30 October 2022

How China’s military plugs into the global space sector

Samuel Strickland

In August, a photograph of China’s Dalian shipyard surfaced on Chinese social media site Weibo showing five hulls of Luyang III–type vessels under construction. Once completed, these destroyers will sail out into blue waters, projecting the might of the Chinese navy and carrying with them a lethal high-tech projectile—the YJ-18A missile. Able to severely damage a warship with tens of thousands of tons of displacement in a single strike, the YJ-18A can sprint up to Mach 3.0 before impact and carry a 300-kilogram warhead. The result is a serious threat to US carrier strike groups in the South China Sea and beyond.

While the YJ-18A is designed to skim just five to 10 meters above sea level, it is also an example of China’s growing sophistication in outer space. The missile, designed to be almost impossible to intercept, relies on a constellation of Chinese satellites known as BeiDou.

While the civilian benefits are numerous, BeiDou is primarily a military technology. Similar to the United States’ GPS, China’s BeiDou is used to provide position, navigation and timing services to users. The catalyst for the development of this satellite system was likely the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis. During a campaign of electoral intimidation aimed at Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army fired missiles into the strait. However, the campaign backfired when a disruption to its GPS access caused China to lose track of its own missiles. BeiDou was announced shortly afterwards.

Could America Win a New World War?

Thomas G. Mahnken

When it comes to international relations, 2022 has been an exceptionally dangerous year. During the first two months, Russia massed thousands of troops along Ukraine’s borders. At the end of the second one, Moscow sent them marching into Ukraine. China, meanwhile, has grown increasingly belligerent toward Washington, particularly over Taiwan. After U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August, Beijing carried out a furious set of military exercises designed to show how it would blockade and attack the island. Washington, in turn, has explored how it can more quickly arm and support the Taiwanese government.

The United States is aware that China and Russia pose a significant threat to the global order. In its recent National Security Strategy, the White House wrote that “the [People’s Republic of China] and Russia are increasingly aligned with each other,” and the Biden administration dedicated multiple pages to explaining how the United States can constrain both countries going forward. Washington knows that the conflict in Ukraine is likely to be protracted, thanks to the ability of Kyiv and Moscow to keep fighting and the irreconcilability of their aims, and could escalate in ways that bring the United States more directly into the war (a fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber rattling makes readily apparent). Washington also knows that Chinese leader Xi Jinping, emboldened by his appointment at the 20th National Party Congress in October to an unprecedented third term, could try to seize Taiwan as the war in Ukraine rages on. The United States, then, could conceivably be drawn into simultaneous conflicts with China and Russia.


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‘Pacing challenge’: US defence strategy focuses on China

Al Jazeera Staff

Washington, DC – In a periodic assessment of US defence needs and priorities, the Pentagon has declared China a “pacing challenge” and called for an urgent strengthening of deterrence against Beijing while also naming Russia, Iran and North Korea as threats.

The National Defense Strategy (NDS), released on Thursday, said the People’s Republic of China (PRC) remains the United States’s most “consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades”. The document is produced every four years to identify threats to the US and offer long-term guidance for the Department of Defense.

“The most comprehensive and serious challenge to US national security is the PRC’s coercive and increasingly aggressive endeavor to refashion the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to suit its interests and authoritarian preferences,” the report said.

Xi’s ‘action men’ now lead China’s military. Here’s what that means for Taiwan

Brad Lendon

Star roles for “action men” in China’s new military leadership may hint at an increased threat of war with Taiwan, though analysts suggest Xi Jinping’s stated preference for a peaceful takeover of the island should be taken at face value – at least for now.

China announced the lineup of its Central Military Commission (CMC) last weekend, just days after Xi opened the Chinese Communist Party’s National Congress with a speech vowing to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control. To thunderous applause, the Chinese leader said this could be done peacefully but – reiterating Beijing’s longstanding stance – he refused to rule out the use of force.

The new leadership of the military commission – the top authority in charge of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – includes a number of officers seen as “action men” for their expertise in areas that would be key to any invasion. And that’s fueled concerns that such a move could be imminent.

Would Putin Roll the Nuclear Dice?


Since Russia launched its most recent invasion of Ukraine in February, Moscow has threatened—sometimes subtly, other times explicitly—nuclear escalation should the war not go its way. Ukraine and the West have to take such threats seriously. But the Kremlin also needs to take their probable responses seriously and would have to weigh the substantial risks and costs of using a nuclear weapon.

