News by Professionals 4 Professionals

china

Defence expansion would break the budget if Australia ditches US alliance: Angus Houston

Scrapping the US alliance would force Australia to meet its own defence costs, hammering the federal budget, former chief of defence Angus Houston has warned, while also counselling the Turnbull government against over-reacting to China’s territorial expansion in the South China Sea. He said Australia should not contemplate naval exercises close to the recently constructed islands, and should instead focus on diplomatic representations designed to halt further militarisation.

Play Video Don’t Play

Up Next

David Taylor arrives at Denpasar District Court

Play Video Don’t Play Defence Expansion Would Break The Budget If Australia Ditches US Alliance: Angus Houston

Video duration 00:15

More World News Videos

Previous slide Next slide

Tillerson talks tough about Russia, China

At his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson says Russia “poses a danger” and that China should be denied access to islands it has built in the South China Sea. Sir Angus, arguably Australia’s pre-eminent defence elder, said the US-Australia and New Zealand defence pact known as ANZUS, had been the institutional key to Australia’s national security since the blackest days of World War II.

“It has been the cornerstone of our defence policy ever since,” he said during an address to the National Press Club on the topic of Australia’s US alliance.

Picking up the tab for defences provided as an alliance obligation by Washington, would see pressure put on already stretched health and education commitments. He estimated the replacement cost of the US alliance would cause a virtual doubling of the current spending on defence to as high as 4 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product.

Advertisement

In 2016-17, Australia will spend $33.931 billion on defence, which constitutes 1.94 per cent of GDP. If Australia were to increase to 4 per cent, its projected defence spend in 2017-18 would go from just over $35 billion to more than $72 billion – a jump of $37.3 billion. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is currently in Washington to strengthen the relationship with Trump administration officials, and is expected to discuss a possible request for an increased Australian contribution in Iraq in the fight against IS, and the refugee resettlement agreement.

Defence Expansion Would Break The Budget If Australia Ditches US Alliance: Angus Houston Sir Angus Houston addresses the National Press Club in Canberra. Photo: Andrew Meares

Australian concerns over the reliability of the alliance have increased in recent months, fuelled by the volatility of policy emanating from President Donald Trump, who has railed against alliance partner countries that duck the full costs of their own protection. Speaking in Munich on Monday, US Vice-President Mike Pence, pointedly stopped short of withdrawing his boss’s warning that the failure of NATO member states to meet their obligations could see the US refuse to to come to their aid under the terms on that agreement.

Defence Expansion Would Break The Budget If Australia Ditches US Alliance: Angus Houston Illustration: Ron Tandberg.

“We vowed in that treaty to contribute our fair share to our common defence,” Mr Pence said.

“The promise to share the burden of our defence has gone unfulfilled for too many for too long and it erodes the very foundation of our alliance. When even one ally fails to do their part, it undermines all of our ability to come to each other’s aid.”

Asked about China’s creation of artificial islands, Mr Houston said a diplomatic course was required, warning that engaging in direct freedom of navigation voyages within the 12-mile zone would be counter-productive.

“Frankly, I don’t see a need to put a ship in close proximity to an artificial island claimed by China, I thinks that’s something that may result in consequences that we’d rather avoid,” he said. Former Labor prime minister Paul Keating has proposed a more independent stance for Australia, arguing our security should be more rooted within the region than it has been in the past.

“Our future is basically in the region around us in South-East Asia,” he told the ABC’s 7.30.

“It’s time to cut the tag. It’s time to get out of it.”

Follow us on Facebook[1]

References

  1. ^ Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com)

Watch: Airport security footage that allegedly shows Kim Jong-nam’s last moments

Surveillance footage obtained and released by Japan s Fuji TV purportedly shows a woman attacking and killing Kim Jong-nam. The elder half-brother of Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was murdered[1] in Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13. The video, which has not been independently verified, shows a bald man in a tan suit walking around the airport while carrying a backpack. In the following clip, at two angles, footage shows a woman entering a line of people, grabbing the man by the head, and walking away (fast forward to 1:09 and 3:55 for the clearest footage of the incident).

[embedded content]

Police have detained four suspects for alleged involvement in the attack, including 28-year-old Doan Thi Hoang, from Vietnam, and 26-year-old Siti Aisyah, from Indonesia. The woman that attacks the person believed to be Kim dons a white shirt and neck-length hair not unlike a suspected female assailant wearing an LOL t-shirt in a photo widely shared[2] last week. Kim s death has caused a breakdown in the once-cozy relations[3] between Malaysia and North Korea. Pyongyang s ambassador accused Malaysia s government of colluding with hostile forces[4] and denounced it for carrying out an autopsy without its cooperation. Malaysia, meanwhile, has withdrawn its diplomatic envoy[5] from Pyongyang.

