29 July 2022

Biden and Xi to tackle deadlocked agenda during call


President Joe Biden is expected to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week — perhaps as early as Tuesday night — in a bid to manage rising tensions over Taiwan, trade and a deadlocked bilateral diplomatic agenda.

Biden told reporters Wednesday that he expects to speak with Xi “within the next 10 days,” without providing details on a possible agenda. Although Biden tested positive for Covid-19 the next day, a diplomatic source told POLITICO that the call is still on and it could happen within the next 24 to 48 hours.

The call follows national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s meeting in Luxembourg in June with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi this month in Bali.

Operation Barbarossa Sets Precedent for Russo-Ukraine Conflict

Tyler R. Wood

Mark Twain stated, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes." Nowhere else is this aphorism truer than in the current Russo-Ukraine conflict. Putin’s strategy in Ukraine, including changes in approach and setbacks, has noticeable similarities with a previous war involving Russia. Germany’s failed Operation Barbarossa, launched in 1941, as a surprise assault to rapidly defeat Russian forces eventually leads to the downfall of Hitler and Nazism. Operational shortcomings, gaps in planning, and a divided command all but assured the defeat of the Wehrmacht. As the Russo-Ukraine war enters its sixth month, Putin faces similar operational challenges in Ukraine that have not yet been overcome. In the same way as Hitler’s blunders in Operation Barbarossa delivered a crucial loss to Germany, Putin’s strategic mistakes in Ukraine will end in a decisive Russian military defeat.

Lessons of Operation Barbarossa

A historical review of Operation Barbarossa provides a precedent for current Russian failures in Ukraine. Hitler, bolstered by victories on his western front, oriented his focus to the east. Confident in the superior tactics of Blitzkrieg, Hitler believed he could deliver a quick defeat of the Soviet Union before winter. Not only that, but as a grand strategy, it would send a clear message to the western powers and force Britain to a peace agreement. From an economic perspective, captured Russian resources would enable a protracted war and sustain future operations.[1] In a February presentation to Hermann Goering, Wehrmacht General Georg Thomas insisted that Germany could capture most of the Soviet Union's oil in the Caucasus and Ukrainian grain. Both resources would be strategic objectives for Hitler.[2]

Ukraine Won’t Save Democracy The Causes of Democratic Decline Are Internal

Steven Feldstein

Witnessing Ukrainian fighters' valiant efforts to resist Russian President Vladimir Putin's unprovoked invasion of their fledgling democracy, a growing cohort of analysts and policymakers have begun to argue that a Russian defeat would not simply remove a major threat to Western democracies. What it would also do, they argue, is revive liberal internationalism itself, breathing new life into an ailing and increasingly dysfunctional post–Cold War global order.

A win against the Kremlin would help upend the narrative that the West is too weak and divided to push back against authoritarianism, and it could prompt fence-sitting countries to reconsider their embrace of China or Russia. But the notion that defeating Putin could reverse 16 straight years of global democratic decline simply doesn't hold up. Although a decisive Ukrainian victory might momentarily slow the downward cascade, the pathologies underlying democratic decay are largely disconnected from Russian or Chinese actions. Instead, the greater threat to the world's democracies comes from within. A toxic combination of internal factors—including pernicious polarization, anti-elite attitudes, and the rise of unscrupulous politicians willing to exploit these sentiments—has led to a breakdown in shared values in the democratic world. Preventing further democratic decline, let alone reversing it, requires both a clear-eyed understanding of these factors and, more important, a renewed commitment to core democratic values.

Ukraine war: the crucial coming fight for Kherson


Russian troops today occupy Kherson and have carried out some limited assaults on Odesa.

The Russian army occupies most of the territory from Kherson and due east, including Mariupol. While Russia has said little about its long-term intentions, there is a growing awareness that Russia wants to consolidate the cities and towns, and even more importantly the ports along the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.

Such a consolidation would connect Russia by land to Crimea. Should Russia be able to capture Mykolaiv (Nikolaev) and keep control of the massive nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia, it could prove fatal to Ukraine’s long-term survival as an independent country.

‘I Never Had To Look Up’ Before: Top U.S. Special Ops General On Drone Threat


The head of U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Gen. Richard Clarke, recently highlighted the threat that various tiers of unmanned aircraft pose to U.S. forces deployed overseas, as well as to military and other targets abroad and within the United States. He further underscored that these dangers are only likely to grow and diversify as time goes on. Clarke added that finding ways to "defeat" hostile drones before they're ever launched, including finding ways to restrict access to key supply chains and build international consensus about the risks of proliferation and other issues, will be just as important as developing systems to actually knock them out of the sky.

Clarke offered his perspective on the ever-growing drone threat and how to respond to it last Friday at the annual Aspen Security Forum, hosted by the Aspen Institute think tank. The general spoke alongside Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who is currently her party's ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, and Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat who sits on the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Intelligence Committee.

'Turkey chose to join Western bloc by entering Korean War'

Turkey's decision to send its troops to Korea represented a strategic diplomatic choice to join the Western bloc and this decision has greatly contributed to the strengthening of the state structure, Turkey's Ambassador to Seoul Ersin Erçin said Tuesday.

It has been 69 years since the Korean War ended on the field, though it technically continues since a peace agreement to formally end the war was never signed.

Erçin told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Turkey showed great diplomatic dexterity to avoid participating in World War II.

