24 July 2020

Cyber Wargame - An Indian Scenario

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

Immediately after the first gulf war in the early 1990’s the theories of Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) and Information Warfare were being studied all over the world as a new kind of warfare. During that time, a course on Information Warfare was conducted at the National Defense University of USA. The course participants were from senior officers of the armed forces, representatives of Department of Defence and Department of State and policy makers from the government. Rand Corporation of US was conducting this course. Continue reading.......

India in the Balance

The uneasy relationship between India and China took a sudden turn for the worse in June. With no apparent warning, a violent clash broke out between Indian and Chinese troops manning a remote section of disputed border in the Himalayas. Because a prior agreement barred firearms in the area, the fighting was conducted with the most primitive of weapons: stones, clubs, iron bars, and bare hands. The sheer intensity of what resembled a “gang war” was evident from the fact that 20 Indian soldiers were killed. Chinese casualties reportedly numbered even more (76 by one count). This is the first time in 45 years that the armed forces of the two countries have actually fought, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been tensions—far from it.

India and China are in many ways remarkably comparable. They both are huge in size with populations that number around 1.3 billion. Both are heirs to great civilizations that trace their origins back millennia. Both suffered profound humiliations at the hand of the West, including British colonial rule over India and imperial breakdown and semi-colonization of China at the hands of several Western powers led by Britain. Both emerged in their modern form after World War II. India became independent in 1947 and Mao’s People’s Republic triumphed in 1949. They share one of the world’s longest borders—traversing the Himalayas.

Kremlin Exploiting Reports GRU Paid Taliban to Kill US Soldiers

By: Paul Goble

The Russian government continues to deny news accounts that its security forces paid the Taliban to kill members of the United States Armed Forces stationed in Afghanistan; but at the same time, Moscow has exploited these reports at home to generate support for the Kremlin. Many Russians are apparently pleased that their government is taking revenge on the US for Moscow’s loss in Afghanistan and showing the West that Russia can act with impunity now—including abroad. At the same time, the Kremlin seeks to use the reports to promote divisions in the US. It is playing up the suspicions of some that elements in Washington are using this story to justify remaining in Afghanistan despite Donald Trump’s promises to withdraw as well as to revive the story about Moscow’s intervention in the 2016 elections as the presidential campaign heats up.

Many in the West assume Moscow cannot be happy by the exposure of such an operation, especially given the fact that the Taliban is outlawed in the Russian Federation as an extremist group. But those observers forget two important caveats. First, in designing its intelligence operations, Russian agencies always plan for their failure and how they can use any such “failure” to Moscow’s advantage. This pattern has been true since Felix Dzerzhinsky’s Operation Trust in the 1920s (see EDM, November 8, 2019). Given that Moscow had to assume any such operation involving payments to militants would eventually leak, in Afghanistan in particular, Moscow almost certainly planned for what it would do when it did. And it may even have considered ensuring that the leak happened precisely when it would do the Russian leadership the most good.

What Does China and Iran’s Proposed Military and Trade Pact Mean for Pakistan?

By Umair Jamal

These two developments carry significant implications for Pakistan, a country whose economic and security interests are closely allied with China and which sees India’s investment along its western border region as a national security threat. 

Policymakers in Islamabad couldn’t have asked for better news amid heightened tensions with India along the Line of Control (LOC) on the eastern border. Moreover, Islamabad sees Beijing’s increasing foothold in Iran as crucial when it comes to containing New Delhi’s alleged interference in Balochistan.

Certainly, Pakistan sees the development as an opportunity to build deeper ties with Iran. Historically, Pakistan and Iran’s bilateral relationship has remained tense mainly because of Islamabad’s close links with Saudi Arabia. For the last few years, however, Pakistan has pushed to balance its relationship between the two countries. This effort is partially a result of Pakistan’s attempt to manage the prevailing lawlessness along its border with Iran. Arguably, a push in this regard may have also come from China, a country that sees the Pakistan-Iran border region as an essential part of its global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Yes, China Does Have Anti-Satellite Missiles

by Caleb Larson

Key Point: The U.S. military needs satellites for GPS and communications. That is why the Space Force exists.

China has conducted several anti-satellite strikes. This capability has been compared to hitting a bullet with a bullet—but should the world be worried?

Space Race

The United States, and the whole world really, is dependent on space. Satellites are used for GPS locating, for data transmission—for guiding precision munitions, and for photo-reconnaissance.

