10 October 2022

China has no clear road map for Taiwan unification: U.S. experts


TOKYO -- Leading U.S. experts broadly believe China does not have a coherent internal strategy and road map to achieve peaceful unification with Taiwan, according to a new survey by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Washington-based think tank conducted a poll of 64 leading analysts to gauge their views on China's game plan shortly after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan that triggered unprecedented Chinese military exercises around the island.

An overwhelming majority said Beijing is willing to wait for unification -- but not forever. The experts were divided on the internal "deadline" that Beijing may have to solve the Taiwan issue -- anywhere between 2027, 2049 and 2072.

The findings show that U.S. experts do not believe Beijing is preparing for immediate action on Taiwan -- perhaps in contrast to how the Taiwan crisis has been portrayed in the media or at think tank seminars.

Space, the unseen frontier in the war in Ukraine

Jonathan Beale

In an interview with the BBC, the head of the US Space Force, General Jay Raymond, describes it as the "first war where commercial space capabilities have really played a significant role". It's also the first major conflict in which both sides have become so reliant on space.

Gen Raymond - whose service is the newest branch of the US armed forces - avoids giving precise details of how the US and its allies have been helping Ukraine.

But he gives a clear indication of what it's been doing. "We use space to help strike with precision, we use space to provide warnings of missiles, of any threat that could come to the United States or to our allies or partners," he says.

There are already more than 5,000 satellites in space - most are operated for commercial purposes.

But among them are hundreds of dedicated military satellites - the US, Russia and China having the largest number.

Ukraine has none. But it has received significant help from the West in a number of ways.


Image caption,
ISR satellites have also been essential for "telling the truth" about the war - like the massacre in Bucha, near Ukraine's capital Kyiv

The first is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance - or ISR.

Ukraine has had access to unprecedented amounts of commercial satellite imagery.

At a recent conference, the director of the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency said it had more than doubled the commercial imagery available over Ukraine in the run-up to the war.

Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, who heads the UK's Space Command, says that along with commercial and civilian ISR provided to Ukraine "there's an awful lot of nations with military capabilities in space - they're looking at Ukraine as well".

Space ISR helped identify the initial build-up of Russian forces before the invasion on 24 February and the movement of troops and military hardware ever since. Satellites have been used to track Russian warships in the Black Sea, including the cruiser Moskva which was sunk by Ukraine.

Early warning radar - like the giant one at RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire - have also been able to track the launch of ballistic missiles.

Air Vice-Marshal Godfrey says ISR satellites have also been essential for "telling the truth" about the war.

He gives the example of the massacre in Bucha, near Ukraine's capital Kyiv. He says Russian claims that the bodies of dead civilians were already on the streets when they arrived were contradicted by time-stamped satellite imagery showing otherwise.

Media organisations, including the BBC, have also had unprecedented access to commercial satellite imagery - which can be used to corroborate claims on the ground. That includes identifying mass graves or Ukraine's recent attack on a Russian airbase in Crimea, a southern Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

Early warning radar have also been able to track the launch of ballistic missiles.

And recently Ukrainian volunteers have fundraised enough money to buy an entire satellite to help the country's military in detecting Russian targets.

The Sar (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite of the Finnish company ICEYE has proved to be extremely effective - in just the first two days of its usage the Russian military damages exceeded $16m - more that the cost of the satellite purchase, Ukrainian officials say.


Elon Musk has sent thousands of Starlink internet kits - like this one in the southern Odesa - to Ukraine

Space has also been crucial to communications throughout the war.

At the start of the war Russia conducted a series of military strikes and cyber-attacks to take out Ukraine's key communication nodes.

Air Vice-Marshal Godfrey credits Elon Musk with "essentially getting the internet back up and running in Ukraine" - helped by an appeal on Twitter by the Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov.

Elon Musk has sent thousands of Starlink internet kits to Ukraine giving access to SpaceX's constellation of satellites in orbit.

They've been essential to providing Ukraine's military with secure communications and situational awareness throughout the war. I've seen them being used from Ukrainian command bunkers in the country's eastern Donbas region.


Ukraine has been highly successful in targeting key Russian targets by high-precision HIMARS rockets

Both Russia, and more recently Ukraine, have been relying on space-based positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) to conduct precision strikes on key targets, with Russia's cruise missiles using its own Glonass positioning satellites to find their targets.

For Ukraine, the addition of US-supplied precision weapons to its arsenal have been key to its recent advances.

