Day Three: CIOR Seminar Dives Deep

Day three of the CIOR Seminar continued the trend of taking a deeper dive into specific areas of interest in China, with Cyber Strategy, Taiwan and the South China Sea studied further by John Lee, Dr Sarah Kirchberger and Dr Bill Hayton.

By: Lt Sarah George, UK Army and 2nd Lt Catalin Florea, Romanian Air Force, both with background from CIOR’s Young Reserve Officer program.

While the public agenda is dominated by cyber espionage, China’s real ambition in the Information and communications technology (ICT) environment is “to achieve a situation of mutual vulnerability”, believes Mr. John Lee, from the Mercator Institute for China Studies.

As the world sees Chinese digital presence increasing, especially through Huawei and Tik-Tok, the underlying reality remains that the country relies on Western companies, its strategic adversaries, for upstream technologies. It is believed to be ten-fifteen years behind the most advanced Western nations in the manufacturing of semiconductors, and currently imports almost all of the microchips it requires.

It is also dependent on the American university system for the training of its cyber experts and entrepreneurs.

                                                                 “There is no doubt about China’s intention

                                                                           to become a “cyber superpower”

However, there is no doubt about China’s intention to become a “cyber superpower” – a goal stated by president Xi Jinping himself. To this end, China has benefited from acting as a manufacturing hub for Western technology companies. It has also developed strong domestic control of the internet, turning it into a contained network where search queries are resolved locally and at least two million human censors are engaged in content monitoring and filtering.

As it pursues absolute transparency of online actions at home, the Communist Party of China (CPC) also supports stronger Chinese presence in engineering commissions setting new standards and internationally, in the developing markets which will provide the next waves of internet users, believes Mr. Lee.

– Increasingly aggressive posture towards Taiwan

The Taiwanese “are basically incapable of becoming citizens of the PRC”, stated Dr. Sarah Kirchberger, Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK), towards the end of a compelling presentation about the China-Taiwan relationship, in the context of an increasingly aggressive Chinese posture.

Dr. Kirchberger pointed out that Taiwan is perceived as a current threat by China on several levels – politically, geostrategically and, more specifically, as a de facto ally of the US. Indeed, holding Taiwan is regarded as the key to China’s development into a seapower, as it provides access to deep waters and a way out of the US friendly islands off the East and South East coast of China.

Therefore, “retaking Taiwan is the PLA’s [People’s Liberation Army, China’s armed forces] primary mission”, believes Dr. Kirchberger. To this end, she commented on the Chinese interest towards the Russian hybrid war in Crimea, frequent military actions and exercises around Taiwan, as well as regular cyber and information attacks on media and public institutions.

As a harbinger of an even more aggressive approach, president Xi Jinping stated that “the Taiwan question” should be solved by 2049, the centenary of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

– Appeasement has rarely worked

For the US, “this is a massive challenge in every sense”, said Dr. Kirchberger, confronting NATO’s focus on Europe and Russia to the interest of the US in preserving the current status of Taiwan. The speaker advocated for a policy of deterrence towards China, rather than appeasement, as “looking at the track record of rising powers wanting to change the status quo, appeasement has rarely worked”.

Dr. Bill Hayton’s subsequent lecture on the South China Sea and Chinese interest in the area was the perfect follow-on from Dr. Kirchberger’s talk on Taiwan.

The strategic Importance of deep sea

The key for both of the talks was the strategic importance of deep sea to create access and then an impregnable bastion for Chinese ballistic missile submarines to manoeuvre within. Looking at an aerial photograph of China, one is immediately struck by the fact that the whole coast has extended continental shelf, which isn’t deep enough for the submarines to operate in. Thus China’s strategy for retaking Taiwan has been complemented with a strategy to reclaim the South China Sea.

Man-made islands

Dr. Hayton explained how the historical claim that China has presented to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is actually based on a series of historical cock-ups by geographers with dotted lines being coloured in to create island claims where there were no islands and mistranslations.

Despite The Philippines having won the PCA award [Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration], China has refused to accept it, despite the fact it is legally binding. Dr. Hayton nevertheless concluded that there are yet grounds for optimism, as the PRC still feels the need to justify its actions in rules based language.

Screenshot from Dr. Bill Hayton’s lecture on the South China Sea

Photo gallery by Lt Col Bill Grieve (R), US Army/ CIOR Public Affairs:

China expert at CIOR Seminar: – Should keep our minds open

The annual CIOR Seminar – titled “China, Threat or Opportunity” – opened on Saturday (22. Feb.) with introductions by former Swiss Ambassador Philippe Welti and Dr. Andreas Wolfrum* on Chinese strategic interests, culture and economy, setting the scene for the rest of the week where the lectures were scheduled to take a deeper dive into more specific questions.

By: Lt Sarah George, UK Army and 2nd Lt Catalin Florea, Romanian Air Force, both with background from CIOR’s Young Reserve Officer program.

Sunday included lectures by Dr. Christopher D. Yung, Dr. Oliver Corff and Dr. Lyle Goldstein.

