10 March 2023

At the National People’s Congress, the politics of numbers dominates. What those numbers mean for China and the world.

Lili Pike

China’s annual National People’s Congress began this weekend in Beijing with the typical fanfare. The thousands of delegates who make up the world’s largest legislature streamed in from across the country. Technically, they come to vote on legislation and elect new government officials, but in reality the meetings are more of a performance — the actual decisions have been made well in advance by China’s top leaders.

The key part of that performance is the Government Work Report, which was delivered this year by China’s outgoing premier, Li Keqiang. During Li’s hourlong speech Sunday, the camera panned the Great Hall of the People to show delegates representing China’s 56 ethnic groups, all studiously reading the report.

This year’s opening speech — as is usually the case — was a collection of Communist Party slogans and statistics, a presentation that makes an American State of the Union address look like a Hollywood production. Perhaps the most human moment came when Li spoke about the pandemic: “Our people in their hundreds of millions have prevailed over many difficulties and challenges, made great sacrifices and played their due part,” Li said. “It has not been an easy journey for anyone, but together we have overcome the huge challenge of covid-19.”

But for the most part, the government’s long list of accomplishments and goals were conveyed in numbers — a lot of numbers: 17,000 kilometers of high-speed rail built over the past year, a 40 percent increase in the length of drainage pipelines, the percentage of urban residents — up to 65 percent, “value-added high-tech manufacturing” up by 11 percent. And on it went. Among goals for the year ahead: 12 million new urban jobs and 650 million metric tons of grain production.

Does China’s Coercive Economic Statecraft Actually Work?

Matt Ferchen

Much ado has been made in recent years over China’s use of economic diplomacy in its foreign policy, perhaps best characterized by its massive trillion-dollar connectivity project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As developing countries have turned to China for economic assistance and development, observers have warned that Chinese loan assistance to poor countries can come with strings attached, particularly enhanced political leverage for Beijing. But the extent to which Beijing is able to truly exert influence through economic statecraft remains an open and important question for researchers and policymakers alike, says China analyst Matt Ferchen.

Ferchen, who focuses on the relationship between China’s domestic and international political economy as a senior fellow at the Leiden Asia Centre, explains how China employs economic statecraft and coercion and how it impacts conflict around the world.
What is economic statecraft and how does China deploy it?

Economic statecraft is commonly understood as a country’s use of economic policies for foreign policy aims. Both in terms of academic research as well as public policy, economic sanctions have traditionally been the most commonly used and well understood form of economic statecraft. Yet especially when it comes to China’s use of economic statecraft, it has been clear for some time that it uses carrots (or inducements) as well as more punitive sticks. China’s BRI is an example of Chinese economic statecraft in which it has linked deeper trade, investment and lending relations to stronger political ties and possibly enhanced leverage, especially in its relations with developing countries.

What China's 'Peace Plan' Reveals about its Stance on Russia's War on Ukraine

Carla Freeman, Mary Glantz, Andrew Scobell

Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — which marks a clear violation of international law — Moscow has enjoyed support from a number of countries. Foremost among these is China. Over the last year, Beijing has not supported Russia in U.N. votes, has refrained from providing Russia with weapons, and has publicly proclaimed neutrality. But China has also refused to condemn the invasion, often repeated the Kremlin’s talking points about the war, opposed sanctions against Russia and helped prop up its economy. On the anniversary of the invasion, China released what it had previewed as a peace plan, which really amounted to a statement of principles reflecting Beijing’s longstanding talking points about the war.

How can one understand relations between China and Russia a year into the Ukraine conflict? USIP’s Andrew Scobell, Carla Freeman and Mary Glantz discuss China-Russia relations, Beijing’s so-called plan for a political settlement to the war and how it has been received in Kyiv.

Is China providing any military assistance to Russia?

Scobell: While China has yet to provide weapons to Russia since Vladimir Putin ordered that country’s military to invade Ukraine in February 2022, it seems that Beijing is seriously considering selling Moscow a range of military equipment, U.S. officials have warned in recent days. Such a step by China would constitute a significant development for two reasons. First, if China agreed to provide Russia access to a wide range of systems and supplies, it might allow Moscow to regain momentum on the battlefield. Second, this would signal a qualitative change in China’s geostrategic calculus. Beijing’s provision of military assistance would mean that China is shifting from a stance of guarded albeit pro-Russian “neutrality” to a more unabashedly pro-Russian posture.

China Wields Sharp Power in Global Media Offensive

Pinter Politik

As if there is not enough to worry about in the face of China’s aggressive encroachments in the South China Sea, now its neighbors also have to lose sleep over its attempts to change their political and social landscapes.

