India Responds to Chinese and Pakistani Naval Activities in Sri Lanka

India Navy continuity drill.

India Navy continuity drill.

“India’s move to help Sri Lanka enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities appears to be a subtle move by it to reassert its role as a net security provider for the Indian Ocean…”

The independent Indian daily newspaper Deccan Herald recently published an article, the first excerpted below, regarding India’s response to Chinese and Pakistani naval operations at Sri Lankan ports. According to the article, India is concerned that it risks losing its preeminent position as the primary security provider for Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean region at large. The article also emphasizes the importance of the timing of India’s deal to supply Sri Lanka with Dornier 228 maritime aircraft as a means of reasserting its geopolitical standing in the region. The provision of the Dornier 228 to Sri Lanka occurred shortly after Sri Lanka granted permission to the Strategic Support Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which tracks satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles, to visit Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port. In addition, Sri Lanka allowed the Pakistani Navy frigate PNS Taimur to refuel at Colombo Port when returning home from naval exercises in Cambodia and Malaysia. In a recent statement published by the Chinese Communist Party People’s Daily, as shown in the second article, a China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson noted that Chinese support to port infrastructure in Sri Lanka and other developing nations is simply a sign of Chinese cooperation between nations, and therefore India’s concerns are unwarranted. In the third excerpted article, from the Indian publication The Hindu, the author argues that the Dornier 228 will revamp Sri Lanka’s capabilities to contribute more to the security of the Indian Ocean region, which, in turn, supports India’s regional interests. At the same time, the new capabilities will reaffirm Sri Lanka’s role as a member of the Colombo Security Conclave, whose other three members are India, the Maldives and Mauritius. The article nevertheless acknowledged that India’s increased maritime security interest in Sri Lanka is being driven by its apprehension over Sri Lanka’s cooperation with China in maritime naval affairs.


“Sri Lanka allows Pakistani warship, Chinese recon vessel to dock in its ports, to get maritime patrol aircraft from India,” (independent daily newspaper targeting youth readership), 14 August 2022.

Even as China’s recon ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ is back on course towards the Hambantota Port of Sri Lanka, India is set to gift the island nation a Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft soon, subtly reasserting its role as the net security provider to the island…. New Delhi will replace the used aircraft with a newly-built one two years later and will then discuss with Colombo the modalities for handing over another aircraft to the Sri Lankan Navy or the Coast Guard.

India’s move to help Sri Lanka enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities appears to be a subtle move by it to reassert its role as a net security provider for the Indian Ocean, notwithstanding increasing forays by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Beijing had on August 8 dismissed New Delhi’s security concerns as “senseless” and tacitly asked it to desist from “disturbing normal exchanges and cooperation” between China and Sri Lanka…. India also pointed out that it was its sovereign right to express its security concerns over the arrival of China’s ship with military capabilities in Sri Lanka.

India’s move to help Sri Lanka enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities appears to be a subtle move by it to reassert its role as a net security provider for the Indian Ocean, notwithstanding increasing forays by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy and Pakistani Navy in the region.

“毛宁:中国将为发展中国家做更多实事、好事 (Mao Ning: China will do more practical and good deeds for developing countries),” (largest Chinese newspaper owned by the Chinese Communist Party), 8 October 2022.

The infrastructure of these countries includes ports, bridges, and power stations, in addition to mosques, parliament buildings, stadiums, and libraries. They are all beautiful business items made in China, and they are also golden images of China’s cooperation with developing countries.

“India hands over Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to Sri Lanka Navy,” (widely circulated Indian daily newspaper), 15 August 2022.

Sri Lanka Air Force announced that the Indian Air force was gifting it a Dornier 228 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, while noting another aircraft would be donated within two years…. Sri Lanka is a member of the ‘Colombo Security Conclave’ that began as a trilateral initiate involving India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and later included Mauritius, for maritime cooperation in the region.

Image Information:

Image: India Navy continuity drill
Attribution: www.indiannavy.nic, CC BY 2.0

Taiwan Set To Cooperate with Turkey on Cost-Effective Drone Technology

Albatross 9733 Display at Gangshan Air Force Base.

Albatross 9733 Display at Gangshan Air Force Base.

“Ukraine has demonstrated [drones’] effectiveness in asymmetric warfare…  It is a lesson that has not been lost on Taiwan.”

Appearing to take note of Ukraine’s success in using Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2 drones, Taiwan is considering the value of small and cost-effective drones to protect its own territory in the face of a Chinese attack.[i] The accompanying passages report on Taiwanese drone producers’ efforts to develop indigenous, cost-effective drones, and a recent agreement between Taiwanese and Turkish drone researchers to cooperate and exchange information on doing so. In contrast to numerous countries that are purchasing the Bayraktar TB-2 drones from Turkey, Taiwan wants to develop indigenous drones of its own, based on the lessons learned from the use of TB-2s in different conflicts.[ii] Perhaps the most notable lesson for Taiwan from the war in Ukraine is the ability to achieve overmatch by deploying large numbers of small, cost-effective drones.[iii]

As the first accompanying article from Taiwan’s national news agency Focus Taiwan reports, Taiwan’s domestic drone producers are working on several small and cheap drones, including the Albatross II, which is effectively a Taiwanese TB-2 with a longer range of 250 km. There is also the Flyingfish drone, which reportedly costs less than $3,000, making it cost effective to deploy in large numbers in urban or naval warfare. The passage quotes the drone’s developer as saying, “When the enemy approaches [Taiwan’s] coastal waters, the Flyingfish drones will prove to be a formidable weapon for asymmetric combat, because they are so easy to use and can be used in great numbers.”

