China-Based Oriental Space Launches Its First Medium-Lift Rocket

Gravity-1 launch vehicle


“The trend in Chinese commercial launch companies since 2020 has been to shift towards larger rockets. Orienspace is looking to develop and launch Gravity-2 and Gravity-3 soon. Both rockets having a low earth orbit payload greater than Gravity-1.”


China is making strides in its commercial launch technologies. According to the excerpted article from the Chinese news outlet People’s Daily Online, on 11 January 2024, a Chinese commercial launch vehicle designer called Orienpace[i] successfully launched its first Gravity-1 medium-lift rocket carrying 3 Yunyao-1 (18-20) global weather data satellites into low orbit. The Gravity-1 rocket, (known as “引力-1号,” “Yinli-1,” or simply “YL-1”) has been in development since 2021 and is the launch vehicle for the Yunyao-1 satellites. Several facets of the Gravity-1 make it an important development for China. First, it can support a very large payload of approximately 20-30 low-orbit satellites, which is larger than China’s previous largest rockets’ payloads, the CAS Space’s Kinetica-1 and China Rocket’s Jielong-3. Gravity-1 can provide a payload of 6.5 tons to low orbit, whereas Kinetica-1 can provide a payload of 2 tons and Jielong-3 can provide a payload of 1.5 tons to low orbit. Second, Oriental Space can launch Gravity-1 within 5 hours of manufacturing, giving Oriental Space the capability to address emergency launch requests. Third, Gravity-1 is the lowest price in the current Chinese launch market.[ii] The capabilities of Gravity-1 could provide China with the ability to launch multiple low-earth orbiting satellites at a faster and more cost-effective rate than their competitors enhancing China’s communication, military reconnaissance, and technology testing.


Sources:

“全球运力最大固体运载火箭引力一号首飞成功 (The world’s largest solid launch vehicle Gravity-1 successfully made its maiden flight),” People’s Daily Online (Chinese government news outlet), 12 January 2024. https://finance-people-com-cn.translate.goog/n1/2024/0112/c1004-40157723.html?_x_tr_sch=http&_x_tr_sl=zh-CN&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc

“At 13:30 on January 11, my country’s Taiyun Satellite Launch Center used the Gravity-1 Yaoyi commercial launch vehicle in the sea near Haiyang, Shandong, to successfully launch 18-20 Yunyao-1 satellites into the predetermined orbit…Gravity-1 is capable of carrying more than twice that of the previous largest Chinese solid rockets, CAS Space’s Kinetica-1 and China Rocket’s Jielong-3.”


Notes:

[i] See Orienspace’s official website (东方空间). https://www.orienspace.com/

[ii] This is according to Oriental Space’s website and a recent article featured in the American news outlet SpaceNews. See: Andrew Jones, “Orienspace breaks Chinese commercial launch records with Gravity-1 solid rocket,” SpaceNews. 11 January 2024. https://spacenews.com/orienspace-breaks-chinese-commercial-launch-records-with-gravity-1-solid-rocket/


Image Information:

Image: Gravity-1 launch vehicle
Source: https://www.orienspace.com/productPage
Attribution: CC BY-SA 4.0


Nauru Recognizes China, Further Isolating Taiwan

Map of the Pacific or Oceania region featuring Nauru.


“As a sovereign country, the Republic of Nauru independently made the right choice to announce that it recognizes the one-China principle, breaks the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities, and seeks to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. This fully shows that the one-China principle is where global opinion trends and where the arc of history bends.”


On 15 January, a day after the election of a pro-independence presidential candidate in Taiwan, the tiny Pacific Island nation of Nauru announced a switch of diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China.[i] The switch has left Taiwan with official diplomatic ties to only 12 states,[ii] although Taiwan enjoys unofficial support from others, including the United Kingdom and the United States. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning noted that, “China appreciates and welcomes the decision of the government of the Republic of Nauru,” according to the below excerpt from the printout of a press conference. Mao Ning skirted a question about whether Taiwan’s accusation “that China has lured Nauru with monetary support” was true.  There has been broad criticism of China’s tactics insinuating that it bribes nations to turn from Taiwan. According to the excerpted article from Singapore-based Channel News Asia, Taiwan accused China of engaging “in money diplomacy by offering far more money than what Taiwan provides to allies.” The same article also references an official statement from Nauru noting that the move to recognize China is a “significant first step in moving forward with Nauru’s development.” [iii] Regardless, Nauru’s shift towards Beijing is the latest of several countries that have switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China—10 since 2016—and the latest manifestation of China’s long-term strategy to grow its influence in the region and isolate Taiwan.


Sources:

“Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, 15 January 2024. https://www.mfa.gov.cn/eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/202401/t20240115_11224311.html

CCTV: The government of the Republic of Nauru officially announced its decision to recognize the one-China principle, break the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities and seek to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: As an independent sovereign country, the Republic of Nauru announced that it recognizes the one-China principle, breaks the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities and seeks to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. China appreciates and welcomes the decision of the government of the Republic of Nauru.

There is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. It’s what has been affirmed in Resolution 2758 of the UN General Assembly and is a prevailing consensus among the international community. China has established diplomatic relations with 182 countries on the basis of the one-China principle. The Nauru government’s decision of reestablishing diplomatic ties with China once again shows that the one-China principle is where global opinion trends and where the arc of history bends. China stands ready to work with Nauru to open new chapters of our bilateral relations on the basis of the one-China principle.

NHK: Why did the government of Nauru announce the decision to cut diplomatic relations with the Taiwan authorities after the elections in Taiwan?

Mao Ning: The government of Nauru announced that it recognizes the one-China principle, breaks the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities and seeks to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. This is a choice made independently by Nauru as a sovereign country. It shows that the one-China principle is where global opinion trends and where the arc of history bends.

Reuters: A Taiwan official just said that China has lured Nauru with monetary support. May we know how much money is China going to give Nauru?

Mao Ning: As a sovereign country, the Republic of Nauru independently made the right choice to announce that it recognizes the one-China principle, breaks the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities and seeks to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. This fully shows that the one-China principle is where global opinion trends and where the arc of history bends.


