The economic and intelligence tension between the United States and China is currently at its peak since the end of the Cold War. During that phase, however, China had also taken actions to oppose the Soviet Union, with the opening to the United States and the “ping-pong diplomacy” in the early 1970s, as well as its tacit support to Kissinger’s resolution of all tensions between the United States and the Southeast Asian countries.
At the time China wanted to help the United States to regionalize – in Asia – its historic “Northern enemy,” namely Russia.
In his “Three Worlds Theory”, Mao Zedong placed it together with the United States in the “First World”, as both imperialist powers, while he regarded China as the current and future leader of the whole Third World fighting against the “metropolises” of the First World.
Said project has not changed, it has only changed its language and its procedures.
Now that the bilateral tension between the United States and the People’s Republic of China is at its highest, the rationale for this new Sino-American scenario is simple. China wants to achieve global geopolitical hegemony, while the United States led by President Donald J. Trump wants to rebuild its new economic and purely financial hegemony, and hence resort to protectionist practices.
The practices that even the old liberal handbooks of economic science considered lawful when a “nascent industry” needs to be protected.
China has now Africa in its own hands – a continent where the US power is linked almost exclusively to the US Africa Command, which is headquartered at the Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart.
Europe, of course, does not count for anything.
Moreover, China operates in Iran and also in Russia, considering that it has now incorporated Russia into its Belt and Road project towards Europe and the Mediterranean – in spite of the Eurasian Alliance project of Russian origin – and hence operates as a hegemonic power in Central Asia.
It does so by operating with a strategy that is at first economic, but also and above all political: the peripheries of the world against the metropolises, i.d. Mao’s old “policy line”.
Currently we are instead shifting from geoeconomy to the real global strategy – and China will have no particular difficulty in moving from a generically friendly position towards the United States to a far more adverse one.
When its primary interests are attacked by US actions, China will never make the first move.
The Thirty-Six Stratagems of the Chinese secret art of war are clear in this regard: “Watch the fires burning from the river” and also “Hide a knife behind a smile”.
However, let us better analyze what has happened in the current “spy war” between the United States and China.
For nearly ten years, the US spy network in China has been severely undermined, if not wiped out. This has happened to the US intelligence services also elsewhere.
Allegedly, the vulnerability of the US network results from the fact that China has long “penetrated” the network used by the operatives and informants present in China.
China maintains that this has led to the “elimination” of 30 local citizens who worked for the United States and the imprisonment of an unknown number of others.
China’s counterintelligence operation is said to have started in 2010, when the encrypted firewall used by the US operatives in China was discovered.
Obviously it is almost useless to add that the “sophisticated” IT firewall used by CIA is now in China’s hands and the analysts of its intelligence services will use and implement it even more easily.
Moreover, the program discovered by China had to be used in such a way as not to connect with and not to be traced by CIA’s major IT networks.
Without CIA knowing it, however, the encrypted system could also connect with its primary web network – and China could listen or read quietly and easily.
Incidentally, it is currently certain that all countries’ intelligence services can use the Web, but it is equally certain that the security of communications is at least the top goal, together with the quality and depth of the intelligence and analyses reported to the “central unit”.
Nevertheless, the more the Web gets complex, the easier it is “penetrated”. This law has been never denied by facts.
The more complex it is, the easier is to manipulate or “penetrate” it.
Experts tell us that the Web’s rate of complexity increases by seven the danger it can be penetrated. At every additional step of structural complexity there is a 7-time multiplier for possible “holes”.
Hence, in many cases, it would be good to still resort to the old craft systems that made the history of modern intelligence. China still does it.
We believe, however, that the real problem lies in the fact that the United States still believes that China is a country which is trying – with some difficulty – to follow the development course of the Anglo-Saxon community.
This is certainly not the case: China has not long been a “second class” nation or, as some US analysts say, a “Third World country that has grown too much”.
