18 December 2018

How the U.S. Is Complicating India's Relationship With Iran

The U.S. waiver allowing India to import oil from Iran doesn't resolve New Delhi's dilemma on its relationship with Tehran, which is facing fierce pressure from Washington.

India still sees advantages in cooperating with Iran on energy and regional security, but the great power competition is an additional complication in navigating its ties with Tehran.

If the United States renews its harshest demands on Iran's oil trade, India may further cut those imports while offering greater concessions to Washington in other areas. But New Delhi will not ask its state-owned energy companies to eliminate oil imports from Iran.

‘An Economic Strategy For India’, By Rajan, Gopinath And Others: Full Report

Thirteen senior economists, including former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath and Sajjid Chinoy of JP Morgan, have jointly outlined an economic strategy for India as the country heads closer to a key general election in 2019.

India is one of the fastest growing large countries in the world, having grown at an average of almost 7 percent for the last 25 years. There have been many notable reforms over this period – most recently, the co-operative fiscal federalism that has brought the Goods and Services Tax into being, the enactment of the Indian Bankruptcy Code, and the dramatic dis-inflation of recent years, partly as a result of a move to an inflation targeting regime.

China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor

By Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy

KASHGAR, China — Muslim inmates from internment camps in far western China hunched over sewing machines, in row after row. They were among hundreds of thousands who had been detained and spent month after month renouncing their religious convictions. Now the government was showing them on television as models of repentance, earning good pay — and political salvation — as factory workers.

China’s ruling Communist Party has said in a surge of upbeat propaganda that a sprawling network of camps in the Xinjiang region is providing job training and putting detainees on production lines for their own good, offering an escape from poverty, backwardness and the temptations of radical Islam.

But mounting evidence suggests a system of forced labor is emerging from the camps, a development likely to intensify international condemnation of China’s drastic efforts to control and indoctrinate a Muslim ethnic minority population of more than 12 million in Xinjiang.

China’s Made in 2025 Plan Is a Paper Tiger

Anjani Trivedi

China’s industrial ambitions have the U.S. on edge. But what has actually come of its plans for global technology domination?

Beijing is considering delaying targets in its “Made in China 2025” program, Bloomberg News reported last week. The roadmap, which seeks to advance domestic production of critical technology, has been a key bone of contention in President Donald Trump’s trade war. Other reports said China may replace the program altogether and give foreign companies more access to its market.

On the same day, though, the State Council said it had decided to boost“mechanized farming” and upgrade agricultural machinery (while also noting that farmers would be subsidized whether buying foreign or Chinese brands). And the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said it would roll out policies to upgrade manufacturing with “cutting-edge technologies.” Both announcements were in line with Made in China 2025 goals. 

Markets are underestimating the long-term impact of Trump's fight with China

Fred Kempe

President Trump's foreign policy has shredded the status quo on a range of issues, from global trade and transatlantic relations to Iran and North Korea.

But the Trump administration's tough turn on China will have the most lasting global consequence, altering the terms of the epochal contest of our times.

Global markets have underestimated the stakes, largely responding to momentary events — Trump tariff tweets and tentative trade truces.

They should instead be banking in the generational nature of this drama, and its potential impact on debt, currency, tech and equity markets of all sorts.

This much is clear as 2018 screeches toward a close:

President Trump's foreign policy has shredded the status quo on a range of issues, from global trade and transatlantic relations to Iran and North Korea.

Explaining China’s Huawei Backlash

By Bonnie Girard

To understand the furor over Meng Wanzhou’s arrest, you have to understand what Huawei means in China, and why.

The outrage pouring out of China at the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, has been reported worldwide. The Chinese government made threatening remarks promising retaliation against Canada, and indeed, two Canadians so farhave been arrested in China. But the fury also comes from the Chinese people. Somewhat incongruously, Apple phones are being boycotted, despite the fact that Apple presumably has little to do with the charges against Meng. WeChat is alive with indignation from everyday Chinese.

Why are ordinary Chinese citizens so angered by Meng’s arrest? Why do they take it so personally?

The Globalization of China’s Media Controls: Key Trends From 2018

By Sarah Cook

Five key trends in the Chinese Communist Party’s global media campaign.

A popular digital television provider in Kenya includes Chinese state channels in its most affordable package, while omitting international news outlets. Portuguesetelevision launches a primetime “China Hour” consisting of content produced by Chinese state media. A Taiwanese businessman is arrested in Thailand over radio broadcasts that are critical of China. And a partly Chinese-owned South African newspaper abruptly cancels a regular column after it addresses repression in Xinjiang.

