#AceNewsReport – Apr.19: In a meeting with Lavrov, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran wishes to expand regional cooperation with Russia on Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen in order to help establish stability and combat American interventions.
Iran and Russia engage in high-level talks, discuss combating US interventions in Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen: Iran which has been boasting of its military might, insisting that the US lift sanctions. It has signed a 25-year strategic deal with China, and is now engaging in high-level talks with Russia “in order to help establish stability and combat American interventions.” America is losing its global influence, with results that could be catastrophic.
“Iran and Russia discuss ties, the Middle East, and nuclear deal,” by Maziar Motamedi, Al Jazeera, April 13, 2021:
He also called for more defence and military cooperation,especially as a United Nations Security Council arms embargo on Iran ended in October 2020.
“Opening the Zionist regime’s foothold to the Persian Gulf region as a destabilising and tension-creating element will be a dangerous act,” Rouhani said of Israel, which Iran has accused of orchestrating “nuclear terrorism” on its facilities at Natanz on Sunday.
The president further said Iran and Russia should also boost bilateral economic activity, especially using private companies, in the oil, energy, transportation, and nuclear sectors.
He called on Russia to accelerate the process of delivering more doses of the Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 to Iran and said Iran is eager to finalise a plan to establish a joint vaccine manufacturing line with Russia.
Iran has so far received more than half a million doses of the vaccine, and has had difficulty in administering it as the first and second doses of Sputnik V – that need to be injected 21 days apart – are different.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, was also a main topic of talks as multilateral talks in Vienna to restore the deal the US abandoned in 2018 will continue on Wednesday.
Rouhani said Iran wants conditions of the landmark accord to be restored to what they were in 2015 when it was originally signed.
“We are neither willing to accept anything less nor wish to achieve anything more,” the president said.
Lavrov told Rouhani that Russia is of the same opinion as Iran on the fact the US must come back into full compliance with the JCPOA, and that trying to add new conditions to the deal would not be acceptable, according to the president’s website….
#AceNewsReport – Apr.18: In response to the U.S. moves with Taiwan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters his country had lodged “stern representations” with the United States.
Daily Chinese incursions cause U.S. to expand ties with Taiwan: ‘Among Chinese military moves has been the almost daily air force incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone’
Zhao Lijian noted that China urged the United States “not to play with fire on the Taiwan issue, immediately stop any form of U.S.-Taiwan official contacts..and not send wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces, so as not to subversively influence and damage Sino-U.S. relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”.
‘Discussed deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, and economic coercion toward our allies. Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability. That’s why they’re not merely internal matters and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today’
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, and welcome. On behalf of National Security Advisor Sullivan and myself, I want to welcome Director Yang and State Councilor Wang to Alaska, and to thank you very much for making the journey to be with us.
Following the increase in hostile Chinese actions, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the United States was concerned about China’s actions with Taiwan.
In a written response to Reuters on Blinken’s remarks, China’s Foreign Ministry said the government intended to protect the country’s sovereignty.
“Don’t stand on the opposite side of 1.4 billion Chinese people,” it warned the United States.
On Tuesday, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry reported another four Chinese J-16 fighters and an anti-submarine warfare aircraft entered its defense zone.
One day earlier, Taiwan said 25 Chinese military aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered its air zone, marking the largest incursion to date.
While Washington recognizes Beijing, rather than Taipei, the United States remains Taiwan’s most important international supporter and arms seller.
Further, by law the United States is required to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has said Taiwan is an independent country and that it will defend its freedom and security.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.11: Lin Yongxin, the director of China’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Thursday “there are only a few places where depths are more than 2,000 meters [6,561 feet] in the South China Sea, including in the northwest and southern parts.”
China Drills for Sediment Core in Disputed South China Sea: After recently completed deep-sea drilling to obtain sediment core in an undisclosed location in the South China Sea, Chinese state media reported Thursday.
Gabriel Reyes: Apr.2021:
The “Sea Bull II” drilling system used on Wednesday may be used to explore natural gas hydrate resources in the waterway’s seabed, Xinhua noted in its report: Natural gas hydrates, also known as “combustible ice” or “flammable ice,” are frozen fossil fuel deposits found in seabeds beneath the permafrost. The substance consists of water and gas, typically methane.
