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US, China continue to trade accusations over ‘buzzing’ incident



The U.S. military has dismissed China’s accusation that a U.S. spy plane “engaged in dangerous maneuvers against a Chinese Navy fighter jet” over the South China Sea on Dec. 21, maintaining that it was the Chinese fighter that caused the two aircraft to nearly collide.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), in an original statement on Dec. 29, said that on Dec. 21, a Chinese J-11 fighter pilot performed an unsafe maneuver during an intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft, forcing the RC-135 to “take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.”

INDOPACOM provided a video recorded by the U.S. crew.

Three days later, on Jan. 1, the PLA Southern Theater Command released its own version, also supported by a video, saying “the U.S. intentionally misled the public” and it was the U.S. RC-135 aircraft that “abruptly changed its flight attitude and forced the Chinese aircraft to the left.”

In the latest response to the RFA on Wednesday, INDOPACOM resolutely rejected the PLA version, insisting that the Chinese J-11 was responsible for the near-collision.

3 meters from the wing

“A U.S. Air Force RC-135 positively identified and observed a People’s Liberation Army Navy [PLAN] J-11 on Dec. 21 in the South China Sea,” said INDOPACOM’s Public Affairs department in Camp Smith, Hawaii, in a written reply.

It said the U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was conducting routine operations in the international airspace when “the PLAN fighter approached the RC-135 and positioned itself approximately 10 feet (3 meters) from the RC-135’s wing.”

According to INDOPACOM, the PLAN aircraft “maneuvered toward the front of the RC-135, into a position where it is unlikely the PLAN pilot could maintain a safe visual of the U.S. RC-135.”

“While the RC-135 maintained its course and speed, the PLAN fighter dangerously drifted within 20 feet (6 meters) of the RC-135’s nose, forcing the RC-135 to take evasive maneuvers to avoid collision,” the Command said.

In its version, the PLA Southern Theater Command said the U.S. plane “conducted intentional close-in reconnaissance in the vicinity of China’s southern coastline and the Xisha [Paracel] Islands” in the South China Sea, which China controls.

The spokesman, Senior Col. Tian Junli, said: “During the process, in disregard of repeated warnings from the Chinese pilot, the U.S. aircraft abruptly changed its flight attitude and forced the Chinese aircraft to the left.”

Tian said the U.S. military’s statement was “nothing but slander and speculation.”

He also accused the U.S. aircraft of violating a U.S.-China Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the rules of behavior for the safety of air and maritime encounters signed in 2015.

In the videos released by INDOPACOM and the Chinese military, the PLAN J-11 was seen flying within a very close range of the U.S.’s RC-135 aircraft.  

The J-11 then flew ahead of the RC-135 before drifting even closer to the RC-135. The U.S. aircraft responded by dropping down.

Aerial intercepts of less than 500 feet (152 meters) are considered a violation of the 2015 MOU and Chinese aircraft are often caught doing so.

In this Aug. 2014 file photo, a Chinese J-11 fighter jet – the type involved in the latest incident – flies near a U.S. Navy aircraft about 215 kilometers (135 miles) east of China’s Hainan Island. Credit: Reuters/U.S. Navy/Handout

‘Buzzing’ foreign aircraft

Flying close extremely close and fast – known as “buzzing” – risks mid-air collisions.

Chinese fighter jets repeatedly “buzzed” a Canadian reconnaissance aircraft on a U.N. mission in East Asia, with over two dozen intercepts deemed dangerous, Canadian media reported in June 2022.

On these occasions the Chinese jets reportedly came as close as 20 to 100 feet (6 to 30 meters) to the Canadian plane.

There have been a number of close encounters between Chinese and foreign military aircraft in recent years. 

The latest incident took place in March when U.S. Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters had at least one close contact with China’s J-20 stealth fighters over the East China Sea.

A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft and a Chinese military surveillance aircraft came within 1,000 feet (305 meters) of each other in the skies over the South China Sea in 2017.

The worst incident occurred in April 2001 when a Chinese F-8 fighter jet collided with a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II surveillance plane over the South China Sea, killing the Chinese pilot. The U.S. aircraft had to make an emergency landing on China’s Hainan island and its 24 crew members were detained for 11 days before being released. 






