19 September 2018

US-China Trade War: Analyses of Deeper Nuances and Wider Implications

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd), Consultant, VIF

… China is unsatisfied with the degree of accommodation offered by the US and the US is uncomfortable with the strategic demands made by China … US wants China to reduce its trade deficit … an unrealistic request given the time it would take to adjust supply chains and given the US consumers' demand for Chinese products … and that China opens up more sectors to investment and trade without restriction ... America holds almost all the high cards in trade with China, and almost none of Beijing’s supposed points of pressure are real threats. Most of the threats would hurt China’s fragile currency far more than the sturdy US economy…

Indian Armed Forces Imperatives Towards A Credible Military Posture – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila

In 2018 India stands geopolitically tall as the Asian pivot of Indo Pacific security and stability and a nett provider of regional security. Perceptions count when it comes to credibility of India’s military postures matching these gains strong imperatives arise for India to review both the military anchors of its defensive deployments and so also the offensive punch of Indian Armed Forces.

India’s Indus leverage

India must assert its full rights under the Indus Waters Treaty to leverage the pact and halt Pakistan’s undeclared war against it through terrorist proxies.

In foreign policy, it is important for national leadership to choose its rhetoric carefully and back its words with at least modest action. Words not backed by any action can undermine a country’s credibility and perhaps even its deterrence.

Want to understand Islamic extremism? The answer isn’t in Islam — it’s in the Cold War.

By Paul Chamberlin

Recent years have witnessed a surge of interest in political Islam and jihadist violence. An array of commentators have sought to link contemporary groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State to classical Islam — drawing a straight line from the prophet Muhammad to Osama bin Laden and Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This sentiment animates much of the rhetoric on the right. President Trump, along with members of his administration, has been far more willing than his predecessors to conflate violent jihadist groups with more moderate elements within the Muslim world, both past and present.

China’s Arms Trade: A Rival for Global Influence?

By Nan Tian

Against the backdrop of the recent China-Africa Defence and Security Forum, numerous articles have been written questioning the rationale behind the conference and the potential ramifications of a closer Sino-African relationship. The fall in export of Russian made weapons to Africa corresponded with the rise in Chinese exports. Prime among those is the link between growing Chinese arms exports to the region and a way of securing greater geopolitical influence. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), announced in 2013, is one significant example where the economic expansion via the land (belt) and sea (silk road) has challenged the strategic interests of many states.

Tempestuous Seasons

by Geoff Mann

‘If we don’t do this, we may not have an economy on Monday,’ the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, said on 18 September 2008 when he demanded action from Congress to assist the banking system. Ten years later we do still have an economy. But it is worth asking whether the panic back then foreclosed other ways forward. In that terrible autumn a decade ago, the first priority was survival. To sit back and let nature take its course was to court disaster, as the collapse of Lehman Brothers proved. The bailouts were ugly, but it would have required a particular kind of fanaticism to dissociate oneself from the rescue effort and accept the risk of catastrophe. Yet in Trump, Brexit and the rise of nationalism across much of Western Europe, are we not seeing the political consequences? Was the crisis an opportunity missed? If there was a single figure whose ideas seemed pertinent in that deeply ambiguous moment, it was John Maynard Keynes. The implosion of the financial system vindicated him against his critics, who had declared markets self-stabilising and government intervention counterproductive. With trade, investment and consumption collapsing and millions cast into unemployment, the world was desperate for fiscal stimulus, and there were calls on all sides for greater controls on banking and financial markets. Keynes is the godfather of policy activism, but, as Geoff Mann argues in his brilliant book In the Long Run We Are All Dead, he is also the best hope of those who want to keep the show on the road by whatever means necessary. He promised both the avoidance of disaster and the preservation of the status quo.

