Deng Xiaoping's son (L) Deng Pufang talks to general Tian Xiusi at Great Hall of the People on Nov. 8, 2012. Tian has recently been placed under investigation for violation of Party discipline. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images)Deng Xiaoping's son (L) Deng Pufang talks to general Tian Xiusi at Great Hall of the People on Nov. 8, 2012. Tian has recently been placed under investigation for violation of Party discipline. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images)

Tian Xiusi, the former political chief of the Chinese Communist Party’s airforce, enjoyed a series of connections to elite political figures that allowed his career to prosper. His only problem was, they were the wrong figures.

With a July 9 announcement that he was under investigation, Tian is the latest retired military official to be purged for his association with a political faction that has opposed Party leader Xi Jinping.

Tian, 66, will now been handed to the People’s Liberation Army’s internal disciplinary unit on suspicion of corruption, according state mouthpiece Xinhua. His wife and secretary were also taken away, according to Beijing Daily, a semi-official Chinese publication.

Tian’s most recent occupation, after his retirement from the military last August, was deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, the regime’s faux legislature.

Tian is one of the highest ranking former Chinese military officers to be investigated for corruption since Xi Jinping took office in 2013. Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, both former vice chairs of the Central Military Commission, and patrons of Tian, have also been probed and purged.

Before taking on his civilian post in the regime’s legislature, Tian was a career military man. He had spent over 40 years in the Lanzhou Military Region in west China before being made political commissar of the neighboring Chengdu Military Region in 2009. (The Lanzhou Military Region and Chengdu Military Region have since been modified in a recent military reform.)

Then in October 2012, Tian was promoted to political commissar of the People’s Liberation Army’s air force—an unusual appointment at the time because Tian only had experience commanding ground troops.

It appears that Tian had secured his promotions through bribery, according to a recently published book by a former official who worked in a department linked with the old Lanzhou Military Region.

Chen Xi, the author of “The Autobiography of Guo Boxiong,” wrote that Tian had paid former military vice chair Guo Boxiong 50 million yuan (about $7.5 million) in 2012 to be the air force’s political commissar, according to Radio France International. Tian had also bribed Xu Caihou, the other military vice chair, to get the Chengdu job. Both Guo and Xu oversaw all promotions and appointments in the Chinese military during their tenure as vice chairs of the military.

Guo has been expelled from the Party for corruption in July 2015, and is currently awaiting trial. Xu passed away from bladder cancer in March 2015, but otherwise would almost certainly have been prosecuted.

Tian Xiusi also appears to have been something of an ally of Bo Xilai, the ambitious former Politburo member and chief of southwestern megapolis Chongqing.

After Tian’s investigation was announced, popular Chinese news website Netease declared in a headline that the former air force political chief had “frequent meetings” with Bo, though the report itself did not elaborate.

Overseas Chinese media offer more detail of the Tian-Bo connection. While Tian was still the political commissar of the old Chengdu Military Region in 2012, he issued an article that was widely interpreted to be supportive of Bo Xilai’s “red” political campaign in Chongqing, according to the Chinese language edition of Deutsche Welle.

Tian’s article was issued in April that year, merely two months after Bo’s former ally Wang Lijun attempted to defect to the United States Consulate in Chengdu spilling details of what is believed to have been a coup plot featuring Bo Xilai and then security czar Zhou Yongkang.

In a 2015 speech, Party leader Xi had implied that Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang, Xu Caihou, and two others had “carried political plot activities” to “wreck and split” the Communist Party. These disgraced elite cadres are known to be part of a rival political network grouped around former Party chief Jiang Zemin.

Given Tian Xiusi’s connections to Jiang’s loyalists, it would appears that his purge is part of Xi’s attempt to root out Jiang’s influence in the military and the Party, and consolidate his control over the regime.

