Page 1

STRATEGIC VISION Volume 2, Issue 8


April, 2013

Chinafrique More than just a helping hand? Niki Alsford & Michael Talbot Cross-strait ties improving, slowly but surely Muzaffer Erรถktem 2013 Quadrennial Defense Review Chia-sheng Chen Arms Race in Asia Aaron Jensen Beijing-Moscow Ties Serafettin Yilmaz

for Taiwan Security w

ISSN 2227-3646


for Taiwan Security

Volume 2, Issue 8


April, 2013

Contents Summary of Quadrennial Defense Review..................................................4

Chia-sheng Chen

Cross-strait ties improving, slowly but surely.............................................8

Muzaffer Eröktem

Beijing’s foreign, economic policy in Africa..............................................12

Niki Alsford & Michael Talbot

Review of Sino-Russian strategic cooperation.........................................18

Serafettin Yilmaz

Assessing the notion of an Asian arms race...............................................23

Aaron Jensen

Submissions: Essays submitted for publication are not to exceed 2,000 words in length, and should conform to the following basic format for each 1200-1600 word essay: 1. Synopsis, 100-200 words; 2. Background description, 100-200 words; 3. Analysis, 800-1,000 words; 4. Policy Recommendations, 200-300 words. Book reviews should not exceed 1,200 words in length. Notes should be formatted as endnotes and should be kept to a minimum. Authors are encouraged to submit essays and reviews as attachments to emails; Microsoft Word documents are preferred. For questions of style and usage, writers should consult the Chicago Manual of Style. Authors of unsolicited manuscripts are encouraged to consult with the executive editor at before formal submission via email. Manuscripts are subject to copyediting, both mechanical and substantive, as required and according to editorial guidelines. No major alterations may be made by an author once the type has been set. Arrangements for reprints should be made with the editor. Cover photograph of Algeria’s Al-Badr Mosque is courtesy of Bachir.

Editor Fu-Kuo Liu Executive Editor Dean Karalekas Editorial Board Tiehlin Yen Raviprasad Narayanan Richard Hu Felix Wang Lipin Tien Laurence Lin STRATEGIC VISION For Taiwan Security (ISSN 2227-3646) Volume 2, Number 8, April, 2013, published under the auspices of the Center for Security Studies and National Defense University. All editorial correspondence should be mailed to the editor at STRATEGIC VISION, Center for Security Studies in Taiwan. No. 64, Wan Shou Road, Taipei City 11666, Taiwan, ROC. The editors are responsible for the selection and acceptance of articles; responsibility for opinions expressed and accuracy of facts in articles published rests solely with individual authors. The editors are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts; unaccepted manuscripts will be returned if accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Photographs used in this publication are used courtesy of the photographers, or through a creative commons licence. All are attributed appropriately. Any inquiries please contact the Executive Editor directly via email at: issues and archives can be viewed at our website: © Copyright 2013 by the Center for Security Studies. Articles in this periodical do not necessarily represent the views of either the MCSS, NDU, or the editors.

From The Editor


he strategic landscape of Asia is one that is constantly shifting, and we are proud to be able to bring you the top analysis and reporting of the events that shape our region. This issue represents a new step forward in our relationship with policymakers and regional analysts at the governmental level, as well as the very best in academic research into Asia-Pacific and cross-strait affairs. This month we would like to express our thanks to the Ministry of National Defense for extending an invitation to our executive editor, Dean Karalekas, and photographer TC Lin to attend the Han Kuang military exercises and observe the live-fire anti-landing drill that was conducted on the island of Penghu. Both found the experience enjoyable, and readers can expect to see photographs of the event in future issues. We begin with Ming Chuan University’s Dr. Chiasheng Chen, who takes a close look at the recently released 2013 Quadrennial Defense Review and offers a summary of the content of that important document. Next, we are pleased to present a contribution by Ambassador Muzaffer Eröktem, who has spent a long and distinguished career representing his country, Turkey, in the Far East and elsewhere, and who has witnessed the changing fortunes of relations across the Taiwan Strait. Here he offers his personal observations on the improving state of the cross-strait relationship. Much has been written on the state of Chinese investment and development assistance on the African continent, and so in this month’s cover story, we offer a backgrounder to that growing relationship, penned by Niki Alsford and Michael Talbot, researchers at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. Serafettin Yilmaz looks at the facts and prospects behind Beijing and Moscow’s strategic cooperation and concludes that this already vital relationship is only likely to grow in the future, with the aim of ending the US-led unipolar world order. Finally, Aaron Jensen returns this month with a look at the military buildup in the Asia-Pacific region, and offers his assessment of the degree to which this represents a full-blown arms race. We hope you enjoy this issue, and invite all our readers to share your opinions with us. We value your feedback on our reporting and analysis, and strive to incorporate your perspectives into future issues. Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu Editor Strategic Vision

4  b

photo: oscar Taiwan’s elite, special forces frogmen. One of the goals identified in the 2013 Quadrennial Defense Review is the professionalization of the ROC Armed Forces.

Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 8 (April, 2013)

Troop Review

Latest Quadrennial Defense Review reports on direction of force buildup Chia-sheng Chen


he Ministry of National Defense (MND) released the 2013 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) March 13 with a view to illustrating for the public and the international community Taiwan’s national defense strategy and the direction of force buildup. Delivered to the Foreign and National Defense Committee of the Legislative Yuan, the report comprises four components: Security

The recent report (the last one being the 2009 QDR) was conducted in compliance with Article 31 of the National Defense Act, the purpose being to manifest the role of the highest strategic guidance for the Republic of China’s (ROC) national defense, and demonstrate a routine and institutionalized process of defense review on a quadrennial basis. In so doing, the MND is able to embody the president’s defense

Environment and National Defense Challenges, National Defense Policy and Strategic Guidance, Joint Warfighting Capabilities and Preparedness, and Defense Organization and Transformation.

thinking and strategic concepts, review current defense policies, incorporate opinions and suggestions from all orders of society, and reflect public expectations regarding defense affairs.