These are just a few incidents from the past year that illustrate the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) growing ability to project its propaganda and censorship priorities around the world even as it continues to strengthen media and internet controls at home.

Five key trends in the Party’s global media campaign emerged during 2018.

Why 5G Is the Next Front of US-China Competition

By Jansen Tham

Whoever rules in 5G technology rules the world – or so Beijing and Washington seem to believe.

The U.S.-China competition over technology has reached a peak in recent months. In August this year, the Trump administration signed a bill banning government use of Huawei and ZTE technology as part of the broader Defense Authorization Act. This was the latest salvo by Washington after a 2012 House of Representatives report that labelled both Chinese firms as national security threats, with the heads of U.S. national security agencies recommending against using either companies’ products.

Close U.S. allies, including Australia and New Zealand, have made public their policy of banning Huawei from the future 5G telecoms network – the next-gen critical national infrastructure expected to revolutionize technology application into economies and day-to-day lives, making driverless cars, smart cities and other large-scale applications of connected devices feasible commercially.

U.S. and China: From Co-Evolution to Decoupling

By Vincent Ni

NEW HAVEN: Henry Kissinger, US secretary of state from 1973 to 1977, remains a rock star in China. So when US-Chinese relations go awry, Chinese leaders turn to Kissinger. In his 2011 book On China, Kissinger proposed that the United States and China should “pursue their domestic imperatives, cooperating where possible, and adjust their relations to minimize conflict.” He calls this “co-evolution.” And amid heightened tensions between the two countries, the veteran diplomat emphasized to Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing that cooperation between the two countries is “essential for peace and progress in the world.”

Meanwhile in Washington, the atmosphere is not so friendly with talk of “decoupling” from China. President Donald Trump’s strategists expect this to be effective in countering Beijing’s influence and shifting the global supply chain. The process would also minimize the two countries’ reliance on each other on matters of economics and geopolitics, even to the extent of exclusion. In the latest development, one of Trump's economic advisers quipped to BBC: “Should we pursue evicting China from the WTO?” Kevin Hassett, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers added that China had “misbehaved” as a member of the WTO and the Trump administration’s punitive approach “is working.”

U.S.-Saudi Arabia Relations

Relations between the two countries, long bound by common interests in oil and security, have strained over what some analysts see as a more assertive Saudi foreign policy.

The U.S.-Saudi Arabia alliance is built on decades of security cooperation and strong business ties dominated by U.S. interests in Saudi oil. The relationship has survived severe challenges, including the 1973 oil embargo and 9/11 attacks, in which fifteen of the nineteen passenger jet hijackers were Saudi citizens. Successive U.S. administrations have held that Saudi Arabia is a critical strategic partner in the region.

Relations between the two countries have grown especially warm under U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Saudi de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman, who was elevated to crown prince in mid-2017. Both have ramped up efforts to counter Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival. However, recent actions under the crown prince’s leadership, particularly the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, are posing new strains on the alliance, as many members of the U.S. Congress have called for punishing Riyadh and reassessing the relationship.

Trump’s war on Huawei splits Europe


The Trump administration's global campaign against telecom giant Huawei is pitting Europe against itself over China.

In the midst of a ballooning U.S.-China trade conflict, Washington has spent the past few months pressing its EU allies via its ambassadors to take a stronger stance against Chinese telecom vendors such as Huawei and ZTE.

The American push, which continued Wednesday with public accusations by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is exposing fault-lines between U.S. allies in Europe as well as the so-called "Five Eyes" intelligence community — which have largely followed the U.S. lead — and others that resist the American pressure by stopping short of calling out Chinese tech.

Russia ramps up cyber warfare as it loses economic footing in Ukraine


U.S. leaders should keep a close eye on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cyber sleight of hand. Behind the smokescreen of multi-polar chaos, Putin is ramping up cyber warfare to keep Western powers, including the U.S., from keeping Ukraine from Russian state capture.

Russia needs Ukraine to be aligned not only because of the large ethnic Russian population there, but also because it represents the last line of defense between Moscow and the Western powers, as well as a huge economic partner. In five years, however, if current trends continue, Russia’s economic footprint in Ukraine will be diminished to such a capacity that Putin will either have to concede — or be forced into military action against the West.

China and Russia: A Strategic Alliance in the Making

by Graham Allison

Defying the long-held convictions of Western analysts, and against huge structural differences, Beijing and Moscow are drawing closer together to meet what each sees as the “American threat.”

