22 September 2023

The Truth About “India’s Moment”


WASHINGTON, DC – India is having a moment. This summer, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was treated to a state visit in America and then hosted as the prize guest at France’s Bastille Day celebrations. To Modi’s many fans, this high-profile courting was an irrefutable confirmation of India’s arrival on the world stage. Yet they would do well to ask why India’s star suddenly seems to be rising.Is it because of India’s own accomplishments, or is it more a reflection of China’s rise as a power that America and Europe now must confront?

Hope is a powerful drug. What we saw this summer was a hasty effort by Western governments to conjure up their own preferred version of India – one that they can count on in a global order that China is rapidly reshaping. In reality, India’s moment has already passed. The preceding ten years will eventually be rued as a lost decade in which public-relations fireworks outstripped public-policy acumen.

After Modi came to power in 2014, the economic momentum that he inherited from his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, succumbed to a raft of ill-conceived policies (remember demonetization?), including several – such as farm bills and a data-localization scheme – that he was eventually forced to reverse. And on the political front, he has eroded Indian democracy and polarized the country by abrogating Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood and turning it into a militarized territory administered by India;

India’s Tale of Two Diasporas

Anchal Vohra

As leaders of some of the most influential countries descended in New Delhi to participate in the G-20 summit last week, a leading politician of the Indian opposition arrived in Europe to talk about India’s descent into majoritarianism. Rahul Gandhi, a scion of the Congress party whose father, grandmother, and great-grandfather were India’s prime ministers, began his four-nation tour last week in Brussels, where he said at a press conference that India’s democratic institutions were “under attack from the group of people who are running India.”

China Will Continue to "Encircle" and "Surround" Taiwan With Carriers and Attack Aircraft


"Surround Taiwan" and "block escape from the East" were the phrases Chinese military experts used to describe the People's Liberation Army - Navy's recent large-scale warship patrol through the Taiwan straights in what was an overt, close-in effort to "encircle" and intimidate the island.

China's operational Shandong aircraft carrier, supported by a large PLA Carrier Strike Group of destroyers and flotillas traveled just 60-miles SouthEast of the Southern most point of Taiwan and sea-launched surveillance planes and J-16 fighter jets in violation of Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone, according to the Chinese government-backed Global Times newspaper. Chinese violations of Taiwan's ADIZ are by no means new or unprecedented as they have in fact tripled in recent years, a large-scale air-surface, carrier-supported effort to "encircle" Taiwan very close in seems to indicate an escalation.

The Chinese paper quotes a military expert saying "the carrier Shandong will likely continue to practice surrounding the island of Taiwan from its east, cutting down potential escape routes of "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces and keeping external interference forces at bay."

The use of the term "surround" may be quite deliberate as China may be inclined to think it could quickly surround, overwhelm and "annex" Taiwan faster than any forces defending the island could respond. Pentagon annual reports on China call this a "fait accompli," referring to a potential Chinese strategy which would seek to take the island quickly and make it simply too costly in lives and dollars for any force to attempt to "extricate," "dislodge," "remove," or "defeat" an occupying Chinese force.

The Risk Of Self-Destructive Competition In Chinese Photovoltaic Industry


Electric passenger cars, solar cells, and lithium batteries constitute China’s three new important products in foreign trade. Against the backdrop of an overall decline in the country’s exports this year, these three products have maintained rare export growth. That being said, China’s photovoltaic industry development is facing potential risks of industry-wide overcapacity, and even self-destructive competition.

According to reports from the Chinese business news site Caixin, JionkoSolar, the world’s largest photovoltaic component shipper, has declared its focus on investments in its Shanxi mega-base. The company plans to invest in a 56GW strategic capacity project in four phases over two years. This mega-integrated solar super factory, the world’s largest, covers the entire chain of production, including silicon wafers, cells, and modules. It is also the industry’s largest production base for next-generation N-type batteries, with a total investment of approximately RMB 56 billion.

JinkoSolar’s massive investment plan symbolizes the current state of development in China’s photovoltaic industry. While the industry appears to be experiencing a booming phase of investment and massive capacity expansion, it has, in reality, started to witness looming dark clouds over it. Since 2023, the combined forces of capital, enterprises, and the government, hot money has poured in. Then, there is the announced capacity for various segments of the photovoltaic industry chain that by the end of 2023,

Libya: Effect Of Killer Storm Made Worse By Decade Of Conflict

Dale Gavlak

Just hours after epic storm Daniel dumped torrential rains on Libya’s coast, breaching dams and killing thousands, some called it perhaps the deadliest and costliest Mediterranean tropical-like cyclone ever recorded.