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The Latest Updates on China’s Visa-Free Policies



China has fully reopened its borders, allowing international tourism to recover. Visa-free travel policies are reinstated, and visa fees for foreign travelers will be reduced by 25% from December 11, 2023, to December 31, 2024. China and Singapore are also pursuing a 30-day visa-free travel arrangement.

China has fully reopened its borders, promising recovery of international tourism and travel. Many of the visa-free travel policies that were in place prior to the pandemic have therefore come back into effect, enabling people from a wide range of countries to visit

UPDATE (December 8, 2023): On December 8, 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the Notice on Temporary Reduction of Fees for Applying Visa to China. According to this notice, during the period from December 11, 2023, to December 31, 2024, China shall cut visa fees by 25 percent across the board for foreign travelers. For more details, please consult with your local Chinese embassy or consulate.

UPDATE (December 7, 2023): China and Singapore are seeking to establish a mutual 30-day visa-free travel arrangement to boost people exchanges between the two countries, according to Reuters. At the time of writing, no further details have been released regarding the timeline or the eligibility, requirement, and application procedures of this new arrangement. Click here for more information regarding this mutual 30-day visa-free travel between China and Singapore. 

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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Analysis of UK Investments in China for 2023: Evaluating Deals, Values, M&A, and Investments



British Government underwent reshuffle with pro-China David Cameron as Foreign Minister. Possible mild rapprochement with Beijing. Analysis of UK investments in China this year reveals potential trends. Report includes unique Q1-Q3 data and predicts outlook for 2024.

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis & Henry Tillman   

With a reshuffle in the British Government and ex-Prime Minister – and generally pro-China politician David Cameron now as the UK’s Foreign Minister, there have been early signs of a potential mild rapprochement in the British governments overall attitude towards Beijing.

But before people get carried away, we can look at what investments the UK has made into China this year – as investments made while anti-China politics have tended to be the norm are typically indicative of stronger trends. In this report I include unique data that has not previously been made public, and examine the Q1-Q3 investment trends to see what may lie ahead for 2024.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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Ratings agency cuts China’s credit outlook



Financially strapped local governments and state-owned enterprises pose a risk to China’s future economic growth, the ratings agency Moody’s said today in a report downgrading the country’s credit outlook from stable to negative.

Growing evidence suggests that the central government will be required to shore up the debt-laden entities, creating “broad downside risks to China’s fiscal, economic and institutional strength,” Moody’s said.

Local governments are thought to have accumulated trillions of dollars of debt due to spending during the COVID pandemic and a loss of income due to a troubled real estate market.

Despite the challenges, Moody’s maintained China’s overall credit rating of A1, which it describes as low-risk though not the safest category of investment. Moody’s said the rating reflects its belief in the country’s “financial and institutional resources to manage the transition in an orderly fashion.”

“Its economy’s vast size and robust, albeit slowing, potential growth rate, support its high shock absorption capacity,” Moody’s said. 

Even so, the outlook downgrade signals some concern about China’s future creditworthiness.

In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said it was disappointed in the ratings change and that Moody’s concerns about its growth and financial stability were “unnecessary.” 

In recent years, through the continuous efforts of relevant departments and local governments, China has established a system to prevent and resolve the risks of local government debt,” the ministry said. “The trend of disorderly and illegal borrowing by local governments has been initially curbed, and positive results have been achieved in the disposal of local government debt.”

An employee works at a steel plant in Huaian, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province, Dec. 3, 2023. (AFP)

Moody’s projects China’s annual growth rate will be 4% in 2024 and 2025 but average 3.8% from 2026 to 2030, at which time it might drop again to 3.5%. 

Derek Scissors, the chief economist at China Beige Book, a firm that analyzes China’s economy for investors, said in an email that the downgrade was to be expected.

“It’s a recognition of long-standing conditions, not a new development,” said Scissors, who is also a senior fellow at the free-market think tank American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “I think growth will be faster than Moody’s thinks in 2024 and decelerate more than they think after that.”

Fees from local land sales account for nearly 40% of the revenue to local and regional governments. But China’s real-estate sector has been hit hard by overbuilding. One giant, Evergrande, defaulted under massive debt last year, triggering a broader real estate crisis.

Moody’s report said that “the downsizing of the property sector is a major structural shift in China’s growth drivers which is ongoing and could represent a more significant drag to China’s overall economic growth rate than currently assessed.”

Edited by Tara McKelvey

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