26 July 2018

China-US trade war: Is there a silver lining for India?

Nikita Kwatra
As wage increases in China limited its expansion in world markets for labour-intensive products in recent years, other Asian peers such as Bangladesh and Vietnam gained relatively more compared with India. Mumbai: The growing conflict between the two largest economies of the world, the US and China, has stirred a debate on its impact on India, Asia’s third largest economy. Some believe any escalation in a trade-cum-currency conflict will be universally harmful for all economies, and particularly so for emerging economies such as India. Others are more hopeful about India being able to strike a deal with the Donald Trump-led US administration to corner a share of the market that China currently enjoys.

India among ten Asian economies to see robust GDP growth by 2030: Report

The 10 major economies of Asia, including India, are expected to see robust growth and amount to over $28 trillion in real GDP terms on aggregate, more than the US by 2030, says a DBS report.  According to DBS the Asia-10 economies are -- China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. 
By 2030, Asia-10 economies will grow so robustly that they will, on aggregate, amount to over $28.35 trillion in real GDP (2010 constant dollars) terms, while for the United States will amount to $22.33 trillion.  We expect Asia-10 to pull ahead of the US by 2030," DBS said, but added that this neither is a sufficient nor a necessary condition to invest in Asia, as investing cannot be based on a single indicator, especially when it comes to a long-term horizon. 

India Is the Weakest Link in the Quad


Japanese Rear Admiral Hiroshi Yamamura (L), US Rear Admiral William Byrne (R) and HCS Bisht, vice admiral of the Indian Navy, pose for photographers during the inauguration of joint naval exercises with the United States and India in Chennai on July 10, 2017. Since the Trump administration’s announcement that it seeks a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, observers have spilled much ink on the revival of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, to achieve this objective. The Quad—an informal consultative mechanism comprising the United States, Australia, Japan, and India—is quietly opposed to China’s continued militarization of and attempts to control strategic waterways throughout the region, namely the South China Sea. The group met most recently last November, and again in June, after 10 years of inactivity.

Pakistan's Election: Unique for All the Wrong Reasons

By Daud Khattak

Allegations, confrontations, internal divisions, doubts, and an intensely charged environment have marked Pakistan’s democratic process as nearly 106 million voters are stepping forward to elect their country’s new leadership.

While the poll results, to be followed by the customary chaotic making and breaking of political alliances, will decide the next cast of political leaders, doubts have already been cast by almost all the leading players about the transparency of the entire process.

The battle for central Punjab

Cyril Almeida

THE muzzle is tighter and the leash shorter, but that’s just how it is for now — and will likely remain. Don’t let the rowdiness of social media and the freewheeling ways of the internet fool.


Somehow, we’re here. The election everyone thought would and wouldn’t happen, that would happen on time or before time or after time — it’s here. And we’re all here, sort of. And there’s a lot going on.

Stuff that the aforementioned short and tight leash prevents from speaking of freely.

But at least the cat is out of the electoral bag.

National Ambitions Meet Local Opposition Along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

By Michael Kovrig

In the run-up to Pakistan’s general election on July 25, most political parties stand united in their belief that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will transform Pakistan’s ailing economy. In May, Pakistan’s ambassador to China asserted that “regardless of any political change in Pakistan, our commitment towards the successful completion of CPEC will not change.” But if political support at the national level appears unwavering, local opposition is growing over the lack of consultation and concerns regarding the inequitable distribution of the prospective benefits. In few places is this more noticeable than the southern Balochistan fishing town of Gwadar, the entry point of the corridor and a microcosm of the center-periphery tensions elsewhere that threaten CPEC’s implementation.

China Sits on the World’s Biggest Shale Gas Prize. Pumping It Out Is the Hard Part

Guo Xusheng, a stout and affable chief geologist at a unit of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., persuaded his bosses in 2009 to give him about $3 million to drill deeper than anyone had before in southwestern China. For Sinopec, as the company is known, the shale boom in the U.S. convinced them that Guo’s plan was worth a try. Success was far from certain. China National Petroleum Corp., the nation’s dominant oil company, already drilled the same area and came up dry. The shale gas collection and transfer facility at  the Fuling shale gas field in Chongqing, China.

