18 September 2022

Is China Changing How It Sees the World?

With tensions running high over the Taiwan Strait, and with Chinese President Xi Jinping poised to secure an unprecedented third term in office at the next Chinese Communist Party Congress later this fall, understanding how China sees itself and its role on the global stage has never been more important to managing Washington’s relationship with Beijing—and to avoiding a catastrophic military escalation. What is Xi’s vision for China, and what role does ideology play in his ambitions for the country? How has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shaped Beijing’s thinking on Taiwan? And what does Washington get wrong about China’s intentions to remake the world order?

Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister of Australia, is unique among China watchers: he speaks fluent Mandarin and has personally interacted with Chinese leaders at the highest level. And for years, he’s been closely tracking the internal politics of the CCP and relations between the United States and China. In his latest book, The Avoidable War, Rudd argues that conflict between the two superpowers does not have to be inevitable.

The Air Force Has A Plan To #Fixourcomputers and More


The Air Force’s chief information officer wants to do less spot-fixing of IT problems that pop up, and more to make networks, devices, and tools more reliable. And she knows that’s no easy lift.

“We have the best pilots in the world, we have incredible air platforms. But we haven't gotten to the level of discipline in the way that we provision services to say ‘the network will be up 99.9999% of the time and you know it will be there and you know that this is who you're holding accountable for that’,” Lauren Knausenberger, the Air Force’s chief information officer, said last month during an interview with Defense One sister GovExec TV, at the Department of the Air Force IT and Cyberpower conference.

Over the next half-decade, the Air Force wants to focus on core technologies, like cloud computing, that will comprise the “digital backbone” that the Air and Space Forces need “to improve both user experience [and] warfighter effectiveness,” according to the CIO’s recently released interim information-technology strategy.

Bioweapons Designed by AI: a ‘Very Near-Term Concern,’ Schmidt Says

Amanda Miller

Artificial intelligence could bring about “biological conflict,” said former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, who co-chaired the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.

Schmidt spoke with defense reporters Sept. 12 as he helped release a new paper from his tech-oriented nonprofit think tank, the Special Competitive Studies Project. Schmidt launched the think tank with staff from the commission in order to continue the commission’s work.

AI’s applicability to biological warfare is “something which we don’t talk about very much,” Schmidt said, but it poses grave risks. “It’s going to be possible for bad actors to take the large databases of how biology works and use it to generate things which hurt human beings,” Schmidt said, calling that risk “a very near-term concern.”

Schmidt cited viruses as one example: “The database of viruses can be expanded greatly by using AI techniques, which will generate new chemistry, which can generate new viruses.”

US Trails China in Key Tech Areas, New Report Warns


Imagine a future in which the most skilled U.S. tech workers can’t find jobs, authoritarian regimes exert more power than democratic governments, freedom of expression is replaced by open censorship, and no one believes the U.S. military can deter conflict. All this could happen if China surpasses the United States in key technology areas, according to a new report from the Special Competitive Studies Project, led by former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work and Google co-founder Eric Schmidt.

The 189-page report, released on Monday, looks at current and future technology competition between the United States and China—from microelectronics supply to tech talent retention to the effects of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence on tomorrow’s national security.

“In our judgment, China leads the United States in 5G, commercial drones, offensive hypersonic weapons, and lithium-battery production,” the report said, while the U.S. is ahead in biotech, quantum computing, cloud computing, commercial space technologies, and has a small lead in artificial intelligence.

Earth to DoD: The military needs more rockets, missiles, and bombs

Mackenzie Eaglen

Despite repeated assurances from Pentagon leaders that U.S. military munitions, ammo, missiles, bombs, and rocket stockpiles are adequate , Congress is rightly worried. Across the defense bills moving on Capitol Hill are more funds for each of these priorities — wherever industry could absorb the added dollars.

Congress’ triage is extremely helpful to meet the moment, but Pentagon planners must lock in long-term contracts to beef up all of these inventories for the medium term. Not just because of what the U.S. is sharing with Ukraine — but because of our own brittle stockpiles and industrial base.

Industry leaders have been clamoring since early spring to tell defense officials they need long-term contracts signed now to ramp up factories and workforces that were shuttered long ago.

Emerging Technologies Can Protect Democratic Freedoms

Keith Krach Kersti Kaljulaid

After the 9/11 terror attacks, lawmakers created a bipartisan commission to ensure that one of the darkest days in U.S. history would never be repeated.