THE YEAR before he died in 2017, one of America’s leading twentieth-century strategic thinkers, Zbigniew Brzezinski, sounded an alarm. In analyzing threats to American security, “the most dangerous scenario,” he warned, would be “a grand coalition of China and Russia…united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.” This coalition “would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.”

Unlike the US, China is playing the long game

By Samantha Vinograd

(CNN)Every week, I offer a glimpse of the kind of intelligence assessments that are likely to come across the desk of the President of the United States, modeled on the President's Daily Briefing, or PDB, which the director of national intelligence prepares for the President almost daily.

Here's this week's briefing:

The US is focused on reaching a short-term trade deal with Beijing. But China is focused on playing the long game in ways that threaten US national security.

US negotiators are preparing for talks during their 90-day trade truce with China, and this isn't a simple game of Chinese checkers. While alleviating the economic pressures of the trade war at home is a priority, China's President Xi Jinping also wants to extend its reach elsewhere.

John Mearsheimer on International Relations, Great Power Politics, and the Age of Trump

by Michael Lind

John J. Mearsheimer’s The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities argues how the United States’ pursuit of a “liberal hegemony” has been a failure with sizeable costs.

John J. Mearsheimer, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), 328 pp., $30.00.

WHEN THE Cold War ended a quarter century ago, many realists expected the United States to retrench and demobilize. Instead, while drawing down some of its military forces, the country did the opposite. The United States waged war to expel Iraq from Kuwait, intervened in the Yugoslav civil war and promoted the expansion of NATO to include Eastern Europe and—many hoped, until Russia violently intervened—Georgia and Ukraine. Following the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States not only went to war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, but also engaged in “wars of choice” to topple Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, while adding U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The United States is now engaged in more simultaneous small wars on more fronts than at any point in its history.

Two Ways America Can Prepare for—and Prevent—the Next War

by John Dale Grover

America could lose the next war. That is the conclusion of a report by the non-partisan National Defense Strategy Commission, which was tasked by Congress to assess the U.S. military the Trump Administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy. The report’s warning should not be taken lightly, and Washington must act to ensure the U.S. is as prepared as possible if a clash overseas turns into an armed conflict. First, policymakers must recognize that overextension has caused America to lose focus. Second, it would be wiser to rebuild power projection, such as through the Navy and Air Force, than to waste money and lives fighting unnecessary wars of choice.

The report declares that “The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia. The United States is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously.” This assessment is disturbing but hardly unsurprising.

The Future of the Dollar—and Its Role in Financial Diplomacy

by Christopher Smart

If the military strength and economic wealth of the United States underpin the dollar’s central role, then America’s global influence is enhanced because its currency dominates trade, finance and sovereign reserves.

THE DOLLAR’S central role in world financial markets reflects both faith in American leadership and the absence of reasonable alternatives. Currency dominance has also been a linchpin in America’s efforts to shape a global order around free markets and democracy while serving as a foundation for the sustained growth of a more integrated global economy. These roles now face rising risks. Both Republicans and Democrats question the benefits of an open and integrated economic order that seems to drain good jobs and demand repeated bailouts of bad banks and corrupt foreign governments. Meanwhile, allies and rivals alike raise doubts about the durability of U.S. leadership and the wisdom of depending so heavily on one dominant power.

Global Warming Is Setting Fire to American Leadership


U.S. President Donald Trump has said, “I don’t believe” climate change is real. Guess what? The global environment doesn’t care. The condition of the planet will be determined by the laws of physics and chemistry, not by Trump’s tweets, denials, bluster, or relentlessly head-in-the-sand approach to a rapidly warming planet. Trump will no longer be with us by the time the worst effects are realized, of course; it is future generations who will suffer the consequences.

And make no mistake: Those consequences are going to significant. As reported over Thanksgiving weekend, the latest U.S. government “National Climate Assessment” report makes it abundantly clear that rising average temperatures are going to have far-reaching and damaging effects. The report was a collaborative effort by 13 federal agencies, and it offers a sobering portrait of our likely future. Storms will be more intense and dangerous. Agricultural productivity will decline. Certain diseases and pests will be more numerous and bothersome, and heat-related deaths will increase significantly. Trump may not believe it, but what he does or does not believe is irrelevant, except as it affects what we do (or don’t do) today and thus how serious the problem is down the road.

Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive

By Brad Plumer

KATOWICE, Poland — Diplomats from nearly 200 countries reached a deal on Saturday to keep the Paris climate agreement alive by adopting a detailed set of rules to implement the pact.