Energy experts believe the South China Sea may contain some of the world’s most promising deposits of methane hydrate. China – the world’s top importer of oil and gas – has identified “combustible ice” as a potential new energy source, researching how to successfully extract methane hydrate from the South China Sea’s bed in recent years.
Methane hydrate extraction remains far from the industrialization phase, however, with energy experts cautioning that the process, especially in the South China Sea, is still highly difficult and costly. Despite this, Chinese state media boasted of allegedly extracting a “world record” amount of natural gas from methane hydrate in the South China Sea last spring.
Chinese drillers extracted 861,400 cubic meters of natural gas from methane hydrate during a one-month trial production in an area north of the South China Sea, Xinhua reported in March 2020. The gas was extracted from a depth of about 4,020 feet.
“This test has brought gas extraction from ‘experimental production’ to ‘trial production,’ considered a crucial step in the industrialization of methane hydrate,” China’s Ministry of Land Resources reported at the time. The bureau described the 30-day trial as a “solid technical foundation for commercial exploitation.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the South China Sea holds about “11 billion barrels (bbl) of oil reserves and 190 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas reserves.”
“The majority of current reserves exist in shallow water basins on the boundaries of the sea,” the EIA reported in 2019.
Chinese energy exploration in the South China Sea sparked anti-China protests in Vietnam in 2014 after the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) deployed a drilling rig near the disputed Paracel Islands. The archipelago is located along the northwestern boundary of the South China Sea and is claimed by China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
“Hanoi had said the rig was in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf. Beijing had said it was operating completely within its waters around the Paracel islands, which China occupies,” Reuters reported after Beijing agreed to move the rig away from the Paracels.
“The U.S. added CNOOC to an economic blacklist in January, saying it had helped China intimidate neighbors in the South China Sea,” the SCMP noted on Friday.
This will prop up the mullahs, who are so unpopular among the Iranian people that the Islamic regime might otherwise have fallen’
“Urdu-Language Daily: ‘More Than 5,000 Chinese Troops Will Be Deployed In Iran, And A [Military] Base Will Be Built,’” MEMRI, April 2, 2021:
The article in the Urdu daily Roznama Ummat.
Pakistani analysts are also watching how China’s new focus on Iran will influence Chinese investment in Pakistan. In a report, the Urdu daily Roznama Ummat tried to assess the impact of the Chinese agreement with Iran.
The report is titled: “The Deployment Of 5,000 Chinese Troops In Iran [is] Part Of The Agreement.” The Roznama Ummat report sees the deployment of 5,000 Chinese troops in Iran in positive terms for regional stability. Following is the text of the report.
“More Than 5,000 Chinese Troops Will Be Deployed In Iran, And A [Military] Base Will Be Built For Them”
“In the agreement with Iran regarding the investment project, China has also included a clause for deployment of its troops there; and more than 5,000 Chinese troops will be deployed in Iran, and a [military] base will be built for them. Before this, China has also put its signature on investment projects with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which shows that China is implementing a plan to increase its influence in the Middle East.
“Contrary to the general impression, analysts are also seeing positive impact of the Chinese investment in Iran on the CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] project underway in Pakistan… China is going to get cheap oil from Iran which will go to China via Pakistan. Similarly, China’s [investment projects] with Pakistan are, instead of financial benefits, of strategic nature.
“Pakistani experts and analysts who observe these matters deeply completely reject the general concern in Pakistan that China is now moving in the direction of Iran [thereby abandoning Pakistan]. They say that the recent pact between China and Iran for economic cooperation will not be an alternative to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and will be rather nourishing it.
“According to experts, China has tried to wriggle itself out of the consequences of the American sanctions by cooperating with Iran in long-term economic and infrastructure construction and security matters. Iran has agreed to sell its oil to China at a price cheaper than international rates to get an assured source of income and so that the sale of its oil can continue without any obstacles. The documents of this [China-Iran] agreement have not yet emerged, but as per the known details, during the next 25 years Chinese projects worth $400 billion can significantly help in creating economic stability in Iran’s damaged economy. In exchange for it, China will get oil, gas, and petrochemical products at cheaper prices from Iran.”