“CNA Explains: Why tiny Nauru ditched Taipei for Beijing – and why it matters,” Channel News Asia (Singapore based, Asia specific news service), 16 January 2024. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/nauru-taiwan-china-diplomatic-can-explains-4051026

The Nauru government also said in a statement that the move was in the “best interests” of the island nation and its people.

It added that Nauru would be moving to follow the “one China principle” and was seeking a resumption of full diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China – referring to China’s official name.

“This means that the Republic of Nauru will no longer recognise the Republic of China (Taiwan) as a separate country but rather as an inalienable part of China’s territory,” said the statement.

It also called this “a significant first step in moving forward with Nauru’s development.”

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and sees it as having no right to establish state-to-state ties – a position which Taipei rejects.

Nauru’s move announcement also coincided with a visit to Taiwan by an unofficial delegation from the United States, much to Beijing’s displeasure.

But Mr Sung said while the timing conveniently gave Nauru’s diplomatic switch added significance, the US trip was not the trigger. 

“Moves like this take time to pull off,” he noted.Taiwan also alleged that China had engaged in “money diplomacy” here, by offering Nauru far more money that what Taipei provides to allies.


Notes:

[i] This is not the first time that Nauru has switched allegiances between Taiwan and China. See: China formally restores diplomatic relations with Nauru after Pacific island nation cut Taiwan ties,” AP, 23 January 2024. https://apnews.com/article/china-nauru-taiwan-diplomatic-recognition-23fd9cdd0210a2340b5ae2092d2a85d1

[ii] The 12 entities that continue to maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan are: Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, Eswatini, Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and the Holy See (Vatican).

[iii] For a discussion of China’s efforts to turn Latin American countries, see: Ryan Berg, “Honduran Presidential Visit Kicks Off New Relations With China,” OE Watch, 07-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/honduran-presidential-visit-kicks-off-new-relations-with-china/; and Ryan Berg and Wazim Mowla, “Taiwan’s Future in Latin America and the Caribbean,” The Diplomat, 1 September 2022. https://thediplomat.com/2022/09/taiwans-future-in-latin-america-and-the-caribbean/


Image Information:

Image: Map of the Pacific or Oceania region featuring Nauru.
Source: World Regional Geography, https://open.lib.umn.edu/worldgeography/part/chapter-13-the-pacific-and-antarctica/
Attribution: CCA-NC-SA 4.0 Int


China’s Economic Interests at Risk With Rise of Houthi Shipping Attacks

Chinese container ship off the coast of Los Angeles, California.


China is the customer for 90% of the oil exported by Iran. The chances of the Houthis firing on ships of a state-owned Chinese company are therefore very low, raising questions about the reasons for COSCO’s decision”


The Israel-Hamas conflict and the conflict’s subsequent spread to Yemen and the Red Sea is challenging Chinese economic interests and policy in the region. In early January, Chinese shipping giant China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) and Hong Kong–based subsidiary Overseas Orient Container Line announced that they would cut service to Israeli ports in response to Houthi attacks on ships destined for Israel. According to the first excerpted articles from the Israeli business news publication Globes, China has in effect sacrificed trade with Israel to maintain shipping access to the Red Sea. While the article vilifies the Chinese position, China is in a bind because both Israel and Iran are significant regional trading partners with China. The Houthis are militarily and diplomatically supported by Iran. China must balance its priorities in the region between Iran and Israel—and any regional war would be bad for China’s Middle East interests.[i] In the second excerpt, taken from a speech delivered by China’s UN Ambassador less than a week after the COSCO announcement, the Ambassador noted that “the waters of the Red Sea are an important transportation channel for goods and energy” and called on the Houthis to “to immediately stop harassing merchant ships and respect the navigation rights of merchant ships from all countries in the Red Sea waters, in accordance with international law.”[ii] Not long after, a Houthi official interviewed by Russian news source Izvestia stated that all Russian and Chinese ships would be safe navigating the Red Sea but that ships aligned with Israel would be subject to targeting. The Houthi spokesman continued “Our goal is to raise the economic costs for the Jewish state to stop the carnage in Gaza.” However, despite these assurances, any economic pain that Israel might feel because of reduced shipping to its ports also transfers to China, complicating its economic strategy in the Middle East.


Sources:

“Chinese shipping giant COSCO to stop visiting Israeli ports,” Globes (Israeli business news), 7 January 2024. https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-chinese-shipping-giant-cosco-to-stop-visiting-israeli-ports-1001467115

Chinese state-owned shipping giant COSCO Shipping has stopped visiting Israeli ports, “Globes” has learned. The company, the fourth largest container shipping line in the world, with about 11% of world trade, decided on this step even though it is not much threatened in the Red Sea, because of the very fact that it is Chinese, and because of China’s ties with Iran, the patron of the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Besides the effect on trade between the Far East and Israel, COSCO’s decision is significant because it cooperates with Israeli shipping line ZIM, which will have to operate more ships on the Far East routes, which is liable to will lead to higher shipping costs, since XIM will be short of ships.

The second direct effect will be on the Haifa Bayport, which is operated by another state-owned Chinese company, SIPG. The port is dependent on the many COSCO ships that visit it.

The Houthis are threatening to attack vessels of any company that sails to Israel, but China is the customer for 90% of the oil exported by Iran. The chances of the Houthis firing on ships of a state-owned Chinese company are therefore very low, raising questions about the reasons for COSCO’s decision, of which international shippers have yet to be notified.

A pointer to COSCO’s step was the recent announcement by its Hong Kong-based subsidiary OOCL that it was ceasing to sail to Israel because of “operational problems”. That announcement, intended to enable it to sail in the Red Sea without interference by the Houthis, led to wide criticism. In the end, the company caved in, like Singapore-based shipping line ONE (Ocean Network Express).


“常驻联合国代表张军大使在安理会红海局势紧急公开会上的发言 (Speech by Ambassador Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the Security Council’s emergency public meeting on the Red Sea situation),” PRC Permanent Mission to the United Nations, published by Ministry of Foreign Affairs People’s Republic of China, 12 January 2024. https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/zwbd_673032/wjzs/202401/t20240114_11223386.shtml

Mr. President: China thanks Russia for its initiative to hold this emergency meeting and thanks Assistant Secretary-General Kyali for his briefing. The United States, Britain and other countries have carried out air strikes on targets in Yemen, further escalating tensions in the Red Sea region. China expresses serious concern about this.