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The Chinese navy docked three ships at Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam Port on May 30 for a four-day meeting on how to fight piracy in the Indian Ocean, according to a report from state-run news outlet Xinhua.
Chinese diplomats and Tanzanian Navy officials attended a welcoming ceremony at the port, and the brief report notes the Chinese navy has been sending warships to the Gulf of Aden since December 2008 (as have many other nations) for escort missions, mainly due to the threat of Somali pirates.
The more important element to this story, however, is what’s not being said. The real story was detailed in a report published in The Namibian on Nov. 19, 2014, which said China was planning to build 18 naval bases with a goal to surround the Indian Ocean.
It said these alleged naval bases would be in countries including Tanzania, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Mozambique, Seychelles, and Madagascar. The source of the article in The Namibian was a 2013 story published in a Chinese state-run newspaper, the International Herald Leader.
The Chinese regime initially denied the report, but in the time since then, China has signed deals with every country listed to either gain port access or cooperate on building new ports.
China has also been stirring up trouble with India, with naval incursions that Indian officials have deemed too close for comfort. As Indian defense officials began to express their concerns, a senior captain from China’s National Defense University warned India on June 1, 2015, saying the Indian Ocean is not India’s backyard.
I detailed some of these incidents in a report on Oct. 26, 2015, and explained that China has a long-term interest in gaining influence over key chokepoints, and all signs suggest that the Indian Ocean will be its next naval focal point.
Richard Fisher, senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said in a previous interview that “one of the opening moves in China’s quest for global military and economic dominance” is to first break out of the South China Sea, “and then project into the Indian Ocean.”

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The Chinese regime may soon deploy submarines armed with nuclear missiles for patrols in the Pacific Ocean, according to the Guardian. It appears the Guardian’s story is based more on analysis and not from a direct announcement by the Chinese military, but the analysis does hold its ground.
Chinese military officials are not commenting on when they will start the first patrols of their nuclear-armed submarines, but the report says they “insist the move is inevitable.” The Guardian also cites a May 18 analysis by the Federation of American Scientists on a report from the U.S. Department of Defense about China’s nuclear forces.
“China will probably conduct its first SSBN [ballistic missile submarine] nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016,” the report says, and the analysis notes China has deployed submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons in the past, but it was unclear on whether or not they were armed.
It says all four of China’s operational Jin-class SSBNs are in its Longpo (Yulin) Submarine Base on Hainan Island. It says China also has two Shang-class nuclear submarines at the base, and is constructing a fifth Jin-class submarine as well.
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Any deployment of the submarines would inevitably have them pass through the South China Sea (where Hainan Island is located).
If China deployment of nuclear weapons in the South China Sea, it would very likely inflame the already volatile tensions in the region. The Chinese regime claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety and has enraged many neighboring countries by building artificial islands with military bases, and used its military to chase off foreign ships.

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The Chinese regime allegedly sent two fighter jets to intercept a U.S. military plane in international airspace in the South China Sea.
A brief Pentagon statement announcing the incident was posted on Twitter by Dan Linden of ABC News. The Department of Defense (DoD) did not immediately respond to a phone call and email to confirm the claims.
It states the DoD is reviewing the incident, which took place on May 17. Two “tactical aircraft” were sent by the Chinese regime to intercept a U.S. maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft.
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The incident took place in international airspace, it states, “during a routine patrol of the South China Sea.” It notes that “initial reports characterized the incident as unsafe.”
Many details are still unclear—particularly the exact location of the incident.
The incident comes on the heels of a similar incident a week ago, on May 10. The Chinese regime scrambled two fighter jets and three warships, and had them chase the USS William P. Lawrence, a guided missile destroyer, near the Fiery Cross Reef.
Read MoreChina Deploys Fighter Jets to Chase US Destroyer in South China Sea
The Fiery Cross Reef is part of the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea, and it’s about 500 miles south of the Chinese mainland. It’s internationally recognized as being in international waters, but the Chinese regime has claimed the reef where it constructed an island and a military base—complete with a nearly 10,000-foot airstrip.