Described by some scientists as the latest extreme weather event linked to climate change, analysts tell VOA that conflict, political division and neglect of public infrastructure also played a role in making Libya helpless as Daniel’s downpour burst two dams, sweeping entire neighborhoods of the coastal city of Derna into the sea.

“Bodies are lying everywhere in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings,” one Libyan official told the Associated Press.

Some experts familiar with the stricken region say the sheer scope of the devastation goes beyond a climate crisis-induced catastrophe.

“Years of conflict and division, administrative malfeasance and misgovernance hitting this very vulnerable area” has compounded the impact of the storm, said Stephanie Williams, a non-resident senior fellow at Washington’s Brookings Institution, who served as a U.N. special advisor on Libya.

When I met diplomats, who was spying on who?

Matthew Parris

We humans are obsessed with espionage: always have been, always will be. Never forget this when approaching any spy-related story. The tale may turn out to be important and disturbing; but remember that even if it were not it would still have its audience on the edge of our seats. We are captivated by the world of spooks, and this can lend them the ear of politicians and the media, and the mystique that comes with knowing more than we can ask them to say.

Why such awe? The answer lies as much in human psychology as in the historical record. Treachery fascinates us. For good Darwinian reasons, something within all of us keeps a wary eye out for false friends, for concealed danger, for persons unknown who are trying to compromise us, poison us, steal our secrets or undermine our security. Hence the enduring appeal of spy novels, spy documentaries and spy movies. A splinter of incipient paranoia pierces us all.

Certainly there have been episodes, though usually in war or counterterrorism, when the course of history has been changed by espionage, and these remain rightly vivid in our imagination. I most emphatically do not belong to the “it’s all rubbish” view of spying. We tend to forget, however, the wealth of energetic but unproductive effort to harvest information from which little useful was ever gained. Scandals leap into our thoughts: Profumo, Keeler and Captain Ivanov, Burgess, Maclean, Philby, Blunt: some just dupes, others traitors. Philby betrayed British agents just as Soviets who we “turned” doubtless betrayed Soviet agents, but did you ever learn and, if you did, do you now remember what it was the Soviet Union actually gained from many of these that proved of critical importance? Our enemies and our competitors are often quite stupid.

The Geopolitical and Security Impacts of Seabed Mining

Wilder Alejandro Sanchez

The summer blockbuster movie, The Meg 2: The Trench, focuses on prehistoric sharks, among other sea creatures, battling against Jonas, portrayed by Jason Statham, and his friends. A side plot of the movie concerns a particularly topical issue in the real world: seabed mining.

A Quick Summary…

This section contains minor spoilers about The Meg 2. When Jonas and his teammates cross the thermocline to reach the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, where the megalodons live, they come across a rogue seabed mining operation. Subsequent scenes show how the “bad guys” are mining the seabed for unspecified “rare earth metals; “this box alone could be a billion dollars,” said one character.

During the movie’s mandatory exposition by the villain, the CEO of the fictitious X-Pletandum Technologies Hillary Driscoll (played by Sienna Guillory), she explains her plans to farm the seabed for rare earths, regardless of the environmental destruction. “Before you start whining about the ecosystem, who cares? We’ll make billions. And no one is going to see the damage we do,” she brags. She has also hired mercenaries for this operation; the group leader has no problem sacrificing his workers by blowing up a ridge with explosives where the minerals are located.

Biden’s BRI Moment

Peter Fabricius

United States (US) President Joe Biden sounded positively Xi Jinping-ish this week when he said the New Delhi G20 summit provided a ‘new path’ that would save everybody money and increase the global south’s capacity to grow.

Biden was referring to a new corridor from India to the Middle East and Britain, including new railroads, shipping lanes and pipelines. Xi wasn’t at the summit, but this seemed like an alternative to his famous Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connecting China to Europe – with tentacles snaking off to Africa.

Biden and the leaders of India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union (EU) announced the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor at the G20’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI) event.

