14 April 2019

China’s Diplomatic Moves Amidst the India-Pakistan Conflict

By: Adnan Aamir


On March 13th, diplomatic representatives of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) placed a hold on a draft resolution under consideration at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)—a resolution intended to designate Maulana Masood Azhar as a global terrorist (Business Today (India), March 14, 2019). Maulana Masood Azhar is the founding leader of Jaish-e-Muhammad (“Army of Muhammad”—JeM) (Militant Leadership Monitor, March 5). On February 14th, a suicide bomber killed 42 Indian paramilitary troops in the town of Pulwama, in Indian-administered Kashmir; in the aftermath, JeM quickly claimed responsibility for this attack (Al Jazeera, February 14). This incident dramatically escalated the tensions between Pakistan and India: on February 26th and 27th, both countries bombed each other, and were on the brink of full-scale war before the international community stepped in to mediate.

As a result of blocking the resolution against Massod Azhar, the PRC has been criticized for having double standards on the issue of terrorism. On the one hand, China is cracking down on its own Uighur Muslim population under the pretext of terrorism; while on the other hand, it is providing diplomatic cover to an alleged terrorist wanted for masterminding attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir. However, the actions of the PRC are part of a consistent pattern of pursuing its interests: protecting Pakistan and countering the rise of India; retaining the interest of Pakistan in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by coming to its support; and seeking to prevent any threat to PRC interests on the part of groups in Pakistan.

STRATCOM’s Hyten Calls For Space Rules After India’s ASAT Test: Update


SPACE SYMPOSIUM: For the first time, the United States is sharing its space war plans, known as Olympic Defender, with a small number of allies, says the head of Strategic Command.

Gen. John Hyten told us in a Monday evening interview that a new version of the plan was published “last December,” he said. “Everything that is in that plan can be looked at by our allies.” (There are other space plans not included in Olympic Defender that aren’t being shared).

Hyten would not identify the countries that have requested and been granted access so far, but it’s a small group. A safe bet would be that it includes members of the so-called Five Eyes: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Afghan Counterterrorism Through Peace

By Francis X. Tailor

As the U.S.-Taliban peace negotiations lurch forward in fits and starts, there is a fundamental question lingering in the minds of U.S. policymakers in Washington—is there a way for the United States to withdraw the preponderance of its troops and extricate itself from an otherwise endless war while at the same time ensuring fundamental U.S. national security interests continue to be protected?

You can forgive the Washington foreign policy community for thinking this is an altogether impossible mission, akin to pounding a square peg into a round hole. The headlines pouring out of Afghanistan are such as dreary today as they were last year, with Taliban militants continuing to ambush Afghan soldiers at remote checkpoints and laying siege to Afghan government compounds in remote corners of the country. The Afghan people first and foremost remain the primary victims of the violence. There is hardly a family in Afghanistan who hasn't experienced personal loss. The statistics bear this out; in February, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented 3,804 civilian fatalities in 2018, the highest number recorded since the figures were tracked. 

While the violence on the ground often makes Afghanistan appear like a bleak and downright hopeless place, the United States can still accomplish its primary national security objective at a far more sustainable cost. In other words, Washington can keep the American people safe from transnational terrorism emanating from Afghanistan without falling back on the same failed strategy of the last eighteen years.

The US Can’t Out-China China on 5G. We Need a National Strategy.


A recent report from the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Board should be a wakeup call about today's most important emerging technology.

As one of the vital technologies the will underpin the next phase of the information revolution, 5G network technology is a key battleground for determining which nations lead the way in the digital future. Last week, the Defense Innovation Board, a group of private sector leaders and scientists who advise the Department of Defense on technology issues, issued a report on 5G networks that should serve as a wakeup call to both American policymakers and the public.

