18 November 2018

The India-China Rivalry Heats Up in South Asia

As the India-China rivalry for influence in Asia grows, India has begun to take a bolder stance. In 2016, at Bhutan's request, Indian forces entered the disputed Doklam territory in Bhutan to keep Chinese forces from building a road there. As the most serious conflict between India and China in decades, the standoff represented a shift in New Delhi’s posture toward Beijing, signaling India’s resolve to act more forcefully to counter Chinese influence and activities in South Asia. 

New Delhi’s bold decision to confront Chinese troops at Doklam—an area near India’s so-called tri-border with China and Bhutan—surprised and angered Beijing. While India may have succeeded in standing up to China in the short run, Doklam pushed China-India tensions, problematic under the best of circumstances, into a new, tenser stage.

Any military confrontation would be devastating to both countries, but a deep and long-standing political rift would be equally unsettling given the strategic anxieties in play. Sustained, long-term hostility of any kind would be harmful for India, China and the region at large.

Modi in Singapore: India-US-Australia-Japan Quad must move from theoretical discussion to pragmatic cooperation

Vinay Kaura 

The third meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, which comprises India, the United States, Japan and Australia, is in Singapore on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit (EAS). The four countries will share their respective perspectives on regional geopolitics, while chalking out a strategy to balance China's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific. This is the second Quad meet this year, and will be held at the joint secretary-level on Wednesday. The last meeting, that also took place in Singapore in June this year, witnessed the four countries reaffirming their support for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. Should the Quad strategy be suitably implemented, it can definitely prove revolutionary in strengthening the current balance of power across much of the globe.

It has been a year since the revival of the Quad. However, it is yet to take a concrete shape as there has not been substantial dialogue on how to make it a reality. The Quad continues to remain a bureaucratic-level dialogue that meets occasionally — twice a year. It is not a defence dialogue yet, much less an alliance. This has understandably given rise to scepticism about the usefulness and efficiency of the formation.

Imran Khan CPEC Diplomacy: Remodelling Trade Politics between Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and China

Dr. James M. Dorsey

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan lands in Beijing on November 3, the latest head of government to seek a renegotiation of commercial terms and/or focus of projects related to China’s infrastructure and energy-driven Belt and Road initiative. He follows in the footsteps of his Malaysian counterpart, Mahathir Mohamad has suspended US$26 billion in Chinese-funded projects; while Myanmar is negotiating a significant scaling back of a Chinese-funded port project on the Bay of Bengal from one that would cost US$ 7.3 billion to a more modest development that would cost US$1.3 billion in a bid to avoid shouldering an unsustainable debt. China has also witnessed pushback and rising anti-Chinese sentiment in countries as far flung as Kazakhstan, Nepal, and Denmark.

China and the New Strategic Nuclear Arms Race

By Anthony H. Cordesman

This study is available on the CSIS web site at: https://bit.ly/2QHhK2o. This study is a major expansion and revision of a previous Burke Chair study that examines the changes taking place in Chinese nuclear delivery needs and their impact on China's stockpiles of nuclear weapons and weapons designs. It drew on a wide range of official open-source reporting, as well as a range of outside sources, including the Federation of American Scientists, Arms Control Association, IISS, SIPRI and analysts like Hans M. Kristensen and Robert Norris to examine these developments.

The original study argued that a focus on China's expanding global influence, conventional forces, missile forces, emerging ASAT and cyber capabilities – and role in the South China Sea – had led much of the analysis of Chinese military developments to ignore the key uncertainties surrounding its stockpile of nuclear weapons, and the fact that China is developing all the elements of a far more advanced strategic nuclear Triad – along with improved theater delivery system and missile defenses.

How to Counter China’s Influence in the South Pacific

By Charles Edel

In the U.S. National Defense Strategy published in January 2018, Washington announced the return of great power competition, branded China a “strategic competitor,” and called for a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Despite these rhetorical developments, however, there remain lingering questions surrounding the Trump administration’s episodic engagement with the region, its failure to coordinate with allies on major issues, and inadequate resourcing for initiatives outside the military realm.

These concerns will be on the mind of many of the national leaders gathering in Singapore for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia summits, and then in Papua New Guinea for the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC), this week. Conspicuously absent from the gatherings is U.S. President Donald Trump, who has chosen instead to send Vice President Mike Pence. In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting a meeting with the leaders of the Pacific island states in Papua New Guinea ahead of the APEC meeting.