Biden added an African dimension, saying another G20 project was a railroad across Africa. The first stage will support rehabilitation of the existing Lobito Corridor – a 1 300 km Angolan railway that continues for 400 km in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Kolwezi, the heart of the Copperbelt.

The corridor is the shortest route to US and European markets for DRC and Zambian minerals and products

Europe Must Get Serious About Critical Minerals


LUXEMBOURG – Throughout human history, raw materials have played a key role in economic development, international relations, and the destinies of entire nations and civilizations. From precious metals (silver and gold) and agricultural commodities (sugar, rubber, silk, and spices) to energy resources such as oil and gas, changes in demand spurred by technological developments have rewritten global trade patterns, shifted fortunes, and often fueled conflict and exploitation.

In the 2020s, we are becoming increasingly reliant on a new set of critical raw materials, including rare-earth elements (REEs) and metals such as lithium, gallium, and germanium. These commodities’ use in everything from solar panels, batteries, and wind turbines to computer chips for industry and defense makes them vital to the green and digital transitions, which in turn will determine our future on this planet.

Europe will never be able to meet its own demand for REEs or lithium domestically, but nor should that be its goal. The goal, rather, is to secure access to critical raw materials so that we do not find ourselves at the mercy of those who might weaponize them – as the Kremlin has done with hydrocarbons. Such access is crucial for strengthening our strategic autonomy, maintaining our competitiveness, and meeting our climate ambitions.

Israel’s air force officially receives new, secretive Spark UAV, ‘gateway’ to 5th gen drones


JERUSALEM — The Israel air force recently officially received a new unmanned aerial vehicle, one about which the Israeli Defense Forces are saying very little, save that it’s part of their “gateway” into the forces’ fifth generation of drones.

The aircraft, called Spark, was developed by the Israeli military with contractors Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Aeronautics firm, which is partly owned by Rafael. Spark, which is called “Nitzotz” in Hebrew, was unveiled — as much as the IDF allowed — for the 144th UAV Squadron at the Hatzor Air Force Base on Sunday.

“This is an exciting day in which we rise to another level, a day in which the squadron has more aircraft and weapons alongside its excellent service members,” IAF commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar said, according to an IDF release on Monday that included a carefully cropped photo of the drone.

Though the drone was officially received over the weekend, the 144th has operated its family of systems since last year after it transitioned from its decades-long manned aircraft operations to unmanned vehicles, part of a wider reorganization in the IDF that has focused on digitization, a new multi-dimensional unit and new technology. The IDF operates a plethora of other types of drones, from the larger IAI Heron and Elbit Hermes 900 and 450 to smaller Skylarks that are used by the army.

War in Ukraine: Is the counter-offensive making progress?

Frank Gardner

Ukraine's generals say they have "broken through" Russia's first line of defence in the south.

We've assessed how far Ukrainian forces have really progressed, and what signs there are of further breakthroughs along the frontline.

Ukraine began its big counter-offensive in early June to push Russian forces back from land they seized. It attacked at three points along the 600-mile-plus (965km) frontline.

‘Silent Swarm’: US Navy seeking electromagnetic spectrum tech crossed with unmanned


LONDON — A US Navy surface warfare center is seeking industry and government agencies to participate in a July 2024 exercise focused on demonstrating early-stage unmanned systems’ capabilities to fight on the electromagnetic battlefield.

The event, dubbed Silent Swarm 2024, will be hosted by Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, Ind., and will feature “swarming, small, attritable” unmanned systems capable of distributed electromagnetic attack, deception and digital payload delivery. The tech must be within readiness levels (TRL) two to five. (The Pentagon uses the TRL scale, from one to nine, to measure how conceptual or proven a technology is; the higher the number the more advanced a system is thought to be.)

“Silent Swarm experimentation culminates with a series of vignettes, which allow for individual technology initiatives to collaboratively operate in teams to demonstrate operationally relevant objectives in a multi-domain environment, to include land, air, sea, undersea, cyber, and space,” according to the public notice the service published on Sept. 8. Responses are due by Oct. 16.

The Navy has a network of warfare centers, spread throughout the United States, and are part of the service’s research and development enterprise designed to help generate and test upcoming technologies.

In Risky Hunt for Secrets, U.S. and China Expand Global Spy Operations

Julian E. Barnes and Edward Wong

As China’s spy balloon drifted across the continental United States in February, American intelligence agencies learned that President Xi Jinping of China had become enraged with senior Chinese military generals.