The second excerpted article, from Turkey’s oldest secular newspaper, Cumhuriyet, discusses a recent agreement between Turkish and Taiwanese institutions that conduct research and development on drone technology. It reports that Gebze Technical University, which conducts research on drone technology, and Turkey’s Fly BVLOS Technology, which conducts drone pilot trainings and produces world-class drones, participated in the “Taiwan-Turkey UAV Technology Forum” held in Chiayi, Taiwan in August. Chiayi is home to Taiwan’s new, state-run drone research and development center. The two Turkish institutions signed an agreement with Taiwan Formosa University, which conducts academic research in drone technology, to encourage and strengthen academic-technical exchange and cooperation in the field of UAV technology. 


Sean Lin, “Asymmetrical warfare focus has Taiwan drone companies upping the ante,” Focus Taiwan (Taiwan’s national news agency), 10 September 2022.

Ukraine has demonstrated [drones’] effectiveness in asymmetric warfare as it blunts the advances of more numerous Russian forces, deploying Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones and Switchblade suicide drones donated by the U.S. to attack targets and gain intelligence. It is a lesson that has not been lost on Taiwan, itself threatened by a larger neighbor and committed to a defense strategy centered on asymmetrical warfare.

At the inauguration of a state-run drone research and development (R&D) center in Chiayi County last month, President Tsai Ing-wen pledged to support drone research to strengthen the country’s asymmetric combat capabilities. But it is domestic drone producers, eager to upgrade the first-generation of domestically made drones Taiwan currently possesses, that could offer the quickest shot in the arm to Taiwan’s defenses.

JC Tech President Robert Cheng said his company now has built and tested prototypes of a suicide drone called the Flyingfish… Costing less than US$3,000, the Flyingfish 200 has a much lower price point than cruise missiles or other combat drones, making it cost effective to deploy in large numbers in urban or naval warfare, he said… “When the enemy approaches [Taiwan’s] coastal waters, the Flyingfish drones will prove to be a formidable weapon for asymmetric combat, because they are so easy to use and can be used in great numbers,” Cheng said.

Meanwhile, aviation company GEOSAT, which began developing drones in 2008, has been collaborating with the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) — Taiwan’s state-run weapons developer and manufacturer — on the Albatross II drone… The GEOSAT CEO believed that the Albatross II, which is compatible with locally developed Sky Sword air-to-air missiles and 2.75-inch rockets, could outperform the Bayraktar TB2 drones, which gained fame for sinking the Russian cruiser Moskva in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Su Tzu-yun, an analyst at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said… suicide drones… can be used to great effect when targeting smaller PLA ships during amphibious warfare, and military drones can be used in place of radar stations should the latter be destroyed to keep command centers informed of what is happening on the front lines of combat… Su agreed with Cheng on the power and importance of numbers… The combination of different drones will “allow Taiwan to amass a sizable arsenal of precision strike munitions to counter the PLA’s numerical advantage, greatly leveraging the efficacy of Taiwan’s armed forces in defending the nation,” Su said.

“Türkiye ile Tayvan arasında İHA iş birliği (Drone Cooperation between Turkey and Taiwan),” Cumhuriyet (the oldest secular Turkish daily newspaper), 11 August 2022.

Gebze Technical University, which conducts research on drone technology and Fly BVLOS Technology [which conducts UAV pilot trainings and produces world-class UAVs]… participated in the “Taiwan-Turkey UAV Technology Forum” held in Chiayi, Taiwan, [and] signed an agreement with Taiwan Formosa University to encourage and strengthen academic-technical exchange and cooperation in the field of UAV technology.  With the agreement, Fly BVLOS Technology became a partner of UAV Technology Center, headquartered in Taiwan and working in the field of UAV technology.  [The sides] will carry out R&D activities together… especially for products such as motors, chips and batteries. In addition, all stakeholders will share their expertise and experience in the field of UAV technologies.  While Gabze Technical University and Fly BVLOS transfer their experience in UAV production to Taiwan, they will also benefit from the work of Taiwan Formasa University, an important technology manufacturer, and its partner UAV Technology Center.

Fly BVLOS Founder Kamil Demirkapu said: “Turkey… has come to an important place in the world with the breakthroughs it has made in various fields from R&D to production. As everyone knows very well, some of the best UAVs in the world are produced by Turkish engineers. Gabze Technical University, together with the logistics and aviation sectors of the future, will change the entire commercial life. … With this agreement, the experience of Taiwan Formosa University, which has carried out valuable academic studies in the field of UAV technology, will also join these two very strong partners from Turkey. With this cooperation, we aim to contribute both to our country’s R&D and production activities in the field of UAVs and to make Turkey’s expertise and experience more visible in the international community by signing important research and innovations in the sector.”


[i] See: Karen Kaya, “Turkish-Made Bayraktar TB2 Drones Play Important Role in Ukraine,” OE Watch, Issue 6, 2022.

[ii] See: Karen Kaya, “Turkey as a Drone Superpower: A Case Study of a Mid-Size Power Driving the Operational Environment,” Foreign Military Studies Office, September 2022.

[iii] See: “Turkey and the TB-2: A Rising Drone Superpower with Karen Kaya,” Army Mad Scientist Convergence Podcast, September 2022.

Image Information:

Image: Albatross 9733 Display at Gangshan Air Force Base
Attribution: Public Domain

Taiwan Testing Satellite Program To Overcome Communications Vulnerabilities

“Taiwan’s network vulnerabilities are very real.”

Over the next two years, Taiwan plans to test a satellite program to ensure its command systems continue to operate should the country lose connectivity through its conventional links. As shown in the first article, according to the Singapore-based Straits Times, in September Taiwan Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang announced the launch of a telecommunication network resilience plan. The article explains that international internet traffic currently relies heavily on fiber optic cables lining the ocean floor. There are 15 submarine data cables connecting Taiwan with the rest of the world. Taiwan would be cut off from the Internet should these cables be cut. According to the article, experts warn that Taiwan’s network vulnerabilities are very real.

As demonstrated in the second article from Chinese state-owned multi-language news source Xinhua, in President Xi Jinping’s speech kicking off the 20th National Congress in mid-October, Xi asserted that the Taiwan question remains an important matter for the China. He asserted that while China would continue to strive for peaceful reunification, it will not rule out the use of force. Such a message, it appears, could put even more urgency in Taiwan’s plans to improve its communications vulnerabilities.


