18 December 2023

How the Israel-Hamas War in Gaza Is Changing Arab Views

Michael Robbins, MaryClare Roche, Amaney A. Jamal, Salma Al-Shami, and Mark Tessler

Since October 7, the latest war between Hamas and Israel has claimed the lives of more than 15,000 Palestinians and over 1,200 Israelis. Scores more have been injured. The war has displaced more than 1.8 million Palestinians and left the fates of many of Israel’s people unknown; over 100 of those abducted in Israel remain hostages. Fighting has resulted in damage to 15 percent of the buildings in Gaza, including over 100 cultural landmarks and more than 45 percent of all housing units.

As many analysts have already declared, the high costs in Gaza have reverberated around the Arab world, reaffirming the salience and power of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in shaping regional politics. Yet it has been difficult to say exactly how much the attack has affected Arab attitudes—and in what particular ways.

Now, that is changing. In the weeks leading up to the attack and the three weeks that followed, our nonpartisan research firm, Arab Barometer, conducted a nationally representative survey in Tunisia in conjunction with our local partner, One to One for Research and Polling. By chance, about half the 2,406 interviews were completed in the three weeks before October 7, and the remaining half occurred in the three weeks after. As a result, a comparison of the results can show—with unusual precision—how the attack and subsequent Israeli military campaign have changed views among Arabs.

The findings are striking. U.S. President Joe Biden recently warned that Israel was losing global support over Gaza, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Since October 7, every country in the survey with positive or warming relations with Israel saw its favorability ratings decline among Tunisians. The United States saw the steepest drop, but Washington’s Middle East allies that have forged ties to Israel over the last few years also saw their approval numbers go down. States that have stayed neutral, meanwhile, experienced little shift. And the leadership of Iran, which is ardently opposed to Israel, saw its favorability figures rise. Three weeks after the attacks, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has approval ratings that matched or even exceeded those of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, and Emirati President Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MBZ.

9 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza City ambush in sign that Hamas resistance is still strong


Palestinian militants carried out one of the deadliest single attacks on Israeli soldiers since the Gaza invasion began, killing at least nine in an urban ambush, the military said Wednesday, a sign of the stiff resistance Hamas still poses despite more than two months of devastating bombardment.

The ambush in a dense neighborhood came after repeated recent claims by the Israeli military that it had broken Hamas’ command structure in northern Gaza, encircled remaining pockets of fighters, killed thousands of militants and detained hundreds more.

The tenacious fighting underscores how far Israel appears to be from its aim of destroying Hamas — even after the military unleashed one of the 21st century’s most destructive onslaughts. Israel's air and ground assault has killed more than 18,600 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health officials. Gaza City and surrounding towns have been pounded to ruins. Nearly 1.9 million people have been driven from their homes.

The resulting humanitarian crisis has sparked international outrage. The United States has repeatedly called on Israel to take greater measures to spare civilians, even as it has blocked international calls for a cease-fire and rushed military aid to its close ally.

Israeli troops are still locked in heavy combat with Palestinian fighters in and around Gaza City, more than six weeks after invading Gaza’s north following the militants’ Oct. 7 attack.

Clashes raged overnight and into Wednesday in multiple areas, with especially heavy fighting in Shijaiyah, a dense neighborhood that was the scene of a major battle during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

The coming Israeli intelligence reckoning could bring down many in the country’s elite

Reuel Marc Gerecht

One of the biggest challenges confronting Israel is to assess honestly how many soldiers, intelligence officials and established security procedures failed before Oct. 7.

Answering that question properly could well change radically how Jerusalem deals with Gaza and the West Bank. It could easily superannuate a significant slice of Israel’s military, security and intelligence elite.

The easy parts to answer will surely be technical — the most salient may be: How did Hamas maintain sufficient communication and training discipline to outsmart Israel’s eavesdropping and photographic surveillance of Gaza?

The more difficult: Why didn’t Israel’s security and intelligence services — and those of the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt — provide some warning about the coming onslaught?

Technical intelligence — especially the decryption of encrypted sensitive communications — is usually the most valuable information one can access against one’s enemy.

The United States’ upper reaches of government blab incessantly, even about the most sensitive issues; this information is, however, protected by advanced encryption and secure networks that are exceptionally difficult for foreign intelligence services to penetrate.

Despite its funding from Qatar and Iran, Hamas doesn’t have the wherewithal of a state, and Palestinians aren’t known for being taciturn.

