14 November 2020

India-China Talks on the Standoff: Cautious Optimism?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Indian and Chinese military forces have been engaged in a military standoff in Ladakh for more than six months now. Several rounds of military and diplomatic talks had yielded no progress. But there was cautious optimism in New Delhi after the eighth round of corps commander-level talks between India and China, held on November 6. There are increasing hints that some agreement may be reached. According to one report in the Indian media, the two sides reportedly “agreed to restoring status quo ante” on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). According to sources quoted in the report, “all that remains is for both sides to formalize the sequencing of steps required to achieve the objective.”

But this is the most optimistic of the reports, though earlier reports about the November 6 meeting also claimed that progress had been made. On the same day that these more optimistic reports appeared, Indian Army Chief General M.M. Naravane, speaking at a public event in Delhi, said, “We are hopeful of reaching an agreement which is mutually acceptable and is really beneficial in keeping with the overarching policy guidelines.” There remains understandable caution, as he also added that the border troops are fully equipped with appropriate clothing and weapons and that the forces face “no shortages whatsoever.” 

In earlier reports on the November 6 meeting, an official said that India “want[s] complete de-escalation. Reduction of troops from some areas and de-induction of weapons is not a viable option and is not what we have proposed.” Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat also maintained that the any change in the status quo “is not acceptable to India” and that one cannot rule out the “situation getting out of hand and spiralling into a larger conflict.” 

Taiwan Is Beating Political Disinformation. The West Can Too.


If you read news stories or social media posts in Taiwan last December, you may have learned some startling “facts.” HIV has spread rapidly in Taiwan since the government legalized same-sex marriage, one story claimed. President Tsai Ing-wen forged her doctoral degree, another rumor went. Despite outrageous lies like these in the run-up to January’s presidential election, Tsai won in a landslide. Fake news failed.

Hard as it may be to imagine against the backdrop of conspiracy theories about child trafficking or supposed vaccination dangers dominating Facebook and YouTube for months, Taiwan should give everyone hope that we can live in a normal news environment again. The West’s response to disinformation so far has largely been reactive. It could do far better by following the Taiwanese model and taking an active stance against it. As a Washington Post headline reads, “[D]isinformation is ascendant. Taiwan shows how we can defeat it.”

Taiwan takes a whole-of-society approach to fighting disinformation. Its civic technology community works with social media companies, like the island’s popular messaging service Line, to identify, debunk, and downrank viral conspiracy theories on social media platforms. When someone comes across a news story that sounds fishy, they can send it to the popular chatbot Cofacts, where teams of volunteers then rapidly research the claim to determine its validity. The independent Taiwan FactCheck Center maintains an online repository of disproven conspiracy theories.

Xi Champions Multilateralism at SCO Amid COVID Concerns and Sino-Indian Tensions

By Eleanor Albert

Chinese leader Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech via videolink at the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Tuesday. His remarks called for the SCO to take on a more robust role in addressing transnational challenges with an emphasis on building communities of heath, security, development, and cultural exchange.

Ahead of the meeting, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng previewed Xi’s message, saying that “China expects all sides to use the summit as an opportunity to strengthen the sense of community with a shared future, reach a new consensus on cooperation and formulate new cooperation measures, to inject strong impetus into achieving common development and rejuvenation.”

As is typically the case with SCO summit remarks, Xi offered aspirational messaging, peppered with a few tangible propositions. For example, Xi said “The SCO needs to expand its network of partnerships and conduct extensive cooperation with observers, dialogue partners, the UN and other international organizations. It should play a more active role in international and regional affairs, and stay committed to building an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.”

How China’s Legal System Enables Intellectual Property Theft

By Daniel Rechtschaffen

Despite dissension over how to hold China accountable for unfair market practices, hawks and doves agree that the country’s intellectual property protection regime has made significant progress in recent years. The establishment of specialized IP courts, a Supreme People’s Court IP tribunal, as well as countless revisions to the country’s various IP laws, all attest to this.

But since China’s IP framework is intrinsically linked with the country’s legal system, solving issues like trade secrets theft, online infringement and political influence and local protectionism via the courts would require a complete structural overhaul. Beijing undoubtedly knows this, which means pledges made in the phase one trade agreement with the United States were at best hollow promises designed to appease Washington.

