9 September 2023

G20 gathers in India with Xi absent

NEW DELHI: G20 leaders began to descend on New Delhi Friday, hoping to make progress on trade, climate and a host of other global problems despite the Chinese and Russian president’s skipping the summit.

The G20 was conceived in the throes of the 2008 financial crisis as a way of managing the global economy.

But as presidential and prime ministerial jets began landing in the Indian capital, the pointed absence of China’s Xi Jinping raised questions about what, if anything, the disparate bloc can still agree on.

As the summit was set to begin, officials had yet to achieve the normally routine task of smoothing over disagreements and finalizing a joint communique for leaders to sign off on.

No official reason has been given for Xi’s no-show, but China has been open about its desire to upend traditionally US-led groupings such as the G20 and replace them with something more amenable to Beijing’s interests.

Xi will instead host the leaders of Venezuela and Zambia in Beijing.

Diplomatic opprobrium and war crimes charges are also keeping Russian leader Vladimir Putin away, although Moscow continues to press allies to water down international condemnation of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Once again, Vladimir Putin is failing to show his face at the G20,” said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“He is the architect of his own diplomatic exile, isolating himself in his presidential palace and blocking out criticism and reality.”

How India Led the Way Toward a Human-Centered Future

"Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam." These two words capture a deep philosophy. They mean, "The world is one family." It's an all-embracing outlook that encourages us to progress as one universal family, transcending borders, languages, and ideologies.

During India's G20 Presidency, this has translated into a call for human-centric progress. As One Earth, we are coming together to nurture our planet. As One Family, we support each other in the pursuit of growth. And we move together towards a shared future—One Future—which is an undeniable truth in these interconnected times.

The post-pandemic world order is very different from the world that came before it. There have been three important changes, among others. First, there is a growing realization that we need a shift away from a GDP-centric view of the world to a human-centric one. Second, the world is recognizing the importance of resilience and reliability in global supply chains. Third, there has been a collective call for boosting multilateralism through the reform of global institutions.

Our G20 Presidency has played the role of catalyst in all three of these shifts.

In December 2022, when we took over the Presidency from Indonesia, I had written that the G20 must catalyze a mindset shift. This was especially necessary in the context of mainstreaming the marginalized aspirations of developing countries, the Global South, and Africa.

Rights groups condemn Taliban’s new curbs on women’s education, movement

Human rights groups have condemned the Taliban’s latest restrictions on Afghan women’s education and movement after it barred them from visiting one of Afghanistan’s most popular national parks and stopped them from leaving for the United Arab Emirates to study on academic scholarships.

Amnesty International said it denounced the Taliban’s latest action prohibiting female students from travelling to Dubai to start their university studies.

“This preposterous decision is a flagrant violation of the right to education and freedom of movement and demonstrates the continued gender persecution against women and girls in Afghanistan,” the rights group said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“The Taliban de-facto authorities must immediately reverse their decision and allow these female students to travel and study.”

The head of a Dubai-based conglomerate said Taliban authorities had stopped about 100 women from travelling to the UAE, where he said he had sponsored their university educations.

Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor, founding chairman of Al Habtoor Group, said in a video posted on X that he had planned to sponsor the female students to attend university and a plane he had paid for had been due to fly them to the UAE on Wednesday.

Afghanistan: A Final British Betrayal?

Tim Willasey

Just before midnight on Saturday 14 August 2021, a long line of beige-coloured 4x4 vehicles snaked out of a high-walled fortress in Logar Province, about 35 miles south of Kabul. The vehicles contained some 300 soldiers of Afghan Special Police Commando Force 333 (CF333). This was not the Afghan army evaporating and fleeing the Taliban advance. Quite the contrary: they were in uniform and fully armed. This was a British-trained and funded unit ‘marching to the sound of the guns’. Ignoring direct threats from the Taliban, they headed for Kabul to help with the defence of their capital city.