The waters of the Red Sea are an important transportation channel for goods and energy. For some time, the Houthi armed forces have repeatedly attacked and seized merchant ships in the Red Sea waters, disrupting international trade order and not conducive to regional stability. China has repeatedly called on the Houthis to immediately stop harassing merchant ships and respect the navigation rights of merchant ships from all countries in the Red Sea waters in accordance with international law. China also calls on all parties, especially influential major powers, to play a constructive and responsible role in jointly safeguarding the safety of waterways in the Red Sea.

We regret to see that the brazen military actions taken by relevant countries against Yemen not only caused infrastructure damage and civilian casualties, but also aggravated security risks in the Red Sea waters and did not help protect the safety of commercial ships and freedom of navigation. Relevant military actions may also impact the political process in Yemen. We fail to see how such a military operation could achieve the stated intended objectives.

It must be noted that the Security Council has never authorized any country to use of force against Yemen. The military actions taken by relevant countries run counter to the purpose of Resolution 2722 just adopted by the Security Council. China reiterates that no country shall misinterpret or abuse international law and Security Council resolutions to create new tensions in the Red Sea waters.

Mr. President: The current tensions in the Red Sea are one manifestation of the spillover effects of the conflict in Gaza. Letting the conflict in Gaza prolong while hoping that the conflict will not expand may be wishful thinking. It is even more contradictory and irresponsible to advocate preventing conflicts from spilling over, while at the same time adding fuel to the fire and provoking military confrontation. The Middle East is already on the brink of extreme danger. What we should avoid most at the moment is reckless military adventurism. What we need most is calmness and restraint to prevent further expansion of conflicts. We urge all relevant parties, especially the influential powers, to abide by the UN Charter and international law, adhere to the correct direction of dialogue and consultation, and make practical efforts to maintain peace and stability in the Red Sea and the Middle East. Thank you, Chairman.


В «Ансар Аллах» гарантировали безопасность судам РФ и КНР в Красном море (Ansar Allah guaranteed the safety of Russian and Chinese vessels in the Red Sea),” Izvestia (Russian news source), 19 January 2024. В «Ансар Аллах» гарантировали безопасность судам РФ и КНР в Красном море | Новости мира | Известия | 19.01.2024 (iz.ru)

Representative of the al-Buheiti movement: the Houthis will not attack Russian and Chinese ships

The Yemeni Houthi movement Ansar Allah is attacking US and British ships in the Red Sea; as for other countries, including Russia and China, their shipping in the region is guaranteed safety. A member of the Ansar Allah Politburo, Muhammad al-Buheiti, stated this on January 19 in an interview with Izvestia.

“As for all other countries, including Russia and China, their shipping in the region is not threatened. Moreover, we are ready to ensure the safety of the passage of their ships in the Red Sea, because free navigation plays a significant role for our country,” Al-Buheiti noted.

The politician also added that any Israeli ships or those connected with Israel will not have the slightest opportunity to sail through the Red Sea – attacks on them will continue.

“Ansar Allah does not pursue the goal of capturing or sinking this or that sea vessel. Our goal is to raise the economic costs for the Jewish state to stop the carnage in Gaza. If the crews of the ships that came under our fire had not ignored our warning signals and changed their direction, the further escalation that the American side caused in the interests of protecting Israel could have been avoided,” he said.

Earlier, on January 17, the military representative of the Ansar Allah movement, Yahya Saria, said that it launched a missile attack on the American ship Genco Picardy in the Gulf of Aden. According to him, the Houthis recorded a direct hit on the ship.

On the same day, the UK Navy’s Maritime Trade Coordination Center (UKMTO) reported that a drone attacked a ship off the coast of Aden, Yemen, which led to a fire on board the ship. A previous attack on a ship in the Red Sea was reported the day before. The Houthis then took responsibility for it and confirmed the fact of a missile attack on the bulk carrier Zografia, which was flying the Maltese flag.The Houthis began attacking shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden from November 2023 to protest Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip…


Notes:

[i] For a previous perspective on the conflict in Gaza’s impact on China interests in the region see: “Israel’s close economic ties with China worked well – until the Gaza conflict,” South China Morning Post, 2 November 2023. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3240061/israels-close-economic-relationship-china-worked-well-until-gaza-conflict-revealed-its-limits

[ii] A wide range of global reporting has indicated that China is also said to have put pressure on Iran to rein in the Houthis, while the United States has asked China to take more of a role in mediating the conflict in Israel.


Image Information:

Image: Chinese container ship off the coast of Los Angeles, California.
Source: Corey Seeman
Attribution: CC By-NC-SA 2.0


Chinese Strategists Consider Weaponizing “Complexity Science”


“The network information system … can be damaged or controlled by destroying key nodes in the network information system, creating a destruction ‘multiplier’ effect of ‘100-1=0.’”


The complexity of warfare increases as new capabilities, such as unmanned aircraft, loitering munitions, cyber warfare, and others, are introduced. As complexity increases, so do the risks, prompting Chinese military thinkers to explore the possibilities of using “complexity science,” the study of complex systems, to their advantage. The first excerpted article, published by the People’s Liberation Army’s official newspaper, PLA Daily, and reposted to the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China’s website, underscores the importance of understanding basic science versus the concept of “complexity science.”  A traditional, cause-and-effect system assumes a linear outcome, which is predictable. However, as the article points out, in a complex system, the topic of study of “complexity science,” one slight change could have a huge impact on the course or outcome of the war.[i]

Complexity science is important in both defensive and offensive operations. For example, offensively, the article explains that destroying a key node of an opponent’s network information system, the glue that holds together the joint operations system, can serve as a force multiplier. In defensive operations, to protect their own systems, PLA commanders need to completely understand the emerging nature of complex war systems so that they can predict or anticipate where the adversary might attempt to degrade their systems. In offensive operations, on the other hand, they should use their insight to shape the war and create winning opportunities for themselves. The article explains that coming up with countermeasures and improving the ability to predict emerging technology can be facilitated through modeling and simulation. It also suggests taking advantage of the unpredictable and “fighting opportunities” in combat “to catch the opponent off guard with thunderous momentum.” The second article, published by China’s top military decision-making command body, the Central Military Commission’s authorized news source, China Military Online, details “complexity” in command-and-control (C2) systems. It explains that complexity science offers a new way to understand, guide, and practice war. It also recommends using complexity, around C2, as a weapon to complicate the opponent’s decision-making capacity, while also facilitating one’s own abilities. The key to accomplishing this is by breaking the traditional decision-making methods and reshaping those of the opponent. Humans, becoming increasingly intertwined with machines in the decision-making process at all levels, will create “unprecedentedly prominent battlefield management issues,” the article argues. As variables become more complex it is easier to reshape the opponent’s decision-making process by limiting the adversary’s intelligence capabilities, impairing their reflexes, creating confusion at the intersection, and pushing the opponent to their breaking point.