The trade agreement’s first chapter explicitly promises to shore up trade secrets protection in China. Trade secret theft is often difficult to identify and is much harder to prove in court than other forms of IP theft. Typically, someone with inside access to a company will purloin a commercially valuable design and then copy the company’s core product. But since technologies can be legally reverse engineered, proving trade secret theft necessitates demonstrating that a design was stolen. It basically requires an audit into the company, which common law jurisdictions achieve by means of discovery.

Why China’s Economy Keeps Booming Even After COVID-19

By Xiaomeng Kang and Dingding Chen

While much of the world scrambles to prevent new waves of coronavirus from stalling the fragile recovery from recession, China’s economy seems to be hitting its stride. In fact, economic recovery might not be a proper term to describe China’s economic boom, as in China’s case the pandemic caused something more like stagnation than a recession.

With society going back to normal, innovation and the pre-existing digitization are reinforcing economic growth in China. The shock of the pandemic has reinforced the trend toward digitization and innovation investment in China, and its accelerated impact has been gradually unleashed with the economy going back to normal. Here we will first analyze why China’s economy keeps booming, even after being shocked by COVID-19, and then elaborate on the new economic directions in China and challenges in the near future.

China reported third-quarter GDP growth up 4.9 percent from a year ago, bringing growth for the first three quarters of the year to 0.7 percent year-on-year, according to data released on October 20 by the National Bureau of Statistics. China’s imports and exports have grown quickly in September, with imports increasing by 13.2 percent and exports rising 9.9 percent from a year earlier. As observed in international trade, the pandemic has severely hit developed countries, causing a steep reduction in the degree of their centrality in trade networks, but has not affected the central position of China. Besides, China retains its 14th spot in the top-performing economies in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2020 released on September 2, according to the U.N.’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry said that the COVID-19 pandemic overall appeared to be spurring an “acceleration of trends that were pre-existing,” predicting one of the trends that may be accelerated by the pandemic is the movement toward Asia.

U.S. Policy Toward South Asia: Ideas and Choices for the Next Administration

Executive Summary 
This paper examines the next U.S. administration’s foreign policy choices toward South Asia. It argues that the turbulent nature of the entrenched India-Pakistan rivalry and the geopolitical realities of South Asia complicate U.S. policy options. While the United States’ national security interests in South Asia are enduring, the nationalist fervor in the region necessitates a rethinking of Washington’s policy choices. Analyzing the U.S. South Asia policy through the lens of national security needs, the report emphasizes: 

■ The dangers of misdiagnosing emerging challenges and a need for contextualizing the demographic, environmental, and socio-economic challenges of the region, especially in the post-COVID world; 

■ The effects of globalization and nuclearization on U.S. engagement choices; 

■ The serious potential consequences of India turning away from its secular democratic principles; 

■ The impact of China’s rise as the leading strategic competitor to U.S. global influence on South Asia; and 

■ The need for a more vibrant and encompassing U.S. regional engagement agenda to support better governance in South Asia by encouraging religious harmony and countering drug trade, human trafficking, and transnational crime.

Better Informing a President’s Decision on Nuclear Use

By Adam Mount, Pranay Vaddi 

Over the past four years, many Americans have been surprised to learn that a U.S. president can order a nuclear strike at a moment’s notice without the approval of any other official. Though the president might be expected to consult with top military advisers, Congress or U.S. intelligence, there is no requirement that he or she do so. As long as the order can be certified as coming from the president, and as long as military officials involved in implementing the decision do not object to the order as violating the law of armed conflict, U.S. forces are expected to carry out the order.

Several members of Congress and experts have offered proposals to revise nuclear authorization procedures to require the approval of additional officials prior to the release of nuclear weapons. This would be an important step in improving the system, but it does not exhaust the changes needed to ensure the system serves U.S. interests. If and when the United States revises its policies on nuclear use authority, it should also address two other outstanding issues: ensuring that procedures are in place for the president to consult with the leaders of allied countries prior to ordering a nuclear operation that would affect them and reviewing the process by which the military would assess the legality of nuclear operations under the law of armed conflict.

