22 October 2017

Key Emerging Technologies

“New technologies are redefining industries, blurring traditional boundaries and creating new opportunities on a scale never seen before. Public and private institutions must develop the correct policies, protocols and collaborations to allow such innovation to build a better future, while avoiding the risks that unchecked technological change could pose,” said Murat Sönmez, Head of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Member of the Managing Board of the World Economic Forum.

The emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will inevitably transform the world in many ways – some that are desirable and others that are not. The extent to which the benefits are maximized and the risks mitigated will depend on the quality of governance – the rules, norms, standards, incentives, institutions, and other mechanisms that shape the development and deployment of each particular technology.

Too often the debate about emerging technologies takes place at the extremes of possible responses: among those who focus intently on the potential gains and others who dwell on the potential dangers. The real challenge lies in navigating between these two poles: building understanding and awareness of the trade-offs and tensions we face, and making informed decisions about how to proceed. This task is becoming more pressing as technological change deepens and accelerates, and as we become more aware of the lagged societal, political and even geopolitical impact of earlier waves of innovation.
Twelve Key Emerging Technologies

3D printing. Advances in additive manufacturing, using a widening range of materials and methods; innovations include 3D bioprinting of organic tissues.

Advanced materials and nanomaterials. Creation of new materials and nanostructures for the development of beneficial material properties, such as thermoelectric efficiency, shape retention and new functionality.

Artificial intelligence and robotics. Development of machines that can substitute for humans, increasingly in tasks associated with thinking, multitasking, and fine motor skills.
Biotechnologies. Innovations in genetic engineering, sequencing and therapeutics, as well as biological computational interfaces and synthetic biology.

Energy capture, storage and transmission. Breakthroughs in battery and fuel cell efficiency; renewable energy through solar, wind, and tidal technologies; energy distribution through smart grid systems, wireless energy transfer and more.

Blockchain and distributed ledger. Distributed ledger technology based on cryptographic systems that manage, verify and publicly record transaction data; the basis of "cryptocurrencies" such as bitcoin.

Geoengineering. Technological intervention in planetary systems, typically to mitigate effects of climate change by removing carbon dioxide or managing solar radiation.

Ubiquitous linked sensors.  Also known as the "Internet of Things". The use of networked sensors to remotely connect, track and manage products, systems, and grids.

Neurotechnologies.  Innovations such as smart drugs, neuroimaging, and bioelectronic interfaces that allow for reading, communicating and influencing human brain activity.

New computing technologies.  New architectures for computing hardware, such as quantum computing, biological computing or neural network processing, as well as innovative expansion of current computing technologies.

Space technologies.  Developments allowing for greater access to and exploration of space, including microsatellites, advanced telescopes, reusable rockets and integrated rocket-jet engines.

Virtual and augmented realities.  Next-step interfaces between humans and computers, involving immersive environments, holographic readouts and digitally produced overlays for mixed-reality experiences.

Source: The 12 emerging technologies listed here are drawn from World Economic Forum Handbook on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (forthcoming, 2017)

.Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018  Published: 03 October 2017

  • Trend No. 1: AI Foundation. Today's AI Is Narrow AI
  • Trend No. 2: Intelligent Apps and Analytics. Augmented Analytics Will Enable Users to Spend More Time Acting on Insights
  • Trend No. 3: Intelligent Things.Swarms of Intelligent Things Will Work Together
  • Trend No. 4: Digital Twins.Digital Twins Will Be Linked to Other Digital Entities
  • Trend No. 5: Cloud to the Edge.Edge Computing Brings Distributed Computing Into the Cloud Style
  • Trend No. 6: Conversational Platforms.Integration With Third-Party Services Will Further Increase Usefulness
  • Trend No. 7: Immersive Experience. VR and AR Can Help Increase Productivity
  • Trend No. 8: Blockchain. Blockchain Offers Significant Potential Long-Term Benefits Despite Its Challenges
  • Trend No. 9: Event-Driven Model. Events Will Become More Important in the Intelligent Digital Mesh
  • Trend No. 10: Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust. Barriers Must Come Down Between Security and Application Teams 
MIT Technical Review gives out 10 Breakthrough Technologies in  2017

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2017

Reversing Paralysis. Scientists are making remarkable progress at using brain implants
to restore the freedom of movement that spinal cord injuries take away.