As one expert wrote, “the military applications of ASAT missiles appear fairly obvious. China would seek to use the ASAT missiles to knock out U.S. satellites in order to degrade its C5ISR [Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] capabilities, rendering distributed U.S. military and allied assets unable to communicate or share information.”

Can We Avoid A U.S.-China War?

by Sebastien Roblin

Here's What You Need To Remember: China and the United States will likely remain fixated on each other as potential military competitors for decades to come—but if relations are prudently managed, they won’t have to become actual adversaries in a war. The two countries’ respective capabilities, however, will play a role in how their global influence is perceived.

Two superpowers eye each other uneasily across the Pacific—one well established after decades of Cold War conflict, the other a rising power eager to reclaim regional hegemony. Fortunately, despite profoundly different political systems, China and the United States are not as intrinsically hostile to each other as were the West and the Soviet Union—in fact, they have a high degree of economic interdependence.

Still, history shows that there is often a risk of war when a rising power challenges the ascendancy of an existing one. Beijing and Washington have profound—though fortunately not comprehensive—disagreements on matters of global governance. They also have reasons to mistrust each other. Fortunately, there are historical examples of rival superpowers coexisting mostly peacefully for long periods of time. For example, see the century in between the defeat of Napoleon and World War I, during which there was no European-wide war.

(This first appeared several months ago.)

China’s Self-Inflicted Wounds in the South China Sea

By Rahul Mishra

The aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), left, and the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) steam in formation during dual carrier operations in the South China Sea, July 6, 2020.Credit: (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Logan C. Kellums

China’s South China Sea gambit is heading toward a rocky phase, the warning signs of which were witnessed on July 13 when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally rejected China’s “historical rights” claims in the South China Sea. Terming the Chinese policy completely unlawful, he added that the international community will not allow Beijing “to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.”

Pompeo touched the right chord with Southeast Asian claimant countries in stating that China has failed to provide any credible legal basis for its expansive South China Sea claims, manifested in the nine-dash line. This is also one of the rare occasions when the United States explicitly called for respecting the 2016 ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, which found in the Philippines’ favor in its filing against China’s claims.

Pompeo’s statement supporting the Philippines and highlighting the salience of international laws is rather intriguing as the United States itself is not a signatory to the 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas) agreement.

China’s Five-Finger Punch


NEW DELHI – As the world struggles to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, which first emerged in China, Chinese President Xi Jinping is pursuing his quest for regional dominance more aggressively than ever. From the Himalayas to Hong Kong and Tibet to the South and East China Seas, Xi seems to be picking up where Mao Zedong left off, with little fear of international retribution.

The parallels between Xi and the despots of the past are obvious. He has overseen a brutal crackdown on dissent, engineered the effective demise of the “one country, two systems” arrangement with Hong Kong, filled concentration camps and detention centers with Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang province, and laid the groundwork to remain president for life.

According to US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, “Xi sees himself as Joseph Stalin’s successor.” Many others have compared Xi to Adolf Hitler, even coining the nickname “Xitler.” But it is Mao – the People’s Republic’s founding father, and the twentieth century’s most prolific butcher – to whom Xi bears the closest resemblance.

For starters, Xi has cultivated a Mao-style personality cult. In 2017, the Communist Party of China enshrined in its constitution a new political doctrine: “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” The ideology is inspired by Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, but its inclusion in the CPC’s constitution makes Xi the third Chinese leader – after Mao and the architect of China’s modernization, Deng Xiaoping – to be mentioned in the document. Last December, the CPC also conferred upon Xi a new title: renmin lingxiu, or “people’s leader” – a label associated with Mao.

'Made in China' on the nose as push to tame Beijing gathers pace

Stephen Bartholomeusz

Donald Trump’s coronavirus fuelled trade wars have started the process of remaking global supply chains with the express purpose of reducing the West's over-reliance on China’s low-cost but highly skilled manufacturing base.

It's a process that's gathering pace, buoyed by the decoupling of the US and, increasingly, other economies from China and the rising political antagonism between the western powers and Beijing.

Face mask production at a factory in Shanghai. The pandemic has exposed the world's reliance on China for critical medical products and technology.CREDIT:BLOOMBERG

Trump’s trade wars, a core element of his "Make America Great Again" platform, have delivered on their core promise. His tariffs may have just been a tax on US companies and had little meaningful impact on China’s economy but what they have done is coerce and incentivise US companies to diversify their supply chains.

