8 April 2021

India’s Sustained Economic Recovery Will Require Changes to Its Bankruptcy Law


One of the key drivers of economic recovery in India will be the efficient movement of capital from inefficient firms to efficient ones. The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic has been severe, and India’s economy was one of the worst affected in 2020–2021. Though the economy is recovering faster than initial estimates, sustained economic recovery will not take place if stressed businesses cannot restructure their debts properly or if failing firms cannot be resolved efficiently. India’s bankruptcy law is key to solving these challenges.

In 2016 India enacted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), which was a landmark reform to the nation’s financial system and the first comprehensive law to regulate insolvency.1 But the IBC has been suspended for a period of one year since the COVID-19-related lockdown was imposed in March 2020. In its place, India’s banking regulator, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has introduced a limited restructuring scheme for COVID-19-related stress in the meantime. Older mechanisms for insolvency that are still in operation have historically not worked according to expectations. As the one-year period of suspension comes to a close, this paper argues that bringing back the IBC—with adequate modifications—is an important prerequisite for sustained economic growth.

India historically suffered from a patchwork framework of insolvency laws that either did not give lenders adequate powers to recover their debts upon default or only catered to the interests of certain kinds of lenders—to the exclusion of others.2 The IBC is a modern and comprehensive bankruptcy law that since its enactment has had a significant role in reducing the problem of nonperforming assets (NPAs), or “bad loans,” in India’s financial system.

In the wake of the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, the Indian government suspended the operation of critical parts of the IBC. These changes meant that lenders could not trigger insolvency proceedings against defaulting businesses if the default occurred after March 20, 2020. While this suspension possibly prevented unnecessary business failures and provided a “calm period” for the economy, these measures have outlived their utility.

How a new rail line in China will pose a security challenge to India

By Suyash Desai

China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, approved in the recent National People’s Congress’s (NPC) annual session, outlines the Sichuan-Tibet railway line near the China-India border as a key strategic priority.

The 1,629km Sichuan–Tibet high-elevation railway line will connect Chengdu, Sichuan province’s capital, to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The 14th Five-Year plan reportedly highlighted this railway’s central section, from Ya’an in Sichuan to Nyingchi in Tibet, as a key infrastructure project. In November 2020, the Communist Party of China’s general secretary and China’s president, Xi Jinping, said that this railway line’s work is extremely challenging due to the complex geological and climatic conditions and the region’s sensitive environment.

This railway line is divided into three sections. The Chengdu-Ya’an section in Sichuan had opened in December 2018, while the construction on the Lhasa-Nyingchi section in Tibet started in 2015. The latter is expected to be completed by June this year. The work on the central section linking Ya’an and Xinduqiao in Sichuan and Bomi and Nyingchi in Tibet will start soon as the public bidding to secure these projects was recently completed.

The central section’s construction is the most challenging part and the Chinese state media reports that the entire railway line from Chengdu to Lhasa would be functional by 2030. Upon completion, the railway will be the second to link Tibet with the rest of the country, following the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which opened in 2006.

Technology and Geopolitics: An Indian Perspective on the Past and Future



What is technology? The question appears so banal as to barely require answering. But the question bears tremendous significance for an understanding of human history and of the turbulent geopolitics of our world. In scope, it extends from the cuneiform scrawls of Bronze Age Sumerian scribes to the complex algorithms of modern AI applications. Technologies shape societies, polities, and economies. They directly impact the lives of millions. And most importantly, technologies affect statecraft.From using reeds to inscribe clay tablets to etching semiconductors with robotic arms, humans and technology have come a long way. Or have we?

Consider the relatively limited perspective of military technology. Over the last 500 years, and especially in the last 200 and last 100, the development of sophisticated military technology has been one of the top priorities of any organised polity. Military superiority over adversaries has allowed countries to upend centuries-old dynamics and shape the world to tremendous advantage. Consider, for example, Britain forcing the Qing Dynasty of China to give up attempts to ban opium imports. Or, for example, the US’s development of the atomic bomb, and the arms race that ensued with the USSR to ensure that neither would have a decisive military edge over the other.

What China’s plans to rapidly militarise Tibet mean for India

Jayadeva Ranade

While China is keeping India engaged in protracted and seemingly stalled talks on military disengagement in Ladakh, the Chinese leadership is investing vast sums in boosting its defence capabilities. This includes upgrading the military infrastructure along the border with India. The plenary sessions (March 4-11, 2021) of China’s National People's Congress (NPC) its version of a parliament and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) its top political advisory body - approved these plans.