"Resolution 83, adopted by the U.N. Security Council on June 27, 1950, inviting member states to join the war to help South Korea, came to the fore at such a critical time for Turkey. The government of the period responded positively to the call of the Security Council and decided to send a brigade to Korea. The decision to send troops abroad for the first time in the history of the Republic paved the way for our membership in NATO in 1952," the ambassador explained.

Competition and Cooperation in the Maritime Domain

Competition over the world’s maritime resources and territorial disputes over maritime borders are becoming increasingly prominent in international affairs. At the same time, depleted fish stocks and polluted waters make the question of how countries can collectively manage maritime resources a central one, particularly in discussions over climate change.

Against the backdrop of heightened competition in the maritime domain, China has been rapidly modernizing and expanding its naval capabilities thanks to an unprecedented shipbuilding effort. By contrast, the U.S. Navy is struggling to meet its ambitious goals toward expanding its fleet while nevertheless maintaining a demanding operational tempo.

A Blueprint for Equity and Inclusion in Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has great potential to benefit society, but the technology’s full potential can only be realized if it is representative of the diversity of populations it impacts throughout every step of its development. With growing concerns about bias, data privacy and lack of representation, it is critical to re-evaluate the way in which AI is both designed and deployed to ensure that all affected stakeholders and communities reap the benefits of the technology. In this report, the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Artificial Intelligence for Humanity has identified gap areas and opportunities to make AI more equitable and inclusive for all. Designed with an inclusive methodology, this blueprint aims to guide organizations in achieving equitable and inclusive artificial intelligence outcomes through each step of the AI lifecycle and for the AI ecosystem as a whole.

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Identifying Critical IT Products and Services

Sasha Romanosky, John Bordeaux, Michael J. D. Vermeer, Jonathan W. Welburn

In the past 20 years, the U.S. government, championed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and in collaboration with other public and private entities, has made considerable progress enumerating the country's critical infrastructure components and National Critical Functions (NCFs). However, these efforts have not enabled specific identification of the most-critical computing systems within networks.

To help fill that gap, researchers from the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center sought to examine and enumerate the businesses that provide the most-critical information technology (IT) products and services and lay the groundwork for DHS and other federal and private-sector elements to better apply a risk-based approach to protecting the country's most-important assets and systems. They sought to (1) create a prioritized list of software and businesses that provide IT products and services and (2) develop a framework that could continue and extend this analysis into the future to accommodate emerging technologies and the evolution of the technology market.

French Army Approaches to Networked Warfare

Michael Shurkin, Raphael S. Cohen, Arthur Chan

The French Army has been developing and fielding networked warfare technology since the 1990s and now boasts both considerable experience using the technology in the field and a successful modernization program. As part of an effort to glean lessons learned from the French network-centric warfare (NCW) program for the U.S. Army, RAND researchers combed through a variety of primary and secondary French sources and interviewed several dozen French Army officers, think tank analysts, and government experts.

The concept of NCW argues that, because of networks that share information, the power and lethality of a deployed force can be greater than the sum of its parts; information, moreover, would enable modern forces to forgo armor and mass. Interviews with French Army officers suggest that NCW is a French solution to a French problem stemming from French budgetary constraints — specifically, the need to build one middle-weight force that is deployable to Africa but that is still robust enough for higher-end threats. By contrast, the U.S. Army's modernization challenge starts with a different strategic premise — deterring China and Russia, as well as different assumptions about available logistical capabilities. The two militaries' requirements therefore do not necessarily overlap sufficiently for a solution appropriate for one to be appropriate for the other.

Key Findings

NCW does not represent a Revolution in Military AffairsNCW has not fundamentally changed how the French fight, but it has advantages, including better comprehension, faster decisionmaking, better coordination of units, and better optimization of resources.

The French Army does not know how NCW will integrate into coalition operationsFrench Army units routinely partner with relatively underdeveloped forces in Africa that are not equipped with NCW technology. French officers acknowledged the challenges of integrating these forces into their formations, but many felt that the obstacles would not be insurmountable.

Perhaps a greater challenge is integrating fellow first-world militaries for a high-intensity fight. France has a relationship with other NATO countries but is struggling to implement cross-national NCW.

NCW provides only partial situational awarenessFrench officers highlighted better situational awareness on friendly forces. At the same time, NCW cannot detail where enemy forces are in real time.

Many French officers accepted the reality of incomplete intelligence, suggesting that too much intelligence inspired overconfidence and, ultimately, recklessness.

French military culture is resistant to new technologyTwo norms in French military culture present challenges to the adoption of NCW: rusticité and subsidarité. Rusticité is pride in working with less and offers an important advantage in that the French are serious about retaining the skills required to fight without NCW technology. A potentially more significant cultural challenge is that of subsidarité, or the principle of delegating authority to lower echelons. Improvements in technology could challenge this norm: As the upper echelon commanders' ability to monitor developments from afar improves, their ability to centralize authorities increases.


The U.S. Army should moderate its ambitions. Few French officers believed that NCW would transform warfare or how they operate; rather, they believed that NCW would be an improvement over what they had. The French Army's more modest approach to modernization seemingly has paid off, whereas grander U.S. modernization plans have fallen flat.

The French experience shows the value of moderating ambitions toward technology and highlights the trade-off inherent in incrementalism between the risks of failure and incompatibility. The U.S. Army leadership needs to weigh the pros and cons of incrementalism explicitly in the procurement process.

Despite the fact that the French concept of NCW was developed in the late 1990s, the French fielded the technology in Côte d'Ivoire by 2006, allowing them to inject real-world lessons learned into the design processes. The French program benefited from these experiences, and the U.S. Army should follow a similar approach to the extent that operational conditions allow.