Himars rockets - which have a range of up to 50 miles (80km) and are guided by GPS - have been used to destroy key targets, such as ammunition dumps and command centres well behind the frontline.

More recently, the US has supplied Ukraine with GPS guided Excalibur artillery shells - more accurate than so-called dumb ammunition. Precision has made a difference.


The increasing reliance on space raises concerns that conflict could spread beyond land, sea and air.

Russia and China have both conducted tests to destroy their own satellites, and Admiral Tony Radakin, the UK's Chief of the Defence Staff, has recently warned that Russia could carry out attacks on Western targets in space.

Gen Raymond says "there's a full spectrum of threats we're concerned about". He lists GPS and communications jamming, direct energy weapons like lasers, or missiles fired from the ground which could be used to target satellites.

He says the US and its allies want to make sure that there's always safe and responsible behaviour in space - but adds "what worries me is not everybody shares that view".

Why China’s leadership must respond to the country’s property crisis

Jeremy Mark

As China’s Communist Party leaders gather on October 16 for their Twentieth Congress, one of the biggest policy challenges looming over the meeting will be the country’s rapidly metastasizing property downturn that threatens to engulf heavily indebted developers, homeowners, financial institutions, and local governments.

So far, party leaders have appeared hesitant to respond to the crisis with the kind of powerful financial resources that the central government has at its disposal to avoid a meltdown. Instead, they have adopted what one economist calls a “whack-a-mole” strategy of piecemeal bailouts. It’s unclear whether they’ll even tackle the issue head-on at the party congress, which is expected to focus on solidifying Xi’s rule with a third five-year term. Such an outcome would symbolize the victory of party politics over actual problem-solving.

The announcement of the congress trumpeted the concept of “Common Prosperity,” a long-forgotten Maoist nostrum that has been used to justify policies ranging from restraining “the disorderly expansion of capital” to cracking down on China’s high-tech titans. The party’s official view of home ownership, as viewed through this prism, is that “houses are for living in, not for speculation,” an idea that Xi voiced at the last congress in 2017. Property speculation is a major reason housing prices rose almost without pause from the 1990s until last year. By one estimate, only 20 percent of home purchases in 2018 were by people buying their first home; a decade earlier, 70 percent of buyers were first-timers.

Biden Administration's Nuke Deal: Ensuring Russian and Iranian Terrorist Hegemony Over the Whole Arab World

Khaled Abu Toameh

US President Joe Biden and his administration have, it appears, decided to sacrifice not only the brave people of Iran now risking their lives in a bid for decent governance, but also the Arabs. This betrayal of longtime allies is taking place, it seems, to appease Russia, ever eager to keep the price of oil at a premium, and its new close ally, Iran.

Russia has been the chief negotiator for the US in the "Iranian nuclear deal" talks; the Americans are not even allowed in the room.

By dropping the two demands [curbing Iranian-backed terrorism in the region and Iran's ballistic missile program], "Biden has practically decided to acquiesce in Iran and its entire terrorist expansion project in the Arab region.... This is a dangerous development. The issue is not whether the agreement is signed or not.... The matter is not limited to these concessions made by Biden; there is something more dangerous than this: Biden has completely abandoned the Arabs, allies and non-allies alike." — Sayed Zahra, deputy editor of the Gulf's Akhbar Al-Khaleej newspaper, August 20, 2022.

"The collapse of this [expansionist] project means the collapse of the regime, similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union." — Lebanese journalist Kheirallah Kheirallah.

Responsible Space Behavior for the New Space Era

Bruce McClintock, Katie Feistel, Douglas C. Ligor, Kathryn O'Connor

Humans have explored and exploited near-earth space for more than six decades. More recently, the past two decades have seen the start of a New Space Era, characterized by more spacefaring nations and companies and a growing risk of collisions and conflict. Yet the basic treaties and mechanisms that were crafted 50 years ago to govern space activities have only marginally changed.

The calls for more progress on space governance and responsible space behavior are growing louder and coming from a larger group. To help address the gap between current space governance and future needs, the authors of this Perspective summarize the development of space governance and key problem areas, identify challenges and barriers to further progress, and, most importantly, offer recommended first steps on a trajectory toward responsible space behavior norms appropriate for the New Space Era. The authors used a review of relevant literature and official documents, expert workshops, and subject-matter expert interviews and discussions to identify these challenges, barriers, and potential solutions.