Far from it: it is a good thing that the United States soon realizes that China is certainly the second military and economic power in the world and that it can certainly cooperate with the United States, but dictating at least some essential conditions.
No Chinese decision-maker thinks about a “covert war” against the United States – not even remotely: currently the Party and the State think about other “enemies” and other regions.
However, we should never forget China’s huge power of constraint, persuasion and negotiation.
Moreover, the free market myth has affected the whole system of what – in the intelligence community of every modern country – should be the axis of all major operations, namely influence.
Over 110 “Confucius Institutes” have been founded in the US universities and huge Chinese capital is present in many of the most important US entertainment companies, such as Legendary Group, AMC Theathers, STX Entertainment, Studio 8 and Global Road Entertainment, as well as in many other smaller companies.
Not to mention Chinese investments in other sectors and in US Treasury securities.
The US majors obviously sell much in China, but China has entered their system with money, not just with encrypted firewalls.
Clearly China is strongly interested in the US operations on its territory, but certainly the Chinese leaders have operated a linkage between the trade wars started by President Trump and their counterintelligence actions.
This is another bond to break.
The more the geoeconomic contrast between the United States and China mounts, the more intrusive actions will be taken by China in the United States (such as those of the many Chinese students in North American universities who are spying for their country of origin), as well as “harsh” counter-intelligence operations.
Furthermore, what some leaders of the US Central Intelligence Agency fear is partly true: China is now in such a Cold War phase with the United States as to eventually oust it from its position as global power.
It is very unlikely, however, that Chinese leaders think they can weaken the US power in a short lapse of time: there is no blitzkrieg or lightning war that can decide, in a short sequence of clashes – even in the muffled world of intelligence or in the slightly noisier world of electronic war – who definitively wins.
It is pure madness and the Chinese are not mad at all.
Obviously both contenders must well understand that the Great Powers – if they have to disappear – do so over a period of centuries, always much more slowly than they have grown in good times.
Certainly even traditions count in the world of intelligence.
The United States is the realm of technology, in which an American – a good American and not an ugly American like the one described by the British novelist and intelligence agent, Graham Greene, who however had titled his novel The Quiet American – believes blindly. Probably the ugly and the good are two sides of the same coin.
The tradition of Chinese intelligence is also excellent in technology, but it does not forget the ancient rules of power and war.
When some defecting KGB men were sent to some US military academies, they were surprised that in the libraries there were not the classics of Eastern war thought and strategy: the Thirty-Six Stratagems, the Liezi, as well as Sun Zu’s military treatise The Art of War.
Hence too much technology in the United States and sometimes a certain tendency to conceptual hyper-simplification; too little history and knowledge of the real power structure which – when really powerful – is covert.
Also China, however, is not lagging behind in the field of technology. We should recall the hacking of over 30 companies among the most important ones in America, including Apple and Amazon, with a modified chip.
The Silicon Valley is now full of spies who work for the Chinese government for money or for other reasons.
According to many officers of the Armed Forces, all the US military networks are in danger.
CIA, too, has successfully carried out some operations on the Chinese territory, sometimes forcing the Chinese to give up their electronic espionage techniques, and also using Chinese intelligence agents.
Hence what can we do to stop, slow down and put in an acceptable position of security and business as usual this crisis between China and the United States, which – apart from trade wars – is still a mere war between intelligence services?
A first solution could be an extensive and universal protection – to be reached and signed as soon as possible – for the protection of sensitive intellectual property.
Currently trade secrets and patents are acquired not with old reverse engineering, but with the launch of IT attacks on companies and even law firms that hold regulations and protections.
While, as is well known, China is now a global software producer, it would be rational that even China would adapt to a new, stricter and safer international regulation of IPs and networks.
There could also be – in the offing – an international agreement on web addresses and network security, organized by the major companies operating in the sector, which are all interested in achieving a higher security level.
The US Invention Secrecy Act dates back to 1951 and it is too old for the technologies it should protect. Moreover, it is not part of the US intelligence chain.