Former Pakistani Ambassador Iqbal Ahmed Khan: “America Has Sidelined Both Pakistan And Iran Which Forced Us To Look Toward Others; China’s Cooperation With Iran Will Benefit Pakistan Directly”
“According to the agreement signed between the two countries, 5,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army of China will also be deployed in Iran which is being opposed in Iran – at the forefront of which is the former President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. An analyst… has written that that this agreement, giving China an opportunity to deploy 5,000 security and military officials on the Iran territory, is a regional game-changer.
“Meanwhile, as per Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, the chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute, the Iran-China agreement is positive for the interests of Pakistan and the region because this will nourish a regional economic cooperation whose center is Pakistan, that is CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor]. Mushahid Hussain expressed the hope that it will help in providing stability to the role of [Chinese-built] Gwadar port in promoting regional cooperation between China, Afghanistan, Iran, and the countries of the Middle East and in stabilizing Baluchistan [the insurgency-affected Pakistani province along Iran’s border].
“Former Pakistani ambassador Iqbal Ahmed Khan, who is the professor of international affairs at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), says that China’s investment project with Iran is part of its $8 trillion Border and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, the CPEC being one of them. It is not correct to compare China’s investment in Iran with the CPEC in Pakistan because both of them are Chinese investments and the two will be aiding each other, and its benefits will reach all the three countries [China, Pakistan, and Iran].
“The former ambassador [Iqbal Ahmed Khan] said that China’s investment in Iran is not at the cost of Pakistan. He said that America has sidelined both Pakistan and Iran, which forced us to look toward others; China’s cooperation with Iran will benefit Pakistan directly. Iran’s oil, which currently travels 13,000 miles to reach China, will now travel 1,500 miles through the safe passage in Pakistan to reach China…”
#AceNewsReport – Apr.04: “ The continued deployment, lingering presence and activities of Chinese vessels infringe upon Philippine sovereignty,” the Philippine foreign ministry said in a diplomatic protest, adding “their swarming and threatening presence creates an atmosphere of instability.”
Philippines protests ‘threatening presence’ of Chinese vessels in disputed waters officials reported about 220 vessels, believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, were seen anchored at the Whitsun Reef, which Manila calls the Julian Felipe Reef, on March 7 …………The Chinese Embassy in Manila said they were fishing vessels taking shelter from rough seas
FILE PHOTO: Some of the about 220 Chinese vessels reported by the Philippine Coast Guard, and believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, are pictured at Whitsun Reef, South China Sea, March 7, 2021. Picture taken March 7, 2021. Philippine Coast Guard/National Task Force-West Philippine Sea/Handout via REUTERS/File photo
The Chinese Embassy rejected the accusations.
“There is no Chinese maritime militia as alleged. Any speculation as such helps nothing but causes unnecessary irritation,” it said in a statement.
Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called the presence of militia vessels a “clear provocative action of militarising the area” and urged China to recall them.
The U.S. Embassy said the Chinese boats had been mooring in the area for many months in increasing numbers, regardless of the weather.In a tweet, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington “stands with our ally, the Philippines, regarding concerns about the gathering of (Chinese) maritime militia vessels near Whitsun Reef.
“We call on Beijing to stop using its maritime militia to intimidate and provoke others, which undermines peace and security,” he said.
An international tribunal invalidated China’s claim to 90% of the South China Sea in 2016, but Beijing does not recognise the ruling and has built islands in disputed waters equipped with radar, missiles batteries and hangers for fighter jets.
Jay Batongbacal, a South China Sea expert at the University of the Philippines, said President Rodrigo Duterte’s “friendship policy” to move away from Washington and align more closely with China was to blame for the incursions.
“Whatever opportunities there were for us to slow them down or stop them they have been lost,” Batongbacal said.
Reporting by Karen Lema; additonla reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Ed Davies
#AceNewsReport – Apr.03: Foreign correspondents were “being driven out of China as a result of continuous harassment and obstruction to their work”, it said:
China ‘driving out journalists’, EU says after BBC’s Sudworth leaves after he says he faced “intensifying attempts to obstruct and harass us wherever we film” EU urged China to abide by its international legal obligations to ensure freedom of speech and press.
9 minutes ago:
Sudworth left following pressure and threats from the Chinese authorities.
The BBC’s China correspondent, who won awards for his reporting on the treatment of the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region, left the Chinese capital together with his family, including his wife, RTÉ reporter Yvonne Murray.
China, which has denounced the BBC’s coverage of Xinjiang, said it was unaware of any threat to Sudworth other than possible legal action to challenge his reporting on the region.
But he and his family were followed by plainclothes police to the airport and tailed through check-in.
The BBC says it is proud of his reporting and Sudworth, who was based in the country for nine years, remains its China correspondent.
The irony is, of course, that at the same time that the space for foreign journalism is shrinking in China, the Communist Party has been investing heavily in its media strategy overseas, taking full advantage of the easy access to a free and open media.
State-media propagandists publish and post their content overseas without restriction, while at home, China ruthlessly shuts down independent reporting, censors foreign broadcasts and websites, and blocks foreign journalists from its own social media networks.
In this context, my departure can be seen as one small part of an emerging and highly asymmetric battle for the control of ideas. It is not a happy prospect for the free flow of good, accurate information.
A spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at least 18 correspondents had been expelled from China last year.
“The EU has repeatedly expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities at the undue working restrictions imposed on foreign journalists and reported related harassment,” the spokesperson added.John Sudworth (above) and his team were followed and had their footage deleted on a trip to Xinjiang in late 2020
“Professionalism and objectivity of foreign correspondents is increasingly put into question.”
They said the EU stood up “for the role of independent and reliable media all around the world” and called upon China to “abide by its obligations under national and international law and ensure the freedom of speech and press”.
The number of international media organisations reporting from China is shrinking. Last year China expelled correspondents for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, among others.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the authorities had not been given prior notice of Sudworth’s departure.
“Only in recent days when we were faced with the task of renewing Sudworth’s press card did we learn that Sudworth left without saying goodbye,” Hua Chunying told a news conference in Beijing. “After he left the country, he didn’t by any means inform the relevant departments nor provide any reason why.”
In its statement, the BBC said: “John’s reporting has exposed truths the Chinese authorities did not want the world to know.”
Sudworth’s reporting colleagues are still in Beijing, and he says he intends to continue his reporting from Taiwan.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.28: Speaking to IRIB TV Channel 1, Khatibzadeh said that China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is visiting Iran on the verge of the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries and the document would be signed in this trip:
Iran-China partnership foundation of new ‘world order’: Envoy: Tehran, March 27, IRNA – Iranian Ambassador to Brazil Hossein Gharibi said on Saturday that the Iran-China partnership could set the foundation of a new “world order”, with high respect for oriental values: The cooperation document had for the first time been discussed in 2015, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran, to lead bilateral ties to a comprehensive and strategic level.
“Today in Tehran: Iran and China finalized their first 25-year strategic framework, under which, they outlined their long-term economic and other interests. This is presenting a fine model for constructive engagement to serve people as the end beneficiaries,” Gharibi wrote in his Twitter message
Gharibi added that the maximum pressure on Iranians at the time of COVID-1 9, the worst human tragedy of our time, was also the moral failure of its supporters, adding that since it was not quickly reprimanded and corrected by the Biden administration, it cannot be labeled as merely an isolated policy of former US President Donald Trump.
“China-Iran partnership could set the foundation of a new ‘world order’, with high respect for oriental values rather than the current failed ones that have been, in recent years, becoming extremely and aggressive.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi signed the Iran-China comprehensive cooperation document in a meeting in Tehran on Saturday.
In addition to his Iranian counterpart, Wang met Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Ali Larijani, the advisor to Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry also inaugurated today an exhibition of historical documents on Iran-China cooperation in the wake of the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties.
Iran, China to sign cooperation document, says Spox: Tehran, March 27, IRNA – Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Friday night that Iran and China would sign the 25-year Cooperation document on Saturday after the Chinese Foreign Minister, who arrived in Tehran Friday night, is also going to have meetings with a number of Iranian authorities, according to the Spokesman’
The spokesman of Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affair said on Friday evening that the relations between Iran and China are multi-layered, deep, and have different dimensions, which necessitates them to be included in a document. Therefore, the document has been exchanged between the two states several times and it would eventually be signed on Saturday by foreign ministers.
He also said that the cooperation document was discussed in 2015, when the Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran, to lead bilateral ties to a comprehensive and strategic level.