China Is a Climate Leader but Still Isn’t Doing Enough on Emissions, Report Says

By Edward Wong

China has become a global leader in policy and diplomacy on limiting the effects of climate change, but it still needs to take significant steps to curb its own carbon dioxide emissions, according to a report released on ThursdayThe report, written by David Sandalow, a former United States energy official now at Columbia University, takes a broad look at emissions and coal use in 2017 in China, which is by far the world’s top emitter of the heat-trapping gases that accelerate climate change. The study also analyses recent policy moves on climate by the country’s government and by the Communist Party. China has wide-ranging climate policies, enshrined in the national Five-Year Plans and in blueprints at provincial and local levels. As a result, the report says, it is on its way to meeting major climate change goals, including lowering a measure known as carbon intensity, having carbon dioxide emissions reach a peak no later than 2030 and having a fifth of energy come from non-fossil-fuel sources by that year.

Alibaba Joins $600 Million Round for AI Startup Megvii

By Lulu Yilun Chen

Megvii Inc., the Chinese developer of facial recognition system Face++, is said to be raising at least $600 million from investors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Boyu Capital, according to people familiar with the matter. The Beijing-based company, which already countsbillionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial and one of China’s largest state-backed venture funds as investors, will close this round of funding within weeks, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is private. The company will then seek a second tranche of funding, the people said. Alibaba is ramping up its investment in China’s largest artificial intelligence startups, hoping to employ the technology across its growing internet and retail empire. Megvii provides face-scanning systems to companies including Lenovo Group Ltd. and Ant Financial, the payments company that underpins Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms. It’s competing with SenseTime, another startup backed by Alibaba, for market share in sectors such as retail, finance and smartphone and public security that could utilize facial recognition.

China Sits on the World’s Biggest Shale Gas Prize. Pumping It Out Is the Hard Part

Source Link

China’s reserves are deeper and harder to reach than those in North America. Guo Xusheng, a stout and affable chief geologist at a unit of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., persuaded his bosses in 2009 to give him about $3 million to drill deeper than anyone had before in southwestern China. For Sinopec, as the company is known, the shale boom in the U.S. convinced them that Guo’s plan was worth a try. Success was far from certain. China National Petroleum Corp., the nation’s dominant oil company, already drilled the same area and came up dry. The shale gas collection and transfer facility at the Fuling shale gas field in Chongqing, China.

U.S. Soy Will Strengthen Brazil's Hand in the Chinese Market

In the short term, China remains in a stronger position than the United States in terms of the soy market, with numerous alternative suppliers and substitutes for U.S. product available. Still, the large share of the Chinese market held by U.S. soybean exporters means that Beijing likely will be unable to shut off all U.S. soy imports. Tariffs will accelerate an existing trend that has led to increasing Brazilian soy exports to China. U.S. farmers could soon start to feel the sting of the White House's trade battles, especially as the fallout from its skirmishes with China begins to hit. Tariffs imposed by Beijing in retaliation for those slapped on Chinese goods by the United States include a 25 percent levy on soybeans, a key import. The world's second-largest economy is also its largest soybean importer, but China appears well positioned to weather the higher prices that tariffs have brought. In the end, higher prices for U.S. soybeans could accelerate changes already occurring in the Chinese market, eroding U.S. market share and spurring China to further increase domestic production of the crop.

China's Xi offers fresh $295 million grant to Sri Lanka

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping has offered Sri Lanka a fresh grant of 2 billion yuan ($295 million), as Beijing looks to expand its influence in the tiny island country off India’s southern tip.  President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka, a partner in Beijing’s multi-country Belt and Road infrastructure push, made the announcement on Saturday at a ceremony marking the start of construction of a Chinese-funded kidney hospital in his home constituency of Polonnaruwa, 230 km (142.92 miles) from Colombo. “When the Chinese ambassador visited my house to fix the date for this ceremony, he said that Chinese President Xi Jinping sent me another gift,” Sirisena told the gathering.