Sources:

Liu Haiye et al, “认真研究并加以把握运用,战争复杂系统的涌现性 (Carefully Study and Understand the Emergence of Complex War Systems),” PLA Daily (official news source of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army), 17 November 2023. http://www.mod.gov.cn/gfbw/jmsd/16267413.html.

Informatization and intelligentization in the network information system is the “glue” and “catalyst” of the joint operations system. However, it does not always guarantee the network’s effectiveness in driving the entire joint combat system. The network information system not only can serve as a “multiplier” of “1+1>2”in aggregating combat forces that are widely distributed and have heterogeneous functional role, it can be damaged or controlled by destroying key nodes in the network information system, creating a destruction “multiplier” effect of “100-1=0”.

Make good use of the emergent nature of complex war systems: …In recent years, the continued advances in modeling and simulation, artificial intelligence, big data and other technologies, has provided new support for commanders to grasp the emergent nature of complex war systems. If commanders can fully grasp the emergent nature of complex war systems, they might be able to perceive, foresee, utilize or even create “points” where war emerges before their opponents do, thereby becoming more proactive in shaping the war situation and creating winning opportunities.

Gain insights in advance and implement changes before the enemy. Once the emergence of complex war systems occurs, it could cause major global or local changes in the entire battlefield. “Forewarned is forearmed, without prejudging the waste”. Only by sensing and anticipating the possible emergence of key nodes in the war system and key turning points in the combat process before the opponent does, can we implement changes before the enemy and disrupt their operations…(we should) implement various countermeasures for war preparations, and improve the pertinence and predictability of military training and preparations…Methods such as modeling and simulation, which can provide insights into the emergence of complex war systems, should be actively applied to build, restore, and simulate real combat environments and operations in virtual war spaces.


Hu Xiaofeng, “从复杂性科学看指挥控制领域变革趋势 (A Look at Changing Trends in Command and Control From the Perspective of Complexity Science),” China Military Online (news source authorized by the Central Military Commission and sponsored by the People’s Liberation Army), 2 January 2024. http://www.81.cn/ll_208543/16277640.html

Complexity science has provided new possibilities for understanding war and guiding war practice. In the field of command and control, complexity can be used as a weapon to make the opponent’s decision-making more complicated, while oneself can easily deal with it. The key to achieving this effect is to break the original traditional decision-making method and reshape the opponent’s decision-making process.

How to create complexity

In future wars, as the combat system becomes larger and larger, humans and machines become more intertwined in decision-making at all levels, especially the widespread use of intelligent combat platforms, resulting in unprecedentedly prominent battlefield management issues.

Traditional decision-making only changes the decision-making parameters, not the decision-making process, so the decision-making complexity is constant… If complexity methods are introduced, the opponent’s decision-making process can be reshaped, forcing the opponent to introduce new parameters, leading to an increase in decision-making complexity. For example, if one’s own camouflage effect exceeds the opponent’s existing reconnaissance capabilities, it forces it to find new reconnaissance and positioning methods, thereby prompting it to change its decision-making process and make decision-making more complex. So, how to create complexity? It is generally believed that there are mainly the following four methods.

Limit intelligence capabilities. By creating uncertainty to enhance complexity and reduce the adversary’s situational awareness, the adversary can only act with the support of limited information…

Impaired reflexes. Create complexity by leveraging adaptive characteristics to weaken adversaries’ operational responsiveness…

Create confusion at the intersection. Creating chaos and complexity by crossing boundaries to create new emergent effects… Facilitate tipping point transitions. Push your opponent to the breaking point and create complexity, resulting in non-linear transitions…


Notes:

[i] The first article uses an old the British proverb as an example. “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For want of a horse, the rider was lost. For want of a rider, the battle was lost. For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.” This analogy underscores the importance of each node, down to the most basic one (the nail). For more on this proverb, see “A Little Neglect May Breed Great Mischief,” Citadel website, accessed 20 January 2024. https://web.citadel.edu/root/images/commandant/assistant-commandant-leadership/for-the-want-of-a-nail.pdf


China Nears Completion of Large Port in Peru With Dual-Use Capabilities

A worker stands in front of a map depicting the massive Port of Chancay in Peru.


“Cosco Shipping seeks to improve China’s access to minerals from the mountains to the coast, and from there execute shipments through the port of Chancay.”


Weeks after the tenth anniversary of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is on schedule to inaugurate one of its biggest port development projects to date: the $3 billion Port of Chancay, just north of Lima, Peru. In recent years, Chinese-owned and operated deep-water ports around the world have captured the attention of many analysts for their dual-use potential, for both commercial and military purposes.[i] In the past, China has used its owned and operated ports as logistical points and ports of call for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).[ii] Chinese-owned and operated ports also offer the potential for China to track data on trade flows, which could open the door to economic coercion against the host countries as well as other third-party countries.

In response to rising questions about the Port of Chancay project, Peruvian media conglomerate RPP reports the Peruvian government maintains that the port is purely economic in nature and that the local population will be compensated for displacement and any environmental damage to the surrounding areas. The second excerpted article in the Peruvian energy and mining-focused news outlet Energiminas, says that the port will play an important role in helping China to solidify its dominant position in Latin America’s critical minerals supply chains.[iii] Peru also maintains that the port, built by Chinese state-owned enterprise Cosco Shipping, will save an average of 10 to 12 days on goods traveling to Asia from Latin America. Further, the Peruvian government has confirmed its commitment to the project and stated its goal is to leverage its role as host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in 2024 to officially inaugurate the Port of Chancay. China has dozens of contracts to upgrade, build, and/or operate deep-water ports in the Western Hemisphere, an economic reality with implications for the region’s operational environment. Given China’s past use of deep-water ports for naval port calls, the Western Hemisphere may soon witness an uptick in the PLAN presence.