According to Joshua Kurlantzick, Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a leading think tank in the United States, China has been “increasingly trying to influence other countries’ domestic politics and societies through the use of media, information, disinformation, and more old fashioned types of influence tactics like paying politicians and trying to directly meddle in elections, wielding control of local business and student associations, and other tactics.”

In Kurlantzick’s latest book, “Beijing’s Global Media Offensive: China’s Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World,” he argues that China under President Xi Jinping has increasingly wielded “sharp power” not only to spread a favorable view of China’s policies and the situation within China, but also to draw other countries into China’s orbit in case of conflict with rival powers.

“Sharp power” refers to the use of underhanded media campaigns and the infiltration of the politics, governance, private sector and social organizations to carry out a foreign government’s objectives in a target country. It is thus a subtler alternative to the use of hard power – the resort to military aggression or threats and economic sanctions – to influence another country. It is also the insidious alternative to soft power, which is achieved through the legitimate use of public diplomacy; cultural, educational and social exchange programs; and public relations and advertising, among other tools.

China’s First Proxy War in Africa: Why Is the State Department Siding with Beijing?

Michael Rubin

Fighting continues in Somaliland’s Sool district. Americans may yawn and dismiss the fighting that began in late December as just another conflict in a dusty African corner. Such casual dismissal of Africa is not only wrong strategically (and a bit racist), but it also misreads the importance of the escalating fight.

Also self-defeating is the State Department’s boilerplate call “for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire in Lascanood… [amidst] the tragic loss of life and violence.” Such moral equivalence and bothsidesism is a poor look for the United States. After all, while the mix of Dhulbahante elders, Puntland forces, U.S.-trained Danab Brigade members, Liyu police from Ethiopia’s Somalia region, and al-Shabaab militants repeatedly reject ceasefires but use Somaliland’s unilateral ceasefires to rearm and regroup.

The reality is the Las Anod [Lascanood] fighting was not spontaneous but preplanned. There would be no fighting in Las Anod if Somaliland’s Western-leaning government had not rebuffed China and instead recognized Taiwan. After President Muse Bihi’s decision, China’s ambassador in Mogadishu tried to buy Bihi off, but he stood firm on principle. Too many African leaders sell their sovereignty or their people’s financial future for short-term, personal gains; Bihi, who trained as a pilot in the United States decades ago, wanted something better for Somaliland’s people.

Weeks before the current conflict, China’s ambassador to Ethiopia reportedly consulted with his Somali counterpart Abdullahi Haji Omar “Amey,” a former Puntland vice president. While Hassan Sheikh Mohamud continues to charm the State Department who see the English-speaking Somali statesman selected by a handful of preselected elites to be Somalia’s president, the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu ignores the role that Hodan Osman plays.

Blinken Debuts New U.S. Approach in Central Asia

Gavin Helf

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan this week, where he signaled that Washington is changing tack in the region. For nearly two decades, U.S. engagement in the region focused on how it could help Washington in Afghanistan. Following the Afghanistan withdrawal, U.S. policy in Central Asia should be more modest, focused on helping these countries achieve balance in their relations with each other and the outside world, particularly in an era of great power competition. After all, these countries are neighbors of Russia and China and can’t afford to choose sides.

Upgrading U.S. Engagement in the Region

In Astana, Blinken met with Central Asian foreign ministers and attended the first ministerial-level engagement of the C5+1 Diplomatic Platform — which represents U.S. engagement with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — in the region since its 2015 founding. This demonstrates an important upgrade in the level of diplomatic engagement in Central Asia, which has received much less high-level attention now that Washington no longer needs Central Asian supply routes for the war in Afghanistan. The local press was happy to report that Blinken announced that local companies impacted by Western sanctions on Russia would be compensated by the United States.

Blinken’s visit is a timely refresh of the C5+1, which has remarkably survived through three very different administrations. While the context has changed — from the U.S. needing bases to support the war effort in Afghanistan, to preventing Central Asian fighters from joining ISIS, to assistance with its withdrawal — the Central Asian states are newly relevant in the era of great power competition.

Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: Panel with Think Tank Leaders

John P. Walters

Hudson Institute President and CEO John P. Walters testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the devastating and worsening attack on America being waged by the Chinese Communist Party with its Mexican cartel proxies.

Read his written statement below:

Chairman Turner, Ranking Member Himes, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify.

Hudson Institute was founded by Herman Kahn over 60 years ago. He and the Institute were known for helping fashion strategic policy after World War II in the new strategic reality created by atomic weapons and then the threat of thermonuclear attack from the Soviet Union. Kahn focused on achieving and sustaining deterrence. You could say that deterrence is in the DNA of Hudson Institute.

Working at the start of the Cold War, Kahn believed the strategic doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction—MAD—was inadequate because it would not deter lower-level conflict and that lack of deterrence, short of thermonuclear war, left America vulnerable. It actually resulted in a risk of steadily escalating attacks—this ladder of escalation requires what is sometimes called a ladder of deterrence.