A Path to Net Zero

Kyungjin Boo, Sang Keon Lee, June Park, and James E. Platte

This NBR report explores how U.S.-ROK cooperation can position both countries to achieve their net-zero goals by 2050 and charts a future path for this long-standing partnership in a new era of climate action. The report focuses on the hydrogen economy, nuclear power, eco-friendly smart cities, and electric vehicles.

US troops should be withdrawn from Saudi Arabia, UAE in wake of OPEC decision to slash oil production, Democratic lawmakers say


WASHINGTON — Three Democrats are calling for the removal of U.S. troops and defense systems from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates following a decision by the energy cartel OPEC to drastically cut oil production.

The move by the group on Wednesday to raise prices drew ire from some lawmakers who said oil production needs to increase to lower gas prices and replace Russian exports of crude blocked by sanctions.

Reps. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., Sean Casten, D-Ill., and Susan Wild, D-Pa., swiftly introduced legislation in response, seeking to withdraw U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two of OPEC’s 15 member countries and longtime strategic partners of the United States.

Putin Is Not Backing Down. He's Pivoting—to a New, Dreadful Kind of Warfare


Those who think that Russia has lost the war in Ukraine given Ukraine's recent military victories need to think again. They don't understand Putin's mindset, his high-risk tolerance, and his willingness to fight and create mayhem to win a high stakes battle. The overwhelming advantage Ukraine is now enjoying, fueled by the U.S., which has supplied superior training and top-of-the-line military hardware, will result in Russia turning to a new strategy.

Energy has always been Putin's best weapon, and OPEC+ just handed Russia a massive win by announcing the biggest oil supply cut since 2020 amid soaring inflation in Eurozone and the U.S. If oil hits $100 a barrel—a real possibility now—Russia will make $1 billion a day, according to United Refining Company CEO John Catsimatidis. This will continue financing Putin's war machine and enable him to deploy his energy weapon against Europe, as winter is approaching fast.

All of which is to say, Putin is not backing down. He is recalibrating. When hounded, Putin's MO is to fight back to get out of his corner. "If you want to win, then you have to fight to the finish in every fight, as if it was the last and decisive battle," Putin once said. "You need to assume that there is no retreat." That's how Putin has always fought, and it's been his strategy since the beginning of this conflict.

Biden’s ‘Armageddon’ talk edges beyond bounds of US intel


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s warning that the world is at risk of a nuclear “Armageddon” was designed to send an unvarnished message that no one should underestimate the extraordinary danger if Russia deploys tactical nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine, administration officials said Friday.

The president’s grim assessment, delivered during a Democratic fundraiser on Thursday night, rippled around the globe and appeared to edge beyond the boundaries of current U.S. intelligence assessments. U.S. security officials continue to say they have no evidence that Vladimir Putin has imminent plans for a nuclear strike.

Biden veered into talk about Ukraine at the end of his standard fundraising remarks, saying that Putin was “not joking when he talks about the use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons.”

How Far Will Xi Go to Help a Desperate Putin?

Craig Singleton

Anyone who has been in a relationship knows there are good days and not so good days. While trust and respect are the bedrock of healthy partnerships, transactional and even toxic relationships have proven, time and again, to be just as durable. Sometimes more so. That is why Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s marriage of convenience will endure, not despite Russia’s recent battlefield setbacks, but because of them.

To be fair, Xi appears to be concerned about Putin’s accumulating losses in Ukraine. Chinese observers, like their Western counterparts, probably expected the war to last weeks, not months. Even fewer could have predicted Kyiv would mount successful counteroffensives striking deep into Russian-held territory. But these developments aside, Xi is unlikely to turn on Putin, even as Russia resorts to nuclear saber-rattling and sham referendums that challenge Beijing’s long-held anti-secessionist stance.

A Tactical Russian Nuke Wouldn’t Confer Much Battlefield Advantage, Experts Say


As Russian officials up their nuclear saber-rattling and the Pentagon games out what might happen if Russia were to use one of its 2,000 or so lower-yield nuclear weapons, experts caution that even a relatively small nuclear blast would have far-reaching political and environmental effects. But it would not help Russia win the war.