Just as 4G networks unlocked the power of the smartphone and other connected devices, 5G’s high speeds and low latency will create better conditions for the “Internet of Things,” communication with automated vehicles and systems, and data flows that will power artificial intelligence and machine learning. While the United States once had the advantages of 4G incumbency, it has been slow to develop 5G technology because of suboptimal radio spectrum allocation, debt-laden wireless companies, and a fragmented government policymaking process. Meanwhile, China and its national telecommunication champion Huawei have pushed forward to close the gap in 4G and surpass the West in the development of 5G. 

Good Intelligence: Equally Important For Governments And Businesses

Mark Lyall Grant

The importance of good intelligence in decision making has been recognised since the earliest times. In the Bible (Numbers 13) God said to Moses in advance of the Exodus: ‘send some men to explore the land of Canaan… how many people are there and how strong are they? Are the towns fortified? Bring back examples of their fruits’. 

Likewise, Sun Tzu, the great Chinese general who wrote the Art of War in about 500 BC, was a great believer in Intelligence to avoid military casualties: ‘what enables the wise sovereign and good general to strike and conquer and achieve things beyond ordinary men is foreknowledge’. 

Today, the world is much more complex than it was in Sun Tzu’s time. Tensions between competing world powers are again on the increase. So called Hybrid Warfare (including use of weapons such as cyber, drones and trade sanctions) has blurred the traditional line between war and peace. Misinformation campaigns and so-called “Fake news” have blurred the lines between truth and falsehood. Terrorist groups, deniable cyber warriors and mercenaries have blurred the lines between state and non-state actors. 

Huawei, 5G, and China as a Security Threat

Authors:Kadri KaskaTomáš MinárikHenrik Beckvard

Concerns about the Chinese technology giant Huawei as the potential supplier of 5G technology for next generation wireless networks have generated lively debate among cybersecurity community. This paper discusses the strategic and legal issues raised by potential reliance on Chinese technology in the rollout of 5G, explores the national responses, and offers recommendations for a balanced approach.

The paper Huawei, 5G, and China as a Security Threat written by Kadri Kaska, Henrik Beckvard and Tomáš Minárik, researchers at the CCDCOE, recognises that it is rational to require the highest possible security assurance from 5G technology used for critical communication. The pursuit for technological innovation is accompanied by concerns about cybersecurity with implications to a broader national security context. Possible loss or interruption of availability, integrity or confidentiality in critical networks could have a significant adverse effect on society.

Many countries have expressed their concerns about the potential consequences of ties between Chinese communications technology companies and its intelligence services, reinforced by China’s political and legal environment requiring cooperation with intelligence agencies. Accordingly, 5G rollout needs to be recognised as a strategic rather than merely a technological choice.

The “Algorithm Game” and Its Implications for Chinese War Control

By: John Dotson, Howard Wang

Editor’s note: A recent China Brief article referenced the concept of the “algorithm game” as a theoretical concept connected to developments in artificial intelligence and future Chinese military operations. (See: Brent Eastwood,“A Smarter Battlefield?: PLA Concepts for ‘Intelligent Operations’ Begin to Take Shape,” February 15, 2019). This article builds upon that earlier discussion, and is intended to further explore the concept of the “algorithm game”—as well as the potential implications of this idea for evolving PLA ideas regarding future warfare and escalation management.


In early 2019, Li Minghai (李明海), a senior faculty member with China’s National Defense University (NDU), published a pair of articles that offered a new set of terms and theoretical ideas related to the incorporation and operationalization of emerging technology by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). [1] Li is a prominent military academic—holding dual positions as director of the National Security Studies Institute at NDU, and as deputy secretary of NDU’s Communist Party Committee—as well as holding the rank of senior colonel (da xiao, 大校) in the PLA. [2] In these recent articles, Li introduced a new term into military discourse: the “algorithm game” (or alternately, the “algorithm chess game”) (suanfa boyi, 算法博弈), which was presented in the context of conflict between first-tier military forces in a dawning age of “intelligentized warfare” (zhinenghua zhanzheng, 智能化战争). [3]

China Is Closing the Innovation Gap: Report


A leading tech-policy think tank says the United States needs a national strategy of its own to compete in advanced technologies.

