12 May 2022

Can China transform its economy to be innovation-led?

Hung Tran

After several decades of spectacular growth, a variety of structural problems have become more challenging for China. Growth based on investment and export has slowed in recent years. Importantly, China’s population is aging rapidly with the labor force having already shrunk. As a consequence, total factor productivity growth has been slowing—to 1.1% per year in the past decade and a half, less than a third of the rate in the previous three decades. In addition, China is engaging in a strategic competition with the US and Europe, making for a difficult, and at times hostile, world environment for its economy compared with the previous period. Against this backdrop, Chinese leaders especially President Xi Jinping have tried to transform the Chinese economy from the old investment and export-based model to one driven by innovation—basically to improve productivity and compensate for the


Following two decades of focus on expansive counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism campaigns across the Middle East, the U.S. Army is embracing Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) as a new battle doctrine to compete and win against peer competitors in the 21st century. This seminal transition includes structural emphasis on empowering theater armies to converge joint and interagency efforts, modernizing corps to defeat sophisticated adversary defenses, and functionalizing divisions with specific tactical profiles to enable ranges of cross-domain fire and maneuver. The modernization effort will enable American forces, as required by General Mark Milley, the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to “achieve a perfect harmony of intense violence” with “overmatch in all five domains of warfare.”1

Navigating the Deepening Russia-China Partnership

Andrea Kendall-Taylor and David Shullman

Ties between China and Russia have grown. In virtually every dimension of their relationship—from the diplomatic to defense and economic to informational realms—cooperation between Beijing and Moscow has increased. Political observers in Washington and beyond have noted their alignment, yet they remain divided over what these growing ties portend.

Perhaps the most concerning—and least understood—aspect of the Russia-China partnership is the synergy their actions will generate. Analysts understand well the challenges that Russia and China each pose to the United States. But little thought has been given to how their actions will combine, amplifying the impact of both actors. As this report highlights, the impact of Russia-China alignment is likely to be far greater than the sum of its parts, putting U.S. interests at risk globally.

Defense Department Outlines Networked, Multi-domain Joint Attack Concept

Kris Osborn

Speaking at the Reagan Institute on Monday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks gave a compelling, non-partisan speech on America’s national defense. Notably, she drew parallels and common interests between President Biden’s foreign policy thinking and President Ronald Reagan’s support for democratic freedoms.

Hicks seemed to capture the U.S. military’s long-standing mission ethic of backing the commander in chief, regardless of party.

She told the audience that “just walking through the halls here today really reinforces” the focus that Reagan had on supporting democracy. Hicks added that “President Biden shares those core convictions about the importance of protecting our democracy, which today faces a myriad of challenges.”

Afghanistan’s Panjshir Resistance Fighters Are Back on the Battlefield

Trevor Filseth L

Spokesmen for the National Resistance Front, a group of Afghan soldiers still loyal to the previous government that has waged a guerilla war against the Taliban since the group’s takeover, claimed over the weekend that they had launched an armed offensive and captured three districts in the country’s northern Panjshir province.

The action was the first coordinated offensive against the Taliban since August, according to Ali Nazary, the group’s designated head of foreign relations.

“Since last night when Ahmad Massoud … ordered his forces to launch their offensive, three major districts were liberated in Panjshir,” Nazary said, referring to Ahmad Massoud, the NRF’s overall military commander. “Many Taliban fighters have asked for time to surrender. The enemy has suffered heavy casualties.”

Biden Says That Leaks About Intelligence Sharing With Ukraine Must End

Mark Episkopos

President Joe Biden told top U.S. intelligence and defense officials that leaks about U.S. intelligence sharing with Ukraine need to stop, according to recent reports.

NBC News, citing two administration officials, reported that Biden told CIA director William Burns, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that such leaks “distract from our objective,” adding that the disclosures are not helpful.