                                            “We should keep our mind open to the possibility of change 

                                                                                                            in Chinese Foreign Policy.”

                                                                                                                              – Dr. Lyle Goldstein

Dr. Yung opened with a baseline brief on what most China experts agree on: that China has experienced unprecedented economic growth, which has coincided with an increased defence budget: 10% growth for two decades; a constantly modernising military and finally, although it is still a point of debate whether China does indeed pose a threat to US national security, there are definitely contingencies that could involve direct conflict.

Dr. Yung then went on to discuss his own professional take on China and its intent, that it prioritises internal security over defence.

                                              “What keeps Xi Jinping up at night worrying is Xinjiang.”

                                                                                                                                                     – Dr. Yung

What keeps Xi Jinping (Chinese President) up at night worrying is Xinjiang, says Dr. Yung. Xinjiang is an autonomous region in North-Western China. A substantial part of the population are Turkish tribes with Muslim faith. The Uighurs alone constitute 45 per cent of the population in the province, and they have since long felt socially and economically marginalized in China. Human rights activists claim that that Uighurs are subject to religious persecution.

Dr. Lyle Goldstein (left) and Dr. Christopher Yung (right) with Lt Col Hans Garrels (centre), Dutch Army and Chairman of the CIOR Seminar Committee. Photo: Lt (R) Sarah Alexandra George, UK Army.

Stronger, more unified international power

Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign has aided him to consolidate power, placing China in a stronger, more unified position to act internationally.

What China really wants is not a subject universally agreed on, but Dr. Yung argued a very strong case for why China would want the period of strategic opportunity to continue: A peaceful and stable environment is key for a nation that has incredibly ambitious economic growth targets. Unlike Western nations, China doesn’t see a trade spat as equating to increased likelihood of conflict.

Wants to return to regional hegemony

Dr. Yung presented evidence for why China would want to reform the international order, however, returning to regional hegemony in a multipolar world.

As these long term objectives are contrary to US national security interests, he argued that this poses a challenge to the US, especially as China does have, and is further developing, the capability to operate ‘out of area’ in protection of overseas economic and political interests.

He argued that while China does not currently pose a global military threat to the International System, and NATO, the US is a core constituent part of NATO.

“Military-civilian fusion”

The concept of a strong China is tightly related to the “mutual dependence between economic and military strength”, said Dr. Oliver Corff during the CIOR Seminar in Bonn.

Dr. Corff spoke about military-civilian fusion as an important principle of Chinese development plans, connecting civilian areas such as manufacturing to national defence.

He pointed out stability as the most important interest of the Communist Party of China (CPC), as this enables its secure and unchallenged rule.

Territorial Integrity

Another core interest is territorial integrity, fuelled by concerns regarding regions such as Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet – and, more recently – Hong Kong and the South China Sea.

Finally, a third core interest would be development in all areas, from military to healthcare, rooted in Leninist historical determinism, said Dr. Corff.

China’s national security framework stands as a manifestation of this approach, as it covers not only military or territorial issues, but also extends to environment, society and culture.

“Asia’s Security Paradox”

Dr. Corff considers that China’s grand strategy is a good match to Asia’s Security Paradox – the fact that strengthening economic ties and interdependencies does not result into commensurate increases in regional security and mutual confidence.

* Dr Andreas Wolfrum works at the Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the Budeswehr, Department of Education, and is himself a Naval Reserve Officer with the rank of Commander. 

Image gallery by 2nd Lt Catalin Florea, Romanian Air Force.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Seminar 2020” launched in Bonn

The CIOR Seminar 2020 opened in Bonn Saturday morning, with over 50 participants from 13 nations.

Among many European countries represented were also Australia, South Africa and the USA. The theme for this year’s Seminar is “China – Threat or Opportunity?”, with a distinguished panel of very high calibre speakers. The audience spans from young reserve officers to CIOR Vice Presidents (heads of national delegations) and military staff specialists.

Have a look at this presentation video!

For more on the 2020 CIOR Seminar, click here!

 

Young Reserve Officer Outreach Seminar in Czech Republic in March

The Czech Republic is hosting this year’s Young Reserve Officer Outreach Seminar (YROS) 25 – 28 March. The seminar, which will take place in Brno, is titled «NATO and the cultural challenges on missions».

The seminar is open to all reserve and active duty officers up to the rank of Major. Organizers ask member nations to encourage junior reserve and active duty officers to participate.

The seminar will focus on introducing junior reserve officers from NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP) countries to the basics of NATO, cultural aspects of missions and international leadership.

The seminar’s primary objective: To assist in integration of YROs from NATO/PfP nations into a coalition environment. The seminar contributes to development of knowledge of NATO/CIOR structure and mission as well as leadership skills. It provides initial international/coalition experience for participants and increases awareness of alliance security issues.

For official invitation with all relevant information, click here.

For agenda, click here.