Setting New U.S. Strategic Priorities for a Post-Trump World

Anthony H. Cordesman

There are many areas where we need to rebuild the status of the United State relative to our strategic partners and the rest of the world. We cannot, however, focus on the strategic priorities of 2016, or even the most immediate priorities of the world we face today. The U.S. faces new domestic priorities and must now anticipate the challenges of a very different world – one where many aspects of the future are highly unpredictable.

This commentary explores nine major areas that the new Biden administration and the broader U.S. national security community need to address.

1. The Domestic Budget: Covid-19, Entitlements vs. Revenues, and Civil Needs

The U.S. already faces a major budget crisis in both short-term and long-term spending. It seems very likely that both these crises will have become much worse by June, after we have a second massive round of spending to deal with Covid-19. At this point, however, it is unclear when the full Covid-19 crisis will be over, and how deeply it will affect our economy and society.

We also face major uncertainties as to how we will deal with actual spending in the FY 2021 budget, and how the new administration will deal with the FY 2022 budget request due to come out in early 2021. Much of this budget request will have been drafted by the Trump administration. It will probably not suit all of the priorities of the Biden administration; it may or may not adequately reflect all the coming needs for Covid-19 spending and realistic assumptions about the U.S. economy; and managing the real world national budget and efforts to rebuild the economy will be an ongoing challenge through at least all of calendar 2021.

Biden Should Call for an Early G20 Summit

Mark Sobel, Matthew P. Goodman

On April 1, 2009, amid the darkest hours of the global financial crisis, the leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) economies came together for their second summit. It was the first trip abroad for the new U.S. president, Barack Obama. The G20 leaders committed themselves to a bold—and ultimately successful—action plan to restart the world economy.

Twelve years later, the world faces a global pandemic and the worst economic disruption since the Great Depression. The G20, largely missing in action in recent years, should revive the spirit of London, this time led by a new U.S. president, Joe Biden. The president-elect should call for an urgent gathering in Rome early in 2021 under the auspices of the Italian G20 presidency.

The first priority is to strengthen the near- and medium-term global economic outlook. Massive macro stimulus has commendably been provided since the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis. But fiscal support has lacked a common framing, and its effects are beginning to fade.

At the 2009 London Summit, G20 leaders rallied behind a $5 trillion global fiscal stimulus. At their third summit in Pittsburgh that September, leaders looked to the future and the need for a more durable global growth model based on “strong, sustainable, and balanced growth.” Similar vision is needed today.

More Top Pentagon Officials Out After Trump Sacks Esper

By Jack Detsch, Robbie Gramer

The U.S. Department of Defense’s top policy official was dismissed on Tuesday, three sources familiar with the move said, one day after President Donald Trump terminated his Senate-confirmed defense secretary in a mid-morning tweet.

James Anderson, who was confirmed as deputy undersecretary of defense for policy and was elevated to serve as an acting official in the top policy job, was forced out on Tuesday after a tumultuous relationship with the White House. Anderson, a former George W. Bush administration official, had pushed back on a series of new Trump appointees seen as loyal to the White House.

Anthony Tata, a Trump loyalist, conspiracy theorist, and former Fox News contributor was appointed to serve in an interim role as the No. 2 official in the Pentagon’s powerful policy shop after his nomination to the undersecretary role was withdrawn over conspiratorial and Islamophobic comments. With Anderson’s ouster, Tata is now performing the duties of the top policy job, current and former officials said. Officials feared Tata’s elevation could put him in a position to demand more resignations across the department.

Biden Will Speak Softer but Act Stronger on Taiwan

By Oriana Skylar Mastro, Emily Young Carr

Last week, the world was waiting to see whether U.S. President Donald Trump would be reelected. Four days later, the verdict was in. Joe Biden, winning more overall votes than any other candidate in U.S. history, will be the 46th president of the United States.

While the United States was fixated on the final days of campaigning, China didn’t miss a beat in its aggression toward Taiwan. The day before the U.S. presidential election, Chinese aircraft flew into Taiwan’s airspace eight separate times. These military maneuvers are part of a disturbing trend of increased Chinese military activity over the past two months. Since Sept. 9, Beijing has flown near-constant sorties into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), sometimes conducting as many as 30 in a day. On Sept. 21, China claimed that the median line, the boundary between the airspace of Taiwan and China that both sides had generally respected for decades, no longer existed.