Major news outlets have reported in prior weeks that U.S. intelligence was wholly or partially behind a slew of purported Ukrainian battlefield successes against the Russian military. An NBC story in late April said that Ukrainian forces used specific coordinates provided by U.S. intelligence to shoot down a Russian plane carrying hundreds of troops in the Kyiv region. The New York Times reported last week that battlefield intelligence provided by the U.S. was critical in helping Ukraine kill scores of Russian generals since the war began, though the deaths of only two Russian general officers have been conclusively verified.

Critical Materials Can Make or Break America’s Semiconductor Supply Chains

Shubham Dwivedi Gregory D. Wischer

The most advanced semiconductors in the world—leading-node logic chips—are foundational for essential, “must-win” emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, and advanced wireless networks. It goes without saying that the potential of these applications for U.S. national security is enormous. Equally as great though is America’s utter dependence on East Asia for these chips via foreign supply links, which is in turn rife with market and geopolitical risks. While both the White House and Congress have prioritized semiconductor fabrications through bills like CHIPS for America Act (the CHIPS Act for short), which intends to address various supply chain vulnerabilities, the overriding focus on fabrication neglects the importance of critical materials: the minerals, industrial gases, and chemicals that are the building blocks of any computer chip.

Goodbye Tanks, Hello Drones: How the Marine Corps Will Fight Beyond 2030

Kris Osborn

The United States Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 strategy outlines the service’s need for a lighter, smaller, faster, yet better networked and more lethal sea-land attack force, a shift which is leading the service to divest its tanks, decrease its infantry, and increase its reconnaissance and mobile anti-armor weapons and reduce the size of its aviation component. The document calls for the Corps to divest three of its heavy-lift helicopter squadrons, two light attack helicopter squadrons, and three medium tiltrotor squadrons. By contrast, it calls for a decided increase in unmanned systems for the force by operating six active component drone squadrons.

The transition reveals a clear Marine Corps shift toward the use of air and surface drones to decrease risk by reducing manned platforms and increasing the range and capacity for multi-domain networking.

Zero Tanks? The Marines Think Main Battle Tanks Are Things of the Past

Kris Osborn

The U.S. Marine Corps plans to operate a fleet of exactly zero main battle tanks as part of a service-wide transition from a heavier, mechanized force into an expeditionary and more deployable networked force.

The Corps’ Force Design 2030 document articulates the need for the service to adapt and evolve to operate in fast-paced, multi-domain threat environments in which enemy forces have long-range precision weaponry, high-fidelity sensors, and unmanned systems. As a result, the Marines recognize the need to have a faster and more deployable amphibious force capable of quickly and lethally transitioning from sea to land.

NATO and the South after Ukraine

Pierre Morcos, Luis Simón

“We, the Heads of State and Government of the 30 NATO Allies, have met today to address Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades.” In this solemn statement released after an extraordinary summit in Brussels on March 24, 2022, NATO leaders sent a clear signal: Russia poses an unprecedented threat that the alliance needs to address as a matter of priority. Beyond its decisions to assist Ukraine and reassure frontline allies, NATO is also preparing for the long-term implications of the return of war to the European continent. Incidentally, this reorientation coincides with the preparation of a new strategic concept that will be adopted in Madrid.

DF-26: China’s New Missile Plan To Kill A Navy Aircraft Carrier From Distance

Eli Fuhrman

Much has been written for years now about China‘s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, or what most media outlets call the ‘carrier-killer’ for the threat it presents to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. But there is a more potent missile, the DF-26, that seems to have even more deadly uses besides ‘killing’ carriers: As China continues its ongoing military buildup, one of the areas of most concern to the United States military has been the continued development of its Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) strategy. China’s A2/AD strategy combines a range of military capabilities, from improved air defense systems and advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft to more capable warships, in an effort to limit the U.S. military’s ability to effectively operate within East Asia.

The Slippery Slope of Intelligence Sharing with Ukraine


OPINION — More than two months into the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a number of key security developments have emerged, some of which have broken old traditions and created new opportunities.