Vesselina Pentcheva

Improving the Dialogue on Chinese Investment in Europe

Twenty years ago, China was an emerging power with limited economic significance to Europe. Today, the country is one of the most influential external investors in the European Union, channeling more than 30 billion euros in 2017. This represents a significant increase from its investments just ten years ago. While almost all Chinese foreign direct investment has gone into acquisitions of European companies by Chinese state owned players, EU member states are increasingly divided over the net impact.

Selling U.S. China Policy

by Elizabeth C. Economy

Vice President Mike Pence’s October 4 speech on China, which many commentators have referred to as the administration’s defining China moment, was a leaden litany of Chinese vices and a hyped-up assessment of the U.S. role in shaping Chinese history. The United States did not, as the vice president claims, derail China’s stock exchange nor did it rebuild China over the past 25 years. The responsibility for both of those rests squarely with China itself. Nevertheless, the Trump administration has an important story to sell around U.S. policy toward China—and more broadly toward Asia—that is more multilateral and principles-based than is immediately evident. Yet the White House does not know how to tell the story, much less sell it.

Forty Years on, Is China Still Reforming?

In late October, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the “Reform and Opening” policy, China’s Chairman Xi Jinping visited the southern metropolis of Shenzhen, the first major laboratory for the Party’s post-Mao economic reforms. Like his predecessors, Xi often praises the policy, which the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping launched in 1978. Xi visited Shenzhen, he said, “so that we can declare to the world: China’s reform and opening up will never stop.”

What does this common but vague expression actually mean to Xi? And is Beijing actually reforming and opening up, or stagnating and closing down? —The Editors

I’d say “stagnating and closing down.” Much worse, Beijing is actually cannibalizing those limited political reforms that helped sustain a degree of political stability in the post-Maoist era.

The Chinese Century? An Early Appraisal.

by Charles Edel Siddharth Mohandas

Hint: it's not all going as Beijing wants. This is part one of a two-part series.

The reviews are in. At the midpoint of the Trump administration, analysts from a range of political persuasions are lamenting the erosion of U.S. power in Asia and the way in which China has been able to fill the void. Concerns have only grown with President Donald Trump’s decision to skip the two major summit meetings of Asian leaders—the East Asia Summit and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, both of which are taking place this week. Some have noted that Trump is “making China great again” by walking away from America’s historic commitments to upholding regional order and promoting free trade. Others have said that the president’s willingness to question and even undermine traditional alliances opens a door that China is eagerly walking through. If the history of this century is to be written in Asia, it appears that the United States is leaving the field and China is on its way to victory.

(This is the first article of a two-part series.)

U.S. Should Be Wary of China’s Supply Chain Threat, Panel Says

by Bill Faries

The U.S. faces an expanding risks from China, including threats to the technology supply chain, Beijing’s military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region and the country’s efforts to undermine sanctions on North Korea, according to an annual report by a bipartisan congressional panel.

Chinese state support for critical developing technologies combined with “the close supply chain integration between the United States and China, and China’s role as an economic and military competitor to the United States create enormous economic, security, supply chain and data privacy risks for the United States,” the panel said in the report published Wednesday.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s report comes as tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have soared over trade, with both sides placing hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs on imported goods. President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss trade tensions at a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires in late November.

Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen Has Failed

by Philip H. Gordon

Top U.S. officials are now calling on Riyadh to agree to a ceasefire and participate in U.N.-sponsored talks, and the Pentagon announced last Friday it would no longer provide in-air refueling for Saudi bombing runs.Meanwhile, Congress, led by the new Democratic majority in the House, is credibly threatening to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which countries such as Germany have already done. The growing pressure, a marked departure from the almost-unconditional support the Trump administration has been providing to the Saudis, has led to renewed hopes that the war might finally be brought to a negotiated end.

Why American Oil Hasn’t Been a Total Game-Changer


The United States in recent years has stunned the globe by becoming the world’s biggest oil producer, a remarkable about-face for a country that a decade ago reeled from reliance on pricey imported crude. So why does it seem so hard to translate that so-called energy dominance from rhetoric into reality?

President Donald Trump’s tweet-borne rage with the oil-price rollercoaster in recent months, and OPEC’s subsequent efforts to fix the market by adjusting the amount of oil it pumps, illustrates the frustration many in Washington feel when they see what looks like a huge U.S. energy boom failing to deliver on promises of dominance or independence.