The U.S. Army has different institutional norms than its French counterpart, but the need to address the cultural implications of technology remains the same. After all, technology does not simply affect how units exchange information; it also affects how leaders exercise command and control, how units operate, and, ultimately, how soldiers fight. The French experience reinforces the importance of considering these second-order effects as part of the development process.

Although the U.S. Army lacks an explicit norm of rusticité, the same operational imperative — to be able to fight without technology — applies, especially as part of the Army's renewed emphasis on preparing for conflict with near-peer adversaries.



An updated U.S. cyber strategy should incorporate lessons learned about the nature and limitations of offensive cyber capability—operations which “deceive, degrade, disrupt, deny, destroy, or manipulate” adversary systems—which has proven most effective at espionage and disruption and less as a decisive element of warfare.1A continued military-centric approach to cyber issues risks underemphasizing the other core competencies of U.S. statecraft—intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and other tools—necessary to address illicit cyber activity like ransomware and state-backed hacking.The most persistent and enduring threats from the cyber domain are best addressed through investments in law enforcement, civil infrastructure, public-private resiliency, and international coalitions—less through military superiority.


Throughout 2021, the first year of the Biden administration has been marked by a continued recognition of the Geotech challenge. Both in the administration and Congress, there is recognition that China is the pacing threat for national security and the main competitor in the Geotech challenge. Our understanding and realization of Russia’s technological model has also grown deeper and more nuanced. As the United States and other key allies share in a greater understanding of this Geotech challenge and the impact on economic and national security, we have seen greater agreement on multilateral approaches to Geotech—and, if not agreement, at least a willingness to engage on Geotech cooperation and oppose digital authoritarianism.

Will the Dual Circulation Strategy Enable China to Compete in a Post-Pandemic World?

Sustained economic development is crucial to China’s rise and underpins many elements of Chinese power. In recent years, China has been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, a historic global recession, and mounting global pushback against Beijing’s economic practices, prompting Chinese leaders to formulate a new economic framework. One of the central elements of China’s new economic model is the Dual Circulation Strategy (DCS), which aims to shield China from global volatility and pivot the Chinese economy toward greater self-reliance. Beijing is making progress toward achieving some objectives of the DCS, but in other areas the government has pursued counterproductive policies. China also faces structural and short-term headwinds, including Covid-19 outbreaks and real estate market troubles, that are making it harder to pursue the DCS.

China’s Rationale for a New Economic Strategy

The last several years have presented China with enormous challenges. Chinese leaders, including Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping, now frequently stress that the world is undergoing “profound changes unseen in a century” amid fluctuations in the existing international order and balance of power. While Beijing sees promise in some of these changes, Chinese leaders have concluded that China needs to chart a new economic course to avoid falling prey to global economic volatility and growing fears of geopolitical encirclement.

How Is China Expanding its Infrastructure to Project Power Along its Western Borders?

Much attention has been paid to China’s efforts to modernize its military with new naval vessels, aircraft, nuclear weapons, and other equipment. China has made significant progress on these fronts, but weaponry and equipment are only part of the equation. To successfully project power, countries also need adequate infrastructure and logistics capabilities for deploying troops and equipment. China is currently undertaking a major expansion of its infrastructure that is enhancing its ability to project military power along its western frontier.

Within its western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, China is constructing and upgrading dozens of airports and heliports—a large majority of which are military or dual-use facilities.1 China is supplementing its airpower expansion with new roads, rail, and other infrastructure that are upgrading the PLA’s logistics capabilities and enabling more rapid movement of troops, weaponry, and equipment. The pace of development in the region accelerated following standoffs and skirmishes between China and India along disputed portions of their border in 2017 and 2020. China also has growing security and economic interests in neighboring countries in South and Central Asia, as well as concerns about the potential for unrest within its own borders.

China’s Advanced AI Research Monitoring China's Paths to "General" Artificial Intelligence

William Hannas, Huey-Meei Chang, Daniel Chou

Executive Summary

This paper seeks to determine on the basis of publicly available information (“open sources”) who in China is taking what steps toward general artificial intelligence, as shown by overt expressions and other common measures. While typically conceived as “artificial general intelligence” or AGI, this paper rejects that ambiguous term, along with its usual association with human-level machine intelligence, in favor of an approach that recognizes diverse pathways to broadly capable AI that functions autonomously in novel circumstances.

Accordingly, the paper examines what paths to general AI are available in principle, as a prelude to describing work underway in China to realize that capability. Three broad areas of Chinese research are identified as potentially germane: machine learning, brain-inspired AI research, and brain-computer interfaces (BCI). Data on the persons, institutions, and research making up this ecosystem is given as a foundation for downstream studies,1 and as a starting point for China-focused indications and warning watch board

Fixing Strategic Communications at National Defence Demands a Whole-of-Government Effort

Brett Boudreau


The Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) defence policy refresh – the catalyst being the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine – offers a real opportunity now with our eyes wider open, to better reflect the new realities of modern conflict and address known shortcomings since the document’s issue in June 2017. This includes how Defence and government more broadly operate in the information environment – a key domain in war, conflict and the domestic security space. This paper describes the current situation, offering five recommendations to improve Department of National Defence (DND) and government communications capability to tackle this decidedly conjoined, whole-of-government challenge.