Sources:

“Puerto de Chancay estaría listo para iniciar funcionamiento a fines de noviembre de 2024 (Port of Chancay would be ready to start operations at the end of November 2024),” RPP (Peruvian radio, television, and print media company located in Lima), 23 October 2023. https://rpp.pe/economia/economia/puerto-de-chancay-estaria-listo-para-iniciar-funcionamiento-a-fines-de-noviembre-del-2024-noticia-1512135?ref=rpp

The port of Chancay would finally be inaugurated in November 2024 with cutting-edge technology…‘we hope to finish the port at the end of November 2024 and inaugurate it on that date taking advantage of the APEC Summit’…‘We have more than 3,000 families registered with a baseline of the conditions of their house and with a commitment letter from Cosco, responsible for solving any environmental damage,’ said an official with the company.


“Puerto de Chancay evalúa mejoras en acceso de inerals de sierra de Oyón a la costa, señala Gobierno Regional de Lima (Port of Chancay evaluates improvements in access of minerals from the Sierra de Oyón to the coast, says Regional Government of Lima),” Energiminas (Peruvian news outlet focused on the country’s energy and mining sectors) 18 October 2023. https://energiminas.com/puerto-de-chancay-evalua-mejoras-en-acceso-de-minerales-de-sierra-de-oyon-a-la-costa-senala-gobierno-regional-de-lima/

The Regional Government of Lima indicated that the operator Cosco Shipping seeks to improve China’s access to minerals from the mountains to the coast, and from there execute shipments through the port of Chancay…For the Peruvian Ministry of Transport and Communications, this megaproject, led by the Chinese company Cosco Shipping, is key for international trade and will be a hub that will redistribute cargo from the countries of Chile, Ecuador and Colombia as well.


Notes:

[i] For a useful dashboard of Chinese-owned and operated ports around the world, see: “Tracking China’s Control of Overseas Ports,” Council on Foreign Relations, 6 November 2023. https://www.cfr.org/tracker/china-overseas-ports

[ii] Researchers tracking Chinese port calls have found that the PLA Navy has called at about one-third of the nearly 100 Chinese owned and operated ports overseas. See: Jennifer Rice and Erik Robb, “The Origins of Near Seas Defense and Far Seas Protection,” CMSI China Maritime Report, no. 13 (February 2021).

[iii] For more information on China’s role in Latin America’s minerals exploration and production, see: Ryan C. Berg, “China Deepening Cooperation in Latin America’s Sizeable Lithium Sector,” OE Watch, 01-2023. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/434262


Image Information:

Image: A worker stands in front of a map depicting the massive Port of Chancay in Peru.
Source : https ://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File :Puerto_Chancay_2.jpg
Attribution: Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED


Chinese Media Defends PLA Navy in Maritime Dispute With the Philippines

People’s Liberation Army (Navy) frigate PLA(N) Yueyang (FF 575) [R1] steams in formation with 42 other ships and submarines during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.


“The Chinese Coast Guard will continue to protect its rights and conduct law enforcement activities in waters under China’s jurisdiction and strongly defend national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.”


China has multiple maritime disputes with neighboring countries in the South China Sea, but tensions have risen primarily with the Philippines since September. Chinese media, however, has defended and downplayed China’s actions, while placing blame for the increased tensions on the Philippines and its “external” allies, such as the U.S. For example, on 28 September, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) website, huanqiu.mil, published the excerpted Chinese-language article, which acknowledges rising tensions between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. The article notes a Chinese Coast Guard ship intercepted a Philippine Naval ship that, according to the article, illegally entered the area around Scarborough Shoal, which the CCP refers to as Huangyan Island.[i] In addition, according to the article, a Philippine diver removed a “floating barrier” placed by China southeast of the shoal. However, the article did not mention that the barrier’s purpose was to prevent Philippine fishermen from fishing in those waters. The Philippines claims the shoal is within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) while China seeks to access its fishing waters and other natural resources, such as petroleum and gas.

The article claimed the international media reported that regular military exercises the Philippines announced it would hold with the United States, Japan, and other partner navies, were in response to the increased tensions. Yet, the article held the CCP line that rejects any role for countries from outside the South China Sea region in resolving local maritime territorial disputes or defending the claims of adjacent South China Sea countries.[ii] The article further portrayed the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) actions as legal and reasonable and the Philippine Navy’s actions as selfish and based on psychological manipulation or deceit (niēzào shìshí).

Two weeks after the article’s publication, the second excerpted Chinese-language article on the popular social media news website, qq.com suggested that China would only engage in naval conflict with the Philippines if all other options had been exhausted. Further, it claimed any such conflict would only please the United States. Both articles, therefore, portrayed China as defensive and the Philippines or its external allies’ actions as contributing to the rise of tensions. These tensions rose to the fore on 22 October when Chinese and Philippine naval ships clashed.[iii] After the clash, the Chinese media continued to justify the PLAN as being in the right and the Philippines and its backers as the aggressors.


Sources:

“菲律宾宣布将与美日等国举行军演,外媒借机炒作南海紧张局势 (The Philippines announced that with the United States, Japan and other countries it will hold military exercises, foreign media exaggerated tensions in the South China Sea),” Huanqui.Mil.com (Chinese Communist Party online news website presenting pro-government perspectives), 28 September 2023. https://mil.huanqiu.com/article/4EivRbNVa0W

The Philippine navy issued a statement that it would conduct annual military exercises with the United States and other countries south of Luzon in the Philippines. Reports suggested this action came at a time when tensions between the Philippines and China are rising due to disputes in the South China Sea. The Chinese Coast Guard intercepted a Philippine official ship that illegally entered Huangyan Island.

Previously, the Philippine Coast Guard claimed to have dismantled the “floating barrier” placed by China in the southeastern waters of Scarborough Shoal. This action led to a warning from the Chinese government and required the Philippines not to cause provocations and cause trouble.

The Chinese Coast Guard will continue to protect its rights and conduct law enforcement activities in waters under China’s jurisdiction and strongly defend national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. In addition, China has asserted many times previously that the South China Sea is the common homeland for regional countries and should not become a hunting ground for external powers.