Vostok 2018: Russia and China’s Diverging Common Interests

By Zi Yang

Russia’s Vostok 2018 exercise officially commenced on September 11 and concludes September 17. One of Russia’s major military maneuvers held every four years, this year’s Vostok is of special significance because Russia has not held an exercise of this scale since 1981 — reportedly, some 297,000 personnel, 36,000 pieces of ground force equipment, 1,000 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, in addition to 80 ships and support vessels are in participation. Although this number is likely inflated, it is quite obvious that Moscow is sending a message to Russia’s opponents and friends alike that the Russian military stands ready in defense of its Far East territories.

Is Xi Jinping’s Bold China Power Grab Starting to Backfire?

A few months ago, Xi Jinping seemed unstoppable. He’d just abolished presidential term limits and announced the most sweeping government overhaul in decades. Having hosted Donald Trump for a successful visit in November, Xi seemed to have prevented a trade war with the U.S. Party propagandists were distributing hagiographic accounts of the newly anointed leader for life. Today, China’s president looks like he may have overreached. An economic slowdown, a tanking stock market, and an infant-vaccine scandal are all feeding domestic discontent, while abroad, in Western capitals and financial centers, there’s a growing wariness of Chinese ambitions. And then there is the escalating trade war with the U.S. China initially refused to believe it would happen, but in the past few weeks it’s become the prism through which Xi’s perceived failings are best projected. 

U.S.-China trade war has its seeds in the financial crisis

David Dollar

I was living in Beijing when the global financial crisis started 10 years ago. China was not well integrated into the global financial system, so there was not much effect through financial channels. But as the impact of the crisis was felt in the United States and Europe, China was hit with a big shock through its trade sector. China’s exports declined by one-third in a few months, and the government estimated that 20 million workers were thrown out of their jobs—mostly in labor-intensive manufacturing and construction. China responded with a massive stimulus program aimed primarily at infrastructure (high-speed rail, expressways, wastewater treatment) and housing. China restored its GDP growth rate very quickly, but still the crisis has had a lasting effect on the economy and on U.S.-China relations.

The Chinese military has a big and glaring weakness, and it's turning to Russia to fix it during massive war games


The Russian and Chinese armed forces are putting their military might on display on land, in the air, and at sea in a massive exercise in Russia's far east, where China is learning lessons from Russia's warfighting experience in Syria and other global hotspots. Chinese troops, as well as helicopters and tanks, are participating in Vostok 2018, reportedly the largest drills in the history of the Russian army, and while the Chinese and Russian militaries have held drills together in the past, this year's exercise is different.

The two biggest threats to academic freedom have come together in China

By Tripti Lahiri

A year ago, Cambridge University Press made the shock announcement that it was pulling more than 300 articles from its China Quarterly website in China at the request of the government there. It then reversed itself, declining to pull the articles, which covered topics like the 1989 Tiananmen uprising and analysis of Communist Party leaders. Soon after, however, other major academic publishers revealed they had acquiesced to censorship requests from Beijing. A year on, the journal’s editor, Tim Pringle, speaking in Hong Kong about his worries about academic freedom, said that while he expected there to be some repercussions, “to date, we’re doing okay.” In fact submissions from authors on the the mainland have gone up. “I’m not saying I’m not worried,” he said. “It’s something we think about all the time.”

Will the Repression in Xinjiang Influence Beijing's Social Credit System?

By Adrian Zenz

In recent months, troubling details have emerged about a sprawling network of secretive political reeducation camps in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang. Both official and leaked evidence indicates that up to one million Muslims, chiefly from the Uighur minority, have been interned without legal proceedings. Ex-internees describe vast facilities that can hold nearly 6,000 persons and are heavily secured with barbed wire, surveillance systems, and armed police. Government tenders confirm these reports and provide detailed insights into the sizes and features of reeducation facilities throughout the region. Those interned are subject to intense indoctrination procedures that force them to proclaim “faith” in the Chinese Communist Party while denigrating large parts of their own religion and culture.