One of those developments is the unorthodox use of intelligence by the United States and other Western partners that enabled the Ukrainian military to operate more effectively on the battlefield against Russian forces. This tactic included the sharing of information that assisted in more precise targeting in light of the advance of Russian forces.

The World Has No Choice but to Care About India’s Heat Wave

Bill Spindle

CHANDIGARH, India—Soon after I arrived in the eastern megacity of Kolkata in February, temperatures began climbing. They always do when India’s short winter turns into an early spring. But then they kept rising.

After the hottest March in 122 years of record keeping, the scorching temperatures continued through April, with the nationwide high averaging more than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. During my recent stop in New Delhi, the mercury topped 110 degrees for two consecutive days, overwhelming the air conditioner in my rental apartment. The maximum temperature last month in the capital, home to more than 30 million people across the metro area, averaged more than 104 degrees. Even higher temperatures have been reported elsewhere: 111 in other regions of India, and to the west, in parts of Pakistan, above 120.

The ABCs of A2/AD

Franklin C. Miller

Much of the current debate about the U.S. Navy’s surface force has been about the number of ships we need. Almost none of it, however, has focused on the fact that Russian and Chinese Anti-Access and Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities will effectively deny the Navy the ability to bring our carriers, amphibious forces and surface combatants into action. Dense Russian anti-air and anti-surface systems based in Kaliningrad pose a formidable barrier to U.S. and NATO naval operations in the Baltic Sea (already a crucial area whose importance will grow larger if Sweden and Finland enter NATO). Similarly, Chinese A2/AD systems based on the Chinese mainland and on the artificial islands Xi promised never to militarize pose a barrier to U.S. and allied naval operations in the South China Sea. If we are to bring our maritime might to bear in either theater, the A2/AD defenses must be reduced first. The relatively short legs of naval tactical air (compared to the Russia and Chinese air defenses) tend to rule these out as the answer. At the same time, the sophistication of the air defenses argue against Tomahawk as the weapon of choice, as does its relatively long time of flight (which was not a factor in Iraq but could be against a sophisticated enemy).

Turkey's Lethal Weapon

Soner Cagaptay, Rich Outzen

On April 14, Ukrainian forces stunned the world when they sank the Moskva, the heavily armed cruiser that was the flagship of Moscow’s Black Sea fleet. As widely noted in the international press, the Ukrainians succeeded in hitting the ship with their homegrown Neptune missiles, despite the ship’s significant defenses. What has been somewhat less noted, however, were the foreign-made drones that enabled this remarkable attack: according to Ukrainian officials, the strike was coordinated by a pair of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned drones, which were able to evade the ship’s radar and which provided precise targeting information for the missiles...

Economic Costs of China’s Zero-COVID Policy Mount

The economic blowback from China’s zero-COVID policy was patently obvious in Caixin’s latest surveys of economic activity. In services, the reading was the second-lowest on record, with the PMI hitting 36.2 in April, down from 42 in March. As recently as February the index had been just above the 50 threshold denoting expansion. In manufacturing, the Caixin PMI hit 46 in April, down from 48.1 in March.

The data reflects choked commercial activity being left in the wake of Beijing’s zero-COVID policy, which applies a contain-at-all-costs logic to a virus that is now endemic in nearly every other part of the world. As of Tuesday, some 43 cities are under full or partial lockdown as per Reuters, but the most politically and economically salient of them are without a doubt Shanghai and Beijing.

Imran Khan’s Political Career Far From Over

Umair Jamal

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan is planning a long march toward Islamabad later this month to force the government into announcing fresh elections.

Since his ouster from office through a no-confidence motion in the parliament last month, Khan has augmented pressure on the government and other state institutions not only to delegitimize the new ruling coalition but also to paint them as conspirators. In this regard, Khan has used the issue of alleged “foreign conspiracy” against his regime very skillfully to mobilize his support base.