Protests Reveal Iraq’s New Fault Line: The People vs. the Ruling Class

Renad Mansour 

In what is becoming a summer ritual in southern Iraq, protesters took to the streets to voice their grievances amid scorching heat over the course of the past several weeks. Their government’s inability to provide basic services, namely electricity and water, makes the harsh summer unbearable to many Iraqis. The high unemployment rate means that many cannot afford a basic standard of living. Reflecting a heightened mood of desperation, the latest round of protests turned more violent than in previous years. In nine Iraqi provinces, protesters stormed government buildings and infrastructure as well as political party offices, at times setting them ablaze. No major leader or political party was spared. Demonstrators even attacked the offices of populist cleric-turned-politician Muqtada al-Sadr, who in the past has been a leader of the protests. 

Iraq's Water Crisis Gives the Public One More Reason to Protest

Water shortages will plague Iraq throughout the summer, causing a decline in agricultural production and a greater risk of social unrest in the southern part of the country. Political gridlock in Baghdad will impede progress on water management, while fighting over water at the provincial level will influence discourse at the federal level.  Turkey will focus on maintaining and advancing its own strategy in Iraq without making any substantial changes over its water use. 

Iran, a Regional Power in Dire Straits

By Xander Snyder

In Iran, every time one problem seems to go away, another one takes its place. Recent protests are a case in point. Just as the demonstrations over economic grievances in Tehran had died down, new ones began in Khuzestan. People throughout the region have taken to the streets to decry how the government is mishandling the ongoing water shortage. (Protesters claim Iran continues to sell potable water to Iraq and Kuwait, even as 230 Iranians were allegedly poisoned by contaminated drinking water.) Unrest related to water issues has been simmering in Khuzestan since March, but officials just can’t seem to get a handle on it. Social media posts from Wednesday suggest Iran has deployed more forces to the cities of Khorramshahr and Abadan to quell the unrest.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have a disastrous Yemen strategy

Daniel L. Byman

Daniel Byman argues that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’s deepening intervention in Yemen is the triumph of hope over experience. The result has been a disaster. This piece originally appeared on LawfareSaudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’s deepening intervention in Yemen is the triumph of hope over experience. Riyadh’s latest campaign in Yemen began in 2015 to topple the then-triumphant Houthi rebels, whom Saudi leaders considered too close to Iran. Rather than dissuading their good buddies in Riyadh from this dangerous course, the UAE too has plunged into the morass, also hoping to set back Iran. Unlike in Egypt, where the two helped bring about a coup that put President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in power, the result has been a disaster. This is true not only for Yemen, whose war and humanitarian crisis only seem to worsen by the day, but also for the UAE and Saudi Arabia themselves, with Iran in particular gaining influence at their expense.

The Real Threat to America: Iran May Close the Strait of Hormuz The risk of miscalculation is now significantly higher. by Edward Chang

by Edward Chang

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to potential sanctions that could be levied upon Iranian oil exports, threats which were echoed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). President Donald Trump has given countries until November 4, 2018, to stop importing petroleum from Iran. This wide-scale ban is part of a new campaign of confrontation and pressure against the Islamic Republic. This demand comes on the heels of the U.S. departure from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed in 2015.

Bolshevik Hybrid Warfare

By Jon Askonas

Whenever one is reviewing a long book about a narrow subject, one must provide the reader with motivation as much as explanation. Laura Engelstein’s Russia in Flames: War, Revolution, Civil War 1914-1921 is a detailed but readable history of the collapse of the Russian Empire, the Russian Civil War, and the birth of the Soviet Union. It manages a clean structure, well-organized chronologically into six parts and, within those parts, into chapters laying out the course of events in different regions of the hemisphere-spanning Russian empire and giving voice to the mosaic complexity of the Eastern Front, the revolution, and the civil war. What the book has going for it, compared to projects of similar scope like Orlando Figes’ A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924 or classics by Shiela Fitzpatrick or Richard Pipes (both entitled The Russian Revolution),[1]is a relentless commitment to the geographic diversity within which the revolution occurred and the ever-shifting organizations and coalitions operating in that geography. This commitment to the sheer scale of the revolution gives the book enduring value and insight for those interested in strategy today, particularly in terms of political warfare. This review focuses on three broad lessons this period has to teach us.

