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Oct. 10, 2019
Notes from the Pentagon

Trump on China
President Trump recently outlined his views on China when asked if Beijing was an adversary or partner.

His cautious response appeared aimed at not upsetting Beijing and the prospect for concluding a trade agreement. China is a state “we’re trying to make a deal with,” Mr. Trump said in response to a reporter’s question.

“We’ve had good moments with China. We’ve had bad moments with China. Right now, we’re in a very important stage in terms of possibly making a deal. If we make it, it will be the biggest trade deal ever made,” he said Oct. 4.

The president added: “I would like to get along with China if we can, and if we can, that’s great. If we can’t, that’s OK, too.”

Mr. Trump was adamant that reaching a trade deal with China depends on its benefits for the United States.

“If the deal is not going to be 100% for us, then we’re not going to make it,” he said.

China appears to be struggling economically as a result of U.S. tariffs, as unemployment increases and Chinese firms face supply chain disruptions. Foreign companies, including U.S. firms, are relocating from China to other nations, Mr. Trump said.

With Chinese trade negotiators in Washington this week for another round of talks, Trump administration officials have been sparring over whether to make concessions in furtherance of a deal. Pro-deal supporters appear willing to give in to some Chinese demands to modify a draft deal worked out in May but turned down by Beijing.

A Trump administration official said the draft trade deal was rejected by senior Chinese Communist Party leaders who recognized that signing it would be an admission of past illicit activities and unfair practices. The draft deal recognized that China stole American intellectual property, forced technology transfers from American firms, hacked U.S. data, manipulated the currency, paid subsidies to state-owned companies and exported deadly fentanyl to the United States.

A White House report made public last year on “Chinese economic aggression” estimated that Beijing was obtaining between $250 billion and $600 billion annually in American intellectual property and technology.

The president is adamant that any deal must prevent the hemorrhage of U.S. know-how.

“This will be much more than a trade deal,” when finished, the official said.

Army fails fitness test
A leaked Army briefing slide reveals that the Army’s new Combat Fitness Test, a planned successor to the service’s earlier Physical Fitness Test, is producing large-scale test failures by women soldiers.

Former Army officer David Brown reported Oct. 5 that the leaked analysis of pass/fail rates on the Army Combat Fitness Test shows it is “catastrophically ill-considered,” setting up the Army’s women to fail.

A total of 2001 men passed the test with 848 failing, a pass rate of 70%.

But for women soldiers the pass/fail statistics were stark: Out of 357 women who took the fitness test, 300 failed — a whopping 84%.

Mr. Brown wrote that he supported the earlier fitness test that he believes produced troops who responded to it by working to become fit. The old test also cost much less than the new test.

“The Army Combat Fitness Test is an unbridled, unparalleled, unimaginable disaster,” he wrote.

According to Mr. Brown, soldiers who fail their physical training test are “flagged,” blocking attendance at key military schools like the basic leader course or airborne school.

“And if somehow you get there anyway, when you’re tested again you’ll be turned around and sent home,” he said. “You cannot be promoted. You cannot be reclassified into another [military occupational specialty].”

Ultimately, the test will eliminate women from the service, he said.

Mr. Brown told Inside the Ring said some negative responses to his column were mainly due to the Army describing the test as a “combat” test.

“This isn’t some special test soldiers take before going to combat. This is a regular physical fitness test that finance clerks and dental hygienists and supply people will take once or twice a year, stateside,” he said. Given the 84% failure rate for women, the Army could lose 300,000 soldiers, he added.

The test could be formally adopted in less than a year. It is made up of six parts, including a strength dead-lift; standing power throw, hand release push-ups, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck and a two-mile run in under 20 minutes.

The slide was published on

The U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training said in a statement the initial testing phase of the Army Combat Fitness Test sought to assess physical fitness from 63 battalions.

“This was the first time a majority of the Soldier’s had experienced the age and gender neutral test, which directly correlates to Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills,” the statement said.

The leaked chart was not an official document, the statement said.

“Once Soldiers have adapted to the new test, we expect success and performance rates to be similar to the current Army Physical Fitness Test,” the statement said.

Chinese firm mulls Biden request
The Chinese private equity company linked to Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, is considering whether to respond to President Trump’s call for an investigation into a possible influence operation.

Jonathan Li Xiansheng, chief executive of BHR Equity Investment Fund Management Co., said that the firm is working on a response to questions about the younger Mr. Biden’s role in the company, according to the South China Morning Post.

Mr. Trump called on China last week to investigate whether Mr. Biden, a board member of BHR, relied on his father’s influence to secure $1.5 billion in funding from Chinese investors.

On Oct. 6, the president tweeted that liberal news outlets were protecting the Bidens and that Hunter Biden was paid $100,000 a month from a Ukrainian company “and separately got 1.5 Billion Dollars from China despite no experience and for no apparent reason.”

“There is NO WAY these can be legitimate transactions? As lawyers & others have stated, as President, I have an OBLIGATION to look into possible, or probable, CORRUPTION!” he tweeted.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the $1.5 billion figure mentioned by the president appears based on a fundraising target announced by BHR.

Mr. Biden owns 10% of a private-equity firm called Bohai Harvest RST (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Co. that shares a website with BHR. The company funneled $2.5 billion from financial backers into companies in the automotive, energy, mining and technology sectors, the newspaper reported.

China bans ‘South Park’
China recently forced the National Basketball Association to apologize for a tweet by one of its executive’s in support of democracy in Hong Kong, where protesters continue to hammer authorities in a fight against creeping Chinese authoritarianism there.

But the cartoon satire “South Park” is not backing down from a recent episode that got the program banned in China.

The episode showed fictional character Randy Marsh, a Colorado marijuana grower, traveling to China where he is arrested upon arrival with a suitcase of samples he had hoped to use for breaking into the Chinese market.

At a prison labor camp, Chinese guards are shown torturing prisoners and forcing them to make products for export. The American prisoner then meets Winnie the Pooh — another character banned in China because of dissidents’ use of the bear to covertly criticize Chinese President Xi Jinping. Critics say Mr. Xi slightly resembles author’s A.A. Milne’s Pooh.

Chinese censors were not amused.

“South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone issued a mock apology after the Chinese government censored all access to all of the show’s popular past episodes, which had been available on the Chinese internet and social media platforms.

“Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts,” they said in a statement.

“We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?”

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

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