Israel Must Confront the Future of Palestine

William D. Fletcher

Let’s stop talking about a two-state solution if we aren’t willing to do what it takes to create a separate, viable, self-governing state for the Palestinians. Before we waste a lot of time discussing a two-state solution again, we should determine if Israel would give up most or all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to establish a Palestinian state.

A Palestinian state in the West Bank cannot be made up of patches of land surrounded by territory controlled by Israel. If land now occupied by Israeli settlers has to be part of Israel, a separate Palestinian state would not be viable.

From Israel’s point of view, an independent Palestinian state could be an unacceptable security risk. There is some merit to this. But the alternatives probably involve greater risks.

What’s the alternative? A one-state solution would result in Jews eventually becoming a minority and Israel would no longer be a Jewish state. The Palestinians would not get a state of their own.

Today’s option, trying to maintain the present situation by force, will not lead to a sustainable peace.

There have been big mistakes and violent actions taken by all sides. A stable and lasting solution requires a reconciliation. Arguments based on history and past actions have to be set aside.

A possibility is that there is no long-term peaceful solution no matter what we do today.

Like it or not, the U.S. is complicit in Israel’s actions. This seriously erodes our global credibility and reputation. The U.S. has been Israel’s only dependable ally since the country was founded in 1948. The U.S. is supporting Israel’s military invasion and bombing campaign in Gaza. Much of the equipment and ammunition being used is supplied by or paid for by the U.S. Israel has consistently been the country receiving the most foreign aid from the U.S. until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Most of the aid to Israel is military assistance.

Israel-Gaza war: What is the price of peace?

Jeremy Bowen

It must be just as hellish for the hostages taken by Hamas and for the families of their victims. War is a cruel furnace that puts humans through terrible agonies. But its heat can produce changes that seemed impossible.

It happened in western Europe after World War Two. Old enemies who had killed each other for centuries chose peace. Will the war in Gaza shock Israelis and Palestinians into ending their century of conflict over the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan river?

The widow of Muhammad Abu Shaar

I've been watching a video of a woman wracked by grief, sitting next to the body of her husband, Muhammad Abu Shaar. As Israel and Egypt are not allowing journalists to enter Gaza, I have not met her. I haven't been able to find out her name, which was not posted alongside those of her dead husband and children.

In the video, it is as if she hopes, somehow, that the power of her grief will bring him back.

"I swear, we promised to die together. You died and left me. What are we supposed to do, God? Muhammad, get up! For God's sake my beloved, I swear to God, I love you. For God's sake get up. Our children Nour and Aboud are here with you. Get up."

The two children were with their father because all three of them had just been killed by Israel. An air strike destroyed the house they were hoping would shelter them in Rafah.

Yonatan Zeigen

I visited Yonatan Zeigen at his flat in Tel Aviv. It was a comfortable home, full of his children's toys. Among the family photos I recognised his mother, Vivian Silver, who was one of Israel's leading campaigners for peace with the Palestinians. Vivian was in the family home in kibbutz Be'eri, on the border with Gaza, when Hamas attacked on 7 October.

What if China and India became friends?

China’s rulers like to look down on India. They scorn its turbulent politics, its creaky infrastructure and its poverty. India has looked across with a combination of fear and envy, hoping in vain to be treated as an equal. Now the tectonics of the trans-Himalayan relationship are shifting. Recent border bloodshed suggests mounting hostility. But blossoming economic ties tell a different story that could trouble America and its allies.

When India’s most revered poet toured China in April 1924, Chinese intellectuals were unimpressed. Rabindranath Tagore had been feted globally as the first non-European Nobel literature laureate. A fierce critic of British rule in India, he hoped to rebuild an ancient cultural bond between Asia’s oldest civilisations.

India’s Four Path-Breaking Initiatives: Response Of The World (Part I)

Dr. Rajaram Panda


In the past few years, under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has launched four path-breaking future-oriented initiatives: the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Global Bio-fuel Alliance (GBA), Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative (IPOI), and Coalition for Disaster Response Initiative (CDRI). Many countries across continents and regions have responded positively and joined the initiatives and agreed to work together with India, while some are still considering and examining the merits thereof from the point of view of their national interests. This article makes an attempt to examine and analyse each of these four initiatives, with focus on the response of countries in the Asian region and analyse why some friendly countries are rather reticent about India’s initiatives, all of which are non-controversial and human-centric. Written in two parts, while Part I makes a detailed analysis of the ISA and GBA, Part II shall assess the significance of the CDRI and IPOI and offer some relevant policy recommendations.