China is progressing more rapidly in innovation and advanced technology industries than the United States, according to a recent report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a leading nonpartisan tech-policy think tank.

“In the span of about a decade, the Chinese economy has made dramatic progress in innovation relative to the United States,” Robert Atkinson, ITIF president and lead author of the report said in a statement. “Backed up by a powerful, unfair arsenal of state policies, China has evolved from an innovation-copier to a reverse innovator and now an innovator in its own right.”

The Belt and Road Initiative: Views from Washington, Moscow, and Beijing


Since being unveiled in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has become the signature foreign policy project of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The initiative demonstrates China’s growing ambitions at home and abroad and was officially inscribed in the Chinese constitution during the 19th Party Congress, the same congress during which Xi proclaimed a “new era” and the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”1 It is symbolic of China’s more self-confident foreign policy and departure from the low-profile strategy of “hide and bide” that long characterized Beijing’s global engagement.

The BRI now covers over seventy countries across Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Oceania. Future plans are even more ambitious, with planned expansion into the Arctic, cyberspace, and even outer space. The initiative’s scale and ambition have garnered immense attention, capturing headlines around the world. Specialized institutes, publications, consultancies, and investment firms seeking to analyze and capitalize on the BRI have sprung up at an astonishing rate.

But despite the BRI’s prevalence in discussions of China’s global engagement, many experts and policymakers are divided on how to interpret it. Is it a global strategy or just an interregional initiative? Are there boundaries to its expansion? How can countries and international companies participate in its growth and development?

Chinese Pressure Tactics

By Dr. James M. Dorsey

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Recent Chinese pressure on Myanmar to approve a controversial dam project and the arrest in Kazakhstan of a human rights activist suggest that China, in a seemingly tone-deaf pursuit of its interests, is forcing governments to choose between heeding increasingly anti-Chinese public sentiment and pleasing Beijing to ensure continued political and economic support.

Apparent Chinese disregard of public opinion, whether as a matter of policy or because of haphazard insensitivity, is compounded by the powering of anti-Chinese sentiment in several countries as a result of commercial terms of China-funded Belt and Road projects that favor the use of Chinese rather than local labor and materials.

The Chinese approach risks that anti-Chinese sentiment, meshed with social and economic discontent, will explode into popular protests that could prove destabilizing. It also has the potential to complicate Chinese efforts to ensure that the Muslim world continues to refrain from criticizing China’s crackdown on Turkic Muslims in the strategic but troubled northwestern province of Xinjiang.

The Kids Are Taking Charge of Climate Change


The Fridays for Future international school strike on March 15 was, by any measure, breathtaking. An estimated 1.6 million to 2 million people—mostly teenagers and preteens—gathered in thousands of cities and towns in more than 125 countries to demand their political leaders meet existing climate goals. As intended, they grabbed the world’s attention.

Of course, the more important question is whether the protesters can achieve their goals. Critics argue the movement’s uncompromising demands—such as that Germany exit coal-fired power generation by 2030—are naive. (After six months of arduous, hard-fought deliberation, a government-initiated commission recently set 2038 as the exit date from coal.) At a time when international cooperation on climate change has been breaking down, what can climate activism—however much momentum it seems to be gathering—expect to accomplish?

South Africa’s Election Will Be a Referendum on Ramaphosa, for Better or Worse

James Hamill 

Like all elections, South Africa’s upcoming national vote on May 8—the country’s fifth ballot since the end of apartheid—will see rival parties waging a struggle to control the narrative and frame the contest in the best possible terms. Given the change in the leadership of the ruling African National Congress in December 2017, that means much of the campaign will focus on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the extent to which he is delivering his promised “new dawn” in South Africa following what he has called the “nine lost years” of Jacob Zuma.