Strong, Secure, Engaged identified a need to develop a broader array of fit-for-purpose information-related capabilities, mainly for offensive purposes during conflict or during times of tension but less than war. The policy described the intent to improve the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) cyber-operations field, increase the size of the intelligence branch and upgrade surveillance and reconnaissance capability. The policy also confirmed the army reserves would be the lead to source personnel to conduct information operations and influence activities, including psychological operations (PSYOPS), and committed to “enhancing” their existing roles.1


Matthew Miranda

The challenges of the future battlefield will be so large, so complicated, that military transformation is not just important, but absolutely essential. This has become so widely accepted, across all services, that it has become something of a truism. And yet despite the litany of proclamations committing to innovation, the system continues to asphyxiate far too much of the disruptive activity that will be critical to solving the problems faced by the US military in the years to come. Frustrations are felt from top to bottom, yet nothing seems to change. Even initiatives led by four-star generals such as the Marine Corps’s Force Design 2030 and the Air Force’s Accelerate Change or Lose have experienced struggles in their implementation. On the opposite side, young mavericks have disrupted their way from the bottom up yet are blunted along their path. Closing this disconnect requires an effort that attacks the problem from both sides. Leaders and disruptors must unite to fight the constraints of the system in order to prevail in future conflicts.

The bureaucracy that has long been a central feature of American national security can be remarkably effective. Bureaucracies are equipped to solve technical problems where authority, experience, and existing solutions can provide a pretext to decisions. When something within the system works, it is by design difficult to change it. The exact opposite is true when our system is posed with a dynamic problem without any clear solution such as strategic competition. It proposes a questionable paradox: for an institution that must be ready to evolve alongside the ever-changing character of war, why do militaries rely on bureaucracies for survival?

A computed estimate of Russian and Ukrainian military casulties

Zichen Wang

Key Takeaways

The casualty data of troops on both sides published by the U.S. side (mainly by the U.S. Institute for the Study of War) is unreliable.

Russian casualties are likely 22,230-30,995 by 2022-06-24. The Ukraine-published figures on Russian casualties are an overestimate of 13.4%-22%.

The casualties of Ukrainian troops are likely 11,616-12,936 between 2022-02-24 and 2022-04-16. The Russian-published data on Ukrainian casualties in this period is overestimated by 80%-100%.

The final outcome of the war is difficult to predict.

An element of doubt? Rare earths targeted in disinfo campaign


The US cybersecurity firm Mandiant recently issued a fresh warning about an ongoing influence campaign comprising a network of thousands of inauthentic social media accounts. According to Mandiant’s qualitative and circumstantial observation-based investigation, the campaign that the firm has named “Dragonbridge” supports China’s political and strategic interests. Dating back to 2019, the campaign initially focused on discrediting the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. However, in the years since, the focus has shifted and the agenda has expanded. Recent activities suggest that the campaign is now targeting developments in the rare earth elements domain, where Australia, the United States, India and Japan (the “Quad” countries), as well as Canada and others, are looking to establish supply chains.

Broadly defined, rare earth elements exist in unrefined caches in several places around the world. Including lithium, cobalt and more than a dozen others, these elements are vital components for everything ranging from smartphones, television sets and electric vehicle batteries, to drones, communications equipment, stealth technology and missile systems.

Middle-Power Alignment in the Free and Open Indo-Pacific

Stephen R. Nagy



The change in the power balance associated with China’s re-emergence as Asia’s largest economy has brought concerns about Sino-U.S. strategic competition and raised questions about U.S. leadership in the Indo-Pacific region among many U.S.-aligned middle powers, such as Australia, Japan, Canada, and India. Specific challenges that China is creating include fomenting instability in the maritime domain, fracturing the openness of the emerging digital economy, and practicing coercive economic behavior, to which middle powers are especially vulnerable. Therefore, the Indo-Pacific’s middle powers are aligning to adapt to these changing dynamics and transforming their diplomacy and cooperation into “neo-middle-power diplomacy.” This new type of diplomacy is proactive and engages in behavior that includes lobbying, insulating, and rulemaking in the realms of security, trade, and international law. It aims to ensure that middle powers’ interests are not deleteriously affected by the Sino-U.S. rivalry.

China may increase cultural imports as part of 28-point plan to boost its soft power overseas

Orange Wang

China intends on supercharging its soft power to an “unprecedented” level with a detailed plan that aims to transform the nation into a cultural export powerhouse over the next three years.

By utilising a newly unveiled 28-point road map, Beijing will flex its soft power abroad by taking advantage of digital cultural platforms and cultural industry leaders with international influence, according to the guidelines that were jointly issued by 27 government bodies.

Authorities also pledged to explore the relaxing of restrictive measures on highly scrutinised related sectors, and to increase cultural imports to promote competition.

