From the time of the first kinetic strike by an unmanned aircraft in October of 2001, the United States has relied heavily on remote-controlled drone technology for its relatively inexpensive loitering capabilities and the geographic reach it enables in the global war on terror. Over the years the U.S. has ...

Today, Friday the 13th, the Organization of American States puts its stamp of approval on Venezuela's embattled political opposition when it swears in Venezuelan Supreme Court judges, allowing them to operate here in Washington, D.C, rather than Caracas. Far from symbolic, it is the beginning of the establishment of a parallel government-in-exile and sets ...

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads to China this weekend for the second time since taking office in February, where he will meet with his counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and other Chinese leaders. The trip’s intended purpose is to prepare for President Donald Trump’s state visit to Beijing ...

In May 2015, Russia and China signed a “nonaggression pact” in cyberspace. They agreed not to target each other with cyber attacks and promote the idea of sovereignty in cyberspace. China and Russia are now seeking to eliminate virtual private network services (VPN’s) from their respective internet space. Russian President ...

In 2000, Xi Jinping, the then relatively unknown (outside of China) Governor of Fujian, gave a rare interview to a Chinese newspaper. In this interview, Xi spoke of his philosophy of good governance, his traumatic childhood experiences, his closeness to the people, and his legacy as a son of Xi ...

Following North Korea’s six nuclear test, reported to be far more powerful than any previous test conducted by the Kim regime, many wonder if denuclearizing North Korea is possible. Ambassador Joseph Detrani, former Special Envoy for the Six Party Talks and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the Cipher ...

After another act of defiance by the North Korean regime, all eyes turned to China, seen as the best hope to apply leverage to the regime in Pyongyang. President Trump tweeted “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying ...

North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon underground early Sunday morning, demonstrating both its destructive power as well as its defiance of the international community. In this, North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, the blast’s power reportedly exceeded – by up to seven times - that of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima ...

China and India have backed down from a simmering dispute over their border in the Himalayan mountains, Chinese and Indian officials said Monday. The détente comes as Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi and Chinese premier Xi Jinping prepare to meet in China at a conference of the BRICS bloc of ...

U.S. President Donald Trump this week decided to launch an investigation into Chinese practices on intellectual property. The move angered Beijing, which said the trade probe would violate international rules. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has for the past few decades been the supreme arbiter of trade disputes between countries, ...

In just the past several weeks, China has sent troops to its first overseas base in Djibouti, intercepted a U.S. surveillance plane over the East China Sea, reinforced its border with North Korea, and declared it will not back down from a border dispute with India. Beyond that, its militarization ...

When Chinese President Xi Jinping took office in 2013, he set out to tackle rampant corruption and reinvigorate a slowing economy, but he also set the stage for the modernization and expansion of the country’s military.    In recent years, Xi has consolidated his control over the armed services as the ...

China is investing heavily in its military modernization program as it aims to extend its power, not only in the region, but globally.   This has been a key focus of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the run up to the Communist Party Congress later this year, where he is expected ...

For the seven million people of Hong Kong, living next to a rising China, this year marks three important anniversaries.  Most commentary focused on the Handover 20 years ago when Hong Kong went from British to Chinese sovereignty.  The other events, the 50th anniversary of pro-communist riots and the 20th ...

Editor's Note: Amidst harsh rhetoric from both U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean regime, tensions are currently extremely elevated. After North Korea's missile test at the end of July, The Cipher Brief revisits its conversation with Michael Morell on Kim Jong-un's actions and intent.  American, South Korean and Japanese ...

The recent tensions between India and China have entered their sixth week. What began as a dispute over the location of a Chinese road building project along a contested border in Bhutan has drawn Asia’s two strongest powers deeper into a decades-long issue over sovereign territory and regional influence. China ...

After six weeks, tensions remain high in the Dolam Plateau (within the Doklam area), a contested border area nestled between India, China, and Bhutan. China’s road building project on a disputed portion of its border with Bhutan presents a strategic threat, according to India. Such a road would allow Chinese ...

