25 June 2024

China could take control of Taiwan without firing shot: US think tank

China's military could isolate Taiwan, cripple its economy, and compel the democratic island to submit to Beijing's Communist Party without firing a shot, CNN reported citing a Washington think tank.

There are concerns about the Communist Party's intentions to take control of Taiwan, potentially by force, have intensified due to Chinese leader Xi Jinping's increasingly aggressive stance towards the self-governed island. China's refusal to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine has further fueled these fears.

According to CNN, analysts and military strategists said that there are two key options available to China - a full-scale invasion or a military blockade.

However, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington highlights a third option: quarantine. This method, using "gray zone" tactics, involves actions just below the threshold of war. The China Coast Guard, its maritime militia, and various police and maritime safety agencies could enforce a full or partial quarantine of Taiwan, potentially cutting off access to its ports and essential supplies, such as energy, for the island's 23 million people.

US "Hellscape" Strategy - Sells Taiwan Cutting Edge "Attack Drone" Technology

Olawale Abaire

In a significant development, the U.S. State Department has approved the sale of advanced suicide drones to Taiwan, with deliveries expected between 2024 and 2025. The deal includes up to 720 Switchblade 300 loitering munitions and up to 291 ALTIUS 600M-V unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), valued at approximately $300 million. This package marks the 15th arms sale to Taiwan under the Biden administration, reflecting a consistent effort to enhance Taiwan's military readiness.

According to an article in the Washingtonpost by Josh Rogin, U.S. Navy Adm. Samuel Paparo, the new head of the Indo-Pacific Command, recently outlined a new strategy termed "Hellscape." This strategy involves deploying thousands of unmanned submarines, surface ships, and aerial drones to flood the Taiwan Strait in the event of a Chinese invasion. The goal is to create a hostile environment that delays Chinese advances and provides time for a coordinated defense by Taiwanese, U.S., and allied forces.

Adm. Paparo's vision is to turn the Taiwan Strait into an "unmanned hellscape" using classified capabilities, thereby making any Chinese military operation exceedingly difficult and costly. This approach aligns with the broader U.S. strategy of using technological superiority to offset numerical and geographical disadvantages.

How China could take Taiwan without even needing to invade

Brad Lendon

China’s military could isolate Taiwan, cripple its economy, and make the democratic island succumb to the will of Beijing’s ruling Communist Party without ever firing a shot, a prominent think tank warns.

Fears the Communist Party might make good on its promise to one day take control of Taiwan, by force if necessary, have been heightened in recent years by Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s increasingly bellicose actions towards the self-ruled island.

China’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only added to those fears.

In such a scenario, analysts and military strategists have long focused on two key options available to China – a full-scale invasion or a military blockade.

But a Washington think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), warns there is a third way, one that will make it far harder for the United States and other like-minded democracies to counter: Quarantine.

China Must Not Choose the Next Dalai Lama


As the Dalai Lama – the spiritual leader of Tibet – visits the United States to receive medical treatment on his knees, concerns over who will succeed him have become acute. While Tibetans around the world pray that the 88-year-old Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, still has plenty of life ahead of him, China is eagerly awaiting his demise, so that it can install a puppet successor.

Tibetans regard the Dalai Lama as the living incarnation of Buddha. Since 1391, the Dalai Lama has been reincarnated 13 times. When one Dalai Lama dies, the search for the next one begins, with a council of senior disciples taking responsibility for identifying him, based on signs and visions. But in recent years, the Chinese government has insisted that only it has the right to identify the next Dalai Lama.

This would not be the first time China selected a leader of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1995, it anointed its own Panchen Lama, whose spiritual authority is second only to that of the Dalai Lama, after abducting the actual Panchen Lama – a six-year-old boy who had already been confirmed by the Dalai Lama. Almost three decades later, the real Panchen Lama is among the world’s longest-serving political prisoners.

China’s drones are its greatest weapon in today’s information warfare - OPINION


I’ve spent a career studying and mitigating threats from our most significant adversaries, and it is clear the growing threat from Chinese-made drones is dire and underappreciated.

I couldn’t be happier to see members of Congress working across the aisle to rid the U.S. of these dangerous products. Across my decades of public service, including as the acting homeland security adviser for the U.S. National Security Council and director of cybersecurity for the National Security Agency, I recognize urgent threats to our nation when I see them. Chinese drones are one of the most significant intelligence and national security threats we currently face as a country.

When it comes to national security, drones have changed the game.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine demonstrates the expansive and exceptional capabilities of both large and small drones. The world has awakened to the power of these technical marvels. From the war’s earliest days, drones played a key role as intelligence collectors, becoming deadly spotters for artillery and irreplaceable for understanding adversary movements.

US proposes restrictions for investments in Chinese tech, AI

The United States Department of the Treasury has fleshed out a proposed rule that would restrict and monitor US investments in China for artificial intelligence, computer chips and quantum computing.

The fleshed-out draft rule, issued on Friday, stems from President Joe Biden’s August executive order regarding the access that “countries of concern” have to American dollars to fund advanced technologies that could enhance those nations’ military, intelligence, surveillance and cyber-capabilities. The order identified China, Hong Kong and Macau as countries of concern.

The Biden administration has sought to stymie the development of technologies by China, the world’s second largest economy, that could give it a military edge or enable it to dominate emerging sectors such as electric vehicles (EVs).

In addition to the proposed rule, Biden, a Democrat, has also placed a stiff tariff on Chinese EVs, an issue with political implications as Biden and his Republican presidential opponent Donald Trump are both trying to show voters who can best stand up to China, a geopolitical rival and major trading partner.

China’s war with Taiwan is already underway


The Shun Da was kilometers off course. Authorized by China’s Maritime Safety Administration to dredge the seafloor for a new bridge near Xiamen, the Chinese-flagged vessel was instead buzzing the Taiwanese coast guard on Taiwan’s Dadan Island, about 16 kilometers to the southwest.

“It’s not supposed to be here,” said Asheng, a deckhand aboard a Taiwanese tourist boat that guided a journalist through the restricted waterway – and within a few hundred meters of the Shun Da’s stern. “But it happens all the time,” he added.

As the People’s Liberation Army wrapped up two days of military exercises around Taiwan last month, which China’s military called a “dress rehearsal” for a full-scale assault, the self-governing island’s leaders were focused elsewhere: On the margins, in the dark spaces where Beijing’s “gray zone” tactics quietly encroach on Taiwanese sovereignty.

“It has become a regular reality that we have to deal with,” said one high-ranking government official who spoke on condition of anonymity to the sensitivity of the matter. “Not just the military drills and exercises but near daily encroachment” into Taiwan’s airspace, sea lanes and even its politics.

What the United States Can Learn From China

Stephen M. Walt

In any competitive realm, rivals constantly strive to do better. They search for innovations that will improve their position and they strive to imitate whatever appears to be working for their opponents. We see this phenomenon in sports, in business, and in international politics. Emulation doesn’t mean one has to do exactly what others have done, but ignoring the policies from which others have benefited and refusing to adapt is a good way to keep losing.

Xi Jinping's Aggressive Talk About Taiwan Is Hiding a Reluctance to Act | Opinion

Gordon G. Chang

The Financial Times on Saturday reported that Xi Jinping in April of last year told European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the U.S. was, in the words of the paper, "trying to goad Beijing into attacking Taiwan." The Chinese leader described the U.S. tactic as a "trick," but the FT reported that he said he "would not take the bait."

As Brussels-based Theresa Fallon of the Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies told me in response to the FT report, Xi is "sounding increasingly unhinged."

We do not know if the Chinese leader believed what he said or why he said it. We can say, however, that none of the explanations are good.

There are many possible reasons for the Chinese ruler's startling comment. For one thing, he may be simply out of touch. "If Xi genuinely believes that the U.S. actively seeks conflict with China over Taiwan, then concerns that Xi has created an information vacuum or is otherwise getting poor council from subordinates are, worryingly, true," said Jude Blanchette of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies to the FT. "Whatever the explanation for Xi's comments, it's clear that the decision-making environment—and the information feeding into it—is being warped, either by Xi's lieutenants, or by his own autocratic behavior."

The Evolution of Empire


With the just-concluded G7 summit exposing the group’s diminished status, it is appropriate to ask where power lies in today’s world. The United Nations has 193 member states (the most recent, which joined in 2011, is benighted South Sudan), all of which are, as Secretary-General António Guterres put it in 2016, technically committed to “the values enshrined in the UN Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity.” But while each gets one vote in the General Assembly, nobody would dare claim that each country carries equal weight.

Instead, the five permanent members of the Security Council – the United States, China, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom – reign supreme, each wielding a veto over whatever the other 192 members might want. That is why Israel, owing to US support, can blithely ignore countless UN resolutions, and why Syria, owing to Russian and Chinese support, handily escaped sanctions for its use of chemical weapons a decade ago.

Owing to the disproportionate power they wield, the “Permanent Five” share an old, decidedly British sense of empire. While the authors of two recent books on empire, Lawrence James and Nandini Das, offer no thoughts on how the UN might – or indeed should – be reformed, I suspect that they would agree.

Iran and Taliban discuss “joint action” against Israel


The foreign ministers of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Taliban discussed taking “joint action” against Israel in support of Hamas. The Taliban and Iran have cooperated in the past to oust the US from Afghanistan and overthrow the Afghan government.

Iranian Interim Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani and Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi called on the member states of the Islamic Cooperation Organization to exert pressure on Israel during a phone conversation between the two diplomats, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated outlet Mehr News reported on June 17.

The Taliban had informed Tehran that it is prepared to deploy thousands of troops to fight against Israel, a senior reporter working with the Lebanese Hezbollah-run Al Akhbar Daily claimed in an interview on June 13. Iran has sought to facilitate a relationship between the Taliban and the Iranian regime’s proxies, including Hezbollah.

Iran—Iraq’s Unavoidable Neighbor and America’s Bitter Pill

John Calabrese

One of the most ironic and adverse strategic outcomes of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was the elimination of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime and the subsequent empowerment of a far more formidable U.S. opponent—the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Washington’s declared strategy aims to promote “a secure, stable, sovereign Iraq free from malign influence.” However, Iran’s grip on Iraq has strengthened, anchored by an array of Shia militias that align with Tehran’s strategic objective of expelling the U.S. and other foreign forces from the country and the wider region, despite differing local agendas.

The conflict in Gaza has become an arena for Iran’s regional proxies, including allied Iraqi paramilitaries, to confront the United States and Israel militarily. This situation has put Iraq at risk of being dragged into a broader conflict and presented Washington with what appear to be unpalatable choices.

Why Netanyahu Doesn’t Take Biden Seriously - OPINION


A few months ago, President Biden seemed so fed up as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel ignored his calls for restraint in Gaza that he finally sounded tough.

In March, Biden was asked if his calls for Israel not to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah marked a “red line,” meaning that an invasion would lead to serious consequences.

“It is a red line,” Biden said, “but I’m never gonna leave Israel.”

What that added up to wasn’t clear, perhaps not even to Biden. But as someone who generally admires Biden’s foreign policy, I wanted to think that the president meant that an Israeli invasion of Rafah would lead to a suspension of transfers of offensive weapons, but no interruption of defensive weapons such as protections against incoming missiles.

Putin Shows He Can Antagonize the U.S. Far Afield From Ukraine

Paul Sonne

When the United States and its Western allies declared that Ukraine could strike Russian territory with their weapons, President Vladimir V. Putin began ratcheting up the threats.

He triggered drills in Russia to practice the use of tactical nuclear weapons. He said Moscow would consider changing the doctrine that outlines when it would use its nuclear arsenal. He reminded unnamed NATO countries in Europe of their small territories and dense populations, implying they could be easily obliterated.

And this week, the Russian leader took his threats to another corner of the globe, reviving a Cold War-era mutual defense pact with North Korea and warning that he may arm Kim Jong-un in response to the loosened restrictions on Ukraine’s use of Western arms.

America Is Running Out of Options in the Gaza War

Alan Cullison, Michael R. Gordon & Anat Peled

When war erupted in Gaza last year, the Biden administration hoped to keep the conflict short, stay closely aligned with Israel and stem the war’s spread to Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.

Eight months later, achieving those goals is proving increasingly difficult for the White House, highlighting a political vulnerability for President Biden ahead of his face-to-face debate against the presumed Republican nominee, Donald Trump, on Thursday.

U.S.-led talks on a cease-fire to halt the war and free hostages held by Hamas have all but collapsed. Attacks by Hezbollah across Israel’s northern border have intensified, raising the Biden administration’s fears of a full-fledged conflict. And the White House and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have traded accusations over whether the U.S. has slowed arms deliveries.

Hezbollah publishes drone footage of Israel as Nasrallah issues new warnings


Israeli-Hezbollah tensions increased on June 18 and June 19 as Hezbollah heightened its rhetoric warning of war. Israeli defense officials traveled to northern Israel for an assessment and key discussions about the situation.

The Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah released drone footage on June 18 that was taken over the coast of Israel. The footage depicted several sites along the coast, including an area housing Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, one of Israel’s largest defense companies, and the port of Haifa, home to an Israeli naval base. The Hezbollah footage, which was edited and marked with locations by Hezbollah, claimed to show locations of air defense systems and other sites within the Rafael property.

On June 19, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech in which he threatened Cyprus against letting Israel use its airbases. “Opening Cypriot airports and bases to the Israeli enemy to target Lebanon would mean that the Cypriot government is part of the war, and the resistance will deal with it as part of the war,” Nasrallah said.

Israeli forces in Rafah report discovering numerous tunnels and significant terrorist infrastructure


The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) extended operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah during the third week of June. The IDF has been in Rafah since the evening of May 6, and it appears the campaign will now extend through July. The IDF’s presence continues because of the large number of tunnel shafts and significant terrorist infrastructure Israeli forces have discovered and must dismantle. Israel’s military estimates that it controls between “60 to 70 percent of Rafah” city and its environs.

The IDF’s battle for Rafah is led by the 162nd Division. The division has several key units that have been conducting the work of finding tunnels and removing munitions and other terrorist infrastructure. These include the Givati Infantry Brigade, the Nahal Infantry Brigade, the 401st Armored Brigade, and the “Negev” 12th Reserve Infantry Brigade.

Members of the Nahal Infantry Brigade took several Israeli journalists along the Philadelphi Corridor, which runs along the Egyptian border south of Rafah, and also provided insights into the difficulties faced in the city’s neighborhoods. Colonel Yair Zuckerman, Nahal’s commander, described the lower-intensity nature of the fighting.

Ukraine’s new Unmanned Systems Forces takes shape


The Ukrainian military announced last week that it appointed Colonel Vadym Sukharevskyi as the commander of its inchoate Unmanned Systems Forces (USF). Sukharevskyi shared some interesting details on Kyiv’s plans for the USF, including how it will recruit operators and scale and standardize the use of this rapidly evolving technology.

The USF’s formation and status

Since February, Sukharevskyi, a 39-year-old decorated combat veteran, had been serving as the deputy commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) responsible for unmanned systems. Rustem Umierov, Ukraine’s defense minister, officially appointed him as USF commander on June 10.

Sukharevskyi’s appointment follows a February 6 decree in which President Volodymyr Zelenskyy directed Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers and General Staff to develop proposals for the USF’s creation. In the Ukrainian system, the AFU includes three branches (vydy): the Ground Forces, the Air Force, and the Navy, as well as various independent combat arms (okremi rody syl and okremi rody viys’k). Zelenskyy’s decree puts the USF in the second category, along with, for example, the Special Operations Forces and Support Forces.

Ukrainian IT Army launches massive cyberattack on Russian services and platforms

The press service of the IT Army of Ukraine reported that.

Due to DDoS attacks, VTB, Sberbank, Tinkoff, Alfa-Bank, Beeline, MTS, Rostelecom, Gazprombank, Megafon, SBP, NSPK, EIRC, and numerous smaller services are currently experiencing disruptions in their operations.

"Yesterday, when we promised to demolish the enemy's entire banking system, we meant it. And today, even more banks have been shut down, including their import-substitution system for card payments using "Mir." As a result, all card payments within the country have been affected," the message reads.

The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine reported:

"Companies sponsoring terrorism have been unable to provide online services for several hours, and Russians have been unable to use their services," the Ministry of Digital Transformation said.

According to Russian news agency "Interfax," the National Payment Card System has also confirmed the attack, stating that it has had an insignificant and short-term impact on service work.

The IT Army added that this is possibly the most significant DDoS attack in history.

After 75? Wither NATO? – Analysis

Nikolas K. Gvosdev

his July, leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will convene in Washington for a historic 75th anniversary summit—to take stock of the alliance’s work and to chart out its future. The decisions taken at this meeting will set the pace for the next chapter of the Euro-Atlantic partnership.

The agenda at this conclave will grapple with a set of issues that two contributors to Orbis—Ian Brzezinski and Elbridge Colby—discussed and debated in its pages four and a half years ago. In wake of the restart of major combat operations in Ukraine by the Russian Federation—precipitating the largest and deadliest period of fighting in Europe since the end of the Second World War—and the emergence of China as a major power with global reach—the points they raised still remain the principal questions that the alliance must settle as it looks to reinvent and reinvigorate itself for the mid-21st century.

These include:
  • How to properly weigh and address the challenges posed by Russia and China. How much focus should be devoted to checking Moscow’s ambitions given that Russia is the current problem? How much must be set aside today as a reserve for dealing with a future China contingency?
  • What is the nature of the Russia-China strategic entente? While all agree it is not a formal alliance, it is more than just a marriage of tactical convenience? Does it represent a level of strategic intimacy where an advantage (or setback) to one in one theater has repercussions for the plans of the other in another theater of operations? Is there a point where the national interests of Russia and China would diverge?

Israeli Defense Tech is About to Have a Moment

Simone Ledeen

The announcement from France that Eurosatory 2024 in Paris, one of the world's largest defense and security exhibitions was banning Israeli companies and Israeli nationals from participating has sent shock waves through the defense industry. The Macron government claimed its policy of Judenrein was in response to Israel's ongoing military operations in Gaza. In marked contrast, Hamas’s sponsor and global terrorism proliferator Iran faces no such ban. Indeed, no other country in the world was banned from Eurosatory but Israel.

The ban affected over 70 Israeli defense firms, including major companies which were scheduled to showcase their latest technologies and weaponry at the event, as well as innovative startups with recently battle tested solutions needed to advance the cause of western civilization on battlefields across the globe​​​​. If these firms are not permitted to sell their products legitimately to friendly partner nations, the less scrupulous among them will turn elsewhere. While a French judge struck down the ban at the last minute, it was already too late for most on the Israeli side to recoup. This is a morally abhorrent moment we must take time to properly understand. This current path leads inexorably to the collapse of western civilization in favor of the Islamists and Marxists who have joined forces against us. The age of short wars is likely over, and we must prepare for protracted conflicts.

Why Israel acts the way it does

Zack Beauchamp

From the outside, the policies of Israel’s government seem both brutal and inexplicably self-destructive.

Its war in Gaza has claimed tens of thousands of Palestinian lives and demolished much of the physical infrastructure, like schools and hospitals, required for a society to function. Despite the massive casualties, Israeli forces have yet to bring Hamas close to “total defeat.” And there is still no credible plan for preventing Hamas from simply returning to power after the war, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly ruled out handing control over Gaza to the moderate Palestinian Authority (PA).

These policies have some real public support. Recent polls of Israeli Jews have found that majorities of Israeli Jews endorse the Israeli military’s conduct in Gaza, believe Israel should maintain control over Gaza after the war, and express deep skepticism about a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians (at least for now).

Complicated geopolitics: a tale of three triangles


The highly orchestrated imagery of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin standing next to his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un, on the reviewing stand in Pyongyang’s main parade square is bound to evoke disturbing thoughts of the past. It reminds us of the historical turning point when Joseph Stalin, with Mao Zedong’s support, gave the green light to Kim’s grandfather to invade South Korea.

This time, China’s Xi Jinping was not present, as the Chinese have kept a distance from this recreation of the Cold War past. But China remains the principal backer of North Korea and echoes Russia’s embrace of the regime as a common victim of Western pressure and US hegemony. Perhaps uncomfortably, China is drawn again – as it was in 1950 – to backing Russia’s strategic miscalculations.

The one-day visit unveiled a new agreement to form a “comprehensive strategic partnership” between North Korea and Russia that includes a range of economic and cultural ties but, importantly, offers a pledge of “mutual aid” in the event of aggression. The new treaty replicates the language – in an even more detailed fashion – of the 1961 Soviet-North Korean treaty, creating an alignment that goes beyond anything seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Coming Israel-Hezbollah War


If the deadly and destructive Israel-Hamas war wasn’t already enough, there is a growing fear of a much broader confrontation between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Earlier this week, hours after the Lebanese militant group released a nine-minute video showing surveillance drones patrolling northern Israel, Israeli officials said the country is ready for an “all-out war” and approved plans for an offensive.

These developments come after near-daily border fire since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that has displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border, and killed at least 400, the majority of which are Hezbollah fighters.

After exhibiting the drone footage, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened a battle “with no limitations, no rules, and no ceilings” if Israel expands the scope of the current conflict. Nasrallah even threatened to attack E.U. member state Cyprus if any of its military facilities were opened to Israel in the looming confrontation.

Using Artificial Intelligence to Rethink the Unified Command Plan

Benjamin Jensen, Kathleen McInnis, and Jose M. Macias III


Every two years, a ritual takes over the Pentagon. A mix of service priorities, presidential prerogatives, defense ideas, and congressional intrigue combine in a cauldron called the Unified Command Plan (UCP).[1] The classified document specifies functional and geographic responsibilities and uses this division to assign missions, planning, training, and operational responsibilities.

As the ritual takes place in the “Puzzle Palace” today, the authors have decided to join the ranks of pundits new and old with ideas for revising the UCP—but with a twist. They have refined a large language model (LLM) with over 600 authoritative texts on topics ranging from military history and international relations theory to competitive strategy and deterrence into nine datasets to explore alternative blueprints for the U.S. military.[2] Two insights have emerged.