China’s militarization of the South China Sea includes beefing up its military facilities on Woody Island in the Paracel chain – occupied by China but also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam – where the Chinese reportedly just deployed eight batteries of its advanced, long-range HQ-9 air defense system.  This is ...

As President Barack Obama was meeting with leaders from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) this week, U.S. satellite imagery confirmed China has deployed surface-to-air missiles on an island in the Paracel chain in the South China Sea. The Paracel island chain is claimed by the People’s Republic ...

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has begun a new phase in its long-term, multi-dimensional military modernization process that began in the late 1970s as part of the Four Modernizations. The general outline for the current round of reforms was announced in November 2013 and forecast changes in the size ...

On November 26, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced sweeping structural reforms to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The announcement finally made good on Xi’s promises of military reform beginning with the creation of a military reform leading small group and the work report of the Third Plenum in November 2013. ...

In this GOP presidential nomination campaign, when the issue is national security, Donald Trump reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. I thought of that movie after watching Trump’s appearance last Wednesday on the CBS Morning News and felt it again watching his performance during Saturday’s Republican debate and his ...

The Trans Pacific Partnership may be a signed deal, but it is far from seeing the light of day.  Following seven years of mostly secret negotiations, 12 member countries signed the TPP last week in New Zealand, taking the first step in uniting more than 40 percent of the world’s ...

In New Zealand on 4 February, trade ministers from the twelve signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) formally signed the pact, an important step towards lowering trade barriers and introducing new rules governing trade and investment among some of the Asia-Pacific region’s largest economies. However, while signing the agreement was ...

There has been a good deal of hype touting the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as the first “21st Century” trade pact.   Whether it lives up to this high accolade is currently under debate, both in the United States and among the 11 other TPP member states.  But in ...

The Islamic State (ISIS) is the “preeminent global” threat and remains determined to execute direct attacks against the U.S. homeland, the top U.S. intelligence official told Senators at the annual Worldwide Threats hearings on Tuesday. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said ISIS “leaders are determined to strike the U.S. ...

The United States has enjoyed unchallenged dominance in the space domain for years, but it appears that time has come to an end. China has been increasing its space activities, which will have strategic consequences for the U.S. The Cipher Brief spoke with Bruce MacDonald, a former White House National Security ...

Space may be infinite, but it’s starting to get crowded around Earth. As more nations have gained the ability to send assets into orbit, a new space race has started to emerge. But rather than focus on merely reaching space, the goal now is to leverage dominance in space into ...

One sign of how important space is to military operations, particularly U.S. military operations, is that the countries who are our most likely military opponents, particularly China and Russia, are investing tens of millions of dollars in a range of technologies intended to degrade or destroy satellites and space capabilities.  ...

North Korea’s satellite launch over the weekend, on the heels of its nuclear test last month, raises the prospects of renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia.  Beijing has heretofore protected Pyongyang from stricter economic sanctions.  Former U.S. foreign service officer and Northeast Asia expert, Dr. Thomas ...

Chinese President Xi Jinping has a moral and cultural crisis on his hands.  For decades following the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Chinese leaders focused rebuilding efforts on economic prosperity and development, rarely providing moral guidance or encouraging cultural activities as a way to cultivate a balanced and well-rounded society.  Now, nearly ...

In 2012, China’s President Xi Jinping announced the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative (OBOR) when visiting Indonesia and Kazakhstan. OBOR has since dominated discourse among China’s media and foreign policy analysts. However, the rest of the world is overlooking the initiative’s groundbreaking significance, which essentially amounts to a new Chinese ...

On Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Iran, the last stop on a whirlwind tour of the Middle East, which included visits to Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well. There, Xi upgraded the two countries’ relations to a strategic partnership and signed an agreement to increase bilateral trade by ...

President Xi Jinxing’s visit to the Middle East last week appeared to be business as usual. Short and relatively low-key, his studious avoidance of controversy was in keeping with China’s longstanding approach to the region: focus on energy and economics, and keep your head down on security and political matters. ...