“美国盼着菲律宾与中国开战?中菲不会在南海发生冲突原因有四 (Is the United States looking forward to a war between the Philippines and China? There are four reasons why China and the Philippines will not conflict in the South China Sea.)” QQ.com (Chinese social media platform run by the Tencent technology company), 5 October 2023. https://new.qq.com/rain/a/20231005A07M3600

Will the Philippines conflict with China in the South China Sea? I believe that this is a topic that everyone is very concerned about…. My country’s Coast Guard took restrained and rational measures such as warnings and monitoring, but did not take action to remove the illegal beachside vessel from the Philippines that was stationed on Renai Reef. Therefore, China will not easily use force against the Philippines until the last minute.When the time comes, China will definitely seize the opportunity to teach the Philippines a lesson…. However, judging from the actual situation, it seems that we are not ready for a conflict with the Philippines. Therefore, China’s best choice at the moment is to exercise restraint and calm down and avoid conflict with the Philippines.


Notes:

[i] The Philippines asserts claims to Scarborough Shoal as well as around 50 other features in the Spratly Islands, which are known in the Philippines as the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG). According to a Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) report, the evidence in favor of the Philippine claims compared to the Chinese claims “is hardly a legal ‘slam dunk,’ but the evidence supporting Philippine sovereignty appears stronger. The fact that [Scarborough Shoal] is 400 nautical miles closer to the Philippines than to China and well within the Philippine EEZ weighs in on this determination.” See: Mark E. Rosen, “A CNA Occasional Paper Philippine Claims in the South China Sea: A Legal Analysis,” August 2014. https://www.cna.org/archive/CNA_Files/pdf/iop-2014-u-008435.pdf

[ii] For more on China-Philippine tension in the South China Sea, see: Dodge Billingsley, “China and Philippines Spar Over Grounded Ship In Spratly Islands, OE Watch, 08-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/china-and-philippines-spar-over-grounded-ship-in-spratly-islands/

[iii] On 22 October, a Philippines boat sending supplies to forces at the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands was disrupted by a Chinese “blocking maneuver,” which the Chinese Coast Guard claimed was a “slight collision” from a Chinese ship into a Philippine boat that was transporting “illegal construction materials” to a Philippine warship. See: Nikkei Asia, “China and Philippines trade accusations over latest clash at sea,” 22 October 2023,https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/South-China-Sea/China-and-Philippines-trade-accusations-over-latest-clash-at-sea. See also ANI News, “Deadly collision caught on cam! China coast guard hits Philippines supply boat in South China Sea,” 24 October 2023. youtube.com/watch?v=EDXzs7To7Xc


Image Information:

Image: People’s Liberation Army (Navy) frigate PLA(N) Yueyang (FF 575) [R1] steams in formation with 42 other ships and submarines during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.
Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Shannon Renfroe https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:People%27s_Liberation_Army_(Navy)_frigate_PLA(N)_Yueyang_(FF_575)_steams_in_formation_with_42_other_ships_and_submarines_during_Rim_of_the_Pacific_(RIMPAC)_Exercise_2014.jpg
Attribution: CC x 2.0


Chinese and Vietnamese Leaders Meet Over Tensions in South China Sea

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Vietnam’s Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong (left) in Beijing.


“Regarding issues at sea, the two leaders exchanged sincere and frank opinions in depth, emphasizing the need to better control and actively resolve disagreements at sea, maintaining peace and stability in the Sea. East and Region.”


The waters surrounding the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea are paramount to the interests of the surrounding states due to the potential energy reserves, geo-strategic locations, and fishing resources.  Although China maintains de facto control over the Paracel Islands, Vietnam also has laid claim to them, leading to increasing tensions. On 12 December 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, Nguyen Phu Trong to ease these tensions. According to the first excerpted articles from the Vietnamese news media aggregator Báo Mới, General Secretary Trong requested both sides respect each other’s legitimate interests and resolve disputes by peaceful means per international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. As per the second excerpted article from the military-focused China Military Network[i], it was noted that China and Vietnam were at a “critical stage of reform and development.” The article also highlighted the nearly three dozen agreements signed during the visit as proof of improving relations between the two countries. However, the December Xi-Trong meeting is set against the backdrop of longstanding tension between China and Vietnam stemming from both countries’ claims of sovereignty over both the Paracel and Spratly Island in the South China Sea. China has codified its claims across the region with its nine-dash line maritime policy, a visual representation of China’s claims that appears on some official and comparative maps of disputed claims in the region, but which has been refuted by international maritime law.[ii] While China would like to settle tensions with Vietnam, it is unlikely that the recent meeting between Xi and Trong, and subsequent bilateral agreements, would dissuade Vietnam from its current claims of  Vietnamese features in the South China Sea.[iii]


Sources:

“Việt Nam và Trung Quốc nhất trí xây dựng Cộng đồng chia sẻ tương lai (Vietnam and China agreed to build a Community of Shared Future),” Báo Mới (Hanoi-based Vietnamese news aggregator), 12 December 2023. https://baomoi-com/ viet-nam-va-trung-quoc-nhat-tri-xay-dung-cong-dong-chia-se-tuong-lai-c47792276.epi   

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong emphasized that in the context of complex international and regional developments, it is important that countries jointly implement policies of peace, cooperation, and development, and comply with the law. Internationally respecting each other’s equality and legitimate interests.


“志同道合携手行,命运与共创未来中共中央政治局委员、外交部长王毅谈习近平总书记、国家主席对越南国事访问 (Like-minded people join hands to create a shared future – Wang Yi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Foreign Minister, talks about General Secretary Xi Jinping and President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Vietnam),” China Military Network (Chinese military news focused media aggregator), 14 December 2023. https://www.81.cn/yw_208727/16273510.html 

Currently, both China and Vietnam are at a critical stage of reform and development. Strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation has both inherent advantages and practical needs. During this visit, the two sides signed more than 30 cooperation agreements, covering all aspects of the “Belt and Road”, development cooperation, digital economy, green development, transportation, inspection and quarantine, defense and law enforcement security cooperation, maritime cooperation, etc., expanding the breadth of China-Vietnam relations.


Notes:

[i] China Military Network can also be translated “Chinese military web.” The page banner includes links to the Chinese Ministry of Defense, military newspapers, and topical sites like “Strategy,” and Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry press briefings. The URL is significant because 81 represents 1 August 1927, the founding date for the Red Army.