On the morning of 15 August, as the evacuation from Kabul airport got underway, the Commanding Officer (CO) and a squadron of around 40 soldiers were asked to deploy to the Baron Hotel at Kabul airport to provide protection for British passport holders. On 17 August, three of their number were evacuated, with the remaining 37 told by British troops that their assistance was no longer required. Meanwhile, two other squadrons of CF333 were ordered to patrol the east of the city while the remaining squadron defended the Police Special Units’ Headquarters. By evening, 333 was the last formed unit of Afghan soldiers still loyal to a regime whose president had fled in ignominy. Just before midnight, they were advised to save themselves. Some went to the airport; a few managed to get on flights.

Their last CO believes that several dozen members of CF333 have made it to the UK, and about double that number are still in Afghanistan. Most of the abandoned 333 survivors have been in hiding; others have fled to Pakistan, Iran and beyond. One has recently arrived by small boat from France. Those who still remain in Afghanistan are in constant danger.

Putin Races Against the Clock

Daniel Baer

Russian President Vladimir Putin never expected to find himself 18 months into a major war in Ukraine. In past entanglements, including the one he inherited in Transnistria (the breakaway region in Moldova) and the one he created in 2008 in Georgia, for instance, he was content to let conflicts simmer. But the conflagration in Ukraine is too big and too important: he can neither accept a slow burn nor effectuate the kind of frozen conflict now in place in several parts of the post-Soviet world. Putin’s strategy in the coming months is unlikely to be more of the same—the status quo is neither attractive nor sustainable for him. As he looks to the coming winter, he is thinking of ways to end the war on his terms.

He cannot do so simply by sending more troops and weapons to the frontlines—his reserves of both are limited. Instead, he will look anew for opportunities to inflict pain on Ukraine away from the frontlines. And because his approach is likely to become more brutal and sadistic, Ukraine and its international partners must be ready. Those supporting Ukraine and international law can find ways to enlarge the playing field and put more pressure on Putin.


One of the striking things about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is his apparently intuitive understanding that winning a war is not just a matter of having enough weapons and soldiers and managing supply lines, nor is it only about military strategy and tactics. Zelensky reminds many in the West of Winston Churchill because, just as the British prime minister did during World War II, he understands that war requires the stewardship of the national soul. A wartime leader, especially in an existential war, must be both general and prelate.

This at once secular and spiritual preservation of the nation requires boosting what is commonly understood as morale but also appealing to the deeper elements of common identity and sense of purpose in the face of horror and adversity—the kind of individual and collective belief that, in a quasi-religious fashion, encourages people to take a leap of faith: to believe in the possibility of alleviating their present condition and in their power to do something about it, even if they cannot see a plausible path to a better future.

What China is Learning from the Ukraine War


The war in Ukraine has seen a profusion of reports and documents that explore the purported lessons from the war. While it is much too early to describe our observations as such, these nonetheless play an important role for governments and military institutions to adjust their own strategy and military investments based on the events in Ukraine.

A subset of this large-scale discussion on lessons from the war in Ukraine is those that might be drawn by China for application in its strategic competition with the United States of America. Once again, this is a useful undertaking. We should be able to anticipate what our potential adversaries might learn from the largest war in Europe for over 70 years.

Multiple authors have produced articles and reports on this topic. In April 2022, Thomas Corbett, Ma Xiu and Peter Singer published an excellent piece with DefenseOne. They explored subjects such as joint operations, information warfare and logistics. In July last year, Evan Feigenbaum and Charles Hooper explored Chinese lessons during this event, including battle command, deterrence and the differentiation between political and warfighting functions of the PLA.

In February this year, Evan Feigenbaum and Adam Szubin published an article in Foreign Affairs about Chinese learning from the war. In June this year, the Atlantic Council published a report by John Culver and Sarah Kirchberger offers other useful insights. Finally, in July this year, Gabriel Dominguez examined the potential lessons that China could draw from Ukraine in a good article published by the Japan Times. There are other reports as well that are not listed here.