Yet the deeper implications of Kim s death for East Asian geopolitics remain unclear. On Saturday (Feb. 18) China announced it would cease all coal imports[6] from North Korea. It claimed the measure was simply in compliance with UN sanctions against North Korea, but the timing day s after Kim s death, and one week after North Korea s most recent nuclear test suggest Beijing is losing patience with the regime in Pyongyang.

Korean media has speculated that China had hopes (however far-fetched) that Kim Jong-nam, who had spoken out against his family s totalitarian leadership in the past, would defect to the South and establish a government-in-exile[7] as the first-born son and rightful successor to Kim Jong-il. The murder of Kim Jong-nam has put to rest any such notions.

Most Popular

Watch: Airport Security Footage That Allegedly Shows Kim Jong-nam's Last Moments

Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink[8]

Read full story

References

  1. ^ was murdered (qz.com)
  2. ^ widely shared (qz.com)
  3. ^ once-cozy relations (qz.com)
  4. ^ colluding with hostile forces (www.cbc.ca)
  5. ^ withdrawn its diplomatic envoy (www.bbc.com)
  6. ^ cease all coal imports (edition.cnn.com)
  7. ^ establish a government-in-exile (askakorean.blogspot.hk)
  8. ^ Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink (qz.com)

Betsy DeVos’s Brother Is Setting Up A Private Army For China, Sources Say

Erik Prince founder of the private military company Blackwater, financial backer of President Donald Trump, brother to the new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and frequent Breitbart radio guest of White House power broker Stephen Bannon has been offering his military expertise to support Chinese government objectives and setting up Blackwater-style training camps in two Chinese provinces, according to sources and his own company statements.

The move could put him at odds with Trump, who has often taken a hard line against China, and could also risk violating US law, which prohibits the export of military services or equipment to China.[1]

Former associates of the 47-year-old Prince told BuzzFeed News that the controversial businessman envisions using the bases to train and deploy an army of Chinese retired soldiers who can protect Chinese corporate and government strategic interests around the world, without having to involve the Chinese People s Liberation Army. In December, Frontier Services Group, of which Prince is chairman, issued a press release that outlined plans to open a forward operating base in China s Yunnan province[2] and another in the troubled Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

He s been working very, very hard to get China to buy into a new Blackwater, said one former associate. He s hell bent on reclaiming his position as the world s preeminent private military provider. In an email to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for Frontier Services Group provided a statement[3] and strongly disputed that the company was going to become a new Blackwater, insisting that all of its security services were unarmed and therefore not regulated. FSG s services do not involve armed personnel or training armed personnel. The training at the Chinese bases would help non-military personnel provide close protection security, without the use of arms.

Mr. Prince and Mr. Trump know each other and share mutual respect, the statement added.

White House spokespersons did not respond to emails requesting comment for this story. Frontier Services Group trades on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and its largest shareholder is an investment fund owned and controlled by the People s Republic of China, CITIC. Until last year Frontier claimed to be merely a logistics and transportation company, steering clear of Prince s specialty of providing private military capabilities for operations though last March The Intercept news organization ran a story saying that Prince,[4] sometimes using his role at Frontier, was pitching security and paramilitary services. In the story, Frontier denied the company was involved. When Frontier later told its board it was shifting into security services largely to assist China s international development policy the development disgusted two American executives at Prince s Hong Kong company.

Gregg Smith, the former CEO of Frontier, said he was ready to quit last March if Erik Prince was not removed from the company. Then, at a board meeting late that month, he said a company official made clear that Frontier would be providing security services in support of Chinese government objectives. That was the final straw, he told BuzzFeed News. Retired US Admiral William Fallon, a Frontier board member, was at the same board meeting. He resigned too when he heard that the firm was providing security services. That wasn t what I signed up for, he said in an interview. President Donald Trump has talked tough about China. To be sure, he recently reaffirmed that the United States will formally recognize only mainland China and not Taiwan, a crucial point for Beijing. But Trump has installed a sharply anti-China critic as the head of his National Trade Council. Before winning the presidency, Trump called China an enemy[5]. Trump adviser Stephen Bannon, who interviewed Prince[6] on Breitbart frequently,[7] predicted last year that the US will be at war with China in the South China Sea in five to 10 years[8]. And even if no hot war breaks out, many experts believe Trump is gearing up[9] for a trade war[10] with the country[11] that manufactures much of the world s goods (including some Trump brand products[12].)