Beatrice Heuser, Western Ideas of War and the Russia-Ukraine Conflict, No. 528, July 12, 2022

Beatrice Heuser

As noted in its Introduction, my book, War: A Genealogy of Western Ideas and Practices, “is mainly about ‘Western’ ideas about war, but also about Western practices.” It was in print when Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine. This gives me the opportunity to reflect on whether I would have changed anything in my text, had I completed it after 24 February 2022. Well, I would have added a few words about current Russian thinking. I think I have rightly said, in my conclusions, that the current Russian regime’s thinking about war and peace is not binary (p. 399), but I might have added: Putin sees all of international politics as war, war in kinetic and non-kinetic forms. Even when he was still ready to co-operate to some extent with the West, he uttered the following words in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2020:

We all know that competition and rivalry between countries in world history never stopped, does not stop, and will never stop. Differences and a clash of interests are also natural for such a complicated body as human civilisation.[1]

Using Social Network Analysis for Cyber Threat Intelligence

Cyber threat intelligence assists organisations in understanding the threats they face and helps them make educated decisions on preparing their defences. Sharing of threat intelligence and threat information is increasingly leveraged by organisations and enterprises, and various software solutions are already available, with the open-source malware information sharing platform (MISP) being a popular one. In this work, a methodology for the production of cyber threat intelligence using the threat information stored in MISP is proposed. The methodology leverages the discipline of social network analysis and the diamond model, a model used for intrusion analysis, to produce cyber threat intelligence. The workings of the proposed methodology are demonstrated with a case study on a production MISP instance of a real organisation. The paper concludes with a discussion on the proposed methodology and possible directions for further research.

Russian Information Operations Aim to Divide the Western Coalition on Ukraine

Executive Summary

Since at least early May 2022, Russian influence networks, including state-controlled media, known covert intelligence outlets, and known propaganda and disinformation amplifiers, have almost certainly been conducting several multifaceted information operations to undermine and divide the Western coalition on Ukraine and influence public opinion of Russia’s war against Ukraine favorably toward Russia. These information operations almost certainly aim to undermine and divide the Western coalition on Ukraine both directly, by creating or exacerbating divisions between Western coalition countries, and indirectly, by influencing European populations to oppose their governments’ support of Ukraine and negative policies toward Russia.

Based on observations from Russian influence networks, we believe that the direct attempts to undermine and divide the Western coalition by creating or exacerbating divisions are primarily aimed at France, Germany, Poland, and Turkey. We have identified multiple influence narratives that attempt to indirectly undermine and divide the Western coalition, including: stirring domestic discontent toward Western political leaders; negatively portraying Ukrainian refugees and the impacts they have on their host countries; blaming economic, energy, and food security concerns on Western governments for their negative policies toward Russia; blaming Ukraine as the source of modern-day fascist movements; and inciting distrust of Western media.

French defence exports to Europe: past, present and future

The total value of French defence exports to almost all regions of the world grew during 2001–20: the exception was Europe, where French sales declined. This report examines several globally successful sectors for French defence companies, and why those companies have fared less well in the European market. It explains why there is likely to be an upturn in sales to Europe in the near future and argues that the next round of European joint-development programmes will be crucial to the longer-term health of French defence exports to the region

During the period 2001–20, the total value of French defence exports to Europe declined while those to all other regions grew. High-value sectors where France has secured major sales globally, such as combat aircraft and naval vessels, have not enjoyed the same success in Europe. Orders from European countries for military helicopters designed and built mainly in France have been small, while exports of the multinational NH90 utility helicopter dried up after 2007, with some customers now returning aircraft or replacing them early. Ambitions for the Tiger attack helicopter have not been achieved, with just one European export customer. French companies have provided a number of non-European countries with their first military-satellite capability, yet sales of such equipment to Europe have been very limited.

Series: China-Russia Relations

Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine has cast a spotlight on China’s close ties with Russia. The ChinaPower team has developed a series consisting of a historical backgrounder and three features examining the China-Russia relationship. The series focuses on assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship, and it also includes a deep-dive on military cooperation between the two countries. Below, you can preview some of the highlights of each feature and navigate to the full features by following the links.

This backgrounder explores the history of China-Russia relations, from the establishment of relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union to the present. The backgrounder features an interactive timeline of major milestones in the bilateral relationship, which you can preview below.

Six ways to improve global supply chains

Darrell M. West


It used to be a simple matter to outsource production to other countries, have them manufacture clothes, electronics, computer chips, and medicines, and ship the items back to the United States. America provided value through design capabilities and reliance upon domestically-produced components. But many businesses utilized inexpensive labor from abroad to assemble products, and global distributors then would deliver materials “just-in-time” for American firms.[1]

Now we are seeing the limits of this model. It is a time of tremendous disruptions in global supply chains with many problems ranging from shifts in consumer demand and off-shoring reliability to transportation jams, anti-competitive practices, and geopolitical complications.[2] As noted in a 2022 Council of Economic Advisers report, supply chains currently “are efficient but brittle – vulnerable to breaking down in the face of a pandemic, a war or a natural disaster. Because of outsourcing, off-shoring and insufficient investment in resilience, many supply chains have become complex and fragile.”[3]

In this paper, I outline six ways to improve global supply chains:Boosting domestic production through on-shoring and near-shoring

Easing transportation jams

Prioritizing public health

Managing labor shortages

Fighting anti-competitive practices

Mitigating geopolitical tensions

Making progress in these areas would go a long way towards easing current global supply chain disruptions and putting global trade back on a firmer footing.


Years ago, many companies adopted a “just-in-time” approach to supplies in which they stocked only what they immediately needed and trusted supply chains to deliver other items quickly. That approach saved money because firms did not need to build extended storage facilities or keep a full inventory. Rather, they kept their stocks low and refreshed on an “as needed” basis.[4]

At the same time, much of the country’s manufacturing capacity shifted abroad as corporate leaders sought low labor and energy cost areas where products could be made inexpensively.[5] While American manufacturing’s share of overall output remained constant, its labor share declined as firms automated production lines and relied upon emerging technologies.[6] That production and distribution system worked as planned until difficulties in the global supply chain disrupted those practices and created problems in terms of supplies, safety, and security. Concerns unleashed by the pandemic and dependence on foreign manufacturers combined to increase risks and raise worries regarding just-in-time practices.[7]

The disruptions caused by these alterations have led to calls for a greater domestic manufacturing capability through on-shoring or near-shoring. On-shoring refers to bringing production back to the United States where it is safe from foreign adversaries and subject to domestic health and safety provisions. Near-shoring is bringing production back to friendly countries not far from the United States so that production does not have long transportation times or suffer from security or safety problems. Such a stance would rely more substantially on places such as Canada and Mexico, where the supply lines would be shorter and the politics usually more dependable.