China’s Increasing Engagement in Syrian Conflict

By: Annie Kowalewski, Columnist

While China has long touted its commitment to “noninterference” and largely stayed out of the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, recent developments such as the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s diplomatic support of one side in ongoing conflicts suggest that China may be rethinking this position. In Syria, not only is China offering financial support to Assad and looking to play a role in post-conflict reconstruction, but reports suggest China is looking to actively support or even engage in certain operations on the ground.[i]This shift has several implications. First, that China is looking to work closely with other world powers such as Russia and Iran. Second, that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has assessed its own capabilities as powerful enough to act as a world authority that intervenes in key international conflicts. And lastly, that the United States needs to be prepared to engage with China in regions outside of the Indo-Pacific.

When Will Closer China-Russia Cooperation Impact US Policy Debate?

By Robert Sutter

Washington’s ongoing debate on policy toward Russia continues to pit President Donald Trump and his soft line toward President Vladimir Putin against a much harder approach favored within the administration and the Congress. Meanwhile, the debate over China policy has intensified and hardened remarkably in 2018 with Congress strongly backing the administration’s most significant re-evaluation of American China policy since the start of normalization 50 years ago. New issues of China seeking dominance in high technology that jeopardizes U.S. national security and Beijing conducting clandestine information operations that undermine U.S. and Western democracy have joined intensifying disputes over strategic rivalry in Asia, massive trade war, Chinese territorial expansion, Taiwan, and human rights issues.

Five Years Later: Reviewing China's Belt and Road Initiative

By Ankit Panda

Shannon Tiezzi, The Diplomat’s editor-in-chief, joins The Diplomat‘s Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) to discuss China’s Belt and Road Initiative, five years on from its inception in 2013. The episode also covers China’s changing relationship with Russia. Click the arrow to the right to listen. If you’re an iOS or Mac user, you can also subscribe to The Diplomat’s Asia Geopolitics podcast on iTunes here. If you use Android, you can subscribe on TuneIn here. If you like the podcast and have suggestions for content, please leave a review and rating on iTunes and TuneIn.

Note: The Center for Global Development report referenced in the podcast is available here (PDF).

The Guardian view on Xinjiang: China’s secret camps are at last in the spotlight

It is unthinkable. Yet week by week, the evidence mounts that in north-western China’s Xinjiang region, as many as a million people are being held in extralegal indoctrination camps where inmates are forced to write self-criticisms, sing patriotic songs and chant slogans praising the Communist party. According to former detainees, people appear to have been pulled in because they went abroad, because they engaged in conventional religious practices, or even because they do not speak Chinese. Many are held indefinitely. Some say they were tortured. Most of those held are Uighurs, who make up less than half of the 23 million population of the region, or belong to Kazakh or other Muslim minorities. One report, drawing upon official sources, suggests some areas have detention quotas.

Is Al-Qaida Winning?

Steven Metz

The anniversary of 9/11 has become an annual opportunity for soul-searching, for Americans to take stock of where they stand not only in the ongoing conflict with violent jihadism but more broadly as a nation. One thing stood out this year: Americans are more pessimistic about the struggle against al-Qaida and its offshoots than at any time since Sept. 11, 2001. In a sense, this is understandable. The United States is still mired in Afghanistan and Iraq with no sign of victory. Jihadism persists in many parts of the Islamic world and is even spreading to new regions. It continues to attract recruits. In fact, al-Qaida may be stronger now than ever. Domestically, the United States is bitterly divided by hyperpartisanship, political tribalism and an escalating culture war. Since 9/11, the United States has spent an estimated $2.8 trillion on counterterrorism, adding to the massive federal budget deficit. And there is no end in sight.

Fight to Retake Last ISIS Territory Begins

By Rukmini Callimachi
Source Link

The last vestige of the Islamic State’s caliphate that straddled Syria and Iraq is under attack. Members of an American-backed coalition said Tuesday that they had begun a final push to oust the militants from Hajin, Syria, the remaining sliver of land under the group’s control in the region where it was born. The assault is the final chapter of a war that began more than four years ago after the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, seized vast tracts in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate. The group lost its last territory in Iraq last year.