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The Chinese regime has begun construction on a military base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, that will be used to extend the reach of its military.
“Currently, construction of infrastructure for the support facilities has started, and the Chinese side has dispatched personnel to Djibouti for relevant work,” said Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, in a transcript of a Feb. 25 press briefing.
Qian said the base will logistical support will be among the base’s main uses. He claimed the Chinese regime would use it for missions to escort ships through the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast, and for “peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance.”
According to other Chinese officials, however, the base could be the start of a more nefarious agenda.
A major general in the Chinese military recently called for China to contain the United States by attacking its finances, saying “that’s the way to control America’s lifeblood.”
The call was made by Maj. Gen. , a professor at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) National Defense University, in an op-ed published in the official mouthpiece of the PLA, China Military Online.
Liang said a key part of this strategy, the CCP should place strategic importance on major shipping channels, including the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait, Gwadar Port, and the China–Pakistan Railway.
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The PLA’s military base in Djibouti is at the mouth of the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb, which sees close to 3.2 million barrels of oil pass through it each day.
Liang is one of two PLA officers who wrote the 1999 book, “Unrestricted Warfare,” which has become a roadmap for China’s use of unconventional warfare—from currency manipulation to cyberattacks.
In his recent op-ed, and noting a long-term strategy to control key points with geopolitical value, he states “To effectively contain the United States, other countries shall think more about how to cut off the capital flow to the United States while formulating their strategies.”

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This news analysis was originally dispatched as part of Epoch Times China email newsletters. Subscribe to the newsletters by filling your email in the “China D-brief” box under this article.
It was a long time coming, but the Chinese regime recently confirmed what military analysts have been predicting for years. China signed a deal with Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, to build an overseas military base.
The foreign ministry spokesperson of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Hong Lei, said on Jan. 21 the base will give logistical support to the Chinese military, as it helps with anti-piracy operations.
The significance of the move, however, is likely less about military and more about business. China is working on deals to gain port access at every major maritime trade chokepoint, and the base in Djibouti will be a major step towards its objectives.
An unnamed journalist mentioned in the foreign ministry transcript that alongside the base deal, the CCP signed a deal with Djibouti that sets up a “free trade zone, expand[s] Djibouti’s role for transshipment of goods in trade between China and the world, and let[s] Chinese banks operate in Djibouti.”
The Chinese regime made a subtle move last year, which hinted at the deal. On April 2, 2015, China sent its Type 054A Linyi frigate to help evacuate 449 Chinese citizens from Yemen, who were then brought to Djibouti.
And while the world was watching the Chinese ship help in the evacuations, it sent a squadron of three warships, 800 sailors, and a special forces team to hold “anti-piracy patrols” in the nearby Gulf of Aden.
It then decided to leave the naval squadron in the region, and Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Sun Weidong, said at the time the Chinese warships would “keep pirates away from one of the most important water courses in the world.”
It was also then that China began asking Djibouti for either special port access or basing rights.
On the surface there’s nothing special about a country wanting a military base in Djibouti—particularly since China is taking part in anti-piracy patrols in nearby waters.
The United States, France, and Japan also have military bases there, and it’s used as a staging area for anti-terror and anti-piracy operations.
As I’ve reported before, the real reason behind China’s interest in Djibouti likely ties to its push to have a military presence at all major maritime trade chokepoints.
The broader picture is that whoever controls the world’s shipping chokepoints controls the flow of oil and close to 90 percent of global trade.
Protecting this system is one of the key objectives of the United States under the “Pax Americana,” and the Chinese regime is trying to build a similar system, but in a way that more closely serves its interests while denying the interests of others.
The idea is that whoever secures the global trade channels also has influence over global trade. What has some defense experts concerned about the CCP replicating this system is that while the United States offers its service without cost and allows open access to all, the CCP system may be more selective with who can pass.
The concern is well grounded, since the CCP is already denying both air and maritime access to other nations in areas it has claimed in the South China Sea—and is stirring up trouble with most of the region’s neighboring countries.
The CCP’s presence in the South China Sea gives it influence over trade coming through the Strait of Malacca, which sees close to 13.6 million barrels of oil pass through it each day.
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Robert Haddick, author of “Fire on the Water: China, America, and the Future of the Pacific,” explained this push in a previous interview with Epoch Times, and noted, “I think people don’t appreciate this problem or threat because it’s so unfamiliar.”
The world’s most important chokepoints for shipping oil are the Strait of Malacca, the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz, the Panama Canal, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the Turkish Straits—and the Chinese regime is working on deals to gain port access around all of these.
Djibouti is positioned at the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb, which sees close to 3.2 million barrels of oil pass through it each day.