When the Enemy Has Better Tech

by Jennifer Sevier

Maj Nick Brunetti-Lihach is a communications officer currently assigned as a Faculty Advisor to the U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia. He has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 9 AD, three Roman legions were ambushed and destroyed by Germanic tribes in the Teutoburg Forest. The Germanic tribes exploited the dispersed Roman line of march and baggage support trains, neutralizing the Romans’ superior weaponry, training, and discipline. In 1415, Henry V defeated numerically-superior French forces at Agincourt in part due to effective use of the English longbow against well-armored knights trudging through mud in the open. The English combined a better standoff weapon with tactical superiority to defeat the French.


Paradoxically, Russia’s waning power opened new avenues of influence. The collapse of the Soviet Union was an existential crisis for the Western alliance. In 2003, the Belgian prime minister wrote: “As long as Soviet divisions could reach the Rhine in hours, we obviously had a blood brotherhood with our cousins overseas. But now that the Cold War is over, we can express more freely our differences of opinion.” During the 2011 Libya campaign, President Barack Obama criticized allied “free riding,” and Trump has described nato as “obsolete.” Meanwhile, Russian weakness may have helped undermine the European Union and encourage Brexit. The disappearance of the Soviet Union didn’t just weaken the Western alliance—it also helped sow divisions within the United States. While factors such as globalization, automation, and immigration certainly helped increase polarization and partisanship in American politics, without a common enemy, American politics soon became even more divided.

The Syrian War Is Over, and America Lost


Earlier this month, Syrian regime forces hoisted their flag above the southern town of Daraa and celebrated. Although there is more bloodletting to come, the symbolism was hard to miss. The uprising that began in that town on March 6, 2011, has finally been crushed, and the civil war that has engulfed the country and destabilized parts of the Middle East as well as Europe will be over sooner rather than later. Bashar al-Assad, the man who was supposed to fall in “a matter of time,” has prevailed with the help of Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah over his own people.

Transforming Big Data into Meaningful Insights

In this special guest feature, Marc Alacqua, CEO and founding partner of Signafire, discusses a useful approach to data – known as data fusion – which is essentially alchemy-squared, turning not just one but multiple raw materials in to something greater than the sum of their parts. It goes beyond older methods of big data analysis, like data integration, in which large data sets are simply thrown together in one environment. In this new science of data fusion, technology is deployed not just to mash together billions of data records, but to fundamentally transform them so that humans can understand the unseen commonalities or inconsistencies within them. Marc is a decorated combat veteran of the U.S. Army Special Operations Forces. For his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was cited for “exceptionally conspicuous gallantry” and awarded two Bronze Star Medals and the Army Commendation Medal for Valor. A 20-year veteran and Lieutenant Colonel, Marc has extensive command experience in both combat and peace time, having commanded airborne and light infantry as well as special operations units.

Ransomware Attacks: An Increasingly Common Threat

Ransomware attacks sourced to the Wanna Decryptor (a.k.a. Wannacrypt) virus have been identified in over 70 countries across Europe and Asia, as well as in the United States. Over 36,000 Wannacrypt cases have been detected worldwide. The ransomware exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft systems discovered initially by the U.S. National Security Agency, reportedly around 2013. This hacking tool was lifted in the summer of 2016 by a previously obscure group calling itself the “Shadow Brokers.” Though the code is (relatively) old and Microsoft has rolled out patches, many organizations — including hospital, government and infrastructure sectors — have been slow or negligent to adopt the protections. The attack has reportedly struck targets as diverse as the Russian Ministry of the Interior and Reuters, as well as European banks, utilities and telecom companies. The U.K. National Health Service (NHS) was forced to shut down some hospitals and divert emergency care patients elsewhere, and at Spain’s largest telecom firm, Telefonica, 85 percent of employee computers were said to be affected. (Telefonica reported no system disruptions.)

Can Anything Stop Cyber Attacks?

The recent indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers by the Justice Department for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election underscores the severity and immense reach of cyber attacks, like no other in history. To influence the election’s outcome, authorities said these agents hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Party to get information, and strategically released it on the internet. In the private sector, companies have to step up their game against cyber attacks that are becoming all too common.

Deepfakes Are Coming. And They’re Dangerous.