International Solar Alliance (ISA)

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an initiative jointly launched by India and French President Francois Hollande on 30 November 2015 on the sidelines of United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21 or UNFCCC) in Paris. It was opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, on the sidelines of the Marrakech Climate Change Conference and was officially launched on 6 December 2017 on the entry into force of the framework agreement. It is an action-oriented, member-driven, collaborative platform for increased development of solar energy technologies. This will facilitate energy access to the signatory countries, besides ensuring energy security, and driving energy transition in its member countries. The membership to this multinational organisation is open to all the solar resource-rich states, which lie fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn and area members of the United Nations. Its aim is to promote solar energy and sustainable development through cooperation among solar-rich countries.

Philippines Expecting Further Chinese Escalation in South China Sea, Official Says

Sebastian Strangio

The Philippines is anticipating an escalation of hostilities by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, following two dangerous incidents in contested parts of the waterway earlier this week.

In an interview with CNN Philippines that was aired late on Wednesday, Alberto Carlos, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Palawan-based Western Command, said that the military was expecting “more coercive actions from China, short of armed attack.”

Carlos’ comments come after a pair of dangerous incidents over the weekend. One saw Chinese vessels collide with and shoot water cannons at Philippine vessels seeking to resupply troops stationed at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands. The other saw China fire water cannons at three fisheries bureau vessels that were sending oil and groceries to fishermen near Scarborough Shoal, in a different part of the South China Sea. Both lie well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

“It’s already escalating… we expect more coercive action from China,” Carlos told CNN. “After water cannon, we expect ramming, we expect them to attempt to board our vessel, which is something that we will not allow them to do.”

Carlos said that China would limit its actions to those that “short of armed attacks,” to avoid triggering a U.S. response under the Mutual Defense Treaty, which obliges Washington and Manila to come to one another’s aid in the event of an attack on either. He added that the AFP had conducted war games and other exercises assessing how China might escalate its “gray zone” campaign against the Philippine-held features.

Big Promises on the Kyrgyz-Tajik Border

Catherine Putz

Kyrgyz and Tajik officials said this week that more than 90 percent of their mutual border has been agreed upon. Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov is hopeful for a full resolution by the spring. It’s big news for a border that has been among the most difficult in the region, flaring into deadly violence in 2021 and 2022.

Despite occasional sharp remarks, the two sides have pursued a consistent calendar of negotiations that began yielding results in October, with the signing of the mysterious “Protocol No. 44.” The contents of the protocol remained secret, but it was cast as a critical pathway forward. “We will soon make a final decision on defining state borders,” Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security chief Kamchybek Tashiev said at the time.

This week Tashiev and his Tajik counterpart, Saimumin Yatimov, had similarly rosy words to offer following negotiations in Batken.

As reported by Asia Plus, a Tajik news outlet, on December 13 Yatimov remarked, “Quite a huge amount of work has been done today, we have advanced more than 120 km, and we have agreed on these issues in principle. If we take the total length of the state border… [we] can confirm that more than 90 percent of the state border has already been described.”

The Kyrgyz-Tajik border is about 975 kilometers long (sometimes it is reported as 972 km, sometimes 980 km). As of 2020, according to an RFE/RL report, 519 km of the border had been defined; Kloop cites a 2022 figure of 664 km having been agreed upon. That would leave around 300 km to go, give or take a few dozen, as of the start of the year.

In recent weeks as negotiations have alternated between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the two sides have announced agreements on 24.01 km (on December 5) and 47.05 km (on December 14). Some details have been offered about the areas discussed, but the two sides have not yet provided a full accounting of what areas have been settled and specifically how.
Brent M. Eastwood

Japan’s Yamato battleship was assigned a one-way trip to death in World War Two. Indeed, Yamato’s suicide mission is one of the saddest stories of the war in the Pacific. The largest battleship in the world had only enough fuel to reach its destination – it did not have enough for a return voyage home. Its mission was to fight against a large American force of battleships and carriers. It ultimately suffered an inferno of destruction, with almost all hands drowning during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

Yamato: A Beached Fortress

The orders from Japan’s high command look ridiculous in hindsight.

The Yamato was supposed to fight its way to Okinawa, beach itself, and serve as a fortress with a huge contingent of powerful guns – blasting away until it could fight no more. Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Seiichi Ito was on board, and he must have accepted his grim fate with steadfast bravery. But he would die along with 3,054 sailors when the ship sank. Only 276 personnel survived the Ten-Go Operation.

The history of the Yamato goes back to the 1930s, when Japan began building a fleet meant to dominate its neighbors. The Imperial Navy, and famed ship builders Yuzuru Hiraga and Kikuo Fujimoto, examined 23 designs for a super ship. The engineers knew that at a bare minimum they wanted three triple turrets to hold nine 18-inch guns that would fire shells weighing 1.5 tons. At the time, these were the biggest armaments ever devised. An impressive number of six-inch guns adorned the deck as well. The ship was 862 feet long and 127 feet wide. It could carry three to five reconnaissance airplanes.