The spy agencies had been trying to understand what Mr. Xi knew and what actions he would take as the balloon, originally aimed at U.S. military bases in Guam and Hawaii, was blown off course.

Mr. Xi was not opposed to risky spying operations against the United States, but American intelligence agencies concluded that the People’s Liberation Army had kept Mr. Xi in the dark until the balloon was over the United States.

American officials would not discuss how spy agencies gleaned this information. But in details reported here for the first time, they discovered that when Mr. Xi learned of the balloon’s trajectory and realized it was derailing planned talks with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, he berated senior generals for failing to tell him that the balloon had gone astray, according to American officials briefed on the intelligence.

When a Quantum Computer Is Able to Break Our Encryption, It Won’t Be a Secret

Edward Parker

On Oct. 23, 2019, Google published a groundbreaking scientific research article announcing one of the “holy grails” of quantum computing research: For the first time ever, a quantum computer had solved a mathematical problem faster than the world’s fastest supercomputer. In order to maximize impact, the Google team had kept the article tightly under wraps in the lead-up to publication—unusually, they had not posted a preprint to the arXiv preprint server.

The article sank with barely a ripple in the expert academic community.

That wasn’t because anyone disputed the significance of the Google team’s milestone. Many experts still consider Google’s demonstration to be the most important milestone in the history of quantum computing, comparable to the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903. But most experts in the field had already read the article. A month earlier, a NASA employee who was involved with the research had accidentally posted a draft of the article on NASA’s public web site. It was online for only a few hours before being taken back down, but that was long enough. Schrödinger’s cat was out of the bag.

This anecdote illustrates a fact with important policy implications: It is very difficult to keep groundbreaking progress in quantum computing secret.

Inside the messy ethics of making war with machines

Arthur Holland Michel

In a near-future war—one that might begin tomorrow, for all we know—a soldier takes up a shooting position on an empty rooftop. His unit has been fighting through the city block by block. It feels as if enemies could be lying in silent wait behind every corner, ready to rain fire upon their marks the moment they have a shot.

Through his gunsight, the soldier scans the windows of a nearby building. He notices fresh laundry hanging from the balconies. Word comes in over the radio that his team is about to move across an open patch of ground below. As they head out, a red bounding box appears in the top left corner of the gunsight. The device’s computer vision system has flagged a potential target—a silhouetted figure in a window is drawing up, it seems, to take a shot.

The soldier doesn’t have a clear view, but in his experience the system has a superhuman capacity to pick up the faintest tell of an enemy. So he sets his crosshair upon the box and prepares to squeeze the trigger.

In different war, also possibly just over the horizon, a commander stands before a bank of monitors. An alert appears from a chatbot. It brings news that satellites have picked up a truck entering a certain city block that has been designated as a possible staging area for enemy rocket launches. The chatbot has already advised an artillery unit, which it calculates as having the highest estimated “kill probability,” to take aim at the truck and stand by.

The US Is Finally Challenging Google's Search Dominance


A FAMILY MEMBER’S hurried Google search for a last-second visa to visit New Zealand recently caused a headache—and provided a timely reminder of why Google faces a landmark US antitrust trial next week.

Tapping on the first link took us off to a website that after a few swipes charged $118 for the necessary paperwork. Only later did it emerge that we’d paid a so-called “internet-based travel technology company” and not a government agency, and been fleeced for more than double the required cost.

Fortunately, our panicked refund demand was fulfilled, but the miscue highlights a major frustration with Google that helped land it in court. The stacks of ads above its search results, like the visa link we clicked on, too often knock users off course from the information that they are seeking.

Colorado attorney general Phil Weiser, a co-lead in the case against Google that begins September 12, says the company has been able to load up on distracting ads because the search giant faces no real competition. “The more time that has passed, and the more Google has been able to establish and protect its dominance, the more aggressive it has been able to push these ads,” he says.

The US Congress Has Trust Issues. Generative AI Is Making It Worse


WHEN IT COMES to artificial intelligence, United States senators are looking to the titans of Silicon Valley to fix a Senate problem—a problem today’s political class perpetuates daily with their increasingly hyper-partisan ways, which generative AI now feeds off of as it helps rewrite our collective future.

