February 25, 2022-Stealth War 77: China to Evacuate 6,000+ From Ukraine; UAE Purchases Chinese Jets; China Lifts Restrictions on Russian Wheat Imports; Australia and China Feud over Maritime Laser Incident; China ups Military Exports to Pakistan

By: Jamestown Foundation

Mon March, 2022, Age: 1 year



February 25, 2022

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China’s share of the world’s rare earth reserves, making it the biggest producer, according to data from the 2022 Mineral Commodity Summaries from the US Geological Survey and White House. The U.S. is the world’s second-largest producer of rare earths.

This Week: 

China to Evacuate 6,000+ From Ukraine

*  UAE Finalizes Purchase of Chinese Fighter Jets, Rebuffs U.S. Attempts at Counteroffer

* China Lifts Restrictions on Russian Wheat Imports Amid Economic Sanctions from U.S. and Allies

* Australia and China Feud over Maritime Laser Incident

With Pakistan Purchase, China May Have Exported its WS-10B Fighter Jet Engine for the First Time

Top Stories

(source: Xinhua)

China to Evacuate 6,000+ From Ukraine

At half past midnight on February 25, the Chinese Embassy in Kyiv announced that that it will begin evacuating its citizens from Ukraine via voluntary charter flights due to the “rapidly deteriorating situation” in the country. The embassy stated that the approximately 6,000 Chinese nationals in the country had to submit a registration form by 12pm on February 27 if they wish to leave. The Embassy also gave advice to those evacuating nationals, including displaying the Chinese national flag on their cars, presumably to ward off attack. Up until Russia’s invasion, the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine’s website only gave one warning on February 11 to “pay close attention to the local situation,” and otherwise only issued advisories about Covid-19. On February 22, almost two hours after the Russian invasion began, the Chinese embassy issued a generic warning stating that, “the situation in eastern Ukraine has undergone major changes,” and to be on the lookout for WeChat alerts from the embassy, to pay attention to public safety notices, to get in contact with other Chinese nationals, to preserve necessities (e.g. food, water), and to take precautions against the pandemic. By Friday afternoon, the Chinese embassy’s website had released somewhat more detailed instructions regarding precautions, obeying curfews, reporting suspicious activities, and the suspension (and anticipated resumption) of the registration process.

China has continued to take an equivocal stance regarding the Russian escalation, claiming both to respect sovereignty as well as to respect Russia’s security interests in Eastern Europe and to understand its “complex” relationship with Ukraine. Regardless of the broader geopolitical implications, Beijing faces an immediate logistical and diplomatic challenge in extracting its nationals from war-torn Ukraine.

(source: China Daily)

 UAE Deepens Ties With China Despite U.S. Concerns 

On February 24, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said it plans to buy twelve Chinese L15 combat jets in response to a new round of Houthi attacks from Yemen. China and the UAE are in the final stages of signing the contract with China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation for purchasing the light combat aircraft, including an option for 36 additional fighter jets of the same model. With this purchase, the UAE hopes to bolster its defense capabilities in light of US concerns about collaboration with China.

Since Xi Jinping’s visit to Abu Dhabi in 2018 – wherein he upgraded relations between the two countries to a new level of strategic partnership – cooperation and trade between the two states has accelerated at a rapid clip. In the years following the diplomatic upgrade, trade with China is set to double, and it is already the UAE’s largest trading partner.  In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, the relationship between two countries grew even closer as China partnered with the UAE to produce the Sinopharm vaccine. This made the UAE the first state in the Middle East with an indigenous vaccine production capacity. Today, the two stand ready with the rest of the Gulf countries to speed up the construction of a free trade area agreed to earlier this year

The strategic partnership between the two states also goes beyond energy, trade, and pandemic cooperation though, to include economic, cultural and security cooperation. These include joint renewable energy projects, logistics and infrastructure for the BRI, life sciences, and next-generation information technology and artificial intelligence. This year alone, the two have embarked on economic rejuvenations and hosted international cultural events at the same time, namely the 2022 Winter Olympics and Dubai World Expo. Chinese language learning  is also on the rise in the UAE, with 118 schools offering Chinese language courses nationwide. Questionably, the UAE has even been accused of helping China spy on, catch, and interrogate Uyghurs dissidents at black sites located in Dubai. How extensive the cooperation, and the number of black sites, is unknown.

In light of increased cooperation between the two countries, the US has become wary of the new arms deal and has encouraged the UAE to scuttle the agreement, but this appears unlikely at present.