“Relations between Iran and China are multi-layered, deep and having different dimension and this necessitates them to be included in a document. Therefore, the document has been exchanged between the two states for several times and it will eventually be signed on Saturday by Foreign Ministers,” Khatibzadeh went on to say.
The document has a comprehensive road-map, said the diplomat, adding that the economic dimension, as the main axis of the document, includes cooperation in different, as well as Iran’s participation in One Road, One Belt initiative and special focus on the private sector in both countries.
“No comprehensive strategic participation is established unless the exact cultural, popular and media basis is formed. This has been addressed in the cultural part of the document,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman said, adding “We expect the document to serve as a road-map for Iran-China relation in the next 25 years.”
#AceNewsReport – Mar.25: Taiwan’s armed forces, dwarfed by China’s, are in the midst of a modernisation program to offer a more effective deterrent, including the ability to hit back at bases deep within China in the event of a conflict:
‘Taiwan begins mass production of long-range missile amid China tensions which claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory — has stepped up military activity near the island as it tries to force the government in Taipei to accept Beijing’s claims of sovereignty’
Posted 3h ago
Taking questions in Parliament, Taiwan Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said developing a long-range attack capability was a priority.
“We hope it is long-range, accurate, and mobile,” he said, adding research on such weapons by the state-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology had “never stopped”.
Standing next to Mr Chiu, the institute’s deputy director, Leng Chin-hsu, said one long-range, land-based missile had already entered production, with three other long-range missiles in development.
Mr Leng said it was “not convenient” for him to provide details on how far the missile could fly.
The institute — which is leading Taiwan’s weapon development efforts — has in recent months carried out a series of missile tests off its south-eastern coast.
Media in Taiwan have carried images of missiles launching and instructions have been given to aircraft to stay clear of the test area, but the tests have otherwise been shrouded in secrecy.
Taiwan’s armed forces have traditionally concentrated on defending the island from a Chinese attack.
But President Tsai Ing-wen has stressed the importance of developing an “asymmetrical” deterrent, using mobile equipment that is hard to find and destroy, and capable of hitting targets far from Taiwan’s coast.
Washington — Taipei’s main foreign arms supplier — has been eager to create a military counterbalance to Chinese forces, building on an effort known within the Pentagon as “Fortress Taiwan”.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.25: The minister, who is visiting Saudi Arabia, told the channel that China called for “mutual respect among the countries of the Middle East.”
Chinese FM reveals initiative to protect MidEast according to the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday unveiled a five-point initiative for security and stability in the Middle East to Al Arabiya.
March 24, 2021 12:05:
Yi stressed the importance of supporting the efforts the regional states regarding the Syria and Yemen files.
The minister expressed China’s support for the Saudi initiative to resolve the conflict in Yemen, stressing that it reflects Riyadh’s resolve to address the Yemeni crisis. He also hoped to implement that initiative as soon as possible.
The Saudi peace initiative includes a nationwide ceasefire and the reopening of air and sea links with the territories held by the Houthi group in Yemen.
The Chinese minister also discussed the Palestinian and Israeli issue, and called for a two-state solution, stressing that his country would send invitations to Palestinian and Israeli personalities for a dialogue in China.
He also stressed that China called for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, adding, “the efforts of the countries of the region must be supported to ensure that they are free of nuclear weapons.”
During his visit to Saudi Arabia, the Chinese minister is expected to meet his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Nayef Al-Hajraf, the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
He is expected to discuss matters of common interest, and ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.22: Secretary of State Antony Blinken laid out the thinking behind the guidance in his first major speech since entering office. It was a compelling one, underscoring the urgent need to shore up US democracy and revitalize America’s alliances and partnerships:
Who will organize the world? That’s what’s at stake in the Biden-Xi contest: ‘The Washington piece was President Joe Biden’s release of the “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance,” which is unprecedented at this stage in a new administration. Biden’s purpose was to provide early clarity about how he intends to set and execute priorities in a fast-changing world’
Kindness & Wisdom says will God take over and bring Peace & Goodwill to ALL on this Earth Amen
Who is going to organize the world? And what forces and whose interests will shape the global future?
“ Whether we like it or not, the world does not organize itself,” Blinken said. “When the U.S. pulls back, one of two things is likely to happen: either another country tries to take our place, but not in a way that advances our interests and values; or, maybe just as bad, no one steps up, and then we get chaos and all the dangers it creates. Either way, that’s not good for America.”
Relations with China, which Blinken called “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century,” are the wrench in this organizational thinking.
Said Blinken: “China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system—all the rules, values, and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to, because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people.”
Biden’s biggest departure from former President Donald Trump’s approach to China is his emphasis on working with partners and allies. This week’s move by the United States and European Union to ease trade tensions, suspending a long list of tariffs related to the Airbus-Boeing dispute over government subsidies, underscores Biden’s seriousness of purpose.
China’s take on organizing the world
Unsurprisingly, Beijing is offering up a different view of the future around the second key event this past week: China’s National People’s Congress that convened Friday and will continue this coming week.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sees momentum building for Beijing in a world where “the East is rising, and the West is declining.” His argument was that China offers order, in contrast to the United States’ chaos, and effective governance, in contrast to Washington’s ineffectiveness, demonstrated by how much better it has handled the pathogen it unleashed.
Xi’s most comprehensive swipe at how China would organize the world came in late January at this year’s virtually convened World Economic Forum. The speech’s title underscored its all-embracing ambition: “Let the Torch of Multilateralism Light up Humanity’s Way Forward.”
If Biden’s vision is for the United States to create a band of reinvigorated democratic sisters and brothers, inspired by the country’s revitalization, Xi’s vision is for a world where each country’s political system, culture, and society are its own business.
In this world, America’s value judgments are passé.
The subtext for Xi is simple: How countries organize themselves internally, along with whatever authoritarian strictures and human rights violations they include—whether against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang, democracy activists in Hong Kong, or perhaps even ultimately Taiwan’s independence—just is not Washington’s business.
“Each country is unique with its own history, culture and social system, and none is superior to the other,” Xi told the virtual Davos crowd. “The best criteria are whether a country’s history, culture and social system fit its particular situation, enjoy people’s support, serve to deliver political stability …” Xi made clear this approach is meant to “avoid meddling in other countries’ internal affairs.”
By contrast, in a letter that accompanied the strategic guidance this week, President Biden wrote, “I firmly believe that democracy holds the key to freedom, prosperity, peace, and dignity… We must prove that our model isn’t a relic of history; it’s the single best way to realize the promise of our future. And if we work together with our democratic partners, with strength and confidence, we will meet every challenge and outpace every challenger.”
As democracy weakens globally, the world’s democracies must act
The context for these competing visions was this week’s release of Freedom House’s annual survey that said, “less than 20 percent of the world’s population now lives in a Free country, the smallest proportion since 1995.”
In the study, called “Democracy under Siege,” Sarah Repucci and Amy Slipowitz wrote, “as a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world in 2020, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny.”
It was the fifteenth successive year in which countries with declines in political rights and civil liberties outnumbered those with gains. The report said that nearly 75 percent of the world’s population lived in a country that faced a deterioration of democratic freedoms last year.
It may seem that this is absolutely the wrong time to expect the world’s democracies to rally to shape the global order. Yet just the opposite is true: At a time when democracy is being tested across the world, there’s no better time to work together to address these challenges and ensure that the global gains in freedom over the past seventy-five years don’t continue to erode.
Chastened by the global situation, the Biden administration knows its work must begin at home. Blinken also was modest in how the United States would go about advancing democracy.
“We will use the power of our example,” he said. “We will encourage others to make key reforms, overturn bad laws, fight corruption, and stop unjust practices. We will incentivize democratic behavior.”
What the United States won’t do is promote democracy “through costly military interventions,” said Blinken, “or by attempting to overthrow authoritarian regimes by force. We have tried these tactics in the past. However well intentioned, they haven’t worked.”
In the end, the world is not going to be organized either by Chinese or American fiat, but rather by a concert of national interests influenced by the trajectory of the world’s two leading powers.
Xi’s bet is that China’s momentum is unstoppable, that the world is sufficiently transactional, and that his economy has become indispensable to most US allies. Biden must not only shift that narrative but also work in common cause to reverse the reality of democratic weakening.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.21: The areas of pushback right now—including human rights, Taiwan, territorial disputes, and cyber—appear to far outweigh the other areas:
The US just sent China a message in Alaska: ‘The public theatrics and hostile rhetoric that marked the first meeting of top US and Chinese officials since Joe Biden’s inauguration were certainly striking. But it’s not surprising that the talks in Alaska on Thursday were more confrontational than cooperative as China only respects strength, and strength in numbers’
Numbers: The heart of the Biden approach is to consult with allies and partners and seek to present a united front—an approach that the Chinese abhor and aim wherever possible to avoid. They prefer to pick countries off one by one, as part of a divide-and-conquer strategy, to maximize their interests. The Biden administration’s sequencing of meetings over the last week was nothing short of masterful—starting with the Quad summit with Biden and the leaders of Australia, India, and Japan one week ago, proceeding to the 2+2 consultative meetings with the Japanese and South Korean foreign and defense ministers and their American counterparts, and only then followed by the US-China meeting in Alaska, as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin headed to India to meet with his counterpart after the 2+2 meetings.
Many in the media and elsewhere will say that the drama in Anchorage portends worsening US-China relations and high potential for crises. That may be exaggerated. This first clash, with perhaps others to follow, is necessary as the Biden team sees it. It was needed both to assure allies of the rock-solid US commitment to protect the mutual interests of like-minded democracies against manifold Chinese challenges, and to make it crystal clear to China that the United States and its allies and partners will stand firm on issues of highest interest to them.
Once China realizes that the United States, contrary to the statement Chinese officials issued yesterday, is indeed dealing from a position of strength, the relationship will return to one in which the most difficult issues can be managed and cooperation can be explored.
As US President Joe Biden moves quickly in his first one hundred days to address key priorities, one issue is crying out for urgent action: the precarious state of the World Trade Organization, which is confronting a variety of immediate and long-term crises.
If Biden’s vision is for the United States to create a band of reinvigorated democratic sisters and brothers, inspired by the country’s revitalization, Xi’s vision is for a world where each country’s political system, culture, and society are its own business. Will either view come out on top?
#AceNewsReport – Mar.16: Signal’s website has been banned since at least March 15, according to the GreatFire.org website, which tracks online censorship in China, although the app remains available on China’s App Store:
Encrypted messaging app Signal no longer working in China & has deployed a vast and sophisticated system to scrub the internet of dissent and prevent citizens from accessing international social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, in what is known as the “Great Firewall”.
The app was already unavailable on third-party Android stores in China, where Google services are largely blocked. Neither Signal’s press team nor the Cyberspace Administration of China could immediately be reached for comment.Loading
On several occasions, the app had previously stopped working in China without VPN with no reason given, only for usage to resume.
More than half a million Signal downloads in China
The iOS version of Signal has been installed close to 510,000 times to date in China, said research firm Sensor Tower, which does not track Android downloads in the country. Google Play is unavailable in China.
Globally, the app has crossed 100 million installs across both Apple’s App Store and Google Play combined, Sensor Tower told AFP.
In January, people around the world flocked to apps such as Telegram and Signal after the Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp tweaked its terms of service and sparked privacy concerns.
Tencent’s all-in-one mobile app WeChat is China’s dominant messaging app, with its payment functions and other services, boasting more than a billion users globally:
FreeWeChat No other website restores and republishes censored information from WeChat, China’s ubiquitous and most popular application. Our dataset grows larger each and every day and provides a real-time and accurate litmus test of the information that the Chinese authorities find most threatening.271,757FreeBrowser StartPage We have directed Chinese internet users more than 13 million times to censored news stories about government corruption, politics, scandals and other “sensitive” information.99,055GreatFire Analyzer No other website has accumulated as much data as we have around the blocking of websites and keywords. We make ourselves available to the media and have been quoted inthousands of news stories.10,505FreeWeibo We mimic the look and feel of the real Weibo website, but instead of presenting a “harmonized” version of the popular social media network, we restore and integrate censored and deleted posts (currently numbering more than 300,000), so that Chinese can access a real-time view of the real discussions that are taking place online in China.7,656GitHub Wiki Our GitHub wiki enables our users in China to download our apps directly without circumventing.6,277FreeBrowser.org Promotes FreeBrowser.4,405GreatFire.org This website.3,207Circumvention Central No other website tests the speed and stability of free and paid circumvention tools from China. We provide an unbiased, data-driven view of what is working and what is not so that Chinese can make informed decisions when choosing a circumvention tool.3,204Apple Censorship 826
We are an anonymous organization based in China. We launched our first project in 2011 in an effort to help bring transparency to online censorship in China. Now we focus on helping Chinese to freely access information. Apart from being widely discussed in most major mass media, GreatFire has also been the subject of a number of academic papers from various research institutions. FreeWeibo.com won the 2013Deutsche Welle “Best Of Online Activism” award in the “Best Innovation” category. In 2016, GreatFire won a Digital Activism fellowship from Index on Censorship.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.15: Skyscrapers in the centre of Beijing appeared to drop from sight amid the dust and sand: Traffic was snarled and more than 400 flights out of the capital’s two main airports were cancelled before midday (local time).