Some governments are providing incentives to launch or return production to their homelands. Singapore, for example, has announced a Together Enhancing Enterprise Resilience Programme that offers money to upgrade business operations and capacity. Italy has developed programs to restore the production of luxury goods in jewelry, fashion, and textiles. Japan has established a fund “to finance 70% of the relocation costs for small and medium enterprises producing PPE and raw materials for drugs.”[8]

In a number of cases, these incentives are firm-specific and provide funds to individual companies that agree to bring back manufacturing operations to their native lands. At other times, the programs are industry-wide and provide tax incentives and/or infrastructure investment that makes it possible for a variety of firms to reshore their operations.

However, a European Parliament report found modest benefits to reshoring in the United Kingdom, United States, and Japan, and argued that “reshoring should be primarily focused on specific critical sectors and products with pronounced supply bottlenecks.”[9] Rather than an across-the-board solution, its authors advocated targeted reshoring because host countries often did not have the production facilities and/or workforce required for wholesale reshoring.

A 2021 World Bank analysis went even further in warning against widespread reshoring. In the report, experts stated, “It is, however, premature to conclude that firms should or will shift gears from ‘just-in-time’ GVCs (Global Value Chains) to ‘just-in-case’ GVCs. Shorter GVCs and localized production are not necessarily less vulnerable to shocks. Supplier diversification and relocation can be costly and impractical for highly complex products. And holding more inventory and building redundant capacity could create inefficiencies in many industries.”[10]


Transportation logjams have complicated distribution logistics in recent years. There have been many reports of port holdups, container box shortages, and price increases in key areas. Delivery delays snarl product contracts and make it difficult for companies to have the components necessary to assemble products.[11] Some customers have complained that their shipping cost of $4,000 per container has risen four-to-five times to $15,000-to-$22,000 per container. And even when they have contracts guaranteeing a minimum number of containers, shippers no longer honor those written commitments.[12]

A report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development highlighted a number of factors as being responsible for shipping woes. There was a major obstruction in the Suez Canal when a large shipping vessel got wedged sideways in the canal and blocked traffic for several weeks. There also has been a shortage of container boxes that transport many goods through major ports, COVID-19 delays linked to workforce health, and difficulties in managing production capacity when consumer demand surges in durable goods.[13]

The result of these problems is a dramatic increase in container freight rates that raises the costs of items manufactured abroad. As opposed to being an inexpensive way to supply goods and services, off-shoring rose in costs, complicating the ability of businesses to meet the needs of their customers. Orders sometimes took months to fill, which was frustrating for people used to fast turnaround times.

For these reasons, experts have called for digital tracking that eases logistical delays. In the UN report, for example, writers noted that “The recent shortage in containers and maritime equipment took stakeholders by surprise. Monitoring of port calls and liner schedules, along with better tracing and port call optimization, are among the issues covered by the growing field of maritime informatics.”[14]

Improved tracking and tracing would help identify logjams and allow firms to take action that eases delivery problems. Right now, it is not always easy to keep track of the hundreds of thousands of shipping containers that traverse the world. Using technology to monitor movements and anticipate logjams would go a long way to addressing logistical problems and easing transportation logjams.[15]


The past two years have been a time of tremendous stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic and product shortages in key areas. The surge in ecommerce and consumer demand and public health challenges during the pandemic put pressure on manufacturing and distribution facilities around the world. With much of the developed world having shifted to off-shore manufacturing and just-in-time supply chains, it did not take long after COVID-19 appeared for global supply chains to become overstretched and frayed.

Businesses that had gotten used to manufacturing key products in the developing world and having quick turnaround to global markets discovered that pandemics wreak havoc on component supplies, manufacturing, distribution, public health, and the workforce. Products that might be available in a matter of days shifted to schedules that took weeks or months. There was no easy way to address supply chain issues when manufacturers had product shortages and sick workers.

Research has found that consumer demand rose in some areas such as face masks, medical supplies, and pharmaceuticals and quickly outpaced the ability of manufacturers to keep up with the desire for these products. The pandemic shifted consumer demand and market trends and disrupted established business practices. It limited demand in sectors requiring in-person interactions while increasing it in others that were able to supply goods and services through digital platforms.[16]

Some sectors experienced shortages in key components that made it difficult to produce needed products. This included areas such as personal protective equipment, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and electric vehicle batteries, among others. Not having access to all the critical ingredients or active drug compounds made it impossible to manufacture certain items and limited the ability of businesses to satisfy consumer demand.

To mitigate these problems, it is important to take steps that improve the public health infrastructure. It will be difficult to resolve supply chain disruptions as long as major public health challenges roil the workforce. A March 2021 McKinsey report argued economic recovery is “highly dependent on how quickly health risks recede with vaccinations and whether governments provide further economic support.”[17] There is a close interplay between health and economic productivity so making sure we have effective health infrastructure and treatments is vital to dealing with the negative consequences of pandemics on global supply chains.

