Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including geopolitcs, cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference, disinformation, international law, national security.
Xi called for building the People's Armed Forces into a "Steel Great Wall" | China: plan to reform its institutions unveiled | ChatGPT maker OpenAI unveils new model GPT-4 | India is a science-tech leader in the making | China tightens grip on emerging tech, spooking foreign investors
Xi called for building the People's Armed Forces into a "Steel Great Wall." Extrema Ratio
China: plan to reform its institutions unveiled. Extrema Ratio
OpenAI has released GPT-4, its latest artificial intelligence model that it claims exhibits “human-level performance” on several academic and professional benchmarks such as the US bar exam, advanced placement tests and the SAT school exams. Financial Times
Critical and emerging technologies are reshaping the future. This message was repeated in New Delhi recently as India hosted the G20 and Quad foreign ministers’ meetings, and the well-known geopolitical conference, The Raisina Dialogue. The foreign delegations were in India to deepen collaboration with the country on foreign policy, trade, defence, national security and education. Hindustan Times
China seeks to extend the growing state influence over its technology sector into new manufacturing fields amid the threat of U.S. sanctions, leaving foreign investors spooked about government involvement in areas expected to drive the country's economy. Nikkei Asia
China's rubber-stamp parliament closed on Monday after appointing a new premier and four vice premiers – two of whom have close ties to the military-industrial complex – as Communist Party leader Xi Jinping called repeatedly for a “world-class” technological upgrade for the People’s Liberation Army. Xi's speech comes after a government restructuring that will put control over China's people and resources more firmly in the hands of Xi and other top party leaders, a move that some analysts have suggested is part of ongoing preparations for a potential war.
On March 10, the National People's Congress approved the State Council Institutional Reform Plan proposed by the Chinese government. Under the approved plan, a dozen central government institutions will be reorganised, and two new ones will be established. These institutions oversee policy portfolios that include science and technology, financial regulation, rural development, and population ageing. The State Council Institutional Reform Plan implements changes to state institutions as part of a larger plan — the Party and State Institutions Reform Plan — adopted by the Central Committee at its second plenary session in February. The Party and State Institutions Reform Plan is expected to be released publically in the coming weeks. This will provide details on the restructuring of Party institutions, giving us a more complete picture of this round of institutional restructuring.
China tightens grip on emerging tech, spooking foreign investors Nikkei Asia Noriyuki Doi China seeks to extend the growing state influence over its technology sector into new manufacturing fields amid the threat of U.S. sanctions, leaving foreign investors spooked about government involvement in areas expected to drive the country's economy.
China’s internet watchdog ramps up campaign against social media misinformation, silences Shanghai talk show star after post on Russia South China Morning Post Lilian Zhang China’s internet regulator has kicked off a two-month campaign targeting misinformation and “illegal profit-making” across all domestic social media platforms, as Beijing continues to reinforce its control over the country’s closed cyberspace.
China exerts control over internet cable projects in South China Sea Financial Times Anna Gross, Alexandra Heal, Demetri Sevastopulo, Kathrin Hille and Mercedes Ruehl China has begun to impede projects to lay and maintain subsea internet cables through the South China Sea, as Beijing seeks to exert more control over the infrastructure transmitting the world’s data.
China and Russia yesterday criticized the recent nuclear submarine agreement between the U.S., U.K., and Australia as demonstrating a “Cold War mentality” that risks nuclear proliferation. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin said the agreement will involve “the transfer of large amounts of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium from nuclear weapon states to a non-nuclear weapon state, which poses a serious nuclear proliferation risk and violates the purpose and object of the [nonproliferation treaty].” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cited the pact and NATO’s increasing attention on Asia as evidence that the Anglo-Saxon world “is making a very serious bid for confrontation for many, many years to come.” James T. Areddy reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Hacker posts more D.C. Health Link data online, exposing lawmakers’ personal information CyberScoop AJ Vicens, Benjamin Freed and Tonya Riley The recent breach of D.C. Health Link, a health care insurance exchange that serves the nation’s lawmakers and Washington residents, exposed the sensitive information of 21 current members of Congress, two senior congressional aides familiar with the matter told CyberScoop on Monday.