Shortly after Russian forces assaulted Ukraine on Feb. 24, Vladimir Putin ordered a “special combat readiness” status for Russian nuclear forces. But it’s unclear what that means since the Pentagon has consistently said it sees no change in Russia’s nuclear posture. The alert may have amounted to little more than additional command post staffing.

Since then, Russian officials have made implicit nuclear threats, such as Putin’s reference to using “all the forces and resources” Russia has to defend the Ukrainian territory he claims to have annexed on Sept. 30. Other Russians have voiced more overt threats. Former president Dmitry Medvedev on Sept. 27 “imagined” Russia using a nuclear weapon against Ukraine. The rhetoric has increased as the Russian army has suffered setbacks on the battlefield.

Around the Halls: The outcomes of China’s 20th Party Congress

Richard C. Bush, Diana Fu, Ryan Hass, Patricia M. Kim

The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was held from October 16 to October 22, 2022. Brookings experts reflect on the elite political gathering and what its outcomes mean for China and the rest of the world.


The appointments to the Politburo and its Standing Committee confirm even more clearly than ever that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top priority is to maximize his control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) system. He wants his men on his leadership team to lead the agencies responsible for maintaining control. It is no surprise, therefore, that that the Minister of State Security has become a Politburo member for the first time.

Xi was able to dominate personnel selection because he had gained control already of the military, the security agencies, the organization/personnel system, and the propaganda system. He had ignored established norms when they were obstacles to his building his power. Moreover, from the very moment that he became general secretary, he stressed the importance of national security (mainly domestic security) and built new institutions to carry out that priority. His negative definition of China’s threat environment provides a perfect justification to intensify control, and the United States and Taiwan are among the convenient “dangers” to which he can point.

Drones, Cruise Missiles Are Rising Threats to US Troops and Territory, Pentagon Says


Drones and cruise missiles increasingly threaten the United States and its allies, the Biden administration said in its new assessment of global missile threats.

Released on Thursday, the Missile Defense Review arrives as kamikaze drones are being increasingly used in the conflict in Ukraine.

Drone “usage will likely expand and continue to pose a threat to U.S. personnel overseas, Allies and partners, and potentially to the U.S. homeland,” the report states.

Missile defense assessments conducted by the Trump administration in 2019 and the Obama administration in 2010 did not single out drones, also called uncrewed aircraft systems.

China’s Race for Technological Dominance Could Raise Its Global Stature

Emilio Iasiello

Recently, China convened its 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, an event that features the CCPs to leadership with an intent to adjust its constitution as it lays forth a blueprint for the country’s policies for the next five years. Xi opened the Congress affirming the nation’s need to win the race for the development of “core technologies” with the objective of becoming self-reliant in strategic technologies. Perhaps most notable was his emphasis on innovation being focused on national strategic requirements – and therefore making it clear that China’s national security was directly tied to the development of advanced information technology. He also addressed China’s “improved cyber ecology,” a nod to China’s Internet industry’s evolution during the past five years and recognition of its efforts to preserve content consistent with the Party’s principles.

This is not the first time Xi has addressed IT and cyber-enabled technologies during important speeches, an acknowledgement of the importance that they play in China’s continued ascension as an influential power in the world. In 2014, Xi intimated his vision for China when he laid forth China’s steps to become a great cyber power citing the need to be proficient at domestically developing technology, as well as an internal infrastructure and culture replete with the requisite expertise. Four years later, Xi reinforced this vision of China as a cyber power when he linked cybersecurity with national security, indicating how economic and social security are invariably intertwined and ingrained with the Internet. While these are not the only times Xi has discussed the Internet and cyber-related topics, it shows an evolution in thinking that led China to where it is today. Adding other initiatives such as increased regulation of foreign presence in China, the passage of domestic cyber laws, Beijing’s advocacy for cyber sovereignty and setting standards, Xi’s push for China to become on par with the United States extends well beyond the ability to wage information-enabled warfare in the digital space.

Daily Memo: China Concludes Its National Congress

Congress closes. The Chinese Communist Party concluded its 20th National Congress on Sunday. On the closing day, Xi Jinping was given an unprecedented third term as general secretary. The member lists of the newly elected Central Committee and Politburo Standing Committee were also announced. As the congress came to a close, China’s National Bureau of Statistics released third-quarter economic data, which was supposed to be announced last Tuesday. According to the release, China’s gross domestic product grew 3.9 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous year.