Dr. Chia-sheng Chen is an assistant professor with the Graduate School of International Affairs at Ming Chuan University. He can be reached for comment at

Quadrennial Defense Review  b  5

With many of the same ideas presented in the 2009 report, the 2013 QDR presents national defense policy and strategy based upon the president’s directive of building a “hard ROC” defense force to defend the homeland, deter war, and support the government objectives of pursuing peace across the Taiwan Strait, maintaining regional stability, and creating prosperity for the country. The 2013 QDR illustrates several characteristics.

Innovative warfare First of all, the concept of “innovation/asymmetry” is gradually being realized. It first appeared in the 2009 QDR as a general idea for the MND in the face of China’s rapid military expansion and the challenges it poses. The 2013 QDR identified several Chinese breakthroughs and advancements in the research and development of weaponry, and considered the application of the innovative/asymmetric concept critical to ROC military strategy and tactics. Therefore, the concept was incorporated into each chapter so as to emphasize the “David and Goliath” nature of asymmetrical force planning. For example, Chapter 3 of the 2013 QDR elaborates

on the future establishment of a sea-mine research center for the purpose of exploring the utility and application of being ready to rapidly deploy sea mines to deter an amphibious assault on Taiwan by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Another example is that the ROC Armed Forces have been prepar-

“Demographic changes in Taiwan are resulting in fewer able-bodied males being available for military service.”

ing for the first wave, or even subsequent waves, of a PLA missile strike by mobilizing missile facilities, hardening bunkers and tunnels, and camouflaging all equipment from radar detection, satellite reconnaissance and surveillance, and so forth. These measures will be implemented in the near future to realize the innovative/asymmetric concept. Another concept that was raised as a proposal in the 2009 QDR that received a more detailed elaboration in the 2013 report was the shift of the ROC military to an all-volunteer force. In response to changes in the Asia-Pacific security

photo: Philip McMaster Mobile missile launchers on display in a parade in Beijing. China has yet to renounce the threat of force to achieve its stated goal of annexing Taiwan.


environment, the development of high-tech weapons systems, and demographic changes in Taiwan that are resulting in fewer able-bodied males being available for military service, the MND is aiming to promote a volunteer system suitable for the transformation to a professional Armed Forces. Although such a transformation is definitely not an easy task, the MND has demonstrated its determination to reach this goal by meticulously planning the timeframe and process, albeit under tight budgetary constraints. There is a proviso, however, that indicates that the constitutional obligation of military service remains on the books. That is, the one-year service period will be converted into a four-month round of military training so as to maintain a sufficient reserve force. In addition, the volunteer system would be the norm during peacetime, while the option of restoring the conscription system would remain in the event that war breaks out. The 2013 QDR objectively analyses the current situation regarding the Asia-Pacific security environment, especially as regards security concerns in the Taiwan Strait, and domestic challenges. For regional security changes, the QDR identifies five dimensions, including the rapid growth of China’s military power, the US strategic adjustment to the Asia-Pacific, sovereignty claims over disputed islands and other maritime rights and interests, issues surrounding tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and non-traditional security threats.

Changing security environment Indeed, the Northeast Asian security environment as described in the 2013 QDR has evolved significantly in the four years since the last review. New leaders in North Korea, Japan, South Korea, and China have since assumed office, while both ROC President Ma Ying-jeou and US President Barack Obama have entered their second and final terms of office. In this

regard, the attendant policy readjustment and power redistribution are enumerated as being contributory to the environment of uncertainty in this region. The fact that China continues to expand its military capabilities, as well as the United States refocusing its global emphasis from one almost solely concerned with the Middle East to one centered on Asia (a policy called the US “pivot to Asia”) have sparked friction and threatened to lead to confrontation not only in regional issues but also in military competition.

“The QDR identifies the military threat from the PRC as still being the major challenge to Taiwan security.”

The flare-up over island disputes and conflicting sovereignty rights in the East and South China seas illustrates the fierce challenges facing the region and jeopardizes the sea lines of communication. Examples include the dispute between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal, and escalating confrontation between China and Japan over the Diaoyutai Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japanese. These and other disputes have raised concerns in the countries in the vicinity and caused instability. Moreover, the recent North Korean nuclear test and the advancement of Pyongyang’s missile technology also form the basis for an unstable situation in Northeast Asia. These issues present a multilayered threat to Taiwan’s defense as well. As for cross-strait problems, the QDR identifies the military threat from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as still being the major challenge to Taiwan security, even though there has been an observable relaxation of cross-strait tensions in recent years. This is because the PRC’s military strategy toward Taiwan is clearly laid out, and Beijing has yet to renounce the use of force against Taiwan.

Quadrennial Defense Review  b  7

photo: Micheal Cannon ROC soldiers march through the streets in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan. The Armed Forces have been facing budgetary constraints in recent years.

With regard to domestic challenges, the QDR clearly shows several components that may have the potential to endanger Taiwan security. The problem of defense resource constraints is shown as the first indicator to reveal how serious the financial difficulties are that the Armed Forces face (see graphic on Page 27). Unfortunately, this is not the only daunting task that the military has to overcome: the problem of a declining birthrate is another. Given the decreasing level of qualified manpower in Taiwan, the MND needs to reduce its force levels accordingly and improve the quality and professional abilities of individual military personnel in order to meet defense requirements.

Increasing cyber attacks Cybersecurity is also a deep concern for any modern military. Cyber attacks have become commonplace: a routine the ROC military has to deal with on a daily basis. Prior to a physical strike, a potential enemy may attempt to disable the Armed Forces’ command, control, and logistics networks through cyber attacks, for which related response capabilities have to be strengthened. Therefore, these problems formulate domestic challenges to the MND.