Yip Wai Yee, “Taiwan Plans for Ukraine-Style Back-Up Satellite Internet Network Amid Risk of War,” The Straits Times (Singapore-based daily),22 September 2022.

Over the next two years, (Taiwan) is set to trial a N[ew] T[aiwan]$550 million (US$24.67 million) satellite programme that aims to keep Taiwan’s command systems running if conventional connections get cut, Ms. Tang (Taiwan’s minister of Digital Affairs) said. Several Taiwan companies are now in discussions with international satellite service providers, she added, without providing details.

Currently, international Internet traffic is mostly carried through fibre-optic cables lining the ocean floor. Taiwan is connected to the world via 15 submarine data cables. “The Internet used in Taiwan relies heavily on undersea cables, so if (attackers) cut off all the cables, they would cut off all of the Internet there,” Dr Lennon Chang, a cyber-security researcher at Monash University, told The Straits Times. “It makes sense for the government to have alternative forms of communication ready for emergency situations,” he added.

Already, some analysts say that concerns over Taiwan’s network vulnerabilities are very real.

“(CPC Congress) CPC to Unswervingly Advance Cause of National Reunification: Xi,” Xinhua (Chinese state-owned multi-language news source), 16 October 2022.

Xi Jinping said… the Communist Party of China (CPC) will implement its overall policy for resolving the Taiwan question in the new era, and unswervingly advance the cause of national reunification. “Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese, a matter that must be resolved by the Chinese,” said Xi at the opening session of the 20th CPC National Congress.

“We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary…

Xi said that the wheels of history are rolling on toward China’s reunification…

Xi Jinping Sets Milestones for Next Five Years of Chinese Military Modernization

20th CCP Central Military Commission (2022-2027).

20th CCP Central Military Commission (2022-2027).

“We will establish a strong system of strategic deterrence, increase the proportion of new-domain forces with new combat capabilities, speed up the development of unmanned, intelligent combat capabilities, and promote coordinated development and application of the network information system.”Xi Jinping

Every five years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) holds a party congress, an event that brings together nearly 2,300 delegates drawn from the CCP’s over 96 million members. The most recent of these was held in mid-October 2022. These congresses are important for several reasons.

First, key positions are filled as politicians age out or are replaced. This includes the membership of the Politburo Standing Committee, which represents the apex of power in China, and the Central Military Commission, China’s highest military decision-making body. Some insights regarding Xi’s plans for the Chinese armed forces can already be drawn from the new composition of the Commission, which saw three generals replaced (Xu Qiliang, Wei Fenghe and Li Zuocheng). The CMC’s new membership still includes at least two combat veterans of the Sino-Vietnamese War (1979-1991), including Vice-Chair General Zhang Youxia and General Liu Zhenli.[i] The former has also been on the CMC since the previous Congress and has long experience in China’s organizations for military equipment development and modernization (the Equipment Development Department and its predecessor, the General Armaments Department). Other figures, such as General Li Shangfu, have extensive experience in units dedicated to space operations, highlighting the strong focus of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on the domain. Two others, Admiral Miao Hua and Zhang Shengmin, are political officers and play important roles in maintaining the Party’s control over the military.

A second important part of the Congress is a “work report” delivered by the Party General Secretary (Xi Jinping) at the beginning of the Congress. The most recent report, as described by state-run Xinhua News Agency summarizes the Party’s efforts over the past five years and sets out guideposts for the next five years. The language of the most recent report is always a staple of subsequent official pronouncements and state media discussions, and language including that in the excerpted portions below are likely to feature prominently in official media.

One additional note is that Chinese military modernization is frequently linked to important dates, such as the centenary of the founding of the CCP (which passed in 2021), centenary of the founding of the PLA in 2027, and of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, by which time China wishes to “fully transform the people’s armed forces into world-class forces.” China likely missed some of its targets for the 2021 milestone, such as “achieve completion of efforts of mechanization… with significantly enhanced informationization and greatly improved strategic capabilities.” Perhaps, as a result, there is a palpable urgency in the language of the report in Xi’s demands to continue radical improvements to the PLA.

In terms of military modernization, three major themes[ii] can be seen in the excerpted text: first, faster development and iteration of high-tech weaponry and ‘new-domain forces’ and unmanned systems; second, enhanced combat preparedness—particularly through realistic, joint, and OPFOR training; and third, a systemic approach to bringing the entirety of China’s capabilities to bear. The first acknowledges that China is in a race with its competitors to build strategic capabilities, which include not just nuclear weapons, but also critical technologies and the ability to operate in new or emerging domains. The second, an emphasis on realistic and joint training, is perhaps one of the most difficult modernization efforts despite the PLA making major headway in recent years. The last of these comes in a rather innocuous-sounding phrase: “We will consolidate and enhance integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities.” This consolidation of national strategies represents the culmination of China’s military-civil fusion strategy, which attempts to achieve efficiencies through resource sharing between civilian and military sectors and, more broadly, to coordinate China’s economic developmental and military modernization efforts so that they are self-reinforcing.

Looking ahead, China is facing strong domestic economic and demographic headwinds—many of which are the true focus of this recently released work report. However, despite these challenges, the language used here demonstrates the continued emphasis on the speedy transformation of the PLA, seen since Xi first took the reins of the CCP in 2012 at the 18th Party Congress. 


Xi Jinping [习近平], “高举中国特色社会主义伟大旗帜为全面建设社会主义现代化国家而团结奋斗一一在中国共产党第二十次全国代表大会上的报告 (Hold High the Great Banner of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive in Unity to Build a Modern Socialist Country in All Respects – Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China),” Xinhua News Agency, 16 October 2022.

