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September 11, 2020 – Stealth War Newsletter 7

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri September, 2020, Age: 3 years



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September 11, 2020

Strategic Indicator
This issue’s number to watch

$3.5 trillion

The amount that a new report by Deutche Bank estimates a coming technology war between the U.S. and China will cost over the next five years.

Top Stories

Earlier this week, shots were fired on the China-India border, breaking a decades-long protocol that prohibited the use of firearms by soldiers patrolling in the sensitive region. Chinese and Indian officials both accused the other side of having fired first, and the reality of what happened may never be verified. As the border dispute—which was reignited by unarmed clashes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in June—continues to escalate, the broader bilateral China-India relationship has steadily deteriorated. Despite high-level meetings aimed at stabilizing the situation, both sides have built up their forces along the border, backed by artillery, tanks, and fighter jets. A Wednesday report by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV appeared to show armed parachute drills “in an unfamiliar area which is over 4,000 meters above sea level,” which may indicate that Beijing is preparing its elite special forces to face off against their Indian counterparts.

The European Council on Foreign Relations has released a survey showing a new consensus among EU member states defined by a growing skepticism of the relationship between China and the EU in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. States have cited an apparent lack of reciprocity, China’s assertive activities abroad, breaches of international legal commitments, and human rights violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Amid the declining political relationship, the European Chamber of Commerce’s annual report found that European companies operating in China are increasingly afraid of “arbitrary punishment.” The report cited China’s imposition of tariffs on Australian barley imports amid rising tension between Canberra and Beijing as one example, and also noted pandemic-related travel restrictions and discrimination against foreigners in China as contributing to an atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty for companies attempting to do business in China. “Chamber members cannot help wondering if these actions and inactions are indicative of a broader mindset that while foreign capital and technology are desired in China, foreigners themselves are not,” it said.

Microsoft issued a public warning about election security on Thursday, stating that Russian cyber units appear to be targeting campaign staffers, consultants, and think tanks associated with both Democrats and Republicans. In contrast, Chinese hackers appeared to have focused their attacks on the private email accounts of Biden campaign staff members, as well as a range of other prominent individuals in the national security establishment and academia. And while Microsoft’s warnings are generally consistent with federal officials findings, the new announcement may complicate a recent assessment by the director of national intelligence, which said that China’s preferred candidate in the 2020 election was Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

And finally, as the State Department has called on U.S. colleges to divest from Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges “to protect the integrity of our democracy,” a new report by the National Association of Scholars has found that Chinese funding may have indelibly corrupted the College Board, giving China strategic access to American K-12 education.

Stealth War Flyover


In the second episode of Stealth War Flyover, Jamestown President Glen Howard and former Senior Director for Strategy to the President Robert Spalding discuss President Trump’s recent executive order potentially banning TikTok and WeChat; what policy options Washington has on the situation in Hong Kong; and recent comments made by Keith Krach, the undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, on U.S. universities’ index funds holding Chinese stock.

Stealth War Flyover is a periodic series featuring Brigadier General (ret.) Robert Spalding and Jamestown Foundation President Glen Howard discussing and dissecting the latest news in the ongoing competition between China and the United States.

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