Finally, the report addresses the issues of transparency and civilian control over the ROC military. The release of the 2013 QDR demonstrated the MND’s resolve to pursue deep and continuous reform, in the hope of transforming the military into a small but superb force by way of reviewing the past and planning for the future. Indeed, defense reform is a process of change, and a means of adjustment of organization, culture, and conception. The implementation of an all-volunteer force will serve as an obvious example of this change. Indeed, the very compilation and release of the report is indicative of the military’s commitment to transparency in defense issues. It demonstrates the consolidation of the concept of civilian control of the military in Taiwan. This concept is a valuable asset of any democratic system, such as that realized in the ROC: an achievement that has been praised by all Western democracies. The 2013 QDR has earned the support of the public, and it is hoped that the MND will continue its efforts on defense transformation as stated in the content of the report, and make further progress in the face of limited defense budgets and China’s rapid and ongoing military expansion. n

8  b 

Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 8 (April, 2013)

Bright Horizons Longtime friend of Taiwan and China sees relations improving slowly but surely Muzaffer Eröktem

photo: Muzaffer Eroktem Ambassador Muzaffer Eröktem (front row, second from left) has long been a scholar of international issues, as well as following the changing face of Asia.


ross-strait relations and the settlement of related questions are the internal affairs of the parties involved. As a longtime friend and a person with great affinity for this region, I deemed it appropriate to convey my views on the matter in the following paragraphs. In the positive sciences, only one way exists to solve the questions of nature, and reach our objective of increasing our understanding. In contrast, the so-

Doubtless, each alternative has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is the business of the social scientist—as well as the politician—to peruse each alternative and choose the one that will prove to be the most advantageous and incur the least risk. Naturally, the alternative that is finally chosen, despite many merits, may also have some defects. This is unavoidable in the social sciences, as it is in politics. The experienced, critical eye can easily observe such de-

cial sciences offer various alternatives to resolving complex social issues and obtain the desired ends.

fects and, with good or bad intentions, mostly ignoring the merits, raise their opposition by exploiting them.

Ambassador Muzaffer Eröktem, a graduate of the Faculty of Political Sciences, Ankara University, has represented Turkey as a diplomat in Taipei, Tokyo, Beirut, Helsinki, and as Consul General in Tabriz, Melbourne, Alexandria, and as Ambassador in Bishkek. He is presently a visiting fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Taipei where he conducts research on international issues.

Cross-Strait Ties  b  9

Due to the above-mentioned facts, political leaders face constant criticism—especially by members of the political opposition—for any step whatsoever they may take. They must be prepared to encounter these voices of opposition, especially when operating within a democratic system. The success of a political leader is ultimately measured by the outcome of his next election. Indeed, it has been said that electoral success and staying in power are a politician’s main goals. As such, politicians closely follow public opinion, and put great effort into the formation of that opinion. With many contradictory issues being debated in the public sphere, consensus is often required. As can be observed, the political leaders in the Mainland and Taiwan are now showing remarkable efforts, inter alia, for developing cross-strait relations. The peoples living on either side of the Taiwan Strait need each other for their security and prosperity. During the last six decades, there have been ups and downs, and unfortunate periods in cross-strait relations. They have failed to harmonize relations and create a peaceful and secure environment. The population of which I speak is, to a very large

extent, Chinese. There of course exist other ethnic groups and minorities, but their populations are proportionately small. Moreover, the geographic proximity between the Mainland and Taiwan is obvious: They share the eastern and western sides of the strait. The historical and cultural affinities are likewise undeniable. It is true that during the 19th century, control over some parts of China and Taiwan could not be exercised effectively, since much of this period coincided with the unstable period of wars and rebellion.

Japanese influence During their occupation of the island, the Japanese tried to change the island’s Chinese character. Although some cultural habits were eroded, a prominent Chinese character was nonetheless preserved. The return of Taiwan by the Japanese after World War II did not start favorably. The main reason for this was the Chinese Civil War. The parties in conflict were very suspicious of each other, and trusted nothing. That is consistent with the natural psychology experienced during civil wars.

photo: Wunkai Built by the Japanese during their colonization of Taiwan, the stately office of the ROC president sits at the end of Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei.


Starting from 1949, a new chapter in cross-strait relations commenced. The Mainland and Taiwan are both parts of the great Chinese tradition. They both follow the Chinese historical, literary, and philosophical works of art. Most major festivals are celebrated in both places, and many religious rites are identical. Delightfully, much of the cuisine is the same as well. It is true that the non-existence of official relations over many decades has resulted in some changes in their respective ways of life. Nevertheless, the geographic factor necessitates much closer ties between the Mainland and Taiwan. Their strategic locations oblige them to work together.

Economic complementarity Moreover, their economies complement each other greatly. One has natural resources and cheaper labor; the other has scientific and technical expertise, capital for investment, and experienced and talented managers. They both have the most dynamic economies and have already created economic miracles. Increased economic relations have created an en-

vironment for closer ties and peaceful coexistence. Likewise, the recent development of intense communication, transformation, and tourism contribute immensely to this environment.

“The period of tension and confrontation is over. It has been replaced by a stage of moderation and good will.” Obviously, the extant political factors are divisive; but they are not insurmountable. It is pleasing to observe, particularly over the past five years, that important steps have been taken with a view to ameliorating and promoting cross-strait relations, in economic, social, cultural, and related technical fields in particular. I think we can say with confidence that the period of tension and confrontation is almost over. It has been replaced by a stage of moderation and good will. Institutionalized cross-strait relations are progressing gradually—slowly but surely. The parties, very wisely, started with the most needed techni-

photo: Luke Lai A China Southern Airlines’ Boeing 777-200ER parked at Taiwan Taoyuan Airport. There are now several direct flights between Taiwan and China.