Achieving the goals for the centenary of the People’s Liberation Army in 2027 and more quickly elevating our people’s armed forces to world-class standards are strategic tasks for building a modern socialist country in all respects. To this end, we must apply the thinking on strengthening the military for the new era, implement the military strategy for the new era, and maintain the Party’s absolute leadership over the people’s armed forces…

We will simultaneously carry out operations, boost combat preparedness, and enhance our military capabilities. We will continue integrated development of the military through mechanization, informatization, and the application of smart technologies and work faster to modernize military theory, organizational forms, personnel, and weaponry and equipment. We will enhance the military’s strategic capabilities for defending China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests and see that the people’s armed forces[i] effectively fulfill their missions and tasks in the new era…

We will intensify troop training and enhance combat preparedness across the board to see that our people’s armed forces can fight and win. We will study and gain a good grasp of the characteristics of informatized and intelligent warfare and the laws that govern it, provide new military strategic guidance, and develop strategies and tactics for People’s War.[ii]

We will establish a strong system of strategic deterrence, increase the proportion of new-domain forces with new combat capabilities, speed up the development of unmanned, intelligent combat capabilities, and promote coordinated development and application of the network information system.

We will improve the command system for joint operations and enhance our systems and capacity for reconnaissance and early warning, joint strikes, battlefield support, and integrated logistics support.

We will intensify military training under combat conditions, laying emphasis on joint training, force-on-force training, and high-tech training…We will speed up the development of modern logistics, implement major projects to develop defense-related science and technology, weaponry, and equipment, and move faster to translate scientific and technological advances into combat capabilities…

We will consolidate and enhance integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities. We will better coordinate strategies and plans, align policies and systems, and share resources and production factors between the military and civilian sectors. We will improve the system and layout of science, technology, and industries related to national defense and step-up capacity building in these areas.


[i] Liu Zhenli replaced Li Zuocheng, who was awarded for his actions in combat during that war. Based on public descriptions of his career Co-Vice Chair He Weidong also has a long history in operational PLA units, but it is unclear if he served during the conflict.

[ii] Not included in the excerpts below but which are repeatedly highlighted in the full text are mentions of political work—which involves not only loyalty to the CCP but also morale. National pride is a major point of emphasis in the speech. Notably, Xi mentions that there are additional efforts being made to improve the “institutions and mechanisms” of the Chairman’s responsibility system, which refers to Xi’s personal control over Chinese military affairs.

[i] While PLA is often used generally to refer to the Chinese military, according to Chinese law, the Chinese Armed Forces are, “composed of the active and reserve forces of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force and the Militia.”

[ii] Chinese official publications define “People’s War” as referring to confronting foreign aggression or safeguarding national unity by arming and relying on the people (i.e., a whole of nation approach).

Image Information:

Image: 20th CCP Central Military Commission (2022-2027).
Source: Peter Wood
Attribution: Peter Wood

Provincial Exercises Highlight China’s Whole-of-Government Preparations for Conflict

Emblem of the Chinese People’s Civil Air Defense.

Emblem of the Chinese People’s Civil Air Defense.

“The boundaries between front and rear in modern warfare are blurred, and ground targets are vulnerable to air strikes. We must pay attention to protection and rescue work,”

As described in the excerpted article from official government source China National Defense News, a recent exercise in Shandong Province sheds light on Chinese efforts to ensure that all parts of the government can support combat operations in the event of conflict. Chinese municipalities prepare not only for natural disasters such as floods, typhoons, and earthquakes, but also for large-scale military conflict. To this end, many cities host large, and often intra-regional or inter-city emergency exercises.[i] China has civil air defense offices in most cities, which are intended to act as direct support to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In the exercise described here, associated units practiced providing emergency rescue services and putting out fires from enemy air raids. With support from an expert repair team, the training also tested rapid road repair, quickly restoring a road’s ability to handle heavy wheeled and tracked vehicles.

The exercise was primarily focused on three phases: preparations made before air attacks, including using camouflage and moving critical facilities into underground spaces; how to respond during an air raid, such as using obscurants and aerial barriers (balloons or wires to interfere with low-flying aircraft); and post-strike operations, which involves repairs and emergency response. The exercise also highlighted how newer technologies, such as quadcopters, are being adapted in practical ways to support operations. Accompanying images in the article showed quadcopter drones being used to deliver medical supplies. The report indicated that these drones could carry 10kg (22 pounds) over 10km (6.2 miles). UAVs are regarded as an optimal delivery system as they would not be limited by traffic in a dense urban environment during a crisis.

The article also highlights the fact that cities are also making agreements with local companies to ensure that the latter’s resources can be quickly brought into support in a crisis, following the PLA’s lead in working with China’s major technological and logistic companies under the rubric of the “Military-Civil Fusion Strategy.”[ii] Taken collectively, these efforts likely mean that China will be able to mobilize effectively if a crisis were to strike, and that many aspects of Chinese society may show resiliency during a conflict.


Wang Dongliang [王栋梁] and Chen Maoxin [陈毛欣], “既支援前线,又防护后方——“鲁中支援-2022”国民经济动员保障演练剪影 (Not only supporting the front line but also protecting the rear – ‘Luzhong Support-2022’ outline of a national economic mobilization support exercise),” China National Defense News (official Chinese government publication on defense matters), 14 October 2022.

Recently, the ‘Central-Shandong Support-2022’ National Economic Mobilization Support Exercise was held in Zibo City, in Shandong Province.[i] Breaking with previous exercises, this not only involved support to front-line units but also added new content involving support to areas behind the battle line.

In recent years the city has worked with large-scale enterprises to establish a number of national economic mobilization centers. Combined with statistical analysis of (the cities’ base potential to support) national defense mobilization, it is necessary to determine the potential of each mobilization center, how many are necessary, how many personnel are required, and how to operate in a given situation, laying a solid foundation for rapid and precise mobilization.