As an instructor on Indo-Pacific security, the most common question I receive from students, ranging from undergraduates to senior military officers, is: Why do some countries in Asia still deeply resent Japan, while others display a warm fondness towards Tokyo?

Layers of nationalism, politics, and historical memory make sweeping generalizations about “Asian” perceptions of Japan meaningless. In South Korea, vigorous youth-led campaigns to boycott Japanese goods underscore this enduring legacy of animosity and mistrust. In Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen faced mixed reactions for tweeting in Japanese during her 2020 reelection campaign, but is credited with gaining support from the island’s “pro-Japan” progressives by doing so. Meanwhile, in Thailand and the Philippines, I have observed young students casually snapping selfies with the Japanese “rising sun” flag while enjoying a cone of matcha ice cream or eating sushi.

This dynamic is not just of interest to scholars of Asian foreign relations — perceptions towards Japan have a direct impact on regional security. With the United States championing Japan’s growing security capacity as part of its larger Indo-Pacific strategy, Washington should clearly understand the diversity of regional views towards Japan. Tokyo’s bolstered security posture has been met with profound skepticism in Seoul, complicating security cooperation in critical areas like the East and South China Sea. This strain in relations stands in contrast with Taiwan and Southeast Asia, which both welcome Japan’s new security presence with fewer reservations. Indeed, even countries in Southeast Asia that favor close economic and political ties with China, like Cambodia, are not communicating much skepticism towards an increased Japanese security presence in their region. Exploring these divergent and somewhat paradoxical views of Japan’s security policies today — as well as the history behind them — can help Washington to craft more nuanced and effective security policies for the Indo-Pacific.

Why the Middle Corridor Is a Double-Edged Sword

Seamus Duffy

In late November, the World Bank published an economic analysis on the potential of the Middle Corridor to develop over the next decade. The report estimates that by 2030, travel times between the western border of China and Europe will halve, and freight volumes will triple to 11 million tons. This comes on the heels of increased interest by Europe’s leaders in developing the route as an alternative to the Northern Route, which similarly linked European markets via Russia rail and road connections to China but came under scrutiny after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The Middle Corridor would run from Kazakhstan’s eastern border with China to the port of Aktau, where goods will be transported across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan. From there, they would transit the South Caucasus and Black Sea to Europe. The hope of European leaders is not only to revive overland links to China, but also to develop a tool to limit Russia influence in the region.

Despite this optimism, there is some question about the effectiveness of the project in light of Europe’s geoeconomic aims. For one, even under these projections, the route’s capacity would only be about 10 percent of the 100 million ton capacity of the Northern Route. There are numerous logistical challenges across the corridor, which the World Bank report is quick to note, whether digitalization or railways or ports or tariff policies. Overcoming these will be difficult, but by no means insurmountable. The willingness of route participants to address these issues is certainly evidence enough of this fact.

The more fundamental problem lies in Europe’s inability to isolate the benefits of the Middle Corridor. European markets are not the only participants competing for capacity along the corridor’s route. Other countries in the region, like China, Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan, will almost certainly benefit from the infrastructure associated with Middle Corridor projects. Not only will this create friction with regard to access during relative peace, but it will also make such infrastructure a target for any country seeking to undermine these Eurasian powers and their base of geoeconomic leverage.

A Delicate US Policy On Myanmar

Nicholas Kong

At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States reigned as a superpower after two world wars. But this came at the price of dealing with a constant litany of regional conflicts across the globe. The US foreign policy has been less than successful, if not failing, in Asia, Pacific Islands, Africa, Latin America and South America mainly because the US was seen as a dominant superpower instead of a friendly and generous trusted partner and in some instances, as an occupier rather than a liberator.

The story of relationship of US and Myanmar (a.k.a Burma) dated back to 1945. Myanmar, a country larger than Texas, occupies a strategic geopolitical position between the two world’s most populous countries, India and China. Yet, Myanmar has been largely ignored on the world stage and undervalued for economic and national security interest by US policy makers.

There is a misconception that the US has limited influence in shaping Myanmar’s future. It is true that Myanmar’s future must be shaped by Myanmar’s people. But the US can and must play a proactive role in leading the free world by standing decisively on the right side of the history with consistent principles of freedom and democracy, not a reactive role through repeated Cold War era-like policy or passive-aggressive policy side-stepping in the shadow of China.