What US strategy needs now: Muscular containment for the 21st century

Harlan Ullman

In “Russia policy after the war: A new strategy of containment,” my Atlantic Council colleague and good friend Alexander (Sandy) Vershbow provides a primer for any administration. Vershbow’s credentials include having served as head of mission in Moscow and Seoul and as NATO’s deputy secretary general. And his recommendations are on the mark.

I have only one important addition to make to support his case to combine military means with powerful diplomatic, information, and other non-kinetic initiatives to take on Vladimir Putin frontally and force an end to the Ukraine conflict on terms acceptable to Kyiv. It concerns the meaning of containment.

The conventional definition and use of containment understandably refers to George Kennan’s famous 1946 “long telegram,” which was foundational to US and Western national security. But that definition no longer fits the world of 2023, a world that has profoundly changed over the past nearly eight decades. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and a more assertive China make that crystal clear.

In this world, to be effective, containment must be more muscular. That means shifting from largely defensive and reactive policies to more proactive and dynamic ones to deal with newer and emerging challenges, threats, and opportunities regarding Russia and China. How then can “muscularization” be accomplished? It starts with understanding that the original basis of containment was defensive and reactive.

What Washington Gets Wrong About China and Technical Standards


Over the past four years, Washington’s foreign policy establishment has stumbled on a new arena for competition with China: international technical standards. During that time, standards have been the focus of news stories, think tank reports, and even several pieces of federal legislation. Across these, the master narrative is largely the same: technical standards are a key part of technology competition, China is taking over international standards bodies, and it is successfully manipulating those standards as part of its quest for global tech domination.

Parts of that narrative ring true. Technical standards are a critical part of the global technology ecosystem because they facilitate trade, can give first-movers a competitive advantage, and can generate significant revenue for companies with large patent portfolios. The Chinese government has a track record of trying to manipulate international organizations, and Chinese participation at international standards bodies is increasing.

But Washington’s master narrative around technical standards is wrong. It’s not wrong because the Chinese Communist Party is a trustworthy actor in these arenas—it isn’t. The narrative is wrong because it fundamentally misunderstands what international technical standards do and how standards development organizations (SDOs) operate. There are real concerns when it comes to China and technical standards, and those concerns require targeted actions. But to make the right prescription, the U.S. policy community must first correctly diagnose the problem.

Our military leaders need a national security ‘fast lane’ to compete with China


The Chinese spy balloon incident highlights both the brashness of China’s military ambitions and the U.S. military’s struggle to counter China’s bold moves with new capabilities such as modern air surveillance tools. The most pressing weapons threat the People’s Liberation Army poses to the United States is not balloons, however, but a vast missile program designed to hold the U.S. military at arm’s length, now outnumbering the U.S. in launch capacity and possessing technical advantage in the form of hypersonic missiles designed to outmaneuver defenses.

More systemically, the balloon incident lays bare the audacity of China’s increasingly aggressive military strategy and its focus on rapidly developing and fielding new capabilities. In response, the United States must focus on rapidly developing and fielding new tools to counter China’s bold actions.

The fundamental job of any leader is to identify priorities — challenges and opportunities — communicate them, and then make the hard choices necessary to make progress against these priorities. Too often, our defense enterprise fails to meet this bar. But the U.S. does have a few people in leadership positions who correctly identify a rising China as not only a top rhetorical priority but one that merits difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has defined seven initiatives to counter China, and Gen. David Berger, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, has launched a sweeping redesign of his force toward this same end.

US and China can show world leadership by safeguarding military AI

Paul Scharre

The recent balloon incident highlights the fragility of US-China relations and the risk of accidents and miscalculation. While balloons are a 200-year-old technology, the United States and China are developing new technologies that come with new risks. Chief among these is artificial intelligence (AI), which has many military applications but also can lead to accidents or humans overtrusting in machines.

The hasty deployment by Microsoft and Google of chatbots like ChatGPT demonstrates the risks of moving too quickly with an unproven technology. Competitive pressures in the private sector have led tech companies to race ahead to field AI systems that are not safe. Nations must avoid similar temptations with military AI.

Unsafe military AI systems could cause accidents or give humans faulty information, exacerbating tensions in a crisis. China and the United States must develop confidence-building measures to reduce the destabilising risks of military artificial intelligence.

Both American and Chinese defence thinkers have publicly acknowledged the risks of military AI competition and the need to explore avenues of cooperation. In a 2021 article, Li Chijiang, secretary general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, warned of the “severe challenges that artificial intelligence military applications pose to international peace and security” and called for nations to “jointly seek solutions”.

Seymour Hersh’s Nord Stream Theory: Fact or Fiction?