Particularly important for India is the 142-page, 70,000-character “14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025) and the Long Range Objectives through the Year 2035 for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China”. Its English version is yet to be released. Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the ‘Long Range Objectives-2035’ and approved its final draft. The document clarifies China’s national strategic intent and identifies core areas of national security and development. It has a definite focus on strategic science and technology programmes in frontier areas. The document details projects that have direct implications for India.

Approval of these projects shapes imminent conventional and non-conventional threats which will put India under additional pressure. The plenum decisions clearly reveal that China intends to rapidly militarise Tibet which, within a few years, will become a centre of long-term pressure on India.

U.S. Looks to Build on Secret Portions of Taliban Deal to Reduce Violence

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff

DOHA, Qatar — U.S. diplomats are trying to build on parts of the peace deal made with the Taliban last year, specifically the classified portions that outlined what military actions — on both sides — were supposed to be prohibited under the signed agreement, according to American, Afghan and Taliban officials.

The negotiations, which have been quietly underway for months, have morphed into the Biden administration’s last-ditch diplomatic effort to achieve a reduction in violence, which could enable the United States to still exit the country should broader peace talks fail to yield progress in the coming weeks.

If these discussions, and the separate talks between the Afghan government and Taliban falter, the United States will likely find itself with thousands of troops in Afghanistan beyond May 1. That’s the deadline by which all American military forces are meant to withdraw from the country under the 2020 agreement with the Taliban and would come at a time when the insurgent group likely will have begun its spring offensive against the beleaguered Afghan security forces.

Both of these conditions would almost certainly set back any progress made in the past months toward a political settlement, despite both the Trump and the Biden administrations’ fervent attempts to end the United States’ longest-running war.

China sets hopes on blockchain to close cyber security gaps

With an already large and growing digital economy and increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT), China is in dire need of strong data security standards, data privacy protection and an efficient digital infrastructure. Kai von Carnap looks at how China is deploying blockchain technology to meet these challenges and analyzes both its rate of success and the implications China’s approach has for other parts of the world, including Europe. His analysis is accompanied by a slidedeck that provides context for and deeper insights on China’s attempts to develop and control this strategic technology.

Every three months China’s population with access to the Internet increases by the size of a medium-sized EU country. By February 2021, it had already reached a staggering one billion people. At the same time, its cyber security issues are growing too. In January 2020, for example, 200 million phone numbers were lost by China Telecom (中国电信), one of China’s three telecom SOEs. A month later, 538 million leaked accounts on Weibo, a microblogging platform often compared to Twitter, were found on the dark web - a worrying number, given that only 500 million users are active on the platform every month. Reporting on these security breaches and on a 4.4-fold increase in malware-hosting websites, CCID, a Chinese ministry-led think tank that specializes in the development of information industries, said recently that it was “not optimistic” about the state of China’s overall cybersecurity.

In recognition of its growing cyber vulnerabilities, the CCP is giving increasing support to the development of blockchain technology. Widely known as the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, China hopes that this emerging technology – also known as Decentralized Ledger Technology, or DLT – will enable it to ramp up the resilience of its digital infrastructure and make full use of the efficiency potential of its digital economy (Slide 2).

Don’t Let China Mint the Money of the Future

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was previously a professor of history at Harvard, New York University and Oxford. He is the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, a New York-based advisory firm.

What is the money of the future? My nine-year-old son thinks it will be Robux. For those of you trapped in the human museum known as adulthood, Robux is the currency used by players of Roblox computer games. If I offer Thomas grimy dollar bills for household chores, he shows an almost complete lack of interest and motivation. But if I offer him Robux, it’s a different story.

The current exchange rate is around 80 to the dollar. So, in order to incentivize my son to do the dishes, I need to go online and buy 2,000 Robux for $24.99. This I do by entering my credit card details on a website, an act of self-exposure that never fails to make me feel sick. However, the dishes get cleaned and, later, my son blows some of his Robux on a cool new outfit and a pair of wings for his avatar, earning the admiration of his friends.

