August 27, 2022- Stealth War 101: U.S. Bans Tantalum Imports; Huawei Founder Warns of Dangerous Decade Ahead; PLA Carrier Battle Group Undertakes South China Sea Training; China Waives Loans for 17 African Countries; China, India to Join Vostok Strategic Exercises in Russia

By: Jamestown Foundation

Sat August, 2022, Age: 5 months


August 27, 2022

Welcome to the Stealth War Newsletter, a collection of the top 5 recent news items, collected on The Jamestown Foundation’s website, To continue to receive this weekly collection, click the button below to subscribe. 

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Stat Du Jour 
This issue’s number to watch

13.9 percent

Defense spending increase for 2023 approved by Taiwan’s cabinet on Thursday. With the increase, defense spending will comprise about 2.4 percent of GDP. 

This Week: 

U.S. Bans Imports of Rare Metal Tantalum from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran

Huawei Founder Warns of Dangerous Decade Ahead 

* PLA Carrier Battle Group Undertakes Training Exercises in South China Sea 

China Waives Loans for 17 African Countries

* China, India to Join Vostok Strategic Exercises in Russia Next Month

Top Stories

(source: Wikipedia)

U.S. Bans Imports of Rare Metal Tantalum from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran

On Thursday, the United States moved to ban imports of the rare earth metal tantalum from China, North Korea, Russia and Iran. The U.S. Department of Defense also confirmed the ban and placed it on the Federal Register the same day. When asked about the reasons for barring imports, the DOD said reducing tantalum dependence from these four countries is a vital national security issue, as the rare earth metal plays an indispensable role in military production supply chains. Tantalum is typically used in aircraft and jet engine parts, due to its unique ability to withstand extreme heat. It is used to coat jet engines and other equipment, and its heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant alloys are essential for equipment in the chemical and nuclear industries as well, where they function as heat exchangers for nuclear power systems as well as cryotrons (switches that operate using superconductivity) for computer systems. Prior to Thursday’s move, the DOD had imposed a provisional ban since October 2020, noting that the finality of the new law will “prohibit the purchase of any regulated materials smelted or produced in any of the regulated countries, or any end products manufactured in any of the regulated countries”: China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

(source: Xinhua)

Huawei Founder Warns of Dangerous Decade Ahead 

This week, a leaked internal memo in which Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei warned that “the next decade will be a very painful historical period” went viral on Chinese social media. Ren stated that due to the global economic slowdown, the conflict in Ukraine and a continuing economic “blockade” by the U.S. against some Chinese companies will drag on growth. In this context, Ren claimed that Huawei’s focus through the end of 2023, or even 2025, must be on “survival” rather than growth.

The last several years have been challenging for Huawei. Throughout 2021 and early 2022, the telecom giant failed to record a single quarter of positive revenue growth. The company finally registered positive growth in the second quarter of 2022 due to its growing 5G business.

Due to its difficult outlook, Ren hinted at pulling out or downsizing from some international markets, and possible layoffs. The company is also planning to focus more on IT infrastructure development and less on consumer sales in order to weather the challenging economic times.   

(source: Wikimedia)

PLA Carrier Battle Group Undertakes Training Exercises in South China Sea 

The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) first indigenously-constructed aircraft carrier, the Shandong and its accompanying battle group are currently undertaking training exercises in an undisclosed location in the South China Sea. The purpose of the drills is to provide realistic combat-oriented exercises, which include the Shandong’s carrier-based J-15 jets practicing take-off and landing maneuvers. In addition to the Shandong, the battle group includes a Type 055 large Renhai-class destroyer, a Type 052D Luyang-III class destroyer, a Type 054A Jiangkai II frigate and a Type 901 supply ship. All of the participating warships are among China’s more advanced, guided-missile surface-warfare platforms, but the inclusion of the new Renhai-class Type 055 large destroyer is notable. The Type 055 has some low-observable, i.e. stealth, capabilities and is roughly equivalent in size to a U.S. Navy cruiser.

Training and exercises are a key element of the PLAN’s efforts to develop its warfighting abilities, and incorporate new capabilities. Such exercises assume particular import for new conscripts, who serve for two-year stints. As the Chinese military shifts to a twice-a-year conscription and induction cycle, providing regular training opportunities for a constant turnover of conscripts is an essential but under-appreciated aspect of the PLA’s advancement.

(source: FMPRC)

China Waives Loans for 17 African Countries

On August 18, at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) ministerial meeting, People’s Republic of China (PRC) Foreign Minister (FM) Wang Yi announced that Beijing will be waiving “the 23 interest-free loans for 17 African countries that had matured by the end of 2021.” This is a reiteration of a promise made in November 2021. While the amount of debt to be waived has not been announced, FM Wang did specify that the PRC is also prepared to “encourage” the International Monetary Fund to “re-channel” $10 billion of Beijing’s contributions to African nations.

The loan forgiveness comes in addition to at least $20 billion in funding that was previously pledged by China to develop financial and trade institutions on the continent (of which over $5 billion has been delivered), $2.5 billion of loans to “priority programs,” $2.7 billion in PRC corporate investments, and $70.6 billion in goods imported by the PRC over the last seven months. Notably, in 2021, Africa exported $105.9 billion to the PRC; a 43.7 percent year on year increase, which may be surpassed by the end of 2022 due to an agreement removing  tariffs on 98 percent of exports from twelve African nations.

As China has deepened its ties with countries across Africa, the U.S. is making belated efforts to catch up. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has visited Africa three times over the last year, releasing a new Sub-Saharan Africa strategy this month in conjunction with his most recent visit. As part of this shift, President Biden is planning on hosting an African Summit by the end of the year. However, unless the U.S. and its allies radically shift their funding efforts, debt relief, and improve relations with governments on the continent, China is likely to retain its status as partner of choice for many African countries.

(source: China Military)

China, India to Join Vostok Strategic Exercises in Russia Next Month

On August 17, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) announced that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will be participating in Russia’s Vostok (meaning east) 2022 strategic exercise, scheduled to begin on August 30 and end on September 5. The last Vostok exercise took place in 2018, with the PRC joining for the first time. The MND stated that the current exercise, which involves at least five other nations, “is unrelated to the current international and regional situation,” and is instead meant to foster strategic cooperation and security.

Of the nations that are participating in the exercises, India stands out. India maintains close military ties with both Russia and the U.S., and is navigating a volatile border dispute with the PRC, which has led to an arms buildup in the Himalayas. In 2019, New Delhi announced its first round of participation in Russian strategic exercises, tactfully abstaining from the 2020 drills due to shifting relations with Pakistan and the PRC, before joining the 2021 Zapad (west) exercises. It seems that the U.S. has begrudgingly come to terms with India’s multipolar balancing act, at least for now, due to its strategic importance. Nevertheless, both China and India are likely to incur significant international criticism for joining the exercises at a time when Russia remains engaged in a full-fledged war of aggression against Ukraine.




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