[ii] In 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague had ruled China’s nine-dash line maritime policy to be illegitimate. China had disregarded the Court’s ruling, and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and has continued to aggressively enforce its nine-dash line maritime policy. For a U.S. government’s perspective of the Arbitration’s ruling see: “South China Sea Arbitration Ruling: What Happened and What’s Next?,” U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, 12 July 2016. https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/Issue Brief, South China Sea Arbitration Ruling What Happened and What%27s Next071216.pdf

[iii] For additional context, see: Jacob Zenn, “Vietnam Taking Diplomatic Approach to Spratly Islands Territorial Disputes,” OE Watch, 08-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/vietnam-taking-diplomatic-approach-to-spratly-islands-territorial-disputes/; For a comparison of China’s claims and recent confrontations with the Philippines in the Spratly Islands, see: Dodge Billingsley, “China and Philippines Spar Over Grounded Ship in Spratly Islands, OE Watch, 08-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/china-and-philippines-spar-over-grounded-ship-in-spratly-islands/


Image Information:

Image: Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Vietnam’s Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong (left) in Beijing.
Source: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3244526/xi-jinping-set-woo-vietnam-new-rail-and-rare-earth-projects-bid-curb-rising-us-clout
Attribution: CC BY-SA 4.0


China Celebrates New Turbofan Engine Design as Giving It a Strategic Advantage

China’s WZ-7 (“Soaring Dragon”) is a high-altitude, long-endurance drone, shown here
on display during the 2022 Zhuhai Airshow.


“With its inherent advantages of having a world-leading industrial system and strong production capacity, China already has an absolute advantage in the Sino-US arms race around UAVs, loitering munitions, and cruise missiles.”


China claims its new turbofan could give it an edge during a high-intensity war. According to the first article posted on the publicly owned Chinese Internet platform Tencent, the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed a new-generation, low-cost, easy-to-manufacture turbofan engine, which can be used in high-speed, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and missiles. A turbofan engine, first conceptualized in the 1930s is also known as a fanjet, is a modern variant of the gas turbine engine.

What makes the recent Chinese version unique is that it has a significantly reduced number of parts. According to the second article, published by leading Chinese Internet and gaming provider NetEase, there are only two stages, a fan stage and a high-pressure compressor stage. In contrast, according to the article, the U.S. Global Hawk’s turbofan engine has 13 additional stages. This less complex structure makes it 20 to 30 percent lighter and less expensive to manufacture than other turbofans. The first article argues that these simpler turbofan engines will allow China to produce them faster and increase “the operational efficiency of frontline combat forces.” For example, the People’s Liberation Army will be able to turn to private enterprise with lower technical capabilities than specialized military industrial complex to manufacture the new variant. Noting lessons learned from the Ukraine conflict, the article argues that “the side able to dominate the battlefield is often not the Ukrainian military with its advanced NATO equipment, but the Russian military, which can steadily supply less advanced equipment to the frontlines.” The article also notes that by leveraging its cost and production capacity to provide a continuous supply of units to power its weapons, China can ensure that “when a conflict does break out between [it] and the United States,” the U.S. military will not be able to “engage in a high-intensity war of attrition.”


Sources:

Jiang Fuwei, “中美无人机军备竞赛,中国抢先立于不败之地,可以让美军更清醒 (In Sino-U.S. UAV Arms Race, China’s Advanced, Invincible Position Can Make the U.S. Military Sober Up),” Tencent (a major Chinese platform company that connects users, businesses, and industries with technology and innovation, 1 November 2023. https://new.qq.com/rain/a/20231101A03WF100

“Zhu Junqiang, director of the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that they have developed a new-generation low-cost turbofan engine, and this new engine has been used in a certain type of high-speed, long-endurance UAV.

This type of turbofan engine reportedly adopts a very unusual single-shaft high-pressure direct-drive configuration, which integrates the compressor and fan that must be arranged separately in conventional twin-shaft engines, reducing the number of engine parts by more than 60 percent. This reduces the overall weight and size of this type of engine by 20 to 30 percent compared to conventional twin-shaft configuration engines with the same thrust, and it also reduces fuel consumption by 10 percent.

In other words, the emergence of this type of engine not only signifies that the performance of domestic UAVs, loitering munitions, and even cruise missiles using turbofan engines will be significantly improved, but also that the manufacturing costs of these types of equipment will be further reduced to what can be called a “formidable” level. With its inherent advantages of having a world-leading industrial system and strong production capacity, China already has an absolute advantage in the Sino-US arms race around UAVs, loitering munitions, and cruise missiles…

Once China can produce a new turbofan engine, which costs only 20 percent of that of the existing turbofan engine, even if [the engine] currently can only be used in weapons such as UAVs and cruise missiles, significantly reducing the overall cost can increase the output and equipment quantity of these weapons systems, thereby increasing the operational efficiency of frontline combat forces…

Due to the significant reduction in the number of parts, the degree of difficulty in producing this type of engine is greatly reduced…

Looking at the experience of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the side able to dominate the battlefield is often not the Ukrainian military with its advanced NATO equipment, but the Russian military, which can steadily supply less advanced equipment to the frontlines.

At this point, once the PLA can leverage these advantages in cost and production capacity, it can establish strong anti-loss capabilities and continuous supply capabilities for weapons such as UAVs and cruise missiles.

So, when a conflict does break out between China and the United States, the US military in the Western Pacific will not have the ability to engage in a high-intensity war of attrition with the PLA….


Jianduan Fangu, “我国研制成功高空低油耗涡扇发动机,战略无人机将傲视全球 (My Country Has Developed a Successful High-Altitude, Low-Fuel-Consumption Turbofan Engine and Will Dominate the World of Strategic Drones),” NetEase, (A leading Chinese Internet and gaming provider centered around premium content.), 26 October 2023. https://www.163.com/dy/article/IHVD86H205565PRU.html

The Institute of Engineering Thermophysics of the Chinese Academy of Science developed a high-performance, high-altitude, low-fuel-consumption turbofan engine, with greatly improved technology… First, the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics’ high-altitude, low-fuel-consumption turbofan engine has greatly simplified the engine structure. There is only one stage for the fan and one stage for the high-pressure compressor. The first stage uses a diagonal flow compressor, and the second stage uses a centrifugal compressor. The pressure ratio of each stage is very high, which significantly reduces the number of compressor stages. Comparing it to the Global Hawk’s engine, there are 13 fewer stages, which greatly reduces the number of parts. This reduces the complexity of the engine, which reduces fuel consumption and makes it cheaper.