The New China Challenge: A Game-Changing Strategic Agreement with Iran

by Mohammed Ayoob

China and Iran have recently signed a strategic agreement that is supposed to last for a quarter-century. Some observers believe this could be a game-changer in the Middle East providing China a firm foothold in the region at the expense of the United States. It is also speculated that the agreement would increase Iran’s leverage in its negotiations with the Biden administration about reviving the Joint Comprehensive Point of Action (JCPOA). It is argued that in the long run, the agreement will also provide Iran with the opportunity to free itself from the economic and strategic viselike grip of the United States and its allies that has stifled its economy and restricted the spread of its political influence around the Middle East.

The agreement had been under discussion since 2016 but its signing was delayed because of Iran’s concerns that it might have an adverse effect on U.S.-Iran relations and negatively affect the implementation of the JCPOA provisions calling for the lifting of sanctions on Iran. Former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the re-imposition of even harsher American sanctions as well as the Biden administration’s foot-dragging about returning to the deal convinced Iran that it was now time to signal Washington that it has other strategic and economic options which can no longer be put on hold.

While the details of the China-Iran agreement have not been made public, it is commonly assumed that it is largely unchanged from an eighteen-page draft obtained last year by the New York Times. China would invest $400 billion over twenty-five years in dozens of fields, including banking, telecommunications, ports, railways, health care and information technology, and in return would be guaranteed a regular supply of Iranian oil on heavily discounted terms during that period, according to that draft. Additionally, per the New York Times, the draft included provisions regarding expanding military cooperation and joint research and weapons development as well as intelligence sharing.

Combat Drones Made in China Are Coming to a Conflict Near You

By Bruce Einhorn

A dozen years into its fight with the Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram, Nigeria is getting some new weapons: a pair of Wing Loong II drones from China. The deal is one of a growing number of sales by state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC), which has exported scores of the aircraft. The United Arab Emirates has used AVIC drones in Libya’s civil war, Egypt has attacked rebels in Sinai with them, and Saudi-led troops have deployed them in Yemen. The company’s drones “are now battle-tested,” says Heather Penney, a fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, a think tank in Arlington, Va. “They’ve been able to feed lessons learned back into their manufacturing.”

Nigeria is getting AVIC’s second generation of Wing Loongs—the name means “pterodactyl”—which can fly as fast as 230 mph and as high as 30,000 feet, carrying a payload of a dozen missiles. Since 2015, when AVIC introduced the newer model, it’s produced 50 for export and an unknown number for China’s People’s Liberation Army. And it’s working on even more advanced aircraft, such as a stealth combat drone with a flying-wing design similar to that of the U.S. B-2 bomber. The drone program, combined with deliveries of fighter jets, trainers, transporters, and assault helicopters, has propelled AVIC into the upper ranks of the global arms trade. In 2019 it sold military equipment valued at $22.5 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), placing it sixth in the world, behind five U.S. companies.

China rising across the Middle East


Shaking hands and signing deals from Abu Dhabi to Ankara, Tehran to Riyadh, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent Middle Eastern tour once again demonstrated China’s growing influence in the region.

Yet, while the trip saw some impressive numbers talked and important political statements made, the visit may have had more to do with a country many miles from the region: the United States.

Coming hot on the heels of angry exchanges between Chinese and US officials in Alaska last month, Wang Yi’s visit saw him go to the capitals of a number of countries also at odds with Washington.

“It was a win-win,” Aykan Erdemir, Senior Director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies in Washington DC, told Asia Times. “China could signal to the US that it has substantial relations with Washington’s challengers and adversaries, while those countries could signal to the US that they have another option.”

Wang Yi’s six-country tour started on March 24 in Saudi Arabia, where he held talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Riyadh.

China Has A New Way To Find And Kill U.S. Navy Submarines

By Caleb Larson

A new open-source investigation has revealed that China recently launched their third anti-submarine detection ship at a shipbuilding facility in Wuhan, augmenting Beijing’s ability to detect submarines.

The ship is most likely a SWATH design, or Small Waterplane-Area Twin Hull. The twin-hull design is both very stable, even at high speeds or in rough seas, and is also known for being very quiet, a useful quality to have for a ship intended to use sonar and other acoustic listening devices to detect submarines.

The Chinese design is likely broadly similar to American SWATH designs, which are noted for having long-range and high endurance.

SWATH-type ships track submarines by trailing towed sonar devices behind them on long spools of cable, and can actively detect submarines by shooting “pings” into the ocean and listening to the bounce-back for submarines hiding in the deep.

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces operate SWATH ships as well, known as the Hibiki-class, with the third of the class just recently entering service.