The Role of the U.S. Federal Reserve

by James McBride and Andrew Chatzky

The U.S. central banking system—the Federal Reserve, or the Fed—has come under heightened focus in the wake of the 2007–2009 global financial crisis, as its role in setting economic policy has dramatically expanded. Post-crisis, the Fed faced scrutiny for its unorthodox monetary policy, known as quantitative easing (QE), which helped sustain the recovery but ballooned the Fed’s total assets from $869 billion in 2007 to nearly $4.5 trillion in 2017. At the same time, the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform redefined the central bank’s responsibility for evaluating the health of the nation’s financial system.

The Long Decline of Congressional Oversight

By Linda L. Fowler

As soon as Democrats captured the House of Representatives last week, the incoming committee chairs began promising vigorous oversight of the Trump administration. They plan to hold hearings, investigate wrongdoing, and propose new legislation. Foreign policy experts welcomed the chance to reverse congressional neglect of international affairs as the leading Democrats on the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence Committees vowed greater scrutiny of national security. 

Yet the reality is likely to fall short of the hype. Over the last few decades, political and institutional barriers have sprung up that could block any serious review of foreign policy and defense decisions. Despite a daunting array of problems around the world, the 2018 elections turned on domestic issues and disapproval of President Donald Trump. International relations barely registered as a problem in opinion polls, a fact that may diminish enthusiasm for major inquiries. Moreover, the House defense and foreign policy committees will have to compete with other committees for media attention. And they can expect rival inquiries from Republicans in the Senate and vigorous attacks from a president adept at distracting the public and the press from substance.

Theresa May’s Brexit deal solves nothing: open warfare is about to begin

Polly Toynbee

As rumours flew that her Brexiter enemies were calling for her head in no-confidence letters, out she stepped alone. After five gruelling hours convincing her cabinet, a beleaguered prime minister stuck to her friendless deal: sticking is what she does best.

Now the arm-twisting, the bribery and the for-the-good-of-the-country cajoling of every last MP begins in earnest. Pinned to the wall, each must finally reveal their true colours; some will be principled, some not: Tories must reckon if the future is with Theresa May and her deal, or with Brextremists in their constituencies. Any Labour would-be defector must reckon whether their local party could ever forgive them for voting to keep this government in power.

Market Meltdown: How OPEC Is Projected to Change

by James Clad James Grant

As fallout over Jamal Khashoggi’s murder continues, the U.S. – Saudi relationship may be facing its toughest test since the 1973 Oil Embargo. The world’s largest crude exporter, and defacto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is once again threatening to use its vast energy resources as political retribution, alluding to possible price spikes reaching$200 per barrel (bbl) if foreign governments attempt to punish the Saudi regime for Khashoggi’s murder. A Riyadh engineered oil price-spike seems less likely now given the recent downturn in oil prices, but the Kingdom’s influence over energy markets should not be underestimated.

Infographic Of The Day: The 80 Trillion World Economy In One Chart

The latest estimate from the World Bank puts global GDP at roughly $80 trillion in nominal terms for 2017.

Today’s chart from HowMuch.net uses this data to show all major economies in a visualization called a Voronoi diagram – let’s dive into the stats to learn more.

The World’s Top 10 Economies

Here are the world’s top 10 economies, which together combine for a whopping two-thirds of global GDP.

Pairing AI and Nukes Will Lead to Our Autonomous Doomsday

by Lori Esposito Murray

As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, which transformed how wars are fought and won, the world again stands on the precipice of a dramatic revolution in warfare, this one driven by artificial intelligence. While both AI and the debate about the implications of autonomous decision capabilities in warfare are only in their early stages, the one area where AI holds perhaps the most peril is its potential role in how and when to use nuclear weapons.

Cyber Security Predictions 2019: More nations to develop offensive cyber capabilities, says FireEye

By Sanjay Singh

Cyber Security Predictions 2019: With technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing enabling new innovation and business models, there has been significant growth in the digital transformation journey of both enterprises and public sector organisation across the globe. But this transformation is also bringing a new kind of challenge related to cyber security.

Various reports suggest that with advancement in technology, the attackers have also become sophisticated and advanced. In many cyber attack cases, they are not leaving any traceable spot. Along with this, nations are trying to improve their cyber espionagecapabilities. This has really compounded the impact that a cyber attack could have on a nation or large organisation.

Air Force to wrap up electronic warfare study by January

By: Valerie Insinna  

WASHINGTON — Big changes to the Air Force’s electronic warfare capabilities may be coming in 2019.