You might be used to thinking about nuclear weapons in terms of the civilization-destroying half-megaton-class warheads atop intercontinental ballistic missiles. But both the United States and the Soviet Union had a number of smaller nuclear weapons in the one- to 50-kiloton range throughout the Cold War. These are sometimes referred to as “tactical” nuclear weapons, which technically refers to the delivery system but also speaks to their likely use as part of a conventional conflict rather than to deter one. U.S. inventories of these peaked in 1967 and fell afterward, especially when the Cold War ended.

Russia chose a different path, according to this 2017 Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab paper. “Recognizing that nuclear weapons were the only affordable means to offset the superior conventional weaponry of NATO, Russia continued to invest in a robust research and development program focused on low-yield nuclear weapons,” its authors wrote.

Russia’s Cyber Attacks in Ukraine is Less About Testing New Attacks and All About Regime Survival

Emilio Iasiello

A recent article in Newsweek suggested that Russia is using the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as a test bed for new cyber weaponry and tactics to ultimately be used against NATO. Per one Ukrainian security official, Ukraine has been on the receiving end of at least eight years’ worth of cyber attacks that have ranged from disruption to destruction, depending on the type of attack. Perhaps the most notable of these assualts impacting Ukraine include the 2017 NotPetya ransomware attack that seemed more focused on destroying information systems and the information resident on them than collecting extortion, and the 2007 BlackEnergy attacks that used malware to facilitate distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, cyber espionage, and information destruction. These were noteworthy at the time for the aggressiveness of the attacks, as well as their targets, many of which were critical infrastructure entities.

Leading up to and during its invasion of Ukraine, Russian cyber attacks have been well documented and tracked and have included standard offensives such as DDoS, malware, and phishing to impact their targets. Indeed, according to the article, throughout the conflict, DDoS activity has increased 200 percent, malware attacks were up by 400 percent, and phishing attacks continued to rise by 300 percent. Certainly, the volume and frequency of digital offensives have coincided with the more kinetic and conventional Russian military offensives against Ukraine, mimicking the reality occurring on the ground. There has been constant bombardment but no decisive maneuver or execution of an attack that has been instrumental in gaining an insurmountable advantage.

How the US can focus its fight against foreign influence operations

Jennifer A. Counter

Intelligence is all about decisions: How to allocate limited personnel and technological resources when national security is at stake, and how to convey complex information and resulting assessments to policymakers for awareness and action. The decisions are seemingly endless but are vital to producing the best analysis for key officials on topics that have the greatest impact on national security.

The United States has a massive intelligence ecosystem that gathers more information on more issues than any other country in the world. The true value of this vast amount of information lies in how it is curated, analyzed, and presented to policymakers. To aid in this vital process, the US government has a guide—the National Intelligence Priorities Framework (NIPF)—to identify intelligence priorities and assist agencies and departments with where to focus their efforts.

During the Cold War, the NIPF focused on political, economic, and proliferation issues related to the Soviet Union and its allies, from the performance of the Soviet economy to details about new fighter jets being developed by Moscow and deployed to other countries. In a post-September 11 world, the fight against terrorism took center stage, with an emphasis on determining where the next attack against the United States or its allies could come from as well as gleaning the goals of various organizations and locations of their leaders.

Zelenskyy is pushing for fast-track NATO membership. Does Ukraine have a fighting chance to join the club?

Shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pomp-filled ceremony in a gilded Kremlin hall to mark the illegal annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory, his counterpart in Kyiv responded with his own bold gamble: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that his country would apply for fast-track membership to NATO.

Prior to Putin’s brazen invasion of Ukraine on February 24, that prospect was thought to be off the table. But now that Ukrainian forces have proven themselves capable of beating back Russian troops, could the Alliance come around?

We asked the Atlantic Council’s NATO watchers to weigh in on whether Kyiv could join the military club.

From what we’ve seen in recent months, does Ukraine have what it takes to join the Alliance?

Experts react: How the OPEC+ oil-production cuts will shake up geopolitics and energy security

On Wednesday, the oil-producing cartel OPEC+, a group that includes Persian Gulf countries and Russia, agreed to reduce production by two million barrels per day in order to keep prices high amid concerns about a recession. The news sparked a strong backlash from the United States—particularly after US President Joe Biden had visited Saudi Arabia this summer in an effort to repair ties—with reports indicating that the Biden administration may be rethinking its engagement with oil-producing Venezuela. (The White House quickly denied any policy change toward Caracas.)

How will OPEC+’s move shake the global energy market, as well as US diplomatic interests from the Middle East to Latin America? What’s the impact for Russia amid its war in Ukraine? Experts from across the Atlantic Council are weighing in. This post will be updated as more reactions arrive and new developments unfold.