After six weeks of tension between China and India over a Chinese road building project on contested territory, neither side is prepared to back down. Known as the Doklam Plateau, this small area high up in the Himalayas where Bhutan, India, and China share a vaguely defined border, is now ...

Saturday, on the sidelines of the G-20 in Hamburg, President Trump sat down with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, for more than an hour-and-a-half of "substantive" discussions. Nonetheless, Washington as a practical matter no longer has a "China policy." That’s a good thing. twiett Why? Among other reasons, not having such a ...

Every recent U.S. administration (Clinton, Bush, and Obama) has confronted the problem of North Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear weapons program. While claiming their predecessors failed, successive administrations have shared the same objective: completely roll back the DPRK’s development of a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and prevent proliferation of a nuclear weapon ...

Xi Jinping will make his first visit to Hong Kong as president of China this week as the territory prepares to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its handover from Britain to China. Xi, who has slowly but surely consolidated power around himself will visit as Hong Kong fears it is ...

Twenty years ago, when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China, Beijing agreed to administer the island according to the Basic Law, which would preserve the civil and political liberties of Hong Kong and create a path to universal suffrage for Hong Kong. However, in the intervening years, many believe ...

Hong Kong’s society and economy have changed under 20 years of Beijing’s influence. Chinese capital has bought out companies and real estate and job seekers from the mainland compete with Hong Kong citizens. The influx has generated social problems by exacerbating inequality, and many worry it is diminishing Hong Kong’s ...

Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell on Thursday warned against the pressing threat of North Korea, suggesting that the country may have the capability to put a nuclear weapon on the continental U.S. “It’s a current threat, not a future threat,” Morell told attendees of The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference ...

High level United States-China talks concluded Wednesday with the U.S. pressing China “to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure” on North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program, Washington’s top security threat. Looming large on the eve of the first U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue was a CNN report ...

On June 21, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet with their Chinese counterparts, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, Chief of Joint Staff of the People’s Liberation Army in Washington for the inaugural session of the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue. ...

Upon coming into office, the Trump Administration quickly came to the correct conclusion that the Obama Administration’s policy of “strategic patience” toward North Korea was really “strategic neglect.”  Secretary of State Tillerson in Seoul March 17 stated it succinctly: “Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ...

In a recent interview with reporters in Beijing, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton noted that the Chinese were finally exerting greater pressure on North Korea. China’s “shift in emphasis,” in her words, entails stepped-up inspections and policing at the border as well ...

China, for some time, has performed a delicate balancing act in the Middle East. As a major importer of oil from two archrivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Beijing has managed to pursue its economic ambitions despite divisive regional politics. However, after Qatar was ostracized by its Gulf neighbors earlier this ...

Saudi-China bilateral relations took a notable upswing this March after Saudi King Salman and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed landmark economic deals worth approximately $65 billion. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel spoke with Gary Grappo, former U.S. Ambassador to Oman, about Saudi Arabia’s and China’s economic strategies as well as ...

As a major importer of oil from both Saudi Arabia and Iran, and with expanding economic interests in the Middle East, China has a stake in maintaining stability in the volatile region. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Simon Henderson, Director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program ...

Pyongyang has responded to the UN Security Council’s unanimous decision June 2 to expand sanctions for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs by lashing out, not only at the United States but also at China. “[The U.S. and China] railroaded ‘sanctions resolution’ at the [UN Security Council] after having ...

U.S. policymakers seeking an end to North Korea’s nuclear program often point to Beijing’s leverage over Pyongyang as the key to securing a binding disarmament agreement and peace on the Korean peninsula. However, China’s key interests are maintaining stability along its shared border with North Korea and limiting U.S. military ...

Ambassador Fu Ying, Beijing’s veteran diplomat, said last month that her country had “no leverage” over North Korea unless China addressed Pyongyang’s security concerns. Whether China addresses those concerns or not, its leverage over Pyongyang is, in a word, overwhelming. The trend of thinking these days, both inside and outside ...

Graham Allison's ominously titled Destined for War fulfills an implied promise made by his seminal Atlantic magazine article 18 months ago. That article was labeled The Thucydides Trap: Are the US and China Headed for War? and indeed the ancient Greek historian's warnings permeate both that article and the current ...

Today China began enforcing its controversial new Cybersecurity Law, which broadly demands that multinational companies make data accessible to the Chinese government while strengthening the regime's control over content found inappropriate. Such measures have been made under the auspices of bolstering Chinese national security, but could have profoundly negative impacts ...

Defense spending across Asia has increased substantially during the past 10 years, and looks to continue growing apace into the 2020s. Nowhere is this more apparent than in plans to spend nearly $40 billion on submarines during the next decade, as estimated by Avascent Analytics’ Global Platforms and Systems database. ...

Today Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will become the first ASEAN leader to visit the White House under the Trump administration. The meeting is a part of his first official trip to the U.S. after more than a year holding the premiership. Phuc’s visit continues a series of high-level ...

The small East African country of Djibouti – which sits on the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a gateway to the Suez Canal and a shipping chokepoint in the sea lanes connecting Africa with the Middle East and India – hosts seven foreign militaries. The U.S. and China are now neighbors, and Saudi ...

China is constructing its first overseas military base just a few miles from one of the United States’ largest and most important foreign bases -- Camp Lemonnier in the small East African nation of Djibouti.  Five other nations have put up bases there, and Saudi Arabia will soon join them.  ...

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after last year’s U.S. election, was quick to meet with President Donald Trump to seek reassurance on the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance and find areas of economic cooperation after Trump’s rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership – seen as necessary for Japan’s economic revitalization. Tokyo ...

It has been three years since the Obama Administration publically indicted five Chinese military officials for hacking U.S. companies, a move that prompted negotiations to halt economic cyber espionage intended to benefit Chinese economic competitiveness. The Cipher Brief spoke with John Hultquist, the Manager of Analysis at FireEye, about the ...

When Beijing got the word that the United States was accelerating the deployment of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea as a response to North Korea’s latest missile tests, senior Communist Party officials went, no pun intended, ballistic. The official Chinese news agency Xinhua wrote ...

One of the emerging trends in today’s expanding cyber espionage landscape has been China’s emergence as the leading practitioner of economic cyber espionage. What does the trajectory of Chinese economic espionage look like, and where do we still see barriers to the establishment of effective norms barring the practice before ...

Can there be serious negotiations so that diplomacy may end the growing threat of a military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula? Not yet, is my guess. Trump, since his April 6-7 meeting at Mar-a-Lago with President Xi Jinping, has leaned on the Chinese leader to put greater economic pressure on ...

The administration of President Donald Trump has thrown key tenets of U.S foreign policy into question. After campaigning on a platform that skewered global free trade deals, called for economically nationalist policies, and questioned the U.S. alliance system, President Trump has so far done little to assuage international fears that ...

At a time when the U.S. is propping up its coal industry, China is expanding its support for clean energy. After years of targeted policy and investment, it has emerged as a global leader in the clean energy industry. Chinese firms continue to expand their share of the global market ...

U.S. President Donald Trump marked his 100th day in office with an executive order calling for a review of U.S. trade deals, as well as its membership in the World Trade Organization. The order follows statements earlier in the week threatening to terminate or renegotiate NAFTA and the U.S. free ...

Forgive free-trade advocates for being a bit disoriented this year. The vertigo hit hard in January, when trade’s most notable defender at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, was not from the West but from the East. “Say no to protectionism,” Chinese President Xi Jinping urged in his ...

Investment priorities and trends have changed as China’s economy and those of its African partners continue to develop. Chinese firms see an opportunity for lucrative, large-scale construction projects, while African governments see Chinese banks – with less stringent borrowing requirements than those of Western banks or multilateral development banks – ...