A few curated defense and security links to kick off your week:
An improvement along the India-China land border: Reuters reports that China has inaugurated a new land border crossing from India into Tibet to enable pilgrimages to Mount Kailash, a holy site in both Hindu and Buddhist belief. The opening of the route was agreed to during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India. Both he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have set out to improve the state of the long-standing border dispute between the two Asian giants, but numerous obstacles remain in the way of a comprehensive agreement. Steps like this opening of the border to religious pilgrims will serve as an important confidence-building measure. According to Xinhua, the move will “further promote religious exchanges between the two countries.”
A former U.S. Asia hand reflects: The Asahi Shimbun interviewed Kurt Campbell, a former top U.S. diplomat for East Asia in the U.S. State Department, on current tensions plaguing the region, including the South China Sea. Campbell addresses other issues, including U.S.-China relations, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Campbell worked closely with Hillary Clinton during her time as Secretary of State–a time during which the U.S. launched its “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia–and could head back through the U.S. government revolving door should Clinton take the U.S. presidency in 2016. His thoughts on Asia continue to have salience for U.S. policy toward the region.
Just how big is China’s nuclear arsenal?: A new journal article (non-paywalled) takes a look at the size of China’s nuclear arsenal, which is estimated to currently stand at around 260 warheads (a modest sum compared to the United States and the Soviet Union) which could be delivered by approximately 160 land-based ballistic missiles. The paper is a good situation report on the size and scope of China’s nuclear forces and looks at China’s land-based and sea-based delivery capabilities.
Long-range strike bombing: In case you missed it, an interesting air power debate is taking shape over at War on the Rocks: T.X. Hammes writes that independent long-range strike bombers (LRS-B) are a folly for the United States. Robert Spalding and Adam Lowther offer a convincing riposte to that claim, outlining the strategic advantages of a robust LRS-B capability.
U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED): This event will be one to watch this week, particularly as tensions between the United States and China are high regarding the latter’s assertive behavior in the South China Sea and the fallout of a recent data breach at the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Our own Shannon Tiezzi has a preview of the dialogue over at our China Power blog. Meanwhile, CSIS’ Christopher Johnson offers another preview on the CogitAsia podcast. The S&ED will take place for two days, starting June 23.
Land reclamation update: China’s foreign ministry may have announced that China was partly ceasing its reclamation activity, but recent satellite imagery courtesy of Victor Robert Lee in The Diplomat shows continuing construction on Subi Reef and new activity around the Luconia Shoals, in waters claimed by Malaysia.