How the U.S. Congress Can Stand With Taiwan

By Maseh Zarif

Thirty-eight years ago, American diplomat James Lilley undertook a sensitive mission in Taipei on behalf of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. On July 14, 1982, the head of the de-facto American embassy conveyed to Taiwanese President Chiang Ching-Kuo what became known as the “six assurances” that help guide U.S.-Taiwan relations on issues of sovereignty and defense. The assurances, and Lilley's visit to the Taiwanese president's home to deliver them, signaled Washington's commitment to Taiwan’s security.

Reagan’s message for Taiwan as he negotiated with China was clear: America would not abandon Taiwan even as Washington pursued diplomatic relations with Beijing. The gesture also underscored that the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, a feat of Congressional leadership on foreign affairs, would remain the cornerstone for robust cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan.

The United States is now navigating a new strategic shift to confront the Chinese Communist Party’s growing threat to America’s vital interests, which include the geopolitical makeup of the Indo-Pacific region. Changes are in order, but so too is a measure of continuity in the ongoing project to deepen the bonds between the United States and Taiwan.

Specifically, the U.S. Congress should work with the Trump administration in the coming weeks and months to solidify bilateral ties with Taiwan, strengthen Taiwan’s defense posture, and shore up Taipei’s role in shaping an international system conducive to shared American and Taiwanese values and interests.

Peak China: an illusion or wishful thinking?

Source Link

Last week The New York Times carried two great but mutually contradictory articles on China. On July 14, Steven Lee Myers and Paul Mozur wrote, “One by one, the United States has hit at the core tenets of Xi Jinping’s vision for a rising China ready to assume the mantle of superpower.” A reasonable conventional wisdom.

A few days earlier, however, Ross Douthat said, “There is another way to look at things. It’s possible that we’re nearing a peak of U.S.-China tension not because China is poised to permanently overtake the United States as a global power, but because China itself is peaking …” Possibly an equally reasonable insight.

Which one, however, is the real China? This was a question I raised two decades ago as a diplomat posted at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. At that time, I was both mesmerized and puzzled by China. Having studied Chinese in Taiwan in the mid-1970s, that was the first and only time for me to live in the mainland.

Eventually, one of my senior colleagues gave a simple answer to my question when he said: “The threat of China is neither their military power, ideological autocracy nor political maneuvers. Make no mistakes. The real threat is the size of China itself.” My views on China remain based on this maxim.

Israel Is Slowly Become a Drone Superpower

by Seth J. Frantzman
Source Link

In mid-July, Israel announced that a new light-weight drone, known as a “loitering munition” because it explodes when it hits a target rather than returning to base, was now operational with the Israel Defense Forces. This is the Hero-30 system by UVision, and it is one of many new drone and counter-drone technologies that Israel is working with. The last month has seen new advances in drones at sea, on land operations and in methods to combat drones using special sights for rifles.

Israel has long been a leader in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology going back to the late 1970s when Israelis produced some of the first successful drones to be used to counter threats on the Egyptian and Syrian frontlines. Later these systems performed well in 1982 battles against Syrian air defenses, producing surveillance imagery. But the field of UAVs has changed rapidly in the last years as more countries built sophisticated systems. These include not just the array of American drones, such as the Reaper, but also new Turkish Bayraktar drones being used in Libya and Chinese exports of UAVs that Beijing claims have similar capabilities to their U.S. competitors.

Israel's Shadow War Against Iran's Nuclear Program Is Coming To Light

by Sebastien Roblin

Here's What You Need To Remember: It’s hard to deny that the campaign used tactics that would be labelled “terrorism” or “murder” in the West were they waged against Israeli or American scientists engaged in weapons research. It seems assassinations are condemned or praised not according to the methods used but depending on who is performing them.

Approaching eight o’clock on the morning of January 12, 2010 Professor Massoud Alimohammadi walked to his car parked next to his house in North Tehran, passing a small motorbike on the side of the road. The fifty-one-year-old elementary particle physicist was a leading Iranian theorist on quantum-field states, and known to his friends as a political moderate.

As the professor’s open his car door, the person who had been observing him pressed a button on a remote control. The bike suddenly exploded with such force that all the windows on Masoud’s four-story apartment building were shattered. Massoud was killed instantly, and two nearby bystanders injured. The triggerman, ostensibly a man named Arash Kerhadkish, strolled over to a car waiting nearby and was driven away.