Restoring the sense of mission and idealism that drove the ANC in the immediate post-apartheid era after 1994 has been central to Ramaphosa’s platform, as he repeatedly invokes the values and ethos of Nelson Mandela. After 15 months in power, and as the figurehead of the ANC campaign, Ramaphosa will own May’s election result, for better or worse depending on the outcome. .

May, Merkel, Macron, and a Three-Day Brexit Countdown

By Amy Davidson Sorkin

There is something poignant about the image of Prime Minister Theresa May, of the United Kingdom, being greeted by Chancellor Angela Merkel, of Germany, on Tuesday, in Berlin. The deadline for the United Kingdom to crash out of the European Union in a No Deal Brexit—that is, without basic rules or the shock absorber of a transition period in place—is currently Friday, April 12th, at 11 p.m., three days away. In London, officials in May’s government are engaged in tense and somewhat desperate talks with the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to come up with a compromise that could allow the withdrawal agreement that May negotiated with the E.U.—the only deal available—to make it through Parliament. (It’s been rejectedthree times.) But May is using one of those days to meet with Merkel and, in the afternoon, to fly to Paris, to see President Emmanuel Macron. She needs to: the U.K. is out of time and needs an extension, which would be its second. That can only be granted unanimously, by all the other twenty-seven members of the E.U., whose leaders will meet in Brussels, on Wednesday, to consider whether they should do so—or whether they should just let the U.K. go over what is, after all, a cliff of its own making, and move on with its own business. Merkel is seen as tending toward the first option, which is why May is likely asking for her help. Macron has openly advocated the second, which is why May needs to ask for his restraint.

The Geopolitical Roots of the Rwandan Genocide

Wider geopolitical factors such as the continent-wide battle between European powers' local allies and Marxist-inspired African nationalist groups helped pave the way for the Rwandan Civil War and subsequent genocide. Hutu hard-liners put their plans for a genocide into force amid fears that the ongoing peace process would see them lose control over Rwanda. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front would not have been able to pose a threat to the Hutu government in Kigali if it did not have the support of revolutionaries in places like Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique.

It's been a quarter century since upward of 1 million people died in the Rwandan Genocide. But as Rwanda marks the 25th anniversary of the killings — and the rest of the world is reminded of its inaction — the occasion provides a solemn opportunity to explore the geopolitical context that precipitated the genocide. Geopolitics certainly doesn't absolve the perpetrators of their guilt, but it does provide a deeper understanding of how larger forces spurred hard-liners in Rwanda's government to initiate an unparalleled slaughter of their compatriots.

The Big Picture

Ahead of Another Election, Feminism Is at the Center of Spain’s Fractured Politics

Thomas Graham

BARCELONA, Spain—For the past two years, millions of women and men across Spain have joined in a general strike and protest to mark International Women’s Day, on March 8, pressing for women’s rights and gender equality. Last year, the sheer scale of the demonstrations was stunning, with an estimated 5.3 million Spaniards participating in workplace walkouts. Now, it looks like they will be a yearly occurrence. Not since the anti-austerity protests of the indignados in 2011, which gave rise to a new political party, the far-left Podemos, have so many Spaniards taken to the streets. With a general election planned for April 28, feminism is at the center of Spain’s fractured political landscape.

The 2020 Election Marks a Global Inflection Point

By Reva Goujon Reva Goujon

You may have noticed by now that there is a strong air of existentialism surrounding the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign. Environmental policy has vaulted from being a fringe electoral issue to prompting calls for a national emergency on climate change. The "socialist" label is being bandied left and right as a way of questioning the very survival and moral legitimacy of U.S. capitalism. And foreign policy debates are raging over China's attempt to unseat the United States in a tech-fueled battle for global supremacy — a global great power competition.

These are big, whopping issues. And while they're certainly not new, they're currently being debated with fresh and unusual levels of frankness and ferocity.

So, why is all this existential angst spilling over now?