Chinese President Xi Jinping began 2016 with a tour through the Middle East, visiting Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt in hopes of strengthening ties and increasing Chinese influence in the region. The trip was part of the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative, a strategy proposed by Xi in 2013 ...

For the first time in Taiwan’s history, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) controls both the Presidency and the Parliament, and that development has all eyes focused on China, because the DPP leans in favor of independence from the mainland. Tsai Ing-wen won the election with 56 percent of the vote, ...

Understanding China and its future ambitions is a fundamental first step in assessing the U.S.’ options on how to best engage China as an important strategic and economic partner.  We asked former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the CIA John McLaughlin to lay out the framework for understanding the challenges of China, which provides the context for the differing perspectives ...

The U.S. rebalance policy in the Asia-Pacific has led to a deterioration of China’s security environment, with increasing tensions in the East China Sea, including the dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkakus Islands, and the South China Sea, where China has territorial disputes with Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and ...

The rocky relationship between the U.S. and China was in full view last year, highlighted by President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Navy challenging China’s claims in the South China Sea. Known for his frank comments on current U.S. policy towards China, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) ...

The United States rebalance to Asia has drawn mixed reviews from members of Congress. Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) discussed with The Cipher Brief the strengths and weaknesses of current U.S. policy towards China. Rep. Bordallo emphasized the need for a strong U.S. response to aggressive actions taken by China, while ...

China and India are gradually assuming leading positions at the global and regional levels, with over $11 trillion and $2 trillion in gross domestic product respectively. China initiated a comprehensive plan for expanding its footprint in Asia, Europe, and Africa through its Silk Road and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. China’s ...

On January 16, Bei Bei, the male giant panda cub who was born on August 22 last year at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., will make his public debut. He’s one of four pandas at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, along with his 2-year-old sister, Bao Bao, their mother Mei ...

Taiwan’s upcoming election has received considerable attention regarding its potential impact on cross-strait and U.S.-China relations. Following eight years under the Kuomintang (KMT) party and improvements in cross-strait relations, Taiwan is poised to elect its first female president in Tsai Ing-Wen, a Western educated leader of the Democratic Progressive Party ...

Probably the only certain aspect of the China-Taiwan relationship is its uncertainty, which has never been more apparent than in the upcoming Taiwanese presidential and legislative elections. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose foundational platform advocates the independence of Taiwan from mainland China, is expected to win the presidency.  And ...

The expected victory of Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential elections threatens to destabilize relations across the Taiwan Straits, and the Asia-Pacific more broadly. Tsai represents the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a pro-independence party. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province of descendants of the Kuomintang (KMT) government, which lost ...

For American policymakers, Taiwan has been an oasis of calm in a turbulent region during the past eight years.  But that may be about to change. When President Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party was elected in 2008, he made rapprochement with mainland China the centerpiece of his ...

North Korea’s claim that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb last week continues to draw both skepticism and outrage from the international community. The Cipher Brief spoke with Gordon Chang, author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World, about Pyongyang’s capabilities and motivations, and how the U.S. can ...

North Korean President Kim Jong Un announced Wednesday the successful test of what he claimed was a hydrogen bomb outside Pyongyang, and in doing so, angered the international community, including its closest ally, China.  Mike Chinoy, Senior Fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at USC, discussed with The Cipher Brief China’s likely ...

North Korea tested what was initially announced by Pyongyang to be a hydrogen bomb on Wednesday, though the Obama Administration is skeptical.    White House Spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, “the initial analysis is not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test.”   Still, Pyongyang’s announcement has serious ...

The Himalayan mountain range separates the world’s two most populous states, India and China, whose rapidly expanding economies are instrumental in the ongoing shift of the global balance of power towards the East.  India and China have many things in common: both are developing Asian countries struggling to compete in ...

India and China agree that the global political architecture is undergoing a fundamental transformation with gravity increasingly shifting from the Atlantic to Indo-Pacific. Both have pronounced the 21st Century as India’s, China’s or Asian Century. However, the fate of this century will be determined by the relationship between the two, ...

India and China, two of the oldest civilizations, had friendly relations and learned from each other in history. As Rabindranath Tagore put it, “China and India are very old and beloved brothers.” The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, or Panchsheel Agreement of 1954, was a milestone of India-China brotherhood and ...

At least since the end of the Cold War, U.S. policymakers and analysts have devoted considerable thought to the dissonance between existing international institutions and the shifting global order. It is now widely recognized that the emerging powers of the 21st century—such as China and India—have yet to be accommodated ...

China enters 2016 facing an increasingly complicated domestic political and economic environment and growing challenges to its assertive foreign policy. Since becoming General Secretary of the Communist Party in November 2012, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has sought to consolidate his power and rejuvenate the Party through a sweeping campaign against ...

Before Chinese President Xi Jinping made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for his meeting with President Obama this fall, his Boeing 747-400 had a layover in Redmond, Washington, where he met with chief executives from the top American technology companies. Western tech firms have come into conflict with the Chinese ...

The increased tempo of commercial partnerships between American and Chinese technology companies has begun to raise eyebrows in Washington. National security circles worry that such partnerships are degrading the American military’s technological superiority, because American technologies are being transferred to Chinese partners tied to the military. Such concerns are valid.   ...

Robert Atkinson, founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, discussed implications for western technology firms operating in China as the Chinese government begins to demand access to encryption keys. Atkinson views this move as an attempt by the Chinese government to push its own protectionist policies, under ...

The U.S.-China summit has concluded and the announced results provided little good news on the cyber front, at least for us. Beijing certainly got what it wanted: no executive order sanctions against its officials and companies for benefitting from its planetary-scale cyber espionage campaign.  The Obama Administration apparently got what ...

One of the critical adverse effects of climate change is the impact it will have on water in terms of both quantity and quality. Marcus King, a former negotiator for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told The Cipher Brief, competition for water resources is likely to lead to ...

World political leaders have gathered in Paris this week to negotiate a new universal climate change agreement. There is a need for unified commitment from national governments to cut greenhouse emissions to avoid the catastrophic effects of global warming and climate change. According to the Fifth Assessment Report by the ...

In 2014, 19.3 million people were forced to leave their houses and were displaced within their countries due mostly to floods and storms but also to earthquakes and volcano eruptions—almost twice as many as those newly displaced by violent conflicts. Evidence shows that climate change is leading to human mobility ...

Less than a month after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, leaders from 150 nations have convened in the French capital to discuss ways to reduce the effects of climate change on a global scale. The conference is the largest gathering ever of world leaders. The goal of the historic, ...

At the November 2015 meeting of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s “open door” and “going out” policy, first declared in the late 1970s, was reaffirmed. Since its introduction and implementation, the policy has had a significant impact for China and the world. Today, China has become ...

As Director of the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, Deborah Bräutigam has written extensively about the Chinese-African relationship.   Bräutigam tells The Cipher Brief why she thinks China’s involvement in Africa has had a positive economic impact. The Cipher Brief: We want to begin by setting the ...

One concern about the increased Chinese business presence in Africa is that it is forcing opportunities away from U.S. businesses.  Stephen Hayes, President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, explained to The Cipher Brief that there are opportunities for both, but that U.S. businesses have a lot to ...

Chinese and Western interests in Africa—in other words, what these countries want from Africa rather than what they can do for Africa—are surprisingly similar.  They all want access to African raw materials, the political support in international fora of as many as possible of Africa’s 54 countries, and the ability ...

On the heels of his tour of the western world, Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou for 20 minutes this Saturday in Singapore. Despite the short length, it’s groundbreaking - this will be the first time the leaders of these two governments have met since ...