In fact, the large US companies have increasingly relied on international laws for the protection of industrial data, often coming out of the North American judicial and legal system.
This is another “hole” that the United States must fill as soon as possible.
Moreover, now the US military can control patents, even when they are fully developed in the civilian sphere.
This is a good thing, but one thing is the law and another is counterintelligence.
However, the Web is and will always be wide-meshed: Google, in particular, is used by 67% of all Internet operators in the world and it has never made a secret of wanting a US patent system as “weak” as possible.
Google itself wants to sell the trade secrets at low price and quickly – and possibly keeping its own ones very secret.
The classic case of a paradox generated by a technology that does not find the legal mesh suitable for regulation.
Furthermore, China adheres to all international intellectual property regulations but, also in China, it is precisely the complexity and the inevitable archaic nature of rules compared to the speed of technology that impose the aforementioned “wide mesh” to China’s patent protection.
Hence two things are needed: firstly, a technical-legal and bilateral Conference between China and the United States, with a view to regulating the specific needs of sensitive data protection.
Moreover, light is better than darkness, although the Chinese wisdom tradition maintains that it is necessary to “cultivate darkness” – as when you need to grow rhubarb.
Secondly, a US-Chinese Committee shall be established at the highest possible level, where one asks the other for the patents it needs – obviously against payment.
Later a “third” Committee shall be created to check the efficacy of the agreement, possibly made up of members of the intelligence community of a country that is good for both countries: Italy, for example, which is second to none in the field of cybersecurity and can guarantee both contenders.
Thirdly, an International Conference shall be held – again possibly in Italy – to draw up specific rules for “technology secrets”, to be adapted each year according to new technologies.
Obviously also a new international Authority would be needed to coordinate and control – above all – the private network managers and the content collectors, as well as websites.
ICANN, the Californian organization that – as we may all recall – was given the Internet “source code” by the US government, is still a cooperative incorporated under California’s law, although the source code is now an open secret and former President Obama decided it to be managed not only by ICANN.
Hence the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is still a structure that is only responsible for “opening” the network, as well as for dissemination and “transparency”.
The Web, however, must also be a structure controlling data security, reliability and efficacy.
For each “transparency”, a rule of security and control. If the system of intellectual property protection fails, the whole contemporary world will fail.
Hence we could think of establishing an Agency, again in Italy, with the major powers’ support – an Agency called Security Agency for the Internet (SAFI), which can remove or report real-time passages of business and State secrets within the whole network.
This is another action that could be taken in Italy.
Coronavirus: Bioterrorism or Not, Who Is the Winner?
Authors: Sajad Abedi and Mohammad Amin Zabihi*
It has been so long since the early instances of using toxins, chemicals, and diseases as agents of assassinations and/or even mass murder. There are numerous historical and even modern instances of using toxins in assassinations, or using contagious diseases in warfare without even knowing about the bacteria or virus. For example, (allegedly) the first registered event of such method goes back to 14th century when Tatar army, desperate to win after three years of siege, threw corpses of plague victims to the Caffa city, causing an outbreak of this disease within the city. But the most important part happened afterwards; some soldiers could manage to escape on boats – Caffa was a port city on the Crimea Sea – to Italy, unaware of the fact that they were already infected. Nevertheless, most of them died along the way, but infected rats and remaining bodies caused one the major waves of plague pandemic all over the Europe.
The paramount point is that in our modern world, it is just a matter of hours to leave New York and land somewhere else, thousands of miles away, even before the first symptoms of your disease manifest itself. In fact, the most horrifying factor of any contagious disease could be its latent period.
On the other hand, considering the unprecedent pace of ever-growing biological technologies, many developed countries possess the ability to develop an intelligent virus equipped with customized features in order to remain unnoticed on the victim’s (vector’s) body for quiet a time, and only manifest itself after it infected a considerable number of surrounding people. More interestingly, such customized virus can be planned whether to disable a specific organ or to metastasize within the whole system of the host. Even more, it can be planned according to the genetic map of people within a given region.