By Targeting Iran's IRGC, Trump Goes Where No Other Administration Has

The designation of the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization will complicate any future talks between Iran and the United States. It also sets an important international precedent that could lead to the spread of the practice of labeling foreign military branches as terrorist groups. The impact on the IRGC itself, however, might be limited given the extent to which existing U.S. sanctions already covered Iran and the IRGC. Iran's response is likely to remain proportional and not escalate into military reprisals.

Following two years of debate, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump opted on April 8 to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a "Foreign Terrorist Organization." This is the first time that the U.S. State Department has listed a branch of a foreign military as a terrorist organization, setting an important international precedent. Iran responded in kind the same day, designating the United States a supporter of terrorism and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) a terrorist group.

The Big Picture

How Ghost Army Tactics Can Help Federal Agencies Win the War on Hackers

By Kyle Aldrich

During World War II, the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops achieved elite force status. But its members weren’t recruited for their combat skills. Instead, they came from art schools and ad agencies. They were inventive talents who specialized in “tactical deception”—inflatable tanks, rubber airplanes, convincing costumes and bogus radio codes designed to foot the opposition into believing they were all real.

An estimated 1,100 men took part in the effort, which resulted in more than 20 staged battlefield deceptions from 1944 to 1945, creating chaos and confusion for the enemy. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, aka the Ghost Army, is credited with having saved tens of thousands of soldiers’ lives while greatly assisting in several Allied victories in Europe.

Modern enterprises could benefit from deploying similar tactics against hackers who resort to a wide variety of complex, covert methods to avoid detection and quickly—and successfully—launch attacks. It only takes minutes or even seconds for the vast majority of adversaries to compromise data or systems, but it takes weeks or months for most cybersecurity teams to discover these incidents, according to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

Government, private sector team up to boost cyber workforce

By: Jessie Bur 

Private sector companies and government agencies announced April 9 that they would be teaming up to institute a cybersecurity talent pipeline to address the general lack of cybersecurity professionals in the United States and specifically a lack of young cyber talent in the government.

The Cyber Talent Initiative — a collaboration between Mastercard, Microsoft, Workday, the Partnership for Public Service and 11 government agencies — will give recent graduates experience in the cyber field while helping to reduce student loan debt for those that complete the program.

“Cybersecurity is a critical issue facing our world today. It will take a true collaboration between the public and private sectors to get the right resources in place to address the threat,” said Ron Green, chief security officer at Mastercard in a news release.

Cyber Warfare In The Grey Zone: Wake Up, Washington


Chinese military airstrip, built over Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea (CSIS image)

WASHINGTON: The entire US government — not just the Pentagon — needs to wake up to the intertwined threats of cyber warfare and political subversion, Army and National Security Agency officials say. It’ll take a major cultural change to get the whole of government to compete effectively in the grey zone between peace and war.

“It’s a mindset thing,” NSA operations director Jon Darby told me. “We need to culturally think that’s a legitimate space to be concerned about from the national security perspective.”

“This is the biggest strategic problem we face,” the Army’s three-star chief futurist, Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, said at the recent AUSA Globalconference. “What we’re suggesting, is going to require some cultural change.”

Leveraging the Digital Transformation for Development: A Global South Strategy for the Data-driven Economy


The digital transformation provides developing economies new opportunities to leapfrog industrial age infrastructure, to draw on the vast knowledge spillovers from the internet, to take advantage of new markets offered by digital platforms and to exploit production possibilities enabled by digital technologies. It also increases the distance to the technological frontier as leading-edge countries race forward, creates new competitive challenges in capturing production mandates in tasks that can be automated and poses daunting new governance challenges. Developing countries can leverage the valuable data they generate, given their population size, rapid adoption of mobile technology and digital procurement potential, to improve the bargains they strike with advanced country suppliers and platforms and in trade negotiations.

