming Deputy Commander, Army HQ Commander - 81st group army
Sun Wenju Political Commisar, Macao Garrison Deputy Director PWD- Hong Kong
Zhu Shengling Political Commissar Central Theatre Political Commissar- PAP
Xianwei Ping Major General Political Commissar-Military Division
 
Source:
The Paper

 
Artificial Intelligence and PLA

Elsa Kania, an adjunct fellow with technology and national security program at the Centre for New American Security, appeared in a podcast on artificial intelligence (AI) and the PLA.  The podcast titled, ‘Battlefield singularity, AI pixie dust, and the future of war,’  addressed issues like game-changing potential of the AI, evolving nature of competition between States due to AI, limitations in fully operationalising AI for China and the US, and weaknesses and risks associated with AI.

Kania opines that currently there is a certain degree of exuberance and hype associated with AI. However, AI will play a crucial role in military warfare in future. China, through its state policy is looking to harness the benefits of AI at national, state and local levels. President Xi views AI as crucial to China’s future in economic and military development. The Chinese government is increasing investments in AI research, prioritising recruitment of top talent from AI industry and developing an interdisciplinary approach between theoretical and practical approaches.

However, Kania concedes that the development of AI for PLA is a work in progress. There are bureaucratic challenges, but AI would eventually play a greater role in military decision making, integrating of technology and information, and developing strategies that a human mind could not conjure.


Kania has published a report on Artificial Intelligence, Military Revolution, and China’s Future Military Power titled ‘Battle field Singularity.’
Joint Exercises and Drills

China and Germany are holding joint military exercises, ‘Combined Aid 2019’ on medical support from July 3 to 17 in Munich, Germany. The exercises will be based on joint operations for medical support teams from the two militaries in international humanitarian medical rescue missions. It will focus on tasks like joint command, rescue, and disease control. A 91-member military medical support team has departed from China to participate in these exercises. This is the first time China has dispatched a complete unit of medical service forces with real combat equipment to conduct joint exercises in Europe.
Important Updates

China has reportedly tested its Z-20 helicopters, which are also called a copy of US’ Black Hawk, for its new Type 055 missile destroyers- Nanchang. Z-20s will bring anti-submarine warfare capabilities to its new destroyers. A photo appeared in Global Times. Z-20s are generally used for army operations. However, PLAN is studying the practical adaptability of the Z-20 on ships, its hanger entry and exit, space required for Z-20s on the deck, etc.   

Bloomberg
reports that India sought bids for purchase of warships and support vessels for its navy and coast guard in the Indian Ocean Region. The Government of India has asked seven shipyards to submit proposals for constructing six warships and other vessels worth 150 billion rupees (US$ 2.2 billion). The report mentions threat from China in the Indian Ocean as the prime reason for India’s purchase bid. China Military Online published an editorial claiming China threat as a false narrative for India’s military upgrade. The piece has blamed Indian media of exaggerating facts, for commercial interests. At the same time, the piece has taken a dig at India’s military establishment, by highlighting its laggard military technologies, severe dependence on foreign imports of weapons and incomplete industrialisation and modernisation.

PLAN’s 32 escort taskforce, which also has a guided-missile destroyer Xi’an (Hull 153), is anchored at Toulon port, France for a five-day military exchange. It departed from Zhoushan, Zhejiang Province on April 4 for its four-month escort mission. As of now, it has provided more than 100 Chinese and foreign vessels with escorts for security, the
report stated.
The Takshashila PLA Insight is written by Suyash Desai, a research analyst at The Takshashila Institution
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