Location of Myanmar (Burma).

At the end of World War II with the Cold War under way, US foreign policy focused on deterring international communist expansion across Asia, including Myanmar. The US was concerned that the first prime minister U NU’s democratically elected government, which was weakened by ethnic civil war, did not have the ability to stop the spread of communism. The US-Myanmar relationship was further complicated by remnant Nationalist Chinese (KMT) forces invading northern Myanmar, supported covertly by the CIA. The US changed course when the KMT was seen as a constant threat to security and disruptor of regional economy, a pretext for invasion by the PRC. The US was interested in providing economic and military aid to bolster ability of U Nu’s government to take on communist rebels, and to maintain its dependence from PRC.1

Deterrence And Dissuasion In The Taiwan Strait

Lonnie Henley

Discussions of how to prevent a war over Taiwan tend to center on strengthening deterrence and convincing Beijing that it cannot conquer Taiwan at an acceptable cost. The underlying concern seems to be that China’s growing military and economic power will make an attack on Taiwan both feasible and attractive, that deterrence is waning, and therefore, may fail.

I disagree. Deterrence remains strong, but deterrence alone is not sufficient to prevent conflict in the Taiwan Strait. If Chinese leaders come to believe that war is the only possible route to unification, they will attack despite military uncertainty and political and economic costs. A successful US strategy to avoid that outcome must pair deterrence with dissuasion, fostering Beijing’s belief that non-military paths to unification remain viable.

There is a large and well-developed literature on deterrence theory, but the fundamentals have not changed since the late 1950s. One deters an adversary from a course of action by convincing him that the action cannot succeed (deterrence by denial) or that the costs far outweigh any possible benefits (deterrence by punishment).

There is less discussion of how to persuade an adversary that action is not necessary in the first place. The 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review introduced the concept of dissuasion, defined as convincing a potential opponent not to build military capabilities that might challenge US interests in the future. That kind of long-term force development is not our focus here. Rather, “dissuasion” in this context centers on encouraging Beijing to continue believing that war is not necessary because other less costly options are available.

Scared Strait: Understanding the Economic and Financial Impacts of a Taiwan Crisis

Jude Blanchette, Gerard DiPippoand & Christopher B. Johnstone

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Beijing’s demonstrations of force against Taiwan since 2022, Western governments and corporate boardrooms have increasingly debated the likelihood, timing, and methods of a possible invasion or blockade of Taiwan by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Yet the real economic and financial dimensions of a potential cross-strait conflict remain underemphasized in this policy discourse. All realistic scenarios of PRC aggression will induce fast-moving and unpredictable dynamics, many of which would manifest before the outbreak of hostilities. The Taiwan Strait is central to global maritime trade, and Taiwan is the world’s most advanced and critical semiconductor manufacturing hub. For its own part, China remains an important manufacturing and trade partner for advanced and developing economies. As such, any crisis or conflict in the Taiwan Strait would impose substantial costs on China, the United States and its allies and partners, and the global economy.

Over the past year, the CSIS Freeman Chair—along with experts from the CSIS Economics Program and CSIS Japan Chair—organized a series of closed-door Taiwan scenario exercises with members of the private sector, including hedge funds, venture capitalists, private equity, pension funds, investment banks, and multinational corporations (MNCs) from various industries. Unlike traditional tabletop exercises or war games, which often (and perhaps necessarily) hold the global economy constant or otherwise use formal models to estimate the economic impact of a Taiwan crisis, these CSIS scenarios seek to understand firm psychology by asking private sector actors to approximate how they would navigate and respond to various geopolitical shocks in the Taiwan Strait, ranging from an accidental collision to a full-scale invasion.

China's DF-17 Hypersonic Missile Can Hit U.S. Bases and Aircraft Carriers

Peter Suciu

Ayear ago, a report from the Pentagon warned that China's Dong Feng-17 (DF-17) hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV)-powered medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) had been designed to strike foreign military bases and fleets in the Western Pacific.

The DF-17 was among the platforms specifically called out in the U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD's) 2022 China Military Power Report (CMPR), and further noted that it could replace some of Beijing's older short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) units."

"The DF-17 passed several tests successfully and is deployed operationally. While the DF-17 is primarily a conventional platform, it may be equipped with nuclear warheads," the Pentagon's report stated, while it further cautioned that the DF-17 could also be impervious to U.S. air-defense systems, such as the "THAAD [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense], SM-3 [Standard Missile-3], and Patriot" missile systems.