Some impressions and group shots from last year’s YRO seminar:

Online Registration for the 2019 Seminar has begun

Online Registration for the 2019 Seminar has begun

Start: 2019-01-27 | End: 2019-01-29
Location: Bonn, Germany

Warfare 2030 – Technology, Policy, Ethics

 

Three Technological Trends: Autonomous Devices, Internet of Things, PsyOps

 

Please register for the event at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-cior-seminar-tickets-48929890620:

  1. Select the type and amount of tickets for the event and click “Register Now” – Note: bus tickets for transportation to the CIOR Mid-Winter-Meeting in Brussels are available through this site as well
  2. Complete the registration form and click “Proceed to Payment Options” – Note: there is a checkbox which allows you to copy your details for all tickets selected
  3. Select “Invoice” as method of payment and click “Proceed to Finalize Registration”
  4. Scroll down to the payment overview section and click on “View Invoice”
  5. Transfer the total amount to the bank account, stating your registration code(s), both given on the invoice

Please note that the fee of 250 EUR will cover accommodation and meals. Cheaper Day passes are also available (meals included in the day passes).

We will provide you with more details on the event upon completed registration.

 

Please do not hesitate to forward this information to likeminded colleagues and comrades. We are very much looking forward to welcoming you in Bonn in January!

The 2018 Seminar – First Impressions

The 2018 Seminar – First Impressions

The 2018 CIOR Seminar has successfully been concluded – find some first impressions here:

The 2018 Seminar – First Impressions

The 2018 Seminar – First Impressions

The 2018 Seminar – First Impressions

The 2018 Seminar – First Impressions

The 2018 Seminar – First Impressions

The 2018 Seminar – First Impressions

The 2018 Seminar – First Impressions

Read the 2017 After Action Report

Read the 2017 After Action Report

The 2017 CIOR Seminar, assembling Reserve Officers from some 15 countries, most of them NATO members, took its participants from an opening shock statement through an intellectual exercise to a conceptual training and released them on the last day with the well-deserved satisfaction of having done something useful for the security and future well-being not only of the seminar participants but of the societies represented by Reserve Officers.

“Sudden knock-out or eventual points loss – How our security state will lose the fight” is the shock statement with which the Seminar’s theme was introduced.

 

Read more

Participants welcome evolution of the CIOR Seminar

Participants welcome evolution of the CIOR Seminar

This year’s CIOR Seminar on IS brought together a diverse audience and speakers from a wide range of subjects and professions, allowing for energetic discussions in which opinions were constructively challenged and scrutinised.

This traditional CIOR Seminar atmosphere and the introduction of small-group workshops was designed to offer an environment which merged diverse perspectives of NATO member conferees to address an issue of great contemporary importance.

The current Seminar-survey shows that these goals were met: 100 percent of the survey’s participants rated this year’s topic as highly relevant, and three quarters considered this year’s seminar to be excellent. The evolved schedules – allowing for more frequent breaks in which to further discuss and digest the presentations – and the introduction of smaller workshops were widely seen as welcome additions to the seminar.

This positive evaluation was shared by the speakers – 90 percent of whom would like to stay in touch with the seminar.

The West’s Potential Military Response to Russia’s New Status and Direction

The West’s Potential Military Response to Russia’s New Status and Direction

Dr. Guillaume Lasconjarias, Research Advisor at the NATO Defense College in Rome, argued that the current crisis in the Ukraine was in fact just one challenge for NATO on a list of many. Nevertheless, he found that the crisis so close to NATO’s borders would ideally serve as a “wake-up-call” for the Organization in terms of rapid response.

NATO’s Readiness Action Plan (RAP) ensures that the Alliance is ready to respond swiftly and firmly to new security challenges and is the most significant reinforcement of NATO’s collective defense since the end of the Cold War. The NATO Response Force (NRF) and especially the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) are foreseen to answer to all threats within 30 days and 48 hours respectively. However, the challenge is more of a financial and thus political nature as high readiness is very expensive. Given that only three states actually fulfill NATO’s requirement of a minimum spending of 2% of a nation’s GDP on its military forces, we should remain skeptical if the RAP can be fully implemented, however, Dr. Lasconjarias argued.

Possible consequences for relationship and interference between USA-China-Russia-NATO

Possible consequences for relationship and interference between USA-China-Russia-NATO

Dr. Matthew Rhodes, Professor of National Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies gave an overview of relations between the West (NATO, EU, USA) and the East (Russia, China).

With regards to Russia, Dr. Rhodes looked at NATO enlargement and identified it as a possible contributor to conflict, even though the enlargement was initiated by these states and not NATO itself. While there is absolutely no common ground and hence no room for negotiation with regard to the Ukraine conflict, Russia and the West at least share mutual interests in Afghanistan. Russia’s foreign policy aims that the country is again recognized as a (regional) super power even though its power in terms of GDP, population or defense spending do not support this.

The US decision to rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific-region in 2012 is mainly due to China, which is surrounded by “a ring of conflict”. The country, which annually increases its annual defense budget by 15-17%, is testing its power (and its limits). Both NATO and the EU have limited roles in the region and the focus remains on the US, Dr. Rhodes argued.

While there are limiting factors to cooperation between China and Russia, the Ukraine crisis has certainly brought the two countries closer together and lead to an increase in trade relations and energy cooperation.

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