These are the tense cross-strait circumstances a newly elected Biden will step into when he takes the oath of office in January. The decisions he makes concerning Taiwan will shape the future of the self-governing island, a democracy of nearly 24 million people and the 21st- largest economy in the world, as well as the tenor of U.S.-China relations regional stability.

Armenians Rage Against Last-Minute Peace Deal

By Liz Cookman

YEREVAN, Armenia—In a night of passion, protest, and anguish, demonstrators took to the streets early Tuesday to excoriate the peace deal announced overnight by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that ended a six-week war and a decadeslong dispute over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The deal, announced discreetly in a 2 a.m. Facebook post, came as a surprise to many, with sources in the government of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region saying they had no prior knowledge of it. The Russian-brokered cease-fire and peace agreement will see Azerbaijan, which had pummeled the armed forces of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, keep some of its recent territorial gains—sparking dismay among a population that had vowed to keep fighting. The region has been internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, but its population is predominantly Armenian, and Armenia considers it an independent state.

People spilled into the streets of the Armenian capital of Yerevan in the wee hours of the morning, storming both Pashinyan’s official residence and the parliament, while an angry mob beat parliamentary Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan so badly he required minor surgery. Demonstrators ransacked the parliament chamber and offices shouting slogans like “Nikol betrayed us.” In a uniquely 2020 moment, protesters lobbed hand sanitizer to each other from the parliamentary benches. 

Why Tough is Not Enough in Foreign Policy

Margaret Seymour

I grew up in the rural Midwest, the youngest of four siblings. I worked farm jobs, played sports, and never wore shoes as a kid. As an adult, I joined the Marine Corps and became an ultra-runner, eventually running across the country in 99 days.

I understand the utility of toughness.

So, I’m naturally drawn to leaders who are “tough,” resilient in their values, and persistent in their approach. I’ve admired Harry Truman, Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Thatcher, praised their accomplishments, and championed political policy that mirrors their tough approaches. I’m certainly not the only one. The United States has a long tradition of affinity for political toughness, encapsulated most famously by Walter Russell Mead in his presentation of the “Jacksonian Tradition” in 2000. In this piece, Mead argues for the existence of a growing body politic of American citizens who prize honor, individualism, and toughness as requirements of not only good leadership, but distinctly American leadership.

In recent years, some scholars have noted a resurgence of this tradition, arguably culminating in the mass appeal and election of President Donald J. Trump in 2016, with voters drawn to his “hard-nose personality” and “fighting spirit.”

Which makes sense—our founding national myths are enrobed in ideas of the tough underdog overcoming the odds. We champion the rebellion of our political ancestors and do our best to emulate their struggles, and victories, today. Or as Hamilton creator Lin-Manual Miranda more eloquently put it—Americans still consider themselves “young, scrappy, and hungry.”

Forget U.N. Peacekeepers: Send in the Gendarmes

By Elisabeth Braw

“We believe that both parties should accept Scandinavian peacekeepers and we’re working with Scandinavian governments to put together a peacekeeping force that could deployed into the region to keep a ceasefire,” U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said last month, referring to fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. It didn’t take long for Russia to respond—by brokering a peace deal and sending in peacekeepers of its own.

Until the recent outbreak of all-out war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the situation in the disputed region was regarded as a so-called frozen conflict—not quite war but not quite peace. This is becoming the norm; indeed, all over the world, the gray zone between war and peace is growing. But there’s good news. A model thought up by Napoleon more than two centuries ago may be the perfect answer to not-quite-war conflicts.

A model thought up by Napoleon more than two centuries ago may be the perfect answer to not-quite-war conflicts.

In 1939 and 1940, when Nazi Germany was invading virtually all of its neighbors, Switzerland’s Defense Minister, Rudolf Minger, kept a note attached to the doorbell of his home: “In case of war, please ring twice.” Today, it would be impossible to know when to ring twice. Consider what happened six and a half years ago, when so-called little green men who looked Russian but bore no insignia appeared eastern Ukraine.