The deal, struck after an all-night bargaining session, will ultimately require every country in the world to follow a uniform set of standards for measuring their planet-warming emissions and tracking their climate policies. And it calls on countries to step up their plans to cut emissions ahead of another round of talks in 2020.

It also calls on richer countries to be clearer about the aid they intend to offer to help poorer nations install more clean energy or build resilience against natural disasters. And it builds a process in which countries that are struggling to meet their emissions goals can get help in getting back on track.

How AI-based Systems Can Improve Medical Outcomes

Artificial intelligence-based technology is being deployed in the U.S. health care system. When implemented correctly, AI promises to relieve doctors of routine, tedious work while improving medical outcomes. In this opinion piece, Cassie Solomon, Mark Schneider and Gregory P. Shea argue that successfully implementing AI in health care requires a systems-based approach where leaders need to focus on eight levers of change. They explain this process with one use case: Screening diabetics for signs of retinal degradation and potential blindness. (Knowledge@Wharton also interviewed Shea and Schneider about their model. Listen to the podcast using the player above.)

China could surpass the US in artificial intelligence tech. Here's how

Uptin Saiidi 

Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform many industries: Cars that drive themselves, facial recognition that enhances security, or systems that could detect cancer better than a doctor.

In fact, global GDP is set to increase by 14 percent because of AI, according to PwC. The tech's deployment in the decade ahead will add $15.7 trillion to global GDP, with Chinapredicted to take $7 trillion and North America $3.7 trillion, according to the multinational company.

"Data is the new oil, so China is the new Saudi Arabia," Kai-Fu Lee, venture capitalist and author of "AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order," told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

If tech experts worry about artificial intelligence, shouldn’t you?

John Naughton

Fifty years ago last Sunday, a computer engineer named Douglas Engelbart gave a live demonstration in San Francisco that changed the computer industry and, indirectly, the world. In the auditorium, several hundred entranced geeks watched as he used something called a “mouse” and a special keypad to manipulate structured documents and showed how people in different physical locations could work collaboratively on shared files, online.

It was, said Steven Levy, a tech historian who was present, “the mother of all demos”. “As windows open and shut and their contents reshuffled,” he wrote, “the audience stared into the maw of cyberspace. Engelbart, with a no-hands mic, talked them through, a calm voice from Mission Control as the truly final frontier whizzed before their eyes.” That 1968 demo inspired a huge new industry based on networked personal computers using graphical interfaces, in other words, the stuff we use today.


THIS HAS NOT been Facebook's proudest year for privacy and security. The company faced the massive Cambridge Analytica data misuse and abuse scandal in April and beyond. It also disclosed its first data breach in October, which compromised information from 30 million accounts. But Facebook has at least one security-focused bright spot it can point to in 2018: its bug bounty.

Bug bounties are programs that let security researchers submit potential flaws and vulnerabilities in a company's software. Anyone can send a report and, perhaps, receive a reward for helping lock down a company's systems. Welcoming bug reports was a controversial practice for decades, but Facebook's program, which launched in 2011, is one of the oldest and most mature in the industry. The bug bounty has paid out more than $7.5 million over time, including $1.1 million in 2018. And this year Facebook also paid its biggest single bounty ever, $50,000, to one of its top contributors.

Cyber Saturday—IBM Quantum Computers, Facebook Photo Bugs, Multimillion-Dollar Cyberattack Disputes


Inside the stark and sweeping Eero Saarinen-styled exterior of the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, IBM’s blue jeans-wearing boffins are assembling a new generation of super-powered computers built on quantum mechanical principles. These otherworldly machines dangle from sturdy, metal frames, looking like golden chandeliers, or robotic beehives. The devices perform their magical-seeming operations inside vacuum-sealed, super-cooled refrigerator encasements. It’s a technology that combines both brains and beauty.

Future iterations of these quantum computers will be able to solve mathematical problems ordinary computers have no hope of computing. They will vastly speed up classical calculations, accurately model complex natural phenomena like chemical reactions, and open as yet unexplored frontiers for scientific inquiry. Despite seeming arcane, machines like these will touch every aspect of our lives—from drug discovery to digital security.

The Forgotten Lesson Of Huawei: Cyberattacks Will Be A Constant Threat To Manufacturing Firms

Hersh Shefrin

The arrest last week in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, injects one more source of uncertainty into a global economy that is increasingly fragile, and into financial markets that reflect a marked uptick in investor anxiety.