During the campaign, Prince donated $100,000 to the Trump Victory Committee, which supported both Trump s election bid and the Republican Party. Jeremy Scahill, a journalist who has long covered Prince, recently wrote that the businessman is advising the Trump Administration.[13]

Just four days before the election, Prince gave an interview to Breitbart radio, part of the media empire that Bannon used to run, in which Prince pushed an unfounded theory that the NYPD had been about to announce arrest warrants in the Clinton investigation[14] but was blocked by the Justice Department, and that Hillary Clinton had been to a sex island with a convicted pedophile at least six times. Prince s bizarre claims were prominently displayed on Breitbart s website leading up to the election and were widely distributed on right wing websites.

Now, however, Prince s new business foray could put him at odds with Trump. Former executives said that Frontier s forward operating bases will be training former People s Liberation Army soldiers to work as discreet non-uniformed soldiers for hire. The former associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Prince is making Frontier Services a full-on private military company.

As of the summer, this person continued, the plan was to set up Blackwater-like training facilities specifically to train the Chinese. Another former ally of Prince said: The idea is to train former PLA soldiers in the art of being private military contractor. That way the actual Red Army doesn t have to go into these remote areas. Asked about Frontier s claim that Prince was planning unarmed security projects, both sources dismissed it, and emphasized that was not their understanding. It is ridiculous, said one.

Are they using sonic weapons, joked the other. Is it psychic powers?

Prince is best known as the founder of Blackwater, a private military company Prince objects to the term mercenary that did phenomenal business during the war on terror. The firm was frequently embroiled in scandal: Four of its employees were killed in Fallujah in 2004, leading to a Marine Corps onslaught on the city; several former employees pleaded guilty to arms violations[15] in a lengthy investigation; and still others were convicted[16] in a wild shooting spree in Baghdad in which 17 civilians were slaughtered. Typically, Prince has been involved in ventures that he claims are in line with US foreign policy goals. He has reportedly helped the United Arab Emirates set up a military unit of former Colombian soldiers; pushed for an anti-piracy operation in the Puntland region of Somalia; and tried to sell a mercenary operation in Nigeria.
[17][18][19][20]

The current China plan appears to be different. China is widely understood to have interests that are adversarial to the US, and the two powers compete for world influence. And US law bans US citizens from exporting defense-related services or equipment to the country. Frontier s December press release said the Yunnan base would allow FSG to be able to better serve companies in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and[21] Cambodia.[22] The Uighur region, which would be home to the company s second base, abuts Afghanistan.

According to the press release these bases will provide training, communications, risk mitigation, risk assessments, information gathering, medevac and joint operations centers that coordinate security, logistics and aviation. The press release said the company was expanding its security offerings to include training for personnel, as well as Personnel Protection services, which is industry jargon for providing bodyguards. The December press release did not state that the security offerings would be unarmed. Frontier s expansion into China, its December press release said, was designed to help clients take advantage of China s new development plan, One Belt One Road, a massive program that many experts believe[23] aims to increase Chinese economic and political sway[24].

China expert Derek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute said US regulators would likely take a dim view of security operations in China s Uighur areas. It s at odds with the American government view that we don t want to help the Chinese oppress the Uighurs in Xinjiang.






References

  1. ^ prohibits the export of military services or equipment to China. (fas.org)
  2. ^ a forward operating base in China s Yunnan province (202.66.146.82)
  3. ^ provided a statement (www.documentcloud.org)
  4. ^ ran a story saying that Prince, (theintercept.com)
  5. ^ enemy (www.scmp.com)
  6. ^ interviewed Prince (www.breitbart.com)
  7. ^ frequently, (www.breitbart.com)
  8. ^ in the South China Sea in five to 10 years (www.theguardian.com)
  9. ^ gearing up (www.nytimes.com)
  10. ^ trade war (www.bloomberg.com)
  11. ^ the country (www.vanityfair.com)
  12. ^ Trump brand products (www.washingtonpost.com)
  13. ^ advising the Trump Administration. (theintercept.com)
  14. ^ in which Prince pushed an unfounded theory that the NYPD had been about to announce arrest warrants in the Clinton investigation (www.breitbart.com)
  15. ^ pleaded guilty to arms violations (s3.amazonaws.com)
  16. ^ were convicted (www.justice.gov)
  17. ^ military unit of former Colombian soldiers (www.nytimes.com)
  18. ^ anti-piracy operation in the Puntland (www.nytimes.com)
  19. ^ region of Somalia (www.nytimes.com)
  20. ^ mercenary operation in Nigeria (www.buzzfeed.com)
  21. ^ allow FSG to be able to better serve companies in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and (202.66.146.82)
  22. ^ Cambodia. (www.publicnow.com)
  23. ^ many experts believe (www.latimes.com)
  24. ^ increase Chinese economic and political sway (www.economist.com)
1 2 3 115