Today, threats to the United States and our allies increasingly come from emerging technologies that can have devastating consequences if they are in the wrong hands. Quantum computing, next-generation drones, biomedical engineering, and other technologies can potentially improve the lives of millions of people—or empower dictators.

But unlike the 9/11 Commission, we shouldn’t have to wait for a crisis to start preparing ourselves for these threats.

New technologies are already reshaping our lives and how we communicate with people worldwide. Democratic nations must stay at the forefront of innovation, not catch up with adversaries.

ISKP Challenges Indian Interests in Afghanistan by Attacking Sikh Worshippers in Kabul

Riccardo Valle, Iftikhar Firdous

On June 18, the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) claimed an attack which targeted a Sikh Gurdwara in Karta-e-Parwan area of Kabul (Dawn, June 18). While ISKP stated there were 50 Sikh and Taliban casualties, two people were reported killed. The operation lasted for several hours and, according to Islamic State (IS)’s Amaq News Agency, one militant named Abu Muhammad al-Tajiki conducted an inghimasi (fighting until death) operation inside the Gurdwara while other supporting members ambushed a Taliban patrol outside it (Twitter/IftikharFirdous, June 19).

The statement released by IS noted that the attack was conducted in revenge for the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s national spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Muhammad. This statement triggered a backlash from Muslims generally and from jihadist organizations, who condemned the comments, including ISKP through its propaganda. By conducting this attack and spreading propaganda, ISKP is at the same time fulfilling two objectives: undermining the Taliban as a would-be state actor and demonstrating its capabilities as a jihadist competitor to the Taliban.

Make the Green Serve China: PRC Influence Operations Target International Environmentalism

Filip Jirouš


As the world embraces green initiatives on an unprecedented scale, so has the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — perhaps surprisingly — embraced the green movement, but has done so primarily to support its own political objectives. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has attempted to build an image as an environmentally responsible global player, a task made easier by former President Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from international climate change cooperation frameworks, and China has trumpeted its efforts to develop its renewable energy and green technologies sectors (Xinhuanet, September 22, 2020). In addition, however, in the spirit of “do not destroy, repurpose,” PRC influence agencies, as well as the Ministry of State Security (MSS, 国家安全部, Guojia Anquan Bu), the PRC’s main civilian intelligence agency, have been cultivating ties with the world’s largest green non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as government environmental officials from the West. [1] These efforts and NGO-regulations led to the current state when environmental foundations praise China and almost never criticize it, while the country remains one of the top world polluters. Thus, possibly with the best intentions, these institutions serve PRC’s propaganda and help legitimize the CCP in an area that had been Beijing’s weak point both domestically and internationally, while also giving funds to the PRC. [2]

In contrast, Greenpeace, which has no apparent institutional ties with PRC influence organs, continues to systematically criticize China’s environmental policies, strengthening the argument that such ties at least correlate with benevolence towards PRC green efforts (Greenpeace East Asia, July 13, 2016; Greenpeace, August 8, 2016; Greenpeace East Asia, January 18; Greenpeace East Asia, July 20).

The PLA’s Military Diplomacy in Advance of the 20th Party Congress

Kenneth Allen


As the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Chinese Communist Party (CCP) approaches its 20th Party Congress, which begins on October 16, General Secretary Xi Jinping is set to continue his run as core leader (People’s Daily, August 31). Throughout his tenure, Xi, who is also Chairman of the Party and State Central Military Commission (CMC) and PRC President, has prioritized military diplomacy as a key element of Chinese foreign policy. Consequently, since 2013, China's military diplomacy's frequency, intensity and scale has generally increased. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or limited some areas of engagement, under Xi, the overall trend of military diplomacy assuming a growing role in China’s international engagement is bound to persist.

This two-part article series provides updated information concerning the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) military diplomacy since the China Brief’ article “The PLA’s Military Diplomacy Under COVID-19” was published last June (China Brief, June 21, 2021). [1] This article examines potential forthcoming changes to PLA Leadership and their implications for the PRC’s military diplomacy; provides a general overview of key developments in Chinese military diplomacy since 2021; and catalogues senior-level visits abroad and hosted visits. The forthcoming second article in this series, examines specific areas of military diplomacy: bilateral and multilateral Joint Military Exercises, non-traditional Security Operations, and international Academic Exchanges and Cooperation. It also examines how military diplomacy is playing out in two regions: Africa and Latin America. [2]

Ukraine's Decentralized Command Puts Russia on the Defensive

Kris Osborn

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is well known for his ability to unite and inspire Ukrainians by directly defying Russian invaders from Kyiv. Yet Ukraine’s ability to stop, repel, and destroy attacking Russian forces could not be happening without substantial tactical proficiency.

