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Press review EX - 22 March

Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including geopolitcs, cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference, disinformation, international law, national security.

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US seeks to prevent China from benefiting from $52 billion chips funding | Scamwatch warns Australians of myGov scams | Islamic extremists infiltrate ASEAN, eyeing Indonesia's 2024 polls

  • Australians have been warned to watch out for text messages from scammers claiming to be from Services Australia. Scamwatch has warned it had seen a sharp increase in reported cases of scammers targeting myGov accounts. 7 News

  • The US Commerce Department on Tuesday released proposed rules to prevent $52 billion in semiconductor manufacturing and research funding from being used by China and other countries deemed of concern. Reuters

  • Four years after the fall of the Islamic State caliphate in Syria where it lost territories and followers, the extremist group's ideology remains entrenched in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and the Philippines, where risks of attacks are looming. Nikkei Asia

Financial Times

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It was a quirk of fate that Zbigniew Brzezinski’s visa application to Britain was turned down. Had the scholar gone to London in the 1940s instead of the US, there is scant chance he would have achieved high office — let alone shaped the course of a superpower. But it was Washington’s gain. Brzezinski’s death marks the passing of an American era. It is a sad irony that he died just as Donald Trump was dangling the prospect of a weakened Nato before Russia. Not many outdid Brzezinski’s cold war hawkishness. Fewer still could outclass his strategic brain. A handful of others — notably Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and George Shultz — are still with us. But Brzezinski was in a category of his own.

The war in Ukraine has now entered its second year—but President Joe Biden has yet to articulate a credible strategy. It is therefore critical for conservatives to take stock and clearly chart out a path forward that can fill this vacuum, a vision rooted in conservative principles that heeds the lessons of history. In other words, a foreign policy that serves American interests, and thus is not a recipe for perpetual conflict.

Elbridge Colby: Nothing has changed in our fundamental interests: No power is still allowed to achieve hegemony over important regions. But what has changed since 1989 are two things. First: Asia, and not Europe, is the most important world stage today because of its economic strength. Europe now accounts for 25 percent of global GDP, but in 20 years that will shrink to 10 percent. While Asia alone will account for more than 50 percent of global value creation. Second, China is by far the most important player in the world, alongside the US, with the potential to gain hegemony over Asia. All other important powers such as Germany or Russia, which is already failing in eastern Ukraine, are too weak for hegemony over Europe. Therefore we must prioritize China; we can take care of those other regions later.

Extrema Ratio


China gives chipmakers new powers to guide industry recovery Financial Times Qianer Liu China is giving a handful of its most successful chip companies easier access to subsidies and more control over state-backed research, as tightening US controls on access to advanced technology force a major rethink in Beijing’s approach to supporting the sector. The nurturing of closer co-operation with a select group of companies comes after the government shook up its tech strategy this month with the creation of a new Communist party science commission and a reinvigorated Ministry of Science and Technology.


Other than promising not to intervene in each other’s affairs and to restore diplomatic ties, Saudi Arabia and Iran did not agree to much in the deal that they signed in Beijing earlier this month. But judging by officials’ statements and editorials in the Saudi and Iranian press, both sides seem to inadvertently agree on one thing: The deal minimizes America’s role in the Gulf region. To Iranians, replacing America with China is the result of an imagined Iranian victory over the U.S. To Saudis, a smaller American footprint is what Washington wants. But while Riyadh has not given up on Washington yet, should America insist on folding, Saudi Arabia has started experimenting with other options.

Zhao Weiguo: Chinese regulator accuses chip tycoon of corruption BBC Annabelle Liang China's anti-fraud watchdog has accused chip tycoon Zhao Weiguo of corruption, in the latest sign of trouble faced by the country's semiconductor industry. Mr Zhao is the former chairman of computer chipmaker Tsinghua Unigroup. Key players in the sector were investigated for corruption last year after the government poured billions of dollars into projects which stalled or failed.


Chinese President Xi Jinping made a state visit to Russia to show support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Ukraine may not be at the top if their agenda. Referring to China’s earlier 12-point proposal to address the war in Ukraine, GMF Indo-Pacific Managing Director Bonnie Glaser asserts that it was not a peace plan and that China is not playing the role of peacemaker. Glaser told Al Jazeera that China did not want to get in the middle of the Ukrainian conflict.

Media reports claim that Xi’s trip may be followed by a call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Glaser believes that this would only be an effort to balance the negative impact of his Moscow visit. Read her take in The Guardian.

GMF Senior Fellow Andrew Small joined CNA to share his thoughts on Xi and Putin’s agenda and the outcome of their meeting. Small also commented to Newsweek that the Chinese president’s willingness to travel to Moscow under current circumstances in Ukraine is notable.