Cross-Strait Ties  b  11

photo: dihlie Rowing teams compete in the 2009 Dragon Boat Festival in Bitan, near Taipei. This and other ancient Chinese traditions continue to be practiced in Taiwan.

cal matters: communication, transportation, crime and disease prevention, document authentication, judicial assistance, food safety, intellectual property rights, promotion of trade and investment, and other such issues.

The next agenda The conclusion of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) crowned these achievements. It seems that both parties are now doing their homework in preparation for the next agenda, which may cover more challenging matters. In this process, good will, mutual trust, and confidence are essential. Both ruling parties agree that there is one China, though each has its own interpretation. The Mainland is a part of China; Taiwan is a part of China. They adhere to this principle. In light of this agreement, secession is improbable. As a consequence, the threat of force is to be revoked. The Chinese people have suffered much human loss in their recent history.

Moreover, an act of force would be economically very destructive—indeed disastrous—for both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The Mainland economy is now the second-largest in the world, with Taiwan’s coming in at an impressive 20th-largest. Regarding the form and pattern of future approaches and closer cooperation between the two sides, several alternatives present themselves. They can be studied meticulously and negotiated carefully with due regard to sensitive points, sovereignty, and dignity in particular. In this process, the parties should refrain from negative actions and representations against each other, especially in third countries and at international fora. It is believed that this approach and practice will greatly contribute to an atmosphere of good will, mutual understanding, and trust. Further rapprochement and closer cooperation mean additional prosperity and welfare for the people of the Mainland, and of Taiwan. Any such forthcoming favorable developments will also please the international community. n

12  b 

image courtesy IISH / Stefan R. Landsberger Collections China’s aid to revolutionary movements in Africa was kept low-profile, but medical aid could be promoted more openly, as in this 1972 propaganda poster.

Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 8 (April, 2013)

More Than a Helping Hand The practice and rhetoric of Chinese foreign and economic policy in Africa Niki Alsford & Michael Talbot


hina never imposes its own will on African countries, according to Yang Xiaogan of the Chinese embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Nor does it interfere in the domestic affairs of African countries.

two very specific questions regarding Chinese foreign policy: what is meant by interference? And when does the distinction between international rhetoric on humanitarian intervention, such as the many United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions,

This statement, quoted in a 2007 BBC news story titled “China in Africa: Friend or foe?” highlights

and physical interference coalesce? Incidents such as the kidnapping of Chinese workers by Bedouin

Niki Alsford is a Research Fellow at the Centre of Taiwan Studies and a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Michael Talbot is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of History at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Sino-African Ties  b  13

in the Sinai region of Egypt in January 2012 and the fate of the missing construction workers in South Kordofan province in Sudan, raise important questions not only about the safety of Chinese migrants on the African continent, but also about the perceptions of their presence. Yet 35,000 Chinese workers were successfully evacuated from Libya by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in February of 2011. Compare this with the killing of 14 Chinese workers in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2004, or the French-aided evacuation of more than 200 Chinese citizens from Chad to neighbouring Cameroon in 2008, one can clearly see how the concept of haiwai gongmin baohu, or overseas citizen protection, has witnessed rapid change. Clearly, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is attempting to implement an elastic principle of foreign policy: specifically, influence without interference. Yet by doing so it begins to generate change at the margins. This notion of “far exceeding China” has also been used to defend what then-Premier Wen Jiabao

called “the cap of neo-colonialism” in Africa—a label that has been routinely applied to Beijing’s growing position of influence on the continent. Daniel Large, from the Department of Politics and International Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, correctly argues that “Chinese arms supplies to Sudan have occurred in the context of close military relations,” and, what is more, Chinese actors have assisted in the development of Sudan’s arms industry from the late 1990s, and this appears to “have intensified after high-level talks between the SAF [Sudanese Armed Forces] and PLA [People’s Liberation Army] in Beijing in 2002.”

China-Algeria relations If one looks into China-Algeria relations, for example, one can see that the history between the two countries has its roots in Algeria’s struggle for independence from France in the 1950s. A more recent testament to the strength of PRC-Algerian ties was the estab-

photo: Genocide Intervention Network Activists in New York publicize China’s role in the Darfur genocide in 2007 by forming a human chain between the Chinese and Sudanese UN Missions.


lishment in January 2013 of the Algerian-Chinese Parliamentary Friendship Association (ACPFA). A report from the Algerian Press Service noted that the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee described PRC-Algerian relations as “excellent” and “strong,” and expressed a desire for improved political dialogue within “the bonds of friendship, brotherhood, and cooperation.” There is no doubt that China’s involvement in Africa is begrudged, both by former European colonial powers and by the United States. This is particularly notable in France, where concern for French interests in its former colonies is clear from the rhetoric used by those such as ex-diplomat Philippe Richer, who wrote in “The Chinese Offensive in Africa” that the time had come for China “to apply on the ground a policy dictated by the interests of a State whose primordial objective, not to say obsession, is the maintenance of a high pace of economic growth”. Indeed, a number of French authors have taken to referring to their former colonies not as Françafrique

photo: Boris A copy of “La Chinafrique,” by Serge Michel and Michel Beuret.

(French Africa), but as Chinafrique (Chinese Africa). Two such authors, Serge Michel and Michel Beuret, noted glumly that “after the bitterness of divorce from the motherland, Africa regained its confidence thanks

“There is common ground between China and Algeria from the perspective of Third Worldism and anti-imperialism.”

to the support of Beijing. In less than ten years, China succeeded there where France had failed: rebuilding infrastructure, opening credit lines, and, above all, restoring courage.”

