Information operations · Information Warfare

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Ad Hoc Update (30)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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  1. Much written about Kim (Chinese popular nickname on web searches being “fatty the third”) visiting Xi in Beijing – quality of analysis is highly variable. Sharper analysis suggests the PRC has correctly identified the risk presented by a rogue DPRK, and the photos of Kim eating humble pie are most interesting. The denuclearisation pledge may or may not be a sham, if China demanded this then the DPRK is in real trouble;
  2. Russians bragging about the construction of a new road bridge into the DPRK, fine print claims this will be a floating pontoon bridge on a river that annually ices over heavily;
  3. McMahon on PRC economic fragility, multiple arguments on a trade war vs. US;
  4. FP on China’s global dissident kidnapping campaign;
  5. Reports on GWOS;
  6. Taiwan and Japan updates;
  7. Indian procurement of S-400;



Trump hails Kim Jong-un’s China visit as a breakthrough | World | The Times

President Trump declared a foreign policy victory yesterday after Kim Jong-un voiced his commitment to denuclearising North Korea on a surprise visit to Beijing. Mr Trump, who is due to have his own meeting with Mr Kim in May, claimed that the secret visit to Beijing was the result of his press

Asia Expert: Trump ‘Winning’ on China and North Korea |

Author Gordon G. Chang credits President Trump’s brilliant decision to hold face-to-face negotiations with the Hermit Kingdom’s Kim Jung Un for Monday’s surprise meeting between top North Korean and Chinese leaders.

Kim’s Message for Trump: China Is Back on Side – Bloomberg

Kim Jong Un just sent a powerful message to U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of planned talks: China is back on North Korea’s side.

China says North Korea’s Kim pledged commitment to denuclearization

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un pledged his commitment to denuclearization and to meet U.S. officials, China said on Wednesday after his meeting with President Xi Jinping, who promised China would uphold friendship with its isolated neighbour.

China says North Korea pledges denuclearization during friendly visit | Article [AMP] | Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pledged to denuclearize and meet U.S. officials, China said on Wednesday after an historic meeting with President Xi Jinping, who promised China would uphold its friendship with its isolated neighbor.

Kim Jong-un’s visit to China fails to hide strain in relations | World news | The Guardian

The pageantry of Kim’s surprise visit obscures a strained relationship between the long-time allies

In hosting Kim Jong Un, China sent a message: It’s still a key player in any North Korean talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, his first known trip abroad since he assumed control of the isolated state in 2011 and his first meeting with another head of state.

Why Kim Jong Un made a secret trip to China – CNN

A surprise visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to China may indicate Pyongyang’s need for support from its closest ally ahead of upcoming summits with South Korea and the US.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Makes Surprise China Visit |

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Makes Surprise China Visit

Kim Speculation Triggers Action by China Censors |

The speculation over just who traveled by special train from North Korea to Beijing drew a swift reaction from Chinese censors. Searches for the term North Korea were blocked Tuesday while Kim Jong Un turned up results from several days ago on major social…

Kim Jong Un Is Making a Surprise China Visit, Sources Say – Bloomberg

Kim Jong Un has made a surprise visit to Beijing, three people with knowledge of the visit said.

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s motives remain shrouded in mystery

“The key question the world needs to ask is this: what does Kim Jong Un want for those nukes?” said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest.

Arrival of North Korean Train in Beijing Triggers Speculation – WSJ

The arrival of a North Korean train in Beijing sparked frenzied speculation that Pyongyang had sent a senior figure—perhaps even leader Kim Jong Un—on a mission to strengthen ties with Beijing ahead of a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Train believed carrying top North Korean delegation leaves Beijing

A train believed to be carrying a senior North Korean delegation left the Chinese capital on Tuesday following a dramatic whirlwind visit that some reports said included the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

Mystery train departs Beijing with no official word on whether Kim Jong Un was on it — and it’s a big win for North Korea | Business Insider

An armoured train that belongs to Kim Jong Un’s family has departed Beijing after causing huge delays with its visit to China. But the world is no wiser as to why the train came and went – and that’s a big win for Kim. Despite plenty of evidence suggesting Kim, or at least high-level North Korean officials, were aboard, China denied knowing about the train. North Korea also said nothing, and South Korea appeared in the dark. With everyone either ignorant of or covering for the journey, it allows Kim to control the narrative and possibly even smuggle back tons of goods in his train.

Bulletproof, Slow and Full of Wine: Kim Jong-un’s Mystery Train – The New York Times

In earlier incarnations, the North Korean leader’s train has featured sumptuous feasts, cases of fine French wines and female entertainers known as lady conductors.

A Deal with North Korea Won’t Happen Without China – Defense One

How Kim Jong-Un\’s surprise visit to Beijing underscores China’s influence.

James Baker: China holds key to denuclearization of North Korea

China has the power to usher in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula — and should take a leading role in doing so, James Baker told NBC News.

North And South Korea Set April Date For Historic Summit | HuffPost

Leaders of the two countries will meet on April 27 for the first time in over a decade, South Korean officials announced on Thursday.

Trump Should Delay ‘Risky’ Kim Jong Un Meeting, Former South Korea Ambassador Says

“There could be a breakdown in the dialogue before it even gets off the ground.”

North Korea Is Firing Up a Reactor. That Could Upset Trump’s Talks With Kim. – The New York Times

As President Trump plans to meet Kim Jong-un, satellite evidence suggests that North Korea is expanding the complex that makes fuel for its nuclear weapons.