The Taliban’s Many Problematic Borders

Catherine Putz

On April 16, Pakistan conducted air raids across its border with Afghanistan, claiming to strike Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants operating in the porous border regions. Two days later, the Islamic State’s regional affiliate, ISKP, claimed to have fired 10 rockets at an Uzbek military base in Termez (the Uzbek government denied the attack took place.) The next week, a border crossing between Afghanistan and Iran was closed following a “dispute” between Taliban and Iranian border guards, reportedly over a road the Taliban wanted to build. An Iranian military vehicle was seized by Taliban border guards. The border reopened a day later but tensions linger.

More Than Aid, Afghanistan Needs an Aid Management System

Mohammad Qadam Shah

A Taliban fighter stands guard as people receive food rations distributed by a Chinese humanitarian aid group, during the holy month of Ramadan, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, April 30, 2022.Credit: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

In February 2022, U.S President Joe Biden signed an executive order freezing almost half of the $7 billion in Afghan assets held in the United States pending the results of lawsuits by 9/11 victims, and holding the other half “for the benefit of the Afghan people and for Afghanistan’s future pending a judicial decision.” Some groups, including the law firms representing the victims of 9/11, supported that order and some scholars, for instance, Jennifer Murtazashvili, criticized Biden’s decision by describing it as “Robin Hood in reverse.” The Taliban called Biden’s decision “unfair,” and some Afghans protested that the money belonged to Afghans and should be return to Afghanistan without delay.

The Ukraine War Might Kill China’s Nuclear No First Use Policy

Denny Roy

China and India are the only nuclear-armed countries in the world with a nuclear “no first use” policy (NFU). Beijing pledges that in the event of a conflict, China would use its nuclear weapons only after an enemy nuclear strike against China. It is in the interest of the United States and other potential adversaries that China maintain NFU, which is a unilateral Chinese strategic self-restriction. China’s NFU, however, is increasingly under strain, and the Ukraine war might provide the final persuasive impetus for Chinese leaders to dump the policy.

Qatar Is Hamas' Patron. Its 'Moderate' Rebranding Is a Dangerous Delusion

Hussain Abdul-Hussain

There’s been an upswing recently of commentary celebrating what is often termed a welcome "shift" in the policies and behavior of Qatar: away from promoting and subsidizing radical Islamist groups, and towards "deconfliction" and moderation.

This analysis is not only fundamentally incorrect, but plays into Doha’s ongoing attempts to create an illusion of rebranding as a moderating actor in the Middle East and beyond.

How the Ukraine War May End

George Friedman

Russia has been waging war in Ukraine for a little over two months now. That’s not an especially long time. The Korean War lasted for three years, World War II for six. The Arab-Israeli wars, on the other hand, took only a matter a matter of days.

A variety of factors contribute to a war’s duration. The size of the battlefield is just one. The smaller the battlefield, the fewer soldiers can fit on it and, generally, the shorter the war. In Ukraine, the battlefield is substantial. On that criterion alone, the war there might last for years.

For Victory Day, Putin Gives Russia Key Territory and Battle with the West


For the first time since the inaugural event 77 years ago, Russia marks its World War II Victory Day in the heat of a conflict with what it claims to be forces associated with its old Nazi foe.

And once again, Moscow seeks to expand the territory under its control in Europe, seeking to establish an effective land bridge that would leave Ukraine at a loss for much of its Black Sea coastline, while uniting Russia's modern borders with allied breakaway states in the Donbas and the already annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Russia downed satellite internet in Ukraine -Western officials

James Pearson

NEWPORT, Wales, May 10 (Reuters) - Russia was behind a massive cyberattack against a satellite internet network that took tens of thousands of modems offline at the onset of Russia-Ukraine war, the United States, Britain, Canada, Estonia and the European Union said on Tuesday.

Russian cyber operations against Ukraine: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union

The European Union and its Member States, together with its international partners, strongly condemn the malicious cyber activity conducted by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, which targeted the satellite KA-SAT network, operated by Viasat.

The cyberattack took place one hour before Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 thus facilitating the military aggression. This cyberattack had a significant impact causing indiscriminate communication outages and disruptions across several public authorities, businesses and users in Ukraine, as well as affecting several EU Member States.