Today, the Senate is hosting a first-of-its-kind, closed-door AI forum led by the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and more than 17 others, including ethicists and academics. Even though they’ll be on the senators' turf, for roughly six hours, they’ll get microphones while the nation’s elected leaders get muzzled.

“All Senators are encouraged to attend to listen to this important discussion, but please note the format will not afford Senators the opportunity to provide remarks or to ask questions to the speakers,” a notice from majority leader Chuck Schumer reads.

There’s a problem, though: Schumer’s facilitating the wrong conversation. As generative AI is poised to flood the internet with more—and more convincing—disinformation and misinformation, many AI experts say the top goal of the Senate should be restoring faith in, well, the Senate itself.

Inside the Senate’s Private AI Meeting With Tech’s Billionaire Elites


US SENATORS ARE proving slow studies when it comes to the generative artificial intelligence tools that are poised to upend life as we know it. But they’ll be tested soon—and the rest of us through them—if their new private tutors are to be trusted.

In a historic first, yesterday upwards of 60 senators sat like school children—not allowed to speak or even raise their hands—in a private briefing where some 20 Silicon Valley CEOs, ethicists, academics, and consumer advocates prophesied about AI’s potential to upend, heal, or even erase life as we knew it.

“It’s important for us to have a referee,” Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and X (formerly Twitter), told a throng of paparazzi-like press corps waiting on the sidewalk outside the briefing. “[It] may go down in history as very important to the future of civilization.”

The weight of the moment is lost on no one, especially after Musk warned senators inside the room of the “civilizational risks” of generative AI.

As many senators grapple with AI basics, there’s still time to influence the Senate’s collective thinking before lawmakers try to do what they’ve failed to do in recent years: regulate the emerging disruptive tech.

TikTok Popularizes Products. Can It Sell Them, Too?

Sapna Maheshwari

TikTok wooed marketers from companies like Madewell, H&M and Gucci last Wednesday as part of New York Fashion Week, transforming the stylish East Village restaurant Cathédrale with a video wall showcasing fashion trends like “little luxuries” and tall mannequins wearing TikTok-inspired styles.

TikTok has cemented itself as an essential advertising venue for brands aiming to reach its young users. But at the party, the marketers were abuzz about TikTok’s efforts to sell products from the app itself.

The reason: After nearly a year of testing, speculation and some internal upheaval, TikTok this week is rolling out TikTok Shop for all users in the United States. The company will expand the rollout of a Shop button on the app’s home screen, which sends people to a marketplace, and drive traffic to videos that contain Shop buttons for specific products. Both enable users to buy products in a few clicks without leaving the app.

E-commerce is a significant bet for the company, which is hoping to translate the app’s power as a cultural trendsetter into another big new revenue stream. But it is a venture that other popular social platforms, including Instagram, have not succeeded with in the United States.

5 AI trends to look forward to in 2023 and beyond

Shiraz Jagati

The artificial intelligence (AI) market has been growing at an exponential pace over the last couple of years, thanks in large part to consumer-ready products such as ChatGPT, Google Bard and IBM Watson that are now being used commonly across the globe.

To this point, global management consulting firm McKinsey believes that anywhere between 50% and 60% of all organizations today are already making use of AI-centric tools, with this number expected to grow sharply in the near future.

Moreover, as per Forbes, AI is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world today, with the total market capitalization of this space set to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.3% until the end of the decade, reaching a cumulative valuation of $1.81 trillion over the said period.

ChatGPT Isn't Coming for Your Coding Job


SOFTWARE ENGINEERS HAVE joined the ranks of copy editors, translators, and others who fear that they’re about to be replaced by generative AI. But it might be surprising to learn that coders have been under threat before. New technologies have long promised to “disrupt” engineering, and these innovations have always failed to get rid of the need for human software developers. If anything, they often made these workers that much more indispensable.

To understand where handwringing about the end of programmers comes from—and why it’s overblown—we need to look back at the evolution of coding and computing. Software was an afterthought for many early computing pioneers, who considered hardware and systems architecture the true intellectual pursuits within the field. To the computer scientist John Backus, for instance, calling coders “programmers” or “engineers” was akin to relabeling janitors “custodians,” an attempt at pretending that their menial work was more important than it was. What’s more, many early programmers were women, and sexist colleagues often saw their work as secretarial. But while programmers might have held a lowly position in the eyes of somebody like Backus, they were also indispensable—they saved people like him from having to bother with the routine business of programming, debugging, and testing.

Conversational AI vs. generative AI: What's the difference?

Amanda Hetler,

AI is a large umbrella with various applications underneath. Two prominent branches have emerged under this umbrella -- conversational AI and generative AI.

While conversational AI and generative AI may work together, they have distinct differences and capabilities. Artificial intelligence (AI) changed the way humans interact with machines by offering benefits such as automating mundane tasks and generating content. AI has ushered in a new era of human-computer collaboration as businesses embrace this technology to improve processes and efficiency.

Learn the differences between conversational AI and generative AI, and how they work together.

What is conversational AI?

Conversational AI is a technology that helps machines interact and engage with humans in a more natural way. The interactions are like a conversation with back-and-forth communication. This technology is used in applications such as chatbots, messaging apps and virtual assistants. Examples of popular conversational AI applications include Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.

DoD: China's ICS Cyber Onslaught Aimed at Gaining Kinetic Warfare Advantag

Tara Seals

China's onslaught of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure is likely a contingency move designed to gain a strategic advantage in the event of kinetic warfare, according to the US Department of Defense (DoD).

The agency's 2023 Cyber Strategy released this week flagged an uptick in state-sponsored cybercrime from the People's Republic of China (PRC), specifically against sensitive targets that could have an effect on military response, in order "to counter US conventional military power and degrade the combat capability of the Joint Force."

The DoD alleged in the report that the PRC "poses a broad and pervasive cyberespionage threat," surveilling individuals beyond its borders, stealing technology secrets, and undermining military-industrial complex capabilities. But the activity goes beyond run-of-the-mill intelligence-gathering, the agency warned.

"This malicious cyber activity informs the PRC's preparations for war," according to the report. "In the event of conflict, the PRC likely intends to launch destructive cyberattacks against the US Homeland in order to hinder military mobilization, sow chaos, and divert attention and resources. It will also likely seek to disrupt key networks which enable Joint Force power projection in combat."

The US military just proved it can get satellites into space super fast


As part of its efforts to be more nimble in space, the US military has been pushing satellite and launch companies to become more "responsive" in their ability to put spacecraft into space.

Essentially, the military is concerned about other nations damaging or destroying its assets in orbit during a conflict. Military officials believe one way to guard against this would be to have the capability to rapidly replace those satellites—whether they're for spying, communications, or other purposes.
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The US Space Force took a step toward this goal two years ago with a mission called Tactically Responsive Launch-2, or TacRL-2. This small satellite was built in less than a year by taking existing components and putting them together to create a space domain awareness satellite. The mission was then launched within 21 days, on June 13, 2021, by a solid-fueled Pegasus rocket built by Northrop Grumman.

Victus Nox takes flight

With its latest attempt at tactically responsive launch, the Space Force took a big step further. It contracted with the US launch company Firefly to put a spacecraft called "Victus Nox" into orbit within 24 hours of receiving the go command from the military.

Locating Africa in the Indo-Pacific: The Case of Djibouti

Sizo Nkala

The Indo-Pacific region – the vast maritime space that connects the Indian and Pacific oceans stretching from Africa’s eastern coastline to the western shores of the US – has become a hub of the global political economy. With over 50 percent of global trade passing through the sea routes of the two oceans, it is no wonder that this region has assumed strategic significance in global politics. As countries position themselves to protect their strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific, an arms race has ensued.This is reflected in the 47 percent increase in military spending in Asia between 2011 and 2020. China’s military budget increased by over 50 percent during this period, India recorded a 34 percent increase, while for Australia it was 33 percent. For the first time since the end of the Second World War, Japan’s military budget reached the 1 percent threshold limit in 2020 (Nkala, 2021). According to Malhotra (2023) Japan has committed to spending US$324 billion on its military capabilities in the next five years. The US, through its Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), also has a significant military presence in the region, with about 375,000 personnel, 200 ships and over 1500 aircraft at its disposal distributed across 36 military bases (Jochheim and Lobo, 2023). Military stand-offs over disputed islands have become increasingly common. France, a resident power in the Indo-Pacific with sovereignty over such islands as Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia, and Réunion among others, also has security interests in the region, as evidenced by its not insignificant military presence. While the arms race is visible in the entirety of the Indo-Pacific, it is most concentrated around the strategic chokepoints such as the straits of Malacca, Taiwan,