One should not expect COVID-19 to be the last pandemic the world faces. With the interconnectedness of global life and international travel and commerce, businesses should plan on periodic epidemics and pandemics and have public health systems that are prepared to deal with major outbreaks. Contagious diseases are quite common, and the world needs to invest in infrastructure, contact tracing, and treatment to guard against devastating economic repercussions. Otherwise, many places will be caught off guard and suffer debilitating health and business fallout.[18]


In recent years, labor shortages and economic shocks have roiled supply chains and generated delays, cost increases, and a range of logistical challenges. As a result, inflation has returned as an economic problem, and there are complications linked to underlying shifts in the workforce.

A changing demography is part of the problem. As documented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the population is aging and so is the workforce. Overall participation in the workforce declined during the pandemic and has not recovered to its pre-COVID-19 levels. Despite a low national unemployment rate, a number of people remain outside the workforce, and this is especially the case with women who are taking care of children and elderly parents.[19]

As the economy has recovered, there remain labor shortages that make it difficult for businesses to staff their positions and deal with current consumer demand. In a 2021 Society for Human Resources Managers survey, 90 percent of firms reported difficulty in filling particular positions. This was especially true for manufacturing, hospitality, and healthcare sectors. COVID-19 generated worries about public health, and it was difficult for businesses to find workers for their open jobs.[20]

The pandemic clearly has complicated the labor situation. A Brookings report by Katie Bach found that 30 million Americans suffered from “long COVID” and that 15 percent of the unfilled jobs were due to people suffering from that malady. She argues it is time for the Census Bureau to add COVID-19 questions to its workforce analysis so there could be a better understanding of the interplay of health and workforce issues.[21]

The unanswered question right now is how many of these pandemic issues will be short-term or will remain part of workforce issues going forward. The country is grappling with a number of workforce shifts such as rising automation, digital transformation of many sectors, and a future of work characterized by AI, machine learning, and data analytics.22 Each one of these developments complicates supply chain challenges but taken together generate considerable uncertainties regarding the path ahead.

A McKinsey report recommends that public and private sector leaders invest in digital infrastructure to make it easier for workers to access broadband, perform their tasks, operate remotely, and deal with pandemics, automation, and demographic shifts. Worker retraining will be required for those at risk of falling behind and making sure employers have the employees needed to manufacture, distribute, and sell durable goods.[23]


Limited market competition fuels supply chain problems by making it difficult to prevent abusive market practices. In several areas, large firms have significant market power and sometimes use their control to raise prices and engage in anti-competitive practices. That accentuates market problems and aggravates supply chain problems.

One recent example of market oligopolies is the baby formula sector. There, four firms generate “90% of the US supply of formula.” When one firm encountered infections at a plant and the Food and Drug Administration closed that facility, there was a production shortfall and “panic buying” in the United States.[24] Combined with restrictions on the import of formulas produced abroad, shortages skyrocketed and persisted for months.

In this situation, there needs to be vigorous anti-trust enforcement designed to limit market dysfunctions and competitive abuses. In its United Nations report, experts argue, “…it is also important to ensure that national competition authorities can monitor freight rates and market behavior. UNCTAD is contributing to such monitoring through its research and statistics on fleet deployment, port calls, freight rates and liner shipping connectivity. It remains important for policymakers to continue to strengthen national competition authorities in the area of maritime transport and ensure that they are prepared to provide the requisite regulatory oversight.”[25]

In the United States, the Jones Act for many years has limited American shipping to U.S.-owned boats. Although this requirement originally had the intention of boosting the domestic shipping industry, the legislation keeps shipping costs high while not always offering the protections that members of Congress sought. It artificially boosts costs and imposes bureaucratic barriers on domestic shippers without being very successful at aiding American firms. It may be time to revisit that legislation by lifting some of its provisions and consider ways to lower costs and improve supply logistics.[26]


The geopolitical situation has grown more complex as Russia invaded Ukraine, relations between the U.S. and China have become more combative, and various countries have imposed tariffs, sanctions, and barriers to entry on other nations. With many goods, from electronics and medical equipment to clothes and furniture, being made in China, it is difficult to maintain open supply chains as long as geopolitical conflict intensifies and economic and security risks are high.

Tensions escalated during the Donald Trump administration when he slapped tariffs on $350 billion of Chinese imports in response to a large trade gap and security concerns. In response, the Chinese added tariffs on $100 billion of American exports. According to Professors Pablo Fajgelbaum and Amit Khandelwal, this trade war raises costs to consumers and reduces aggregate economic growth.[27]

COVID-19 did not help, as it revealed a dependence on Chinese manufacturers for personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, and electronic devices that endangered public health and security. A report from the Congressional Research Service found that the pandemic led to shortages of medical equipment and drug supplies in the United States. These shortages became particularly acute in 2020 when China nationalized its authority over medical supplies and prioritized deliveries within its own nation and to other friendly countries. That intensified a lack of supply in the United States just when people were suffering the most.[28]

Due to the risks of Chinese and Indian suppliers, some experts have called for a decoupling of America from foreign supply chains in critical areas.[29] The argument is the U.S. should enhance its own domestic capabilities and wean itself from a dependence on China in key sectors. While that advice is well-taken in certain critical areas, it would take years in other sectors to implement such a strategy and build domestic capabilities within the United States.