US-Saudi divisions are real; US-Venezuelan rapprochement may not be

It’s been a busy week for energy and economic statecraft issues. The OPEC+ decision to cut production by up to two million barrels per day was seen by many observers as siding with Russia at the expense of the United States and its Western allies. It is no secret that Saudi Arabia was the primary driver of this cut, which Russia supported, and that Riyadh has had a difficult relationship with the Biden administration despite Biden’s recent visit to the kingdom.

The potential impact of gas supply disruptions in Europe: An update

Gabriel Di Bella, Mark Flanagan, Karim Foda

Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, Europe has been in a race to secure new natural gas supplies as it faces a partial shut-off of gas exports from Russia, historically its largest energy supplier. Russian pipeline gas exports have fallen incrementally over the past months and with the indefinite suspension of Russian gas flows through Nord Stream I. As of September, Russian flows now stand at 15% of 2019 average levels (Figure 1). This has led to sky-rocketing European wholesale natural gas prices which peaked at over ten times their historical average in August 2022.

Figure 1 Russian pipeline gas supplies to EU by route

(Million cubic metres per day)

Russia’s Small Nuclear Arms: A Risky Option for Putin and Ukraine Alike

David E. Sanger and William J. Broad

WASHINGTON — For all his threats to fire tactical nuclear arms at Ukrainian targets, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is now discovering what the United States itself concluded years ago, American officials suspect: Small nuclear weapons are hard to use, harder to control and a far better weapon of terror and intimidation than a weapon of war.

Analysts inside and outside the government who have tried to game out Mr. Putin’s threats have come to doubt how useful such arms — delivered in an artillery shell or thrown in the back of a truck — would be in advancing his objectives.

The primary utility, many U.S. officials say, would be as part of a last-ditch effort by Mr. Putin to halt the Ukrainian counteroffensive, by threatening to make parts of Ukraine uninhabitable. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe some of the most sensitive discussions inside the administration.

Japan has the lowest inflation of all major economies but will continue feeling the pressure. Here's why

Naoko Kutty

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) has decided to stick to its monetary easing policy amid accelerating global inflation growth. Inflation in Japan is the lowest among major economies, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rising 2.8% in August, compared to 8.3% in the US and 9.1% in the EU. Even so, infrastructure costs, such as electricity and gas rates, have increased by more than 20%, and food prices have risen by around 10%. This has come as a big shock to the public in Japan, as the country has not experienced price hikes for decades.

There is now a widening interest rate gap between Japan and the West. The leading cause is the difference in monetary policy stance between BOJ, which continues to pursue large-scale monetary easing, and Western central banks, which are rushing to tighten monetary policy to curb record inflation. BOJ is now the only major central bank in the world with a negative interest rate policy, and it has stated that it will not raise interest rates for the time being.

Army Climate Plan Relies on Technology That Doesn’t Exist Yet


The Defense Department could “build a fortress” with all of the reports it has released making statements on climate change without actually implementing anything, Army climate expert Sharon Burke said Thursday. The Army’s Climate Strategy Implementation Plan, released this week, aims to change that.

The implementation plan complements the service’s climate strategy plan, released in February, that called for electric vehicles, microgrids, and more. But it contained no cost estimates, either for the individual programs or the effort as a whole. (“The funding is going to be a moving target,” Paul Farnan, the Army’s principal deputy assistant secretary for installations, energy, and environment, said in February. “This is a strategy that lays out steps…a lot in the coming decade, and even some beyond the next decade.”)

Now, the implementation plan seems to have all the bells and whistles—like a budget. It lays out three lines of effort: installations, acquisition and logistics, and training. Almost half of its pages are made up of a detailed list of goals with deadlines reaching well into the future.

It even includes an appendix of itemized estimated expenses. For example, preparing installations to use less energy and stand up to extreme weather will cost the Army a total of $5.2 billion through fiscal year 2027. The strategy’s acquisition and logistics line of effort is estimated to cost $1.6 billion. Training comes to a budget-friendly $1 million.

What the implementation plan lacks, however, is the technology to carry it out—because that technology does not exist.

“Many of the objectives in the strategy reach out into the 2030s, 2040s, some even all the way up to 2050. Because the long-term goals we have to accomplish…we don’t know how we’re going to accomplish them yet. The technology is going to continue to evolve,” Farnan said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event.