Moscow’s message. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke by phone on Sunday with the defense ministers of Britain, France, Turkey and the United States about the situation in Ukraine. In their conversations, Shoigu accused Ukraine of planning a provocation using a “dirty bomb.” The British Defense Ministry said the defense secretary “refuted these claims and cautioned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for greater escalation.”

Security pact. Australia and Japan signed on Saturday a new security agreement that covers military, energy, intelligence and cybersecurity cooperation. Under the agreement, which updates a security pact signed 15 years ago, Japan said its Self-Defense Forces will train in northern Australia for the first time. Australia is a key energy and resources supplier for Japan and is seeking to fortify its position in regional export markets. Beijing, meanwhile, said the agreement threatens regional peace.

U.S. Officials Had a Secret Oil Deal With the Saudis. Or So They Thought.

Mark Mazzetti, Edward Wong and Adam Entous

WASHINGTON — As President Biden was planning a politically risky trip to Saudi Arabia this summer, his top aides thought they had struck a secret deal to boost oil production through the end of the year — an arrangement that could have helped justify breaking a campaign pledge to shun the kingdom and its crown prince.

It didn’t work out that way.

Mr. Biden went through with the trip. But earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and Russia steered a group of oil-producing countries in voting to slash oil production by two million barrels per day, the opposite of the outcome the administration thought it had secured as the Democratic Party struggles to deal with inflation and high gas prices heading into the November elections.

The move led angry Biden administration officials to reassess America’s relationship with the kingdom and produced a flurry of accusatory statements between the two governments — including a charge by the White House that Saudi Arabia was helping Russia in its war in Ukraine.

3 charts that show the state of Europe’s energy crisis right now

Stephen Hall

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent curtailment of gas flows to Europe has pushed international prices to new highs, with market turbulence expected to continue in 2023, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest quarterly Gas Market Report. In the US, prices reached their highest summer levels since 2008, the report adds.

The crisis has led to a decline in natural gas consumption across a majority of regions. In OECD Europe, gas demand declined by close to 10% year-on-year in the period from January to August, falling by an estimated 15% in industry due to production cutbacks, according to the report.

What is the value proposition of stablecoins for financial inclusion?

Financial inclusion is a well-recognized global challenge: approximately 1.7 billion people are “unbanked,” lacking an account at a financial institution or mobile-money provider. Meanwhile, many small and medium-sized business face challenges realizing benefits from the current financial system. It is often suggested that stablecoins could address challenges and unlock opportunities around financial inclusion globally. Yet, very little extensive analysis on this subject has been conducted.

This white paper examines real-world case studies and builds on existing research to assess the benefits and risks of stablecoins for financial inclusion for historically excluded or under-served populations. Stablecoins’ capabilities and limitations are compared with those of pre-existing forms of money. The aim is to provide stakeholders with a better understanding of the opportunities, risks and benefits stablecoins currently present, and of the conditions and prerequisites for their success in enabling inclusion.

Russia warns West: We can target your commercial satellites

LONDON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - A senior Russian foreign ministry official said that commercial satellites from the United States and its allies could become legitimate targets for Russia if they were involved in the war in Ukraine.

Russia, which in 1957 launched Sputnik 1, the first manmade satellite, into space and in 1961 put the first man in outer space, has a significant offensive space capability - as do the United States and China. In 2021, Russia launched an anti-satellite missile to destroy one of its own satellites.

Konstantin Vorontsov, deputy director of the Russian foreign ministry's department for non-proliferation and arms control, told the United Nations that the United States and its allies were trying to use space to enforce Western dominance.

Vorontsov, reading from notes, said the use of Western satellites to aid the Ukrainian war effort was "an extremely dangerous trend".

Russian Kherson 'Retreat' Is Retrenchment, Preparation for Urban Warfare


As the counterattacking Ukrainian army draws ever closer to the Russian-occupied regional capital of Kherson, Russian forces have responded by moving officers and materiel to the opposite bank of the Dnieper River.