This year's 2023 Report on the Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China further noted, "The PRC's deployment of the DF-17 HGV-armed MRBM will continue to transform the PLA's missile force. The system is possibly intended to replace some older SRBM units and is intended to strike foreign military bases and fleets in the Western Pacific, according to a PRC-based military expert."

DF-17: A Hypersonic Glide Vehicle Explained

The DF-17 is the first missile designed for the operational deployment of a HGV by the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF). U.S. officials first confirmed the existence of the DF-17 prototypes in January 2014 – and it was initially identified as the Wu-14 – while the Pentagon had monitored at least nine flight tests through November 2017. Tests took place at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi Province.

There’s a big hole in China’s plan to boost the economy in 2024

Laura He

China’s top officials have pledged to put greater focus on economic growth next year, but the lack of measures to boost consumer demand could make it tough to deliver on that promise.

Beijing’s closely-watched annual Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC), which typically sets the tone for economic policy for the year ahead, ended late Tuesday with a commitment to “focus on the central task of economic development and the primary task of high-quality development,” according to a readout of the meeting.

“Next year, we must persist in seeking growth while maintaining stability, facilitating stability through growth, and building the new before breaking the old.”

The meeting, which was hosted by President Xi Jinping, was more “pro-growth” than in previous years, said Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Group.

With a more “proactive” tone, policymakers may set “4.5-5%” or “around 5%” as the GDP growth target for next year, Hu said, broadly similar to the goal for 2023.

But other analysts questioned whether this level of growth could be achieved without stimulus measures directly targeting consumers, which was not mentioned.

“[There was] no hint for massive consumption support policies,” Citi analysts said Wednesday. “There was no detailed discussion on increasing household income.”

Biden must be clear with China over cyberattacks

The U.S. faces two escalating threats of war with China. First, the threat of a Chinese attack on Taiwan. Second, the threat of a Chinese attack on the Philippines (a far more imminent concern than commonly understood).

But if war does come, Beijing senses that it has at least one major advantage. Namely, that Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party will need to pay little heed to the views of the Chinese people over the war. At the same time, Beijing will hope to manipulate U.S. public opinion in favor of a rapid cessation of hostilities on terms favorable to China. We're learning more and more about one way that Beijing would hope to pressure Americans to call for an early end to any war. And that's by China's strangling of key utility systems that Americans rely upon for their access to power, clean water, and communications.

As reported this week, hackers affiliated with China’s People’s Liberation Army have compromised about two dozen critical infrastructure entities this year. The probing is part of a larger Chinese strategy to create division and panic in the United States should China take military action in Taiwan or the Philippines. The infrastructure targeted includes water utilities, ports, and oil pipelines.

These intrusions are the work of a Chinese government unit that cyberthreat analysts have labeled "Volt Typhoon." As Microsoft explained this spring, this particular group has targeted entities that "span the communications, manufacturing, utility, transportation, construction, maritime, government, information technology, and education sectors." Volt Typhoon's focus on U.S. Pacific-facing interests is notable. Guam, home to major U.S. military bases that would be crucial to any war effort, has been targeted alongside Hawaii, for example.

China ‘Running Away’ With Strategically Important Advanced Industries

China has grown to be the leading producer in most advanced-technology industries of strategic importance, the US-based Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) think tank says.

ITIF highlighted that China’s rise has come at the expense of the US and other OECD economies, and added that China’s decision to outperform in these key industries was followed by a decrease in manufacturing growth experienced by developing countries.

These findings are published in ITIF’s report titled The Hamilton Index, 2023: China is Running Away With Strategic Industries released on Wednesday (December 13).

The Hamilton Index ranks the performance of countries in terms of their output in ten advanced-technology industries, including IT services, computer and electronic products, transport equipment, machinery, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

According to ITIF, China was the leading producer overall in these ten industries as of 2020 and individually in seven. The US led production in the ‘IT and information services’, pharmaceuticals and ‘other transportation’ industries.

China produced a quarter (25.3%) of the global output in these industries, the highest of any individual country, ITIF said, adding that its output had surpassed that of the rest of the world outside the top 10 producers for the first time.

Its share of the global output in these industries increased from 3% in 1995 to 25% in 2020, while in the same period, the share of OECD economies fell from 85% to 58%, ITIF said.

Why 2024 isn’t all bad news

Ian Bremmer

Last week, I wrote about the dismal state of global affairs and made the case that a series of urgent challenges – the Israel-Hamas war, the Russia-Ukraine war, China’s economic troubles, and America’s political dysfunction – have made this the most geopolitically turbulent era of my lifetime.