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A soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy in Hong Kong on May 1, 2007. (MN Chan/Getty Images)A soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy in Hong Kong on May 1, 2007. (MN Chan/Getty Images)

The Chinese regime said it’s wrapping up its construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, and all signs suggest its next big push will be into the Indian Ocean.

Conflicts are already surfacing. India was caught off guard in May, when the Chinese regime docked a submarine in the nearby port of Karachi in Pakistan. Close to two months later, on July 1, Chinese defense spokesman senior Col. Yang Yujin tried lightening the concern by saying the Chinese navy’s activities in the Indian Ocean are “open and transparent.”

The same day, a very different announcement was made by a senior captain from China’s National Defense University. He warned India, saying they cannot view the Indian Ocean as their backyard.

It’s unlikely the Chinese will back down, according to Richard Fisher, senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

“An effort to break out of the South China Sea, and then project into the Indian Ocean is one of the opening moves in China’s quest for global military and economic dominance,” Fisher said in a phone interview.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is trying to build new international trade networks under its own control. Part of this will be its new Silk Road, which will include connecting China to Pakistan with roads, rails, and oil pipelines. The other side of this is its “Maritime Silk Road,” coupled with an effort to gain control or influence at all major maritime trade chokepoints.

Pakistan's Gwadar Port is in construction on Feb. 12, 2013. The Chinese regime has 40-year rights to manage the port, and its naval push into the region has India on edge. (Behram Baloch/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan’s Gwadar Port is in construction on Feb. 12, 2013. The Chinese regime has 40-year rights to manage the port, and its naval push into the region has India on edge. (Behram Baloch/AFP/Getty Images)

What it’s trying to do is replicate the Pax Americana—only with a Chinese model based around selective access and strong-arming nearby countries.

The Pax Americana is the projection of U.S. military power, which secures free trade and supports a relative global peace. This includes placing military assets at all strategic sea lines of communications (SLOCs).

Experts call the Chinese version of the Pax Americana the “Pax Sinica.” To build this, the CCP plans to abandon “the traditional mentality that land outweighs sea” and begin to “protect the security of strategic SLOCs and overseas interests,” according to the Chinese military strategy white paper released on May 26.

As opposed to the U.S. system, however, the Chinese strategy is based on a version of mercantilism to control trade—as we’ve witnessed in its military push in the South China Sea, where it is beginning to deny access to other nations.

“It’s long been my conclusion that China’s ultimate goal is to become the pre-eminent global superpower, and to suppress the United States where necessary in the achievement of this goal,” Fisher said.

“China basically wants to benefit from such a pre-eminent position as has the United States for most of the period since World War II,” he said.

China's first aircraft carrier, a former Soviet carrier, after its handover to the People's Liberation Army navy in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, on Sept. 24, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

China’s first aircraft carrier, a former Soviet carrier, after its handover to the People’s Liberation Army navy in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, on Sept. 24, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

Because of this strategy, its version of trade requires its military to subdue everyone within its trading sphere. Its push into the Indian Ocean, coupled with land routes into Pakistan and Sri Lanka, is likewise viewed by many experts in India as a move to surround India—one of the largest competitors to the Chinese economy.

The CCP’s strategy to control maritime chokepoints is already well underway. For the outlet of the Strait of Malacca, the Chinese military has pressed into the South China Sea. For the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb, they’re planning to build a military base in Djibouti. For the Turkish Straits, they’re trying to strike deals around the new Silk Road program.

They are making similar moves at nearly every other key trade chokepoint on the map—but the Indian Ocean is a different story. They’ve already struck a 40-year deal with Pakistan to manage a port in Gwadar, and India isn’t happy with the idea of Chinese warships having a constant presence in its nearby waters.