Medical device giant says cyberattack leaked sensitive data of 1 million people The Record by Recorded Future Jonathan Greig Medical device maker Zoll said a cyberattack in January exposed the sensitive information of more than 1 million people. In documents provided to Maine’s Attorney General, Zoll said the incident started on January 28 when they “detected unusual activity” on their internal network. The company added that information was accessed on February 2.
Ring won’t say if it was hacked after ransomware gang claims attack TechCrunch Carly Page and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai On Monday, the ransomware group ALPHV listed the video doorbell maker Ring as a victim on its dark website. “There’s always an option to let us leak your data,” the Russia-linked group wrote alongside the listing, seen by TechCrunch. In a statement given to TechCrunch, Ring spokesperson Emma Daniels said the company currently has “no indications that Ring has experienced a ransomware event,” but would not say if the company has the technical ability, such as logs, to detect if any data was accessed or exfiltrated.
CISA unveils ransomware warning pilot for critical infrastructure The Record by Recorded Future Martin Matishak The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Monday unveiled an effort that will collect data about commonly exploited vulnerabilities in ransomware attacks and alert critical infrastructure operators of the risks.
Pentagon requests science & tech research boost, but China remains ahead Defense One Patrick Tucker The Pentagon is seeking $17.8 billion for science and technology research, up from last year's $16.5 billion request, which was itself up from the previous year. But China still appears to have the lead in several key areas of emerging technology.
Silicon Valley, once the underdog, is now too big to fail The Washington Post Will Oremus On Sunday, the U.S. government stepped in to backstop depositors in Silicon Valley Bank when no one else would. The move came after venture capitalists panicked last week and advised their tech-startup clients to pull money out, sparking a bank run that led to the second-largest bank collapse in the country’s history. And it followed a weekend of pleading from industry leaders who warned that if the government didn’t ride to the rescue, the entire start-up ecosystem would be devastated.
The State Of Global Democracy In 2023, With Larry Diamond interview with Larry Diamondvia Center For A New American Security Hoover Institution fellow Larry Diamond discusses the signs of democratic revitalization across the globe.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to several African states in the coming weeks to counter Russian and Chinese diplomatic efforts in the region. The U.S. hopes to demonstrate that it is a resource in countering terrorism and insurgency and a potential source of investment and other economic support. “African leaders naturally want to partner with the U.S., but we don’t spend enough time meeting with them and asking them how they can help,” said Mark Green, former U.S. ambassador to Tanzania and the president of the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. “China and Russia are more nimble and more responsive to requests in Africa for assistance,” he added. William Mauldin and Nicholas Bariyo report for the Wall Street Journal.
Are they for real? South Korean girl band offers glimpse into metaverse Reuters Hyunsu Yim At first glance, MAVE: looks like any other idolised K-pop band - except it only exists virtually. Its four members - SIU, ZENA, TYRA and MARTY - live in the metaverse, their songs, dances, interviews and even their hairstyles created by web designers and artificial intelligence.
Taking page from Ukraine, Taiwan shows off new killer drones The Japan Times Gabriel Dominguez Taiwan’s top military research unit has unveiled a series of locally made attack and surveillance drones — including a loitering munition similar in appearance to the U.S.-made AeroVironment Switchblade 300 drone deployed by Ukraine — as the self-ruled island focuses on asymmetric capabilities to defend against the much larger Chinese military.
U.K.'s Oxford Quantum Circuits set to enter Japan Nikkei Asia A quantum computing startup that began life at the University of Oxford in the U.K. is set to enter the Japanese market, possibly by late this year, making its service available to Japanese companies via the cloud using computers in Tokyo.
South & Central Asia
India plans new security testing for smartphones, crackdown on pre-installed apps Reuters Munsif Vengattil and Aditya Kalra India plans to force smartphone makers to allow removal of pre-installed apps and mandate screening of major operating system updates under proposed new security rules, according to two people and a government document seen by Reuters.
by Victor Davis Hansonvia PolicyEd
Much like the Spanish Civil War, the invasion of Ukraine is a reminder that aggression is always lurking and must be deterred by forceful resistance.
A U.S. intelligence and surveillance drone has been struck by a Russian fighter jet, forcing the U.S. to bring the drone down in the Black Sea, the Department of Defence announced yesterday. James Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said the Russian jet was operated in a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner” while the U.S. drone was conducting routine operations in international airspace. Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, has said the Russian air force did not come into contact with the drone and added, “the unacceptable actions of the United States military in the close proximity to our borders are cause for concern.” Reuters reports.
The U.S. is taking measures to ensure the downed drone does not fall into the wrong hands, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said yesterday. Kirby confirmed that Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, had been summoned to the State Department where U.S. officials walked Antonov “through the very significant and very real concerns over this unsafe and unprofessional conduct by Russian pilots.” Betsy Klein reports for CNN.
E.U. ambassadors are today finalizing a €2 billion deal to jointly restock Ukraine’s dwindling ammunition supplies while refilling countries’ stocks, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. Under the plan, the E.U. will, firstly, spend €1 billion to partially reimburse countries that can immediately donate ammunition to Ukraine. Secondly, governments will jointly purchase €1 billion in new ammunition to reduce costs. Jacopo Barigazzi reports for POLITICO.
Germany’s military upgrade will take 50 years to complete if it continues at its current pace, parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces Eva Högl said in a report yesterday. She also repeated a call for the special €100bn fund for military refurbishments to be tripled to €300bn, arguing that the existing figure would not compensate for the severe shortfalls in the armed forces. According to provisional NATO figures, Germany spent 1.44 percent of its GDP on defense last year, well short of the 2 percent target. Laura Pitel reports for the Financial Times.
U.K. and German fighter jets were scrambled yesterday to intercept a Russian refueling plane flying between St Petersburg and Kaliningrad. The Russian plane had failed to communicate with air traffic control in Estonia. While such interceptions are routine, it is the first time that U.K. and German air forces are conducting planned joint Nato air policing in the region. Christy Cooney for BBC News.
Russia plans to create “stable pro-Russian groups of influence in the Moldovan political and economic elites,” according to an internal strategy document from Russia’s Presidential Directorate for Cross-Border Cooperation obtained by Yahoo News. Pro-Europe Moldova has had an increase in anti-government protests fomented by Russia, something the White House expects to continue. The prospect of Russia using Moldova’s pro-Russia breakaway region of Transnistria as a staging ground for military escalation causes anxiety around the region and in Washington. Michael Weiss and Holger Roonemaa report for Yahoo News.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Nord Stream pipeline attack was carried out on a “state level” and dismissed as “complete nonsense” suggestions that an independent pro-Ukraine group was responsible. The German government has been careful about apportioning blame for the explosions. Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said last week the blasts could have been a “false-flag operation to blame Ukraine.” Reuters reports.
Russia continues to be India’s largest arms supplier, despite its share of Indian defense imports falling from 62% to 45% between 2017-2022, according to a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) report. Sipri said that Russia’s position as India’s leading arms supplier was “under pressure due to strong competition from other supplier states, increased Indian arms production,” and “constraints on Russia’s arms exports related to its invasion of Ukraine.” The fall in Russia’s share coincides with calls for Delhi to take a tougher stand on the Ukraine war. India remains the world’s largest arms buyer. BBC News reports.
Once the battle for Bakhmut is over, the paramilitary organization Wagner group will “reload” and “shrink,” said Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin last week. Prigozhin has said he will open recruitment centers across Russia and build alliances with regional politicians. Analysts say these alliances could serve as a prelude for Wagner’s transformation into a political movement that will aid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal of mobilizing Russian society for a long war. Anatoly Kurmanaev reports for the New York Times.
Europeans have not scaled back economic ties despite US warnings of dependencies on China that would greatly complicate responding to any military aggression by Beijing. The hesitancy on the part of Washington’s allies is forcing the United States to reassess foreign policy priorities. GMF President Heather A. Conley discusses the implications of Europe’s reluctance to confront China in POLITICO.
TikTok could be banned in the UK, security minister suggests The Telegraph Danielle Sheridan TikTok could be banned in the UK, the security minister has suggested. Tom Tugendhat said he is awaiting a review from the National Cyber Security Centre before deciding on the “hugely important question” involving the Chinese-owned social media app.
The U.K. and Japan are set to dominate a three-nation advanced fighter jet Global Combat Air Programme, with Italy set to pay only a fifth of the overall development cost, two sources said. The project is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars before the new jet fighter enters service around the middle of the next decade. The defense ministers from the three countries will gather in Tokyo tomorrow for their first face-to-face meeting since the deal was agreed in December. Nobuhiro Kubo and Tim Kelly report for Reuters.
The U.K. National Cyber Security Centre is reviewing whether the Chinese-owned app TikTok should be banned from government phones, security minister Tom Tugendhat said yesterday. TikTok has come under increasing scrutiny over fears that user data could be used to undermine Western security interests. The U.S., Canada, Belgium, and the European Commission have banned the app. Kylie Maclellan reports for Reuters.
Medusa ransomware gang picks up steam as it targets companies worldwide Bleeping Computer Lawrence Abrams A ransomware operation known as Medusa has begun to pick up steam in 2023, targeting corporate victims worldwide with million-dollar ransom demands.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani will reportedly visit the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) tomorrow, further indicating rapprochement between Iran and Gulf countries. The U.A.E. sent an ambassador back to Iran in September, more than six years after downgrading ties with the Islamic Republic. Last week, Shamkhani took part in talks brokered by China, resulting in Saudi Arabia and Iran resuming diplomatic relations after being suspended in 2016. Reuters reports.
Anti-government protests broke out in several cities across Iran yesterday, spurred by an annual festival linked to the Persian new year. Unverified videos appear to show protests in Tehran, Rasht, Karaj, Gorgan, Arak, and several cities in the Kurdish region of western Iran. The renewed protests come after months of relative calm in the country. Babak Dehghanpisheh reports for the Washington Post.
Clashes between Pakistani police and former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s supporters escalated outside Khan’s home today as officers failed to arrest the embattled opposition leader for not showing up to court on corruption charges. Khan’s supporters hurled stones and projectiles at police while people inside his residence lit fires after officers fired tear gas into the compound. Khan today signed a surety bond stating he would appear in court on March 18. However, the handwritten note did not say whether he would appear in person or send a representative to the Islamabad High Court. Sophia Saifi, Tara John, Vasco Cotovio, and Kathleen Magramo report for CNN.
With digital ID top of mind, have government biometrics finally beaten fraud? The Mandarin Joshua Gliddon NSW leads Australia with its imminent digital ID program, but the federal government would like to think it’s closing in fast. It’s set to collaborate with NSW on a national digital ID program designed to be portable, safe and secure.
Read our report; ‘The future of digital identity in Australia’
NSW government considers banning TikTok on all public sector devices The Guardian Tamsin Rose and Josh Taylor The New South Wales government is considering banning public sector employees from using TikTok on work devices, engaging federal cybersecurity agencies for advice amid concerns over the social video app’s links to China.
NSW Labor says it would consider trying to introduce phone jammers in schools amid mobile ban 9 News Savannah Meacham The NSW Labor party is considering introducing mobile phone jammers in schools to crack down on smartphone misuse during class hours.
Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale 2023 Stango Editore Amazon: 👇 https://amazon.it/dp/8888909494?ref=myi_title_dp Stango editore 👇 https://stangoeditore.com/prodotto/la-cina-di-xi-jinping/