Rene Tebel

In his online article “How America took out the Nord Stream Pipeline,” Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh sees the blowing up of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea as a collaboration between Norway and the United States. Based on the testimony of a whistleblower, Hersh situates the planting of C4 explosive devices by U.S. Navy Divers under the cover of the BALTOPS 22 international naval exercise in June; according to Hersh, the explosive devices were triggered by a Norwegian Navy P8, which dropped sonar buoys for this purpose on September 26th, 2022.

First of all, it should be noted that neither the U.S., nor Russia, nor European states have been able to present any valid evidence of perpetration, so Seymour Hersh’s theory must be taken seriously. Unfortunately, however, his article fails to provide any evidence. What’s more, in addition to minor weaknesses in content, important questions remain unanswered: for example, Hersh does not address why the attack took place on September 26 of all days, why the detonations occurred 17 hours apart, and fails to mention the “dark ships” described by Jerry Javornicky.

The major event BALTOPS 22, with which Hersh links the attack, took place between June 5th and 17th, with the participation of over 45 ships and over 75 aircraft from 16 countries, including Germany, Poland, Sweden, Norway, the Baltic States, the United Kingdom and the United States. NavyMil reported that “Scientists from five nations brought the latest advancements in Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) mine hunting technology to the Baltic Sea to demonstrate the vehicle’s effectiveness in operational scenarios.” A June 12th NATO article is even more explicit: “In support of BALTOPS, U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet partnered with U.S. Navy research and warfare centers to bring the latest advancements in Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) mine hunting technology to the Baltic Sea to demonstrate the vehicle’s effectiveness in operational scenarios. Experimentation was conducted off the coast of Bornholm, Denmark, with participants from Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific, Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Newport, and Mine Warfare Readiness and Effectiveness Measuring (MIREM) – all under the direction of U.S. Sixth Fleet Task Force 68.”

AUKUS must focus on quantum policy, not just the technology

Bronte Munro and Tristan Paci

Governments are notoriously behind the curve when it comes to technology policy. But the AUKUS security agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States is an opportunity for these like-minded partners to be first movers not just in quantum technology, but also in quantum policy.

Experts anticipate that scalable quantum technologies will arrive within five to 10 years, and that they will be highly disruptive to the commercial sector and to national security. The AUKUS partners are already working collaboratively on scaling quantum technology innovation and implementation, but there’s a parallel need to develop standards to address the potential regulatory, ethical, intelligence, commercial and legal implications of novel quantum technologies.

Take, for instance, how these new technologies might transform everyday computer processing. Quantum computing will enable complex problems to be solved very quickly, which will transform the work being done across a range of sectors, such as medical research, food security and climate change.

Quantum computers are different from conventional computers in many ways, but, critically, they store and interpret data in quantum bits, or ‘qubits’, rather than ‘bits’. Bits are the ones and zeros that get strung together sequentially to direct a computer’s processes. By comparison, qubits can exist as ones and zeros simultaneously, or in a state of suspension, which allows them to perform many calculations at the same time. The result is exponentially greater processing power. As Nobel Laureate Bill Phillips once observed, quantum computers are ‘more fundamentally different from current technology than the digital computer is from the abacus’.

How Russia’s war on Ukraine is threatening climate security

Oli Brown

The geopolitical consequences of Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine are coming into focus as the invasion enters its second year.

The war is an existential threat for Ukraine, but its impacts go well beyond the immediate devastation that it’s causing, particularly with regard to the climate.

The war is an existential threat for Ukraine, but its impacts go well beyond the immediate devastation that it’s causing, particularly with regard to the climate.

The war threatens to increase vulnerability to climate change around the world and therefore exacerbate climate-security risks.

It also risks hindering global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions as investigated in an independent paper coordinated by Chatham House for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Over the course of the past year, Russia has weaponized energy supplies – and the climate itself – as never before. It has cut or halted gas deliveries to many countries across Europe, aiming to sap their military, financial and political support for Ukraine. Indeed, in October 2022, Russia began systematically destroying power generation and heating infrastructure across Ukraine with the aim of freezing the population into submission.

The state of China–Russia cooperation over natural gas

Russia signed a 30-year agreement to supply natural gas to China just before launching the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This was the second such agreement between the countries, with the first occurring after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. China, however, appears reluctant to become dependent on Russian supplies and has been careful to structure the partnership to maintain the upper hand. This means that Russia’s efforts to divert gas exports eastward following its energy divorce with the European Union will achieve limited gains, leaving potentially 150 billion cubic metres of production capacity stranded for the foreseeable future.