Riley Bailey

Ukrainian light infantry has advanced to positions beyond anti-tank ditches and dragon’s teeth anti-tank obstacles that comprise the current Russian defensive layer ahead of the Ukrainian advance in western Zaporizhia Oblast, and Ukrainian forces likely intend to hold those positions. ISW is not prepared to assess that Ukrainian forces have breached this Russian defensive layer in the absence of observed Ukrainian heavy equipment in these areas. Geolocated footage published on September 4 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced to tree-line positions that are east of the Russian anti-tank ditches and dragon’s teeth obstacles that are a part of a tri-layered defense immediately west of Verbove (18km southeast of Orikhiv).[1] Geolocated footage published on September 4 indicates that Ukrainian light infantry has also advanced further into a series of prepared Russian defensive positions along the road that runs northwest into Verbove.[2] Other geolocated footage published on September 4 indicates that Ukrainian forces have advanced up to Russian defensive positions between Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) and Novoprokopivka (13km south of Orikhiv).[3] Ukrainian forces are widening the breach they have already made in one Russian defensive layer and are reportedly maneuvering more equipment and personnel into tactical rear areas of this layer.[4] Ukrainian forces appear to be making gains in the immediate vicinity of the not-yet-breached Russian defensive layer that runs northwest of Verbove to north of Solodka Balka (20km south of Orikhiv) with infantry assaults and heavy artillery fire on Russian positions further into and south of this layer.[5] The deployment of Ukrainian heavy equipment and more substantial forces to these areas than ISW has so far observed would indicate both a breach of this Russian defensive layer and an effort to widen that breach.

Saudi cabinet reviews Kingdom’s efforts to enhance international cooperation to confront water challenges

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet reviewed the Kingdom’s efforts to enhance international multilateral cooperation to confront water challenges on Tuesday.

The discussion came a day after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the Kingdom is establishing a global water organization, which is to be based in Riyadh, to enhance efforts to address water challenges.

The organization aims to integrate and aid attempts made by governments and other bodies to secure global water sustainably.

The Cabinet was also briefed on the content of talks that recently took place with a number of leaders of friendly countries concerning relations and ways to enhance them in various fields.

Heritage Commission scheme opens world of archaeology for young Saudis


The commission said that children, through the “Once Upon a Time” corner, view a scene that simplifies the concept of archaeology and shows the great value of ancient civilizations, and their unique and precious heritage

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s Heritage Commission in Abha recently concluded the Little Explorer initiative — a national scheme designed to inspire the next generation’s curiosity and interest in the region’s heritage and archaeological discoveries.

The program, which is being held around Saudi Arabia, aims to educate children in antiquities and explore the history of the Kingdom and its civilizations in a fun and informative manner.

The little explorer initiative aims to prepare a generation that understands the importance of heritage and involve them in archaeological excavations. (Supplied)

The Heritage Commission told Arab News that the Little Explorer initiative was launched by Prince Badr bin Abdullah, minister of culture and chairman of the Heritage Commission’s board of directors, in March 2022.

The U.S. and Europe Are Splitting Over Ukraine

Phillips Payson O’Brien

Europe and the United States are on the verge of the most momentous conscious uncoupling in international relations in decades. Since 1949, NATO has been the one constant in world security. Initially an alliance among the United States, Canada, and 10 countries in Western Europe, NATO won the Cold War and has since expanded to include almost all of Europe. It has been the single most successful security grouping in modern global history. It also might collapse by 2025.

The cause of this collapse would be the profound difference in outlook between the Republican Party’s populist wing—which is led by Donald Trump but now clearly makes up the majority of the GOP—and the existential security concerns of much of Europe. The immediate catalyst for the collapse would be the war in Ukraine. When the dominant faction within one of the two major American political parties can’t see the point in helping a democracy-minded country fight off Russian invaders, that suggests that the center of the political spectrum has shifted in ways that will render the U.S. a less reliable ally to Europe. The latter should prepare accordingly.

The past few weeks have revealed that Trump’s pro-Russian, anti-NATO outlook isn’t just a brief interlude in Republican politics; suspicion of American involvement in supporting Ukraine is now the consensus of the party’s populist heart. During last week’s GOP presidential debate, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy—the two candidates most intent on appealing to the party’s new Trumpist base—both argued against more aid for Ukraine. DeSantis did so softly, by vowing to make any more aid conditional on greater European assistance and saying he’d rather send troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Ramaswamy was more strident: He described the current situation as “disastrous” and called for a complete and immediate cessation of U.S. support for Ukraine. Ramaswamy later went even further, basically saying that Ukraine should be cut up; Vladimir Putin would get to keep a large part of the country. Trump did not take part in the debate, but he has previously downplayed America’s interest in an Ukrainian victory and has seemed to favor territorial concessions by Ukraine to Russia. He, DeSantis, and Ramaswamy are all playing to the same voters—who, polls suggest, make up about three-quarters of the Republican electorate.

China’s Flagging Economy

Bill King

For most of the last decade, there has been a ubiquitous media narrative that it was just a matter of time before China’s economy surpassed the U.S. economy. However, in the last year, there has been a neck-snapping reversal in that narrative. Now, there is story after story highlighting the weakness of China’s economy and frequently making dire predictions about its future. But a cooling of the Chinese economy was always in the cards and while it faces serious challenges, it is still going to be the second-largest economy in the world for a long time.

In the 1980s, then-Premier Deng Xiaoping led far-reaching, market-based reforms of his country’s economy that resulted in phenomenal growth. Between 1980 and 2020, China averaged an unprecedented annual GDP growth of over 8%. During those four decades, China eliminated more extreme poverty than had ever been accomplished previously in the history of the world.

But China’s growth topped out in 2010 at just over 10% and began a slow but steady decline. By 2019, its growth had slowed to just under 6% for the first time since the early 1990s. Then came COVID and the Chinese government’s bizarre and ultimately disastrous response. Economic growth crashed to below 3% in 2020 and 2022. (In 2021, China’s economy grew by 8%, primarily fueled by the buying spree of Americans quarantined in their homes by COVID. But that boom proved to be short-lived.) While COVID was clearly an exogenous event, the slowdown in China’s economic growth was inevitable. COVID simply accelerated it.

As I discussed in an earlier post, China is in a demographic spiral from which there is no escape. This year, it joined a handful of countries whose population has already begun to decline. The basic economic formula for economic growth is the change in population plus the change in productivity. For China, the first of those addends will be a negative number in the future. Therefore, its growth will entirely depend on its ability to improve productivity.

Study warns of a billion human deaths if global warming reaches or exceeds 2°C

Nandita Banerji

If global warming reaches or exceeds two degrees Celsius by 2100, it could lead to deaths of roughly a billion people, a study quantifying future harms caused by carbon emissions has found.

Mainly richer humans would be responsible for the deaths of mainly poorer humans over the next century, it said, comparing it to involuntary or negligent manslaughter.

The analysis suggested aggressive energy policies to enable immediate and substantive decreases in carbon emissions. It also recommended a heightened level of government, corporate and citizen action to accelerate the decarbonisation of the global economy, aiming to minimise the number of projected human deaths.

The major review of 180 articles from scientific literature was authored by Joshua Pearce, University of Western Ontario’s John M Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Richard Parncutt from the University of Graz, Austria. It was published in journal Energies on August 19, 2023.

The oil and gas industry, which includes many of the world’s most profitable and powerful companies, directly and indirectly emits more than 40 per cent of carbon emissions, affecting billions of people in remote and underdeveloped communities, the paper said.
1,000-tonne rule

Why does it feel like pre- or post-monsoon in the middle of monsoon?

Akshit Sangomla

The southwest monsoon season has behaved weirdly towards the end of August and early September, with characteristics more like the pre- or post-monsoon season. This adds to the other weird anomalies, including the more than 60,000 lightning strikes over Odisha in a matter of a couple of hours on September 3, that have been observed in the current monsoon season.

The imposition of the ongoing El Nino event in the equatorial Pacific Ocean on a generally warmer planet may be the reason for this strange behaviour of the monsoon.

To begin with the western end of the monsoon trough, the extended low pressure region that causes most of the rainfall over India during the season lies north of its normal position that is a characteristic of the break monsoon phase, while its eastern end lies south of its normal position, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). This makes the monsoon pattern quite skewed.

Further, "the monsoon winds at lower levels have been avoiding India since around August 28 and are ongoing right now. You can see (in the graphic below) that the dominant wind pattern over India was from the north / northwest and the monsoon flow was over the Arabian Sea. Then it was going down towards southern India and into the Bay of Bengal. This is the usual pre-monsoon pattern,” Akshay Deoras, a research scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, United Kingdom, told Down To Earth.

Addressing India's Agri-Water Crisis

Kanishka Chatterjee

For years, experts have been urging people to understand that the fast-depleting status of groundwater is not beneficial for conventional agriculture. In India, the correlation between many agricultural issues and poor agri-water management is stark. With over 600 million farmers collectively contributing to 10% of the global agricultural yield, India’s farmers tend to disproportionately use groundwater and lack awareness about its actual levels.

In recent years, the narrative has largely shifted towards adoption of alternative and organic farming methods, which is easier said than done. This shift is difficult for small and marginal farmers owning less than 2 hectares of land, who form about 85% of India’s farmer population. According to the recent annual survey by TRIF/DIU, despite the challenging livelihood circumstances involved with small and marginal farming, around 84% of these farmers do not want to sell their land to pursue other economic activities.

While 85% of this section of rural India continues to be dependent on groundwater for their livelihood, they continue to be unaware of the dangers of its depleting levels. In Punjab, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu 76%, 63%, and 40% of groundwater blocks respectively are “over-exploited” wherein the used excessive groundwater is threatening to overtake the groundwater recharged.

For a country as big as India, with only 4% of the world’s freshwater resources, their uneven distribution, and poor methods of irrigation deployed for agricultural purposes compounds the stress on water for agriculture. We are not water deficient, rather water inefficient. It’s time we encouraged smarter, scalable technological interventions and innovations anchoring on improving productivity while addressing existing agrarian challenges pushing for efficient use of water and farmland.

Gabon: a jubilant transition to make a “clean slate” for the Bongos

Gabonese people celebrated Monday with jubilation the inauguration of the new president of the transition, General Brice Oligui Nguema, in Libreville, their capital, hoping that his arrival and the transition he announced would mark the end of " asphyxiation ".

A crowd of thousands of people had formed since the early hours of the day on the esplanade of the Hassan II mosque which adjoins the presidential palace, to attend the inauguration ceremony of the new strong man of Gabon who ousted of power Ali Bongo Ondimba , who had held it for 14 years.

“We feel freedom, joy, happiness!” , enthuses Lucrèce Mengué, 28 years old, among the first arrivals to secure a place of choice “at the forefront of the history that is being written” , she says.

With her, thousands of people euphorically followed the ceremony on giant screens, waving hundreds of small tricolour flags : green, yellow, and blue, the colors of Gabon.

Holder of a BTS in logistics and job search, the young woman describes the “lead weight” which until now weighed on the youth of Gabon and which she hopes to see lifted with the end of the “Bongo dynasty”. which lasted 55 years.

Ali Bongo, placed under house arrest by the military since the putsch, was elected in 2009 upon the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba , who had ruled this country, very rich in its oil and pillar of "Françafrique", for more than 41 years.

Kenya championing greater use of renewable energy in Africa

Kenya generates more than 70% of its energy from renewable sources like geothermal, hydro and wind energy, with the solar energy sector becoming attractive for industrial and home use.

The Kenyan government zero rates the importation of some inputs like solar panels and inverters to encourage sales.

During the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, President William Ruto, echoed that Africa can manage to depend entirely on renewable energy,

"The continent has enough potential to be entirely self-sufficient with the mixture of wind, solar, geothermal, sustainable biomass and hydropower." he said.

However, solar technology that is imported into Kenya continues to be taxed with import duties and retailers often have to charge over 15 percent value added tax making consumers foot the high cost of going green.