The service’s yearlong EW study is drawing to a close, with a final report expected in mid-January, Gen. Stephen Wilson, the Air Force’s vice chief of staff, told reporters Wednesday.

“We’re about two months away from having the results of that,” he said.

Recognizing that future wars will not be solely fought on ground, sea and air, the U.S. Air Force is kicking off a third-study on how it plans to use electronic warfare (EW).

Wilson announced the EW study in late 2017. Then, Brig. Gen. David Gaedecke, the Air Force’s director of cyberspace operations and warfighting integration, was tapped earlier this year to lead an “enterprise capability collaboration team” that would explore new ways to perform electronic warfare and how to integrate those capabilities across the service.

Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis

By Sheera Frenkel, Nicholas Confessore, Cecilia Kang, Matthew Rosenberg and Jack Nicas

Inside Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, top executives gathered in the glass-walled conference room of its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. It was September 2017, more than a year after Facebook engineers discovered suspicious Russia-linked activity on its site, an early warning of the Kremlin campaign to disrupt the 2016 American election. Congressional and federal investigators were closing in on evidence that would implicate the company.

But it wasn’t the looming disaster at Facebook that angered Ms. Sandberg. It was the social network’s security chief, Alex Stamos, who had informed company board members the day before that Facebook had yet to contain the Russian infestation. Mr. Stamos’s briefing had prompted a humiliating boardroom interrogation of Ms. Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, and her billionaire boss. She appeared to regard the admission as a betrayal.

Big Bad Data: Achilles’ Heel Of Artificial Intelligence

by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

WASHINGTON: Behind the bright buzzwords about artificial intelligence, the dreary reality is that machine learning algorithms only work if they’re trained on large sets of data — and your dataset may be too small, mislabeled, inaccurate, or outright falsified by malicious actors. As officials from the NSA, NGA, and Armywarned today, big data is just a big problem if that data is bad.

Big bad data is a particularly acute problem in the national security sector, where the chief threat is not mundane cyber-criminals but sophisticated and well-funded nation-states. If a savvy adversary knows what dataset your AI is training on — and because getting enough good data is so difficult, a lot of datasets are widely shared — they at least have a head start in figuring out how to deceive it. At worst, the enemy can feed you false data so your AI learns the version of reality they want it to know.

The Brilliant and the Absurd in Vienna

By George Friedman

A geopolitical journey into the city that was once the intellectual and cultural center of Europe.

I first came to Austria when I was six months old and left a little over a year later. Oddly, I can’t seem to recall it, but in college and the years that followed, I visited many times. Austria was the borderland of the Cold War and where many journeys started. It bordered Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia. It also bordered Germany and Italy, as well as neutral Switzerland – allowing access to France and beyond. And since it was neutral and weak, people from all over the world could get to Austria and, from Austria, to the rest of Europe.

Vienna was a place where chaos and intrigue were easily stirred. Soviet intelligence used it as the gateway to the West. Western intelligence used it as the gateway to the East. Others used it as a way to simply get somewhere else. The cafes at the outer rings were filled with people who knew someone who knew someone who might get something done, for a fee. Nearer the center of the city were more official-looking, well-dressed men, pretending to know far more than they actually did. There were also extremely attractive women looking for official-looking men to cause them to commit a massive error in judgment.

Cyberwarfare: the danger and potential answers

From the world wide web to cyberwarfare?

What is cyberwarfare? “A true act of cyberwar would be a wider targeting of critical infrastructure but also incorporate attacks on military infrastructure. For example, the Russian attacks during the Russo-Georgian war over South Ossetia. We have seen and will continue to see cyber-attacks on a nation state level towards other nations to test capabilities impacting infrastructure, industries and government operations. Some recent examples include infecting accounting software with ransomware, taking out power grid operations and impacting national healthcare organisations. The lines are blurred today as attribution is not always clear and detection often takes months if not years in some cases. Cyber is not always timely or immediately visible like a direct hit in traditional attacks like 911 or suicide bombings at cafes or train stations.”



DURING A SPEECH at the annual UNESCO Internet Governance Forum in Paris Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace,” a new initiative designed to establish international norms for the internet, including good digital hygiene and the coordinated disclosure of technical vulnerabilities. The document outlines nine goals, like helping to ensure foreign actors don’t interfere with elections and working to prevent private companies from “hacking back,” or retaliating for a cybercrime. It’s endorsed by more than 50 nations, 90 nonprofits and universities, and 130 private corporations and groups. The United States is not one of them.