Image Information:

Image: China’s WZ-7 [R1] (“Soaring Dragon”) is a high-altitude, long-endurance drone, shown here on display during the 2022 Zhuhai Airshow.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WZ-7_at_Airshow_China_Zhuhai_2022.jpg
Attribution: CCA-Share Alike 4.0 Int


Chinese-Tajikistani Security Cooperation Gaining Momentum (Matthew Stein and Peter Wood) (January 2024)

(Click image to download brief.)


Key Takeaways:

  • China and Tajikistan share a 477km border and have an estimated $1.78 billion in bilateral trade, which is significantly imbalanced in favor of China.
  • Recent years have seen a significant improvement in relations between China and Tajikistan, with China constructing a military base in 2016 near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan and a November 2022 bilateral agreement to increase security cooperation.
  • China’s security cooperation with Tajikistan does not appear to conflict or cause friction with Tajikistan’s main security cooperation partner, Russia, but nevertheless advances Chinese interests in the region at a time when Russian support is limited due to its invasion of Ukraine.

China Pursues Increased Access To Critical South American Resources

Chilean President Gabriel Boric has focused extensively on the country’s lithium reserves as a source of global influence and for Chile’s development.


“We highly value the spirit of collaboration and shared growth in the spirit of building a new world order based on peace and harmony among peoples.”


China has viewed Latin America as an important source of critical minerals, such as lithium, copper, graphite, cobalt, and nickel for well over a decade.[i] The tenth anniversary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Beijing, with representatives from nearly 130 countries including Chile’s President Gabriel Boric and Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández, provided another occasion for China to make further advances in the competition for access to Latin America’s critical minerals, specifically, lithium. While Chile has the region’s most developed lithium mining industry, Argentina is developing the sector, and Bolivia, with the largest lithium reserves, has the least developed mining sector. Chile permits only a small number of mining companies to operate in the lithium industry, one of which is China’s state-owned Tianqi Lithium. Meanwhile, China’s mining companies have made inroads in Argentina’s lithium industry. Ganfeng Lithium, for example, is a majority stakeholder in Argentina’s Caucharí-Olaroz operation, which will soon be one of the world’s top lithium production mines.

As per the first excerpted article from the second-largest daily newspaper in Chile, La Tercera, while in Beijing, President Boric reiterated Chile’s commitment to China’s BRI and thanked President Xi Jinping for the “spirit of collaboration and shared growth.” Boric also pronounced Chile’s support for a multipolar world order and thanked China for its focus on development. Meanwhile, according to the second excerpted article from Spain’s largest daily, El País, Boric announced a multimillion-dollar investment by the Chinese company Tingaran in battery production in Chile. Boric’s trip to Beijing for the tenth anniversary of the BRI is significant because it demonstrates China’s steadfast focus on lithium as a key driver for future economic growth and global economic governance through reusable battery technology. Further, China’s investment in Chilean battery production represents the first investment in Chile’s nascent battery production potential. Moving up the lithium value chain is a stated goal of the country’s National Lithium Strategy released earlier in Boric’s administration. China has worked hard to position itself as Chile’s long-term economic partner of choice and showing that it is interested in building value chains beyond mineral extraction in the country will be key to that endeavor.



Sources:

“Boric sostiene bilateral con Xi Jinping: ‘Valoramos mucho el espíritu de colaboración y crecimiento compartido’ (Boric maintains bilateral with Xi Jinping: ‘We highly value the spirit of collaboration and shared growth’),” La Tercera (second largest daily newspaper in Chile), 16 October 2023. https://www.latercera.com/politica/noticia/boric-sostiene-bilateral-con-xi-jinping-valoramos-mucho-el-espiritu-de-colaboracion-y-crecimiento-compartido/FFSYQHIWVRDBLO4EIOOLE6ECVA/

While visiting with Xi Jinping, Boric announced: ‘We maintain and are going to defend multilateral spaces and the principle of ‘one China,’ a premise that has been observed in an unrestricted manner by our country throughout the more than 50 years of bilateral relations. Furthermore, we highly value the spirit of collaboration and shared growth in the spirit of building a new world order based on peace and harmony among peoples.’ For his part, the Chinese president maintained that ‘relations between Chile and China are one of the best in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Chile is the pioneer of the Belt and Road in that region. China pays a lot of attention to relations with Chile.’


“Boric anuncia una millonaria tilized de una empresa china para fabricar baterías de litio en Chile (Boric announces a million-dollar investment by a Chinese company to manufacture lithium batteries in Chile),” El País (Spain’s largest daily with some of the best coverage in Latin America), 16 October 2023. https://elpais.com/chile/2023-10-16/boric-anuncia-una-millonaria-inversion-de-una-empresa-china-para-fabricar-baterias-de-litio-en-chile.html The president of Chile…announced an investment of more than 250 million dollars by the Chinese group Tingaran, specialized in lithium, that will create hundreds of jobs…the group is engaged in the research and development, production and sales of lithium-ion battery cells applied to power systems of electric vehicles, including electric mining trucks, and other equipment. According to Boric, the most important thing is that ‘we are not going to limit ourselves only to extraction but we are going to create value chains and also transfer knowledge because one of the commitments that the company has made is to generate exchange programs so that Chilean professionals can travel to China and also train in the development of this industry. So we are going to be advancing the National Lithium Strategy with investments like these with which we are very happy.’


Notes:

[i] For more information on China’s advance in important mining spaces such as the lithium industry, see: Ryan C. Berg and T. Andrew Sady-Kennedy, “South America’s Lithium Triangle: Opportunities for the Biden Administration,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 17 August 2021. https://www.csis.org/analysis/south-americas-lithium-triangle-opportunities-biden-administration


Image Information:

Image: Chilean President Gabriel Boric has focused extensively on the country’s lithium reserves as a source of global influence and for Chile’s development.
Source : https ://www.flickr.com/photos/consejocultura/52377478252
Attribution: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED