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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 – ...

The two separate worlds of electronic warfare and cybersecurity are beginning to overlap, if not collide. In the U.S. military, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities live in different military domains, delivered by operators who exist in different military units and who largely grew up in different career fields. The National ...

Official statements and public discussions on China’s willingness to punish or otherwise influence North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a direction favorable to U.S. interests have been markedly optimistic in recent days. In an interview April 19, Vice President Mike Pence said “China is taking unprecedented steps to economically isolate ...

On April 6 – the same day Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner dined with President Xi and his wife at Mar-a-Lago – the Chinese government provisionally approved three of the trademarks, according to the Associated Press, effectively giving Ivanka’s company monopoly rights to sell her brand of accessories and spa services ...

As China’s economic interests in Africa have expanded, its security interests have kept pace, to protect Chinese nationals and assets across the continent.  To that end, China has invested heavily in multinational organizations such as the African Union and the United Nations and has shown commitment to regional stability. The ...

China Merchants Port Holdings has invested $400 million to build China’s first port in Africa. The massive project, now under construction in Djibouti, will serve China’s commercial and naval ships and deepen China’s economic and security interests in the African continent. As well, the project will create jobs for Chinese ...

Decades ago, China saw economic partnerships with African nations as a means of securing political support. As China’s economy has evolved towards export manufacture, its interests shifted to gaining access to Africa’s bountiful natural resources. Today, in China’s diversifying economy, state-owned and private companies are seeking new opportunities across the ...

In his first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered his counterpart a Chinese calligraphy scroll with the aphorism “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Despite the lofty stakes involved in one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships, the achievements ...

In their first summit, Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping needed to demonstrate their leadership and authority to their respective publics. President Trump needed to show he was in charge and restore momentum after a major legislative defeat over health care reform. A validation of President Xi’s ability to manage ...

At 8:40PM EDT last Thursday, as the two were wrapping up a ceremonial dinner with their families, President Donald Trump informed President Xi Jinping that the United States was concluding a cruise missile strike against a Syrian airfield involved in a chemical weapons attack against rebels earlier in the week. ...

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time. While the two agree on the need to strengthen cooperation between the U.S. and China, there are several agenda items that are likely to become contentious, not least of which is North Korea. Trump ...

It is fashionable in Washington to deride, or even condemn, every move President Donald Trump makes that is a departure from past, staid U.S. foreign policy.  Secretary of State Tillerson's terse public statement on Wednesday's North Korean KN-14 missile test into the Sea of Japan was the latest example of ...

“The president needs to look strong and decisive, and China is a convenient whipping boy,” Quartz White House correspondent Heather Timmons wrote Friday. Is President Donald Trump, to save a faltering presidency, planning to create friction with China when he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mar-a-Lago today? Trump will ...

Over the past decade, Japan has had to deal with external threats, from Chinese assertiveness in the seas surrounding the island nation to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been making moves to give his country greater capabilities and flexibility to defend itself. The Cipher Brief’s ...

Since at least the 1979 Iranian revolution, intelligence and national security analysts have been working hard to identify the causal factors that lead to political instability. Working hard and yet struggling. Many factors, such as high infant mortality, have been found to correlate with the onset of political instability, and ...

China is a burgeoning great power. It is continually figuring out the various dimensions of power – not least of which is power in cyberspace – and putting them to use. Like other great powers dealing in an unknown medium, it is, to quote Deng Xiaoping, crossing the river by ...

China continues to deploy military equipment to contested islands in the South China Sea, raising concerns among regional players and U.S. forces stationed in the Pacific.    A Chinese government strategy document published last month by China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua signals that Beijing is building up its military cyber ...

In September 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama reached an agreement that neither nation would “conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.” Many astute observers ...

Two decades of an expanding defense budget coupled with a multi-dimensional modernization effort have enabled China to field one of the world’s most capable militaries. While it should come as no surprise that a modernizing power with a global economy invests significantly in its national defense, curiosity and suspicion are ...

When Syrian government forces retook the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS for the second time in early March, they had the assistance of one of the world’s elite special operations forces: Russia’s Special Operations Command (SSO). In coordination with Russian air power, the combined forces killed or wounded 1,000 ...

Several Chinese government entities perform activities that fall under the rubric of special operations. China’s primary anti-terrorist forces are elements of the civilian Ministry of Public Security (MPS) police and paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP). People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Special Operations Forces (SOF) also are trained for anti-terrorism tasks along ...

The countries of the Pacific Alliance – a small Latin American trade bloc – will hold a summit next week in Vina del Mar, Chile. All eyes will be on another meeting, though, held on the sidelines of this summit. That meeting will bring together the remaining 11 members of ...

Just three days after his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that confirmed his intent to abandon American participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Barring an about-face from Washington, the TPP as negotiated may now be dead. However, the deal includes 11 other Asia-Pacific economies, including Japan and Canada, ...

President Donald Trump confirmed his intention to abandon American participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership after signing an executive order on the subject in January. However, this does not necessarily mean that TPP is dead. The United States was the most important partner in the agreement but the deal includes 11 ...

In the span of one week we have seen North Korea test four missiles, evidence of U.S. attempts to sabotage North Korea’s missile program with cyber capabilities, the deployment of the controversial THAAD missile defense system to South Korea, and China proposing that the U.S. give up joint military drills ...

The South China and East China Seas present flashpoints for maritime conflict, though the assembled experts at The Cipher Brief’s Georgetown Salon Series could not agree which was a more pressing issue for the United States. Retired Admiral John Greenert was joined by Greg Poling Director of the Asia Maritime ...

In 2011, former President Barack Obama and then-Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard signed a deal to base 2,500 U.S. Marines in Darwin, Australia in an effort to expand the United States’ sustained regional presence as part of the Obama Administration’s “pivot” to Asia. However, issues over cost sharing and logistics ...

Conventional wisdom suggests Asia’s increasing wealthy and educated population will make it the most dynamic region of the world and that it will drive the global economy in the 21st century. However, there are many risk factors to keep an eye on. In his new book, “The End of the ...

On Thursday February 9th, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had their first phone call. Accounts from both sides described the call as productive and cordial. Most importantly for the future of the bilateral relationship, Trump affirmed U.S. recognition of the “One-China Policy,” reversing an uneasy start to ...

Since China undertook a massive artificial island building program in 2013 with the intention of militarizing the islands, the U.S. has grown increasingly worried about freedom of navigation through this economically important waterway. The Cipher Brief spoke to Admiral Jonathan Greenert, former Chief of Naval Operations, to understand how the ...

President Donald Trump and his cabinet are now responsible for U.S. policy on one of Asia’s most contentious regions: The South China Sea. While China’s intentions to militarize the islands it claims have grown clearer—recent satellite imagery shows emplacements for anti-aircraft weaponry on the Spratly Islands— U.S. policy after the ...

Few security challenges are as vexing as the South China Sea. With multiple claimants and murky claims, the contours of the conflict can be difficult to grasp. In recent years, China has used ambiguity, asymmetry, and incrementalism to assert control over parts of the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the Obama ...

Like many other governments, China is seeking to reestablish its sovereignty over the digital sphere with a new Cybersecurity Law. But while the law could help address China's national security issues, critics argue the law gives the government free reign to conduct surveillance and systematically censor political dissent, while also ...

On Monday, Jan. 23, President Donald Trump used his first full weekday in office to sign an executive order pulling the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. The TPP was signed by all 12 parties – representing almost 40 percent of the global economy – last ...

President Trump said he wants to improve relations with China, but he has expressed concern with China’s theft of intellectual property, unfair taxes for U.S. companies in China, currency manipulation, product dumping and failing to reign in North Korea.  He took a congratulatory call from the President of Taiwan and ...

For years, China's GDP has soared under its hybrid model of a free-market and command economy. But as growth slows and debt levels rise, are cracks forming in this model that Beijing cannot control? Timothy Heath's article, published on December 14th, explores the implications of these economic and political dynamics. ...

Editor’s Note: Over the coming days, The Cipher Brief presents some of our most incisive coverage on key issues of 2016 and a look ahead at what is yet to come in 2017. The oppressive smog that overtook China in late December covered 3.9 million square miles, put 24 cities ...

Since coming to power in 2012, China's Xi Jinping has reforged the Chinese Communist Party with his anti-corruption campaign and his accumulation of titles. In a post-Mao system designed to distribute power, Xi's reforms risk tying China's success too closely to his own. Gordon Chang's article, written for The Cipher ...

Compared to China, ISIS amounts to a nasty swarm of gnats.  Compared to China, Russia comes across as a cranky old man (with a shotgun). However, neither ISIS, nor Putin’s Russia, nor any other world power can rival or possibly displace the U.S. as the major power in the world: ...

Hacktivism has been a fact of life even before the rise of Anonymous. In 2016, we saw a tidal wave of global hacktivism and cyber spying, and this trend will continue in 2017. The social unrest around the world is ripe for escalating hacktivism, and it is increasingly fueled by ...