Defence One

“Once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially ‘colonized’ it.” This line from the character Mark Watney captures one of the most important moments in the story The Martian, when the stranded astronaut finally learns how to sustain himself over the long term and legally stake his claim to the planet.

The Eurasiam Times

China is reportedly offering to export the JF-17 Thunder multirole combat aircraft to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a sign of the rising sale of Chinese weapons in sub-Saharan Africa.

A high-ranking group from the Chinese aerospace firm CATIC (China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation) and members of the People’s Liberation Army recently flew to Kinshasa.

The Eurasia Times

The United States has been granted access to a tiny island portion of the Philippines in the Cagayan region as part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), as Washington pushes Manila to allow military infrastructure on the islands.

In response to growing concerns over China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific, US President Joe Biden and the leaders of Australia and the United Kingdom announced on March 13 that Canberra would purchase nuclear-powered Virginia-class attack submarines from the United States to upgrade its fleet.

Chinese Studies

Journal of Contemporary China

  • The Political Leadership of Xi Jinping: Narratives of Integrity Through Ordeal

Despite criticism that his leadership has been authoritarian and his regime tyrannical, President Xi Jinping has experienced continued success, influence, and widespread support among the Chinese people. This article investigates the ways in which Xi has successfully integrated his personal narrative, an account of personal integrity through ordeal, into the broader metanarratives of Chinese political development...the article specifies how Xi’s prototypical leadership, articulated through his personal narrative, has successfully linked Xi’s policy preferences with Chinese public policy and public opinion. These linkages are examined across five major policy focuses: The China Dream From Poverty to Prosperity; Economic Equality; Socialist Values and the Role of the CCP; Democracy with Chinese Characteristics; Disciplining the Party-State, Anti-corruption, and the Rule of Law.

  • The Divisive Past and the Conflicted Other: How Chinese Netizens View Russia

This study examines how Chinese netizens view Russia and how contested memories shape perceptions. It identifies and categorizes four different perceptions of Russia, held by pro-Russian groups, pro-Soviet groups, anti-Russian nationalists, and liberals on China’s social media, who have divergent interpretations of the past...It finds that when a collective memory involves multiple significant but symbolically and ideologically competing historical events, it can become a divisive force that creates confusion in the self-other relationship and motivates different social groups to resist and revise official narratives.

  • A Friend in Need May Not Be a Friend Indeed: Anti-Coronavirus Aid and China’s Soft Power in Europe

  • Naturalized Athletes and Racialized National Identity in China

This paper focuses on how the phenomenon of naturalized athletes has caused unprecedented domestic discussions on issues of national identity in discusses how the Chinese public reacted to prominent cases of naturalization of athletes in such different sports fields as men’s football and a variety of winter sports. It interrogates how Chinese citizens view the possibilities and realities of this particular category of immigrants, and how the appropriate boundaries of ‘Chineseness’ have been debated and contested. The paper found that Chinese public reaction to naturalization of foreign athletes is overall mixed, which is conditioned on an ethno-racial view of Chinese descent, cultural heritage and linguistic affinity. The paper concludes with reflections on the ethno-racial foundation of the Chinese national identity and the challenges the country will face in a future of accelerated international migration.

  • Critical Nationalists: A Discourse Analysis of Quotidian Nationalist Expression Among Chinese Elite Urbanites

China Quarterly

  • Bringing the Party Back into the Community: Restructuring Grassroots Governance in Shenzhen

  • Environmental Clientelism: How Chinese Private Enterprises Lobby under Environmental Crackdowns

  • Contesting Master Narratives: Renderings of National History by Mainland China and Taiwan

The growing tension between mainland China and Taiwan has a cultural aspect closely related to national identity. We focus on recent history curriculum changes in the mainland and in Taiwan and find that education authorities on both sides have implemented master narratives for content selection in and organization of history textbooks. In mainland China, the master narrative of pluralist unity constructs a geographically consistent Chinese nation throughout history, which bolsters the state's current claim to a territorial integrity including Taiwan. In Taiwan, the master narrative of multiculturalism becomes the essence of Taiwanese identity, and weakens Sinocentrism in Taiwanese official historiography.

  • Administrative Burdens in Chinese Public Services: A Case of Selective Affinity

  • Affiliated Associations in China's Education Sector: Between Passive Autonomy, Discretion and Control


CEO says TikTok at pivotal moment as some US lawmakers seek ban Nikkei Asia TikTiok CEO Shou Zi Chew said the Chinese-owned short video app company faces a pivotal moment as a growing number of US lawmakers seek to ban the popular app over national security concerns. Chew said in a video posted on TikTok early Tuesday the app now has more than 150 million active monthly US users.