Will the China-Iran deal change the Middle East?

It should come as no surprise that China and Iran signed a 25-year agreement this week. It has been touted many times in recent years, although negotiations over the details have remained a secret. What is interesting, however, is the timing. It comes within 100 days of US President Joe Biden taking office and his desire to reconfigure America’s relations with both countries. Now, it seems Beijing and Tehran have moved past the era of fearing US sanctions following the departure of Mr Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.

The strategic agreement covers multiple areas, including politics, the economy and military and defence co-operation. China has also agreed to joint drills, port development in Iran and $450 billion worth of investment in energy, petrochemicals and other sectors.

President Biden has, in his own words, been “concerned about that for years”. But beyond being concerned for years, he may want to explain what he intends to do about the challenge posed by China and Iran, as well as by Russia, to his country, with all three countries having judged that the Biden administration will relinquish sanctions with a view to rid itself of the commitments and legacy of the previous Trump administration. President Biden must also engage Arab states’ positions vis-a-vis the China-Iran agreement, which has implications for the entire region.

There is co-ordination between Russia and China’s diplomatic efforts. Both powers are wary of the Biden administration and have favourable relations with Iran. Today, Tehran is also resentful of the Biden presidency, either for tactical reasons related to upcoming negotiations over returning to the 2015 nuclear deal, or as part of its strategic decision to strengthen its partnerships with China and Russia.

The Nagorno-Karabakh war: a spur to Moscow’s UAV efforts?

Russia has struggled to develop and field medium and large UAVs, but lessons offered from recent wars are adding further impetus to Moscow’s efforts to plug this capability gap. Russian defence economics-expert Julian Cooper considers its progress.

Executive summary

For Russian observers and analysts, the 44-day war in 2020 between Azerbaijan and Armenia highlighted the comparative lack in Russia’s own armed uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) inventory, as well as the patchy performance of Russian-made short-range ground-based air-defence systems in countering UAVs.

Nearly two decades after the US began to operate armed UAVs and as the number of countries possessing armed UAVs around the world steadily increases, Russia has yet to field a similar capability.

Factors contributing to this failing include the collapse of Russian defence spending in the 1990s, the more recent focus on recapitalising in-service capabilities, the neglect of some of the required-technology building blocks for UAV systems, and Western sanctions.

In 2009 Russia imported ten small Birdeye 400 and two larger Searcher Mk II UAVs and the associated ground-control and support systems from Israel. In September 2011 the Defence Ministry opened a tender for ISR and armed UAVs, and a far higher-performance uninhabited combat air vehicle (UCAV) with Sukhoi eventually being the preferred UCAV developer. Two medium-altitude long-endurance designs were selected, the Kronstadt Orion (Inokhodets-BLA) single-engine UAV, and the now-UWCA Altius twin-engine platform. As of early-2021, neither project has entered service in significant numbers.

Who are the Houthis, and why are we at war with them?

Bruce Riedel

For over two-and-a-half years, the United States has supported Saudi Arabia in a war against the Houthi movement in Yemen. The war has created the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world and threatens to turn into the largest famine in decades.

Yet very few Americans know who the Houthis are, what they stand for, and why they are our de facto enemies. Two administrations have backed the war against the Houthis without a serious campaign to explain why Americans should see them as our enemies.

Yemeni politics are incredibly complex and volatile—rather than get drawn into a quagmire against an enemy they hardly know, the United States and its partners should get serious about finding a political solution.

First and foremost, the Houthis are Zaydi Shiites, or Zaydiyyah. Shiite Muslims are the minority community in the Islamic world and Zaydis are a minority of Shiites, significantly different in doctrine and beliefs from the Shiites who dominate in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere (often called Twelvers for their belief in twelve Imams).

The Zadiyyah take their name from Zayd bin Ali, the great grandson of Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, whom all Shiites revere. Zayd bin Ali led an uprising against the Umayyad Empire in 740, the first dynastic empire in Islamic history, which ruled from Damascus. Zayd was martyred in his revolt, and his head is believed to be buried in a shrine to him in Kerak, Jordan. Zaydis believe he was a model of a pure caliph who should have ruled instead of the Umayyads.

The Houthis have made fighting corruption the centerpiece of their political program, at least nominally.