“The boundaries between front and rear in modern warfare are blurred, and ground targets are vulnerable to air strikes. We must pay attention to protection and rescue work,” explained Fang Shijun [房施军], director of the Military District’s Combat Readiness Construction Division.


[i] See: Peter Wood, “Civil Air Defense Organizations in South China Sign Cooperative Agreement” OE Watch, February 2020.; Peter Wood, “Civil Air Defense Exercises Held in Western China” OE Watch, August 2019.

[ii] For more on how the PLA is supported by Chinese companies, see: Peter Wood, “Military-Civil Fusion Cooperation in China Grows in the Field of Logistics,” OEW, February 2019.

Notes Sources:

[i] The name for this exercise, “Luzhong” [鲁中] is derived from 鲁, the shorthand for “Shandong province,” and 中, meaning “central.” Zibo, the city where the exercise was held, is in north-central Shandong, a province on China’s east coast.

Image Information:

Image: Emblem of the Chinese People’s Civil Air Defense
Source: Chinese Government
Attribution: Public Domain

India Works To Maintain Sri Lankan Foothold Amid Growing China Presence

New Delhi’s strategic and geographical compulsions barely allow it to sit back and watch Sri Lanka descend into chaos—a privilege that Beijing enjoys.

India is concerned that the Chinese involvement at the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka will turn into a long-term Chinese military presence. The docking in August of China’s Yuan Wang-5, a research ship that can track satellites and ballistic missiles, raised additional questions in India about Chinese involvement at the Hambantota Port at a time when the Indian government has been dealing with the fallout of unrest in Sri Lanka.  The accompanying excerpted article from the Indian independent think-tank Observer Research Foundation provides an Indian perspective on the visit of the Chinese ship and what the Indian government might do with Sri Lanka going forward. The article reports that the visit took place after negotiations with the new government in Sri Lanka and that despite Indian efforts to prevent the visit, the Chinese government ultimately received permission to dock. The article compares Chinese and Indian assistance to Sri Lanka following weeks of civil unrest and the change in government there in July 2022, noting that India provided assistance with fewer conditions. In addition, Sri Lanka “reciprocated by cancelling Chinese projects in the Jaffna peninsula and consenting to India’s investments” in various endeavors, including a maritime rescue coordination center at the Hambantota Port. Lastly, the author states that “unlike China, India has no option but to assist Sri Lanka” and that the recent assistance from India “was not aimed to root out Chinese influence; it was out of compulsion and to reverse its lost influence.” As China is likely to continue using the Hambantota Port in various capacities, the Indian government appears to be maintaining a foothold for now.


Aditya Gowdara Shivamurthy, “Should India continue its assistance to Sri Lanka as China makes its way to Hambantota?,” Observer Research Foundation (independent think tank in India), 23 August 2022.

On 16 August, Yuan Wang-5—a Chinese naval vessel—finally docked in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port. Operated by the People’s Liberation Army’s Strategic Support Force, this “research vessel” can monitor/gather satellite and technical intelligence and also track the trajectories of ballistic missiles. This episode has raised several questions about India’s assistance to crisis-hit Sri Lanka, Colombo’s lack of gratitude for India, and China’s relevance in the region…

…The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry agreed to host the Chinese vessel on 12 July when its President had already fled. Initially, the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry rejected these claims in public. However, in late July, it was confirmed that the vessel would be docking in Hambantota from 11-17 August for “replenishment” purposes and that there was nothing unusual about it. However, considering the ship’s potential to track and survey Indian defence and nuclear instalments in its Southern states, New Delhi expressed its concerns.

…On 4 August, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister met his Indian and Chinese counterparts in Cambodia and received verbal guarantees of further assistance from both. It is quite likely that China demanded guarantees to dock Yuan Wang-5 in these meetings, and India asked to deter the same. Soon after, the Sri Lankan government requested China to defer the vessel docking until further considerations…The Chinese embassy also sought an urgent meeting with the Sri Lankan authorities and allegedly held a closed-door meeting with the President. Following these meetings, China received its new dates of docking from 16-22 August…

…Beijing’s response to the Sri Lankan crisis has been passive. It has withheld Colombo’s requests for financial assistance, worth US$ 4 billion, and loan restructuring, hoping to leverage them to further its interests.

China has used Colombo’s compulsion to deliver a strong message to India and the world—regardless of its assistance, Beijing still holds significant leverage in Sri Lanka and could challenge India in its backyard. This is something that China could be more determined to show to the world as its tensions with Taiwan continue to escalate…

Contradictory to the Chinese approach, New Delhi’s response is based on Sri Lanka’s humanitarian needs and its self-interests. It has assisted Sri Lanka with US$ 3.8 billion, expecting the island nation’s government to respect its interests and sensitivities. India’s assistance has taken in the form of currency swaps, grants, credit lines, humanitarian supplies, and infrastructure development…

In return, Sri Lanka has reciprocated by cancelling Chinese projects in the Jaffna peninsula and consenting to India’s investments in the energy sector, Free-Floating Dock Facility, Dornier aircraft, and a Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC). One of the sub-units of this MRCC will also be installed in the China-operated Hambantota port.

…unlike China, India has no option but to assist Sri Lanka. New Delhi’s strategic and geographical compulsions barely allow it to sit back and watch Sri Lanka descend into chaos—a privilege that Beijing enjoys. 

…India’s assistance was not aimed to root out Chinese influence; it was out of compulsion and to reverse its lost influence. It is no secret that China’s investments and loans still largely outweigh New Delhi’s financial assistance. In fact, even India knows that the IMF bailout solution it supports would require Sri Lanka to talk to China and restructure its loans.In the end, India should continue with its diplomatic engagement and assistance. India’s response to the crisis is not only strategic and status-oriented, but also symbolic since its Indo-Pacific partners expect it to play a significant role in the region. Any misadventure of denying or differing assistance to Sri Lanka also risks attracting more Chinese influence and undoing the positive gains of the last two years…

Chinese Tracking Ship Raises Controversy in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port

Chinese ship “Yuan Wang 2”.