The Paris Call ultimately lacks teeth; it doesn’t require governments or corporations legally adhere to any specific principles. It’s mostly a symbol of the need for diplomacy and cooperation in cyberspace, where it’s hard to enforce any single country’s laws. More notable than the accord itself is who signed it. Major American technology corporations including Microsoft, Facebook, Google, IBM, and HP all endorsed the agreement.

Emmanuel Macron’s ‘arms control’ deal for cyber warfare

French President Emmanuel Macron issued an international call to limit hostile activity in cyberspace, laying out rules that would act as a form of “arms control” for the digital age.

In a speech at the Paris Peace Forum on Monday, a day after world leaders commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I, Macron touted an agreement already signed by over 50 countries and 250 organizations pledging to counter threats such as state-sponsored hacking, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and the spread of misinformation.

“The internet is at risk,” Macron said while presenting the initiative, known as the Paris Call for Trust & Security in Cyberspace. “Malicious actors are clashing online, using digital products as weapons.”

Forcepoint Predicts A Cyber Cold War In 2019

Cyber experts and research teams warn of risks to critical infrastructure and national intelligence, threats to biometric identification and over-reliance on AI in cybersecurity

Global cybersecurity leader Forcepoint today launched its 2019 Forcepoint Cybersecurity Predictions Report, with security specialists, behavioral intelligence researchers and data scientists providing guidance on the sophisticated threats facing organizations in the months to come.

The report examines seven areas where risks will increase in 2019, with Forcepoint experts taking a deep dive into technology trends and the motivation behind cyber-attacks, so that business and government leaders and their security teams can better prepare to face the new wave of threats.Enterprises and governments are facing a hyper-converged world where connected systems put not only critical data and intellectual property but also physical safety at risk. The report explores these areas and concludes that when people can collaborate in a trusted manner, leveraging data creatively and freely through technology, businesses can securely innovate to create value.

U.S. Military Advantage Has Eroded, Study Says

Paul Sonne and Shane Harris

WASHINGTON – The United States has lost its military edge to a dangerous degree and could potentially lose a war against China or Russia, according to a report released Wednesday by a bipartisan commission that Congress created to evaluate the Trump administration’s defense strategy.

The National Defense Strategy Commission, comprised of former top Republican and Democratic officials selected by Congress, evaluated the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, which ordered a vast reshaping of the U.S. military to compete with Beijing and Moscow in an era of renewed great-power competition.

While endorsing the strategy’s aims, the commission warned that Washington isn’t moving fast enough or investing sufficiently to put the vision into practice, risking a further erosion of American military dominance that could become a national security emergency.

Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Seeking New Technology/Techniques To Protect Future U.S. Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs) From Foreign Surveillance/Trusted Insiders — But, Is A Whole New Approach To How We Protect Our Most Precious Secrets…….Needed?

FedScoop posted a November 6, 2018 article to their website, by Carten Cordell, with the title above. He notes that “due to increasing eavesdropping and [sophisticated] surveillance [techniques] tactics from foreign adversaries, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is reaching out to industry for new solutions to safeguard the [U.S.] Government’s [most] sensitive meeting sites.”

IARPA issued a Request For Information (RFI), “seeking innovative methods for securing Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs), from a variety of [foreign] spying operations.” As an Intelligence Community veteran/33 year career, I can assure you that SCIFs’ are the most protected and secure facilities in the national security orbit; and, it is where most of our most sensitive/critical secrets are stored/held. IARPA officials are calling for information on how to prevent surveillance attacks utilizing radio frequency, optical, magnetic, or acoustic transmissions from intercepting communications within SCIFs,” Mr. Cordell reported.

Military Sway At Pentagon Undermines Tenet of Civilian Control, Study Finds

By Michael R. Gordon and Gordon Lubold

The military staff at the Pentagon is dominating deliberations over strategy and the deployment of forces to such an extent that it is undermining the principle of civilian control of the armed forces, according to a congressionally mandated study by former high-ranking national-security officials.

“There is an imbalance in civil-military relations on critical issues of strategy development and implementation,” states the study, which is being issued Wednesday. “Civilian voices appear relatively muted on issues at the center of U.S. defense and national security policy.” 

The study was prepared by a bipartisan commission established by Congress in 2017 to assess the Pentagon’s defense strategy, which casts China and Russia as the principal threats to U.S. security.