Why Tackling Corruption Is So Urgent—and So Difficult

The world is constantly reminded that corruption knows no geographic boundaries. In South Africa, former President Jacob Zuma remains embroiled in court cases involving corruption allegations that helped remove him from power, while in Malaysia, former Prime Minister Najib Razak was recently found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison over the fraud and embezzling charges that precipitated his downfall. A money laundering investigation launched in Brazil in 2008 expanded to take down a vast network of politicians and business leaders across Central and South America. And U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been plagued by officials who have used their offices for private gain and been forced to resign.

The impact of actual corruption is devastating, whether it siphons money from public use or drives policy that is not in the public interest. The effects can be particularly pernicious in developing countries, where budgets are tight and needs are vast. The United Nations estimates that corruption costs $2.6 trillion in losses every year.

But even the perception of corruption is dangerous, undermining people’s faith in government institutions, a phenomenon that is helping to drive a crisis of democracy worldwide. In Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index, most governments are seen as corrupt by their own citizens. The rise of populist governments in particular poses challenges. By their nature, populists tend to define themselves against a corrupt elite, which then allows them to weaken institutions and divert attention from their own use of the levers of power to enrich themselves.

How Close Is The World To A Coronavirus Vaccine?

by Niall McCarthy

Monday, hopes soared that an end to the pandemic may finally be in sight after an interim analysis showed Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine candidate provided 90 percent protection in trials. It performed much better than experts had hoped for and manufacturing has already started with Pfizer stating it hopes to supply 50 million doses in 2020 and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Pfizer chairman and chief executive Albert Bourla said:

“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19. We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development programme at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen."

The rush to develop a Covid-19 vaccine has gained traction in recent months and a representative from the Russian health ministry also claimed the country's Sputnik V is up to 90 percent effective. Great hopes have also been pinned on a coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by the University of Oxford that successfully triggered a strong immune response in trials involving 1,077 people. Scientific journal The Lancet had published hugely promising results of Phase I/II trials in July for the University of Oxford vaccine and it provoked a T cell response within 14 days of vaccination and an antibody response within 28 days.

The Strange and Twisted Tale of Hydroxychloroquine

Adam Rogers

In the mid-1600s, a Jesuit priest serving in Peru got a useful tip. The indigenous people there, he learned, were using the bark of a particular kind of tree to treat fevers. The priest, who'd probably gone a few rounds himself with the local diseases, got ahold of some of the reddish-brown bark from this “fever-tree” and shipped it back to Europe. In the 1670s, what came to be called Jesuit bark had made its way into a popular patent medicine, along with rose leaves, lemon juice, and wine.

Ukraine’s Power Play on Minsk

by Mark Episkopos

With a coming change of administration in the White House, Kiev is mounting a renewed and dangerously provocative push to retake the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

Within days of the U.S. presidential election being called for Joe Biden, Ukraine’s armed forces resumed combat operations in over a dozen hot zones across the breakaway region of eastern Donbass. Separatist positions came under fire by Ukrainian mortars, infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), grenade launchers, and small arms; at least two Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) soldiers were killed, including one DNR commander. The DNR’s former Defense Minister Igor Strelkov predicted late last week that Ukrainian offensives will increase in scale and frequency following Joe Biden’s victory: “It [the Ukrainian offensives] never stopped, though the intensity varied. But a decisive Ukrainian offensive is possible, unfortunately. It was possible all of these six years. Now it’s even more possible, especially after Joe Biden’s victory,” said Strelkov in an interview with Russian media. Former DNR Chairman Andrei Purgin added that, whereas the Trump administration pursued a policy of “slow strangulation” against the Donbass separatist republics, Biden’s approach will be “more aggressive and straightforward.” The renewed Ukrainian offensives are the latest flare-up in what has been an uneasy ceasefire negotiated in late July.

Moscow Worried About Beijing’s ‘Sinicization’ of Central Asia, Caucasus

By: Paul Goble

Moscow is increasingly worried about something it has not yet figured out how best to counter: Beijing’s use of soft power to promote the “sinicization” of cultures in the countries of Central Asia and the South Caucasus. This process, if successful, could lead those states to become part of a Chinese sphere of influence—and accomplish that far more fundamentally and permanently than even Beijing’s push for east-west trade routes through these regions or its involvement with local security structures. Those charges of sinicization efforts in middle Eurasia, in fact, appear to reflect an even deeper concern that Beijing may be able to use similar tactics to expand its influence into the Russian Federation east of the Urals as well as countries in Africa, Europe and the Americas, far from China’s borders.

