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September 18, 2020 – Stealth War Newsletter 8

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri September, 2020, Age: 3 years



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September 18, 2020

Strategic Indicator
This issue’s number to watch

6 Months

The amount of time Huawei has to build out a “de-Americanized” chip supply chain, before its existing chip supplies run out after a U.S. export ban prohibiting sales of chips which contain American IP went into effect this week.

Top Stories

The U.S. Commerce Department has issued orders for the removal of TikTok and WeChat from American app stores at midnight on Sunday. The removal implements two executive orders issued last month banning the apps in the U.S. A third order will give ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, until November 12 to divest its interests in TikTok in the United States. The Commerce Department order comes as Oracle and ByteDance are continuing negotiations over TikTok’s future American operations. Following new export control laws issued by China earlier this month, any acquisition deal will have to be approved by both the U.S. and China.

This week, a new policy document issued by China’s Communist Party indicates that the CCP is looking to strengthen its control over China’s private sector. Guidelines issued by the General Office of the CCP Central Committee have called on the relevant United Front Work Departments to “strengthen ideological guidance” and “create a core group of private sector leaders who can be relied upon during critical times.” Economic analysts assert that the instructions demonstrate CCP leadership’s concerns about securing economic recovery and job growth in the wake of COVID-19. The new guidelines are also likely to reinforce concerns abroad that China’s private businesses have little to no autonomy from the CCP. Such concerns have pushed officials in Washington to call for broad limits on Chinese companies’ operations in the U.S., citing national security concerns. Although Chinese officials have accused recent Western coverage of the united front of “maliciously hyping up the normal foreign exchanges,” a new study published by The Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief has shown the budgetary power of China’s united front system, which works both domestically and abroad. Another article demonstrates the pernicious influence of the united front’s lobbying power in the United States.

New reports this week have detailed the extent of a massive intelligence collection drive by Chinese company Shenzhen Zhenhua Data Technology, which has been scraping social media posts and other data from the internet for the stated purpose of providing intelligence to Chinese military, government, and commercial clients. The database contains profiles of more than two million people worldwide, including at least 50,000 American political, military, and business figures. This report comes as U.S.-China relations reaches a fraying point, with the surprise withdrawal of American ambassador Terry Branstad from Beijing earlier this week as U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo pushes hard for “decoupling” over fears of Chinese influence in American politics and business.

Finally, Western sources got a good look at a new third aircraft carrier being constructed in Shanghai this week, with satellite imagery suggesting that the carrier could be ready to be launched in the coming months. Earlier this month, Beijing deployed its two active duty aircraft carriers in tandem for the first time as the US conducted large-scale drills off the coats of Guam. China’s two carriers are expected to become key forces in handling pressure from the United States in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, two regions which have seen major recent escalation in tensions as both Washington and Beijing have pursued more aggressive patrolling and drilling actions. Reports of increased military activity have come even as diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions are stalling, with regional experts arguing that it is unlikely that recent ASEAN talks for a code of conduct in disputed waters will reach an amicable resolution.

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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