The caliphate put the Islamic State on the map physically and politically.

America Needs an Entirely New Foreign Policy for the Trump Age


Amid all the talk about the democratic party’s move to the left, a contrary phenomenon has gone comparatively unnoticed: On foreign policy, Washington Democrats keep attacking Donald Trump from the right. They’re not criticizing him merely for his lackluster response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. They’re criticizing him for seeking a rapprochement with key American adversaries and for potentially reducing America’s military footprint overseas. In June, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reprimanded Trump for meeting with Kim Jong Un and warned him not to weaken sanctions absent the complete “dismantlement and removal of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.” That same month, Democratic senators criticized the president for agreeing to suspend military exercises with South Korea and introduced legislation to block him from withdrawing troops from the Korean peninsula. Before Trump’s July trip to Europe, 44 Democrats on the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees urged him to maintain sanctions against Russia until it returns Crimea to Ukraine, to shun any cooperation between the American and Russian militaries, and to remain open to admitting new members to nato.

Africa's Reform Conundrum and Zimbabwe's Tragedy

By George B.N. Ayittey

Despite immense mineral wealth, Africa’s economic success stories are few. Outside Botswana, Ghana, Mauritius, and Rwanda, economies on the continent have been held back by decades of state interventionism, corruption, petulant government spending, and irresponsible borrowing. National debts have reached unsustainable levels. In 2017, Mozambique defaulted on its euro bond payment, and default risk has been rising on Zambian debt since May. Only a strong regimen of reform can unshackle African economies from the suffocating grip of statism and free them to follow the path to prosperity. Reforms started out haltingly in the early 1990s but subsequently sputtered. In 1994, after spending $25 billion to sponsor Structural Adjustment Programs for economic reform in 29 African countries, the World Bank declared only six as economic success stories – Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Countries soon disappeared from this phantom list, only to be replaced by others, some of whose successes were equally evanescent – Cameroon, Egypt, Uganda, among others.

The European Union Reaches Its Breaking Point


In a surprise decision on Wednesday, the European Parliament decided to trigger a procedure to sanction one of its member states: Hungary. The battle for the future of Europe is on. With nine months to go until European Parliament elections, some rifts are showing on the continent’s political landscape. One thing is definite: immigration will be at the forefront of the upcoming debates. Look for that issue to divide the progressives, who want to further the centralization of the European Union, from the populists, who oppose more power being sent to Brussels. Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron identified two countries as obstacles to further European integration: Poland and Hungary. Since then both have only become more vocal in their opposition to the Brussels bureaucracy. It must be said that the conservative majorities in those Central European countries have opposed the EU on grounds of culture, heritage, and tradition much more so than the Euro, big government spending programs, and tax harmonization. In fact, Hungary and Poland both feed enlarging welfare states with little concern for the sustainability of their spending, so their common ground with American conservatives exists mostly on social values.



There used to be a bar in downtown Moscow called Sanctions, featuring caricatures of Western politicians and serving only Russian booze—a one-stop summation of President Vladimir Putin’s attitude toward the efforts of the U.S. and Europe to economically kneecap his country. Putin and his Kremlin-controlled propaganda machine have a history of shrugging off sanctions, despite a 55 percent crash in the value of the ruble, a collapse in foreign investment and rising inflation. Russia, Putin boasts, will always survive the West’s efforts to destroy it. That narrative will be aggressively tested in the coming months should the U.S. government make good on the harshest economic sanctions ever ­imposed on Russia.

How secure is the global financial system a decade after the crisis?

Great strides have been made since 2008 to prevent a recurrence of the financial crisis and recession that followed. Yet there is more debt than ever in the global financial system. In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, recorded in August 2018, Simon London speaks with McKinsey Global Institute partner Susan Lund about the global financial system ten years after the crisis that left the world reeling—detailing the state of the world economy and analyzing the potential for such a crisis to repeat itself.