Bilateral trade Yet it is trade links that are undoubtedly the most powerful force driving not only PRC-Algerian relations, but also relations with the rest of the continent, with the volume of bilateral trade at over US$5 billion. Moreover, commercial investment has been dominated by infrastructural projects, including the major six-lane, 745-mile East-West highway stretching from the Moroccan border to that with Tunisia, several substantial sections of which have been constructed using Chinese expertise and tens of thousands of Chinese laborers. Moreover, a Chinese consortium won a US$1.3 billion tender to construct the new 120,000-person capacity “Grand Mosque” in Algiers, a hugely significant cultural project that the leading independent newspaper Echorouk described as “a religious and cultural landmark combining tradition and modernity as a symbol of Algeria’s independence and the restoration of her national pride.” Very much linked to Chinese investment and trade has been the influx of tens of thousands of Chinese experts and laborers settling in Algeria, developing

Sino-African Ties  b  15

photo: Bachir The Al-Badr Mosque at sunset. Violence has broken out after Chinese workers began displacing Algerian labor, such as on the Grand Mosque project.

a Chinatown in Algiers and, as Leila Maslub observed in a feature article in Echorouk, creating a Chinese-Algerian community through integration and intermarriage. Yet along with the benefits of investment have come a number of problems. One example is the Grand Mosque project, which was initially intended to guarantee employment for 10,000 Algerian workers, out of a total project workforce of about 17,000, yet as the project progressed, the proportion of Chinese workers increased, and there were widespread allegations of corruption on the part of the Chinese contractors. Tensions between the Algerian laborers and the Chinese workforce have on occasion erupted into violence. PRC-Algerian relations therefore contain a number of facets that, it could be argued, are partially explicable by local circumstances, but may also be indicative of the broader Chinese relationship with Africa. There is common ground between China and Algeria from the perspective of Third Worldism and anti-

imperialism, whose discourse formed the bedrock of relations in the mid-20th century and continues to be developed by certain members of the Algerian political and intellectual elite. There is no doubt that Chinese investment has brought great wealth to certain sectors of Algerian society, and has developed a number of projects related to state infrastructure and culture.

Underlying tensions Yet clearly there remains an underlying tension between an Algerian population that continues to suffer high levels of unemployment, and a Chinese working population that has essentially taken Algerian jobs. The violence that broke out in 2009 is indicative of those tensions. But is China being particularly rapacious, or is this simply a case of history repeating itself? Will Chinese investment and trade within the continent ultimately favor the Chinese at the expense of African workers, their environment, and their


resources, as suggested by Financial Times reporter Katrina Manson? It is therefore perhaps in the African continent that new rivalries may be felt despite the strategic reorientation to the pan-Pacific that has been employed by the United States to address China. Moreover, with China asserting itself in the region, it may also prove to be Africa, under the auspices of “UN-chartered humanitarian intervention,” that gaming opportunities for both the PLAN and PLA are played out. In a sense, Africa thus becomes the platform for the Chinese

military—in particular the Navy—to gain muchneeded operational experience, whether in situations such as those in Libya, or more broadly in the curbing of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Concurrently, Africa is becoming a stage for the demonstration of soft power, as in the case of the construction projects in Algeria, together with public declarations of non-interventionism. One final illustration of the blurred boundaries between influence and interference can be found in the PRC’s voting record at the UNSC. David Shambaugh

graphic: Evan Centanni ( In the UN Security Council, China voted in favor of the ongoing French intervention in Mali in order to restore governmental authority in Bamako.

Sino-African Ties  b  17

photo: Ja’lon A. Rhinehart US sailors board a suspected pirate ship in the Gulf of Aden. Since 2008, China has contributed to the multinational effort to fight piracy off the Somali coast.

in his most recent publication, “China Goes Global: The Partial Power,” argues that in spite of the PRC’s integration into the international community, it is apparent that China is on the one hand playing its role as a major world power, but is on the other remarkably reactive and passive. Passivity, in itself, is a strong diplomatic act, and neutral forms of diplomacy such as the use of abstentions in UNSC voting sends a stronger message as to China’s political interests than would the use of a veto.

The use of a vote for or against a particular motion in the UNSC gives analysts a clear indication

unwillingness to get involved—or to be seen to get involved—in regime change in Syria. The use of an abstention is more subtle. Although this could be interpreted as an indication of disinterest, the act of abstaining rather than vetoing permits a particular motion to be passed without the PRC being seen to have explicitly endorsed it. For instance, the majority of motions brought before the UNSC to impose sanctions on the Sudanese government during the violence in Darfur in the mid-2000s saw the PRC abstain, which permitted the resolutions to be passed without the PRC being overtly involved in their passing. Similarly, their abstention in the vote for military strikes against the Qaddafi regime in Libya in 2011

of just what the PRC’s interests are. For instance, with the ongoing French intervention in Mali, the PRC’s vote in favor of that action indicates that the level of Chinese interest in restoring the authority of the Malian government is high, whereas in the case of Syria, the PRC’s partnering with Russia to veto criticisms of the Assad government demonstrates its

permitted those strikes to take place, again without the PRC being seen to have interfered. As with much of the PRC’s relations with Africa, the rhetoric and image of impartiality, passivity, and non-interference shrouds a policy that has profound impacts on the politics and economics of a large part of the continent. n

Voting for stability

18  b 

Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 8 (April, 2013)

The Kremlin Connection Beijing and Moscow seek strategic depth in forming cooperative global front Serafettin Yilmaz


elations between China and Russia have improved considerably since the two nations established a strategic partnership in 1996. The collapse of the US-Russia “reset” gave the two countries further impetus to expand economic and political cooperation. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) served as a multilateral platform where they adopted distinct but parallel policies on regional and global matters. Recent geostrategic developments are driving Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) into broadbased cooperation, especially in response to what both percieve as a threatening American unilateralism. Moscow believes that the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into Eastern Europe is designed to isolate Russia. Likewise, Beijing is suspicious of Washington’s “Pivot to Asia,” interpreting the policy as an attempt to encircle China and pre-empt a Chinese overtaking of the United States. It is anticipated that Sino-Russian strategic cooperation is going to grow under Vladimir Putin. While the new Chinese leadership is still an unknown, Xi Jinping’s first overseas trip as PRC president was to Russia, as well as to Africa where he signed an agreement in Durban to establish the BRICS Bank March