On 4 February 2022, less than three weeks before launching an invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin travelled to Beijing and signed a 30-year agreement to supply natural gas to China. The deal – denominated in euros rather than US dollars – requires Gazprom, the Russian energy company, to supply the China National Petroleum Corporation with an additional 10.0 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually by 2026. Russia pledged to construct a new 620-kilometre pipeline as part of the agreement, which will increase onward supply by linking two existing Russian pipelines – Power of Siberia, connecting the Chayandinskoye gas field with northeast China, and another in the far east connecting two gas fields on Sakhalin Island with Vladivostok (see Figure 1).

Europe vs. Spyware

Romain Bosc

The alleged abuse of spyware by European government agencies constitutes a threat to civil and political rights. The extensive use of these intrusive technologies is blurring the line between legitimate hacking to combat crime and terrorism, and the possible arbitrary surveillance of journalists, activists, and political opponents.

The European Parliament’s PEGA Committee was established in March 2022 to investigate the use of surveillance spyware. It is already looking into reported cases of human rights violations in at least four EU member states and shedding light on the spyware industry’s wide-ranging ramifications. While some EU countries serve as export platforms or offer spyware vendors advantageous fiscal and banking conditions, other member states act as commercial hubs. Prague’s "Wiretappers Ball" trade fair gathers vendors and buyers, most of which are government agencies.

The committee’s first draft report, released in November 2022, states that national governments are “deliberately ignoring and violating EU laws” and emphasizes a general lack of transparency, redress, and oversight mechanisms to ensure a proportionate use of spyware by national intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Among the committee’s draft recommendations, published in January 2023, are an immediate moratorium on the use and sale of spyware, clear limits to “national security” exemptions under EU law, and reviews of national surveillance practices.

However, the oversight of intelligence services in the EU is most likely to remain a primarily national competence since member states will not surrender such authority to Brussels or any international entity. EU lawmakers should consequently focus on trade and internal market legislation, both of which are within their mandate to regulate the spyware industry. Any initiatives that yield more transparency on government development, purchase, and use of spyware would be welcome and set an important precedent. Such efforts should also include boosting EU cooperation with the technology industry and international democratic partners.

China and Russia Are in Relationship Hell—America Should Make It Worse

James Jay Carafano

First it was Blake and Gwen, then Meghan and Harry. Now everyone is asking: What’s up with Vlad and Jinping? The answer: It’s rough times ahead for the China-Russia bromance.

Beijing and Moscow share a common daydream of an isolated and diminished America that allows them to run amok around the world. But shared dreams alone are not a solid foundation for a long-term relationship.

For starters, China’s approach to geopolitics is best summed up by Rick’s classic line in the film “Casablanca”: “I stick my neck out for nobody.”

Sure, Beijing green-lighted Russia’s war of aggression and provided political cover for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United Nations. After all, it cost China nothing and discombobulated the West. And it’s more than happy to buy steeply discounted oil from Moscow.

China would probably do much more for Russia, too, as long as it couldn’t be held accountable for it. But take a real risk for Russia? I think not.

Washington recently warned that Beijing is considering sending arms and military aid to Moscow. The Chinese foreign minister denied that Wednesday. Who knows what the ground truth is? Still, it would be out of character for China to take a risk that didn’t directly offer a big payoff. Arms to Russia offers no such thing. Instead of untrained Russians being killed carrying Russian equipment, they’d be killed with Chinese equipment. That would not be a good look for China.

Lessons of Ukraine War: Rethinking America’s Footprint in Europe

James Jay Carafano

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine stands as the biggest shakeup in the transatlantic community since the fall of the wall. It has completely changed our world, and we must adapt.

Vladimir Putin is denuding his conventional military force. As a result, the future U.S. footprint in Europe should not be what it was in the past, nor does it need to be as robust as was once considered prudent. It is time to start talking about what the new face of the United States in Europe should look like.

Lord Palmerston, a ruthless and cunning old sot, zealously defended his empire without an ounce of empathy, political correctness, or scruples. Still, it’s hard to argue with his dictum: “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” This kind of righteous, hard thinking was lost in the post-Cold War world. Instead of ensuring that politics ends at the water’s edge, modern U.S. foreign policy looks increasingly like an extension of domestic policy squabbles.

Indeed, Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, has said, “We’ve reached a point where foreign policy is domestic policy, and domestic policy is foreign policy.” That is nonsense. We need a third way that structures America’s actions and commitments to match our vital interests. This is nowhere more important than in America’s European footprint.

Toward a trilateral Atlantic-Pacific community for the twenty-first century

Ash Jain

The end of World War II resulted in the establishment of a series of transatlantic institutions aimed at advancing and defending liberal norms and democratic values. Over time, this transatlantic family of institutions has expanded to include parts of East Asia and the South Pacific. Complementing the UN system, these entities have served as the cornerstone of a global liberal order, or rules-based order, that has provided shared rules and channels for free and fair global governance. For more than seventy years, this liberal order has helped ensure relative peace and stability around the world. But today, the rise of revisionist autocracies— from Xi Jinping’s China to Vladimir Putin’s Russia— threaten to disrupt and potentially displace this system.