As U.S. Seeks Peace, Taliban Celebrates Its Jihadist Training Camps

By Bill Roggio

As the Biden administration desperately presses the Taliban and the Afghan government to settle the 20 year old war for control of Afghanistan before the May 1 deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw, the Taliban continues to promote its training camps that pump out jihadist fighters who indiscriminately attack Afghan civilians, soldiers and police.

On March 20, the Taliban released dozens of images of “Hundreds of Mujahidin [holy warriors] and martyrdom seekers” who “have graduated from Khalid bin Waleed, Al-Fateh and Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique Military Camps of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” The images were released on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official website.

The images are standard fare for Taliban propaganda. Well-equipped fighters with new weapons, gear, and vehicles are pictured in various stages of training. Some of the images show the Taliban fighters donning night vision devices and body armor during nighttime training. The images portray a well-funded, trained and equipped Taliban force.

In a departure from previous propaganda, the Taliban attempts to hide the terrain features in photographs showing Taliban fighters assembled for what appears to be either an instruction session or a graduation ceremony (see second image, below). The Taliban has not made efforts to hide the background features of its camps in the past.

The Khalid bin Waleed, Al Fateh, and Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique camps have been promoted by the Taliban several times recently. The Khalid bin Waleed Military Camp is actually a network of 12 training facilities, according to the Taliban. The Khalid bin Waleed military complex “trains recruits in 8 provinces (Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, Ghor, Saripul, Faryab, Farah and Maidan Wardak) and “has around 300 military trainers and scholars,” and “can train up to 2000 recruits at a single time and trains them in the fields of Shariah, military, technical and intelligence,” the Taliban claimed in Nov. 2016.

Jamestown Foundation

Semiconductor Scandals A Concerning Backdrop to Xi’s Pursuit of “Core Technologies”

China’s 2027 Goal Marks the PLA’s Centennial, Notan Expedited Military Modernization

China and the Myanmar Junta: A Marriage of Convenience

Potential Military Implications of Pingtan Island’s New Transportation Infrastructure

Beijing Speaks on the Proposed Group of Seven Expansion

Terrorism Monitor, March 26, 2021, v. 19, no. 6

The Shia Fatemiyoun Brigade: Iran’s Prospective Proxy Militia in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s Dual Counter-Terrorism Challenges: Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s Merger and Cross-Border Campaign from Afghanistan

Yemen’s Emerging Political Coalitions: A First Step Toward De-escalation?

Why Climate Panic Is Unfounded Hysteria

Todd Royal

China is currently building more coal-fired power plants than the entire U.S. fleet. On Joe Biden’s first day in office, he canceled the Keystone Pipeline to assuage environmentalists who helped get him controversially elected. This means nothing for carbon outputs or emissions since the amount of coal being spewed by China plus what’s under construction is equal to or greater than twenty Keystone Pipeline projects. Add Asia, India, Poland, Germany, Japan, and coal-user behemoth—India—into the coal-for-electricity-mix, and canceling western pipelines, decarbonizing, or promising an all-electric transportation future means nothing to lower emissions.

Faux solutions such as hydrogen gas, which is attempting to defy physics, thermodynamics, and economics “would make hydrogen gas produced using heavily subsidized wind and solar the most expensive energy in human history,” says Professor Ian Plimer, professor emeritus of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne, professor of mining geology at the University of Adelaide, and the director of multiple mineral exploration and mining companies.

What the entire climate change, global warming, renewables over fossil fuels and electrify society movement is really about is one thing—money—clean energy is now worth trillions of taxpayer dollars. Government-sponsored science and economic growth at its worst picking clean energy over fossil fuels and internal combustion engine vehicles. These are disastrous energy policies.

Renewable Energy In The U.S. Military: Creating A Lean Mean Green Warfighting Machine

by James Grant

The Defense Department has both the largest share of the federal discretionary budget and the highest energy consumption of any single organization in the country. With President Joe Biden stating an intent to shift spending away from “legacy systems that won’t be relevant” to “smart investments in technologies and innovation,” his administration can achieve that goal by investing more in renewable energy sources for military facilities, fleets, aircraft and other areas. Not only will this help improve operational flexibility and readiness, the reduction in greenhouse gasses from such a large sector of the government will greatly contribute to the Biden administration’s goals of combating climate change. With the proposal for the fiscal year 2022 defense budget expected sometime this spring, the administration can signal a shift toward a more energy secure military while still fulfilling its commitment to the Paris Agreement and other green reforms.

