Focus: China warns Ukraine war “thorough research”, wary of Starlink | Reuters

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – What China needs is the ability to shoot down Starlink low-orbit satellites and protect tanks and helicopters from Javelin anti-tank missiles. in Ukraine as they plan for a possible armed conflict with US-led forces.

March 8 China needs the ability to shoot down Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit and protect tanks and helicopters from Javelin anti-tank missiles – this is the US military-led effort. It is a challenge identified by Chinese military researchers who have studied the Russian forces struggling in Ukraine in their plans for a possible armed conflict with the forces. Ukrainian soldiers with spears in northern Kyiv region, Ukraine. Picture taken in March 2022 (2023 REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

Reuters analyzed nearly 100 articles published in more than 20 defense-related journals. China’s military-industrial complex is under scrutiny over the impact of US-made weapons and technology used against Chinese forces in the event of a conflict with Taiwan.

These Chinese-language journals document the work of hundreds of researchers within a network of PLA-affiliated universities, state-owned arms manufacturers, and military intelligence think tanks, which Ukraine has interfered with .

While Chinese officials have called for peace and dialogue and refrained from making openly critical comments about Moscow’s actions or its actions on the battlefield, papers published in public journals have highlighted the shortcomings of the Russian military, has been evaluated in more blunt.

China’s defense ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the researchers’ conclusions. Reuters was unable to determine the extent to which the researchers’ conclusions reflected the thinking of Chinese military leaders.

According to two embassy attachés familiar with China’s defense research and another diplomat, the final research agenda is set and directed by the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, led by President Xi Jinping It is a meeting . It is also clear from the amount of research that military leaders want to take advantage of the conflict in Ukraine. The three and other diplomatic officials spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about their work.

A US defense official told Reuters that China is learning from the war in Ukraine, although the situation in Taiwan is different.

“The lesson the world should learn from the rapid international response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is that there will be more joint action against aggression in the future,” said the official. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the subject, and did not mention that China’s research on the specific capabilities of the US military raises alarm.

What stood out among the six papers by researchers linked to the People’s Liberation Army were China’s concerns about the role of Starlink. Starlink is a satellite network developed by SpaceX, a space development company founded in the United States by Elon Musk, that the Ukrainian military will maintain communications functions despite Russian missile attacks on the contributing Ukrainian power grid.

A September paper co-authored by several researchers from the People’s Liberation Army College of Engineering said, “Starlink satellites have shown excellent performance in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.”・ It is certain that the countries of the West aims for widespread use of Starlink.

China is also aiming to develop its own satellite network similar to Starlink, but the paper’s authors said there is an “urgent need” for China to find a way to shoot down or disable Starlink satellites. SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.

The invasion of Ukraine also seems to have led to a consensus among Chinese researchers that it makes more sense to invest more in drone weapons. China has declared Taiwan under its control and continues to test drones in the airspace around Taiwan.

A paper published in a journal on tank warfare published by NORINCO, a state-owned arms manufacturer that supplies the People’s Liberation Army, touched on the ability of drones to neutralize enemy defenses, calling it “war in the future.” In , these drones will play the role of ‘kicking in the door’.”

Some journals are published by research institutions at a local level, while others are official publications of central government agencies, such as the Ministry of National Defense Science and Technology, which is responsible for arms production and military modernization.

In a paper published in the October issue of the National Defense Science and Technology Agency’s magazine, the National Defense Science and Technology Agency reported that missiles such as the Stinger and Javelin operated by Ukrainian troops have “damaged Russian tanks, armored vehicles, and naval serious China should improve its ability to protect its equipment, taking into account the “damage”.

Colin Ko, a security researcher at the Rajaratnam International School of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said that the conflict in Ukraine is a reflection of the long-standing efforts of PLA scientists to develop cyberwarfare models and improve armor against the modern weapons of Western powers. gives momentum to

“Starlink is just a new headache for them because it’s a military application of advanced civilian technology that can’t be easily replicated.”