“[D]espite being outgunned and outmanned, the Ukrainians have demonstrated superior tactical proficiency and they've demonstrated a superior will to fight, fight for their own country, fight for their freedom,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told an audience after a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany.

Ukraine has used U.S. and NATO-provided weaponry and innovative warfare tactics to achieve unexpected success.

Tactically, Ukrainians have applied the idea of decentralized command and control in several respects. Ukraine’s use of anti-armor weapons is perhaps the most visible element of this, as dispersed groups of dismounted fighters stage ambushes and hit-and-run attacks on incoming mechanized Russian forces. Without fighting in large formations or having every movement orchestrated from one central command hub, Ukrainian fighters leverage the element of surprise while making themselves smaller targets for Russian attackers.

Threat From Above: Drones Are Dropping Grenades on Russian Tanks

Kris Osborn

Enterprising Ukrainian soldiers are using modified World War II-era hand grenades dropped from mini-drones, an innovative tactic that is reportedly damaging and destroying advancing Russian armored vehicles.

Interestingly, the grenades themselves were originally made in the Soviet Union to use against German tanks toward the end of World War II.

“The Russians invented a hand grenade. It was a shaped hand grenade that you could throw at a tank. And if you hit it, you could knock a tank out. And that was a result of them not being able to knock out German tanks with the stuff they had,” Mike Mears, former director of human capital at the CIA, told The National Interest in an interview.

Mears explained that Soviet soldiers had to be close enough to the tank to throw the grenade which usually placed them in the line of fire. This tactical scenario, and the risk it involved, partly inspired the creation of the longer-range rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).

A Way Forward: How to Settle the Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis

Amin E. Aghjeh

Tensions have risen again in Nagorno-Karabakh. Despite finding a solution for an alternative to the Lachin corridor—the source of recent tensions—the main obstacle to settling the crisis and the future status of Karabakh remains unresolved. The proposals both sides are currently putting forward will not settle the issue.

The recent clashes come in the wake of several failed attempts to reach a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In March, Azerbaijan sent a five-point proposal to Armenia. The proposal included mutual recognition of each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, abstaining from threatening each other’s security, demarcation of the border, and unblocking transport links. What the proposal did not discuss was the status of Karabakh. Armenia’s response was a six-point proposal that stressed the necessity of addressing Karabakh’s future and the status of its Armenian population. “It is vital for the Armenian side that the rights and freedoms of the Armenians of Artsakh are clearly guaranteed, and the status of Nagorno-Karabakh is finally clarified. For us, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not a territorial issue, but a matter of rights,” Armenian foreign minister Ararat Mirzoyan said about the proposal.

Can the Air Force Shield Its New ICBM from Cyberattacks?

Kris Osborn

While senior military leaders and members of Congress cite a long list of reasons why the Pentagon needs to deliver the new Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by 2029, there is one especially concerning issue related to the continued use of the upgraded Minuteman III ICBM. Simply put, it could be hacked.

Pentagon officials don’t elaborate on the specifics related to technical threats, but many make the general point that the Minuteman III ICBM is simply insufficient to address the threat environment of the twenty-first century. For instance, Russian and Chinese hacking capabilities and the fast-evolving development of space weapons and jamming technologies might undermine the Minuteman III’s ability to stay on target.

A recently published RAND study, titled “Modernizing the U.S. Nuclear Triad: The Rationale for a New Intercontinental Ballistic Missile,” takes up this question and cites comments from Adm. Charles Richard, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, on potential adversaries’ cyber capabilities.

Fighting Blind: The Army Is Preparing to Battle Without GPS

Kris Osborn

The U.S. Army has spent years preparing to operate in a “GPS denied” environment, meaning a combat scenario in which GPS navigation and connectivity are jammed, interrupted, hacked, or disabled.