Turkey’s Approaching Crossroads


STOCKHOLM – By reconverting the Hagia Sophia into a mosque and holding celebratory prayers there for the cameras, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems keen to divert attention from the fact that his country is entering a new phase of acute political and financial turmoil.

The Hagia Sophia dates to the sixth century, and for almost a millennium was one of the Christian world’s most magnificent and well-known churches, carrying forward the traditions of both the Roman and the Byzantine Empires. It was first converted into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453, but was then fashioned into a museum by modern Turkey’s founding father, Kemal Atatürk, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.

Atatürk sought to create a secular Turkey that could flourish in the modern world. That required bridging historical divisions, which meant that the Hagia Sophia would be neither a church nor a mosque. As a museum, it would attract visitors from around the world, serving as both an embodiment of Turkish history and a symbol of forward-looking cosmopolitanism.

By overturning Atatürk’s founding vision in this respect, Erdoğan is trying to signal a fundamental change in direction for the country. After all, it is not as though Istanbul suffers from a scarcity of massive, magnificent, historically significant mosques. Those designed by the Ottoman master architect Sinan reside just nearby.

Jamestown Foundation

The Beidou Satellite Network and the “Space Silk Road” in Eurasia 

Sterilizations, IUDs, and Mandatory Birth Control: The CCP’s Campaign to Suppress Uyghur Birth Rates in Xinjian 

Beijing Asserts a More Aggressive Posture in Its Border Dispute with India 

The Security Component of the BRI in Central Asia, Part One: Chinese and Regional Perspectives on Security in Central Asia 

Mongolia and the Belt and Road Initiative: The Prospects for the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor 

2020 Elections: NSA & Cyber Leader Is Confident Vs. Russia


WASHINGTON: The 2020 election has the potential for an epic train wreck: In-person voting disrupted by COVID-19, mail-in ballots denounced and opposed by President Trump, online voting systems notoriously buggy (and sometimes insecure), and the electorate bitterly divided in ways that Russian trolls can easily exploit. But the four-star general in charge of election defense, Gen. Paul Nakasone, exuded confidence this morning.

“Our number one goal, our number one objective at the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command, is a safe secure and legitimate 2020 elections,” said Gen. Nakasone, who heads both NSA and CYBERCOM. “How are we going to do that? First of all, we’re going to generate insights about our adversaries, much like [in] 2018. We’re going to know our adversaries better than they know themselves.”

The Economic Effects of Working From Home

By Anshu Siripurapu

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered the workplace. To slow the virus’s spread and protect employees, many companies have shifted to remote work, with video calls and instant messaging replacing meetings and break room conversations. Some, including several Silicon Valley giants, have announced that they will allow employees to work from home permanently. Yet huge swathes of the labor force are unable to work remotely, and experts say these developments could have profound implications for the economy, inequality, and the future of big cities. 

The number of Americans working remotely has increased dramatically since March, according to Gallup poll data. By late April, more than half of all workers, accounting for more than two-thirds of all U.S. economic activity, said they were working from home full-time. According to Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University who has studied remote work, only 26 percent of the U.S. labor force continues to work from their job’s premises.

Crisis in Russia Deepens and Spreads, but Putin Remains in Denial

By: Pavel K. Baev

Every country in the world is experiencing its own particular version of the ongoing global health-and-economic crisis, and Russia faces a particularly complex one, aggravated by outstanding and escalating mismanagement. President Vladimir Putin insists that the COVID-19 pandemic is under control and that the economic contraction is being mitigated; but in fact, neither has been contained, while the Kremlin leader’s self-serving political agenda is antagonizing an increasing portion of the population and the elites. Putin relies on the habitual combination of information control and targeted repressions for suppressing the discontent; yet, his own sociological research, conducted—rather unconventionally—by the Federal Protection Service (FSO), warns about rising anger (Meduza.io, July 16). Feigning supreme confidence, Putin refuses to acknowledge the swift erosion of his severely corrupt autocratic regime, but denials only back him into an ever-tighter corner, from which, as previous experiences indicate, he tends to lash out violently—and in an unpredictable direction.