U.S. Foreign Exchange Policy—Currency Provisions and Trade Deals

The Barack Obama administration’s efforts to secure Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), in conjunction with advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), brought into focus a congressional push to associate currency provisions with U.S. trade agreements. Since that time, discussions on the association of currency provisions with trade deals have gained momentum and become a feature of U.S. foreign exchange policy, especially under the Donald Trump administration. What is the historical context for including currency provisions alongside or as part of trade deals in U.S. exchange rate policy? What has actually been done? Is including currency provisions alongside or in trade deals a good idea? How should this be best managed? 1


● There is a decades-long history in the United States of perceptions about unfair foreign currency practices and/or excessive reliance on the U.S. economic engine to fuel global growth, giving rise to protectionist pressures.

● Often, U.S. currency complaints have been legitimate. But currency market pressures have also been an unintended product of U.S. policies—especially excessively expansionary fiscal policy—a reality U.S. officials are loath to admit.

How should social media platforms combat misinformation and hate speech?

Niam Yaraghi

Social media companies are under increased scrutiny for their mishandling of hateful speech and fake news on their platforms. There are two ways to consider a social media platform: On one hand, we can view them as technologies that merely enable individuals to publish and share content, a figurative blank sheet of paper on which anyone can write anything. On the other hand, one can argue that social media platforms have now evolved curators of content. I argue that these companies should take some responsibility over the content that is published on their platforms and suggest a set of strategies to help them with dealing with fake news and hate speech.


At the beginning, social media companies established themselves not to hold any accountability over the content being published on its platform. In the intervening years, they have since set up a mix of automated and human driven editorial processes to promote or filter certain types of content. In addition to that, their users are increasingly using these platforms as the primary source of getting their news. Twitter moments, in which you can see a brief snapshot of the daily news, is a prime example of how Twitter is getting closer to becoming a news media. As social media practically become news media, their level of responsibility over the content which they distribute should increase accordingly.

Trends in the Information Technology sector

Makada Henry-Nickie, Kwadwo Frimpong, and Hao Sun

The U.S. leads the global landscape in technology innovation. The country’s competitive edge, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Competitive Index, is due to its business dynamism, strong institutional pillars, financing mechanisms, and vibrant innovation ecosystem.[1] Innovation is a trademark feature of American competitiveness and has powered its global dominance since the post-World-War industrial revolution. Countries that lead the world in generating advanced technologies and leveraging the full productive capacity of their digital economies can gain a strategic competitive advantage.
Figure 1: Global distribution of top 100 digital companies and market capitalization (US $billion)Note: Market capitalization referenced in the figure are authors’ calculations. (Source: Murphy, A. (2018). The 2018 Digital 100. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/andreamurphy/2018/09/20/the-2018-digital-100/#289c85106137)

Digital technologies have risen to prominence as a critical determinant of economic growth, national security, and international competitiveness. The digital economy has a profound influence on the world’s trajectory and the societal well-being of ordinary citizens. It affects everything from resource allocation to income distribution and growth.

A Politically Neutral Hub for Basic AI Research

By Sophie-Charlotte Fischer and Andreas Wenger 

Sophie-Charlotte Fischer and Andreas Wenger warn that policymakers and experts increasingly view artificial intelligence (AI) within the narrow context of great power competition. In response, our authors argue that international science diplomacy could help change this situation. Further, politically neutral Switzerland, with its dynamic AI ecosystem, is well-positioned to take a leading role. By providing a hub committed to the responsible, inclusive, and peaceful development and use of AI, it could lessen the danger posed by a few powerful actors racing to harness this immature technology.

This article was originally published in the CSS Policy Perspectives series by the Center for Security Studies in March 2019. It is also available in German and French. Image courtesy of US Department of Energy/Flickr.

In the international policy discourse, artificial intelligence (AI) is frequently discussed narrowly in terms of a new technology race between great powers. However, international science diplomacy can make an important contribution to promoting the manifold opportunities enabled by AI, while mitigating some of the associated risks.