(source: Aljazeera)

China Lifts Restrictions on Russian Wheat Imports Amid Economic Sanctions from U.S. and Allies

Yesterday, China’s General Administration of Customs announced it has lifted restrictions on Russian wheat imports, making China fully open to import grain from all regions of Russia. While the announcement was made only hours after Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, Chinese analysts claim the two events are unrelated. Negotiations for the bilateral agreement were finalized earlier this month during President Putin’s visit to Beijing for the Winter Olympics. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, but China had previously restricted Russian wheat imports over concerns of the presence of dwarf blunt fungus in some areas of the country. The agreement was one several deals made between China and Russia to strengthen bilateral ties. Wheat has been one of the top commodities among the close trade and economic cooperation between China and Russia, the latter providing a source for President Xi Jinping’s calls to increase agricultural production and diversify imports as part of efforts to address the nation’s food security issue. Russia’s agricultural imports to China have been increasing over recent years; bilateral trade reached $150 billion last year.

The timing of the announcement, which could be key to helping Russia’s economy, is crucial, as the U.S. and its European allies imposed economic sanctions on Russia this week. Reports also emerged that the invasion could threaten the global wheat supply, affecting demand and prices for wheat in some parts of the world, including Australia, Argentina, and the American Midwest. The international community will continue to watch Beijing’s actions, which is the only major government to refrain from condemning Putin’s attack and has instead blamed Washington and its allies for the conflict over Ukraine. 

(source: TrixAbia)

Australia and China Feud Over Maritime Laser Incident

Tensions are running high between Beijing and Canberra over the naval incident that occurred in the Arafura Sea late last week—when a Chinese vessel allegedly targeted an Australian aircraft with a military-grade laser—as both sides, who released their own versions of the event, have accused the other of engaging in provocative actions. Two days after the incident, which took place on February 17, the Australia Department of Defense claimed its P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft  detected a laser coming from a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessel. The incident took place while the Chinese vessel, accompanying an amphibious transport dock, was passing through the Torres Strait, between New Guinea and Australia, and within Australia’s exclusive economic zone. Canberra strongly condemned the act, claiming it “could have endangered the safety and lives of the Australian defense force’s personnel.” Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the incident “dangerous, and at worst, it was intimidating and bullying.” Morrison said the Chinese naval vessel was so close to Australia’s coast that it could have been seen from the shore and demanded a full investigation and explanation from China. Japan voiced its support for Australia; Japanese ambassador Yamagami Shingo confirmed that Japan was “fully behind Australia on this matter” and called the incident a dangerous provocation from China.

Beijing responded forcefully. Chinese authorities called the accusations false and said it was the Australian aircraft that came too close to the Chinese vessels, which were “intentional, provocative moves.” Beijing also accused Canberra of dropping sonobuoys, which can detect submarines, near the Chinese ships and spread misinformation online regarding the incident. Following Beijing’s accusations, Canberra released an updated statement on Tuesday that confirmed it placed sonobuoys in the water, but only after it had detected the laser, affirming that the use of sonobuoys for maritime surveillance is common practice and within international law.

The incident comes amid deteriorating Australia-China relations and recent Australian accusations of Chinese influence operations in its domestic politics. Separately, on Tuesday, Morrison announced that Australia would spend $578 million to purchase surveillance equipment, such as drones and helicopters, and set up mobile stations in Antarctica, as part of its efforts to “keep watch on the region,” and ensure its protection against those “who have different objectives.”

(source: Indian Express)

With Pakistan Purchase, China May Have Exported its WS-10B Fighter Jet Engine for the First Time

On February 20, 2022, China’s Global Times reported on recent images of two Chinese J-10Cs fighter jets with Pakistani air force markings circulating on social media. These images are significant because the jets appear to be equipped with China’s domestically developed WS-10B Taihang turbofan engines, which, if confirmed, may be the first instance of China exporting these engines to a foreign partner. Furthermore, this would expedite the export process because previously available jets used Russian engines and other parts, which required approval of transfer by Moscow. The jets are not intended to replace Pakistan’s fleet at this point, but rather represent an effort to counter India’s purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France between 2015 and 2021. The shift away from Russian engines may also be in response to Russia’s 2018 sale of its S-400 anti-aircraft missile system to India (though overall Pakistani-Russian relations appear to be moving closer), and are most certainly a part of China’s strategy to counter India and secure its interests in South Asia, which has included a significant increase in arms sales.

Long rumored, the purchase of new Chinese fighter jets was confirmed on December 29th by Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, who “stated that the PAF was due to induct what he described as “JS-10” fighters”; 25 to 36 were rumored to have been purchased. However, it was not a given at the time that the jets would come equipped with the newest engines, or that they would be the latest model of the series, as now appears to be the case. Chinese industry representatives describe the J-10C as a, “‘4.5-generation medium-size fighter jet […] more powerful than the China-Pakistan jointly developed lightweight fighter jet, the JF-17, which is currently in service with the Pakistan Air Force.’” Additionally, “‘the J-10C is larger and can be equipped with a bigger active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar than the one used by the JF-17 Block 3’,” and it, “can also carry more advanced, fourth-generation air-to-air missiles including the short-range PL-10 and the beyond-visual-range PL-15.” 




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