From 2011 to 2015 the U.S. military nearly increased its renewable power generation by 100 percent while the nation’s economy added merely 2.6 percent of renewable power generation. With continued growth in renewables and further investment in the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which engages in cutting edge experimental technologies, the United States could maintain a competitive advantage with its allies in NATO and the EU as well as with rivals like China who, according to Dr. Alexander V. Mirtchev, is prepared to be the world’s leading producer and consumer of alternative energy technology in the world. Mirtchev offers a variety of valuable lessons for Defense Department budget planners through his book, The Prologue: The Alternative Energy Megatrend in the Age of Great Power Competition. The book analyzes major shifts in renewable energy sources in various sectors including continued investments in alternative energy throughout the Defense Department.

The Defense Department’s Alternative Energy Production

Lessons of the SolarWinds hack

Russia’s SolarWinds hack appears to constitute reconnaissance and espionage of the sort that the US itself excels at, not an act of war, writes Marcus Willett.

In late 2020, the American cyber-security community discovered a widespread breach of private-sector and government networks. A primary vector for the breach appeared to be the hacking of software provided by the US information-technology company SolarWinds. The United States government identified the likely perpetrator as a Russian intelligence agency. Ever since, complex and painstaking technical investigations have been under way into the precise nature and extent of the breach. At the same time, debate has raged about the intent behind the hack and the implications for the cyber policies of the US, and states in general, including whether some form of retaliation is justified. This article examines issues raised by the SolarWinds hack with respect to the cyber-security, offensive-cyber and broader national-security policies of the US and its allies.

What we know

The story first broke when FireEye, a top US cyber-security company involved in many major investigations and responsible for publicly identifying the perpetrators of numerous attacks (including the Russian intelligence services), announced in December 2020 that it had been hacked by a state with ‘top tier’ capabilities. Its own ‘red-team’ tools – developed by FireEye to test client defences based on previously detected capabilities – had been accessed. FireEye further discovered that the vector used by the hackers was the IT company SolarWinds and that there were many other victims.

Countries Dominating Covid-19 Vaccine Production

by Niall McCarthy

Predictive science intelligence company Airfinity has released new data about global Covid-19 vaccine production. Companies are starting to scale up production rapidly and so far (as of 03 March), Pfizer has produced the most doses with 119 million, ahead of Sinovac's 91 million and AstraZeneca's 83 million.

In total, some 413 million doses had been produced up to March 03, 2021. China has produced the highest number with 141.6 million while the United States has manufactured some 103 million. Together, Germany and Belgium have churned out a further 70.5 million while India has produced 42.4 million.

White House says Americans deserve 'better information' as allies criticize WHO coronavirus report

By Nicole Gaouette and Jennifer Hansler

Washington (CNN)President Joe Biden believes Americans "deserve better information" about the origin of Covid-19 and further steps from the global community, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday after the release of a World Health Organization report that said the pandemic is very likely to have started with transmission from one animal to another, and then to humans.

"I think he believes the American people, the global community, the medical experts, the doctors -- all of the people who have been working to save lives, the families who have lost loved ones -- all deserve greater transparency," Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing.

She spoke shortly after the US and 13 other countries released a joint statement raising questions about the WHO report and calling for independent and fully transparent evaluations, and the European Union called for better access for researchers and further investigation.
Authorities in 219 countries and territories have reported about 127.9 million Covid-19 cases and 2.8 million deaths since China reported its first cases to the WHO in December 2019. More than 30 million Americans have fallen ill and more than 550,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

"They deserve better information," Psaki said of Americans. "They deserve steps that are taken by the global community to provide that." She went on to criticize China for its lack of transparency and called on Beijing to provide data and answers to the global community.

Four scenarios

The S-400 Takes Aim at U.S. Alliances

By James Durso

The Russian S-400 missile system is good at shooting down enemy aircraft. It’s also proficient at endangering America’s relationships with allies.

The S-400 Triumf is an air defense missile system that can engage “aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles, within the range of 400km at an altitude of up to 30km. The system can simultaneously engage 36 targets.” It is in service in Russia, has been sold to Belarus, China, Turkey, and Algeria, and deployed to Syria.

The S-400 was in the news when the U.S. sanctioned NATO ally Turkey for buying the system. Starting in 2009, the U.S. and Turkey made several attempts to negotiate the sale of the competing Patriot air defense system, but in 2017 Turkey bought the S-400 instead. The Russian effort was no doubt helped by Putin’s support of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the attempted coup in 2016, while the Americans remained silent.