For years, many military planners have assumed that one of the first moves a great power adversary will likely attempt in war is to disable U.S. GPS systems. If GPS systems are destroyed, the U.S. military will lose navigation, targeting, and communications capabilities and the ability to operate unmanned systems programmed to follow GPS waypoints. To address this challenge, the Army has been working to identify alternative methods of establishing positioning navigation and timing (PNT) technologies.

How would the Army fight if it were blinded by a successful GPS jamming attack? One solution lies in the Mounted Assured Positioning Navigation Timing Systems (MAPS) program. The Army has awarded Collins Aerospace a $500 million deal to acquire MAPS systems in the coming years. While some of the technical specifics are not available for security reasons, an essay from the Army’s Program Executive Office, Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, Sensors (PEO IEWS) says the system introduces cutting-edge anti-jamming protections.

Next Generation Leadership for Special Operations Forces

Elizabeth Lee, Jonathan Schroden, Heather Wolters

Special operations forces (SOF) are at an inflection point. Operationally, they are rebalancing from an overwhelming focus on countering terrorist groups to a mix of that mission and others designed to support the military’s new emphasis on integrated deterrence of China. Generationally, SOF are now composed of a sizable fraction of millennials, and they are beginning to welcome members of Generation Z into their ranks. As popular narratives surrounding millennials make clear, younger generations of adults may have leadership styles and preferences that differ markedly from those that came before them. Given that SOF are a multigenerational force, we sought to understand how senior special operators think about leadership, what young adults want from their leaders, and how the qualities of military leadership may need to change to match the challenges of future battlefields. Ultimately, our study at the CNA Corporation is meant to help senior special operators better understand the needs of younger SOF and the strengths and weaknesses of different leadership styles across generations.

To understand if or how leadership styles may need to change to motivate younger generations of special operators, we conducted about 30 discussions with current and past senior SOF leaders and experts on special operations. These individuals ranged from colonels to four-star generals and admirals, as well as the civilian equivalents. We reviewed empirical and theoretical research, as well as popular narratives and informed opinions, about younger generations' characteristics, traits, and attitudes. And we reviewed writings by military strategists and futurists on projected requirements of military leadership on future battlefields. We then compared leadership traits identified as important to SOF, important to younger generations, and important to success on the future battlefield using a model known as the “paradoxical trinity of leadership.” In this model, leadership is considered through the combined lens of leaders, followers, and the context in which they interact.

Fresh Influx of Myanmar Nationals Into India’s Mizoram State

Rajeev Bhattacharyya

The Indian government and civil society organizations are engaged in hectic efforts in the border state of Mizoram to rehabilitate refugees who have crossed over from Myanmar following a recent eruption of violent conflict between government troops and a rebel outfit.

As many as 589 refugees, including women and children landed at the border district of Lawngtlai in Mizoram, deputy commissioner Amol Srivastava told The Diplomat. “Efforts are on to provide them with assistance and rehabilitate them at different locations,” he said.

The influx from Myanmar’s Chin State to Lawngtlai, located 280 kilometers south of Mizoram’s capital Aizawl, began in batches early this month after armed clashes broke out between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army.

A local resident in Lawngtlai engaged in assisting the refugees claimed that most residents from the villages of Varang and Mretwa near Myanmar’s international border with India have landed in Mizoram after their villages were shelled by the Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is also known.

Okinawa Reelects Governor Opposing Heavy US Troop Presence

Mari Yamaguchi

Okinawa’s incumbent governor, who opposes an ongoing U.S. Marine base relocation forced by Japan’s central government and has called for a further reduction of American troops on the southern island, secured his reelection on Sunday despite concerns of escalating tensions between China and nearby Taiwan.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki and his supporters declared his victory and celebrated with the chants of “banzai” soon after the exit poll results showed he beat two contenders — Sakima Atsushi, backed by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio ‘s governing bloc and supports its base relocation plan, and another opposition-backed candidate, Shimoji Mikio.

Tamaki, who is backed by opposition parties, won 339,767 votes, or about 51 percent of the effective votes, over Sakima’s 274,844 votes and Shimoji’s 53,677, according to the final results released Monday by the Okinawa prefecture. Polls were held Sunday before his first four-year term is to end later this month.

