September 30, 2022- Stealth War 105: Meta Thwarts PRC Influence Campaign; PLA, Russian Navies Spotted off Alaska; China Cautions U.S. Private Equity Firms; China’s First Domestically Produced Passenger Jet Certified Flightworthy; Chinese Coast Guard Vessels Enter Japanese Waters

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri September, 2022, Age: 8 months



September 30, 2022

Welcome to the Stealth War Newsletter, a collection of the top 5 recent news items, collected on The Jamestown Foundation’s website, To continue to receive this weekly collection, click the button below to subscribe. 

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Stat Du Jour 
This issue’s number to watchThree Trillion U.S. Dollars

Projected increase in the gap between the GDP of the U.S. and China this year. The growing gap is due primarily to low actual growth in China, moderate inflation and sharp depreciation of the RMB. 

This Week: 

Meta Thwarts PRC Influence Campaign Targeting U.S. Elections

* PLA, Russian Navies Spotted off the Coast of Alaska

China Cautions U.S. Private Equity Firms to Avoid “Politically Sensitive” Market Research

* China’s First Domestically Produced Passenger Jet Certified Flightworthy

Chinese Coast Guard Vessels Enter Japanese Waters as Beijing, Tokyo Mark Half-Century of Official Relations

Top Stories

(source: Wikipedia)

Meta Thwarts PRC Influence Campaign Targeting U.S. Elections

On September 27, Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) said it has identified and disrupted a social media influence campaign targeting U.S. elections. The effort originated in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), although conclusive links to the government have been difficult to establish. The disinformation effort involved 81 Facebook accounts and two Instagram accounts with the operation primarily utilizing profiles designed to be perceived as U.S. citizens, which is a commonplace tactic in PRC online information operations. The accounts posted about hot button topics in a divisive manner from both sides of the issue, following a common playbook for authoritarian disinformation efforts which is to sow discord and division in open societies. Fortunately, Meta identified the campaign shortly after it began and was able to shut it down before it garnered any real engagement. The same influencer(s) were used to spread disinformation about the war in Ukraine to those living in the Czech Republic).

Unfortunately, this is most certainly just the tip of the iceberg; at any given moment there are active influence campaigns by the PRC, Russia, and other hostile actors targeting the U.S.  Notably, since 2019 Beijing has intensified its global media influence campaign on numerous fronts, and more recently it appears to have begun coordinating these efforts with Moscow. Thus far, its results have been mixed. On the one hand, it does not appear to have been effective at maintaining or increasing positive attitudes towards the PRC. On the other, it has been quite successful on burying or countering stories that are critical of the nation, gaining control over Chinese language media outlets abroad, and laying a foundation for the improvement of future campaigns. While technology companies can improve their efforts to counter disinformation, independent journalism is also necessary to identify and counteract false narratives.

 PLA, Russian Navies Spotted off the Coast of Alaska 

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel undertaking a routine patrol in the Bering Sea off Alaska spotted a PLA Navy (PLAN) guided missile destroyer, roughly equivalent in size to a U.S. Navy Cruiser, which was subsequently found to be sailing two other PLAN vessels and for ships of the Russian Navy.

“While the formation has operated in accordance with international rules and norms, we will meet presence with presence to ensure there are no disruptions to U.S. interests in the maritime environment around Alaska,” Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, Seventeenth Coast Guard District commander said. The Coast Guard stated that Operation Frontier Sentinel guidelines call for meeting “presence with presence” when strategic competitors are discovered to be operating near U.S. waters.

Often in conjunction with Russia, the PLA has steadily increased its naval presence in the Arctic in recent years. For example, last September, the Coast Guard reported four Chinese naval vessels passing through the U.S.’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coast of Alaska.

(source: CGTN)

China Cautions U.S. Private Equity Firms to Avoid “Politically Sensitive” Market Research 

The China Securities Regulatory Commission recently warned several U.S.-based investment banks, including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, not publish research findings that could be considered politically sensitive ahead of the 20th Party Congress next month. Apparently, authorities were particularly concerned with a recent JP Morgan note discussing the growing number of mortgage payment boycotts, which it described as a possible “Lehman moment” for the country’s battered real estate sector.

Many private equity firms have long been bullish on China, but such sentiments have begun to cool of late. Per recent data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, the number of Investments by U.S. firms in China fell 31 percent in the second quarter of 2022, with the overall value of such investments falling 79 percent. As interest in investing in China has fallen, investors have been drawn to other emerging markets, particularly in Southeast Asia and India. One major unknown for investors is the trajectory of the zero-COVID policy with many leery of getting back into the Chinese market until they receive a clear sign that the policy is terminal.

(source: Wikipedia)

China’s First Domestically Produced Passenger Jet Certified Flightworthy

Yesterday, Chinese regulators approved the country’s first domestically produced large passenger jet aircraft, with hopes that the plane will enable the national aerospace industry to compete with foreign aviation giants, Boeing and Airbus. The narrow-body jet, which is termed the C919 and  built by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), was officially certified at Beijing Capital Airport on Thursday in a government-run ceremony. The trunk jetliner is fitted with 158-168 seats and has a range of 4,075-5,555 kilometers according to Chinese state media outlet Global Times, and represents China’s first attempt to create a jetliner with “mass commercial potential.” The goal is to reduce dependence on foreign aviation technology and jetliners produced by European and American companies, in the hopes of addressing one of China’s most glaring weaknesses: its inability to domestically produce commercial airplanes. President Xi Jinping, as well as state media, are hailing the certification as a momentous achievement for China and praising all those involved in the construction of the craft. Xi reportedly said that “having China’s large jets soaring through the skies is an effort freighted with the will of the country, the dreams of the nation and the expectations of the people.”

All this praise comes in spite of the fact that most of the parts for the jetliner come from foreign suppliers and the fact that the C919 is yet to pass tests from European and U.S. regulators, and needs another license to enter mass production. Despite these hurdles, China is still the second largest aviation market in the world and state carriers are enthusiastic and hopeful about the possibilities introduced by domestic passenger plane production. Requests for the C919 are already coming in to the COMAC website, with 815 orders so far from 28 different customers, including China Eastern Airlines, the second-largest commercial carrier in China. According to Chinese media, COMAC will begin deliveries by the end of the year, with the C919 set to start operating in the first quarter of 2023. Lingering U.S.-China tensions and China’s worst commercial air disaster earlier this year (involving a Boeing 737-800) are likely to lead to increased demand as well.

(source: Wikipedia)

Chinese Coast Guard Vessels Enter Japanese Waters as Beijing, Tokyo Mark Half-Century of Official Relations

On September 28, Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands were violated for eight hours by three Chinese coast guard vessels. The ships are part of a group of six vessels that have been occupying areas just outside of the territorial waters surrounding the islands for the past two weeks. Additionally, from September 26-27, a total of seven Russian and PRC naval vessels sailed past the Izu Islands, south of Tokyo. Japan believes this indicates an increase in operational coordination between Moscow and Beijing.

Although 26 incursions around the Senkaku Islands have occurred this year, with the most recent on September 8, this incident is notable because it occurred a day before the 50th anniversary of Beijing and Tokyo’s normalization of diplomatic relations; undoubtedly another in a series of signals from the PRC concerning Japan’s moves towards militarization and regional defense (possibly including Taiwan). It is also part of an increasingly aggressive stance by Beijing towards Japan and the Senkaku islands, which the PRC claims. For the past few years, the Chinese Coast Guard has enhanced its weaponry, increased its patrols near the territorial waters of the Senkakus and its incursions into these waters, and stalked Japanese fishing vessels. This has led some to worry that Beijing may begin enforcing its maritime laws on vessels near the islands or perhaps even attempt to occupy the uninhabited terra. Before such events occur, it is likely that the aforementioned pattern of harassment will continue for some time, giving Japan one more incentive to continue to strengthen its maritime security capabilities.




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