Over the last decade, the Russian government has looked on China’s economic and military advances into Central Asia with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it welcomes these Chinese moves to counter the West given Russia’s weakness. And Moscow has remained convinced that Beijing’s repressive policies in Xinjiang against Muslim minorities will prevent these countries from making any sharp turn away from Moscow toward Beijing (see EDM, April 4, 2019 and April 23, 2020; see China Brief, August 12, October 19). But on the other hand, in the last year, Moscow has grown concerned that its assumptions may not be accurate and that China will be able to use its soft power to change the cultural map of Central Asian and the Caucasus and even export its influence via such soft power strategies into Russia’s own Siberia and Far East (see Jamestown.org, August 7).

A Tech Role Model for Nigeria


LAGOS – In 2018, African start-ups were celebrating: they had raised nearly $1.2 billion in equity – a 108% increase from the previous year. And last year, Nigerian financial-technology (fintech) companies set an even more impressive record, raising $360 million from international investors in a single month (November). Making the most of the Nigerian tech sector’s current boom, however, will take work. The COVID-19 pandemic should be a spur to action.

Nigeria is certainly on a promising path. Already, it is Africa’s largest technology market by Internet users and mobile subscriptions, and it boasts the second-highest tech-startup density on the continent. Lagos is fast-becoming a tech hub, with more than 400 startups valued at a total of more than $2 billion. Add to that a burgeoning population, and Nigeria is beginning to look to like India five years ago.

India has long been a leading outsourcing destination for global companies, particularly in the technology sector. But it has raised its profile significantly over the last five years, producing 19 “unicorns” (companies valued over $1 billion). On the Global Innovation Index, India has climbed from 81st place in 2015 to 52nd last year, when it was also the world’s third most attractive investment destination for technology transactions. This year, India’s information-technology and back-office sector is expected to grow 7.7%, to $191 billion.

France’s Muslims Could Learn from the African American Muslim Experience

By Talib Shareef, Yaya J. Fanusie, Muhammad Fraser-Rahim

The despicable beheading of a school teacher in France by an extremist Muslim on Oct. 16—and an attack at a church in Nice later in October—point to a troubling cultural dynamic in Europe. Some Muslims are bringing one-dimensional, old-world thinking to the pluralistic environments in the West, resulting in intolerance and extremist violence.

Some Muslim leaders around the globe claim this violence is a reaction to Islamophobia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to deflect attention from the crimes by saying France and European societies were suffering from an “Islamophobia disease.” More recently, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad tweeted that “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past,” alluding to French colonialism.

On the other side, commentators such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali have argued that this dynamic of violence is inherent to Islam, while many academics have claimed that Muslims’ religious values inhibit their integration in Europe. By this flawed logic, violent conflict would appear inevitable when Muslims try to establish their faith in the West. But all of these views ignore that, for almost 50 years, a balanced practice of Islam has existed in the West, in peaceful harmony with a Christian majority, while standing firmly against extremism. And it developed right here in the United States, among African American Muslims.

How Sovereign Investment Funds – Including China’s – Are Reshaping the Global Economy

By Mercy A. Kuo

Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into Asian affairs. This conversation with Winston Ma – adjunct professor at the NYU School of Law and author of the newly published “The Hunt for Unicorns: How Sovereign Funds Are Reshaping Investment in the Digital Economy” (2020) – discusses the importance of sovereign wealth funds in the global economy, especially in terms of boosting tech champions.

Describe the impact of sovereign funds on the investment ecosystem. Why is this group of investors increasingly important for capital market players?

For that, here is a quick question: Who holds the power in financial markets? For many, the answer would probably be the large investment banks, big asset managers, and hedge funds that are often in the media’s spotlight. But a new group of sovereign investment funds, which includes some of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds (SWF), government pension funds, central bank reserve funds, and other sovereign capital-enabled entities, have emerged to become the most influential capital markets players. They are estimated to have $30 trillion in assets under management and have enormous power in the financial world.