The US-DPRK Summit: Assessing Chinese Anxieties | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

The visit by the mysterious North Korean visitor on Monday raises wide speculation about what China and North Korea are jointly planning ahead of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summits with South Korean President Moon in April and with US President Trump in May. Information about the meeting is scarce. And the visit is probably best characterized as the convergence of Chinese desire to remain relevant and North Korean desire to manipulate US and China against each other. It is a direct result of the announcement of a Trump-Kim Summit earlier this month and reflects the Chinese maneuver to address the potential exclusion of China in a deal that could impact the future of not only the Korean Peninsula, but also the region.

Russia wants to build a bridge to North Korea – literally – Pacific – Stripes

One lone crossing, dubbed the “Friendship Bridge” links Russia with North Korea. It opened in 1959 and offers the two nations a fairly basic rail connection. This week, Russian representatives traveled to North Korea to discuss opening another bridge.

Russia wants to build a bridge to North Korea. Literally.

North Korea shares a border with three countries — South Korea, China and Russia. The one with Russia is just 11 miles, following the Tumen River and its estuary in the far northeast. There is one lone crossing, dubbed the “Friendship Bridge.” It opened in 1959 and offers the two…

Dinny McMahon | Author | China’s Great Wall of Debt

In this unprecedented deep dive, McMahon shows how lurking behind China’s enviable economic success, is a far more fragile reality. While stories of newly built but empty cities, white-elephant state projects, and a byzantine shadow-banking system have become a fixture in the press, McMahon goes beyond the headlines to explain how such waste has been allowed to flourish and why one of the most powerful governments in the world has been at a loss to stop it. Debt, entrenched vested interests, a frenzy of speculation, and an aging population are all pushing China toward an economic reckoning. China’s Great Wall of Debt unravels an incredibly complex and opaque economy, one whose fortunes—for better or worse—will shape the globe like never before. “Of the many books that have observed the fragility and contradictions of China’s economic model, “China’s Great Wall of Debt” is the best.” — Reuters

All of the Reasons Why Trump Can Win a Trade War with China | The National Interest

For the first time in decades, America has a president who realizes that a trade war with China is eminently winnable.

Fact: In 2017, the U.S. and China Traded $711 Billion Worth of Goods and Services | The National Interest Blog

So what happens in a trade war?

Shining a Cleansing Light on China’s Dark Secrets – The New York Times

The historian Shen Zhihua says the Communist Party should relax. “I would say: ‘Those mistakes were made in the past, not now, and we need to learn from our mistakes.’”

Americans Will Pay the Price for Trump’s Toughened Approach with China | The National Interest

American firms may not profit from a trade war with China, but both Airbus and Brazilian farmers have to be salivating at the prospect.

The Disappeared – Foreign Policy

China’s global kidnapping campaign has gone on for years. It may now be reaching inside U.S. borders.

China Is Filling the Africa-Sized Gap in US Strategy – Defense One

While U.S. troops fight terror groups, Beijing is locking up supplies of raw materials key to the future of defense.

MWI Podcast: China’s Quest for Enhanced Military Technology – Modern War Institute

In this episode of the MWI Podcast, we speak to Elsa Kania, an Adjunct Fellow with the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, whose research is at the forefront of efforts to better understand the way China approaches innovation and military technology. From artificial intelligence to automation to railgun technology, we discuss Chinese technological priorities and how they overlay on the Chinese government’s strategic objectives. Listen to the full conversation with Secretary Esper below, and if you aren’t already subscribed to the MWI Podcast, be sure to find it on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss an episode!

Chinese flotilla transits South China Sea, satellite imagery shows

Satellite images from this week showed a Chinese carrier group steaming with dozens of other ships, according to a Reuters report.

U.S. Warship Sails Past Disputed South China Sea Artificial Island in Freedom of Navigation Mission – USNI News


China air force drills again in South China Sea, Western Pacific

China’s air force has held another round of drills in the disputed South China Sea and the Western Pacific after passing though Japan’s southern islands, the air force said on Sunday, calling such exercises the best preparation for war.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defence refute reports of leasing F-15C/D fighter jets – Defence Blog

The Ministry of Defence of Taiwan has refuted the news that the Taipei might lease F-15C/D Eagles fighter jets for the Republic of China Air Force (Taiwan Air Force) from the United States. Taiwanese Major General Chen Chung-chi dismissed the lease proposal as “pure speculation by the media,” the Taipei Times reported Wednesday. According to Major General Chen Chung-chi of the Taiwanese MoD, the story had first surfaced on a local news outlet named Up Media, but he claims that this is “pure speculation.” The local news agency quoted that Washington was offering upgraded surplus USAF F-15s for use by the RoCAF. These Eagles could be upgraded to Advanced 2040C.

Japan’s GSDF gets centralized command in biggest shakeup amid tensions with North Korea and China | The Japan Times

KYODO Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force underwent its biggest organizational shakeup Tuesday, with command streamlined for flexible operations nationwide a

UAWire – Russia and India to sign a contract on the supply of S-400 missile systems

Russia and India are in the final stage of negotiations to purchase Triumph S-400 air defense missile systems. The contract is expected to be signed in the first week of April, the Economic Times reports with reference to internal sources. According to the Economic Times, the contract might be signed during the first visit of Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to Moscow in early April. Indian Air Force representatives note that the procurement of the S-400, developed by Russia, is imperative to tackle possible threats from China and Pakistan. Sitharaman is also expecting to move ahead with the discussions on the joint development of fifth generation fighter aircraft or FGFA, the newspaper writes. The Triumph is the newest, long-range, anti-aircraft missile system. It is designed to destroy aircraft as well as cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and it can also be used against ground targets. The S-400 has a range of 400 kilometers and is capable of destroying targets at an altitude of up to 30 kilometers. The missiles have been in service with the Russian Army since 2007.