Beyond technology, Ko said it was no surprise that China was studying the operations of Ukrainian special forces in Russia. China, like Russia, relies on railways to transport troops and weapons, making it vulnerable to damage.

Although the PLA is modernizing rapidly, it does not have much combat experience in recent years. The last major conflict was the invasion of Vietnam in 1979, and the conflict simmered into the late 1980s.

At the time Reuters was examining Chinese journals, Western countries were increasingly concerned that China was planning to supply Russia with deadly weapons to support its attack on the Ukraine, which the Chinese side denies.

Several papers underline the implications of the Ukraine conflict given the risk that China could clash regionally with the United States and its allies, possibly over Taiwan. Although the United States maintains a policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding military intervention in defense of Taiwan, it is legally required to provide Taiwan with the means of self-defense.

CIA Director William Burns said Xi had instructed the military to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027, but Russia’s battles in Ukraine have unsettled him.

A paper published in October by two researchers at the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University analyzed the impact of the US supply of the HIMARS high-mobility rocket artillery system to Ukraine and whether the People’s Liberation Army should be concerned about it.

“In the future, if we dare to introduce HIMARS to Taiwan, HIMARS, which was once called a ‘tool for breaking the war situation,’ will experience a different fate in the face of a different opponent.”

The paper focuses on the Chinese rocket artillery system supported by reconnaissance drones and attributes the success of HIMARS in Ukraine to the sharing of target information from the United States via Starlink.

According to four diplomatic officials, including the embassy’s two attachés, PLA analysts had long been concerned about US military capability, but the conflict in Ukraine prompted Western powers to step up. a situation where large countries have not overwhelmed small countries that have received aid.

Of course, such a scenario would also apply to Taiwan, but there are some differences. In particular, China is in a position where it is easy to block Taiwan, and a direct conflict is inevitable if the forces of other countries try to help.

In contrast, in the case of Ukraine, Western countries can supply Ukraine overland through neighboring European countries.

The journals analyzed by Reuters made relatively few mentions of Taiwan, but Chinese defense analysts said the In addition to the published papers, it is said to be responsible for providing internal reports for senior government and military officials. Reuters did not have access to these internal reports.

Taiwan’s Defense Minister Qiu Guozhong said in February that the People’s Liberation Army was learning from Russia’s attack on Ukraine that speed was the key to a successful attack on Taiwan. Taiwan is also studying the conflict in Ukraine in order to develop its engagement strategy.

Several papers analyze the strength of the Ukrainian resistance, including the sabotage of special forces in Russia, the use of information provided by citizens using the Telegram app, and the defense of the Azovstali steelworks in Mariupol.

Successful examples on the Russian side, such as tactical attacks using ballistic missiles “Iskander,” have also been noted.

The Tactical Bullet Technology Guide, published by state-owned arms manufacturer China Aerospace Science and Technology Group, provides a detailed analysis of the Iskander, but only a short version is available to the public .

Many other articles focus on the failure of the Russian invasion forces. An article published in a journal of tank warfare highlighted outdated tactics and a lack of unified command, while an article published in an electronic warfare journal suggested that Russia’s communications jamming was the result of NATO sending classified information to Ukraine. It is not enough to stop the motion, which has caused a lot of damage in ambushes.

A paper published earlier this year by researchers at the People’s Armed Forces Engineering University of China assesses what China can learn from the bombing of the Kerch Bridge in Russian-occupied Crimea. However, the full analysis has not been published.

Research topic extends not only to the battlefield but also to information warfare. The researchers conclude that Ukraine and its allies are winning.

A February paper by researchers at the People’s Liberation Army University of Information Technology called on China to prepare in advance for a global public protest like the one experienced by Russia.

The paper argued that China should “promote the construction of a counter-platform for information awareness” and strengthen social media controls to prevent Western information campaigns from upsetting the public during angst conflicts.

(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista and Greg Torode, translation by Eacleren)


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