As the world approaches a new era of strategic competition with revisionist autocracies, the existing transatlantic political, economic, and security entities need to be further expanded. To succeed in this competition, the United States must rally the support of willing allies and partners. This includes not just those in Europe and North America, but also in the Asia-Pacific. By consciously seeking to build a trilateral Atlantic-Pacific community—one that integrates Asia-Pacific allies as deeply as those in the transatlantic—the United States will be better positioned to defend the rules-based order and address the challenges of the twenty-first century.

The transatlantic family of institutions

Following World War II, the United States and its European allies sought to forge a new world order rooted in liberal values of democracy, economic openness, and the rule of law. Over the subsequent decades, they established a series of institutions aimed at fostering cooperation across economic, security, and political fronts. Together, this family of institutions formed the foundation of a US-led international order that has helped bring peace, security, and prosperity for much of the world over the past seventy years.

Averting Major Power War

Paul B. Stares

The Great Power Peace has tenuously held since the end of World War II. However, it now appears on shakier ground than ever before. Following Russia’s shocking invasion of Ukraine in 2022, as well as increasing tensions between China and the United States over the status of Taiwan, a clash between the world’s major nuclear-armed powers is a frightful possibility. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the official National Security Strategy of the United States declared that “the risk of conflict between major powers is increasing.”

Undoubtedly, such a conflict would cause unprecedented human, environmental, and economic damage. As noted by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985—and reiterated by Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in 2021—“a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” While a clear sentiment, how to ratchet tensions down and sustainably coexist is considerably less clear. Moreover, the need for international cooperation to address issues such as climate change, artificial intelligence, and future pandemics is greater than ever.

“For as long as the major powers remain fearful that they can be intimidated, coerced, and ultimately attacked by a rival in ways that not just undermine their security and political independence but ultimately threaten their very existence as sovereign states, the risk of dangerous crisis incidents and interactions will remain significant,” Stares argues.

A policy of mutual assured survival rests on several pillars, including but not limited to greater transparency over nuclear weapons protocols, bolstering crisis prevention systems and military-to-military hotlines, and refraining from interfering with each others’ internal politics and economies.

The ‘biggest beneficiary’ weighs in A China expert assesses Beijing’s ‘peace plan’ for Russia and Ukraine

On February 24, China’s Foreign Ministry published a peace plan for ending the war in Ukraine. The document, titled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis,” consists of 12 points, including calls for a ceasefire, peace negotiations, guarantees for sovereignty and independence for both countries, and an end to “the expansion of military blocs” and “unilateral sanctions.” Meduza spoke to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace fellow and China expert Temur Umarov about why it’s difficult to view the proposal as a sincere attempt to reach peace, whether Xi Jinping has the ability (or the desire) to pressure Vladimir Putin, and how Beijing hopes the plan will distance it from Moscow.

The peace plan that China released on the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is vague, self-contradictory, and largely avoids saying anything new; arguably the most notable aspect of the proposal is that China made a statement about the war at all. According to China expert Temur Umarov, the document’s ambiguity is par for the course.

“China regularly publishes so-called ‘white books’ [manifestos outlining Beijing’s official position] on foreign policy issues, and they’re always very extensive, vague, and ‘in support of everything good and against everything bad.’ Don’t expect the peace manifesto to have a serious effect on the war or to give China any kind of new role in this conflict,” he told Meduza.

In Umarov’s view, there are a number of reasons for China not to want to rock the boat when it comes to Russia’s war against Ukraine. If the war can be said to have a biggest beneficiary, he said, it’s China: in addition to the huge energy discounts Moscow has granted Beijing, the war has distracted the U.S. from its ongoing standoff with the country.



In a grave warning to the United States, Kim Jong-un laid out his guiding principles for responding to any of its military advances in the upcoming year: “nuke for nuke” and “all-out confrontation for an all-out confrontation”. After a year full of escalatory moves — testing a record number of missiles, issuing explicit nuclear threats, and violating South Korean airspace — North Korea (DPRK) has become more resolute about crossing significant thresholds, even in the face of the rampantly escalating risk of conflict with the US and South Korea (ROK). Escalation, in fact, plays a key role in North Korea’s grand strategy.

Under Kim’s leadership, North Korea has increasingly taken escalatory measures to achieve certain foreign policy aims, from gauging South Korea's military preparedness to testing America's commitment to South Korean defence to satisfying domestic audiences. But, while Kim can achieve some of these short-term goals through deliberate and calculated escalation, these same efforts frustrate North Korea’s more longstanding foreign policy aspirations, such as gaining international legitimacy and normalising relations with the United States. Thus, North Korea’s growing appetite for escalation suggests a change in the way Kim Jong-un is prioritising North Korea’s foreign policy objectives. Because North Korea has been able to adapt to the consequences of its escalatory measures despite the precarious situation on the Korean Peninsula, the short-term benefits of escalation are beginning to outweigh its long-term costs.