Solar energy’s reliability and lower cost despite initial high installation capital has attracted steel manufactures and edible oil factories who form some of the biggest clientele for a company based in the capital, Nairobi.

The Solar Managing Director for Clean Power Rashmi Shah said the company has done 25,000 kilowatts of installations in the last six years adding that “it’s very clean energy” and clients are able to recover their initial costs with savings made within the first four years.

Moroccans rally against killing of two jet skiers by Algerian coastguard

Dozens of Moroccans on Monday gathered outside the parliament in Rabat to denounce "the crime committed by the Algerian state" after two holidaymakers jet skiing in Morocco were shot dead by the Algerian coastguard on Friday.

The holiday makers were alleged to have strayed across the maritime border between the two Mediterranean countries.

Algeria said Sunday its security forces had opened after the group of jet skiers ignored warning shots and refused to comply with orders to stop. "During a security patrol inside our territorial waters, a coastguard unit intercepted on Tuesday at 7:47 pm (18:47 GMT), three jet skis that clandestinely entered our territorial waters," a defence ministry press release said.

Hicham Mellioui, member of the Moroccan League for Citizenship and Human Rights at the rally in Rabat on Monday called on the "Moroccan government to take a very firm stance in the face of these crimes". "Whether through declarations, through possible actions before international bodies, to challenge them (Algeria), at least in the media, with official statements, with diplomatic acts" Mellioui said.

Another member Thami Belmaalam said Moroccan and international associations will be filing applications with the international courts tomorrow. "A letter will be sent to the UN Secretary-General for the same reason."

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Expected to Meet Putin in Russia

Warren P. Strobel

WASHINGTON—North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to travel to Russia soon to meet with President Vladimir Putin, U.S. officials said Monday, the latest sign that negotiations are accelerating over ammunition Moscow is seeking for its war in Ukraine.

The trip would be unusual for the North Korean leader, who rarely travels abroad. Moscow and Pyongyang have grown closer amid economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure from the U.S. and its allies.

The planned Kim-Putin meeting was earlier reported by the

New York Times, which said Kim would likely travel by armored train to meet Putin next week in Vladivostok, on Russia’s eastern coast.

“Arms negotiations between Russia and the DPRK are actively advancing,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement, noting that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled to Pyongyang in July to try to persuade North Korea to sell artillery ammunition to Russia. North Korea’s formal name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“We have information that Kim Jong Un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia,” Watson said.

It couldn’t be determined what intelligence information led to the U.S. assessment of the expected Kim-Putin summit and the accelerating bargaining over weaponry.

Kim Jong-un and Putin Plan to Meet in Russia to Discuss Weapons

Edward Wong

Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, plans to travel to Russia this month to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin to discuss the possibility of supplying Russia with more weaponry for its war in Ukraine and other military cooperation, according to American and allied officials.

In a rare foray from his country, Mr. Kim would travel from Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, probably by armored train, to Vladivostok, on the Pacific Coast of Russia, where he would meet with Mr. Putin, the officials said. Mr. Kim could possibly go to Moscow, though that is not certain.

Mr. Putin wants Mr. Kim to agree to send Russia artillery shells and antitank missiles, and Mr. Kim would like Russia to provide North Korea with advanced technology for satellites and nuclear-powered submarines, the officials said. Mr. Kim is also seeking food aid for his impoverished nation.

Both leaders would be on the campus of Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok to attend the Eastern Economic Forum, which is scheduled to run Sept. 10 to 13, according to the officials. Mr. Kim also plans to visit Pier 33, where naval ships from Russia’s Pacific fleet dock, they said. North Korea celebrates the anniversary of its founding on Sept. 9.

On Wednesday, the White House warned that Mr. Putin and Mr. Kim had exchanged letters discussing a possible arms deal, citing declassified intelligence. A White House spokesman, John F. Kirby, said high-level talks on military cooperation between the two nations were “actively advancing.” U.S. officials declined to give more details on the state of personal ties between the leaders, who are considered adversaries of the United States.