In late May, Putin announced that the spread of the novel coronavirus in Russia had reached a “plateau”; since then, the official data has been duly reporting about 6,500 new infections a day (Svoboda.org, July 15). The real picture can only be sketched from fragmented bits of information, like the plea for urgent help from the mayor of Norilsk, who confirmed that the figures were being deliberately distorted (Newsru.com, July 16). The pandemic situation in Moscow may have indeed improved after the lockdown in April, enforced by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, but his guess that up to 60 percent of Muscovites now have immunity is not grounded in any scientific evidence (Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 17). Meanwhile, in many regions, the authorities are under pressure to downplay the scale of the disaster, betrayed by revelations such as that 820 medics in Sverdlovsk Oblast have already been infected (Kommersant, July 17).

Japan Sortieing More Jets During Heightened Senkaku Tensions

By Steven Stashwick

China has escalated its pressure campaign against Japan’s Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in recent months, using increased maritime and air operations and heightened administrative and enforcement claims. Beijing claims the islands, which Japan administers, as the Diaoyu Islands.

Earlier this month Chinese coast guard vessels loitered in the territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands for nearly 40 hours, the longest such incursion since Japan nationalized the islands in 2012.

Chinese government vessels have maintained a constant presence in the waters around the islands for more than two months.

The persistence of the Chinese ships near the islands has required Japan to maintain near-constant maritime and aerial surveillance of the area to track their movements, such as the incursion into the island’s territorial waters. The surveillance demands have raised concerns about Japan’s capacity to maintain the pace of operations required to monitor Chinese movements in the area.

At the same time, China has increased its already substantial aerial pressure against Japan’s Air Self Defense Force over the islands. In addition to the patrol and surveillance missions that Japan flies to monitor China’s maritime activity, it is being challenged increasingly by Chinese fighter jets approaching Japan’s airspace over the islands.

Economics and the Culture War


LONDON – I have long criticized economics for its lack of realism, and for producing “models” of human behavior that are at best caricatures, and at worst parodies of the real thing. In my recent book What’s Wrong with Economics?, I argue that, in their attempt to establish universal laws, economists willfully ignored the particularities of histories and culture.

The economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen brilliantly captured this blindness. In a 1908 article, Veblen imagined economists explaining the behavior of “a gang of Aleutian Islanders slushing about in the wrack and surf with rakes and magical incantations for the capture of shellfish” in terms of utility maximization.

In the eighteenth century, practitioners of economics – the study of how people went about the ordinary business of making a living – decided to align their inquiries with the so-called “hard” sciences, especially physics, as opposed to “human” sciences like history. Their ambition was to construct a “physics” of society in which social structures were just as subject to invariant laws as natural structures. Thus the law of gravity, which explains the orbit of the planets round the sun, found its economic counterpart in the law of self-interest, which ensures the equilibrium of markets.1

The authority of economics is based on the precision of its reasoning and its emphasis on measurement. Anything that can be counted should be, while anything that can’t is a matter of opinion, not knowledge. (Scientists’ ongoing attempts to uncover the causes and progress of COVID-19 are based on precisely this method.)

A Better Globalization


MADRID – The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted much reflection on the state of globalization, its drawbacks at a time of worldwide disruption, and the supposed benefits of retreating to the national sphere. In this sense, as in many others, the current crisis has accelerated pre-existing tendencies. The global trade-to-GDP ratio – one of the main indicators of globalization – has followed a downward trend since 2012, and anti-globalist political movements have been gaining in popularity for some time.

These movements have good reasons to mistrust globalization, and even more so now. The scarcity of vital materials – from face masks to yeast – highlighted the low resilience of the global supply chains that produce so much of what we use, owing to their excessive concentration in a few countries and the lack of essential stockpiles. Moreover, globalization has created many losers within individual countries, especially in the developed world.

This phenomenon has been particularly marked in the United States, where the average income of the poorest 50% actually fell between 1980 and 2010. The delocalization of production is certainly not the only reason (the effects of automation on inequality are often overlooked), but it is a significant one.

The Strange Defeat of the United States

By Robert Zaretsky

This summer marks the 80th anniversary of the fall of France. The fall was as sudden as it was shocking: six weeks after German panzers, sweeping north of the Maginot Line, punched through the thick forest of the Ardennes in mid-May, the newly appointed leader of the French government, Marshal Philippe Pétain, addressed the nation: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce that hostilities must end.” Among those who heard the radio address was a French army captain who, though a decorated veteran of World War I, had again insisted on seeing combat. In a matter of weeks, he dashed off “a statement of evidence” of the events in which he had just participated. 