As we turn to 2024, however, there are also positive stories that deserve much more attention than they receive – trends that promise more stability in geopolitics, more resilience for the global economy, and greater dynamism for the international system.

Relative stability in US-China relations

The most important geopolitical relationship in the world is still almost entirely devoid of trust. And yet, it is increasingly looking like an oasis of stability compared to most other headlines.

The productive Biden-Xi meeting at the APEC summit in San Francisco in November was a useful reminder that the governments of both countries are geopolitical adults. Both prefer stability to chaos. Each has tried to contain the damage from international emergencies. So while the US and China have very different views on Ukraine and Israel, they’ve carefully avoided actions that might expand the fighting’s fallout.

Indeed, the recent charm offensive fostered by China’s domestic economic challenges – a far cry from the wolf warrior diplomacy of Xi’s first two terms – is likely to continue in 2024. Even if it’s only a “tactical” retreat and not reflective of a genuine change of heart by Xi, China’s economic problems aren’t going to be resolved anytime soon. Beijing will accordingly remain geopolitically risk-averse.

There Is a Path to Victory in Ukraine

Dmytro Kuleba

It was almost two years ago that Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. As another winter of war arrives, voices skeptical of the country’s prospects are growing louder—not in diplomatic meetings or military planning sessions, but rather in news reports and in expert commentary. Most do not openly argue that Ukraine should simply give up its fight, but the pessimism, buttressed by supposedly pragmatic arguments, carries clear strategic implications that are both dangerous and wrong.

These skeptics suggest that the current situation on the battlefield will not change and that, given Russia’s vastly greater resources, the Ukrainians will be unable to retake more of their territory. They argue that international support for Ukraine is eroding and will plummet sharply in the coming months. They invoke “war fatigue” and the supposedly bleak prospects of our forces.

The skeptics are correct that our recent counteroffensive did not achieve the lightning-fast liberation of occupied land, as the Ukrainian military managed in the fall of 2022 in the Kharkiv region and the city of Kherson. Observers, including some in Ukraine, anticipated similar results over the past several months, and when immediate success did not materialize, many succumbed to doom and gloom. But pessimism is unwarranted, and it would be a mistake to let defeatism shape our policy decisions going forward. Instead, policymakers in Washington and other capitals should keep the big picture in mind and stay on track. A Ukrainian victory will require strategic endurance and vision—as with our recent counteroffensive, the liberation of every square mile of territory requires enormous sacrifice by our soldiers—but there is no question that victory is attainable.

Over nearly two years of brutal war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has upped the ante to the point that half-solutions are impossible. Any outcome besides a clear defeat of Russia in Ukraine would have troubling implications, and not just for my country—it would cause a global disarray that would ultimately threaten the United States and its allies, as well. Authoritarian leaders and aggressors around the world are keeping a close watch on the results of Putin’s military adventure. His success, even if partial, would inspire them to follow in his footsteps. His defeat will make clear the folly of trying.

America’s Ukraine Problem

Doug Bandow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was back in Washington earlier this week begging for more money and guns. President Joe Biden offered his typical assurances of support, but otherwise, Zelensky’s reception was different than it has been in the past.

At the beginning, he was widely feted across the U.S. and Europe; politicians couldn’t wait to get their pictures taken shaking his hand. Fast forward through busted victory predictions, endless costly subsidies, bloody failed counterattacks, and mass Ukrainian casualties. Increasing burdens for the allies combined with diminishing prospects for Kiev have diminished support for Zelensky on both sides of the Atlantic. Backing Ukraine is no longer a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Instead, American and European officials are focusing more on their own peoples, and the importance of ending the conflict.

For instance, before Zelensky arrived the Republican Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio was blunt: Kiev is going to have to negotiate and likely will lose territory. Accepting this outcome is in “America’s best interest,” he explained. Such sentiments still trigger wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments on a Biblical scale among Ukraine’s high-profile advocates. However, ever more members of the foreign policy establishment recognize that Vance is right, even if they still won’t publicly admit reality.

Washington’s influential Kiev lobby is running out of options. Plans to disable the Russian economy flopped. Hopes to oust Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, democratize Russia, and even break up the Russian Federation proved even more fantastic. Demands that China abandon its partner were ignored. Pursuit of global backing against Moscow crashed and burned amid the West’s many hypocrisies, including support for Israel’s oppressive occupation and indifference to Gaza’s mass civilian casualties.

