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Press review EX - 9 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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Xi stresses enhancing integrated national strategies, strategic capabilities | China: plan to reform its institutions unveiled |China plans to form a national data bureau | White House backs Senate bill to boost US ability to ban TikTok | Australia demands Russia crack down on cyber criminals

  • Xi stresses enhancing integrated national strategies, strategic capabilities. Extrema Ratio

  • China: plan to reform its institutions unveiled. Extrema Ratio

  • China has announced plans to form a national data bureau, as part of President Xi Jinping’s vision for a “digital China”. The bureau is expected to coordinate the sharing and development of the country’s data resources, with the aim of fostering a digital economy. Engineering and Technology

  • A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators will introduce legislation on Tuesday that would give Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo new powers to ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats, Senator Mark Warner said. Reuters

  • One of Australia's top government bureaucrats on Wednesday demanded Russia crack down on the large number of cyber criminals operating in the country, saying their actions posed a threat to national security. The comments come as Canberra reforms its cybersecurity policy following a raft of cyber attacks on some of the country's largest companies. Reuters

China

Extrema Ratio

G Iuvinale

On the afternoon of March 8, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, State Chairman and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, attended the plenary meeting of the delegation of the People's Liberation Army and the Armed Police Force at the First Session of the XIV National People's Congress. Xi ordered coordinating the construction of major infrastructure, accelerating the building of national reserves, and making the reserves more capable of safeguarding national security.

Extrema Ratio

G Iuvinale

China's State Council, the Cabinet, unveiled a plan to reform its institutions on Tuesday, March 8. The plan was submitted to the first session of the 14th National People's Congress for deliberation. Explaining the plan to national lawmakers, State Councilor and Secretary-General of the State Council Xiao Jie said the State Council institutional reform focuses on optimizing and adjusting the responsibilities of institutions in key areas such as science and technology, financial supervision, data management, rural revitalization, intellectual property rights, and elderly care.

China plans to form a national data bureau Engineering and Technology E&T editorial staff China has announced plans to form a national data bureau, as part of President Xi Jinping’s vision for a “digital China”. The bureau is expected to coordinate the sharing and development of the country’s data resources, with the aim of fostering a digital economy.

China has a digital grand strategy. Does the president know? Pacific Forum Dr. David Dorman and Dr. John Hemmings The answer to the above question is, regrettably, no. We have been unable to find anyone in government, who has heard of this strategy, which raises a few questions: Does China have a digital grand strategy? If so, is it part of our calculations in the current grand strategic competition over technology?

Digital eyes: China bids to capture the miniature camera market Marco Polo AJ Cortese Although camera sensor technology was once difficult to master, recent progress in image sensor fabrication has enabled China to become a global contender. As Chinese suppliers become increasingly competitive, that will naturally reduce its foreign dependence, particularly on Japanese and South Korean suppliers, and create another significant technology export for China.

Chinese police target U.S.-based woman who signed a critical Change.org petition Radio Free Asia Mia Ping-chieh Chen Chinese state security police recently targeted a U.S.-based Chinese national after she signed a petition critical of Communist Party leader Xi Jinping on Change.org, raising questions over how they managed to get hold of her personal details, Radio Free Asia has learned.

AI proposals at ‘Two Sessions’: AGI as ‘Two Bombs, One Satellite’? ChinaTalk Irene Zhang The “Two Sessions,” during which the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference convene, is the most important annual event on China’s political calendar. Delegates descended upon Beijing on March 4, bringing with them a wide range of policy proposals. Here’s a roundup of what has been discussed on the AI front so far.

RFA

Jane Tang

Chinese women studying overseas are increasingly working with allies from other backgrounds – including Uyghurs.

RFA

Almost all the claimants in the South China Sea are moving forward with new oil and gas exploration projects this year, heightening the risk of confrontations and even clashes in disputed waters, a new report said.

ANSA

The Russian company Rosatom is supplying highly enriched uranium to China.

  • Xi Jinping tells defence delegation new policy crucial for stronger army and nation. “Consolidating and enhancing integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities has profound significance in advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and more quickly elevating the armed forces to world-class standards”, said Xi during the first session of the 14th National People's Congress. Xinhua, The Independent, 8 March

  • China weighs 'emergency' fast track for laws as Taiwan tensions mount. Nikkei Asia, 9 March

  • Matt Hancock Covid memoirs censored over Wuhan lab leak comments. Matt Hancock was censored by the Cabinet Office over his concerns that the Covid-19 pandemic began with a lab leak in Wuhan, the Lockdown Files reveals. The former health secretary was told to tone down claims in his book because the Government feared it would "cause problems" with China. The Telegraph, 8 March

  • Chinese firm got Covid contract despite trying to hack NHS data, minister says. The BGI Group was making multiple attempts every week to “hack” into Genomics England in 2014, George Freeman, a Cabinet Office minister, revealed to MPs, and is said to remain a “danger”. Several hours after the minister’s comments, government sources sought to backtrack on the claims. The Guardian, 8 March

  • Oscars 2023: Petition calls for presenter Donnie Yen's removal over China remarks. Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition to remove Hong Kong actor Donnie Yen as an Oscars presenter after he called the 2019 Hong Kong protests a “riot”. BBC, 9 March

  • Taiwan to allow more China flights in show of goodwill. Reuters, 9 March

  • Scientific collaboration between China and US key to tackling climate change, experts say. SCMP, 9 March

  • Chinese AI groups use cloud services to evade US chip export controls. FT, 9 March

  • China’s new way to control its biggest companies: Golden Shares. The CCP is moving away from a public battle with some of the country’s biggest companies. Instead, various levels of government are taking stakes in the private companies that have long driven Chinese innovation and job creation. WSJ, 8 March

  • China’s weak inflation eases pressure on global prices. China’s consumer and producer prices remained subdued in February as food and commodities costs eased, suggesting the country’s reopening won’t be adding to global inflation pressures. Bloomberg, 9 March

  • Apple to make India its own region, using what it ‘learned in China’ to scale. Apple is reshuffling management of its international businesses to put a bigger focus on India, according to people with knowledge of the matter. SCMP, 9 March

  • Arm move ‘humiliates financial watchdog and London’, say MPs.The Times, 9 March

  • Discursive statecraft: China’s information operations. How and why does China use information operations to shape global narratives? Hannah Bailey. Council on Geostrategy, 8 March

  • The quick and easy guide for countries resisting Chinese trade coercion. Australia and Lithuania have shown that finding new export markets is much faster than WTO litigation. Alan Beattie. FT, 9 March

  • Why China has sharpened its anti-American rhetoric. James Palmer. Foreign Policy, 9 March

USA

Listen to former U.S. Department of Defense senior official Elbridge Colby and Japanese scholar Yuki Tatsumi discuss how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine impacts Japanese and American security interests, as well as the People’s Republic of China’s thinking on Taiwan.



Pacific Forum

Brandt Mabuni

Rare earth elements (REEs) are a class of 17 metals essential to the technology, transportation, energy, defense, and aerospace industries. These are used for high-powered magnets and precision parts in anything ranging from batteries, solar panels, and wind turbines to smartphones, lasers, and jet engines. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) came to dominate global supply chains for these valuable inputs during the Deng-era of foreign policy characterized by the adage, often translated as “hide your strength, bide your time.” Subsidized state-owned enterprises were empowered to drive competitors out of the rare earths mining and processing businesses, giving the PRC a virtual monopoly by the late 1990s.

  • US, EU to start trade negotiations on minerals. The US and EU are moving forward with crafting a trade agreement focused on critical minerals, with President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expected to discuss on Friday the plan to reduce their dependence on China. WSJ, 9 March

by Karen Elliott Housevia The Caravan

Both the Bible and the Quran warn against hubris. “Take heed when ye think ye stand lest ye fall,” warns Corinthians; “Surely Allah does not love any self-conceited boaster,” admonishes the Quran. It’s a pointedly apt warning to Washington and Riyadh as we enter 2023.

Our Christophobic Ruling Caste by Bruce Thornton via FrontPage Magazine Why Christianity is a threat to our technocratic elites.

U.S., China Plunge Further Into A Spiral Of Hostility quoting Michael R. Auslinvia The Wall Street Journal ​[Subscription Required] Harsh new verbal attacks on the U.S. by Beijing’s top leadership demonstrate just how unsteady relations have become between the world’s two major powers.

Former China Adviser To Trump Praises Antony Blinken For Saying Beijing May Supply Arms To Russia quoting Matt Pottingervia Yahoo! Life "I actually commend [Blinken] for calling out Beijing's plans publicly," said Matthew Pottinger, the top Asia adviser on Trump's National Security Council. "I have to believe that [Blinken] would not have made this public unless he believed that he had high confidence in it."

“If I had a time machine and I could go back and ask him, I would bet 10-to-one he’d be opposed to a huge expansion of the welfare state for payments per child,” says David R. Henderson, a Hoover Institution economist who served with Bill Niskanen on the Council of Economic Advisers in the 1980s.

White House backs Senate bill to boost US ability to ban TikTok Reuters David Shepardson A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators will introduce legislation on Tuesday that would give Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo new powers to ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats, Senator Mark Warner said.

  • NSA chief warns of TikTok’s broad influence The Hill Ines Kagubare and Rebecca Klar Testifying before a Senate panel, NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone said he was worried about the type of data and algorithms the social media platform holds.

  • TikTok asks creators to help win over lawmakers The Information Kaya Yurieff TikTok sent a message to some creators this week inviting them to join top company executives in Washington D.C. in late March as the ByteDance-owned company continues to fight calls for a ban of the app in the U.S. The trip would include “standing side by side with creators and the TikTok team at the U.S. Capital” to show TikTok’s positive impact, according to a message reviewed by The Information.

The daring ruse that exposed China’s campaign to steal American secrets The New York Times Yudhijit Bhattacharjee Although China publicly denies engaging in economic espionage, Chinese officials will indirectly acknowledge behind closed doors that the theft of intellectual property from overseas is state policy. The U.S. government’s response increasingly appears to be a mirror image of the Chinese perspective: In the view of U.S. officials, the threat posed to America’s economic interests by Chinese espionage is a threat to American national security.

Biden to host Australian, British leaders on AUKUS defence pact Reuters David Brunnstrom and Renju Jose Despite an 18-month consultation period since AUKUS was first announced, questions remain over strict U.S. curbs on technology sharing needed for the project. These are a particular concern for its so-called pillar two dealing with advanced technology programs such as artificial intelligence and hypersonic weapons. British and Australian officials said last week work was still needed to break down bureaucratic barriers to technology sharing in pillar two and the top Pentagon official for Asia, Ely Ratner, referred to "antiquated systems" governing U.S. technology.

New room-temperature superconductor offers tantalizing possibilities The New York Times Kenneth Chang Scientists announced this week a tantalizing advance toward the dream of a material that could effortlessly convey electricity in everyday conditions. Such a breakthrough could transform almost any technology that uses electric energy, opening new possibilities for your phone, magnetically levitating trains and future fusion power plants.

WIRED

Dell Cameron

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has acknowledged for the first time that it purchased US location data rather than obtaining a warrant. While the practice of buying people’s location data has grown increasingly common since the US Supreme Court reined in the government’s ability to warrantlessly track Americans’ phones nearly five years ago, the FBI had not previously revealed ever making such purchases.

VICE

Joseph Cox

A security researcher appears to have tracked the physical location of a former top Biden administration official through his apparent usage of AllTrails, a popular hiking app with more than 30 million registered users. The AllTrails records appear to show the official visiting sensitive locations such as the White House, and also suggests the specific house where he or his family lives.

North Asia

Taiwan suspects Chinese ships cut islands’ internet cables AP News Huizhong Wu and Johnson Lai For connecting to the outside world, Matsu’s 14,000 residents rely on two submarine internet cables leading to Taiwan’s main island. The National Communications Commission, citing the island’s telecom service, blamed two Chinese ships for cutting the cables. It said a Chinese fishing vessel is suspected of severing the first cable some 50 kilometers (31 miles) out at sea. Six days later, on Feb. 8, a Chinese cargo ship cut the second, NCC said.

Southeast Asia

CBA's Indonesian subsidiary hit by cyber attack iTnews Kate Weber The Commonwealth Bank's Indonesian subsidiary PT Bank Commonwealth (PTBC) has experienced a "cyber incident". The bank said in a brief statement that attackers gained unauthorised access to a web-based project management tool used by PTBC.

Europe

ASML chief warns of IP theft risks amid chip sanctions Financial Times Anna Gross and Tim Bradshaw The head of ASML, the chip toolmaker that is Europe’s biggest tech company, said he was guarding against intellectual property theft more fiercely than “ever before”, as a geopolitical tussle forces China to bolster its homegrown semiconductor industry.

Coda

Isobel Cockerell

The European Union is currently drafting a new omnibus framework — the first of its kind in the world — to regulate the use of artificial intelligence for border control. The Artificial Intelligence Act is an attempt to create a legal framework that tech companies and governments would have to adhere to when testing new AI-powered technologies along European borders.

UK

Ex-minister’s texts lift the veil on U.K. Covid policy. It isn’t pretty. The New York Times Mark Landler A trove of more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages exchanged between Matt Hancock, then the British health secretary, and other government figures revealed the scramble to coordinate the virus response.

World

Global leaders discuss staggeringly wide digital divide between nations Africanews The Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Doha, Qatar, turned its attention Monday to one of the most nettlesome global challenges: closing the staggeringly wide digital divide between nations.

  • The Black Sea by Jakub Grygielvia The CaravanThirty years from now, a historian writing a book on the events of the last two decades happening in the area between Russia and the Middle East, including in Ukraine, might entitle it The Long War for the Black Sea.

  • Japan Offers Minimal Treatment For South Korea’s Unhealed Wounds by Andrew Robertsvia Military History In The News The news that South Korea is abandoning its claims against Japan for compensation for wartime slave labor reminds us how relevant World War II still is today, even seventy-eight years after its conclusion.

Australia

Australia demands Russia crack down on cyber criminals Reuters Alasdair Pal and Byron Kaye One of Australia's top government bureaucrats on Wednesday demanded Russia crack down on the large number of cyber criminals operating in the country, saying their actions posed a threat to national security. The comments come as Canberra reforms its cybersecurity policy following a raft of cyber attacks on some of the country's largest companies.

  • Australia’s nuclear subs will use a UK design to counter China. Australia’s new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines will be based on a modified British design with US parts and upgrades, Bloomberg reported, as the three countries press ahead with the AUKUS security partnership seen as an effort to counter China. Rishi Sunak will travel to the US next week to announce the first phase of the AUKUS sub plan, with Britain set to play a bigger role than envisaged 18 months ago. Bloomberg, 8 March

ASPI

Getting cybersecurity right requires a change of mindset The Strategist Lesley Seebeck As we’ve been reminded each day of the Robodebt royal commission, our government systems quickly and unaccountably encode expectations, prejudices and behaviours into digital systems. How we think about and interact with technology—not just the management problem of cybersecurity—matters.

TikTok banned at nearly 70 federal government agencies as 'patchwork approach' raises concern Canberra Times Sarah Basford Canales Australian Strategic Policy Institute China analyst Fergus Ryan says it's time for the government to issue a sector-wide direction given the risks posed."I think there should be a uniform rule about this," Mr Ryan told The Canberra Times."It doesn't really make sense to me why there would be such a patchwork approach to the problem."

It’s not xenophobic to call time on TikTok, it’s vital The Sydney Morning Herald Fergus Ryan As governments around the world set their sights on TikTok, the company is defending itself with what it does best – distraction. Last week, TikTok chief operating officer Vanessa Pappas said that social media apps needed industry-wide legislation and that calls for TikTok to be banned were xenophobic.

The Mandarin

Tom Ravlic

Coordination is one thing but providing a broader analysis of threats from a cybersecurity perspective is also important for understanding, according to Bart Hogeveen, the head of cyber capacity building at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Hogeveen said the recent practice adopted by the Australian Cyber Security Centre of providing an annual assessment of cybersecurity threats is useful in establishing an understanding of challenges Australia faces.

Gender & Women in Tech

#IWD2023: Retaining and advancing women in the cyber security industry: moving from theory to impact by measuring inclusion Infosecurity Magazine Katherine Hutton and Zoe Mackenzie Getting women into the cyber industry has been spoken about at great lengths, yet organizations are still struggling with unfilled positions and a lack of diverse teams.

Big Tech

TikTok unveils new European data security regime Reuters Martin Coulter TikTok has announced out a new data security regime, nicknamed “Project Clover”, amid growing pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Acer confirms breach after hacker offers to sell stolen data SecurityWeek Eduard Kovacs Electronics giant Acer has confirmed getting hacked after a hacker offered to sell 160 Gb of files allegedly stolen from the company’s systems. The cybercriminal claims the files include confidential slides, staff manuals, confidential product documentation, binary files, information on backend infrastructure, disk images, replacement digital product keys, and BIOS-related information.

Artificial Intelligence

This website wants to use AI to make models obsolete VICE Chloe Xiang The site reminds us of the limitations of AI—how AI-generated images are very stiff and easy-to-spot, but also biased in many ways.

Noam Chomsky: The false promise of ChatGPT The New York Times Noam Chomsky, Ian Roberts and Jeffrey Watumull OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Sydney are marvels of machine learning. Roughly speaking, they take huge amounts of data, search for patterns in it and become increasingly proficient at generating statistically probable outputs — such as seemingly humanlike language and thought.

Research

Reducing the risks of artificial intelligence for military decision advantage CSET Wyatt Hoffman and Heeu Millie Kim Militaries seek to harness artificial intelligence for decision advantage. Yet AI systems introduce a new source of uncertainty in the likelihood of technical failures. Such failures could interact with strategic and human factors in ways that lead to miscalculation and escalation in a crisis or conflict.


Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale

2023

Stango Editore



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