Technology is making it easier and easier to create the impression that someone said or did something that, in reality, they did not. For malicious actors armed with that impersonation software, the possibilities for havoc are endless: political sabotage, humiliating fake sex videos, or unparalleled interference in another country’s politics. Lawmakers are increasingly interested in stopping that from happening. “This is an effort to try to get ahead of something,” said Florida senator Marco Rubio in remarks at the Heritage Foundation. “The capability to do all of this is real. It exists now. The willingness exists now. All that is missing is the execution. And we are not ready for it, not as a people, not as a political branch, not as a media, not as a country.” Generating fake faces once took “armies of visual effects artists,” said Chris Bregler, a senior staff scientist and engineering manager at Google AI. But recent strides in machine learning technology have made it significantly easier to make create fake videos. There’s even an app for it.

The Army probably needs to update its cyber doctrine every 18 months

By: Mark Pomerleau  

Top Army leaders say that their recent tours have provided valuable lessons on the rate of change in the cyber world that they’re now using to shape training and operations. “We’ve learned so much in the last two years because we’ve operated and the pace has increased,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, commander of Army Cyber Command, said during a July 18 event hosted by the Association of Old Crows. “We’ve accelerated the learning curve and that’s given us confidence to start to make changes in organization, in capabilities and tactics, techniques and procedures.” Those lessons come, in part, from building out of the cyber mission force, Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner, director of the Army’s Cyber Directorate in charge of Army staff level electronic warfare, cyber and information operations policy, told Fifth Domain following the event. Given the pace of operations in the Middle East and other combatant commands around the world, there are a host of operational events that are informing training and organizational structures, Buckner said. Buckner served most recently as the deputy commander of the U.S. Cyber Command led counter-ISIS cyber offensive known as Joint Task Force-Ares.


Multi-Domain Battle has a clear origin. Stemming from the idea that disruptive technologies will change the character of warfare, it recognizes that the way armies will fight and win wars will also change. It also reflects the desire to replicate the success of AirLand Battle, which is arguably the most significant case of developing a concept and then materializing capabilities across the DOTMLPF spectrum (Doctrine, Organization, Training, Material, Leadership Education, Personnel, and Facilities). Origin stories establish the foundation from which lasting ideas emerge. However, for ideas to have a lasting impact they must evolve.

Five Reform Areas for Effective Peacekeeping Performance

By Alison Giffen

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres rightly prioritizes performance by including it as one of the five pillars of his Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) reform initiative. Peacekeeping operations are a principal tool, and one of the most expensive and visible ways, that the UN intervenes to prevent and mitigate conflict. Improving peacekeeping performance is thus essential, but it will not be easy. Peacekeeping operations are highly complex, with numerous UN bodies and member states holding different responsibilities, many of whom have resisted previous reform efforts aiming to ensure that peacekeeping operations can safely and effectively implement their mandates. Improving performance will require significant, high-level political engagement by numerous stakeholders across many areas of peacekeeping—which is exactly what the A4P initiative seeks to engender.



With President Donald Trump continuing to practice diplomatic brinkmanship via Twitter, U.S.-Iranian tensions appear to be reaching a boiling point—as they have several times since Trump entered the Oval Office. The president’s latest outburst was in response to comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who said, “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.” Trump fired back in all capital letters, warning his Iranian counterpart to “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN.”

The Redundant and Expensive Costs of Procuring Hypersonic Glide Vehicle

by Alex Moore

Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGVs), also referred to as Boost Glide Vehicles, are a hot topic in arms control circles. Flying at hypersonic speed, these weapon systems are considerably faster than contemporary supersonic and subsonic cruise missiles while possessing similar standoff range and maneuverability to ensure survival. Moreover, HGV delivery platforms could potentially vary from air-launched iterations to glide vehicles attached to ballistic missiles that detach following the missile’s boost phase and serve as maneuverable reentry vehicles. Such impressive capabilities do not come cheap and have already been touted as multi-billion dollaropportunities for aerospace contractors. Indeed, the Pentagon has already awarded a massive $1 billion HGV procurement contract to Lockheed Martin, with more such costs surely to follow if these capabilities are further pursued. The purported hypersonic threat has also prompted the Pentagon to pour more money into one of its favorite costly boondoggles: missile defense.