Self-Driving Trucks. Tractor-trailers without a human at the wheel will soon barrel onto
highways near you. What will this mean for the nation’s 1.7 million truck drivers?

Paying with Your Face. Face-detecting systems in China now authorize payments, provide
access to facilities, and track down criminals. Will other countries follow?

Practical Quantum Computers. Advances at Google, Intel, and several research groups indicate that computers with previously unimaginable power are finally within reach.

The 360-Degree Selfie. Inexpensive cameras that make spherical images are opening a
new era in photography and changing the way people share stories.

Hot Solar Cells. By converting heat to focused beams of light, a new solar device
could create cheap and continuous power.

Gene Therapy 2.0. Scientists have solved fundamental problems that were holding
back cures for rare hereditary disorders. Next we’ll see if the same approach can take on cancer, heart disease, and other common illnesses.

The Cell Atlas. Biology’s next mega-project will find out what we’re really made of.
Botnets of Things. The relentless push to add connectivity to home gadgets is creating
dangerous side effects that figure to get even worse.

Reinforcement Learning. By experimenting, computers are figuring out how to do things that no programmer could teach them.

Third annual report on emerging trends in science and technology (S&T) published by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology (DASA R&T).2016 gives out the following emerging trends in science and technology

• Robotics and autonomous systems 

• Additive manufacturing 

• Analytics 

• Human augmentation 

• Mobile and cloud  computing 

• Medical advances 

• Cyber 

• Energy 

• Smart cities 

• Internet of things 

• Food and water technology 

• Quantum computing 

• Social empowerment 

• Advanced digital 

• Blended reality 

• Technology for climate change 

• Advanced materials 

• Novel weaponry 

• Space 

• Synthetic biology 

• Changing nature of work 

• Privacy 

• Education 

• Transportation and Logistics

Emerging trends in S&T over the next 30 years will play out against a background of ongoing sociopolitical, economic, and environmental change. Over the coming decides, six key trends are likely to shape the nexus between sociopolitical change, technology, and security: 

• Urbanization 

• Climate change 

• Resource constraints 

• Shifting demographics 

• Globalization of innovation 

• Rise of a global middle class

International Security Landscape

The history of warfare and international security is the history of technological innovation, and the modern era is no exception. The advent of nuclear technology, for example, led to the doctrine of deterrence through mutually assured destruction. More recent advances such as unmanned vehicles and precision mortars and missiles have increasingly minimized both own-side causalities and collateral damage, and with them the risk of unwanted shifts in public opinion, while placing ever more of a premium on accurate intelligence.

The fear of what both friends and foes are developing, and willing to use, could overwhelm existing processes of oversight, dialogue, diplomacy and control, disrupting our ability to make informed and politically sound decisions. Rapid advances in any of the following technologies could potentially destabilize fragile balances of power and permanently alter the international security landscape, entrenching disparities between countries or heralding chaos.

Here are eight technologies that are changing the international security landscape:

1. Drones. Essentially, drones are flying robots. The US appears to be leading the way with over 11,000 such vehicles, but the technology is spreading widely as it becomes more affordable: even North Korea reportedly possesses advanced drone technology, while offthe- shelf quadcopter drones are already being used by narcotics gangs to spy on and eliminate rivals. Last year saw the first instance of a US civilian shooting down a drone when a neighbour flew it over his property.

2. Autonomous weapons. When drone technology is combined with artificial intelligence, the result is so-called “autonomous weapons” which can select and engage targets based on pre-defined criteria and without human intervention. These have been called potentially the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear. We might still be a long way from Hollywood’s humanoid-looking robots, coldly deciding who lives and dies; but current technology is advanced enough for, say, an armed quadcopter using facial recognition software to identify targets from a database and open fire. The risks of automated weapons are clear: for example, facial recognition is still far from reliable; while human override mechanisms can theoretically be built in, they can malfunction; and automated weapons could be hacked by malicious parties.

3. Wearable devices. Possible military uses here include sensing moods to avoid poor decision making; tracking bodily functions to optimize health and performance; “exoskeletons” to enhance soldiers’ performance, with current technology already allowing a human to carry loads of around 90kg without difficulty; and spying. In a real-life story reminiscent of an Ian Fleming novel, a lady styling herself as SexyCyborg has posted online about how she 3D-printed shoes with a hidden drawer where she installed devices for gathering information, then used her seductive appearance to gain entrance to organizations, evading the traditional detection mechanisms such as being asked to leave mobile equipment at the door.

4. Additive manufacturing. 3D printing has already been tested by both the US and Chinese armies in war games, and could revolutionize supply chains by enabling replacement parts to be manufactured in the field from digitally transmitted designs and locally available materials. Militaries are even aiming to be able to print food, and skin and prosthetics for those injured in service. Questions remain to be solved, however, around intellectual property, quality control and liability. As printers become more precise and able to use more materials, there is also a risk of proliferation of certain types of weapon systems as it becomes easier to copy critical technologies and bypass normal restrictions such as export controls. Additive manufacturing techniques could enable the development of new kinds of warhead, with greater control of particle size and direction on detonation.

5. Renewable energy. The capacity to generate power locally could revolutionize supply chains as much as the capacity to print parts locally. Militaries are already at the forefront of developing solar technologies, including dye-sensitized light harvesting materials which can harness light energy outside the visible spectrum. Nanomaterials embedded in clothes could potentially also turn them into a significant method of energy generation.

6. Nanotechnology. Our ability to manipulate particles at the nano scale has progressed significantly in the last decade, and we are rapidly developing technology to make “metamaterials” which have properties that do not occur naturally. Some conceivable applications still remain in the realm of science fiction, such as Star Trek-type “cloaking devices”, and systems which can self-replicate and self-assemble. We have also barely scratched the surface of possible ways to exploit quantum effects of matter at supercooled temperatures. Still, in the short term, related innovations promise to make weaponry better, lighter, more mobile, smarter, and more precise. One challenge is that nano electronics need vast amounts of power; another is that it will be significantly harder to monitor the

proliferation of nano weapons than, say, nuclear weapons.

7. Biological weapons. While the history of biological warfare is nearly as old as the history of warfare itself, rapid developments in biotechnology, genetics and genomics are opening up new and highly lethal avenues for the creation of new biological weapons. We are already capable of altering cells and creating killer viruses. Airborne designer viruses, engineered superbugs and genetically modified plagues all seem like potential doomsday scenarios. The global norms against biological weapons, laid down in the 1925 Geneva Convention and the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, are coming under pressure as the capacity to create lethal biological weapons becomes more widespread.

8. Bio-chemical weapons. The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits any use of chemicals, including ‘non-lethal’ chemicals, in warfare situations – but here, too, technological advances are making such weapons almost a “do-it-yourself” project and increasingly hard to regulate. Unmanned vehicles also offer new and effective ways of delivering chemical agents in the battlefield. Advances in neurobiology and pharmaceuticals will offer increasing possibilities to alter behavioural patterns and emotions – perhaps including cocktails of chemical drugs which change neurological signals to create warrior behaviour reminiscent of zombie movies.

What is the best response to such evolving threats? It makes little sense to try to ban the development of all technologies with the potential to create weapons of a kind which we would not want to see used. Many of the above technologies have obvious civilian applications – from delivery drones to the genetic engineering of viruses to treat diseases – and indeed are largely being developed by civilian entrepreneurs.Leaving aside the desirability of bans on the development of technologies, there is the question of feasibility. In a growing number of fields, the capacity to innovate potentially weaponizable technologies is no longer the preserve of militaries with large budgets, and can increasingly be done by small groups or individuals with off-the-shelf equipment. While technology is also improving our capacity for surveillance, it will be difficult to be confident that no group is working undetected.
The following two diagrams will explain the emerging trends and threats associated with these.

I shall discuss the effects of the emerging trends on armed forces in my next paper.

Book Review of "Our Latest Longest War: Losing Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan"

by John Bolton

In Afghanistan Americans seemed determined to validate F. Scott Fitzgerald's aphorism that American lives have no second act. Fitzgerald didn't mean we don't get second chances (Afghanistan policy has had plenty) but that Americans are determined to avoid the hard choices, struggle, and dissonance that makes the second act of so many plays rewarding. Instead, we want to skip to act three's resolution. Consequently, we have tactically and strategically re-lived basic decisions about Afghanistan multiple times since 2001, each time re-learning obvious lessons and re-resolving to avoid the same mistakes while pledging to essentially do more of the same. We have failed to even ask the basic question of “If we weren’t there as we are, would be still be?”

The Weakest Link In The Cybersecurity Chain Is Sitting At The Keyboard

by Scott Stewart

One of the foundational precepts of Stratfor's security analysis is that as security measures become more effective, people increasingly become the weakest link in a security system. For example, when it comes to the U.S. border with Mexico, as walls have been lengthened and checks at entry points have grown more sophisticated, smugglers have increasingly resorted to bribery to circumvent the tighter security. Likewise, "office creepers" and other criminals who target workplaces have figured out ways to bypass the tighter access controls and other physical measures instituted by companies. Perhaps they will enter through a door blocked open by a worker taking a smoke break or follow a legitimate employee through a secured entry by pretending to have misplaced their credentials. This same principle applies to cybersecurity. As greater technical barriers are enacted to secure computer networks against external hacks, their human users have become the weakest link in cybersecurity.

The Guardian view on Xi Jinping: the life and soul of the party

“The capability of any one individual is limited,” Xi Jinping warned five years ago as he assumed China’s leadership. Those words were unnecessarily self-deprecating. As the Communist party regrouped for the next great conclave in Beijing on Wednesday, the man now known as “chairman of everything” laid out a vision for his nation so grand that it took over three and a half hours to delineate; more than twice as long as his predecessor spoke for at the last party congress.

Could a Local War in Asia Create a Superpower Showdown Between America and China?

Dave Majumdar

The risk of China and the United States going to war in the West Pacific is fairly small, but over time Washington will have to shift its deterrence posture in Asia as Beijing continues to become evermore powerful.Indeed, RAND Corporation researchers believe that the People’s Republic ofChina—which is expected to match America’s Gross Domestic Product by 2030—could be a far more capable adversary than either Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union during its Cold War peak if Beijing so chose. However, China, thus far, does not seem to have such aspirations.

Future Of Asia Previous Social Media in China: The Great Distraction

By Andrés Ortega

Worried about social media helping to create popular movements, China runs an elaborate system of censorship and manipulation.Chinese authorities are worried less by criticism than by social media and networks helping to create popular movements.What the system simply cannot tolerate is the possible emergence of opposition movements or collective action.There are now an average of 500 demonstrations a day in China, albeit largely peaceful.

Grand Designs: Does China have a ‘Grand Strategy’?

By Angela Stanzel, Nadège Rolland, Jabin Jacob, Melanie Hart 

Do China’s leaders have a strategy for the long-term direction of their country? For a while now Chinese thinkers have been discussing this very question, even speaking about the parameters of an all-encompassing “grand strategy” (大战略 da zhanlue) for China.

When the revolution eats itself

by Buttonwood

WHEN a revolution happens, the consequences are not obvious straight away. The British referendum on EU membership in June 2016 was seen as a revolt of ordinary people against a globalised elite. The politicians who led the Leave campaign did not seem to expect to win. As wags remarked, they were like “the dog that caught the car”.

In China, a Strategy Born of Weakness

By George Friedman

Editor’s note: Every five years, the Communist Party of China holds its National Congress, an opportunity for leaders to tout their successes and lay out policy priorities for the next five years. It is where delegates approve amendments to the constitution and select members of the Central Committee, who in turn select members of the country’s most important political institutions: the Politburo, the Central Military Commission, the Politburo Standing Committee and the general secretariat.

Why China Is Leading the Fintech Race

The innovations of the U.S. tech sector are justly acclaimed, but China is racing ahead in the rapidly developing fintech sector, with India poised to follow, writes Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett in this opinion piece.When it comes to the tech sector, all the action — certainly all the innovation — is in America, right?

Syrian Reconstruction Spells Juicy Contracts for Russian, Iranian Firms

The worst violence of the six-year-long Syrian civil war is winding down, as government forces under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have reclaimed large swathes of rebel-held territory and the Islamic State has been pushed out of its major strongholds.But where millions of Syrian civilians have seen destruction and hundreds of thousands have died over the last six years, companies inside and outside of Syria now see dollar signs. Almost every destroyed bridge, road, building, and power plant will be a chance for a potentially lucrative government construction contract, which the regime will soon start handing out.

Republicans Have Stockholm Syndrome, and It’s Getting Worse

Source Link

The lobotomization of the Republican Party appeared complete last year when the same GOP paladins who had denounced Donald Trump as a “lunatic trying to get ahold of nuclear weapons” (Marco Rubio), as a bigot who was guilty of “the textbook definition of a racist comment” (Paul Ryan), and as a “narcissist,” “serial philanderer,” “pathological liar,” and “bully” (Ted Cruz) nevertheless endorsed him for the most powerful position in the world. Tragedy turned to farce (or is it the other way around?) 



On Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said of North Korea that the current U.S. “focus is on diplomacy to solve this problem that is presented by the DPRK. We must, however…be prepared for the worst, should diplomacy fail.” Not surprisingly, most recent commentary and analysis on the current North Korea crisis has focused on the prospects of either a near-term conflict or a diplomatic way out. That focus is understandable, but fixates on the two least likely outcomes. Rather than preparing for diplomatic or warfighting scenarios with a nuclear-armed North Korea, the United States should be preparing for a sustained period of deterrence, coercive diplomacy, and rollback. 

Armageddon by Accident Trump and Kim’s brinkmanship raises the danger of an accidental conflict on the Korean Peninsula.


Rising tensions between North Korea and the United States have sparked fresh concerns inside and outside the Pentagon that a potential miscalculation — driven by heated rhetoric or technical mistakes — could lead to an accidental conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

The danger of an inadvertent clash is exacerbated by two impulsive nuclear-armed leaders, who have publicly traded threats, and a volatile mismatch between the United States’ overwhelming military superiority and an isolated regime in Pyongyang.



Strategic competition among China, India, and Pakistan has traditionally been land-oriented, with a focus on territorial disputes. On the conventional military front, the Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani navies have received the least attention and resources from their respective governments. Similarly, the development of air- and land-based nuclear weapons has historically taken precedence both in defense budgets and as a means of projecting power. However, as China continues its economic and military expansion across the Indian Ocean, the maritime domain is receiving increased attention, with all three states making a concurrent drive toward acquiring sea-based nuclear weapons.

DoD says it shouldn’t protect homeland from cyberthreats; McCain disagrees

By: Mark Pomerleau  

In a heated exchange before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Oct. 19, the committee’s chairman sparred with the Department of Defense’s principle cyber adviser over the Pentagon’s roles in protecting the nation in cyberspace. “Although DoD has built capacity and unique capabilities, for a number of reasons, I would caution against ending the current framework and against reassigning more responsibility for incident response to the Department of Defense,” Kenneth Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security and a principle cyber adviser, wrote in his prepared testimony.

Marines Sent Team to Middle East to Test Cyber Vulnerabilities


A sailor with 553 Cyber Protection Team opens a network monitoring program during I Marine Expeditionary Force's Large Scale Exercise 2016 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., on Aug. 22, 2016. The Corps deployed a first-of-its-kind cyber protection team to the Middle East to help crisis response troops shore up communications and patch vulnerabilities to a growing range of cyber threats. Cpl. Garrett White/Marine Corps 

Protect your privacy: A hacker’s guide to being cyber-safe

By: Timothy Summers

Protecting individual privacy from government intrusion is older than American democracy. In 1604, the attorney general of England, Sir Edward Coke, ruled that a man’s house is his castle. This was the official declaration that a homeowner could protect himself and his privacy from the king’s agents. That lesson carried into today’s America, thanks to our Founding Fathers’ abhorrence for imperialist Great Britain’s unwarranted search and seizure of personal documents.

DoD still working toward CYBERCOM elevation

By: Mark Pomerleau

President Donald Trump, in accordance with Congressional decree, directed Cyber Command to elevate to a full unified combatant command out from under Strategic Command in August.The Defense Department is “in the throes” of making this happen right now, Maj. Gen. Burke “Ed” Wilson, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy and deputy principal cyber adviser to the secretary of defense, said during a media roundtable Oct. 16.

21 October 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping's Solution for China

Chinese President Xi Jinping is presiding over a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party, called the National Congress. These meetings are held in China every five years. This year it is about crafting a new course for China. The congress opened with a speech delivered by Xi that was designed to fill the people with confidence in a bright future. It did that, and now the congress will proceed for several days, continuing to energize the country. It will not be out of place to remind us little bit of history of Chinese Communist Party and its leaders.

Communism in China has gone through two phases. The first was the Maoist phase, which had three goals which were: 

Ending the constant internal warfare that had torn China apart in the pre-communist era. 

End the constant foreign intrusions onto Chinese soil. 

To create a radically new and egalitarian society.

It succeeded in achieving all three goals, but the price was high. Regional conflict was suppressed by a brutal dictatorship. China in many ways withdrew from interaction with much of the world, and constant waves of assaults on Chinese society were carried out, from the Great Leap Forward to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Millions died of hunger and political oppression. But Mao had crafted a country that had not existed before. The new China was free of internal struggle and free of foreign imperialism. It was also staggeringly poor and filled with suffering.

When Mao died in 1976, a power struggle ensued. His faction was defeated by Deng Xiaoping, who recognized that Mao had succeeded in what he wanted but had led the country to the edge of disaster. Deng realized that Mao’s radical communism could not go on, and out of necessity he forged a new model for China. Deng understood that china’s problem was poverty and that only production could solve it. But China was too poor to consume what it produced, so it had to sell its products in other countries – the same strategy Germany, Japan and others had used to recover from their wars. China’s advantage was that it had a capable workforce and very low wages, and by opening its borders to trade, China grew rapidly for more than a generation. Deng created a China that unleashed the commercial expertise of its coastal regions and connected them to customers in the United States and Europe, opening borders while keeping a weakened Communist Party in place. . Deng’s strategy of aggressive exports had reintegrated China into the world economy, but it had also made its success heavily dependent on the appetites of other countries. If they stopped buying China would be dealt a stunning blow.

Deng’s reforms created vast regional wealth, but much of the country was left behind. This led to a wealthy China along the coast and an impoverished China in the interior, with an insufficient middle class, unable collectively to consume what China’s overbuilt industry produced. Amid rapid growth, corruption intensified the inequality.

China had entered the international arena but only as an economic power. Its military had developed but was still incapable of asserting and defending its interests. 

China could not adopt a Western-style democracy. It needed to retain a one-party system, and that party was the Communist Party. In fact, the Chinese model of development would become a major lever for Chinese global power as poor countries adopted China’s political system to combine a dynamic economy with one-party rule.

Promises of a Bright Future

In his speech, Xi said China’s economic strategy will now emphasize quality over quantity. He highlighted the importance of China’s technological capabilities – their advancement is essential. Most important, he promised to lift from poverty those who had been left behind. Since that includes much of China, this is a huge task. Without high growth rates, the only way to do this is to transfer wealth from affluent regions. This raises two problems. First, the coastal region, which will feel the pain of such social generosity, is sure to resist. Second, shifting capital to consumption raises the question of how to underwrite massive developments in technology. Xi promised to lift everyone out of poverty by 2020. 

Xi promised to build a world-class military by 2050. He therefore acknowledged that China doesn’t have a world-class military now and won’t for more than a generation. Creating a world-class military will require immense investment. 

Finally, Xi made clear that a single-party dictatorship must remain in place, and likely needs to be strengthened. Of course, what Xi has yet to make clear is whether he will anoint a successor to take his place in five years, or whether the party and Xi should now be seen as synonymous. This is something to watch for as the National Congress continues.

Meanwhile what China is quietly doing in between merits attention. China is quickly growing into the world’s most extensive commercial empire. By way of comparison, after World War II, the Marshall Plan provided the equivalent of $800 billion in reconstruction funds to Europe (if calculated as a percentage of today’s GDP). In the decades after the war the United States was also the world’s largest trading nation, and its largest bilateral lender to others.

Now it’s China’s turn. The scale and scope of the Belt and Road initiative is staggering. Estimates vary, but over $300 billion have already been spent, and China plans to spend $1 trillion more in the next decade or so. According to the CIA, 92 countries counted China as their largest exports or imports partner in 2015, far more than the United States at 57. What’s most astounding is the speed with which China achieved this. While the country was the world’s largest recipient of World Bank and Asian Development Bank loans in the 1980s and 90s, in recent years, China alone loaned more to developing countries than did the World Bank.

Unlike the United States and Europe, China uses aid, trade, and foreign direct investment strategically to build goodwill, expand its political sway and secure the natural resources it needs to grow. Belt and Road is the most impressive example of this In the next decades, China plans to build a thick web of infrastructure around Asia and, through similar initiatives, around the world.

Most of its funding will come in the form of loans, not grants. Chinese state-owned enterprises will also be encouraged to invest. This means, for example, that if Pakistan can’t pay back its loans, China could own many of its coal mines, oil pipelines, and power plants, and thus have enormous leverage over the Pakistani government. In the meantime, China has the rights to operate the Gwadar port for 40 years.

Belt and Road is China’s biggest foreign policy initiative to date, but it’s no Marshall Plan. China is too dependent on its eastern seaboard and the narrow Malacca Strait near Singapore to get goods in and out of its vast territory; for example, over 80 percent of its oil goes through the Strait. So building trade routes through Pakistan and Central Asia makes sense. Belt and Road also helps China invest its huge currency reserves and put its many idling state-owned enterprises to work.

Countries that trade more generally fight less, not just with their trading partners, but with the world in general. In its own way, China is thus helping to uphold international peace. China’s economic impact on the countries it lends to so far seems mixed at best. While the 20 percent or so that China gives in traditional aid does help local economies, most of its largesse comes as loans, which have not been as helpful. Scholars who looked at Chinese investment in Africa 1991 to 2010 found that Chinese assistance does not appear to help economic growth, and that inexpensive Chinese imports often displace African local firms, and thus hurt employment in small enterprises. China usually requires donee countries to use Chinese firms to build roads and ports, and so hasn’t in the past employed local firms or train local workers. In Pakistan, for example, 7,000 Chinese nationals are working on the economic corridor—they bring their own cooks, have separate housing, and don’t interact much with the locals. Relatively few Pakistanis are working on the actual road and rail-building (and thus developing skills)—but Pakistan has deployed nearly 15,000 security personnel to guard the Chinese. 

Also, while Chinese loans used to have low interest rates around 2.5 percent, they are now creeping up to near 5 percent or more. This will make them harder to repay. While those who receive Chinese funds are happy to fix their power shortages and improve their roads, they may be mortgaging their futures.

Perhaps the biggest challenge China’s efforts pose to the “liberal international order” is that, in contrast to most Western aid and loans, Belt and Road projects often encourage terrible governance, environmental, and human rights standards, although China’s record on this has improved somewhat over the past few years.

China is often the largest investor in countries that others ostracize—because they are run by dictators, don’t respect human rights, and are corrupt—such as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Niger, Angola, and Burma. Of course, while the U.S. and Europe insist on high standards for their aid projects today, both their companies and governments also had terrible records on human rights and the environment when they ventured to India, Africa, Latin America in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

On worker safety and the environment, when China first ventured abroad, its standards were often abysmal. In some areas, Chinese firms still leave behind a mess of underpaid miners, devastated forests, and ruined rivers. Yet China is learning quickly. 

If China’s geoeconomic push continues, it will be its largest legacy and have a profound impact on the world—not necessarily all negative. Since the West doesn’t have $1 trillion to lavish on developing country infrastructure in a new great game, its best choice may be to coopt and shape this juggernaut

Reference : George Friedman, Xi’s Glittering Solutions for China, Oct 20, 2017, · Anja Manuel, China Is Quietly Reshaping the World, The Atlantic,

Is India Starting to Flex Its Military Muscles?


This summer, India deployed troops to prevent China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from constructing a road on the Doklam plateau near the contested Bhutan-China-India border. Indian forces stood in the path of the construction crews, blocking their work and at times even tussling with Chinese troops. Despite increasingly harsh warnings from Beijing, including the threat of “all-out confrontation,” the Indians held fast. After a nearly two-month standoff, both sides disengaged and the PLA stopped its road-building activity, though China made clear that it would “continue fulfilling its sovereign rights” by stationing troops and patrolling in the area.

Tillerson Knocks China, Courts India Ahead of South Asia Trip


Just ahead of his first official trip to India, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered a “love letter” to New Delhi while taking direct aim at China’s ambitious plans to further deepen its influence throughout Asia.

Tillerson, in a rare public speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday, touted the U.S. relationship with India as a cornerstone of the liberal international order and called it a key part of U.S. efforts to shore up its position in the Indo-Pacific region.

Tillerson Woos India to Offset China


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled the Trump administration will be leaning on India to offset China’s regional influence, hailing deeper defense cooperation with New Delhi in remarks Wednesday.

“Our defense ties are growing,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.

Navy SEALs Were Ready if Pakistan Failed to Free Family Held as Hostages

By Adam Goldman, Eric Schmitt,

A C.I.A. drone was circling a remote valley in northwest Pakistan last month when it picked up an unusual sight: a young woman and children in a militant camp. To intelligence analysts, she appeared to be an American abducted five years earlier while backpacking in Afghanistan with her Canadian husband.

The grainy images were a breakthrough. Military planners mobilized members of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, an elite group of commandos, to mount a rescue, according to senior American officials. But the operation was called off amid concerns, and days later, the C.I.A. watched in alarm as militants drove the family out of the camp and across Pakistan’s lawless tribal lands.

How A US Raid On An Afghan Village Went Wrong

By Dan Vergano

It was Nov. 2, 2016, and he was strapped into one of two mammoth CH-47’s flying over the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan on a moonless night. Loaded with 59 men in all — a company of Afghan commandos and a team of Green Berets backing them up – the big birds were headed to a village called Boz-e-Qandahari on Kunduz’s northern outskirts.

He and the rest of the men had no idea that they were flying into a deathtrap — one that, thanks to incomplete intelligence, would claim the lives of two Green Berets, three Afghan commandos, and 32 civilians, including six women and 20 children. The civilians died as the American and Afghan raiders faced an unanticipated onslaught of Taliban fighters reminiscent of the Mogadishu slaughter memorialized in the movie Black Hawk Down.

In China, a Strategy Born of Weakness

By George Friedman
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Editor’s note: Every five years, the Communist Party of China holds its National Congress, an opportunity for leaders to tout their successes and lay out policy priorities for the next five years. It is where delegates approve amendments to the constitution and select members of the Central Committee, who in turn select members of the country’s most important political institutions: the Politburo, the Central Military Commission, the Politburo Standing Committee and the general secretariat.

After 4000 Years, China Eyes Truly Global Role

By Colin Clark

WASHINGTON: The president of China, seeming to cast aside the better part of four millennia of Chinese tradition, declared today that he sees “a new historic juncture in China’s development,” one that clearly calls for his country to flex its global muscles and change the rules that have guided the world since at least World War II.

Chinese artificial island in the South China Sea

China Can’t Solve the North Korea Problem. So Who Can?

By Colum Hawken

Since 4 July 2017, when North Korea tested a ballistic missile, the world’s focus has been on North East Asia and how to resolve this current crisis. The North Korean nuclear program’s sudden successes came as a shock. However, it was simply a matter of time until these technological advancements were achieved, as the technology required is no longer cutting edge and the North’s nuclear ambitions and missile development program are already several generations old.[1] At this point, the U.S. and the North are locked in a war of words, while outside powers such as China and Russia urge calm and a return to civil relations. Some now see conflict on the Korean Peninsula as inevitable and believe only China can resolve this confrontation without bloodshed.[2] This is wrong.

How China Is Winning The South China Sea

In 2009, China asserted a claim to a huge swath of the South China Sea, including areas deep within other countries’ exclusive economic zones. It was a deft and calculated political move, leaving affected nations with a confounding set of retaliatory options almost none have been willing to implement.
Facts On The Ground

In 2009, China began moving research vessels into largely undefended portions of the South China Sea, particularly amongst the unpopulated archipelagos and submerged reefs and shoals off the coast of Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. Those waters includes areas that, according to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, constitute those countries’ 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), entitling them to the “exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from wind and water.”