Penned in what the author, Marc Bloch, confessed was “a white heat of rage,” the resulting book, L’Étrange défaite, or Strange Defeat, remains among the most incisive analyses of France’s collapse. An iconoclastic historian of medieval France, Bloch developed an influential, though elusive, notion of what he called mentalités: the intellectual and emotional structures that, no less certainly than material factors, shaped how past generations conceived their world. Not surprisingly, Bloch believed that any worthwhile explanation of how France came to suffer “a defeat no one would have thought possible” required a foray into the mentalities of its political and military elites. 

Pentagon is working to develop detection system for electromagnetic pulse blasts amid fears that 'Pearl Harbor-style' sneak attack could devastate the US


The Pentagon is researching better ways to detect and respond to electromagnetic pulse weapons, which can disable or destroy electronic devices in a devastating sneak attack.

The Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency is working on sensors to detect and analyze EMP attacks under its Conventional Nuclear Integration/Battlefield Nuclear Warfare program.

EMPs can range in size from narrowly targeted cannons that could disable an aircraft to massive atmospheric nuclear blasts that could wipe out the entire nation's electricity grid.

The new ways the military is fighting against information warfare tactics

Mark Pomerleau

One of the clearest examples of how the military wants to defeat adversaries using information warfare is by publicly disclosing what those enemies have been doing and what capabilities they have.

Information warfare can be abstract, combining cyber, intelligence, electronic warfare, information operations, psychological operations or military deception as a way to influence the information environment or change the way an adversary think.

“At our level, the most important thing we can do is to be able to expose what an adversary is doing that we consider to be malign activity, in a way that allows that to be put in the information environment so that now more scrutiny can be applied to it,” Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, commander 16th Air Force, the Air Force’s newly established information warfare organization, told reporters during a media round table in late February.

One of the first ways the Department of Defense has sought to test this is through U.S. Cyber Command’s posting of malware samples to the public resource VirusTotal. Malware samples discovered in the course of operations by the Cyber National Mission Force are posted to the site to inform network owners. It also helps antivirus organizations of the strains build patches against that code and helps identify the enemies’ tools being used in ongoing campaigns.

The United Kingdom Bans Huawei From 5G Networks

by Adam Segal
Source Link

Score one for the Trump administration. Months after announcing that it would allow Huawei to play a limited role in the country's 5G networks, the United Kingdom has reversed course. The British government has now decided that buying new Huawei equipment will be banned after December 31, 2020; all existing Huawei equipment will be removed from 5G networks by the end of 2027; and the existing ban on Huawei from the most sensitive "core" parts of 5G network will remain in place. Beijing and Huawei are, not surprisingly, unhappy, warning that the decision "threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane."

This is an important win for the White House's efforts to block Huawei's international expansion, especially in Europe. In the face of U.S. pressure and threats—at one point, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that a deal with Huawei endangered U.S.-UK intelligence sharing—British officials had argued that they could address the security challenges of allowing the Chinese telecom to build its 5G networks by keeping it out of the "core" and limiting it to 35 percent market share. These arguments gave cover to others who were on the fence about Huawei. If the United States' closest intelligence partner believed it could mitigate the risks, the thinking went in other European capitals, then perhaps we can also find a compromise that does not completely ban Huawei. That future no longer looks possible, and the pressure to keep Huawei out in Germany and France will grow.

CFR experts investigate the impact of information and communication technologies on security, privacy, and international affairs. 2-4 times weekly.

Hacked: Why Cyber Attribution Remains an Unsolved Problem for U.S. National Security

by Kyle Ropp

In the midst of a growing debate on social media’s role in American democracy, Twitter recently announced the removal of 32,242 accounts linked to state-sponsored information operations. The surprise finding: Chinese, not Russian, accounts made up the majority, and by a factor of more than 20 to 1.

According to Twitter, the evidence linking these accounts to a PRC information campaign was as follows: most had “little to no follower accounts”; they were tweeting “predominantly in Chinese languages”; and were “coordinated” in “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China (CCP), while continuing to push deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong.”

Given everything that has happened over the last four years, one would be forgiven for asking: is that all?

Certainly, the CCP is no stranger to information warfare. But the description above could just as easily describe millions of Chinese citizens who, indoctrinated or not, share the views of their government on Hong Kong and world politics. Or does Twitter think that the thousands of Chinese student counter-protestors last year were also bots?