Chinese ship “Yuan Wang 2”.

Sri Lanka has almost no real choice except to say ‘yes’ if a Chinese ship of whatever nefarious credentials wants to dock in Hambantota and if that is the wish of the Chinese state.

When the Yuan Wang 5, a Chinese third-generation tracking ship, entered the Port of Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka in September 2022, its presence intensified concern about Chinese intentions in the region. Indeed, it sparked what the Hong Kong-based, English-language newspaper South China Morning Post called a “diplomatic scuffle” with India that may be a microcosm of a broader power struggle in the Bay of Bengal. While Chinese media described the vessel as a “scientific research vessel” and merely part of “very normal exchanges between the two countries that enjoy a longstanding friendship,” Indian media was not convinced. According to the Indian English-language news magazine India Today, there are numerous reasons India should be concerned about the Yuan Wang 5’s port visit. One cause of the concern, according to the newspaper, is that China uses the vessel to track rocket and spacecraft launches for the country’s space program and moon exploration missions. Second, the Yuan Wang 5’s state-of-the-art technology also makes it effective at keeping tabs on many of India’s strategic facilities, such as key ports, military bases, nuclear bases, and space launch center.

For its part, Sri Lanka is caught in the middle of the row between the countries. While Sri Lanka has strong bilateral relations with India, its ties to China have grown over recent years.  As prominent north Indian daily The Tribune pointed out, China has helped to fund many projects in Sri Lanka, including the Hambantota harbor.  As a result, China has “complete control of the Hambantota harbor as Lanka leased it to China Merchant Ports Holdings Company Limited for 99 years in 2017.”


Ling Xin, “Why Did Chinese Ship Yuan Wang 5 Spark a Diplomatic Scuffle?” South Chinese Morning Post (Hong Kong Chinese daily, once considered independent but now suspect of promoting China soft power abroad), 20 August 2022.

The vessel tracks rocket and spacecraft launches for China’s manned space programme and moon exploration missions. But some have called it a “spy ship”, which has led to the current controversy.

Yuan Wang 5 is a large tracking ship China uses to monitor and control rockets, satellites and test missiles while they are over the ocean and beyond the range of ground stations.

Built in 2007, Yuan Wang 5 has been regularly deployed by its operator – China Satellite Maritime Tracking and Control Department – to the Centra Pacific and the Indian Ocean to support satellite launches… Yuan Wang 5 has been heavily involved in China’s manned space programme, moon and Mars exploration as well as the construction of the Beidou navigation satellite system.

“China’s Research Vessel Yuan Wang 5 Docks at Sri Lankan Port, Dispels India’s Alienation of Ties,” Global Times (Daily tabloid newspaper falling under Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily), 16 August 2022.

“The scientific research vessel successfully and smoothly docked at Hambantota Port. This is very normal exchanges between the two countries that enjoy a longstanding friendship,” said Ambassador Qi in an interview after the welcoming ceremony…

Wang (Wenbin) stressed that Yuan Wang 5’s scientific research activities are in accordance with international law and common practice and should not be interfered with by third parties.

“Why Docking of Chinese Spy Vessel Yuan Wang 5 at Sri Lanka Port is Dangerous for India,” India Today (Weekly Indian English-language news magazine), 16 August 2022.

Here are the reasons why India is concerned about the presence of the Chinese vessel near its southern tip.

– The vessel has state-of-the-art technology, making it one of the newest generations of tracking ships in the Chinese Navy. It can be used for transoceanic aerospace observation using satellite pictures.

– Known for its excellent record in space and satellite tracking, it has been used for many months now. It can track the launch of satellites, rocket launchers, and also intercontinental ballistic missiles.

– It can also send information to tracking stations in Beijing or other parts of China.

– It has the capability and the range to keep tabs on strategic military establishments, including nuclear ones, in the peninsular region.

– Using this vessel, China can collect information about India’s military bases in the peninsula, the navy, and nuclear submarine bases in South India, including Kalpakkam and Kudankulam.

– Ports in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra on China’s snooping radar will also be within the radar of this Chinese vessel.

– Isro’s launch centre in Chandipur can also be snooped upon.

Sasanka Perera, “Yuan Wang Has Maritime Lessons for India,” The Tribune (prominent north Indian daily with a focus that includes defense issues), 5 September 2022. However, in today’s circumstances, Sri Lankan reality is not the ideal referred to above. Sri Lanka is seriously in debt to China monetarily due to numerous white elephant projects undertaken with Chinese loans, including the Hambantota harbour itself, along with other loans with no significant returns. On the other hand, the Chinese have complete control of the Hambantota harbour as Lanka leased it to China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited for 99 years in 2017. In this overall context, Sri Lanka has almost no real choice except to say ‘yes’ if a Chinese ship of whatever nefarious credentials wants to dock in Hambantota and if that is the wish of the Chinese state. That is exactly what happened with Yuan Wang 5.

Image Information:

Image: Chinese ship “Yuan Wang 2”
Source: YuanWang2c – Yuan Wang-class tracking ship – Wikipedia
Attribution: Gadfium, Public Domain

PLA Education Reforms: Problems Remain After More Than 20 Years

The PLA’s Leading Military University: National Defense University.

The PLA’s Leading Military University: National Defense University.

At present, problems such as imprecise connection between college education and army training still exist to varying degrees.

The question of professional military education (PME) effectiveness is on the table in China given the questionable efficacy of the last round of reforms to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) PME programs. It has been 20 years since the PLA’s Central Military Commission issued its 20-year Strategic Project of Military Talent with the objective of building up a contingent of command officers capable of planning and directing informationized wars [1]. Around the same time, now-President Xi Jinping’s “Triad New Military Personnel Education System of Systems,” which focuses on developing joint talent as well as integrating military universities with unit training, emerged [2]. The Triad reforms attempted to update courses and recruit talented faculty with projects like the “Famous Teachers” program to establish a stable faculty system that critiques reform efforts; active-duty officers are brought in to teach courses and instructors are sent to field training..