One stark example of the complex geopolitics impinging on supply chains is the semiconductor industry, where a shortage of computer chips harmed the ability of car manufacturers to produce cars and trucks and many other areas to manufacturing consumer devices, durable goods, and mobile phones. As the economy digitizes, a wide variety of products require computer chips, and production in some areas ground to a near standstill as chip shortages developed. According to Kleinhans and Hess, chip shortages emerged based on “high market entry barriers, high geographic concentration, high fab utilization and long manufacturing cycles.”[30]

In that area, the difficulties of decoupling are readily apparent because it can take up to a decade to build advanced fab production facilities and cost tens of billions of dollars. For that reason, decoupling is not a viable strategy for the immediate future. Even if implemented in certain sectors, production likely would just move from China to other parts of Asia. That would keep supply lines long and subject to regional politics and rivalries.

Rather than outright decoupling, Saif Khan of the Georgetown University Center for Security and Emerging Technology argues the U.S. needs to take a variety of steps to improve its chip manufacturing capabilities and impose limits on China’s chip fab buildup, slow its chip design capabilities, and control access to advanced computer chips. Taking these steps would limit the development of China’s domestic semiconductor industry while still assuring U.S. access to vital chips.[31]

Thinking more broadly, it is hard to imagine supply chain progress outside of a more stable geopolitical relationship between the U.S. and China. Manufacturing and distribution do not take place in a vacuum but rather depend on negotiated agreements, common frames of references, and processes for managing conflict points. A Brookings Institution report by John Allen, Ryan Hass, and Bruce Jones argues for “a concept of persistent competition leavened with calibrated cooperation [that] holds the greatest promise of sustaining support at home and with allies and partners.”[32]

Specifically, they call for strategic competition, avoiding unrealistic expectations, making investments in crisis management, avoiding war, negotiating arms control agreements, and engaging in efforts that “inoculate critical global systems from debilitating U.S.-China competition.” They see climate change, pandemic control, and financial stability as areas of possible agreement. By building partnerships, engaging in diplomacy, and having realistic expectations about what is possible, they believe the two countries can maintain a fruitful relationship that can stabilize global trade, manufacturing, and distribution.


To summarize, the challenge of improving global supply chains is their multifaceted nature. There is not a single cause, which, if corrected, would address the situation but a series of difficult problems that interact in complex ways. For example, labor shortages linked to economic shocks and a continuing pandemic weaken production capabilities and impede resolution. A Washington Post story made that clear connection when it documented how “COVID shutdowns in China are delaying medical scans in the U.S.”[33] The reason is simple. When COVID-19 numbers increase, China closes factories that make medical equipment destined for America and therefore exacerbates supply chain obstacles.

The same logic applies throughout supply lines and illustrates why it is so challenging to address these matters. Resolution is going to require progress on many different fronts. There will need to be improvements on a variety of factors to make a difference in production, logistics, and distribution. Progress will not be easy or quick but can be made if there is a clear and comprehensive strategy to deal with the multiple challenges and complex interconnections.

How Are China’s Land-based Conventional Missile Forces Evolving?

Conventionally armed (non-nuclear) missiles have become an increasingly important component of military power. They can be employed to deter threats or project power hundreds or thousands of kilometers away. As part of sweeping efforts to modernize the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China has developed one of the most powerful land-based conventional missile arsenals in the world. China’s conventional missile forces have significantly reshaped the security landscape in the Indo-Pacific region, and the US and other regional actors are steadily adapting their own capabilities in response.

China’s Growing Conventional Missile Arsenal

China’s land-based conventional missile capabilities have developed significantly over the last several years. According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), China’s missile forces in 2000 “were generally of short range and modest accuracy.” In the years since then, China has developed the world’s “largest and most diverse” arsenal of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles.1

The U.S.-Japan Alliance and Taiwan

Adam P. Liff


In April 2021, Japan’s then prime minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. president Joe Biden made global headlines when they jointly “underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encouraged the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues”—the first such reference in a summit-level statement since 1969. This statement catalyzed a striking degree of public discussion in Japan and expressions of concern about cross-strait stability from Japanese leaders. It also elicited widespread, though often misleading or inaccurate, assertions overseas that Japan’s position vis-à-vis a “Taiwan contingency” had abruptly or radically transformed. Especially given the proximity of Japan (and U.S. military bases in Japan) to Taiwan, soberly appreciating the complexity and incremental evolution of Japan’s nuanced and intentionally ambiguous positions and policies, as well as its unique domestic constraints, is critical. Doing so is especially crucial for policymakers to accurately assess the status quo, manage expectations within and beyond the alliance, and ensure sound decision-making as the cross-strait deterrence challenge seems all but certain to deepen in the years ahead.

What Are the Weaknesses of the China-Russia Relationship?

Russia’s war in Ukraine has cast a spotlight on the China-Russia relationship. On February 4, 2022, just weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin met and issued a historic joint statement which stated their bilateral relationship has “no limits” and that “there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation” between them.

The two countries have indeed significantly strengthened their relationship in recent years. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin enjoy close working relations, which drives high-level cooperation. The two sides also cooperate based on shared threat perceptions that the United States and its allies seek to encircle and undermine them. Close military ties and complementary economic dynamics help cement their relationship.

Yet the China-Russia relationship is complex and comes with costs for both sides. Leaders in Beijing and Moscow appear to have assessed for now that the benefits outweigh the costs, but that calculus could change. In the sections that follow, this ChinaPower feature analyzes three key weaknesses of the relationship:Historical and structural factors engender strategic mistrust between Beijing and Moscow;