Xi Goes Cyber
- China’s state media announced that both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang are members of a new “Internet security and informatization” executive group whose purpose seems to be a mix of maintaining internal control and countering external threats. That is quite the high profile display of interest. Xinhua [in Chinese] | WaPo.
South China Sea ADIZ Rumors: What China Doesn’t Say
- China’s defense ministry, through the Xinhua mouthpiece, is accusing “Japan’s right-wing forces” of “cooking up that China will establish an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea”, but then goes on to defend their right to establish such zones, while stopping short of actually denying the intent of establishing an ADIZ in the region. A statement from the Chinese foreign ministry earlier this month also was somewhat ambiguous, despite its strong language.
- Djibouti has received heavy investments from the French, more recently, the USA’s military, and to a smaller extent, Japan. China has made investments in Djibouti too and even issued propaganda a year ago portraying Djibouti as “welcoming China to build a military base.” No such announcement was actually made at the time, but defense minister General Chang Wanquan was in Djibouti earlier this week to sign a military cooperation agreement. The little that has publicly transpired of this agreement falls short of mentioning the building of a Chinese base, but access to Djiboutian ports for Chinese military ships was part of the discussion. Honk Kong-based China Merchants Holdings bought [PDF] 23% of Djibouti port last year. Further south, China is also committed to sizable investments in Tanzania’s ports.
Rafale Support, Components
- Thales announced a €164M ($226M) 6-year contract dubbed Amadeos with the French defense ministry to support Rafale, Mirage, and other aircraft across the services.
- India’s defense ministry reportedly asked Dassault to state in writing whether AgustaWestland is in any way a supplier to the Rafale, to ostensibly avoid the VVIP kerfuffle spoiling the MMRCA acquisition.
- India and Saudi Arabia signed a defense cooperation pact, an interesting development given Saudi support to Pakistan, and India’s relatively amicable relationship with Iran.
Russia’s Real and Imaginary Friends
- Armed men that Ukraine’s government say have links to Russian military reportedly took then lost control of 2 airports in Crimea (video). Ukraine’s border guard reported an attempted blockade of their detachment in Sevastopol by Russian naval infantry soldiers and helicopters. And Russian APCs were seen in Crimean capital Simferopol.
- Meanwhile ousted president Yanukovych finally made a public appearance, in a town in southern Russia where he made an unapologetic statement. The Kremlin’s official instructions regarding Ukraine, for what they’re worth, sound conciliatory. But this is a very short statement and Vladimir Putin himself hasn’t made any public pronouncement on this matter so far.
- Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu said discussions are underway to gain port-of-call access or open permanent military bases in countries such as Vietnam or Venezuela. As the Diplomat notes, such statements are for the most part spin. It is pretty unlikely that, say, Singapore is going to allow a permanent Russian base on its soil.
- The video below features a panel discussing the political situation in Ukraine, hosted by London-based Chatham House: