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Press review EX - 5 April

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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China

Money.it

Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale

L’infrastruttura blockchain realizzata da Pechino mira a costruire un apparato economico e politico più forte e tentare di ridurre l’egemonia del dollaro.

Agenda Digitale

Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale

Gli stretti legami con Pechino della piattaforma integrata per la trasmissione dei dati logistici LOGINK, usata in 20 porti in tutto il mondo, dovrebbero destare una seria preoccupazione nei governi nazionali, Italia compresa. L’allarme lanciato dagli USA

  • UK Foreign Affairs Committee publishes report on state hostage-taking and arbitrary detention. FAC comments on the status of Hong Kong activist and media mogul Jimmy Lai who is currently detained in China. UK Parliament. 4 April

  • Saudi and Iranian diplomats to meet in China this week. The meeting between Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud and Hossein Amirabdollahian will be the first formal meeting between diplomats in more than seven years, as China helps to broker peace deal. Reuters. 5 April

  • China’s Premier Li Qiang calls for “practical cooperation” with Russia. Li Qiang held a phone conversation with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin following Xi Jinping’s recent trip to Russia. Amber Wang. South China Morning Post. 4 April

  • Mexico seeks help from China to tackle Fentanyl crisis. President López Obrador has written to Xi Jinping urging him to help control exports of the opioid to Mexican cartels. The Guardian. 4 April

  • Italy reviews options to limit Chinese influence over tire maker Pirelli. Sinochem is Pirelli’s largest shareholder, with a 37% stake. Italian officials are reportedly discussing several options during talks with Pirelli investors over the company’s ownership structure. Bloomberg. Reuters. 4 April

  • India rejects China’s attempt to rename places along disputed Himalayan border. China continues to stake its claim on Arunachal Pradesh, calling it “South Tibet”. BBC. 4 April

  • TikTok fined £12.7 million by UK privacy watchdog. TikTok was found to have illegally processed the data of up to 1.4 million children under 13 who were using platform without parental consent. Alex Hern and Aletha Adu. The Guardian. 4 April

  • China’s crackdown on the banking sector picks up pace. China’s anti-graft body has launched an investigation into the former chairman and party chief of state-owned China Everbright Group Li Xiaopeng. Bloomberg. 5 April

  • AstraZeneca teams up with Hong Kong Science Park to drive biotech and medical research. The leading pharmaceutical company will collaborate with HKSTP to support overseas and mainland Chinese start-up companies under the park’s incubation programme. Peggy Sito. South China Morning Post. 5 April

  • Several Chinese and Hong Kong AI experts call for pause in development of ChatGPT technologies. Signatories to an open letter by the Future of Life Institute have stressed the need for independent regulators to ensure ChatGPT technologies are developed “safely, reasonably and ethically”. Ben Jiang. South China Morning Post. 5 April

  • Taiwan’s deepening political divide over the US and China. As President Tsai Ing-wen takes a hardline stance on China, the KMT has begun reengaging with the CCP. Kathrin Hille. Financial Times. 5 April

  • Foreign business community in China beware. Former fraud investigator mulls the recent raid against American due diligence firm Mintz in Beijing. Peter Humphrey. Politico. 5 April

The false choice of confronting Russia or China. A rationale for US support of Ukraine. Janan Ganesh. Financial Times. 4 April. In supporting Ukraine, the US is not just doing the right thing. It is shoring up its own long-term position in Asia. The wonder is that so many American conservatives can’t see it. Even those who want to help Ukraine posit a false trade-off between confronting Russia and facing the “real” challenge of China. They include former defence officials (Elbridge Colby) and a plausible 47th president (Ron DeSantis).
  • What China’s global security initiative tells us about its strategic engagement with Latin America. An analysis of the Global Security Initiative Concept Paper, published in February. R. Evan Ellis. The Diplomat. 4 April

  • China’s panda diplomacy is not breeding conservation. Should more countries follow Finland’s example and consider returning their pandas? Charlotte Bull. The Diplomat. 5 April

VaticanNews

The prelate was transferred from the Diocese of Haimen. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, has said, “The Holy See was informed a few days ago of the Chinese authorities' decision. For the moment there is nothing to say about the Holy See's assessment”.

China’s battery king faces scrutiny over EV market dominance Financial Times Edward White Chinese billionaire Robin Zeng spent most of the past decade in blissful obscurity, as his little-known Contemporary Amperex Technology group cornered more than a third of the global electric vehicle battery market from its base in Ningde, a former fishing village in south-east China. Today, undisputed leadership of the sector has put his company squarely in the crosshairs of regulators and political leaders in Washington and Beijing alike, as the rival superpowers fret over a single corporation’s dominance of the highly strategic and fast-growing industry.

A tiny blog took on big surveillance in China—and won WIRED Amos Zeeberg Writers for the IPVM website unearthed one damning detail after another on Chinese surveillance gear. Their scoops would end up influencing national policy, changing those companies’ fortunes, and placing the reporters themselves squarely on the front lines of the US–China cold war.

China strikes back at US chip maker even as it signals openness The New York Times Chang Che and John Liu When top Chinese officials held receptions for dozens of American and European business executives at back-to-back annual economic forums last week, the intended message was clear: China is open for business. But by week’s end, China’s fearsome regulators had sent an altogether different signal.

Belt And Road Monitor

  • Chinese state firm wins Honiara port contract in Solomon Islands. On 22 March, an official at the Solomon Islands Ministry of Infrastructure Development disclosed that China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) was awarded a contract to rehabilitate the international port in the Solomons capital of Honiara. CCECC was the sole bidder for the contract, which is part of the government’s proposed Land and Maritime Connectivity Project to improve national transport infrastructure. Honiara is the primary international port for the Solomon Islands and handles the majority of the nation’s imports, as well as a range of exports. Other Chinese companies have indicated interest in port facilities across the Solomon Islands, including China Forestry Group Corporation, which reportedly inquired about wharf specifications during a 2019 visit to Kolombangar Island. In addition to the Honiara Port upgrades, the project includes the rehabilitation of roads in Honiara and the surrounding regions of Guadalcanal Province, and the construction of two ports located in the provinces of Makira and Rennell & Bellona (RenBel). The roads component of the contract was also awarded to CCECC in May 2022.

  • Egypt’s Suez nets substantial deals totalling nearly USD 7.5 billion in March. On March 16, COSCO Shipping Ports Limited (CSPL) signed a 30-year deal for a 25% equity stake in a new container terminal in Sokhna, Egypt. The terminal, known as the Sokhna New Container Terminal, will receive a USD 375 million investment from CSPL. The Port of Sokhna is located near the Suez Canal Economic Zone and at the southern end of the entrance to the Suez Canal. This deal came just before the 23 March announcement of a potential USD 2 billion investment by Xinxing Ductile Iron Pipes Company cast iron pipes and steel production plant in TEDA Suez (China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone), and, on 10 March, it was announced that a USD 5.1 billion green hydrogen plant in Suez would start construction in May 2023.

  • China, Russia expand trade infrastructure in Arctic Sakha region, key location for Russian antimony. On 20 March, reports originating from Russia’s Information Office of the Sakha Republic announced the approval of construction of a new railway bridge linking China and Russia. The bridge will connect Mohe, China with Dzhalinda, Russia, crossing the Amur River (called the Heilongjiang in Chinese) which is the border line between China’s northeast and Russia’s Far East. The Sakha region produces nearly all of Russia’s antimony, which is used in products like semiconductors and is a critical input for the defense-industrial supply chain used to make ammunition, explosives, and nuclear weapons. The region is also a major source of Russian diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, iron, coal, gas, and timber – all key resources that could be developed for export. The bridge will reduce the existing logistics route by 2,000 km and provide Russia’s Sakha Republic (aka Republic of Yakutia) with a direct land-access route, compared to the current path which requires sea access through Russia’s eastern ports such as Vladivostok.

  • China-Russia logistics infrastructure expands with cooperation agreement between port companies. On 24 March, Shandong Port Group Co., Ltd. signed a cooperation agreement with Russian logistics company, Delo Group. The two companies will use the Qingdao-Vostochny Port-St. Petersburg-Western Europe route for transporting Chinese exports and will organize the imports of grain and raw material cargo from Russia to China, using Russia’s Far East logistical infrastructure. Shandong Port Group and Delo Group will also develop digital services to optimize operations. Delo Group is reported to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the Delo Group’s chairman, Sergey Shishkarev, the agreement is a major step for the Delo Group’s expansion into the Asian transportation and logistics market.

  • China Development Bank steps in as financier for nearly USD 1 billion segment of Nigerian railway. Nigeria’s House of Representatives approved a change of financier for the 203 km Kaduna-Kano segment of the Nigerian Railway Modernization Project on 29 March, replacing China Export-Import Bank (China EXIM) with China Development Bank for the USD 973.4 million project which is being constructed by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). The leg of the project links the commercial centers in the north of the country with the capital and to the port at Lagos. Previous reporting put the cost of the Kaduna-Kano segment at USD 1.2 billion with the Nigerian government reportedly committing USD 380 million. CCECC Nigeria appeared to play a role in brokering the new financing deal with CDB after China EXIM withdrew. China EXIM had reportedly pulled out of the project as a result of impacts from COVID-19, with no further details provided. However, the reluctance to fund the project may be related to the policy bank’s risk profile in the country.

  • Russian imports of Chinese cars surge, but share of rail stays marginal. Russian imports of Chinese cars have significantly increased in 2022. Despite rail still not being the favoured mode of transportation for this type of business, the current shortage of Ro-Ro ships could open up new opportunities for the industry.

  • ANWAR IBRAHIM, Prime Minister of Malaysia. On reenergizing the Belt and Road. “Translating lofty ideals into practical reality, solidarity and cooperation is best exemplified in the realization of the Belt and Road Initiative…. With the pandemic behind us, we should try to regain its momentum.”

  • MERCY KUO, Executive Vice President, Pamir Consulting. On how China’s economic plans in Africa and the Middle East will impact Russia’s strategic interests.“China’s BRI and GSI’s integration of its civil-military fusion commercial, technological, and surveillance capabilities into MENA countries’ infrastructure development plans will gradually undercut Moscow’s leverage and maximize Beijing’s ability to shape MENA’s geopolitical landscape to China’s advantage.”

  • JÉRÉMY LISSOUBA, Member of Parliament, Republic of Congo. On African geopolitics with Russia and China. "One cannot fault these nations for cooperating with international partners in the interest of addressing their most urgent societal priorities. Nor can one fault them for taking European discourse on international values and change with a pinch of salt, when this supposed change stems not from the recognition of current flaws but the imposition of emergent global trends."

  • URSULA VON DER LEYEN, President, EU Commission. On China’s strategic intentions.“Just as China has been ramping up its military posture, it has also ramped up its policies of disinformation and economic and trade coercion. This is a deliberate policy targeting other countries to ensure they comply and conform…. This is all part of a deliberate use of dependencies and economic leverage to ensure that China gets what it wants from smaller countries.”

USA

IRS Wants to buy internet mass monitoring tool VICE Joseph Cox The IRS wants to purchase an internet monitoring tool from a company that has sold products to sections of the US military and the FBI, according to public procurement records. The company, called Team Cymru, provides access to “netflow” data, which can show activity on the wider internet, such as which server communicated with another.

New York Times says it won't pay for Twitter verified check mark Reuters Urvi Dugar and Lavanya Ahire in Bengaluru The New York Times will not pay a monthly fee to get verified check mark status on Twitter, a spokesperson for the newspaper said hours after it lost the verified badge on the social media platform. According to new Twitter policy, verified check marks are now offered only through a paid subscription. Organisations will have to shell out $1,000 a month to obtain gold check marks while individuals can get blue checks for a starting price of $7 in the United States.

Defence One

Patrick Tucker

CNO says the upcoming 4th Fleet experiments will inform an eventual move into Indo-Pacific operations.

Sam Skove

SAIC is among contenders for a crash Army effort to help the country down Iranian-made drones.

Reuters

Former President Donald Trump was charged on Tuesday with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in a historic case over allegations he orchestrated hush-money payments to two women before the 2016 U.S. election to suppress publication of their sexual encounters with him.

Reuters

As China seeks to further whittle down the list of seven countries in the Americas that still recognize Taiwan, U.S. officials increasingly believe Paraguay may be the island’s next diplomatic ally to flip loyalties to Beijing.

  • Former President Trump faces 34 felony charges of falsifying business records. All charges relate to the $130,000 hush-money payment to adult actor Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to prevent her from speaking about her alleged affair with Trump in 2007. Trump pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Anthony Zurcher reports for BBC News.

  • Prosecutors claim former President Trump falsified business records partly in a plan to deceive state tax authorities. For Trump to be guilty of a felony, prosecutors must prove that the falsification of business records was done in pursuit of a further crime. Trump’s alleged plan to deceive state tax authorities may offer judges and jurors alternative routes to finding that falsifying business records was a felony, particularly as proving that the hush money payment was made to affect an election illegally is substantively and procedurally difficult. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.

  • Judge Juan Merchan advised former President Trump to “refrain from making statements that are likely to incite violence or civil unrest.” The advice was given following Trump’s post on Truth Social, which showed a photo of him holding a baseball bat next to an image of Alvin Bragg, the district attorney in Manhattan. The prosecution says the post demonstrates Trump has behaved recklessly during the investigation, creating a threatening environment for parties to the case. Isaac Stanley-Becker and Jacqueline Alemany report for the Washington Post.

  • Intelligence officials are watching for any influence campaigns from Russia or China aimed at amplifying existing political divisions or stoking unrest among Americans over the indictment of former President Trump, according to two U.S. officials. Bret Schafer, who leads a team tracking Russian, Chinese, and Iranian disinformation efforts at the German Marshall Fund, a U.S. foreign policy think tank, said, “We haven’t seen Russia or China, at least through overt channels, amplifying outright disinformation about President Trump’s indictment and arrest.” Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee report for NBC News.

  • Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, and other top Fox News personalities will be available to testify in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit, said Fox News in a letter filed yesterday. Rupert Murdoch, the 92-year-old chair of Fox’s parent Fox Corp, is not on the witness list. The jury trial is scheduled to start on Apr. 17 and is expected to last about four weeks. Jonathan Stempel reports for Reuters.

  • The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an emergency bid by former President Trump to block top aides from testifying in the special counsel investigation of his effort to subvert the 2020 election. While not immediately apparent, Trump may have attempted to block the testimonies of Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, Stephen Miller, Robert O’Brien, John Ratcliffe, and Ken Cuccinelli. Trump could try to take the issue to the Supreme Court, though he has opted against doing so in several other defeats connected to the probe. Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.

  • Ed Badalian, who said he was following former President Trump’s “marching orders” on Jan. 6, has been found guilty of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States., obstruction of an official proceeding, and a misdemeanor count. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Badalian was focused on arresting President-elect Biden and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Jackson set Badalian’s sentencing hearing for mid-July. Ryan J. Reilly reports for NBC News.

  • Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) quietly met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen last week. Sullivan said he talked to Tsai about the Stand With Taiwan Act, a sanctions bill he reintroduced last week. The bill would, among other things, mandate sanctions on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members, Chinese financial institutions, and industry no later than three days after a U.S. administration determined China invaded Taiwan. Lindsay Wise and Joyu Wang report for the Wall Street Journal.

  • Jorge Ivan Gastelum Avila, a top member of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel, is facing international drug trafficking and firearms charges after being extradited to the United States, the Justice Department said yesterday. The Department said Gastelum Avila had supervised at least 200 armed men and conspired to distribute cocaine to the United States. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison for the drug conspiracy charge and a mandatory consecutive sentence of 30 years for the firearms offense. Reuters reports.

  • Dozens of protesters gathered in front of the Canadian Public Safety Minister’s office in Toronto yesterday, demanding an end to an asylum treaty between Canada and the United States after eight people drowned trying to cross the border. The deaths come less than two weeks after the Safe Third Country Agreement pact was amended, which critics say is separating families and pushing immigrants to try to cross the border via deadly informal routes. Molly Cone reports for Reuters.

Australia

TikTok to be banned from Australian government devices ABC News Chantelle Al-Khouri, Tom Lowrey and Claudia Long The federal government will ban TikTok on government devices following fears the app's security is compromised, and the platform could be used for foreign interference by China.Australia becomes the last nation in the "five eyes" intelligence alliance to block the app, following similar decisions by the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

  • What does TikTok’s ban from Australian government devices mean for its future? The Guardian Josh Taylor The Australian government has announced a long-expected ban of the Chinese social media app TikTok on government-owned devices. What were the concerns and what does it mean for the future of the Chinese-owned app deemed to pose ‘significant security and privacy risks’?

  • TikTok to be banned from state government devices following federal move The Age Marnie Vinall The Victorian government will join the federal government in banning the popular short-form video app TikTok in its current form from all government devices, citing national security concerns. The federal and state governments will announce a ban of the app on government-provided phone devices this week once a seven-month-long review of security risks posed by social media platforms is completed.

  • 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. As the federal government considers the security of the app, the NSW electoral commission has confirmed software – including TikTok – is not permitted to be downloaded on to work mobile phones without prior approval.

  • ABC to review use of TikTok after app banned from government devices The Guardian Josh Taylor The ABC is reviewing its use of TikTok following the federal government’s ban of the Chinese-owned social media app on government-issued devices. The ban announced by the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, on Tuesday only applies to non-corporate government entities, meaning a range of government-owned businesses and agencies are not subject to the ban, including the ABC, SBS, Australia Post and NBN Co.

New funding shows the chill of Australian start-up funding winter The Australian Financial Review Yolanda Redrup Global uncertainty in tech sector funding has firmly arrived on Australian shores, with new data showing a major slump in venture capital deals in the first quarter of 2023, pushing investment values to their lowest point since the third quarter of 2020. The latest Cut Through Venture figures reveal that across 82 deals, only $661 million was raised in the first three months of 2023, compared with $1.8 billion in the final quarter of 2022.

AUKUS needs to pool tech resources as US edge erodes, says AU intelligence chief Reuters Kirsty Needham The US technological edge is eroding, an Australian intelligence chief said on Tuesday, as a Sydney conference was told the AUKUS alliance of Australia, Britain and the United States must collaborate on quantum and hypersonic technology to compete with China. The AUKUS alliance will see Australia buy a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, but Defence Minister Richard Marles told the conference, hosted by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, it would also share other defence technologies.

  • West loses tech edge to China The Australian The West is locked in a future-defining battle with China and is staring down an autocratic competitor that is ahead in crucial technologies such as surveillance. Former Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt told the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Sydney Dialogue on Tuesday that the next geopolitical chapter would be defined by technological innovation instead of coercive power, such as military operations, and soft power, such as international aid and cultural exports. Office of National Intelligence director-general Andrew Shearer said Australia’s decision to purchase nuclear submarines under the historic AUKUS agreement triggered a necessary debate as the balance of power shifted from the US and its allies.

Putting Australia at the centre of global technology advancement The Strategist Richard Marles Australia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister, Richard Marles, opened ASPI’s Sydney Dialogue with a warning that Australia must establish a much stronger technological base. Climbing the technological ladder is really Australia’s great challenge. And it is particularly our challenge, more our challenge than almost any other country in the world.

Plugging the gap in critical technologies The Strategist Justin Bassi ASPI’s Sydney Dialogue is already on its way to becoming the world’s premier policy summit on critical, emerging, cyber and space technologies. When we wanted to build this dialogue four years ago, not all stakeholders saw the global gap we were trying to fill, and it almost felt a bit before its time. Today, that gap is glaringly obvious and revealed daily in the news as we watch technology race ahead. Few today would argue against its value for Australia, the Indo-Pacific region and, in light of Russia’s war on Ukraine, globally.

Voters say no tax hike to pay for AUKUS submarines The Australian Financial Review Andrew Tillett Mr Shearer told the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Sydney Dialogue the balance of power was shifting away from the US and its allies in the Indo-Pacific, “undermining deterrence and reassurance” but the submarines would help uphold stability. “At the global level, we are seeing the increasing use of military force to coerce and invade other countries. And we are seeing our longstanding technological edge starting to erode. And in some cases that edge has totally gone,” Mr Shearer said.

Australia a ‘vital partner’ for NATO’s plans on defending Taiwan The Sydney Morning Herald Latika Bourke Senior NATO officials will attend the Australian Strategic and Policy Institute’s Sydney dialogue on Tuesday and Wednesday, which focuses on how the civilian and military tech sectors can help counter hybrid warfare, such as cyberattacks on critical infrastructure. Former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg said that while NATO was, and would remain, a regional alliance, combining North America and Europe, the security challenges posed by China meant it needed to deepen its engagement with its like-minded partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Australia.

Australia faces ‘dystopian’ future of cyber-attacks targeting fabric of society The Guardian Daniel Hurst Clare O’Neil said the Medicare, Optus and Latitude data breaches were only the “tip of the iceberg” in the cyber threats Australia faced in the years ahead. Australia must prepare for a “dystopian future” in which increasingly digitally connected cities may be “held hostage through interference in everything from traffic lights to surgery schedules”, a senior minister has warned.

  • ‘Dystopian future’ of cyberattacks could upend everyday life, minister warns The Sydney Morning Herald Matthew Knott The Albanese government will launch a series of exercises to protect critical infrastructure assets and ward off a “dystopian future” in which cyberattacks could upend everyday life in the nation’s major cities. “Instead of data breaches, we could have data integrity attacks – where small errors are induced in compromised sets with outsize implications, such as financial records,” Claire O’Neil told the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Sydney Dialogue on Tuesday.

Democracies must regulate AI agents of intimacy and influence The Australian Financial Review Justin Bassi Although chatbots and TikTok are distinct issues, they converge on one thorny question: how should liberal-democratic governments involve themselves in the use of technology so that citizens are protected from information manipulation – and hence influence over our beliefs – on an unprecedented scale? The answer is that it is time for democratic governments to step in more heavily to protect our citizens, institutions and way of life.

Yahoo News

Veronique Dupont with Steve Trask

TikTok was dealt fresh setbacks Tuesday as Australia joined a list of Western nations banning the Chinese-owned apps from government devices and Britain fined it for allowing children under 13 to use the social media platform. Fergus Ryan, an analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said stripping TikTok from government devices was a "no-brainer". "It's been clear for years that TikTok user data is accessible in China," Ryan told AFP. "Banning the use of the app on government phones is a prudent decision given this fact."

South & Central Asia

3.1 million jobs shortfall in cybersecurity globally, shortage hits India firms badly New Indian Express IANS An estimated 3.14 million professionals are needed to fill the global cybersecurity workforce gap globally and in India, the skill shortage has contributed to critical IT positions not being filled, increasing organisations' cyber risks such as breaches, a report warned on Tuesday. The '2023 Global Cybersecurity Skills Gap Report' also found that 24 per cent of Indian organisations experienced five or more breaches.

From fast food to autos, India's digitally connected users lure investors Reuters Ira Dugal and Ankur Banerjee With the cheapest mobile data rates in the world, thanks to intense competition among telecoms providers, and the explosive growth of social media and personal entertainment, Indian consumers are going digital at a breakneck pace. It has nearly 700 million smartphone users, who, rating agency ICRA estimates, consume an average of almost 17 GB in mobile data per month, higher than the 13 GB in China and the 15 GB in North America.

Southeast Asia

Russia, Indonesia sign extradition treaty to combat crime AP News Firdia Lisnawati Indonesia and Russia signed an extradition agreement on Friday which they said will help combat transnational crime and be a turning point in their relations. The treaty — Indonesia’s first extradition agreement with a European country — was signed by Indonesian Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly and Russian Minister of Justice Konstantin Chuychenko. Chuycenko said the agreement is key to bringing bilateral relations forward.

Japan

The Japan Times

Japan on Wednesday unveiled guidelines for a new program to strengthen the militaries of like-minded countries by providing “official security assistance” — a move that breaks with its previous policy of avoiding the use of development aid for military purposes other than disaster relief.

  • Japan will offer financial assistance to help nations bolster their defenses via its Overseas Security Assistance program, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno today. This marks Tokyo’s first unambiguous departure from rules that forbid using international aid for military purposes. The assistance will not be used to buy lethal weapons that recipient countries could use in conflicts with other nations, Matsuno added. CNN reports.

Ukraine - Russia

How Russia killed its tech industry Technology Review Masha Borak The invasion of Ukraine supercharged the decline of the country’s already struggling tech sector—and undercut its biggest success story, Yandex. The tech workers who left everything behind to flee Russia warn that the country is well on its way to becoming a village: cut off from the global tech industry, research, funding, scientific exchanges, and critical components. Meanwhile Yandex, one of its biggest tech successes, has begun fragmenting, selling off lucrative businesses to VKontakte (VK), a competitor controlled by state-owned companies.

Ukraine's tech entrepreneurs fight war on a different front Reuters Michael Kahn Eugene Nayshtetik and his five co-workers shuttered their company developing medical and biotech startups to join the defense forces days after Russia invaded Ukraine. Within two months, their commanders agreed it would be more useful if they swapped their military gear for computers.

Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Poland on Wednesday, buoyed by the latest announcement of U.S. military aid, as Russian troops pressed on with their long and costly battle to seize the eastern city of Bakhmut.

  • The Biden administration pledged an additional $2.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine yesterday. The package includes about $500 million in equipment from U.S. military stocks for near-term transfer, plus $2.1 billion in arms that the administration will order using a congressionally approved fund known as the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, U.S. officials said. Dan Lamothe and Alex Horton report for the Washington Post.

  • The “no limit” relationship between China and Russia is “nothing but rhetoric,” said China’s ambassador to the E.U., Fu Cong, ahead of Presidents Emmanuel Macron of France and Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission visit to China today.These comments were made as E.U. leaders struggle to balance their deep trade ties with China against U.S. pressure to toughen their policies, especially in light of China’s support for Russia since the war began. Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Steven Erlanger report for the New York Times.

  • Darya Trepova,suspected of killing pro-war Russian blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, has been charged with terrorism, Russian officials say. The court ruled the 26-year-old should remain in custody until Jun. 2. BBC News reports.

  • A Russian group known as the National Republican Army organized the killing of pro-war Russian blogger Vladlen Tatarsky “without any help from foreign structures,” according to Ilya Ponomaryov, the former member of the State Duma. Ilya Ponomaryovclaimed on his Telegram Channel.

Europe

Paris to ban e-scooters from September Reuters Michel Rose, Clotaire Achi and Geert De Clercq Paris will ban electric scooters from 1 September, the French capital's mayor said, after the public voted to remove them from the streets, however e-scooter operators said on Monday they hoped to stop the plan. The e-scooter ban won 89% of the votes according to the city hall Twitter account in what was billed as a rare "public consultation" that prompted long queues at ballot boxes around the city. However turnout in the referendum was low at 7.46% of registered voters.

Rand Corporation

Charlotte Kleberg and James Black

Finland is at long last joining NATO, having applied together with Sweden last year in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finland's accession represents a boon to NATO, a radical change in Finnish foreign and security policy, and another unplanned setback for Vladimir Putin's Russia.

UK

TikTok fined £12.7m for illegally processing children’s data The Guardian Alex Hern and Aletha Adu TikTok has been fined £12.7m for illegally processing the data of 1.4 million children under 13 who were using its platform without parental consent, Britain’s data watchdog said. The information commissioner said the China-owned video app had done “very little, if anything” to check who was using the platform and remove underage users, despite internal warnings the firm was flouting its own terms and conditions.

Government shines a light on UK cyber operations POLITICO Conrad Prince The last decade has seen a notable increase in openness and engagement from the United Kingdom’s intelligence and security agencies — especially in contrast to the days, not all that long ago, when the government didn’t even officially admit to their existence. Now, that process has taken a significant step further with a publication by one of the newest additions to this secret world — the National Cyber Force.

  • UK’s cyber spy agency offers rare insights into its activities Financial Times John Paul Rathbone and Mehul Srivastava The UK’s National Cyber Force has been conducting “daily” hacking operations in support of overseas military deployments as well as targeting terrorists, cyber criminals and child pornographers, one of the country’s top spies said on Tuesday. Sir Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ, said the covert unit had “countered state threats, made key contributions to military operations, and disrupted terrorist cells and serious criminals” since it was set up three years ago

  • Britain’s cyberwarfare chief reveals his identity The Economist Britain’s National Cyber Force (NCF) was created in 2020 with a mission to “disrupt, deny, degrade” in cyberspace. Now the NCF is opening up to dispel such fantasies. On April 4th it published “Responsible Cyber Power in Practice”, which explains in 28 pages how Britain views the purpose and principles of “offensive cyber”. On the same day it revealed its commander’s identity. James Babbage has spent nearly 30 years at GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency—and has given his first interview to The Economist.

Middle East

Israel university websites come under cyber-attack Middle East Monitor Anadolu News Agency A number of websites belonging to major Israeli universities came under cyber-attack on Tuesday, according to local media, Anadolu News Agency reports. A group of hackers calling themselves "Anonymous Sudan" claimed responsibility for the cyber-attack in a statement on its Telegram account.

  • Top Saudi Arabian and Iranian officials will meet in Beijing tomorrow to discuss the next steps of their diplomatic rapprochement amid a China-brokered deal, an Iranian official and a Saudi-owned newspaper said. The meeting between Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, will be the first formal meeting between Saudi Arabia and Iran’s most senior diplomats in more than seven years. Reuters reports.

  • Israeli police have clashed with dozens of Palestinian worshippers at Jerusalem’s contested holy site, the al-Aqsa mosque. At least nine rockets were later fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Yaroslav Lukov reports for BBC News.

Artificial Intelligence

ChatGPT Has a Big Privacy Problem WIRED Matt Burgess When OpenAI released GPT-3 in July 2020, it offered a glimpse of the data used to train the large language model. Millions of pages scraped from the web, Reddit posts, books, and more are used to create the generative text system, according to a technical paper. Scooped up in this data is some of the personal information you share about yourself online. This data is now getting OpenAI into trouble.

Don’t Be Fooled By AI-Generated Donald Trump Fakes Buzzfeed Pranav Dixit Chances are, if you’re online today, you will encounter numerous images of Donald Trump. The former president was arraigned at the Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday for his involvement in a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to stop her from going public with claims about having sex with him in 2006. Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts.

Big Tech

Lawrence Freedman Geopolitics and the Digital Age

Social media platforms are the new battlefields The Australian Sian Powell Social media disinformation campaigns have been favoured by certain nations for years; deployed to push a range of agendas: to undermine democratic elections in the US, to sow suspicion of Hong Kong’s independence activists and to derail support for Taiwan. These grey-zone disinformation campaigns are difficult to attribute, opaque, and forcefully amplified by bots.

Revenue at TikTok Owner ByteDance Rose More Than 30% in 2022, Topped $80b The Information Juro Osawa ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok, generated more than $80 billion in annual revenue last year, up more than 30% from roughly $60 billion in 2021, according to two people with knowledge of the figure. The 2022 result, which hasn’t previously been reported, is significant because most technology companies with that kind of revenue experienced a marked slowdown in growth last year.

How TikTok’s algorithm ‘exploits the vulnerability’ of children The Guardian Kevin Rawlinson It is the home of dance tutorial videos and viral comedy sketches. But it is also host to self-harm and eating disorder content, with an algorithm that has been called the “crack cocaine of social media”. Now, the information commissioner has concluded that up to 1.4 million children under the age of 13 have been allowed access to TikTok, with the watchdog accusing the Chinese firm of not doing enough to check underage children were not using the app.

Twitter’s new dog icon is sending dogecoin to the moon TechCrunch Alex Wilhelm Twitter users are noticing that an image of a dog has been added to a place of prominence. Normally the swapping out or addition of an icon inside an app is not news. In this case cryptocurrency investors sent the value of dogecoin sharply higher in the wake of the inclusion of its logo in Twitter’s app. In short, the social media service’s update has led to a pump.

Research

Adversarial Machine Learning and Cybersecurity Center for Security and Emerging Technology and Stanford Cyber Policy Center Micah Musser et al. Artificial intelligence systems are rapidly being deployed in all sectors of the economy, yet significant research has demonstrated that these systems can be vulnerable to a wide array of attacks. How different are these problems from more common cybersecurity vulnerabilities? What legal ambiguities do they create, and how can organizations ameliorate them?







Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico?

Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale

ASE 2023

To download the book index, preface and introduction: https://www.extremarationews.com/reuters-news

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