A Russian-led evacuation of civilians deeper into Russian-controlled territory is underway, local monuments to figures from Russian history have been removed to safety, and Kremlin-loyal occupation authorities are reportedly no longer present in Kherson city itself. However, far from making a clean retreat, Russia appears to be setting the stage for a prolonged urban battle, one that it is all but certain to lose.

While much of the Kherson region is located on the eastern "left" bank of the Dnieper, Kherson city itself sits on the western "right" bank. This right bank Russian bridgehead has become increasingly vulnerable as Ukrainian precision-guided artillery systems continue to disrupt the Russian logistical networks and to strike command posts. Most western military experts expect that Ukraine will succeed in clearing right bank Kherson of Russian forces by the end of the calendar year.

Garry Kasparov Says Rishi Sunak's First Phone Call As UK PM Was To 'The Leader Of The Free World' — It Wasn't Joe Biden

Navdeep Yadav

Russian Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who holds a pro-Ukraine stance, said the new U.K. Prime Minister made his first call "to the leader of the free world" after Rishi Sunak and the Ukrainian president discussed the war on Tuesday.

What Happened: Kasparov, in a tweet on Thursday, said that according to "old tradition," the first call by a U.K. prime minister is usually made to Washington. However, defying norms this time, Sunak, who took charge as prime minister on Tuesday, made his first call to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and not U.S. President Joe Biden.

Benzinga could not independently verify the fact, and the U.K. prime minister's office did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

Zelenskyy was the first world leader to speak to Sunak on Tuesday night as he became the new PM of the U.K. after Liz Truss resigned within 45 days in office — the shortest tenure of any U.K. prime minister.

Inside Democrats’ elaborate attempt to woo TikTok influencers

Taylor Lorenz

President Biden spent more than an hour this week at the White House with eight TikTok stars with a combined following of more than 67 million who were brought to Washington in hopes that their posts will turn out votes for Democrats in the Nov. 8 midterms.

In addition to the Oval Office meeting, the TikTok creators held a session with former president Barack Obama, toured the Supreme Court and the Capitol, and met with leaders of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the principal campaign arm for House Democrats.

The trip, which was organized by the DNC, was the most visible effort to date of Democrats attempting to leverage TikTok’s vast audience to influence the midterms and is likely to prove controversial with Republicans, many of whom have been harshly critical of TikTok’s Chinese ownership. Former president Donald Trump at one point ordered TikTok to be shut down in the United States, then tried to force the sale of its U.S. operations. Those efforts failed, however, though Republicans have continued to accuse the app of being a threat.

War in Ukraine Likely to Speed, Not Slow, Shift to Clean Energy, I.E.A. Says

Brad Plumer

WASHINGTON — The energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is likely to speed up rather than slow down the global transition away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner technologies like wind, solar and electric vehicles, the world’s leading energy agency said Thursday.

While some countries have been burning more fossil fuels such as coal this year in response to natural gas shortages caused by the war in Ukraine, that effect is expected to be short-lived, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, a 524-page report that forecasts global energy trends to 2050.

Instead, for the first time, the agency now predicts that worldwide demand for every type of fossil fuel will peak in the near future.

One major reason is that many countries have responded to soaring prices for fossil fuels this year by embracing wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear power plants, hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles and electric heat pumps. In the United States, Congress approved more than $370 billion in spending for such technologies under the recent Inflation Reduction Act. Japan is pursuing a new “green transformation” program that will help fund nuclear power, hydrogen and other low-emissions technologies. China, India and South Korea have all ratcheted up national targets for renewable and nuclear power.

Thinking through the China hype


China’s economic aspirations have evolved rapidly. What has remained constant for centuries is a determination to return to the domestic wealth and international power that most Chinese view as the only acceptable norm for a civilization that long led the global economy.

Under Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin (1978– 2003), the leadership’s model of how to achieve that evolved rapidly in the direction of market-oriented reform and international opening to trade and investment, along with political and administrative institutionalization and meritocracy.

Under Hu Jintao (2003–2013), reform, opening, and institutionalization as thus understood largely stagnated; that administration’s achievements focused on elimination of some unfair treatment of farmers, spreading the economic miracle to China’s interior, and surviving the 2008 global financial crisis.

Why Biden’s Block on Chips to China Is a Big Deal

Michael Schuman

As the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th congress wrapped up at the weekend, its general secretary and the country’s president, Xi Jinping, emerged with his new leadership team—loyalists to a man—and with more commanding control over China than any political figure has held in the country for nearly half a century. Having shoved aside his political rivals, Xi can rule over the world’s rising great power virtually uncontested.