Looking at the whole picture with broader perspective, it does not matter whether the agent is toxic, chemical, or biological. The capability to produce and employ a virus, bacteria, or toxin by malicious actors, namely terrorists or criminals, could bring disastrous results.As we witnessed such case during 1990s in Japan – the Aum Shinrikyo Cult.
In fact, if we are going to prevent such disasters, first we should find the potential actors who may resort to such actions, investigate the probable ways, and also understand the costs, benefits, motives, and risks of which for these potential actors.
Of course, terrorists and criminals are the first probable examples which may pop up in our minds, but looking more rigorously, state actors are also among the potential cases. In the case of Coronavirus outbreak, if one considers it as an instance of bioterrorism/biological-war act, the probability of participation of terrorist or criminal organizations seems to be low, due to the complexity of production process and the highly advanced technologies required to produce such virus at the first place. On the other hand, a terrorist organization typically claims the responsibility of such attack in order to earn the reputation, and a criminal organization may demand ransom prior to release the virus – otherwise it would not be beneficial, unless they already have the cure (vaccine/antidote) ready to sell. In any case, it doesn’t seem probable.
Considering the fact that, in the case of a pandemic, finding the main cause and the zero patient in this complex, interconnected world is significantly difficult (if possible), state actors may resort to such options due to multiple reasons. They may try to initiate a hidden biological war against another country (countries), in order to cause economic interruptions, socio-political chaos, create power vacuum in a specific area, forcing another actor to leave a region, or just simply to enjoy the economic benefits of selling the vaccine or antidote to victims. Obviously, there will be some serious prosecutions and consequences in the case that some concrete evidence shows any tracks of participation of an actor – whether a sovereign state or even a pharmaceutical company; but in such cases, states usually start to throw allegations at each other anyway.
We are living in a world that any kind of news affect the open markets immediately; the more important the news is, the deeper it affects the markets. In this case – Coronavirus – we witnessed a serious drop in international stock markets –especially oil markets – all over the world, which coincided with Russia’s ambivalence approach regarding the cutting supply decision made by OPEC – and also Saudi Arabia’s reaction to the whole story. Altogether, these factors caused a serious drop in different markets which, in fact, started with the news of Coronavirus outbreak at the first place. Who gets the best use of such scenario? The oil and gas producers are the main victims, obviously; but if one (the alleged perpetrator) knows the whole story before it happens, he would sell at the highest price and buy at the lowest price again – after the price crash, president Trump ordered to stock up the US oil reserves.
Although it seems pretty convincing, but is it really rational? What are the risks and costs? In reality, the pandemic of a dangerous virus – one like Coronavirus – equipped with a two-week latent period, in a high-populated country like China can cause sever problems in almost every corner of the planet; in fact, the bigger economy you have, the deeper your challenge would be. The implications of such outbreak are considerably wide: (1) it causes decrease in oil prices which will result in budget deficits in oil-dependent countries – like Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia; (2) it interrupts the production process and consequently the sale chains – like China; (3) reduces the tourists travels which will consequently result in budget deficits in tourist-dependent countries – like Turkey and most of EU; (4) it causes sever socio-economic costs, especially for populated countries – like China, US, and Russia.
Altogether, if one state actor decides to initiate a biological war against another state, using a virus agent which has the potential to cause a global pandemic, it should consider the possibility of backfiring the same gun inside its own country in numerous ways. In an interconnected world like the one we are living in, such actions cause gargantuan reactions in different ways, one may not be able to predict all of them. Considering such costs and also the risk of being traced back and accused of committing such horrifying act, the possibility of state-sponsorship in these cases will be considered relatively low (but still possible). It is not like creating a computer virus – like Stuxnet – that may or may not blow back to your face; it is the matter of people’s lives.
Amin Zabihi, MSc. Regional Studies, Allameh Tabatabaei University
 Nowadays it is Feodosia, Ukraine
Also known as Black Death
Cybercrime effecting banking sector/economy of Pakistan
Cyber-crime is not a conventional offence as its ramifications transcend borders. It affects a society in different ways. The term “cybercrime” denotes any sort of illegal activity that uses a computer, cell phone or any other electronic device as its primary means of commission. The computer and electronic devices serve as the agents and the facilitator of the crime. Cyber criminals take full advantage of obscurity, secrecy, and interconnectedness provided by the internet and are able to attack the foundations of our modern information society. Breaching of cyber space is an issue of utmost concern for the banks and financial institutions. The menace of data theft is growing in magnitude with huge financial impact. As custodian of highly valuable customer information, banks have always been the favorite target of the cyber-attacks.
Moreover it is estimated that banks are more frequently targeted by the hackers than any other business organization. IT based financial solutions of the banks such as ATMs, mobile banking and internet banking are exposed to various forms of frauds including skimming and phishing etc. Affected banks may also witness decline in their share prices. Banking industry is more susceptible to the breach of cyber security due to its financial lure for the transgressors. In Pakistan, banking is increasing its user base at a brisk pace; the resulting threats are also multiplying. Financial services in Pakistan i.e. credit cards, accounts information and other, can also be acquired for theft or fabrication. During last few years Pakistan faced some serious cyber breaches in the banking sector. In 2018 it lost US $6 million in cyber-attacks as online security measures failed to prevent breach of security in which overseas hackers stole customer’s data.Data from 19,864 debit cards belonging to customers of 22 Pakistani banks has been put on sale on the dark web, according to an analysis conducted in year 2018 by Pakistan’s Computer Emergency Response Team, PakCERT.
However Cyber breaches of January 24 and January 30, 2019 included such data in large quantities pertaining to bank Meezan Bank Ltd. Gemini Advisory; a body that provides guidance with addressing emerging cyber threats stated that the compromised records posted between January 24 and January 30, 2019 is associated with a compromise of Meezan Bank Limited’s internal systems. Cyber security company “Group-IB”on a February 22,2019 in advisory stated that money mules use the fake cards, to either withdraw money from ATMs or buy goods” that are later resold by fraudsters. Despite efforts of banks to eliminate ATM card fraud, criminals still find ways around security measures to acquire card data at the point of sale.
The impact of a single, successful cyber-attack can have far-reaching implications including financial losses, theft of intellectual property, and loss of consumer confidence and trust. The overall monetary impact of cyber-crime on society and government is estimated to be billions of dollars a year. While, the banks in Pakistan claim that they have insurance policies, they do not seem much interested in securing their system and the public remains highly affected by such attacks. There is growing sense of distrust in the online banking. Several banking organizations fail to provide proper insurance to their customer. That is why people are more comfortable in keeping their money and reserves at home rather than banks. This is one of the major factors that add to country’s severe economic decline.
Pakistan needs to develop its cyber capabilities infrastructure and should invest in the youth to build a cyber security force of young experts. Simultaneously, there is a need to focus on artificial intelligence, block chains and software robots as suggested by Chief Technology Officer Huawei (Middle East and European Union) Jorge Sebastiao in the recent international seminar on Global Strategic Threat and Response (GSTAR). Establishing a stronger cyber infrastructure will provide stronger security guarantees to the IT enabled services especially to the banking systems of Pakistan. This will in turn enhance the economic growth and security. Furthermore, the transnational nature of cyber-crime makes cyber-security a global challenge and, hence, demands collective and collaborative measures at the international level with flawless and strong legal and cyber policy framework.
In this regard, Pakistan’s cyber-law provides for ‘international cooperation.’ It has the membership of the International Multilateral Partnership against Cyber Threats (ITUIMPACT) and participates in Asia Pacific Security Incident Response Coordination Working Group (APSIRC-WG). However, cyber-security does not appear to be a priority on the country’s agenda for international dialogue and agreements. Pakistan needs to review the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill which will contribute mainly to increase the security of banking systems.
‘Da Cui Yun’ – False Flag Operation
“Customs detains Karachi-bound ship in Gujarat: Report”
February 3, 2020, the tragic day of sheer propaganda where India claimed Ship was carrying a dual-use autoclave in it. Indian customs officials detained a ship bearing a flag of Hong Kong and bound for Port Qasim in Karachi. The officials seized the ship as it was carrying an autoclave — a pressure chamber that is used for launching ballistic missiles.
India accused that the autoclave has been certified as a “dual-use” item. India wrongly ascertained that their examination has proved that the item can be utilised for military application. Whereas the authorities from both sides (China and Pakistan) firmly denied any such application of the item this was claimed to be utilised for Ballistic missiles. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has confirmed that the item or the autoclave was a heat treatment furnace casing system which has numerous industrial applications. MOFA also cleared that the item was correctly declared in the relevant documentation and this item is not listed in any international export control list.
This is not the first time, of course, where in the backdrop of major events that happened in New Delhi where President Trump was expected to arrive in India and Islamabad’s resorts to tackle the FATF issue, India has started highlighting another fake incident where they captured Chinese ship carrying suspected cargo to Pakistan fearing wrong estimates of nuclear proliferation in the region.
Such were the headlines features that occupied the front pages of Indian newspapers and were displayed as news tickers on all Indian news channels. The practice remains to linger till date while the fact remains that the authorities in New Delhi have failed to come out with any hard substantiation regarding the incident. The Indian authorities started to blame Pakistan right off the bat while the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) still engaged in a battle of how to go ahead with such folly.
New Delhi once again is brewing the anti-Pakistan curry in its witches’ cauldron by persistently accusing Pakistan. The recent News coverage shows that only few Indian sources have started raising the issue of Chinese ship involving it with a larger interest of blaming both partners for Indians own aspired goals.
For maligning Pakistan’s repute in the international arena, India has never ever spared a moment from blaming Pakistan over insubstantial grounds. This can be further understand by analyzing the major past events that happened in India i.e. From unrest in India to the chaos in Karnataka and the Mumbai attacks etc. Pakistan has been apprehended with unjustifiable accusations for every incident of restlessness in New Delhi. New Delhi not only contends Pakistan but also convinces other major players in the international arena to think the same. In the meanwhile, whenever proof has been claimed from New Delhi, their government has always nose-dived to produce any in front of international statutory bodies.
Unfortunately, truth and logic are what lacks in the Indian investigations. We have observed that 26/11 has been proved a false flag by none but New Delhi’s own Intelligence agencies be fooled themselves. There are various books, interviews and articles that have thoroughly described the sham, that ‘claims’ regarding 26/11 actually are. ‘Who killed Karkare’’ and ‘Betrayal of India- Revisiting the 26/11 Evidence’ by Elias Davidsson are among the notable books published.
Nevertheless, a number of questions arises to one’s mind where important facts are going to be overlooked as similar to the trial of the Mumbai attack i.e. ambiguities in the investigation procedure, no provision of proof beyond reasonable doubt against Pakistan blaming, differences in the witnesses’ confessions, etc. and most importantly this all event questions that before any investigation and without any evidence why India started blaming Pakistan immediately with unfounded accusation of proliferation. Indian version in every case was totally concocted, based on deceit and outright lies.
Lastly, India must refrain from acting so recklessly and irresponsibly to just pick out their biased side of the story and fuel to the already present hatred towards Pakistan.
Rather than tirelessly blaming Pakistan, New Delhi needs to secure her own domestic environment. While there is an urgent need by Pakistani media of countering such fake allegations of India and Indian media with rationale and logic. There is also a need of taking such issue to international forum by Pakistan where India continuously mudslinging Pakistan to harm its sovereignty or international standing. In the end if India appears unable to provide the concrete proofs of such incident then they must be penalized for their every fake accusations.
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