India and Japan Hold 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

India-Japan relations have grown from strength to strength in the last decade, with significant personal drive and commitment from the top leadership in both Tokyo and New Delhi. The two countries held their 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Tokyo on September 8, for which both India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh traveled to Japan. Late Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was a driving force in nurturing the India-Japan relationship, but it appears that relationship is set to continue with the same vigor under Prime Minister Kishida Fumio as well. The 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue reflects the commitment from both sides to keep up the momentum in the India-Japan relationship. The rapidly changing nature of threats in the Indo-Pacific, including the strategic consequences of China’s rise, are added imperatives to further this momentum.

In his opening remarks to the bilateral 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, Jaishankar reiterated the importance of the meeting, saying that it reflected India’s “commitment towards deepening our bilateral security and defense cooperation and also demonstrating the strength of our Special Strategic and Global Partnership.” He added that the relationship, “rooted in our shared values of democracy, freedom, and respect for rule of law,” is ever more important in the context of “very serious developments” that demand “common solutions through the path of dialogue and diplomacy.”

Europe Needs a Stable Russian-German Relationship

Artin DerSimonian

Twice in the twentieth century conflicting interests, alliances, and entanglements between Russia and Germany brought about a world war. Today, Europe once again finds itself in a precarious position. In the short term, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has consolidated the transatlantic partnership by supplying military aid to Kyiv and imposing sanctions on Moscow, while giving new life to the European Union (EU) as it begins to reorient to a rapidly changing international system. However, as the Russo-Ukrainian War progresses, it is questionable how long Europeans can unconditionally support Ukraine amidst expanding domestic challenges. Alongside this transnational reorientation, the revolutionary reforms proposed by German chancellor Olaf Scholz to change Berlin’s security and defense spending policies have received significant attention.

The Europe that emerged after the Cold War is now a relic of the past. What will take its place will weigh heavily upon global affairs for decades to come. The potential for the continent to drift towards heightened military spending, increased armaments, and a fractured security environment akin to the decades preceding World War I should prompt a dramatic reassessment. In this environment, “managed competition” in Europe might be the most desired outcome if an equitable peace settlement should fail to take shape in Ukraine, granted it is ever genuinely pursued. For such a system to be successful, the relationship between Germany and Russia will be the most important. Their shared history provides some important lessons.

Sorting Through the Noise: The Evolving Nature of the Fog of War

Dennis Murphy

In June 2021, an automated identification system tracked two NATO ships close to Russian-occupied territory. Such a system is designed to track and monitor the location of ships while at sea. The usefulness of such a tool is intuitively obvious to anyone who wishes to engage in platform-heavy domains of conflict, or to intuit the strategic and operational inclinations of adversaries. There was only one problem: their location was falsified.[1] This was not the first time and will certainly not be the last. In July, Mark Harris warned that phantom ships are rapidly becoming the “latest weapons in the global information war.”[2]

Misinformation in naval warfare, or military statecraft more broadly, is far from new. Leading one’s adversaries into thinking you possess a greater number of vessels, or that the bulk of your forces are deployed to a different location, was standard practice in pre-modern naval campaigns. Though satellite tracking has largely made surface vessels' location transparent, submarines continue the tradition of stealth. Under the sea, the fog of war remains as prevalent today as it ever was.

Unfortunately, a troubling mindset exists, all too common among modern practitioners of strategy and operations. This pedagogy is increasingly incompatible with the fog of war. In this mindset, the idealization of the future of warfare is one where command and control is increasingly centralized, local commanders have near total battlespace awareness, and all-knowing algorithms will enable the near erasure of the fog of war. From the grand strategic to the tactical, all decisions will be informed by near-total domain awareness.

Taiwan Anticipated Many of the Lessons of the War in Ukraine

Julian Spencer-Churchill & Liu Zongzo

Recent Taiwanese military exercises indicate that Taipei has anticipated many of the most important lessons of the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, and has also been addressing issues more specific to its precarious security situation. U.S. Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley advised the ROC to assimilate promptly the insights from the Ukraine War. These lessons include the importance of strategic political intelligence to avert a surprise attack, surveillance by Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV), and their principal counter-measures including electronic warfare and local air defense; the persisting importance of combined arms warfare, the use of precision artillery, and the exploitation of built-up terrain with light troops equipped with anti-tank systems; logistics; and the economic, social and political preparation for a long war.