Yet, amid this display of pomp and power, President Joe Biden showed Xi who’s boss. Two days earlier, on October 21, Biden had dropped the hammer on China’s semiconductor industry by fully implementing a slew of tough controls on the export of American chip technology to China. This is a painful blow to Xi’s ambitions to rival the U.S., delivered at the very moment when the Chinese leader has reached the pinnacle of his political influence. Even as Xi laid out his vision for the nation’s “great rejuvenation,” indicating that he considers China’s technological achievements central to it, Biden demonstrated that the U.S. still possesses the fight—and the bite—to defend its primacy.

Putin jabs at West over Ukraine war, says operation going to plan

Oct 28 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin showed no regrets for the war against Ukraine, insisting it was going to plan and playing down any nuclear standoff with the West, while both sides prepared for what could be a key battle in Kherson in Ukraine's south.

Putin had a familiar litany of grievances against "Western opponents" as he addressed a conference in Moscow on Thursday, accusing the West of inciting the war and of playing a "dangerous, bloody and dirty" game that was sowing chaos.

The West's dominance over world affairs was coming to an end and "ahead is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and, at the same time, important decade since the end of World War Two", Putin told the conference.

Is China Buying Up All of America’s Natural Gas?

Ethen Kim Lieser

Chinese energy companies have been found to be the fastest-growing customers of U.S. natural gas exports, buying up nearly half of all gas that companies agreed to ship in the past year.

According to a new Politico report, this is sparking worries among some Washington lawmakers.

“Some of those firms are working against U.S. interests—dealing in oil from sanctioned countries, drilling in areas notorious for human rights abuses or helping the Chinese military capture contested territory from its neighbors,” the news outlet writes.

“As tensions between Washington and Beijing rise—and high natural gas prices squeeze American manufacturers—lawmakers from both parties are calling for the White House to consider new limits on the gas sales to China,” it continues.

Nuclear, missile defense reviews target increasing Russian, Chinese threats


WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s new nuclear and missile defense reviews, released in unclassified format today, both double down on the widespread view in Washington that the strategic threats to the US homeland from China and Russia are growing — thus raising the criticality of both US nuclear forces and missile defenses to deterring future conflict.

“We recognize that the international security environment has deteriorated since 2018,” when the previous Nuclear Posture Review was released by the Trump administration, a senior Defense Department official told reporters ahead of the official document rollout.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a stark reminder of nuclear risk in contemporary conflict. And China’s nuclear modernization and its rapid expansion presents us with new risks and uncertainties. In the coming years, for the first time, we’ll have to deter two major nuclear competitors, both Russia and China. This presents new dilemmas for both strategic deterrence and for regional warfighting,” the official elaborated.

The new National Defense Strategy keeps the Pentagon’s focus locked on China


WASHINGTON — After six months of delays, the Biden administration today released the unclassified version of its National Defense Strategy — and despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the department remains confident the long-term threat lies not in Moscow, but in Beijing.

The focus on China as the larger threat — as opposed to a joint focus on China and Russia — is one of the biggest ways the latest National Defense Strategy diverges from its predecessor, a senior defense official told reporters ahead of the official rollout.

The 2018 strategy “said we are worried about Russia and we’re worried about the PRC [People’s Republic of China]. And I think one of the things we did as we were going through our assessment of the security environment was actually see that those needed to be looked at a little bit differently,” the official said. “What that means is that as we are looking at our investments, our activities, our exercises, our posture, we’re going to be thinking in that vein.”

Challenging The Structures Of The Current Era

It has long been my belief that the structures supporting this current era have experienced diminished effectiveness and are reaching end of life. When I would share these thoughts back in 2012, I remember getting strange looks — but fast forward ten years and it’s not so strange anymore. That quote above comes from a recent article that identifies five emerging domains of conflict. Taken together with an exploding number of additional factors, it is easy to see why our organizing system is on the verge of dramatic change.

The article identifies a common thread that weaves through each emerging domain of conflict — they all challenge the Westphalian model of state sovereignty. The model is defined as: a global system based on the principle of international law that each state has sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs, to the exclusion of all external powers, on the principle of non-interference in another country’s domestic affairs, and that each state is equal in international law.