To be sure, the narrow issue with Huawei is that it is alleged to have violated U.S. restrictions on trading with Iran. However, there is a broader issue that is a central point of contention in the trade dispute and potential cold war between China and the U.S. That issue is cybertheft.

Chinese cybertheft left a deep wound on Canada, having been a major contributor to the demise of one of its stellar firms, Nortel Networks. Notably, Nortel Network’s lead investigator into the theft identified Huawei as the perpetrator of the cyberattack on the firm, and suggested that the attack was an act of industrial espionage.

Google’s Sundar Pichai on artificial intelligence: Threat to humans real; there’s a need for regulation

Sundar Pichai said that AI is the main tool behind new-age innovation and discoveries like driverless cars or disease detecting algorithm. However, the companies need to make sure that the technology can't be illegally exploited or abused.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in an interview with The Washington Post this week, said that the fears and concerns about the harmful application of artificial intelligence and other technology, in general, are very legitimate. He also requested the people to have trust in the technology industry and its responsibility in regulating it.

In the interview, Pichai said that AI is the main tool behind new-age innovation and discoveries like driverless cars or disease detecting algorithm. However, the companies need to make sure that the technology can’t be illegally exploited or abused. He also added that the tech industry needs to make sure that the artificial robots with “agency of their own” does not harm the people.


Representative Ted Lieu couldn't contain himself after hearing his colleagues in Congress whinge to Google CEO Sundar Pichai about how the search engine was biasedagainst conservatives.

"If you want positive search results," the Democrat from California said earlier this week, "do positive things. If you don’t want negative search results, don’t do negative things.”

At any hearing involving a congressional committee and a Silicon Valley executive, it’s assumed that there will be clueless representatives baffled by something as technologically complex as the Caps Lock key. And at Tuesday's questioning of Pichai by the House Judiciary Committee, a string of Republicans hit their cues, insisting that the negative results from a Google search of their names or favored legislation must have been personally typed out by vengeful programmers in far-left California.

Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism

The number of programs dedicated to countering violent extremism (CVE) has grown in recent years, yet a fundamental gap remains in the understanding of the effectiveness of such programs. This is particularly the case for CVE campaigns, which are increasingly conducted in the online space. The goal of this report is to help CVE campaign planners better evaluate the impact of online efforts. It reviews prior assessments of online CVE campaigns, provides recommendations for future assessments, and provides a case study of one particular CVE campaign — the Redirect Method. A limited evaluation of the Redirect Method process variables suggests that the implementers are able to use advertisements linking to counterextremist videos to effectively expose individuals searching for violent jihadist or violent far-right content to content that offers alternative narratives. Users clicked on these ads at a rate on par with industry standards. However, as is the case with other CVE evaluations, this partial evaluation did not assess the impact of the video content on user attitudes or behavior. The potentially highly radical nature of the Redirect Method's target audience makes evaluation of the campaign particularly complicated and therefore might necessitate the recruitment of former extremists to help gauge audience response. Alternatively, it might be advisable to analyze user comments to understand how a subsample of users respond to the content.

Rise of the machines: The Pentagon’s AI workforce plan

By: Mark Pomerleau

The Department of Defense is looking to build a 21st century military staffed with a cadre of resident data scientists, engineers and artificial intelligence professionals.

Dana Deasy, the DoD’s chief information officer, told a House Armed Services Committee panel Dec. 11 that the department’s philosophy is they’re going to need to build an internal capability inside the military.

In testimony before a House subcommittee, leaders from the Pentagon's research wing discussed what it will take to maintain an edge in artificial intelligence.

This takes the form of the recently established Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), which currently has approximately 30 people assigned to it — a combination of uniformed and civilian personnel, Deasy said.

The U.S. Army Has a Vision for the Future. Is It the Right One?

Steven Metz

Last week the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command released a new report entitled, “The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028.” The title might seem to suggest that the document would only interest die-hard military geeks. But despite its complex and arcane phrasing, the report is actually a fascinating window into how the Army sees future armed conflict and how it intends to prepare for it. 

The report expands on the National Defense Strategy, which the Pentagon unveiled in early 2018. That document identified America’s primary security threat as “revisionist powers,” particularly Russia and China. The Army’s new report expands on this idea, labeling Russia the “pacing threat” that will shape capability development over the next few years, while flagging China as the more pressing long-term adversary. While very different in national objectives and capabilities, the report notes, Russia and China “operate in a sufficiently similar manner to orient on their capabilities collectively.” What works to deter or defeat one of them, the Army believes, will also work against the other. ...