China to launch new $40 billion state fund to boost chip industry, sources say

Julie Zhu

It is likely to be the biggest of three funds launched by the China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund, also known as the Big Fund.

Its target of 300 billion yuan ($41 billion) outdoes similar funds in 2014 and 2019, which according to government reports, raised 138.7 billion yuan and 200 billion yuan respectively.

One main area of investment will be equipment for chip manufacturing, said one of the two people and a third person familiar with the matter.

President Xi Jinping has long stressed the need for China to achieve self-sufficiency in semiconductors. That need has become all the more pressing after Washington imposed a series of export control measures over the last couple of years, citing fears that Beijing could use advanced chips to boost its military capabilities.

In October, the U.S. rolled out a sweeping sanctions package that cut China’s access to advanced chipmaking equipment and U.S. allies Japan and the Netherlands have taken similar steps.

The new fund was approved by Chinese authorities in recent months, two of the people said.

China’s finance ministry is planning to contribute 60 billion yuan, said one person. Other contributors could not be immediately learned.

All the sources declined to be identified as the discussions were confidential.

AFCENT Special Operations Task Group prepares JASSM capabilities

Jennifer Zima

U.S. Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) service members demonstrated the capability for the MC-130J Commando II to load, unload, forward arm, and arm the aircraft with the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, or AGM-158 JASSMs, as part of Rapid Dragon, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Aug. 6, 2023.

JASSM is a low observable standoff air-launched cruise missile, intended to keep aircrews out of range of hostile air defense systems without compromising lethality. Rapid Dragon is a precision munitions capability for medium-sized or larger cargo aircraft that allows U.S. forces a flexible rapid response option.

"We are demonstrating the capability for the MC-130, which is a special operations C-130 Super Hercules, to load, unload, and if it should become necessary -- arm the aircraft with the JASSM,” said Maj. Anthony Belviso, Special Operations Task Group – Central operations director. “We practiced loading the JASSM collocated with the aircraft, to ensure our processes are in place, in the event to forward arm for the F-16 Fighting Falcons or any of the bomber at a forward location, we can do that quickly and effectively.”

While service members conduct ground static training and stand ready for forward rearming and RAPID DRAGON employment, every detail, to include the ground movements and loading procedures, must be practiced to keep maintenance and crews ready at all times.

A Shift in Ukrainian Strategy

George Friedman

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced over the weekend that he replaced his defense minister with someone new – unsurprising, given the exhaustion the minister must have endured since the Russian invasion (and even before). Even so, the move is less about the concern Zelenskyy felt for his defense minister and more about the fact Ukraine has reached a critical stage in the war.

It is so critical, in fact, that a group of senior U.S. generals met with Ukrainian generals on the border with Poland. The meeting was held there to validate the claim that U.S. forces are not involved in Ukraine proper, which is both true and false. U.S. forces are not in Ukraine, but logistical support and strategic advice have been generous. Coupled with the defense minister’s replacement, the message the U.S. delivered was that Ukrainian strategy was going to fail, and a new strategy had to be adopted. Clearly, Zelenskyy listened.

Ukraine’s strategy has been brilliant, especially in the early stages of the war. Rather than attempting to block Russian advances with concentrated forces that Russia could destroy relatively easily, Ukraine distributed its force into small units, each granted a high degree of freedom. The point was to focus on the tactical level rather than create a single, integrated and centrally commanded force. It doomed Russia’s initial invasion. A massed force engaged and slowly attritted by much smaller forces made it impossible for Russia to destroy the Ukrainian army as quickly as it intended. The army’s knowledge and familiarity with the terrain it was fighting on enabled small teams to locate and engage Russian forces and then disappear like phantoms.

The hope was that a discouraged Moscow would simply reconsider its campaign. That didn’t happen; the Russian army instead spent a year trying to capture cities rather than destroying the Ukrainian army. Uncertain as the strategy was, it played to Russia’s strengths in massed forces and artillery. It had the added benefit of, in theory, destroying Ukrainian morale. But given the way the Wagner Group carried the campaign out, the subjugation of the cities took too long, and whatever psychological effects were possible quickly dissipated.

