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China

Dr Evan Ellis downloadEvolving political dynamics and international tensions in the year 2024 pose significant challenges to the rules-based world order, writes Dr Evan Ellis. A series of events that have contributed to the deterioration of the normative structures established by the Allied powers at the end of World War II are analyzed. From territorial threats and military aggression to the proliferation of illiberal governments and the strategic influence of the PRC, key factors that are transforming the global scene are explored. The interconnectedness between changing political, economic and security dynamics reveals the complexity of contemporary challenges and highlights the urgency of critically examining the international system's ability to address these evolving problems. This article seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of current events impacting the global order and offers insights into possible future directions.

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Dr Evan Ellis downloadIn June 2023, The Wall Street Journal reported that the People's Republic of China has heavily invested in a cash-strapped Cuba in exchange for access to an electronic intelligence collection (ELINT) facility, and negotiated an agreement to train Chinese soldiers on the north side of the island. These developments have been met with great concern in Washington, particularly due to the strategic threat that the PRC's presence in the region poses.

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Dr Evan Ellis downloadChina and the Self Defeating Logic of Transactional Diplomacy in the Americas The U.S. shouldn't base its Latin America policy on trying to match China's actions in the region.

Having closely followed China's advance in the Western Hemisphere for more than two decades, I have always felt discomfort with the reasonable sounding, but self-defeating explanation from our Latin American partners: "Well, the U.S. isn't offering us anything better..." writes Professor Evan Ellis

To be clear, I strongly believe that it is in the United States' interest to do far more to support the economic development of the region, and the vital related tasks of combating its endemic corruption, improving citizen security, and strengthening effective and transparent governance. Doing so is the only way to ensure that our neighbours maintain faith that democracy and a market-dominated economic system, despite their inconveniences, provide the best path to prosperity, security, and protect their fundamental rights from state and other actors who would impinge upon them.

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joseph.fallonWith the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact (July 1, 1991) followed by the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union five months later (December 31, 1991), the Cold War, which had lasted 45 years, ended in a victory for the United States, writes Joseph E Fallon. But while "there were no direct military campaigns between the two main antagonists, the United States and the Soviet Union ...billions of dollars and millions of lives were lost in the fight."

The consequence of the collapse was momentous. It elevated the United States to a level unprecedented in world history. Instead of being one of two rival superpowers, it was now the world's sole hyperpower "a state that dominates all other states in every domain (i.e., military, culture, economy, etc.); it has no rivals that can match its capabilities."

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USA00000IMG 00000 BURST20190107130637518 COVERAs China's economic power grew in the 21st Century so did her geopolitical ambitions. But Beijing overreached. And this will have significant consequences for the future of China, says Joseph E Fallon.

By investing between one and eight trillion dollars in the "One Belt, One Road" Initiative (OBOR, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative, BRI), Beijing sought to elevate China to the world's leading economy by financing land and sea projects, such as airports, pipelines, roads, railroads, sea ports, and shipping lanes, to link the infrastructures and economies of Asia, Africa, and Europe to China.

Beijing has focused especially on building or buying interest in ports. In "China's Trojan Ports", The American Interest, November 19, 2018, John Lee wrote: "It is estimated that state-backed Chinese investors state own at least 10 percent of all equity in ports in Europe, with deals inked in Greece, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium...[including]...a 35 percent stake in the Euromax terminal at Rotterdam, a 20 percent stake in the Port of Antwerp (Europe's two busiest ports)...This is in addition to a growing investment portfolio of at least 40 ports in North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific."

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hebrandIn the last few years, China has become a polar power, writes Patrick Hebrard. Beijing's interest initially focused on Antarctica, but its presence in the Arctic has accelerated in recent years, driven by global warming and melting ice. The term polar translates into Chinese by jidi (极地) which means the "extremes of the earth". The Arctic is therefore the "Far North", the Antarctic "the Far South". Long remaining ambiguous, the Chinese strategy for the poles now appears in official documents, showing its willingness to be a recognized actor in these regions of the world and to defend resolutely its interests.

China's presence in these extremes is recent. In 1925, China had signed, without enthusiasm, the Treaty of Paris on Spitzbergen, solicited by France. With the events that China went through, this signature felt into oblivion and it was only in 1964 that the State Administration of Oceans was created which progressively became interested in the polar environment. See more on next page

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Japan's Defense Posture Review Interim Report of 26th July 2013 has attracted much favourable comment for its speed (six months after commissioning), timeliness (so quickly after the main report was published, it's responding to changing conditions) and brevity - the summary below, in a provisional translation, comes on two sides of paper.

Background

Given the following developments, the Government of Japan decided to review the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) by the end of 2013, and its Ministry of Defense (MOD) established the Defense Posture Review Commission in January 2013.

-The regional security environment has become more tense, as seen by Chinas increasing activities in Japans vicinity as well as North Koreas missile launches

-The U.S. is emphasizing its presence in the Asia-Pacific area in cooperation with allies including Japan

-Lessons from the Self Defence Forces (SDF) activities following the Great East Japan Earthquake need to be addressed

-The Commission focused on development of joint operations and made an interim report about the directions and issues through its deliberations.

The main points are on the next page.

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nickwattsIMG 20170907 0924504Figures released on 30th July by the UK's Defence Export Sales Organisation (UKTI DSO) indicate that on a rolling ten-year basis, the UK remains the second largest global defence exporter after the USA. Nick Watts took a look for Defence Viewpoints.

In 2018, the UK won defence orders worth £14bn, up on the previous year (£9bn) and illustrative of the volatile nature of the global export market for defence. The UK share of the global defence export market was estimated at 19% in 2018. The UK's largest defence export markets were the Middle East, North America and Europe. In 2018, the value of UK Security export sales was £5.2bn, an increase from 2017 (£4.8bn), maintaining the UK at 4th place in the rankings. The UK's largest Security export markets were Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America, of which there are more details on the next page.

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Afghan News Round Up forMay 2013 part two, compiled by Elayne Jude for Great North News Service

In High Places

President Hamid Karzai is constitutionally prohibited from running for a third term on April 5 2014. His older brother Qayum will be a presidential candidate.

"Qayum will announce his candidacy soon and will represent our political movement ... the party will run his election campaign," said Mahmoud Karzai in an interview at his home in Kandahar.

Qayum Karzai will have the backing of De Woles De Mulatar Baheer, or the Movement for the Support of the People. Pashtun dominated, the group has no affiliation with Hamid Karzai.

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With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S became the world's only "hyper power". A state defined as possessing such overwhelming economic, technological, political, and military powers and resources, it has no rivals. No individual state, nor any alliance of states are capable of challenging its global primacy. Washington can project its power anywhere across the globe at any time. Power so intimidating, it should fulfill the maxim of Sun Tzu, China's great military strategist: "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." Power that has, however, experienced unanticipated limitations, writes Joseph E Fallon.

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By Andrew Mok

To bash or to hug China has often been the debate in Western policy circles, but Stefan Halper's The Beijing Consensus: How China will Dominate the 21st Century will make for thought-provoking reading for both panda huggers and bashers. This readable 252-page account immediately gets down to business by dispelling some myths. First, there is a convincing exposition on China's military build-up, which seems more focused on denying the US primacy in China's immediate periphery rather than challenging the US global presence. Then, Halper argues that the economic "threat," like China's vast reserves of US debt securities, actually increases inter-dependence and makes China as vulnerable as the US. However, readers who hold high hopes that China will inevitably adopt Western liberal values are warned against such fantasies.

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On the 8th June the Global Strategy Forum hosted the above lecture given by Dr Shirin Akiner. Outlined below are some of the key points from that lecture.

Overview

The origins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) can be traced to the end of the Cold War. For much of the Cold War era relations between China and the Soviet Union were characterised by antagonism and suspicion. The heavily guarded Sino-Soviet border, for example, was fiercely contested territory prone to sporadic outbursts of conflict. However, in the early 1990s China embarked on a diplomatic initiative to change the status quo.

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29th July 2nd August 2007

1. We note that Taiwan consciousness and sense of identity is considered to be continuing to rise, and there is a strongly held view that this trend will not change. Substantial numbers of Taiwanese are working (de facto settled) elsewhere in South East Asia, and Taiwanese are said to be significant achievers in some Chinese cities.

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The 2009 Military Power of the People's Republic of China report is available online at:http://www.defenselink.mil/news/ChinaMilitary Power Report 2009.pdf .

Rep Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in the House of Representtaives said : "I am concerned by some of the continuing trends and ambiguities regarding China's military modernization, including China's missile buildup across from Taiwan and the steady increase of China's power projection capabilities. Moreover, China's military budget continues a trend of double-digit increases and questions remain about China's strategic intentions.

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A study commissioned by UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay concluded that there had been 59,648 deaths between February 2011 and November 2012, and that figure would now have risen above 60,000.She described the bloodshed as "truly shocking" according to news reports.

Syrian opposition groups had previously estimated 45,000 people killed.Had the world powers taken the right action a year or eighteen months ago the total would have been a lot smaller.

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The recent U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue was overshadowed by the political scandal of Bo Xilai and civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng hiding in the Beijing US embassy. Both incidents have touched a sensitive nerve in China and have continued the limited progress on discussions involving regional stability and future military cooperation.

China has always been concerned about foreign interference within its domestic affairs and will want to limit any damage that recent events have on the ruling party's ability to maintain stability. State news sources in China denied recent events had a major impact on the nation's political system since Bo Xilai has been removed and is currently under investigation. Rumours about a potential political uprising are unlikely to be true but the public exposure of this incident and increased international interest in Chinese domestic affairs concern Beijing and have led Premier Wen Jiabo to publicly push for more political reform.

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Recent American and South Korean intelligence reports speculate that North Korea may be preparing for its first nuclear tests since 2009. Satellite images show that North Korea has dug an 800 metre tunnel at its test site at Punggye-ri. Experts believe that the tunnel will be ready for a nuclear test when it reaches 1 kilometre, which South Korea believes may occur in early April.

Adam Dempsey, Research Associate for the UK Defence Forum, has recently undertaken a study of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme. His report outlines the development of Pyongyang's programme and ballistic missile capabilities.

In keeping with many aspects of North Korean life, Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme is shrouded in secrecy and subject to speculation. Official estimates of North Korea's programme are varied and remain primarily reliant on open-source intelligence. To complicate matters, Pyongyang's nuclear missile development may have benefitted from illegal exchanges involving the A.Q. Khan network.

Adam's full report is available here.

 

By Oliver Jones

Much has been made over recent years of the emerging threat of "cyber-attacks" on Western targets. Governments have become increasingly vocal on these threats, publishing a range of materials and proposing a number of policies. In the United States the government has taken steps which include the establishment of the US "Cyber-Command", alongside the US senate debating a so called "kill switch bill", which proposes to grant the president emergency powers over the internet. In the UK the cyber threat is also a growing concern. The recent Strategic Defence and Security Review and the UK National Security Strategy have both identified the sphere of "cyber Security" as a "Tier 1" threat or risk . Outside of government circles the issue is also becoming increasingly debated. Recently the popular periodicals "Foreign Affairs" and "The New Yorker" have both released articles detailing and debating the issue.

What however is the threat from this new "cyber domain", does it represent a new paradigm in warfare? Popular perceptions stemming from fictitious sources, such as the 2007 blockbuster Die Hard 4.0 in which the US comes under assault from "cyber-Terrorists" who target key infrastructure to cause a "fire sale" attack with potentially devastating consequences, suggest that cyber-warfare represents a devastating new strategic weapon capable of the kind of destruction only previously threatened by "WMD's". What's more the threat of cyber-attack is also characterised as being an emerging "asymmetric" threat. This idea of cyber-war is also lent credence from sources such as "Unrestricted Warfare," a proposal for Chinese military strategy, written by two Peoples Liberation Army colonels, whereby China seeks to beat a technologically and military superior opponent through the use of imaginative strategies which utilise measures that avoid direct military confrontation and instead attack their adversary through other avenues. Also adding to this perception of the cyber threat are the events like those in Estonia in 2007, where the Government and other sectors came under sustained denial of service attacks during a diplomatic spat with Russia over the relocation of "the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn". This and similar ideas certainly suggest that cyber-war does represent a threat in this way and this idea has been championed by American authorities on cyber-war. Richard A. Clarke, a former White House official with responsibility for the field, this year published "Cyberwar" a proposal for US strategy which prophesizes a particularly apocalyptic vision of a Chinese cyber-attack with mass casualties.

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By Sean Noonan

A recent batch of WikiLeaks cables led Der Spiegel and The New York Times to print front-page stories on China's cyber-espionage capabilities Dec. 4 and 5. While China's offensive capabilities on the Internet are widely recognized, the country is discovering the other edge of the sword.

China is no doubt facing a paradox as it tries to manipulate and confront the growing capabilities of Internet users. Recent arrests of Chinese hackers and People's Liberation Army (PLA) pronouncements suggest that China fears that its own computer experts, nationalist hackers and social media could turn against the government. While the exact cause of Beijing's new focus on network security is unclear, it comes at a time when other countries are developing their own defenses against cyber attacks and hot topics like Stuxnet and WikiLeaks are generating new concerns about Internet security.

One of the U.S. State Department cables released by WikiLeaks focuses on the Chinese-based cyber attack on Google's servers that became public in January 2010. According to a State Department source mentioned in one of the cables, Li Changchun, the fifth highest-ranking member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and head of the Party's Propaganda Department, was concerned about the information he could find on himself through Google's search engine. He also reportedly ordered the attack on Google. This is single-source information, and since the cables WikiLeaks released do not include the U.S. intelligence community's actual analysis of the source, we cannot vouch for its accuracy. What it does appear to verify, however, is that Beijing is regularly debating the opportunities and threats presented by the Internet.

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By Caroline Dynes

Why are the US and the People's Republic of China (PRC) so interested in Taiwan? It's a small seemingly inconsequential island that does very little to upset the international arena. Both have their different reasons for having their interests piqued by the island formerly known as Formosa.

From a Chinese perspective Taiwan represents the last vestige of defiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and a contradiction of its triumph in the civil war, on top of which it is a symbol of past foreign dominance as it was taken from China by Japan in one of the Unequal Treaties. This failure is dubbed the 'Century of Humiliation', and regaining Taiwan is seen as the last stumbling block to making China great once more, becoming the greatest nation on earth, a status it had held for thousands of years. America's interference in the East Asia region is ostensibly why the Republic of China (ROC) based on Taiwan is able to survive with such a direct threat to their legitimacy so close, across only 90 miles of water.

The US had long had a relatively affable relationship with the Nationalist government in China, and at the end of World War II left them to fight their own battles. It looked likely that the communists would follow the Kuomintang (KMT) across the Taiwan Strait and settle the civil war once and for all. Indeed, shelling of islands like Quemoy was a feature for many years. However, the Korean War broke out in 1950 and it suddenly became imperative to the Americans to find allies in Asia to stand against the tide of communism sweeping the world. Taiwan became strategically important in containing the socialist threat to capitalist ideology. Taiwan became the spokesman for all of China, despite only being in charge of c.20 million of the potential billion Chinese, some of whom identified themselves as ethnically Taiwanese. However, the KMT's international representation of all China was for a limited time, as the PRC found its feet. The importance of America finding substantial allies against the 'Evil Empire', the USSR, took priority.

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