Russia and China share the same or similar positions on a wide range of global issues, including nonproliferation, reform of the United Nations, the Arab Spring, the Iranian and Syrian crises, and climate

26-27. Thus suggests that Putin and Xi may be able to agree on a common vision, developing the partnership into a heavy-duty military alliance within the institutional framework of the BRICS and SCO.

change. Especially after Putin re-assumed office in 2012, high-level military and diplomatic exchanges have grown in both number and scope. Central Asia is one of the regions where Russian

photo: Peter Gawthrop From Beijing to Moscow, on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Serafettin Yilmaz is a doctoral candidate in Asia-Pacific Studies at National Chengchi University whose research focus is on energy policy. He can be reached at

Beijing and Moscow  b  19

photo: Kenichi Murakami Chinese President Hu Jintao (left) and his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, wear traditional Vietnamese garb at the APEC forum in 2006.

and Chinese security concerns converge. The two countries share an interest in preventing ethno-religious separatism that may have spill-over effects in the Northern Caucasus and Northwestern China. Both governments are suspicious of the US military and political activities in the region, and have issued numerous joint statements, criticizing Washington for stirring unrest.

A bilateral defense relationship has integrated and institutionalized over the years. In 2008, a direct telephone hotline between the two countries’ respective defense ministers was established. In addition

strategies on the issue of Syria and vetoed three USsponsored resolutions in the UN Security Council. Also, they commonly defended Tehran’s sovereign right to develop peaceful nuclear energy while warning against nuclear proliferation. Both countries have defied the sanctions against Iran’s civilian sectors and maintained trade relations with Tehran. Russia and China have resolved their border disputes, with the last pieces of a 4,300-kilometer frontier being demarcated in 2008. Currently, neither country perceives a near-term military threat from the other. Moscow has provided the most-needed sophisticated military platforms to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), confident that the Chinese military would not use these against Russia.

to meetings between senior military officials, contacts are frequent between mid-level military officers as well—particularly those in charge of security in neighboring territories. Moreover, China and Russia have been holding major biennial military exercises since 2005. Moscow and Beijing have thus followed parallel

Over the years, people-to-people interactions have improved as well. Russian students currently compose the sixth-largest body of foreign students in China. Cultural exchanges saw a revival, too. In 2010, then vice-President Xi attended the opening ceremony of “the Year of Chinese Language” in Russia. As of 2010, 17 Confucius Institutes, three Confucius

Closer relationship


classrooms, and 30 Chinese-language centers were operating inside Russia. Russia and China are each other’s largest neighbors, sharing one of the world’s longest borders. Because of their geographical positions, each country has a stake in the other’s backyard: China is as much a Central Asian country as Russia is an Asia-Pacific country. Consequently, they nurture historical ties, economic interests, and political strategies in each other’s sphere of influence. Thus, maintenance of the Sino-Russian relationship requires the successful management of divergent interests, and the further strengthening of collaboration on the convergent ones. The most important component in Sino-Russian economic relations is energy. Russia is one of the largest producers of crude oil and natural gas, whereas China is the largest importer. With the 1,000-kilometer long Skovorodino-Daqing oil pipeline finally delivering crude in 2011, Sino-Russian energy coop-

eration entered a new stage. A 2,800-km pipeline has also been proposed to carry natural gas from Russia’s Western Siberia to Northwestern China.

A common platform Two-way trade surpassed US$80 billion in 2012 (up from US$55.4 billion in 2010) and both sides pledged to boost the volume to US$100 billion by 2015. On many issues of international political economy, Beijing and Moscow share a common platform. In addition to a common interest in promoting reform in the international monetary and financial system, the two countries began to officially trade the Renminbi and the Ruble in each other’s financial institutions, dropping the US dollar in bilateral trade. Strategic depth in Sino-Russian relations suggests that neither side has to worry about an attack from the rear. This saves both countries very precious mili-

photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with representatives from Iran and Mongolia, which are observers in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Beijing and Moscow  b  21

tary and economic resources which they can allocate to counter US containment efforts. Also, in their near proximities they only have to worry about a number of mostly small and middle powers. Strategic depth contributes to the stability and peace in the region by preventing the breakout of an arms race between the two great powers. The SCO provides a forum for China and Russia to coordinate their political, economic, and military activities. As part of their membership, the two governments hold biennial military drills with heavy weaponry against putative threats. These drills suggest that the SCO is a military-oriented alliance, although it lacks a formal charter like that of NATO. China is reluctant to allow the organization to become a full-blown NATO-like body for Asia, desiring rather to keep it as a European Union-style trading bloc. For this reason it has quietly objected to Iran’s application for full membership. Beijing understands that if Iran is allowed to join the grouping as more than just an observer, the SCO will be perceived as a military alliance. For the time being, such a move is not desirable as it would damage China’s relationship with the West—China’s best customer.

