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September 9, 2022- Stealth War 102: Semiconductor Tycoon Robert Tsao Pledges to Fund Militia; Japan Objects to Joint China-Russia “Vostok 2022” Drills on Disputed Northern Islands; India Commissions First Domestically Produced Aircraft Carrier; Chinese Materials Cause DOD to Suspend F-35 Deliveries; Police Arrest Head of Local Journalists’ Union as Hong Kong’s Freedom of Press Further Erodes

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri September, 2022, Age: 1 year



September 9, 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

11 Consecutive Months

Period of time that home prices have been falling in China. The Financial Times recently reported that the real estate sector contributes roughly 20-30 percent of China’s GDP and comprises 70 percent of household wealth, 60 percent of local government revenues and 40 percent of bank lending. 

This Week: 

Semiconductor Tycoon Robert Tsao has Taiwanese Citizenship Restored, Pledges to Fund Militia

Japan Objects to Joint China-Russia “Vostok 2022” Drills on Disputed Northern Islands

* India Commissions its First Domestically Produced Aircraft Carrier

Chinese Materials Cause DOD to Suspend F-35 Deliveries

* Police Arrest Head of Local Journalists’ Union as Hong Kong’s Freedom of Press is Further Squeezed 

Top Stories

(source: New Bloom)

Semiconductor Tycoon Robert Tsao has Taiwanese Citizenship Restored, Pledges to Fund Militia

Standing in a bustling cafe wearing a bulletproof vest, semiconductor tycoon Robert Tsao held a press conference to announce he had renounced his Singaporean citizenship, that his Taiwanese citizenship had been reinstated. The 75-year-old founder of the giant microchip manufacturer United Microelectronic Corp (UMC) is one of Taiwan’s richest and most successful entrepreneurs. At the press conference, the businessman proudly announced that he would stand with his fellow citizens against any invasion by the People’s Republic of China, saying he will “…die in Taiwan…[and] never live to watch the Chinese Communist party turn Taiwan into Hong Kong.” Of important note, Tsao unveiled and then elaborated on a plan to donate NT$1billion ($11 million) to train 3.3 million people in support of Taiwan’s defense against China. Approximately NT$600 million ($6.6 million) will be allocated toward a program to train three million “civilian warriors” while NT$400 million will go to train 300,000 civilian “marksmen”.

Back in August, Tsao had already pledged NT$3billion ($33 million) to help improve the island nation’s defenses following provocations by China in response to Nancy Pelosi’s visit. Tsao had originally renounced his Taiwanese citizenship in 2011 and moved to Singapore as a result of a dispute between UMC and the Taiwanese government over investing in China. Following his move, Tsao initially advocated for peaceful reunification with China, but in recent years has become a vehement critic of the CCP following the 2019-2020 crackdown in Hong Kong. After a press release on September 1 in which Tsao claimed anything from China was a “hoax”, the company he founded, and from which he retired over a decade ago, distanced themselves from him. His latest declarations have further eroded his contact with the company. 

(source: USNI)

Japan Objects to Joint China-Russia “Vostok 2022” Drills on Disputed Northern Islands

Russian and Chinese forces have undertaken joint exercises on two of the four disputed, Russian-held islands in the Kuril chain, which Japan also claims as its Northern Territories. The PRC Ministry of National Defense stated that a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface action group, which included the destroyer CNS Nanchang (101), frigate CNS Yancheng (546) and replenishment ship CNS Dongpinghu (902,) joined the exercises.  The warships ran a live fire anti-aircraft drill in the Sea of Japan on Friday according to Japanese defense officials.

The exercises are part of the multinational Vostok 2022 drills, which are hosted by Russia, and also include the militaries of Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and Tajikistan.

A Japanese defense ministry spokesperson stated that “Japan will continue to monitor the movements of these ships with serious concern, and will take all possible measures to conduct warning and surveillance activities” in surrounding waters. The drills coincided with Moscow’s announcement on Tuesday that it is a canceling with Tokyo to permit previous former Japanese residents visa-free visits to the disputed, Russian-held Kuril Islands. The visa-waiver cancelation is widely seen as a Russian countermeasure against Japan for imposing sanctions over it war of aggression against Ukraine.

(source: Wikipedia)

India Commissions its First Domestically Produced Aircraft Carrier

On September 2, India’s new aircraft carrier entered service. Two decades in the making, the INS Vikrant is the nation’s second carrier and the first to be produced domestically—its predecessor, the Soviet-era INS Vikramaditya, was purchased from Russia in 2004. The carrier is capable of carrying 30 aircraft (likely around 24 fighter jets, plus helicopters and support craft) and 1,600 crew members. After landing trials are completed, the vessel is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2023.