Globalization And Its Discontents

David R. Henderson

We increasingly hear, especially from politicians on the US right, that globalization is a problem. It hurts our workers and makes us more dependent on producers in other countries and their governments.

But is globalization a problem? In answering the question, we need to look not only at the costs of globalization but also at the benefits. To leave out the benefits is to engage in “single-entry bookkeeping.” And the benefits are many—from cheaper goods and services to diversification of supply chains to a more peaceful world.

The Main Costs of Globalization

First, though, we need to consider a major cost of globalization: the loss of jobs for people who are used to working in a particular industry and lose their jobs because of competition from imports. One of the biggest shocks that imports caused to domestic jobs is labeled the “China shock.” When China was granted most-favored-nation status in 2000, US consumers took advantage by buying hundreds of billions of Chinese imports annually. In 2016, a National Bureau of Economic Research study by MIT economist David Autor and his co-authors David Dorn of the University of Zurich and Gordon H. Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, made a big splash with its estimate of as many as 2.4 million jobs lost in US industries that competed with Chinese goods. According to these three authors, adjustment of these displaced workers to other industries was slow and a large percentage never regained the real income from working that they had had before the “China shock.”

Russia remains a ‘very capable’ cyber adversary, Nakasone says

Colin Demarest

WASHINGTON — U.S. Cyber Command is keeping a close watch on digital activity in the Russia-Ukraine war that may coincide with a springtime renewal of military operations, according to the organization’s leader, Gen. Paul Nakasone.

Nakasone, who oversees both CYBERCOM and the National Security Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee March 7 that his teams are monitoring the situation in Ukraine “very carefully,” noting that Russia remains a “very capable adversary.”

“By no means is this done, in terms of the Russia-Ukraine situation,” Nakasone said, responding to questions from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. “So, as Russia looks at armaments coming into the country, as Russia looks at different support, how do they react?”

The war in Eastern Europe kicked off Feb. 24, 2022, when Moscow launched a surprise incursion across the border into Ukraine, seeking to topple the government in Kyiv.

The invasion was preceded by a flurry of cyberattacks, including one on Viasat, a California company, meant to cripple command and control networks. The hack had no effect on Viasat’s government customers.

Sketching Out the Rules for Offensive Cyber Operations


The White House’s new National Cybersecurity Strategy could lead to more precise guidance on how the Pentagon conducts offensive cyber operations when it releases its own strategy in the coming weeks.

“There continues to be, I think, some frustration in different parts of the ecosystem about how much and how often, whether it's defending forward or other capabilities that DOD can bring to the table are deployed,” said Megan Stifel, the chief strategy officer for the Institute for Security and Technology.

The Pentagon’s upcoming cyber strategy will most likely focus on defending its own networks and the security of the defense industrial base. But Stifel said she hopes it will also address offensive cyber operations.

According to the national strategy, “DOD’s new strategy will clarify how U.S. Cyber Command and other DOD components will integrate cyberspace operations into their efforts to defend against state and non-state actors capable of posing strategic level threats to U.S. interests,” while bolstering partnerships with law enforcement, intelligence, and other federal agencies.

The potential for new policy is especially pertinent because it can be difficult to contain the effects of cyber actions, said John Sahlin, General Dynamics Information Technology’s director of cyber solutions for its defense division.

Raytheon wins $250M contract to build missile warning/tracking sats to monitor Chinese launches


WASHINGTON — Raytheon Technologies today announced it has been awarded a contract worth more than $250 million from the Space Development Agency (SDA) to build seven missile warning/tracking satellites — an award that stems from a congressional funding boost in the fiscal 2023 defense appropriations act, an SDA spokesperson told Breaking Defense.

The omnibus spending package, signed by President Joe Biden on Dec. 29, included $250 million specifically designed to help Indo-Pacific Command keep tabs on Chinese ballistic and hypersonic missile launches. The spending bill earmarked the new funds for “INDOPACOM missile tracking demonstration expansion.”

The new satellites will be integrated into SDA’s first operationally capable set of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, called “Tranche 1,” the SDA spokesperson explained.

Tranche 1 will include both missile warning/tracking birds for the Tracking Layer and data relay satellites for the Transport Layer of the agency’s planned (and newly named) Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.

The agency in July 2022 awarded L3Harris and Northrop Grumman contracts worth a total of $1.3 billion to develop the Tranche 1 Tracking Layer satellites, with each company to build 14 satellites to be deployed in two different orbital planes. Under SDA’s current schedule, launches of those satellites would begin in April 2025, but the Raytheon birds will fly later in 2025, the SDA spokesperson said.