Points of contention Although Sino-Russian relations have improved over the years, there still remain points of contention. For instance, each of the two nations holds a different vision of the SCO, and neither country is willing to be a junior partner to the other, which keeps the SCO from being further institutionalized. Tensions across the border areas recur periodically even though demarcation has been finalized. Also, despite their mutual concern about US regional strategies, the two countries have so far failed to undertake any comprehensive collaboration to counter them. Moreover, as important as energy relations are, they have made only modest progress. In 2011, Russia was

the fifth-largest supplier of crude oil (amounting to 7 percent of China’s total imports), which is surprising given that the two countries appear to be natural energy partners. Also, Moscow remained reluctant to assist China’s nuclear energy sector for fear of nurturing competition by low-cost Chinese manufacturers. Other factors that hamper further cooperation are disputes over costs and pricing, and Russia’s desire to maintain its energy leverage in Central Asia. Although China acquired from Russia vital military technologies such as aircraft engines, stealth fighters, and other systems for naval warfare and air defense, Moscow declined to supply China with advanced land-warfare armaments for fear that they could be used against Russia in a ground war. Moreover, Beijing insists on importing weapons systems selectively and in low quantities, in order to reverseengineer the technology and reduce dependency on imports. It is conceivable that Sino-Russian strategic cooperation will continue to improve and be further institutionalized. Working with Russia through the SCO will enable China to have better access to Central Asia and cooperate with the member states to combat separatism. The SCO is the trump card that Beijing and Russia can play against Washington, such as by granting Iran and Pakistan full membership if they feel their vital interests are being threatened. Cooperation will enable both to counter any US military offensive and containment strategy. It is expected that both governments will continue to maintain a de facto alliance in the UNSC on key issues such as the Syrian crisis and to advocate noninterventionism and state sovereignty. It is also anticipated that bilateral trade between China and Russia will not only grow, but diversify. Heavy industry, high-tech and natural resources will remain indispensable for China’s development; therefore, Russia will occupy a greater space in China’s political economy. For Russia, Chinese investment will


become increasingly crucial to be able to finance the projects to boost construction in infrastructure and modernize the national production base that Moscow needs for sustained growth. In this respect, Beijing may want to bid for the large state enterprises, such as Rosneft and Sberbank, that Moscow has put on sale to reduce its budget deficit. Sino-Russian strategic cooperation provides the two countries with the much-needed strategic depth that will prove to be increasingly urgent in the face of US and NATO expansion. If it can be improved further, the partnership may lead to the emergence of a healthy bipolar international system. Currently, despite all the hype, China alone does not constitute a global front and therefore a viable alternative to USled unipolarity, and Russia is economically too weak to effectively challenge Washington. Hence, Moscow and Beijing need each other. Unavoidably, the Sino-Russian strategic partnership will have implications for nations across the Northeast Asian region and beyond. Powers in East Asia may have to realign their strategies. It is prudent politics not to take sides when two blocs clash,

but especially for small and medium-sized countries under geopolitical pressures, the choice may prove to be a tough one. Taiwan is politically isolated and hence possesses fewer options, and therefore would be well advised to adopt a policy of strategic neutrality. To do so, Taipei must consider reassessing its defense relations with the United States, and instead re-align itself within the emerging bipolar international system spearheaded by China and Russia. On the economic front, the government in Taipei may concentrate its efforts on building closer relations with the China/ Russia-led bloc in order to not miss out on the opportunities that will arise in alternative economies such as Iran—currently, these opportunities are not being fully exploited by Taiwan due to systemic constraints. It is expected that, as a result of a growing Sino-Russian strategic cooperation, the markets that are currently unavailable will open up for bilateral trade and investment especially with regard to energy. If not politically, Taiwan could economically benefit from such a loosening of the presently rigid international energy regime. n

photo: Mark Turner The Chinese and Russian flags fly together. The two countries need each other if they are to counter the US and usher in a new bipolar world system.

b  23

Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 8 (April, 2013)

Military Mindedness Despite increased military spending in Asia, an arms race has not yet emerged Aaron Jensen


hina’s rise in Asia, in particular its rapid military development, has sparked concern and apprehension in the region and worldwide. This apprehension has caused some observers to assert that Asia is now in, or is entering, a new arms race. In the pages of The Wall Street Journal it was recently argued that, “From the Arabian Sea to the Pacific Ocean, countries fearful of China’s growing economic and military might—and worried that the US will be less likely to intervene in the region—are hurtling into a new arms race.” Although military spending and arms development in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have been impressive, the same cannot be said for other key nations in the region. In an arms race, two or more nations must be engaged in a serious military buildup where both sides attempt to remain on par with the other. Japan, which has serious concerns about China’s intentions, has made only minimal increases in its defense budget. Although the government of Japan recently announced that it would increase its defense budget for the first time in a decade, this increase only amounts to a miniscule 0.8 percent. Other important nations in Asia have actually reduced, or slowed the growth of their defense budgets. Australia actually slashed its defense budget by a staggering 10 percent in one year. Further afield, India has also reduced its defense budget for the current financial year, it was reported, due to the economic

slowdown which the country is experiencing. And while it has made increases to its defense spending in recent years, it is important to consider that much of India’s security focus is on neighboring Pakistan, in addition to the concerns which India may have about the PRC. To date, the only country which has significantly raised its defense budget, and purchased weapons

photo: Lon&Queta Hani man and child with military hat in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China.

Aaron Jensen is a graduate student at National Chengchi University who served as an officer in the United States Air Force for seven years. He can be reached at:


photo: Sergio Morchon In addition to arming China, Russia sells weapons systems like the Sukhoi SU-30 to Beijing’s regional opponents, including Vietnam and India, above.

to specifically counter China, has been Vietnam. According to Michael Mazza of the American Enterprise Institute, chief among Vietnam’s new weapons procurement has been the signing of agreements for six Kilo-class submarines and four Gepardclass frigates from Russia. Additionally, Vietnam is reported to be purchasing a total of 20 Su-30MK2 fighter planes from Russia. While these kinds of purchases are noteworthy for a country like Vietnam, they do not constitute an arms race.

Although the Asia-Pacific region is not currently in an arms race, it could eventually enter into an arms buildup, or all-out arms race, if China continues its recent behavior in combination with its generous defense budget increases. The key question for regional leaders is how China will behave in the future as it

“New tension has led to greater uncertainty regarding China’s assertiveness.”