The climate implementation plan includes some familiar ideas, like microgrids and electric vehicles. But exactly how the Army will electrify all its vehicles, especially the heavy-duty ones, is unknown.

“The honest answer is: I don’t know,” Farnan said. “And that’s why the goal is up to 2050. Because we don’t know how we’re going to get there yet. The technology is not there to give us full electrification of tactical vehicles.”

“I don’t know how we’re going to do battlefield charging yet. Nobody knows that,” Farnan said.

But the implementation strategy released this week is meant to allow the space, time, and funding to come up with those answers.

“It’s setting the foundation for these longer-term goals. And this is going to be an iterative process,” Farnan said.

The Air Force rolled out its own Climate Action Plan this week.

How do we know when cyber defenses are working?

Josephine Wolff

When Russian forces invaded Ukraine earlier this year, many observers believed that the conflict would be marked by overwhelming use of the Kremlin’s cyberweapons. Possessing a technically sophisticated cadre of hackers and toolkits to attack digital infrastructure, the Kremlin, according to this line of thinking, would deploy these weapons in an effort to cripple the Ukrainian government and deliver a decisive advantage on the battlefield. The actual experience of cyberwar in Ukraine has been far more mixed: While Russia has used its cyber capabilities, these digital forays have been far less successful or aggressive than many observers had predicted at the outset of the war.

So why has Russia failed to win on the digital battlefield? In recent weeks, Ukrainian and U.S. government officials and the Western tech companies that have rushed to support Ukraine’s digital defenses have argued that Russia’s failure is due in no small part to the sophistication of Kiev’s defenses. But evaluating that claim is immensely difficult and illustrates a fundamental problem for the current state of cybersecurity research and policy. As it stands, there is no playbook for measuring the effectiveness of cyber defense efforts or conveying to the public when they are working. And this makes it difficult to draw conclusions from the war in Ukraine to inform our future defensive posture. Assessing the effectiveness of cyber defenses is a crucially important part of developing cybersecurity policy and making decisions about where and how to invest in computer networks and infrastructure. But in the absence of good defensive metrics, calibrating these investments remains difficult.

Treasury Zeroes in on Crypto as a Threat to Financial Stability

Ethen Kim Lieser

In a report released on Monday, the Treasury Department’s Financial Stability Oversight Council sounded the alarm that unregulated cryptocurrencies could pose major risks to the U.S. financial system, CNBC reported.

The council pinpointed digital or cryptocurrency assets like stablecoins, as well as lending and borrowing on the industry’s trading platforms, as an “important emerging vulnerability.”

“This report provides a strong foundation for policymakers as we work to mitigate the financial stability risks of digital assets while realizing the potential benefits of innovation,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

“The report concludes that crypto-asset activities could pose risks to the stability of the U.S. financial system and emphasizes the importance of appropriate regulation, including enforcement of existing laws. It is vital that government stakeholders collectively work to make progress on these recommendations,” she continued.

Renewed Sectarian Tensions Risk Radicalizing Crisis-hit Pakistan

Liam Gibson

This year has seen Pakistan racked by political upheaval, a fiscal crisis, and the worst flooding in its history. There is a real risk of state failure and collapse of law and order analogous to the scenes of chaos that gripped Sri Lanka. Amid the current systemic shocks of the moment, a troubling longer-term trend is emerging that must not be ignored: renewed sectarian extremism.

A new report from the Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group warns that new extremist undercurrents in the country are paving the way for soaring sectarian violence ahead. A fast-growing local chapter of the Islamic State and a new hardline group from the historically moderate Barelvi sub-sect have the potential to destabilize crisis-hit Pakistan further.

Research has linked mass internal displacement to radicalization, with refugee camps too often becoming hubs for recruiting displaced people into extremist groups. Islamabad will need to counter these trends lest recent turmoil sows the seeds of major insurrections in the years ahead, further destabilizing an already volatile region.

China’s Real Takeaway From the War in Ukraine: Grey Zone Conflict Is Best

Tobias Burgers and Scott N. Romaniuk

How the Russian invasion of Ukraine can shed light on a hypothetical conflict in the Taiwan Strait has been the subject of much international discussion and debate. Numerous publications have compared the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, paying particular attention to the lessons learned regarding air-ground coordination, the necessity of training, the function of civil defense forces, the requirement for skilled military leadership, and finally the quality of armaments. However, many of these articles deal with the potential for a full-scale military invasion of Taiwan’s main island; as a result, most of the lessons are concentrated on the planning and execution of conventional military operations.