Siege Mentality: A Tale of Two Wus

John F. Sullivan

In China, 527 BCE, Zhonghang Wu, a general in the state of Jin, was tasked with conquering the city of Gu. While leading his army toward its objective, a resident of Gu approached, offering to betray the city and surreptitiously allow Jin forces to bypass its fortifications unimpeded. Zhonghang Wu not only rejected the man’s offer, but forcibly returned him to the city so its leaders could execute him as a traitor. Mystified, Zhonghang Wu’s advisors beseeched their commander: “The city could be taken without any exertion on the part of our troops. Why not do it?”[3] Zhonghang Wu, however, was thinking beyond the immediate gratification of a quick and deceptive military victory. Since his mission was to permanently annex the city, if his first act was to reward a traitor for his disloyalty, this would set a new standard of acceptable conduct. One day soon, the citizens of Gu would have no reservations about betraying their new rulers. “We should not associate ourselves with evildoing out of a desire to take the city,” he cautioned. “What we would lose by such an action would be greater by far than what we would gain.”[4]

"The Battle of Zhuxian County" inside the Long Corridor on the grounds of the Summer Palace, constructed during the Qing Dynasty, in Beijing, China. (Wikimedia)

Zhonghang Wu and his army settled in for a long siege. After three months, the leaders of Gu offered to surrender. Zhonghang Wu, however, declined the capitulation, noting: “You still have the appearance of people who are eating well. For now, repair your walls.”[5] His staff again protested, exclaiming, “You have won the city, but you do not take it. You are exhausting your people and blunting your weapons. How is this a service to the ruler?”[6] Zhonghang Wu replied, “With this we do serve the ruler. If in winning one city we teach the people laziness, then it would be far better to maintain the status quo. No good can come from purchasing laziness, and there is nothing auspicious about throwing away the status quo.”[7] After the city’s food supplies were drained and its populace exhausted, Zhonghang Wu finally completed his mission. “Overcoming Gu and returning,” the ancient texts tell us, “he did not put to death a single person.”[8]


Mick Ryan 

Over the last two hundred years, the military institutions of every major power have accepted that the military is a true profession, and that it demands both ethical sensibility and considerable intellectual investment. A profession requires particular skills and knowledge, and there are rules and credentials that govern admission. Professions are also normally bound by common values and subject to codes of conduct, which in some cases are based on rigorous ethical and moral obligations. The Australian Council of Professions describes a profession as “a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards,” possess “special knowledge and skills,” and “are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others.”

This is the same for the military. As Richard Bonadonna notes in Soldiers and Civilization, a professional is “a person whose motives are ethical or broadly social rather than monetary.” In the 1950s, Samuel Huntington provided a foundational definition for the modern profession of arms, which has been applied by multiple different Western nations. Huntington identified three core aspects of the profession of arms: expertise, responsibility, and corporateness.

The modern manifestation of the profession of arms can be traced to the early 1800s. While the foundation was provided by the development of the modern nation-state in the seventeenth century, much of the impetus for modern professionalism was driven by failure on the battlefield. It was the disastrous performance by Prussian forces against Napoleon in 1806 that forced the Prussian military to undertake substantial reforms in recruiting, training, tactics, doctrine, officer promotion, command, and education—which then underpinned the modern profession.

Can a Missile Destroy an Aircraft Carrier? China Would Like to Know

by Sebastien Roblin

Here's What You Need To Remember: Anonymous sources have rolled out a series of impressive claims about the new missile's capabilities. However, official information is still difficult to find, and it isn't clear how credible these sources are.

On October 1, 2019, the People’s Liberation Army rolled out an impressive procession of advanced new weapons systems to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China.

Still, many of the weapons officially debuted that day, like the DF-17, the first hypersonic missile to officially enter regular service, had been public knowledge for some time.

But that was not the case for the regiment of sixteen ten-wheel TEL trucks that came rolling past Tiananmen Square, each lugging two octagonal launch canisters with the designation ‘DF-100’ prominently stenciled on their sides. You can see the video footage here.

The DF, or Dongfeng (“East Wind”) designation, is mostly reserved for China’s many types of ballistic missiles, which arc high into the atmosphere before plunging down at tremendous speeds. But the existence of the DF-100 had never been reported before.