After almost 20 years of stalled initiatives to improve and expand its defense industry, in October 2021 India’s Prime Minister (PM) Modi formally announced the creation of seven new defense corporations and the modernization of 41 ordinance factories. The announcement was part of a larger strategy to make the national a global military power, capable of competing with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Though the PRC has only just launched its third carrier (its second domestically produced), and it is expected to be commissioned (put into active service) sometime in the next few years if all its testing goes well, the rest of its navy dwarfs India’s. Beijing commands at least 350 formal naval vessels (including about 58 submarines), and the US Department of Defense anticipates it will have over 450 by 2030. In contrast, New Delhi’s fleet consists of 42 ships. As one retired Indian general argues, his nation should not hesitate to begin constructing a third aircraft carrier, and it needs radically increase its efforts to meet New Delhi’s 30-year plan to produce 24 submarines by 2030, which is two decades behind schedule.

The imperative is not based on pride in numbers, but on minimal operational capacities. First and foremost, it will not take long for the accumulated experience and capital required for carrier production to decay (as has already occurred with submarines). Second, under the best of conditions aircraft carriers, submarines and other vessels require lengthy maintenance periods (sometimes over three years), which increase over time, meaning India will often be left with only one carrier, and possibly none if improperly coordinated. Third, and related, India has somewhere between 15 and 17 submarines, of which about half appear to have been constructed or commissioned before 1991. While one or two new builds may be added to the fleet by the end of 2023, it does not appear the 30-year goal will be remotely achieved. Finally, submarines and aircraft carriers work best in concert, enhancing defensive and offensive capabilities. If India is to protect shipping lanes close to home from the PRC’s expanding naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region let alone the broader Indo-Pacific region, it must go well beyond meeting its old goals, and drastically expand its defense industry while working to offset the PRC’s influence over its South Asian neighbors, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

(source: Wikipedia)

Chinese Materials Cause DOD to Suspend F-35 Deliveries

On September 7, Lockheed Martin announced the discovery that some magnets used in the F-35 engines produced by Honeywell were made with a cobalt and samarium alloy sourced from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The components do not pose any security or performance threats, so they will not be removed from F-35s that have already been delivered; alternative resources have been identified for future production. However, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has suspended F-35 deliveries while it works with the companies to identify how these materials, which violate regulations, entered the supply chain.

The issue reflects a much larger problem—keeping PRC and other import-controlled products out of US government supply chains. Despite shifts in rhetoric and policy, the US has been struggling with this for quite some time. Due to the scale and complexity of global production networks, even vigilant corporations and government organizations have difficulty monitoring where items are coming from. Unfortunately, greed, corruption, sloppiness, and even necessity have resulted in numerous instances of non-compliant or even compromising products being purchased by the US government and its contractors.

In 2020, the DOD and its contractors were granted a waiver to continue procurement relations with companies that had yet to certify they were not using banned PRC components (particularly Huawei and ZTE). In 2021, it was revealed that numerous federal agencies, including various branches of the military and even the Office of the Secretary of Defense, had purchased rebranded PRC security cameras, which were banned due to remote spying concerns. The cameras were still being sold by contractors on the marketplace for federal vendors as of July 2021, at which time it also became apparent that the US Air Force and others were still using the openly PRC-branded cameras purchased before the ban. Such issues are concerned with the procurement of hardware, but perhaps the most significant threats to supply chains are in the cyber realm. Attackers only have to find a chink in the armor of infrastructure in place, whether it is a system that has not had its security updated, a component of hostile origin, or various forms of human weaknesses (e.g., social engineering, bribery). All along supply chains, organizations are prone to lagging or lax cyber security, meaning that in a world where almost everything is interconnected, there is ample opportunity to steal information or cause damage.

(source: RFA)

Police Arrest Head of Local Journalists’ Union as Hong Kong’s Freedom of Press is Further Squeezed 

Hong Kong police have arrested Ronson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association as he sought to report on a local government meeting in Mong Kok district. During the incident, Chan was asked to show his identification card, but when he asked the officer for his full name and department, he was immediately arrested. Chan was later charged with “obstructing police” and “disorderly conduct.” Chan was due to depart Hong Kong this month for the six-month Reuters Institute fellowship program at Oxford University.

Chan was previously an editor at Stand News. However, in February, The Guardian reported that following the arrest of many of his colleagues on “national security” related charges, Chan, along with many other former journalists, began working as a delivery driver.

The Hong Kong government has exploited the national security law to stifle free expression and crush dissent in Hong Kong following democracy protests, which occurred there three years ago. Media outlets that criticize the government risk police investigations.