A comparative approach should consider the different kinds of conflicts that might occur in the Taiwan Strait rather than focusing exclusively on the lessons acquired from conventional military combat. With that in mind, the key lesson from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is that China will continue to use its effective salami-slicing and earlier grey zone tactics.

What to Watch for at the 20th Party Congress: The Work Report

Shannon Tiezzi

On October 16, China’s biggest political event – the 20th National Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party – will officially open. Each Party Congress is closely watched for the big leadership reveal at the end, when the new members of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) come marching out in hierarchical order. But there is plenty more to watch for, including the lengthy work report evaluating the CCP’s achievements over the last five years. This year especially, with recent precedents at stake, the broader implications of the 20th Party Congress will be enormous.

This two-part series outlines 10 specific things to pay attention to once the 20th Party Congress convenes: five relating to the leadership shuffle (see part one), and five dealing with the work report.

The work report is the lengthy presentation by the sitting CCP general secretary outlining the perceived achievements of the past five years, and setting the stage for the CCP’s priorities and polices for the coming five years. As Peter Mattis argued for War on the Rocks, the work report is “the party’s most authoritative statement of its objectives.” That makes it a critically important indications of Beijing’s intentions and goals, but as Mattis pointed out, it is often overlooked by analysts. That’s in part because it is overshadowed by the revelation of personnel changes on the Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee (and in part because it’s very long – last year’s speech ran a whopping three hours and 20 minutes).

America Needs an Asian Chip Alliance, Not Decoupling

Jessica Taylor Jonathan Corrado

Apandemic-induced semiconductor supply chain snarl caused global production jams in a wide array of products used for consumer, industry, and military applications. Combined with the geopolitical risk created by the industry’s concentration in Northeast Asia, its reliance on China, and predatory Chinese industrial policies, this has caused America, its allies, and its partners to brace against future shocks. With the CHIPS and Science Act signed into law, Washington is now moving toward a semiconductor alliance with Tokyo, Taipei, and Seoul. A successful collaboration will address risks to key points of the semiconductor supply chain by adding rigor to the system, ensuring continued access to supply, and maintaining an environment of innovation.

It’s a step in the right direction, but much remains to be done. The effort will fall short if the alliance cannot address members’ concerns and respond to the risks posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) without tripping down the slippery slope of technological decoupling. Although the PRC poses a threat that warrants a response, the highly distributed nature of the global supply chain means that decoupling would be inordinately expensive, alienate America’s partners, and inhibit the innovative capacity of America’s firms. Furthermore, the fate of the industry will likely be determined by the innovation race, so the alliance should spend equal time cooperating on that front. The upcoming first meeting of the prospective chip alliance should address these concerns while formulating a framework for enduring cooperation and mutual gain.

NAFO and Winning the Information War: Lessons Learned from Ukraine

Kathleen McInnis, Seth G. Jones and Emily Harding

Kathleen McInnis: Good afternoon. I’m Dr. Kathleen McInnis, a senior fellow in the International Security Program and director of the Smart Women, Smart Power Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome you all, both here in person and online from around the globe, to this timely and important conversation.

As we continue to observe Russia’s war in Ukraine, not only have we witnessed stunning successes from Ukrainians on the battlefield, but the Ukrainian government has dominated the information space in the West, through both President Zelensky and many others, many of whom are volunteers, and their masterful ability to shape international narratives surrounding the war.

This, to me, has been almost surprising. Russian propaganda and its successes at disinformation campaigns have been a longstanding challenge for Western democracies, particularly since the advent of social media. That said, while Ukraine has been capturing the hearts and minds of Western publics, Russia’s been arguably working to shape the information environment in other places, like Russia, China, and India. So what can we learn from all this? What insights should we glean for the information war surrounding Ukraine, as we look to other counter-disinformation campaigns in the future?

Launch: Army Climate Implementation Plan

Morgan Higman

Morgan Higman: Good morning and welcome to CSIS. My name is Morgan Higman, and I’m a fellow in the Energy Security and Climate Change Program.

Yesterday, the Army released the implementation plan for its climate strategy. Today, we are excited to host the launch event for that plan. That plan sort of targets two high-level goals. One is a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2030 from a 2005 baseline. Another is a net-zero emissions target by 2050. The implementation plan talks about near-term objectives, tasks, metrics and resources to support those long-term goals.