Podcast transcript

RUSSIA NEWS: Putin spooks HACKED UK think tank 2,400 times


The attacks, which have been reported to the national fraud and cyber crime recording centre, include a series of 441 “brute force” hacking attempts every month since July. Their aim, HJS says, was to alter content on its website critical of Moscow and insert “fake news’ articles to break public confidence. However, Russia also targeted the email account belonging Dr Andrew Foxall, director of its Russia and Eurasia Studies Centre, to gain intelligence of Russian dissident activity in London and links to intelligence agencies.

Assessment of the Role of Cyber Power in Interstate Conflict

By Eric Altamura

Eric Altamura is a graduate student in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He previously served for four years on active duty as an armor officer in the United States Army. He regularly writes for Georgetown Security Studies Review and can be found on Twitter @eric_senlu. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.

Title: Assessment of the Role of Cyber Power in Interstate Conflict

The role of corporations in addressing AI’s ethical dilemmas

Darrell M. West

The world is seeing extraordinary advances in artificial intelligence. There are new applications in finance, defense, health care, criminal justice, and education, among other areas.[1] Algorithms are improving spell-checkers, voice recognition systems, ad targeting, and fraud detection. Yet at the same time, there is concern regarding the ethical values embedded within AI and the extent to which algorithms respect basic human values. Ethicists worry about a lack of transparency, poor accountability, unfairness, and bias in these automated tools. With millions of lines of code in each application, it is difficult to know what values are inculcated in software and how algorithms actually reach decisions.

Army looks to build stronger tactical cyber teams

By: Mark Pomerleau  

The Army is looking to build up and resource expeditionary cyber teams that will conduct cyber effects at the tactical edge. These units are called expeditionary cyber support detachments, or ECSDs, and are small teams attached to companies that provide cyber and electromagnetic spectrum effects such as sensing or jamming. New Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities cells have been stood up in each brigade to help provide targeting options and capabilities for commanders. These teams have evolved and continue to shift in size and capability.

Americans Aren’t Practicing Democracy Anymore

Introducing Crazy/Genius, a new podcast from The Atlantic with Derek Thompson. Eight bold questions—and eight smart answers—about how tech is changing the world. Listen and subscribe to the podcast. Democracy is a most unnatural act. People have no innate democratic instinct; we are not born yearning to set aside our own desires in favor of the majority’s. Democracy is, instead, an acquired habit. Like most habits, democratic behavior develops slowly over time, through constant repetition. For two centuries, the United States was distinguished by its mania for democracy: From early childhood, Americans learned to be citizens by creating, joining, and participating in democratic organizations. But in recent decades, Americans have fallen out of practice, or even failed to acquire the habit of democracy in the first place.

Leaked 49-page memo documents how George Soros is behind social media censorship

By Alex Christoforou

A new leaked memo obtained by The Free Beacon documents how George Soros funded groups plotted with Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to eliminate conservative “right wing propaganda.” The recent wave of censorship of conservative voices on the internet by tech giants Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Apple mirrors a plan concocted by a coalition of George Soros-funded, progressive groups to take back power in Washington from President Trump’s administration. A confidential, 49-page memo for defeating Trump by working with the major social-media platforms to eliminate “right wing propaganda and fake news” was presented in January 2017 by Media Matters founder David Brock at a retreat in Florida with about 100 donors, the Washington Free Beacon reported at the time.

Army looks to build stronger tactical cyber teams

By: Mark Pomerleau

The Army is looking to build up and resource expeditionary cyber teams that will conduct cyber effects at the tactical edge. These units are called expeditionary cyber support detachments, or ECSDs, and are small teams attached to companies that provide cyber and electromagnetic spectrum effects such as sensing or jamming. New Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities cells have been stood up in each brigade to help provide targeting options and capabilities for commanders.

These teams have evolved and continue to shift in size and capability.