In recent months, Taiwan has become concerned about the threat value of the people’s Republic of China’s (PRC) People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF)’s top to bottom modernization that has given Beijing the ability to conduct limited anti-access and air denial (A2/AD) operations in the South China Sea, and with the potential to create a regional blockade around the island. Recent exercises around Taiwan show that the PLA is forging ahead with an emphasis on network-centric warfare and information operations to coordinate the PLA units of its different elements, in particular between its naval platforms and aircraft.

The Leopard plan: How European tanks can help Ukraine take back its territory

Gustav Gressel, Rafael Loss and Jana Puglierin 

Six months since Russia’s war in Ukraine started, the defenders have shown mastery of Western-supplied weapon systems. Yet, with dwindling stocks of armoured vehicles, Ukraine’s army has been unable to wage manoeuvre warfare and exploit the holes their artillery is punching in Russia’s occupation force. So far Western governments have refused to supply Ukraine with Western-designed tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). But things are changing – and a new plan from Berlin would win favour either side of the Atlantic.

During the first weeks of the invasion, the West supplied Ukraine with shoulder-mounted anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons in the tens of thousands. These helped to arrest and then roll back Russia’s advance on Kyiv. By May, Russia was engaged in an attrition campaign in Donbas, making use of its superior numbers of artillery and an abundance of ammunition. Ukraine faced severe ammunition shortages. The battle for Kyiv used up much of its stocks, and a concentrated Russian missile campaign had destroyed most of Ukraine’s defence industry. Where Ukraine once was self-reliant in the armament sector, it now heavily depends on support from the West.

Are We Missing A Crucial Component Of Sea-Level Rise?

Recent efforts using computational modeling to understand how melting ice in Antarctica will impact the planet’s oceans have focused on ice-sheet geometry, fracture, and surface melting – processes that could potentially trigger or accelerate ice-sheet mass loss. Now, researchers have identified an additional process that could have a similarly significant effect on the ice sheet’s future: thawing of the bed, known as basal thaw, at the interface of the land and the miles-thick ice sheet above it.

The new study identifies areas that are not currently losing large amounts of mass but could be poised to match some of the largest contributors to sea-level rise – such as Thwaites Glacier – if they thawed. Antarctica is roughly the size of the United States, and the susceptible regions comprise an area greater than California. The research was published in Nature Communications.

The simulations were built on recent theoretical work showing that basal thaw could occur over short time scales. Using numerical ice sheet models, the study co-authors tested hypotheses about whether the onset of such thaw could lead to significant ice loss within a 100-year period. They found that triggering thaw led to mass loss in regions of the ice sheet that are not usually associated with instability and sea-level contributions at that time scale.

What Does Xi Jinping’s Visit Tell Us About China’s Relationship with Central Asia?

Brian Wong and Iskander Akylbayev

On September 14, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Nur-Sultan (the once and future Astana) on a state visit to Kazakhstan. It was Xi’s first overseas trip since the outbreak of COVID-19 in January 2020. This was swiftly followed by Xi travelling to Samarkand, Uzbekistan, for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit – a gathering of a regional bloc increasingly defined by a triangle of China-India-Russia.

The visit comes amid a setback to the Russian military efforts in Ukraine – with the Russian retreat in Kharkiv viewed by some as a turning point, and by others as logical point of continuity in the ongoing frozen conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Yet for all the talk about Sino-Russian relations and the implication of the SCO meeting, what remains neglected in mainstream discourse is the role played by Central Asia – itself a heterogeneous region of competing countries, forces, and interests – in the grand plans of Chinese foreign policy.

The Strategy Against Russia Is Working and Must Continue


BRUSSELS – Russia’s war against Ukraine has entered a new phase. The Ukrainian army is making spectacular advances, liberating many towns and villages, and forcing Russian forces to retreat. While it remains to be seen how far the Ukrainian counteroffensive will go, it is already clear that the strategic balance on the ground is shifting.

Meanwhile, the European Union has fully mobilized to confront the energy crisis. We have filled our gas storage facilities to above 80% – well ahead of the November 1 target date – and agreed to clear targets to reduce gas consumption through the winter. To help vulnerable consumers and businesses manage price surges, we are moving forward with proposals such as a windfall tax on energy companies that have made excess profits.

Moreover, in coordination with the G7 and other likeminded partners, we are discussing plans to cap the price of Russian oil exports. And we are helping our partners in the Global South to handle the fallout from Russia’s brutal aggression and cynical weaponization of energy and food.