The U.S. warned Turkey that buying the S-400 would trigger sanctions but Turkey activated the system and, in December 2020, the U.S. sanctioned Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries, its president, and other top officers. Previously in response to the S-400 purchase, the U.S. expelled Turkey from the F-35 combat aircraft program, and terminated F-35 contracts with Turkish defense firms.

India also bought the S-400 and was warned that this could trigger sanctions. (The system will be delivered in late 2021.)

How Effective Are Freedom of Navigation Operations? A US Navy Officer's Perspective

By Joseph V. Micallef

The East and South China Seas have emerged as one of the principal potential flashpoints in China-US military relations. It is the one region in the world where significant U.S. and Chinese military forces operate in close proximity to each other.

Beijing has extended claims to a large portion of the ECS and SCS and has also asserted claims to various island groups within the region. As part of those claims, China has constructed and subsequently militarized seven artificial islands. These actions have been part of an increasingly assertive Chinese military and foreign policy toward its maritime neighbors and have been underscored by repeated violations of Taiwanese airspace by Chinese air forces over the last year.

Taiwan controls a number of island groups in the contested area that are in close proximity to the Chinese mainland and whose seizure by Chinese military forces could become a test of U.S. resolve to defend Taipei from Beijing's aggression, as well as a trial run for an invasion of Taiwan.

To get a firsthand look at the region and its military dynamics as they appear to a serving U.S. naval officer familiar with the area, we recently sat down with Capt. Robert C. Francis Jr. for his perspective. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the interviewee and do not reflect any official policy or view of the Council of Foreign Relations or the U.S. government.

Student Feature – Advice on Using Theory in Academic Work

Michael Livesey

‘Theory’ is what sets academic research apart from simple journalism, and yet variation in its meaning and uses continue to cause confusion. In particular, for undergraduate students new to the social sciences. Recent experience teaching first-year undergraduates in political science has given me a brief insight into the difficulties many students face making the transition from sixth form to higher education. Foremost amongst these difficulties is that of understanding ‘theory’, and its relation to ‘method’: both in students’ own work, and when they are evaluating the work of others. In this piece, I try to clear up some of the confusion around ‘theory’ and ‘method’ in social science. I present one view of what theory is, and what theory does. This piece is directed at first-year undergraduates, and those who teach them. It is designed to be as straightforward an introduction to ‘theory’ as possible. Inevitably, this means much of the nuance around the use of theory is overlooked – and left to wider reading for those inclined to do so.

There is a long-standing pedagogical tradition in the social sciences, which employs analogies and metaphors to help explain complicated ideas. I see no reason not to make use of this tradition when explaining the idea of theory. So, let’s simplify ‘theory’ by analogising it against a familiar example. Academics are interested, above all, in finding answers to research questions. The research question which I will use as an analogy in this essay is one many readers will have heard before. It is a question you will overhear in most British pubs on any given weekend: ‘who is the best footballer in the world?’. Like all research questions, it’s a difficult one to answer. And, like all research questions, it is the theoretical choices the responder makes that shape the type of answer they provide…

One answer to the question ‘who is the best footballer in the world?’ would be to think in terms of market value. In theory, the best footballer in the world should also be the most valuable: because, in theory, people will pay the most for what they think is the best. So, we can find out who is the most valuable as a means of approximating who is the best.

How the U.S. Air Force Is Preparing for World War III

by Kris Osborn

The Air Force has been replicating major, great-power airwar in a precise fashion by presenting attacking forces with a complex, interwoven set of variables, threats, and challenges they would be likely to face in combat.

It is all part of the service’s regular Reg Flag exercise which pits Air Force platforms, assets, and war formations against a sophisticated, well-armed “red-team” adversary equipped with advanced air defenses, sophisticated enemy aircraft likely to resemble fifth-generation rivals, and other kinds of multi-domain warfare scenarios the service would likely encounter in war.

An Air Force report says the war “tactics” introduced during Red Flag were designed to “mimic” great power enemies with advanced “problem sets” intended to prepare the service and allies for a new generation of multi-domain war.

“Though aerial adversary tactics continue to be a key focus in Red Flag scenarios, space and cyberspace threats are interwoven to ensure participants are prepared to react to and overcome the full array of adversary impediments to mission success,” the Air Force report states.