As the accompanying official PLA newspaper PLA Daily articulates, problems with China’s PME systems remain. The article describes some PLA PME universities and colleges as failing to train personnel for war and the battlefield despite continuing efforts to couple educational institutions with military personnel to better link the classroom to the battlefield.  The article highlights the need to improve courses and describes major programs in China’s military universities to cultivate command talent and generate new combat capabilities.  Faculties require improvement, and the author suggests the elimination of outdated courses and course material. The article also cites the need to develop scientific and technological skills required to operate modern weapons and equipment, as well as understand new concepts of operations. It claims the PLA lacks technological literacy in network systems, intelligent technologies, and unmanned systems that are critical to future warfare concepts. Despite President Xi’s renewed efforts to jump start the Triad reform, these problems will adversely affect the PLA’s ability to develop talent capable of conducting modern combat operations.


“构建战教耦合育人 (Constructing a new pattern of teaching war coupled with educating people),” PLA Daily (official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army), 1 September 2022.

Optimize the layout of disciplines, majors, and curriculum systems. Disciplinary majors and curriculum systems are the key foundational support and talent training plan for running schools and educating people.…

Build a team of excellent teachers who know how to fight. Establish the concept of “Famous teachers must know actual combat”, make the basic quality requirements for the teaching staff to be familiar with operational theory, familiar with combat regulations, grasp operational requirements, and understand advanced military technology, and guide teachers to grasp the internal law of the transformation from teaching ability of colleges and universities to the generation of combat effectiveness of the army , … proficient in the organization, implementation, demonstration, inspection and evaluation of actual strive to become a famous combat teacher who is good at clearing the “fog of war”, familiar with the characteristics of modern warfare, making good use of information technology and new forces in new fields, and strives to understand actual combat. … Actively provide conditions for the majority of instructors to participate in major training activities and major weapons and equipment tests, increase follow-up research and training efforts, and promote the team of instructor’s abilities and talent in military practice. Actively recommend instructors to participate in joint military exercises and training, overseas military operations, and major special tasks, and improve their ability to know and understand through actual combat training and exercises.

Accelerate forward-looking research on new fields and new qualities. With the accelerated development of the new military revolution, high-technology and high-tech equipment such as networks, intelligence, and unmanned systems have a profound impact on the game strategies of modern warfare, strategic design, and operational guidance have an increasing impact on the outcome of wars, and require higher and higher scientific and technological literacy for officers and soldiers participating in the war. … Create a platform, environment and mechanism that is conducive to innovation, increase the training of young scientific and technological talents, vigorously promote cutting-edge scientific and technological innovation, realize the positive interaction between more achievements and more talents, and promote the ability to transform traditional disciplines by means of “military +” and “technology +.”

By organizing research on new fields and new quality directions such as military intelligence and unmanned operations, and holding high-level military academic lectures, we will promote new theories, new tactics, new training methods, new technologies, and new equipment in the military field into classroom teaching.


[1] “Informatization” is the concept of automated data systems-driven input for decision-making.

[2] “Triad New Military Personnel Education System of Systems 三位一体新型军事人才培养体系

Image Information:

Image: The PLA’s Leading Military University: National Defense University
Attribution: CC BY-SA 3.0

PLA Cognitive Domain Operations: Considering Preemption and Hard Kill

Strategic Support Force Space Engineering University.

Strategic Support Force Space Engineering University.

In order to fight military and political battles well in future wars, we should deeply grasp the characteristics and laws of offensive and defensive operations in the cognitive domain and improve our ability to fight the “five battles”.

Numerous articles in the PLA’s official newspaper PLA Daily examine various soft, or noncombat, aspects of cognitive warfare. An article by an author from the PLA Strategic Support Force’s Space Engineering University diverges from these by advocating the integration of hard kill and preemption with noncombat aspects of cognitive domain operations to help the PLA severely degrade and disrupt an opponent to dramatically shape the battlespace and seize the initiative. The author notes that local wars and armed conflicts have become hybrid confrontations in multiple domains and employing multiple methods. Cognitive warfare attempts to influence the target’s cognitive faculties in the areas of physiology, psychology, and value judgments in a multi-domain battlespace. The author believes that there are five key objectives of cognitive warfare: to systematically restrict and control the opponent’s decision-making, to create chaos in international communications, to attack the opponent’s strategic focus, to actively shape the battlefield, and to seize strategic initiative. To achieve this, however, the author stresses a kinetic, proactive approach. Particularly, the article advocates preemptive strikes to destroy the enemy’s decisionmaking center, communications hubs, reconnaissance and early warning system, and other key nodes.


瞄准未来争打好五仗(Aiming at the Future War and Fighting the Cognitive ‘Five Battles’),” PLA Daily (official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army), 23 August 2022.

Recognize that information is the king of combat, expand the field and fight a good supporting battle. Future wars cannot be separated from strong information support, and system integration should be accelerated to gain data advantages. First of all, accelerate the construction of cognitive offensive and defensive combat theory base, databases, talent base, case example base and operational method base, dynamically collect and update the current situation of the enemy’s cognitive offensive and defensive combat capability construction, and provide all-round support for cognitive offensive and defensive combat. Second, we will accelerate the building of a media communication matrix, improve and perfect our own platform system, step up the promotion of network platforms, pay attention to system integration, collaboration and linkage, break through the “barriers” of information connectivity as soon as possible, and achieve cognitive integration, sharing and comprehensive effects. Thirdly, we will accelerate the coupling and linkage of information and cognitive domain operations, vigorously develop core technologies such as neural network systems, artificial intelligence applications, cognitive decision-making and psychological attack and defense, mine and analyze cross domain and heterogeneous cognitive information, improve cognitive means and information fusion systems, and provide for “the faculty of forecasting” and “being omniscient” to win future wars.