“Gwadar, of course, is tied to parallel Pakistani and Chinese ambitions,” Fisher said, noting this ties both to Pakistan’s interest in keeping separatist factions at bay in Balochistan, where the port is located, as well as to Chinese ambitions “to make multiple access routes into the Indian Ocean.”

The Next Job

The CCP announced on June 16 that its programs to build artificial islands in the South China Sea were coming to a close. While its efforts there have continued with the construction of facilities on the fake islands, the dredgers that were once hard at work pumping sand onto reefs are now free and ready for their next job.

This is where business comes into play. The dredgers used to build China’s new artificial islands are owned by state-run companies that have stakes in the Silk Road initiative. Among these companies are the Chinese Communications Construction Company (CCCC), China Merchants Holdings (International) (CMHI), and China State Construction and Engineering Company (CSCEC).

More than half of China’s dredging capacity is controlled by CCCC, which does most of its business through an overseas subsidiary, China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), according to a Sept. 17 report from the U.S. Naval Institute.

It states, “As China expands into the Indian Ocean and wraps up construction in Southeast Asia,” the same types of assets it used to build islands in the South China Sea may be relocated to build ports in the Indian Ocean.

These ports, it states, would give the Chinese regime a “logistics chain for its naval activities in what its strategists term the Far Seas.”

A significant portion of the projects these companies are involved in tie directly to the its Maritime Silk Road. Among these are large-scale port projects in Pakistan’s Karachi and Gwadar—as well as in nearby Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port City, Hambantota Port, and others.

While this new effort is just starting, according to Robert Haddick, an independent contractor at U.S. Special Operations Command, it’s important to remember that most observers and analysts were caught off guard by the speed of the CCP’s construction in the South China Sea.

“You couldn’t find many analysts who could have guessed where we are today with the sand piles that China has managed to build up in the South China Sea,” Haddick said, in a phone interview. “It happened pretty suddenly and in a surprising fashion.”

“We shouldn’t close our minds to the possibility of further surprises in the Indian Ocean region also,” he said.

Surrounding the Indian Ocean

The newspaper The Namibian stirred up controversy on Nov. 19, 2014, when it published a report saying the CCP is planning to build 18 naval bases surrounding the Indian Ocean. It listed these bases in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Seychelles, and Madagascar.

It emphasized these bases would give the Chinese navy a presence in the northern Indian Ocean, western Indian Ocean, and central south Indian Ocean.

The CCP initially denied the claims, yet in the time since the article was published, every country listed by The Namibian has moved forward with programs with the CCP, either granting it port access or working with it to construct new ports.

The Namibian’s source was a 2013 article in a Chinese state-run newspaper, the International Herald Leader, which allegedly proposed an additional 18 overseas Chinese military bases including at Pakistan’s Gwadar Port and Sri Lanka’s Port of Hambantota (Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port).

The Namibian came back with another report on Jan. 20, noting that less than a week after the CCP denied the paper’s claims, the Chinese regime started moving forward with the rumored plans.

The paper published a leaked confidential letter from PLA Senior Col. Geng Yansheng, dated Dec. 22, 2014, and addressed to Namibia’s Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Selma Ashipala-Musavyi by Abed. The two allegedly met to discuss “several issues of mutual interest and benefit.”

The letter discussed a proposed Chinese naval base in Namibia—the likes of which Geng publicly said the PLA “currently” lacks.

The reports supported what military analysts have long suspected. In what they refer to as the “string of pearls,” they believe the Chinese regime will build a string of naval bases into the Indian Ocean, which it can use to extend its military reach.

According to Robert C. O’Brien of Real Clear Defense on March 25, the thinkers behind the CCP’s string of pearls strategy may already be eyeing the next step.

“China’s Indian Ocean-based ‘string of pearls’ naval base strategy to protect the country’s 21st century vision of a ‘maritime silk road’ looks like it may now extend all the way to the South Atlantic,” O’Brien wrote.

“For India, a Chinese naval presence in nearby waters is a dawning reality,” he  wrote.

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