I’m joined today by two esteemed guests. Paul Farnan is the – I have to cheat here, sorry – principal deputy assistant secretary of army installations, energy and environment. And Sharon Burke is a former assistant secretary of defense operational energy plans and programming. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Outcomes for India from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit 2022

Harshana Ghoorhoo

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) recently concluded its 22nd summit on September 17. The two-day summit received particular attention for many reasons: it was the first meeting between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi since the Ukraine war started, the first international engagement for Chinese president Xi Jinping since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the first time President Xi and Prime Minister Modi rubbed shoulders since the Ladakh Line of Actual Control (LAC) clashes erupted in 2020.

India held four bilateral exchanges during the summit, with Russia, Uzbekistan, Iran, and Turkey. Over the years, the SCO has attracted more influential—and controversial, notably Iran—members. With India’s growing global status, Prime Minister Modi’s presence and engagements at the summit may give insight into where India is headed and what its priorities are in the region.

Highlights on the economic front

Trade cooperation was a hot topic at the summit. India pressed on the need to address the major disruptions caused to trade, supply chains, food security, and the energy sector as a result of the Ukraine crisis and Covid-19. India’s interests in having stronger supply chains coincides with the country’s ambitions to become a manufacturing hub, which, therefore, requires it to collaborate with the region’s major economies. In this vein, Prime Minister Modi pressed for transit rights at the summit in order to facilitate stronger supply chains through enhanced connectivity; previously, India has struggled to access Central Asian markets without transit rights across Pakistan’s territory.

U.S. Digital Privacy Troubles Do Not Start or End with TikTok

Caitlin Chin

As with many policies stemming from the previous administration, the aftermath of Trump’s August 2020 executive order to bar TikTok has been chaotic at best: after Biden nullified Executive Order 13942 in June 2021, the Department of Justice is now reportedly negotiating an agreement that would permit the video-sharing app to continue to operate in the United States under increased data security measures. But the matter is not settled. In the past few months alone, a handful of predominantly Republican senators, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Brendan Carr, and other skeptics have escalated calls for the Biden administration to take a harder stance against TikTok—with some, such as Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), echoing Trump’s desire for a “complete separation” of TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance altogether.

What TikTok and its detractors cannot seem to agree upon is whether ByteDance’s country of origin—coupled with the app’s popularity among Gen Zers and detailed data collection practices—poses an inherent threat to U.S. national security in and of itself. On one side, TikTok’s opponents point out that several Chinese surveillance statutes allow its government broad discretion to access information that private companies process within its borders—which, they claim, the Communist Party of China (CCP) could potentially exploit to identify specific TikTok users, track or censor political dissidents, and target disinformation campaigns in the United States. On the other, TikTok continues to refute these claims, maintaining that it has not and never will disclose personal data to the CCP, and moreover, that it would work with Oracle and the U.S. government to store user information within U.S. data centers and limit employee access.

What Did Saudi Arabia Just Do?

Jon B. Alterman, Joseph Majkut and LinkedIn Ben Cahill

On Wednesday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers (OPEC+) announced a two million barrels per day (b/d) production cut and an extension of the cooperation agreement between the core OPEC countries, Russia, and other producers through 2023. A worsening economic outlook and declining oil prices in the past few months created strong incentives for OPEC+ to cut output, but the move had geopolitical drivers as well. Ahead of proposed EU sanctions and a potential price cap on Russian oil exports, Saudi Arabia and the other OPEC+ producers are trying to reassert control of the market. They explained the decision in technocratic, market management terms, but the cut defied extensive lobbying from the White House and was interpreted by many as a move to support Russia. OPEC+ wants to gain the upper hand as Western policymakers are poised to impose another round of sanctions on a major oil producer.

Q1: Was this targeted at the United States?

A1: This will be read as a challenge to the United States because of the extensive lobbying from the White House to maintain (or increase) production, which began with President Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia in July, and the continued alignment with Russia. It will also influence U.S. politics, with gas prices rising ahead of the midterm elections and the president so publicly spurned. It is hard to imagine that the Saudi leadership did not understand that, and they do not appear to have done anything to soften the impact. Indeed, the fact that OPEC+ gathered in Vienna for the first time since 2020 to announce these cuts suggests that they wanted to send a strong message. The president did not expect the Saudis to completely cave, but he could not have expected to be ignored or snubbed, either.