Esper review finds $7B to redirect to higher priorities

With Jacqueline Feldscher, Connor O’Brien and Daniel Lippman Editor’s Note: This edition of Morning Defense is published weekdays at 10 a.m. POLITICO Pro Defense subscribers hold exclusive early access to the newsletter each morning at 5:30 a.m. Learn more about POLITICO Pro’s comprehensive policy intelligence coverage, policy tools and services at politicopro.com. — The defense secretary’s “night court” budget scrub goes after defense agencies and special ops. — The Navy conducted a record number of “freedom of navigation” patrols in the South China Sea last year. — Waiting for launch:…

Coronavirus evacuees from Indonesia ‘relieved’ to be quarantined on remote island

Updated February 07, 2020 07:03:07 Photo: Evacuees get health checks twice a day. (Supplied: Indonesian Health Ministry) More than 200 Indonesian nationals have spent their first few days in isolation on a remote Indonesian island in the South China Sea after being evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan. Key points: Indonesians evacuated from Wuhan are being quarantined at a military hangar Evacuees are exercising, playing games and eating together Some residents have evacuated the island due to coronavirus fears The evacuees arrived on the small island of Natuna a…

What China’s coercion at sea means for India

Two events in recent weeks have refocused attention on the South China Sea. First, Malaysia approached the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf claiming waters beyond the 200-kilometre limit of its exclusive economic zone in the northern part of the South China Sea, leading to Chinese accusations of an infringement of China’s sovereignty. The Malaysian claim came as a surprise, considering that the last time Kuala Lumpur made a similar submission was almost a decade ago (on that occasion, for a part of the continental shelf that…

South China Sea fury: Key territory that could see China use ‘massive force’ against US | World | News

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made Taiwan a central political battleground in Asia as he looks to reassert Beijing’s grip on the island, which China claims full sovereignty over. Taiwan is resisting China’s claims that it is a runaway province of the mainland, insisting that it is an independent state, with many on the island fearing Beijing’s autocratic streak with territories such as Hong Kong. And the region has also been at the centre of international disputes between China and the US in recent months, with US warships showing a…

The belt – Chinese investment in Eurasia is not always smooth | Special report

Feb 8th 2020 IF ANYWHERE ALONG the belt and road should be benefiting from Chinese largesse, it is Pakistan. The country counts as China’s only real ally, as a partner on China’s vulnerable western flank and a balancer against India. China gave Pakistani scientists the know-how and materials to build a nuclear bomb. A joint-venture slogan factory had long churned out declarations of a friendship “higher than the Himalayas”. So, although financing for BRI projects everywhere has slowed over the past year (see chart), Pakistan seems like a place where…

The road – China is making substantial investment in ports and pipelines worldwide | Special report

Feb 8th 2020 NO CHINESE REFERENCE to the maritime Silk Road is complete without mention of the voyages of Zheng He. The eunuch admiral, a Muslim at the Ming court, led seven voyages in the early 15th century in a fleet of vast sailing barges known as “treasure ships”. The official narrative is that he went abroad to spread peace, carrying treasures for the potentates he would meet from South-East Asia to east Africa. Back came fabulous curiosities, including a giraffe, which he fashioned as tribute to the emperor. The…

US challenging China’s claims in the South China Sea with more Fonops

The Navy increased its challenges to expansive Chinese claims in the South China Sea with freedom-of-navigation operations in 2019. Last year, the Navy conducted more of those operations than in any year since it started to challenge those claims in 2015. Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. WASHINGTON – The US Navy conducted more freedom of navigation operations in 2019 than in any year since the US began more aggressively challenging China’s claims in the South China Sea in 2015. The Navy conducted seven FONOPs in the South China…

China’s Belt and Road – China’s flagship foreign policy aims to put itself at the centre of the world once again | Special report

Feb 8th 2020 ON CHINA’S BORDER with Kazakhstan, a new Silk Road city has sprung up with such speed that Google Earth has scarcely begun to record the high-rises that now float on a winter mist above the steppe. What once would have been flattered to be called a hard-scrabble border town is now home to 200,000 people, giant outdoor video screens extolling the glories of a new Silk Road, and restaurants serving sashimi and European wine. Khorgos has become China’s gateway to Central Asia, and all the way to…

thousands more cruise passengers might have been exposed to deadly infection

Thousands more people than previously thought might have been exposed to the deadly coronavirus, after a cruise line admitted one of its ships had sailed four times since carrying eight mainland Chinese passengers infected with the disease. The revelation sparked fears of a wider outbreak in Hong Kong, and came the day after three crew members were hospitalised following the vessel’s return to the city. On Thursday, almost 4,000 passengers and crew remained trapped on the World Dream at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal after it was turned away from Taiwan…