After Canada and Australia, Malaysia now wants Google, Meta to pay news outlets for content

Soon after Canada asked internet companies like Meta and Google to strike a deal with news local publishers, Malaysia is also mulling to introduce similar regulations to compensate outlets for content sourced from them.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said that the country’s government is in discussions with officials from Google, Meta and other major online platforms over the regulatory framework.

Regulations akin to Australian rules

The MCMC said that the proposed regulations will be similar to rules in Australia. The country, in 2021, made it compulsory for Google and Meta to compensate local media outlets for content that generates clicks and advertising dollars.

Malaysia is also mulling rules similar to Canada's Bill C-11 to regulate streaming platforms and require them to support Canadian content.

Google had previously said that the Canadian government has not given the company “reason to believe that the regulatory process will be able to resolve structural issues with the legislation.”

Apple could release a ‘low-cost’ MacBook to take on Chromebooks

Apple is reportedly working on developing a new series of low-cost MacBooks specifically designed for education purpose.

The new MacBook is expected to be priced significantly lower than the entry-level MacBook Air, according to a report from DigiTimes. It is suggested that Apple is aiming to compete with Chromebooks in this market. The launch of these new MacBook models is expected to take place in the second half of 2024.

Currently, Apple has two MacBook lineups – Air and Pro. The Air comes in two sizes – 13 inches and 15 inches, and there are two chip configurations available – M1 and M2 chip, starting at $999 or Rs 99,9900. Then, there is the MacBook Pro lineup, which includes three sizes – 13 inches, 14 inches, and 16 inches, and it comes in three chip configurations – M2, M2 Pro, and M2 Max, starting at $1,199.

Citing sources, the report suggests that Apple wants to introduce the low-cost MacBooks to differentiate between its existing MacBook Air and Pro lineup. The low-cost MacBook would look similar to the Air and Pro models, using the same metal casing but would use different materials for other components, which should bring the price down, allowing for an affordable price tag, targeting the education sector.

Remind Me Again...What Were We Deterring? Cyber Strategy and Why the United States Needed a Paradigm Shift

Sam Brown

Since the turn of the century, cyber warfare has developed into a new domain of conflict. Cyber warfare has recently brought new conceptual frameworks to strategic thinking. Persistent engagement, sometimes called active defense or hunt forward, is a new paradigm within the domain. In short, persistent engagement enables American cyber warriors to take a more forward-leaning posture, proactive rather than reactive. This approach has critics, of course. At times, persistent engagement seems to be little more than a thin veneer of justification for aggressive offensive action. Stepping back to a more theoretical level, the question is whether a new paradigm is even necessary. The answer to this question is an unqualified yes.

The primary purpose of this work is to explore why shifting to a new paradigm was so necessary. This will involve a brief historical summary of cyber conflict. Furthermore, an analysis of the deterrence paradigm that came before persistent engagement must be included. Of course, persistent engagement itself must be described. To wrap up, a follow-on question will be discussed. What precedents and norms does persistent engagement set for the international community? How cyberspace is being normed is the main thrust of persistent engagement’s critics. Thus, establishing whether the policy is creating or reacting to its environment is an important distinction.


Cyberspace originated in the 1970s and 1980s as the American military developed new information technology for communications.[1] Information technology’s interconnected nature enabled a user on one system to affect other systems’ functionality. A malicious actor could potentially cripple an entire communication system. Once information technology became integrated with physical control systems, the ability expanded to remotely causing physical damage. Quick proliferation in the commercial and private worlds meant this vulnerability now threatens everybody. Given information technology’s ubiquity and low cost of entry, the range of potentially malicious actors is quite broad. On the one hand, nation state actors employing national level agencies have a lot to gain from espionage and can apply damaging or destructive cyber actions in a more military-like manner. On another extreme, individuals can wreak havoc for profit or personal ideology. In between, there are plenty of non-state groups active in cyberspace from organized crime to “hacktivist” organizations.