Limited defense budgets While other countries in the region may be concerned about China’s intentions, they typically have limited defense budgets or are too preoccupied with other security concerns to offer a meaningful response to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The Philippines is a prime example; although it is embroiled in serious territorial dispute with the PRC, the Philippines’ limited economic resources will prevent it from offering a serious military response. At present, the Philippines essentially lacks an air force, and its largest naval vessel is a 3,000-ton decommissioned US Coast Guard cutter with limited armament.

continues to grow more powerful. Will it show some flexibility and willingness to compromise on key issues, or will it attempt to use its newfound power to coerce its neighbors and enforce its will? Recently, with China’s rise and America’s continued economic problems, it has become apparent to many that Chinese officials have taken a more assertive diplomatic strategy. During a recent military conference in China, a US State Department official observed that Chinese military officers were keen to lecture officials from other countries on what was in their national interest. However, Chinese officials of-

China and East Asia  b  25

fered no flexibility on issues which were considered important to its own interests. At a recent international military conference in Australia, LieutenantGeneral Ren Haiquan reportedly made thinly veiled accusations that Japan was trying to change the postwar order, and that these attempts could lead to war. Top China experts such as Robert Sutter have questioned whether China will adhere to a path of peaceful development. According to Sutter, there is a new tension in PRC foreign policy when the concerns over core interests and the strategy of peace and development are at odds with each other. This new tension has led to greater uncertainty regarding China’s assertiveness. Due to this uncertainty, Sutter suggests that the PRC may not necessarily adhere to the peaceful approach in the future.

In addition to claiming large swaths of littoral territory, as well as almost the entire South China Sea, Beijing’s leaders hold that no other nation may conduct military and reconnaissance activities within its 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In the view of the United States, however, such operations are legal, and neither the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) nor established practice says otherwise. The result of this divergence of opinion is Chinese behavior that is producing serious cause for concern. In 2001 a Chinese F-8 fighter plane intentionally collided with a US Navy P-3 surveillance aircraft operating in international airspace, forcing the US plane to land on Hainan Island where its cryptographic equipment could be studied. A decade later, this behavioral pattern was still in place,

graphic: FAS Experts interpret China’s submarine base on Hainan Island as indicative of Beijing’s ambition to develop a sea-based deterrent and project its power.


with Chinese government ships harassing a US Navy surveillance vessel operating in international waters in the vicinity of Hainan Island. Similarly, in 2012, Chinese vessels harassed a Vietnamese oceanographic survey ship which was operating in Vietnam’s own EEZ. More recently, a Chinese frigate operating in the East China Sea locked its fire-control radar— universally acknowledged to be an aggressive and threatening action—on a Japanese warship.

After the United States and China, the one country that could significantly impact the regional balance is Japan. According to Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute, Japan’s large economy and close security relationship with the United States make it

“The decisions and actions of the PRC will largely determine the direction of military trends in the region.”

Greater tensions If these observations and events accurately reflect the dominant trend in Chinese thinking, then the PRC is likely to produce greater tensions in the region and continue to raise the fears of neighboring countries, and the United States. The rapidly rising PRC defense budget, which some sources predict will surpass that of the United States in 2030, will allow PLA forces, as well as those of the Chinese maritime patrol agencies, to gain the upper hand against regional competitors. This could further embolden the PRC to take an even more aggressive stance against its neighbors.

the only other nation which could play a leading role in East Asian security. For this reason, Japan’s future decisions and actions are extremely important. With its highly capable Self Defense Force, and its security relationship with the United States, Japan may feel that it has some time to assess China’s future direction before it commits itself to substantial defense increases. Given the economic importance of its trade relationship with China, Japan would certainly like to avoid an arms race with the PRC. However, if the PRC continues to take a more aggressive approach

photo: kwramm The power of the gun is praised at North Korea’s Mass Games. While the region may not be in an arms race, Koreans continue to live their own cold war.

China and East Asia  b  27

The ROC government has consistently allocated less spending to the forces since 2008, as a percentage of total budgetary expenditures.

on maritime disputes, Japan may feel that is has no other alternative but to increase defense spending. Given that it spends only about 1 percent of GDP on defense, Japan has room to increase its defense budget. Moreover, with its high-technology, and its close cooperation with the United States, Japan would be fielding cutting-edge military equipment.

Although the Asia-Pacific region is not yet in an arms race, the decisions and actions of the PRC will largely determine the direction of military trends in the region. If China chooses a moderate, less belligerent path, then the region could avoid an arms race. However, if China continues to use aggressive

modestly increasing its own defense spending. Many observers have urged Taiwan to increase its defense budget. Since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, his administration has failed to raise the ROC defense budget to its stated goal of 3 percent of GDP. A healthier defense budget would greatly enable the ROC to meet its most important defense need; creating an all-volunteer force and increasing the quality of its military personnel—a policy enunciated by Ma originally set for 2014, now aiming at 2016. In modern warfare, having a highly educated and trained fighting force is a must. Talented people form the foundation of an effective military; without the right people, high-tech weapons cannot be utilized to their full potential. To date, Taiwan has experienced recruiting short-

behavior and threatening rhetoric, then neighboring countries are almost certain to respond by significantly increasing their defense budgets, thus bringing about a new arms race. Given that Asia may well be headed towards an arms build-up, or even an all-out arms race, it would be in the ROC’s interest to prepare for this possibility by

falls and has delayed the time-frame for implementing an all-volunteer force. The demands and sacrifices of military life can sometimes make it difficult to attract quality people. Increasing the defense budget would enable the ROC military to provide competitive salaries and attract, and retain, talented people. n

Arms-race determinant


for Taiwan Security

Center for Security Studies National Chengchi University No. 64, Wan Shou Road Taipei City 11666 Taiwan, ROC

Visit our website:

Profile for Strategic Vision

Strategic Vision, Issue 8  

Strategic Vision is a magazine put out by NCCU's Center for Security Studies and the ROC National Defense University that provides analysis...

Strategic Vision, Issue 8  

Strategic Vision is a magazine put out by NCCU's Center for Security Studies and the ROC National Defense University that provides analysis...

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded