Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

26 September 2017

How China's Social Media Giant Compares To Facebook

Written by Felix Richter

-- this post authored by Felix Richter with contributions by Econintersect

Due to the fact that social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are inaccessible in China, there exists a whole ecosystem of social networking and messaging platforms that are immensely popular in and around China but hardly known anywhere else in the world.

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Platforms such as QQ, Qzone and WeChat in particular have hundreds of millions of users and, just as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, they’re all owned by the same company. Their parent company Tencent became China’s largest tech company in terms of market capitalization last year, and is currently going back and forth with e-commerce behemoth Alibaba in the race for this title.

As our chart illustrates, there's no need for Tencent to shy away from comparisons with the world's largest social networking company. While Tencent's social networking and messaging services have yet to reach the billion-user mark, its financial results are nearly on par with Facebook's. In fact, until as recently as 2015, Tencent was more profitable than Facebook, and has been for many years prior. From an investing standpoint, both companies have been doing great over the past 12 months: Tencent's stock price soared more than 60 percent since August 2016, Facebook's is up by 35 percent.

19 September 2017

* Is China’s ‘Frontline State Strategy’ going out of Control or North Korea Crazy?

By Maj Gen SB Asthana
The Frontline State Strategy of China

When President Trump on taking over tried to outsource the problem of resolving North Korean Crisis to China presumably in exchange of some trade concessions, his administration overlooked the fact that China was part of the problem. The disappointment which his Administration suffered and expressed later was an expected outcome. The Chinese Strategy of North Korea being used as a ‘Frontline State’ against US and its ally South Korea, dates back to Korean War of 1953, when China entered the War with an aim to avoid US/South Korea to be its neighbour, as a permanent continental military threat. This deep rooted strategy continued helping North Korea a militarily strong nuclear state with autocratic regime, making it a major global threat. The strategy is still applicable to the same extent, with China’s overt and covert support to North Korea involved in nuclear and missile test misadventures, posing a threat to its greatest competitors. This strategy now seems to become a liability with North Korea irresponsible actions post UN sanctions, and Beijing’s announcement that ‘If North Korea invades another country, China will not defend them’.

In fact China has adopted this successful ‘Frontline State Strategy’ to Pakistan in a different, modified form by getting warm water connectivity to gulf with port facility. They have been able to buy over the strategic choices of Pakistan, by potentially getting them into long term debt trap. In this case also China reaps the fruits of Pakistan’s Kashmir fascination and keeping its regional competitor (India) engaged by ongoing export of terror by Pakistan, by continuously ignoring it. The worldwide criticism of Pakistan’s role in harboring terrorists, and China’s criticism of supporting an irresponsible regime sponsoring it has led to actions like condemning some Pakistan based terror groups in BRICS Summit, as a midcourse correction. The risk of propping up a semi autocratic power (Pakistan being a sham democracy, with autocratic power of Pakistan Army) having nuclear power is marred with uncontrollable risks, slightly similar to its Frontline State North Korea.

Current State of North Korean Crisis

India’s Strategic Choices: China and the Balance of Power in Asia

India is a rising power, but its transformation is occurring in the shadow of China’s even more impressive ascent. Beijing’s influence will almost certainly continue to grow and has already upset Asia’s geopolitical balance. India must decide how to secure its interests in this unbalanced environment by choosing among six potential strategic options: staying unaligned, hedging, building indigenous military power, forming regional partnerships, aligning with China, or aligning with the United States. A closer alignment with Washington likely represents India’s best chance to counter China, while efforts to foster regional partnerships and cultivate domestic military capabilities, although insufficient by themselves, could play a complementary role.

Challenges Posed by China’s Rise

China is a direct military threat to India, particularly in light of the two countries’ border disputes. Though India has considerable military power, China’s forces are already stronger and better-funded; Beijing’s outsized wealth will likely allow it to outspend New Delhi for the foreseeable future.

Beijing’s influence in both established international organizations like the United Nations and in new institutions China is setting up, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, gives Beijing opportunities to hamper Indian interests and goals in multilateral forums, especially when it comes to reforming these institutions and giving India a greater voice in global affairs.

China’s alignment with Pakistan and deepening relations with other South Asian countries represents a significant challenge to India’s position in the region, which New Delhi has dominated for decades. Beijing’s ability to provide financial assistance and balance against New Delhi may tempt India’s smaller neighbors to play one power against the other, undermining India in its own backyard.

China’s economic power allows Beijing to spread its influence around the world, which could be used to India’s detriment.

India’s Potential Policy Responses

China Pressuring Pakistan on Terrorism?

By Arushi Kumar

President Donald Trump, in an announcement on the recent overhaul of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, admonished Pakistan for sheltering “the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people” in the fight against the Taliban. Yet analysts have questioned whether Pakistan really needs to heed the United States’ call to “demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace,” given the growing warmth of its relationship with China. Despite China being the first to rush to Pakistan’s side and denouncePresident Trump’s remarks, the declaration following the 2017 BRICS Summit held in Xiamen proved to be significant – it marked the first time Beijing agreed to condemn Pakistan-based terror groups like the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), despite repeatedly blocking the United Nations Security Council from listing JeM leader Masood Azhar as a globally-designated terrorist in the last year.

China’s diplomatic support for Pakistan at these critical moments prevented sanctions that could have had negative political and economic ramifications on Islamabad. At the time, India deemed China’s action at the international forum to be a confirmation of the “prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.” So, what has changed? Despite public statements in support of Pakistan, China’s increasing economic stakes and evolving security concerns in the region seem to be forcing Beijing to reorient its internal calculus and tighten its grip over security in Pakistan.

Chinese Interests in Pakistan and Afghanistan

What Is China Thinking with Its Newest Plane Design?

Lyle J. Goldstein

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) recently announced that the various naval flying and engineering schools in Yantai (Shandong) have been consolidated and elevated to the status of the “China PLA Navy Aviation University” [中国人民解放军海军航空大学]. For a rising power with grand naval ambitions that just launched its second aircraft carrier, the move to consolidate and upgrade its institutions for training naval pilots is not at all surprising. Even putting carrier aviation aside, Chinese aircraft development (both manned and unmanned) has been a veritable beehive of activity in the last decade, producing numerous sleek fighters and attack aircraft, transports, trainers, electronic warfare and early warning aircraft, not to mention a slew of UAVs and helicopters too. Moreover, rumors regarding a long-range bomber, as well as vertical takeoff and perhaps tilt-rotor aviation need to be taken seriously. In combination with China’s bristling conventional missile strike forces, these new air capabilities are slowly but surely altering the military balance in the Asia-Pacific region.

Against that somewhat perturbing background, Beijing’s new large amphibious aircraft AG-600, which was first revealed at the Zhuhai airshow back in 2016, forms rather an anomaly since it is neither sleek, nor stealthy, nor bristling with weapons and sensors. Chinese sources readily admit (as discussed below) that the AG-600 falls short of the world’s leading designs for such aircraft. Deepening the mystery, moreover, is the fact that the U.S. Navy has not operated seaplanes of any type for decades, implying they are not cost-effective and have numerous operational limitations in modern naval warfare. So what exactly are Beijing’s planners thinking? Is this China’s “Spruce Goose”—the product of aircraft engineers run amok without strategic sense or fiscal constraints?

A Tale of Two Disputes: China’s Irrationality and India’s Stakes

Disputes in Asia, be they in the maritime or territorial spheres, are usually complex. Their nature or connotation may vary from issue to issue and from one sub-region to another and may have different sets of implications. Also, they tend to expand beyond their original context and become somewhat byzantine when they are connected with ‘national interests’, which involves both the quest for resource exploration and national pride. An assessment of China’s continued reservation on India’s oil and energy exploration in the South China Sea (SCS) and India’s concerns over China’s infrastructural development in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project – which is a vital part of Beijing’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative – underline these complexities. Both oil exploration in the SCS and infrastructure development in the POK may be two different issues involving different sub-regions; but the Chinese and Indian approaches and reactions and their pursuit of ‘national interests’ in these matters compels the drawing of a parallel.

This Policy Brief analyses the complexity introduced into India-China relations by these two issues as well as the resultant fallout. The assessment here indicates the irrationality of the Chinese approach to which India must respond cogently. All the more so when China has released the document, Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, in March 2015,11 and Beijing desires India to join and support its ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative.
II. Issues of Sovereignty and the ‘Historical’ Context

China opposes India’s oil exploration in the SCS (which has been undertaken at Vietnam’s request) by calling the area of exploration a ‘disputed’ area and asserting ‘Chinese sovereignty’ over the SCS in the ‘historical’ context. It has been continuously expressing its reservation in this regard in the last few years, and sometimes quite belligerently at that. India has taken note of the Chinese reservation and has carefully gone ahead in signing a few agreements with Vietnam for oil exploration in the SCS. These exploration fields are very much within the maritime space under the actual control of Vietnam.

18 September 2017

Will jihad kill China-Pakistan Economic Corridor!!!

By RSN Singh

China and Pakistan have signed an Anti-Terror Cooperation Agreement devoted exclusively for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The imperative being increasing threat to the CPEC from jihadi groups. The agreement was signed in Beijing after extensive talks between Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party Central Committee with his Pakistani counterparts Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and National Security Advisor, Nasser Khan Janjua. The timing of the visit by this Pakistani delegation assumed importance because it was in the wake of BRICS Summit, wherein Pakistan was indirectly castigated for harbouring terrorist groups and sponsoring terrorism. The agreement in a way reiterates China’s surprise position in BRICS on jihadi terror groups in Pakistan. It appears that these groups have begun to cause anxiety amongst the Chinese authorities with regard to the security of CPEC. It may also be mentioned that Pakistan has already deployed some 15,000 personnel, i.e. 9,000 army and 6,000 para-military, for the security of the CPEC.

All jihadi tanzims are ultimately global jihadi organizations in orientation and treat Pakistan as merely a base.

This anti-terror cooperation agreement exclusively for the CPEC is a tacit admission that many of the jihadi groups operating from Pakistani soil are against the project. All jihadi tanzims are ultimately global jihadi organizations in orientation and treat Pakistan as merely a base. It is the concept and mission of global jihad that the factories of jihad, i.e. Mosques and Madrasas relentlessly purvey,, invoking relevant suras of Quran.

In the Quran, there is no mention of entity called Pakistan. Of course, there is indeed mention of Ghazwa-e-Hind, which prophesizes that the ultimate battle of Islam will be fought in the Indian Subcontinent. So, bereft of any mention in Quran, Pakistan has absolutely no Islamic sanctity in the scheme of global jihad. The jihadis are weaned on the idea of global jihad rather than Pakistan in their indoctrination. The strategic agenda of Pakistani State is only an adjunct of global jihad.

Why China won't help US against North Korea

Even after multiple rounds of sanctions, Pyongyang is continuing to provoke the international community with weapons testing. China and the US face bad options, and each other, in creating a united front.

the second over Japanese territory in two weeks, also indicates that sanctions have yet to deter Pyongyang's provocations. The launch also presents a direct challenge to the US and China to somehow create a united front against the North.

The US had originally pushed for a tougher sanctions regime - including a full oil embargo and travel ban for North Korean officials - but had to soften its demands to ensure full cooperation from China.

Aside from the self-congratulation earlier this week in Washington over another unanimous UN vote, the rift between Chinese and US interests moving forward on North Korea is clear, as it is apparent that Beijing is continuing to stop short of taking action that would topple the Kim Jong Un regime.

The US is dubious of China's commitment to enforcing sanctions

This, combined with North Korea's constant weapons testing and rapid advancements in capability, is exacerbating the already tense relationship between the US and China.

Dialogue - made in China

Following the UN Security Council resolution on September 11, China's official Xinhua news agency released a commentary stating that the Trump administration was making a mistake by pursuing deeper sanctions rather than seeking diplomatic engagement with North Korea.

What the World’s Emptiest International Airport Says About China’s Influence

The four-lane highway leading out of the Sri Lankan town of Hambantota gets so little traffic that it sometimes attracts more wild elephants than automobiles. The pachyderms are intelligent — they seem to use the road as a jungle shortcut — but not intelligent enough, alas, to appreciate the pun their course embodies: It links together a series of white elephants, i.e. boondoggles, built and financed by the Chinese. Beyond the lonely highway itself, there is a 35,000-seat cricket stadium, an almost vacant $1.5 billion deepwater port and, 16 miles inland, a $209 million jewel known as “the world’s emptiest international airport.”

Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, the second-largest in Sri Lanka, is designed to handle a million passengers per year. It currently receives about a dozen passengers per day. Business is so slow that the airport has made more money from renting out the unused cargo terminals for rice storage than from flight-related activities. In one burst of activity last year, 350 security personnel armed with firecrackers were deployed to scare off wild animals, the airport’s most common visitors.

The Paper Dragon

by Bharat Karnad

IN THE 1950S, the administration of US President Dwight D Eisenhower would periodically threaten to vapourise China with atomic weapons. Barring the Soviet Union, no other country had them then. Far from being intimidated, as the US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had hoped, Chairman Mao Zedong called in the American journalist Edgar Snow and famously declared that he considered the Bomb a ‘Paper Tiger’ and, further, that 300 million—half the population of the country at the time—would survive a nuclear holocaust. It was the second intimation to Washington that Communist China was no pushover, the first being the People’s Liberation Army’s entry into the Korean War in October 1950 as promised by Beijing if General Douglas MacArthur’s forces crossed the Yalu River.

It was not that the US lacked the wherewithal to reduce China to smoking irradiated ruins. Rather, it was the Chinese resolve that psychologically unhinged the US. It is in that analogous respect that China has been revealed as a ‘Paper Dragon’ by the Doklam confrontation.

Whatever else Narendra Modi got out of the BRICS summit in Xiamen, he will have made the point that if Beijing indulges in provocations along the disputed border which are expected to continue—the Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat believes this is the new normal—it can expect a strong Indian response.

17 September 2017

Apple, the iPhone, and the Future of the Chinese Economy

By Salvatore Babones

The iPhone 8, expected to be launched on September 12, is already an online media sensation. And with good reason. The release of each new iPhone is a technological shock that has the capacity to reconfigure a large chunk of the global economy. Other new products offer incremental improvements that over time can have a cumulative effect on economic structure. But a new iPhone isn’t so much a new device as a new ecosystem. Each new iPhone opens up technological niches that are then exploited by thousands of other companies, from giants such as Facebook to small developers of all kinds of gadgets and apps.

Its repeat record of industrial renewal has made Apple the most profitable company in the world. It has also created a new economic system that spans the Pacific region, from California in the east to Sichuan in the west and everywhere in between. This system might be called the i-economy, since it depends so heavily on the iPhone and the technological ecosystem it supports.

The Pacific i-economy is centered on smartphones, but its reach is much broader. It takes in a host of related industries that depend on the smartphone ecosystem for their very survival. The i-economy includes apps, but it also directly sustains Hollywood, popular music, electronic gaming, electronic publishing, Internet search, ride-hailing services, food delivery services, photography, and financial technologies. All of these industries are or are in the process of becoming mobile based.

Can North Korea Drag the U.S. and China Into War?

Amid the exchange of threats between North Korea and the United States, ongoing North Korean nuclear and missile tests, and U.S. talk of “all options,” there is growing concern about the real possibility of war with North Korea. What many have not yet reckoned with is an even darker specter. Could events now cascading on the Korean Peninsula drag the U.S. and China into a great-power war?

The good news is that no one in a position of responsibility in either the U.S. or Chinese government wants a military conflict. Everyone knows that war between the world’s two largest economies would be catastrophic. This leads many observers to conclude that war between the U.S. and China is inconceivable.

But when we say that something is inconceivable, we should remind ourselves that this is a claim about what we can conceive—not about what is possible in the world. To stretch our imaginations, we need look no further than history.

While history never repeats itself, as Mark Twain observed, it does sometimes rhyme. So we should ask: What past events resemble the current predicament posed by North Korea’s nuclear advance, and how can they provide perspective on what we are now seeing—or even clues to what may happen?

China and India: The Roots of Hostility

By Mohan Malik

Up until the “disengagement agreement” of August 28 which led to withdrawal of Indian troops and an end to Chinese road construction in the disputed Doklam (Donglang in Chinese) plateau at the China-Bhutan-India tri-junction, China’s official media and spokespersons had unleashed a daily barrage of vitriol and warnings of an imminent “short and swift war” to teach India a “bitter lesson” and inflict “greater losses” than the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

Contending that Doklam was “Chinese territory,” Beijing’s media, along with its foreign affairs and defense spokespersons, demanded India’s unconditional withdrawal. New Delhi was adamant that road building was in violation of several bilateral agreements (agreements in 1988, 1998, and 2012 specifically) with Bhutan and India. To independent observers, Beijing’s behavior in the Himalayas seemed consistent with its incremental expansion of strategic frontiers by drawing new lines around China’s periphery in the land, air, water, sand, and snow. Troop mobilization along their disputed frontiers saw tempers running high, and for the first time since the 1987 Sumdorong Chu valley face-off, violent clashes occurred in the Ladakh sector. The confrontation was the worst in decades between Asia’s old rivals.

Thanks to a negotiated settlement on the eve of the BRICS Summit in China, the two-month Doklam standoff has ended in such a fashion as to allow the media in both countries to claim “victory.”

Who Benefits From China’s Belt and Road in the Arctic?

By Marc Lanteigne

The Arctic implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative merit serious consideration.

Since becoming a formal observer on the Arctic Council four years ago, China has wasted little time widening and deepening its regional credentials and diplomacy. Just before attaining observer status within the Council, government papers and studies began to habitually refer to China as a ‘near-Arctic state’, (jin beiji guojia 近北极国家), even though that state had no territory in the circumpolar north. The phrase caused some consternation among Arctic governments and other actors out of concern Beijing was seeking to ‘gate-crash’ its way into the region to benefit from the growing economic possibilities in the Arctic in the form of fossil fuels, resources and potential new shipping routes. Cognizant of this, Beijing sought to emphasize scientific diplomacy as the main driver of its polar policies, including cooperation with Arctic states as well as other non-Arctic actors in developing research projects related to local climate change and related areas.

More recently, the Chinese government became more open about expressing its interest in participating in joint economic development in the Arctic as more of the region becomes accessible due to record-breaking levels of ice erosion. With its growing economic and political power, China is in an ideal position to participate in the economic opening of the Far North, and with the ongoing development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) under President Xi Jinping, debate soon appeared to what roles the Arctic might play in the emerging trade routes. However, until the middle of this year, there had been no official connection made between the BRI and China’s Arctic economic interests, with the general view being that the opening of the Arctic to trade would be a separate, and more long-term, endeavor in comparison with the sea routes comprising China’s ‘Maritime Silk Road.’

16 September 2017

Pungyye-ri blast — Time India resumed thermonuclear testing (re-titled)

North Korea did it. Exploded at the Punggye mountain site a genuinely full-bore thermonuclear weapon. The Richter scale registering 6.3 level seismic shock wave followed by a 4.1 level quake and huge rockslides, translatable to around 250 KT yield, though Western sources who have always underestimated North Korean nuclear prowess, claim these seismic reading denote yield in the 50-120 KT class. It leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that Kim Jun-Un now possesses the mighty Hydrogen Bomb. That should quiet the “fire and fury” talk by Trump and still the doubts Western strategic circles have to-date feasted on about Pyongyang still lacking the critical staged weapon threshold tech.

Indian government/Indian Ministry of Defence have finally taken note, evident from some newspapers who get their regular feed on security matters from MOD reporting the disquiet especially about the North Korea- Pakistan angle, and how this would result in Pakistan soon being in possession of the essential two-stage fusion weapon design. “Der se ayai, per durust ayai”. Welcome to the real world, babu-log. Something this analyst has been belabouring in my books ‘India’s Nuclear Policy’ [2008] and ‘Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)’ [2015].

15 September 2017

BRICS was no victory for India: Why China won't break ties with Pakistan


After hitting Islamabad on the head with the BRICS declaration that named two outfits based in Pakistan for fomenting violence in the region, Beijing is now applying soothing balm on its “good brother and ironclad friend” by saying that it has fought the good fight against terrorism.

The Chinese aim, as indeed the US goal, is to gently nudge Pakistan in the direction of abandoning support for its proxies which include not just the Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, but the Taliban, which in turn shelters the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

No victory for India

Unlike India, which has an adversarial attitude and is happiest when Islamabad is humiliated, China and the US see considerable value in retaining good ties with Pakistan.

People in India who saw the BRICS declaration as some kind of victory for Indian diplomacy are delusional. China, as the host country, drafted the declaration and did so with its eyes open.

After all, China has been party to UN actions to proscribe the LeT and JeM in the past. It needs to be recalled, too, that the context of the statement was in relation to Afghanistan.


By Dr. Ching Chang

The Coming Synchronization

As many political observers have already noted, the Nineteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China is expected to be held in Beijing soon, most likely in the late fall of this year. Generally speaking, this event may lead to a major power reshuffle within the top leadership of the Communist Party of China (CCP). According to the general precedent in Chinese Mainland politics so far, the majority of the members in the Politburo Standing Committee will retire right after this meeting.

Members of the delegations from various provinces, municipalities, and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) commands will elect members and alternate members of the Central Committee as well as members of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. The new members of these two Central Committees form the power basis for the CCP leadership in the future. The First Plenary Session of the Nineteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held immediately after the CCP Nineteenth National Congress to elect General Secretary, members of Politburo, Politburo Standing Committee, endorse the members of the party Secretariat, and finally decide the members of the Military Commission of the Central Committee.

Per the political and strategic culture known as the principle of “the party commands the gun” established through the Sanwan Reorganization in 1927 and the Gutian Congress in 1929, the Communist Party of China is tightly linked with the military organizations of the People’s Liberation Army. As noted in the General Program of the Party Constitution of the Communist Party of China: “The Communist Party of China persists in its leadership over the People’s Liberation Army and other armed forces of the people, builds up the strength of the People’s Liberation Army, ensures that it accomplishes its historic missions at this new stage in the new century, and gives full play to its role in consolidating national defense, defending the motherland and participating in the socialist modernization drive”, the leadership over the People’s Liberation Army is absolutely non-negotiable to the Communist Party of China.

However, the party and military are interdependent in several aspects, including personnel career management and organizational alignment. Given the recent political reforms and consequences of the administrative power reorganizations in the mainland China, there are three issues concerning the synchronization of party and military that need to be well-managed in the coming CCP Nineteenth National Congress itself or the subsequent First Plenary Session of the Nineteenth National Congress.

Party Post and Military Billet

China, Russia and the US Are in An Artificial Intelligence Arms Race Unsplash

IN BRIEFChina, Russia, and the United States are engaged in a worldwide race to develop AI and define the future. How does each competitor stack up, and how is the race itself changing the stakes?

For Russia and Vladimir Putin, it is clear that planetary domination and artificial intelligence (AI) are inextricably intertwined. “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia but for all humankind,” he said via live video feed as schools started this month. “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

Putin isn’t an outlier in his thinking; he is simply vocalizing to match the intensity a race that China, Russia, and the US are already running, to acquire smart military power. Each nation has formally recognized the critical importance of intelligent machines to the future of their national security, and each sees AI-related technologies such as autonomous drones and intelligence processing software as tools for augmenting human soldier capital.Image Credit: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Wiki Commons

“The US, Russia, and China are all in agreement that artificial intelligence will be the key technology underpinning national power in the future,” Gregory C. Allen, Center for a New American Security fellow, told WIRED. He is the coauthor of a recent report, commissioned by the Director of National Intelligence, that concluded: “As with prior transformative military technologies, the national security implications of AI will be revolutionary, not merely different. Governments around the world will consider, and some will enact extraordinary policy measures in response, perhaps as radical as those considered in the early decades of nuclear weapons.”

Indonesia & China: The Sea Between

Philip Bowring

Indonesia has long been cautious in confronting China’s claims in the South China Sea, so its announcement on July 14 that it was renaming a part of the area the “North Natuna Sea” may have come to many as surprise. The new name encompasses a region north of the Natuna islands that partly falls within the infamous “nine dash line,” by which China claims the sea stretching fifteen hundred miles from its mainland coast almost to the shores of Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, and Indonesia. China immediately demanded a retraction—which it will not get.

The naming was a reminder of how seriously Indonesia treats its position as the seat of ancient trading empires and location of some of the world’s strategically most important straits—Melaka, Sunda, Lombok, and Makassar. Since he was elected in 2014, President Joko Widodo has made maritime issues central to Indonesia’s foreign policy, building up its navy, arresting dozens of foreign ships caught fishing illegally, and taking a quiet but firm stand on sea rights. Although not a populist vote-winner, the policy is generally approved, particularly by the military, which since the war of independence against the Dutch has seen itself as the guardian of the integrity of the nation and its internationally recognized status.

The naming also came shortly before the sixtieth anniversary of a pronouncement that has had a profound impact on the whole world. On December 13, 1957, the Indonesian government unilaterally declared that it was an “archipelagic state,” claiming sovereignty over all the waters within straight baselines between its thousands of far-flung islands. Though the young republic was in no position to enforce it, this was a revolutionary move: at the time, Western powers asserted that territorial seas were limited to three miles, and that otherwise foreign ships, military included, had complete freedom of movement.

Twenty-five years of international negotiation followed, culminating in the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, defining rights and obligations relating to sea boundaries and resources, and rights of “innocent passage”—not endangering the security of the coastal state—through straits and internal and territorial seas. It accepted the archipelagic state principle, and made twelve-mile territorial seas and two-hundred-mile “exclusive economic zones,” or EEZs—which give exclusive rights for fishing and exploitation of seabed resources—the global norm. (The United States in practice accepts the Convention, as clarified by a subsequent 1994 agreement, but has never ratified it.)

Is China leaping past us?


Sixty years ago this fall, the Soviet Union shocked the world by launching into orbit Earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. The beach ball-sized spacecraft was an astounding scientific achievement, one previously thought beyond the reach of Moscow. As Sputnik circled the globe and emitted radio signals detectable by anyone with a short-wave receiver, the American public experienced a crisis of confidence over their country’s standing in the world and its Cold War competitiveness.

We know the rest of the story. American scientists and policymakers were shaken out of the complacent assumption that their technological edge was insurmountable. American government, universities, and industry mobilized for a competition of scientific innovation – and won.

In recent months, China has quietly given the United States a series of new “Sputnik Moments”—not as dramatic as a radio beacon from overhead, but just as significant as a challenge to American technological leadership. And as U.S. debates have focused on trade deficits and recovering manufacturing jobs, Beijing has achieved the scientific and technological feats that herald its arrival as an innovation superpower. These “Sputnik Moments” extend across multiple industries, from communications technology to renewable energy. Collectively, they pose a risk to America’s future economic dynamism, as well as its military superiority.