How Not to Invade a Nation Russia’s Attack on Ukraine Is a Case Study in Bad Strategy

Frederick W. Kagan and Mason Clark

At the outset of the invasion, the odds favored Russia to defeat the Ukrainian armed forces, seize Ukraine’s capital, and establish a pro-Russian government. The Russian military comfortably outnumbered Ukraine’s, and its military technology was more advanced. Russia’s GDP was nearly ten times the size of the Ukrainian economy, and its population about triple that of its neighbor’s. Many analysts expected that, after being largely conquered, Ukrainians would launch a protracted insurgency that might defeat the Russians over time. But few believed Ukraine could stop the invasion in a conventional war.

China’s Ukraine Conundrum Why the War Necessitates a Balancing Act

Yan Xuetong

Russia’s war in Ukraine has produced a strategic predicament for China. On the one hand, the conflict has disrupted billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese trade, heightened tensions in East Asia, and deepened political polarization within China by dividing people into pro- and anti-Russia camps. On the other, China blames the United States for provoking Russia with its support for NATO expansion and worries that Washington will seek to prolong the conflict in Ukraine in order to bog down Russia. Beijing sees little to gain from joining the international chorus condemning Moscow.

China’s Doomed Fight Against Demographic Decline

Carl Minzner

China is aging fast. In 1978, the median age of a Chinese citizen was 21.5 years. By 2021, it had risen to 38.4, surpassing that of the United States. If China continues along its current trajectory and follows the rest of East Asia in descending to ultra-low fertility rates, its median age could rise to over 50 by 2050.

China’s rapidly aging society and plunging birth rate poses a host of challenges for its leaders, including a shrinking number of young workers and an increasingly unstable pension system. Beijing is steadily pivoting toward pro-natalism as a strategy to mitigate these risks. In 2016, the Chinese government scrapped its harsh one-child policy, and in 2021 it began introducing policies aimed at actively encouraging childbearing. The experience of China’s East Asian neighbors, however, indicates that such measures are unlikely to succeed in raising fertility rates. And the Chinese Communist Party’s re-embrace of traditional gender norms under General Secretary Xi Jinping is likely to turn the clock back on women’s rights by decades and exacerbate root causes of China’s cratering birth rates.

China’s Military: More Than A Match For America?

Sandboxx News

China’s military is on the rise. Just how much of a threat is that rise to the U.S. military, the most powerful force on Earth today? Late last year, the Pentagon released its annual report on China and its military power. The almost 200-page document analyzes the Chinese military’s strides in the past year in its bid to make the jump from a regional power to a superpower with global aspirations.

The annual report offers a baseline assessment of the Chinese military and how it modernized throughout 2020, emphasizing the Chinese military’s maritime, air, cyber, space and counter-space, and nuclear capabilities alongside Beijing’s ability to conduct joint, long-range precision strikes. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pentagon has also included a section on Chinese biological and chemical warfare capabilities for the first time.

The War in Ukraine Calls for a Reset of Biden’s Foreign Policy

Matthew Duss

“The invasion of Ukraine is a paradigm shift on the scale of 9/11,” British Foreign Minister Liz Truss told an audience in Washington on March 10. “How we respond today will set the pattern for this new era.”

Truss’s comments capture the prevailing view in Washington. A member of Congress remarked days later, “You’d have to go back to 9/11 to see such a unified commitment.” Considering how that post-9/11 unity was put to use, its invocation now should be viewed more as a warning than as encouragement. The United States and its allies made many disastrously wrong choices in the wake of 9/11, choices that had far-reaching consequences: the declaration of a global “war on terror,” the decision to turn the initial military intervention in Afghanistan into a long-term state-building operation, the invasion of Iraq, a worldwide campaign of kidnapping, torture, and assassination, to name a few. With those mistakes and abuses in mind, the United States must tread carefully as it responds to this new geopolitical turning point. It is desperately important that it makes the right choices this time around.