The Uncomfortable Geopolitics of the Clean Energy Transition

Matt Ince, Erin Sikorsky

Every time UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks about the climate crisis, he ups the ante with his admonishments—and rightly so. In September, when he said “humanity had opened the gates of hell,” it was at the end of a summer of unprecedented flooding, including in Libya, China, and the United States, and record-breaking fires in Canada and across European Union nations. Persistent heat waves had also raised temperatures above human survivability in some parts of the world, as well as triggering agricultural productivity losses and higher food prices across several regions. The summer of 2023 was the warmest on record, and multiple reports released ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Dubai (COP28) warned of immense costs to human livelihoods and economic security by the end of the century if action is not taken.

Against this backdrop, the urgency of the need to transition to clean energy has never been more apparent. Staving off such impacts demands a rapid reconfiguration of the global energy system—a challenge that was at the heart of the COP28 negotiations. Global fossil fuel demand, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has concluded, needs to fall by a quarter by the end of this decade to limit the rise in the global temperature to 1.5°C, while global renewable power capacity must triple.

But delivering change at this scale and within the required time frame also carries geopolitical risks, many of which are not being routinely accounted for by governments and businesses within strategic planning and decision-making. Such risks include a rebalancing of power among oil-producing states that favors those that can produce cheaper lower-carbon oil, an increase in leverage for states in the Global South that have large deposits of critical minerals, and growing cracks between the haves and have nots over financing a clean energy transition. Each of these risks could lead to instability or even conflict in certain geographies.

Terrorist Use Of Crowdfunding

Nicki Kenyon & Josh Birenbaum

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global money laundering and terrorist finance watchdog. It consists of representatives from 39 national governments and regional organizations and sets international standards for financial integrity.1 In October, FATF released its report on the use of crowdfunding platforms by terrorist and extremist organizations.2 This memo summarizes the report’s key findings and provides recommendations to make them accessible to a wider audience.

Crowdfunding involves raising money for a project or venture, often via small amounts from large numbers of contributors and through dedicated platforms on the internet. This activity is legal, and numerous worthy causes, startups, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations have used crowdfunding to obtain critical resources. However, the lack of transparency on certain platforms and fragmented data about who is sending and receiving money make these platforms attractive to terrorist organizations and other illicit actors.

As the landscape of global payment and financial technologies continues to evolve, so do the mechanisms through which crowdfunding is possible. This presents new challenges for oversight and requires firms, financial institutions, and law enforcement agencies to keep abreast of rapid changes that will facilitate the use of crowdfunding platforms by both legal and illicit actors.

Charities and Nonprofits

Terrorists and violent extremists often raise funds via charities and nonprofits that use crowdfunding platforms to exploit humanitarian causes, taking advantage of donors’ compassion while using their contributions to fund illicit operations. The nominal goals of such deceptive crowdfunding may be to support sporting events, social or medical support, humanitarian aid, or building infrastructure

Revolutionary Evolution, Accelerating to the Inflection Point


As Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet, and technology continue to advance, they raise critical questions about the future of society, culture, security, and privacy. As the media and governments reflect of the impact of latest technology, particularly the public introduction of AI, we must envision the future in a digital world. In this world, the evolution of technology is not only constant, rapid and radical, but has also become a pervasive force driving human evolution.

AI, cloud computing and the Internet make possible the future envisioned by genomics researcher Juan Enriquez in 2012, one where we choose what and who we are. Recent FDA approval of CRISPR (short for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”) technology to treat sickle cell disease in humans is the tip of the iceberg that research scientists use to selectively modify the DNA of living organisms including humans to accelerate research and treat diseases such as cancer and mental illness — we may even decide to use it to change the genomes of our children (i.e. designer babies).

It is technology which allows Intel Fellow Mark Bohr to foresee that “in the future, chips may become integrated directly with the brain, combining AI/human intelligence and dramatically enhancing our cognitive and learning abilities. … lead[ing] to a “technological singularity” — a point in time when machine intelligence is evolving so rapidly that humans are left far, far behind.” Is not the evolution of technology a “butterfly effect,” a change so profound that the world we know today simply disappears?

Cloud computing, or AI, may turn out to very well be the flutter of that butterfly’s wing, altering most everything we know, including ourselves. Noted philosopher Thomas Kuhn cast revolutionary changes as paradigm shifts, where “a paradigm shift [is] a mélange of sociology, enthusiasm and scientific promise, but not a logically determinate procedure, ergo the final outcome of such a change is beyond our ability to discern, and, like the “butterfly effect,” can (and will) have vastly different outcomes whose “first cause” are but tiny differences at inception. Santa Fe Institute professor of economics Brian Arthur says that when complex technology becomes transparent to its users, the complexity vanishes, and it is then that those users assimilate the change. ie: it is then that revolutionary outcomes are possible.