Cognitive warfare should be coordinated, and multi-dimensional efforts should be made to fight a good overall battle. The future war is a joint operation in the land, sea, air, space, network, electromagnetic and other fields. We should adhere to the systematic thinking, strengthen the awareness of coordination, and improve the compatibility and coordination of cognitive domain operations and other military actions. For example, it can integrate human intelligence, geographical intelligence and open-source intelligence, rapidly collect and process massive amounts of data, eliminate the false and retain the true, accurately and efficiently seize the cognitive space, and achieve complementary advantages and full coverage to form cognitive advantages. Through the networking of decentralized and multi domain forces, a joint force in all fields with high connectivity, collective action and overall attack capabilities will be established to achieve the effect of “integrated deterrence”. By integrating national resources, strengthening strategic communication, using cognitive momentum to amplify the effects of political disintegration, economic sanctions, diplomatic offensives, and cooperation with the target object by multi-dimensional pressure of military action, we strive to defeat the enemy without fighting.

Image Information:

Image: Strategic Support Force Space Engineering University

China Develops World’s First Small Modular Reactor

The project (Linglong No. 1) is the world’s first onshore commercial small modular reactor and demonstrates that my country is at the forefront of small modular reactor technology…. Another beautiful business card for Chinese-made original technology.”

China recently developed the world’s first small modular reactor (SMR), which could have military, economic, and geopolitical implications.  Chinese-language multimedia website Běijīng zhōngguó hédiàn wǎng (Beijing China Nuclear Power Grid) is touting the “Linglong No. 1,” also known as ACP-100, as a milestone technology that can make China the leader in developing small reactors.  The Linglong No. 1 is a multi-purpose pressurized water reactor.  Its single module and standardized design are expected to make mass producing them less costly.  Furthermore, the unique modular design technology will allow them to be built in a factory and installed elsewhere.

The article also explains that the idea of a SMR jumped in popularity following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.  Since then, China had been competing with the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and other countries to develop the first one.  According to the article, the Linglong No. 1’s high safety standards are one of its most prominent features.  In the event of an accident, the core heat dissipates through passive means, such as gravity and natural circulation, to achieve long-term cooling.  According to the article, the Linglong No. 1 also offers a cleaner energy option.  It can generate 125,000 kilowatts, with an annual capacity of 1 billion kilowatts, which is enough to meet the power needs of 526,000 households.  Each Linglong No. 1 is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 880,000 tons per year, which is the equivalent to planting 7.5 million trees.

While the article does not talk specifically about the military, it notes that the Linglong No. 1’s smaller power and volume size make it suitable for more diverse applications, such as use on remote islands and reefs to provide desalination of seawater, heat, electricity, and steam production.  This would make it an ideal source of energy for those atolls and reefs in the South China Sea and other remote areas China has been building up since early 2014.  Finally, the article describes the Linglong No. 1 as a “double dragon” for the China National Nuclear Corporation, the owner and operator of the project, to compete in overseas markets, as part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.  It concludes that the safe and intelligent design of the small modular reactor will likely promote the country’s technological leadership in the field of nuclear energy, “becoming another beautiful business card for Chinese-made original technology.”


“核能领域的“移动充电宝”——记全球首个陆上商用模块化小堆玲龙一号研发 (Nuclear Energy Field ‘Mobile Power Bank’ – Development of the World’s First Commercial Small Modular Reactor Linglong No. 1),” Beijing China Nuclear Power Grid (Multimedia Chinese-language news website covering China’s nuclear energy sector), 26 August 2022.

After ten years, the China Nuclear Power Research and Design Institute, which has been closely following the development of nuclear energy around the world, has developed its own multi-purpose small modular pressurized water reactor, which is a major achievement in independent innovation and fills a domestic gap.

The International Atomic Energy Agency first began advocating the development of small and medium-sized reactors as early as the 1970s and 1980s. This prompted more and more countries, including the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom to compete in the development of SMRs.

When the Nuclear Power Institute began researching SMRs, their efforts were aimed at desalination, electricity production, heating, steam production, etc. They completed the conceptual scheme, safety, and economic evaluation….

Construction of a demo small modular reactor officially kicked off on 13 July 2021.  So far, the project is the world’s first onshore commercial small modular reactor and demonstrates that my country is at the forefront of small modular reactor technology.

…the Linglong No. 1 has a smaller footprint due to its small size. Smaller power and volume are suitable for more diverse applications. It can be used on both land and on offshore platforms; on remote islands and reefs, etc. to provide heat, power, cogeneration, and multi-field, multi-scenario, and multi-demand applications… providing stronger support for the development of my country’s economic growth.

At the same time, Linglong No. 1 is modular. By having a single module with a standardized design, mass producing them can be less costly.  The small modular reactor system is simple. The equipment is small, making transporting and operating them more convenient. The unique modular design technology allows them to be built in a factory and installed at a different site, which greatly shortens the construction period…

… The most prominent features of the Linglong No. 1 are the integrated design, modular construction, high inherent and passive safety features. In the event of an accident, the core heat dissipates through passive means, such as gravity and natural circulation, to achieve long-term cooling…

As clean energy, nuclear power has multiple advantages…. Linglong No. 1 can generate 125,000 kilowatts, with an annual capacity that can reach 1 billion kilowatts… It can meet the power needs of 526,000 households…. It will greatly reduce the consumption of fossil fuel-based energy in my country and promote energy conservation and reduce emissions. At the same time, each Linglong No. 1 will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 880,000 tons per year, which is equivalent to planting 7.5 million trees…Cooperation between Linglong No. 1 and my country’s mega-kilowatt independent third-generation nuclear power, the Hualong No. 1, has become a “double dragon” for China National Nuclear Corporation to compete in overseas markets and can support the country’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative. It is foreseeable that the safe and intelligent design of the small modular reactor will promote my country’s technological leadership in the field of nuclear energy and take the lead, becoming another beautiful business card for Chinese-made original technology.