  • Shou Zi Chew’s ‘death wish’ mission: defend TikTok on Capitol Hill The Washington Post Shou Zi Chew’s charm offensive has run up against a heavily polarized and surprisingly bipartisan resistance in Washington, where tensions with the Chinese government — and broader anxieties about social media and American children — have made TikTok into a political punching bag.

  • TikTok CEO to focus on technical data security in US congressional testimony South China Morning Post Coco Feng and Tracy Qu CEO Chew Shou Zi is scheduled to face questions from US lawmakers at a Congressional hearing on Thursday. Internal comments by Chew indicate he will focus on data security measures in his testimony to House Energy and Commerce Committee.

US state-government websites use TikTok trackers, review finds The Wall Street Journal Byron Tau and Dustin Volz More than two dozen state governments have placed web-tracking code made by TikTok parent ByteDance Ltd. on official websites, according to a new report from a cybersecurity company, illustrating the difficulties U.S. regulators face in curtailing data-collection efforts by the popular Chinese-owned app.

US seeks to prevent China from benefiting from $52 billion chips funding Reuters David Shepardson The US Commerce Department on Tuesday released proposed rules to prevent $52 billion in semiconductor manufacturing and research funding from being used by China and other countries deemed of concern. The proposal limits recipients of US funding from investing in the expansion of semiconductor manufacturing in foreign countries of concern such as China and Russia, and limits recipients of incentive funds from engaging in joint research or technology licensing efforts with a foreign entity of concern.

Hacker tied to DC Health Link breach says attack ‘born out of Russian patriotism’ CyberScoop AJ Vicens The data beach that has exposed sensitive health care information of nearly two dozen members of Congress and their families — putting them along with tens of thousands of Washington area residents at risk of identity theft and additional cyberattacks — is apparently the work of a patriotic Russian hacker seeking to inflict damage on US politicians.


The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced a new pilot program last week to warn critical infrastructure operators about vulnerabilities in their systems that ransomware actors regularly exploit. The initiative demonstrates the Biden administration’s continued commitment to combat ransomware against the private sector.


Cartel Twitter use spiked after Musk takeover The Hill Ali Bradley and Katie Smith Elon Musk’s reduced Twitter safety oversight has allowed Mexican cartel members to flaunt their lifestyles online, post violent content and recruit new members, according to a new study. Several previously banned accounts of known cartel members are again open and active on Musk’s Twitter, according to a report published last week by the Alliance to Counter Crime Online.

Only nine percent of Canadian firms are cyber mature IT World Canada Howard Solomon Only nine per cent of companies in Canada and 13 per cent in the US have a mature level of preparedness to face cyber attacks, according to a Cisco Systems estimation. The numbers are part of Cisco’s Cybersecurity Readiness Index, which uses self-assessment responses from 6,700 companies in 27 jurisdictions to create a score.


The Jakarta Post

Australia’s announcement that it is acquiring nuclear-powered submarines from the United States is escalating the heat in the already tense Indo-Pacific region, and now with the added nuclear factor thrown into the pot. It has certainly angered China, the target of Australia’s military buildup, and caused concerns for other countries, including Indonesia.


The Solomon Islands has awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to a Chinese state company to upgrade an international port in Honiara in a project funded by the Asian Development Bank, an official of the island nation said on Wednesday.

The United States and its allies, including Australia, New Zealand and Japan, have held concerns that China has ambitions to build a naval base in the region since the Solomon Islands struck a security pact with Beijing last year.

Southeast Asia

Islamic extremists infiltrate ASEAN, eyeing Indonesia's 2024 polls Nikkei Asia Amy Chew Four years after the fall of the Islamic State caliphate in Syria where it lost territories and followers, the extremist group's ideology remains entrenched in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and the Philippines, where risks of attacks are looming.


European ports brace for cybersecurity regulation The Wall Street Journal Catherine Stupp Cybersecurity rules approved by the European Union for pharmaceuticals, transportation, energy and other critical infrastructure companies are set to take effect in 2024 and will require hundreds of firms that operate out of Europe’s big ports to use basic security measures and report hacks to cybersecurity authorities.

Beyond TikTok, Dutch tell government staff to uninstall Chinese, Russian apps POLITICO Pieter Haeck The Dutch government issued new guidance Tuesday for its officials to uninstall apps from countries that wage an 'offensive cyber program' against the Netherlands, including China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. The move is a response to questions by Dutch lawmakers about whether the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok should be banned from work phones.

Beijing envoy warns Dutch of retaliation for chip curbs South China Morning Post Finbarr Bermingham The Netherlands will face consequences if it blocks the export of high-end semiconductor equipment to China, Beijing’s envoy to the country has warned. The Hague announced new curbs on the export of chip-making technology this month, in step with the United States in curtailing China’s access to cutting-edge chips.

Follow the money

Europe was left scrambling to find the right response to the new American climate legislation benefiting the US clean tech industry with billions in subsidies. Its answer was the Green Deal Industrial Plan, allowing ‘green’ manufacturers and producers to receive state aid in future. European captains of industry had been lobbying for this extensively, and found a willing ear with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.


UK and Israel sign deal strengthening tech, trade and security ties The Guardian Patrick Wintour The UK and Israel have signed a long-term agreement strengthening ties in the fields of defence, security and technology following plans announced last year to put relations between the two countries on an elevated footing. The timing is controversial given actions of Israel’s far-right government towards settlements and judiciary.

Middle East

The Scorched-Earth tactics of Iran’s cyber army WIRED Arian Khameneh In the early hours of January 5, a popular anonymous Iranian dissident account called Jupiter announced on Twitter that his friends had killed Abolqasem Salavati, a maligned magistrate nicknamed the “Judge of Death.” The tweet went viral.


Scamwatch warns Australians as reports of myGov scams rise 7 News Rhiannon Lewin Australians have been warned to watch out for text messages from scammers claiming to be from Services Australia. Scamwatch warned it had seen a sharp increase in reported cases of scammers targeting those with myGov accounts. In the texts, the scammer claims changes have been made to the individual’s security information on their account.

Home Affairs' Marc Ablong destined for new national security role iTnews Ry Crozier Home Affairs’ deputy secretary for strategic iniatives Marc Ablong is set to shift to a new 'national security role', prompting a reshuffle that also affects the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Centre (CISC). A recent update to the department’s org chart named Hamish Hansford, the inaugural head of the CISC, as acting in Ablong’s current position.

Latitude expects much more data was stolen in recent breach Cyber Security Connect Daniel Croft The Latitude Financial cyber attack is set to worsen, with the company saying that it expects to uncover even more stolen data. The financial services organisation, which is responsible for offering individuals and businesses a range of services, including digital payment services, loans, credit cards and insurance, announced on 16 March 2023 that it was the victim of a cyber attack that saw customer data stolen.

ByteDance executive resigns from TikTok Australia board The Australian Financial Review Max Mason A senior ByteDance executive has resigned from the Australian board of TikTok, amid the viral video platform’s efforts to distance itself from its Chinese parent company and as Canberra weighs a ban of the app on government-issued devices over security concerns.

Big Tech

TikTok’s Chinese parent has another wildly popular app in the US The Wall Street Journal Raffaele Huang One of the hottest apps in the U.S. right now is TikTok’s lesser-known sibling that is also owned by Chinese parent ByteDance Ltd. App trackers show that CapCut, a video-editing tool that helps people quickly create online videos and memes, has been downloaded more in recent weeks than TikTok, the short-video sharing app that has faced rigorous scrutiny in the U.S. over ByteDance’s access to user data.

Google suspends Pinduoduo after finding malware in versions Bloomberg Sarah Zheng and Vlad Savov Google has suspended PDD Holdings Inc.’s main Chinese shopping app Pinduoduo after discovering malware in unsanctioned versions of the software, dealing a blow to one of the country’s biggest online retailers. The Mountain View, California-based company said on Tuesday it is investigating the matter and suspended downloads of the Play Store version of Pinduoduo as a security precaution.

Artificial Intelligence

Google releases Bard, its competitor in the race to create AI chatbots The New York Times Nico Grant and Cade Metz The internet giant will grant users access to a chatbot after years of cautious development, chasing splashy debuts from rivals OpenAI and Microsoft. On Tuesday, Google tentatively stepped off the sidelines as it released a chatbot called Bard. The new AI chatbot will be available to a limited number of users in the United States and Britain and will accomodate additional users, countries and languages over time.

Will Google’s rush to join chatbot party with launch of Bard backfire? The Guardian Alex Hern With Bard, Google has to walk a tightrope: offer users an experience that can compete with the AI-powered Bing Chat and ChatGPT without cannibalising its enormously profitable search business in the process. And it has to do all that under the sort of scrutiny an upstart competitor may be able to avoid, but a market leader has to tackle head-on.

Chatbots’ ‘alarming’ output prompts US Senator to query tech giants on safety Bloomberg Dina Bass As Microsoft Corp., OpenAI, Google and other technology companies accelerate the release of chatbots and other artificial intelligence-based tools to the public, a US Senator is demanding answers about how they intend to protect kids from harm.

Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale 2023 Stango Editore Amazon: 👇 Stango editore 👇

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