Space Force to launch ‘marketplace’ for satellite-to-cellular communications services


WASHINGTON — The Space Force is planning later this year to request bids from providers of wireless phones enabled to connect with satellite networks, according to Clare Grason, director of the Commercial Space Communications Office (CSCO).

“The capability itself is very exciting to us,” she told a webinar Tuesday sponsored by Breaking Defense and Intelsat, explaining that it will enable the Defense Department “to equip warfighters with smaller and lighter, more capable, less expensive communication devices.”

Noting the increasing number of recent partnerships between satellite operators and wireless phone providers, such as that between T-Mobile and SpaceX and Qualcomm and Iridium, she explained that “some of these architectures will enable existing smartphones to seamlessly communicate with satellites using the cellular spectrum that’s been allocated to that to that [cell phone] provider.”

CSCO is currently working to develop a request for proposals (RFP), Grason said.

“I think we’re probably not looking at RFPs being released until later this year. But it is something for industry to keep their eyes open for and, and obviously, our customers. If you have any thoughts on that, we are in the market research phase, we’re open to feedback,” she said.

SPACECOM plans new, unified ‘Commercial Integration Office’ to work with private firms


WASHINGTON — US Space Command intends this spring to stand up a new, unified Commercial Integration Office to coordinate its efforts to on-board commercial capabilities, according to a recent SPACECOM planning document.

The new office will ensure coordination between the command’s two existing commercial outreach efforts, one managed by the Joint Task Force-Space Defense (JTF-SD) based at Schriever SFB in Colorado, and the other by the Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC), based at Vandenberg SFB in California.

The standup of the new office follows SPACECOM’s launch in January of an Industry Engagement Portal — designed as a entry way for companies interested in finding out more about the command’s requirements, and to help implement its Commercial Integration Strategy — that connects interested companies with the Industry Engagement Team at the Commercial Integration Branch of SPACECOM’s J8 Capability and Resource Integration Directorate.

“The J8’s Commercial Integration Branch is responsible for engaging with industry, implementing the USSPACECOM Commercial Integration Strategy, and facilitating integration of commercial capabilities into ongoing operations to enable USSPACECOM objectives,” the portal explains. “The Branch’s Industry Engagement Team is the point of entry and interface for informing industry of USSPACECOM priorities, coordinating engagements with the Command’s senior leaders, and performing outreach with industry partners.”

Advanced Technology and Economic Resilience Conference Report

Joseph Jarnecki

This conference report summarises discussions from the RUSI event series Advanced Technology and Economic Resilience (ATER). Events included speakers from government, the private sector and civil society, and focused on sovereign capability, partnerships and competition, and geostrategic instability that impact on the UK’s advanced technology horizons.

This report was produced and the ATER event series occurred prior to the creation of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). Many of the topics covered have substantial relevance to DSIT and RUSI will continue to assess them as part of the Technology and National Security programme.

Advanced technologies are increasingly important to strengthening national security and prosperity. The development and use of technologies including AI, synthetic biology and quantum represent a growing share of GDP and have societal impacts across productivity, safety and security, and international influence, among other areas.

Recent geopolitical events have seen global approaches and attitudes to advanced technology shift markedly. The invasion of Ukraine has led to a raft of sanctions against Russia by the US, the UK and partners, specifically targeting the supply of advanced technologies. However, in certain areas, exports have continued covertly, casting doubt over government control of domestic producers. Meanwhile, US trade restrictions on China targeting advanced semiconductors demonstrate the geostrategic importance of technology supply chains in interstate competition.

AI Nuclear Weapons Catastrophe Can Be Avoided

Noah Greene

In October 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense released its National Defense Strategy, which included a Nuclear Posture Review. Notably, the department committed to always maintain human control over nuclear weapons: “In all cases, the United States will maintain a human ‘in the loop’ for all actions critical to informing and executing decisions by the President to initiate and terminate nuclear weapon employment.”

This commitment is a valuable first step that other nuclear powers should follow. Still, it is not enough. Commitments like these are time and circumstance dependent. The U.S. military does not currently feel the need to produce and deploy such weapons, in part because it does not see other nuclear powers engaging in similar behavior. Thus, the threat of an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled arms race is not a high-level concern for military planners. In the future, emerging AI features will only increase the potential for disaster through the possibility of semiautonomous or fully autonomous nuclear weapons. To prevent this technology from ever entering the nuclear command-and-control structure, the five permanent members (P5) of the U.N. Security Council should lead a diplomatic negotiation between nuclear-armed states with the goal of producing an agreement that bans the research and development of semiautonomous and fully autonomous AI-enabled nuclear weapons. In this case, P5 members serve as a shorthand for the most prominent nuclear-armed states.