Beijing choked by worst dust storm in decade: ‘The China Meteorological Administration announced a yellow alert, saying sandstorms had spread from Inner Mongolia into the provinces of Gansu, Shanxi and Hebei, which surrounds Beijing’
Posted 5h ago
“It looks like the end of the world,” said Beijing resident Flora Zou, 25, who works in the fashion sector: “ In this kind of weather I really, really don’t want to be outside.”
Air pollution reaches dangerous levels
The National Meteorological Centre forecasted the sand and dust would affect 12 provinces and regions from Xinjiang in the far north-west to Heilongjiang in the north-east and the eastern coastal port city of Tianjin.
“This is the most intense sandstorm weather our country has seen in 10 years, as well as it covering the broadest area,” the centre said in a post on its website.
Neighbouring Mongolia was also hit by heavy sandstorms, with at least 341 people reported missing, according to China’s state news agency Xinhua.
Flights have been grounded out of Hohhot, capital of China’s Inner Mongolia.
Around a fifth of the incoming and outbound flights at Beijing Capital International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport were also cancelled.
Beijing’s official air quality index reached a maximum of 500 on Monday morning, with floating particles known as PM10 rising beyond 8,000 micrograms per cubic metre in some districts, according to the city’s pollution monitoring centre.Loading
The World Health Organization recommends average daily PM 10 concentrations of no more than 50 micrograms.
Readings of PM2.5, smaller particles that infiltrate the lungs, were also above 300 micrograms per cubic metre, far higher than China’s standard of 35 micrograms.
The sandstorms were expected to shift south towards the Yangtze River delta and should clear by Wednesday or Thursday, the environment ministry said.
The ‘great green wall’
Beijing faces regular sandstorms in March and April due to its proximity to the massive Gobi Desert as well as deforestation and soil erosion throughout northern China.
Beijing has planted a “great green wall” of trees to trap incoming dust and has also tried to create air corridors that channel the wind and allow sand and other pollutants to pass through more quickly.
This has reduced the storms’ intensity, but the expansion of cities and industries has put constant pressure on the environment throughout China.
It wasn’t clear if the storm was related to a recent general decline in air quality despite efforts to end Beijing’s choking smog.
Tangshan, China’s top steelmaking city and a major source of pollution in Beijing and Hebei, said on Saturday it would punish local enterprises for failing to carry out emergency anti-smog measures.
Beijing and surrounding regions have been suffering from high levels of pollution in recent weeks, with the city shrouded in smog during the national session of parliament which began on March 5.
The ruling Communist Party has pledged to reduce carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 18 per cent over the next five years.
Environmentalists say China needs to do more to reduce dependency on coal that has made it the world’s biggest emitter of climate-changing gasses.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.11: With just four of China’s many vaccine makers claiming they are able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world’s population will end up inoculated not with the fancy Western vaccines boasting headline-grabbing efficacy rates, but with China’s humble, traditionally made shots:
#Coronavirus Report: Chinese vaccines sweep much of the world, despite concerns: ‘There vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press’
FILE – In this Dec. 23, 2020, file photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a Sinovac worker checks the labeling on vials of COVID-19 vaccines on…
FILE – In this Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a health worker administers a dose of China’s Sinopharm vaccine during the start of the vaccination…
FILE – In this Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, file photo, a teacher receives a shot of the CoronaVac vaccine for COVID-19, by China’s Sinovac Biotech, at Salv…
FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 file photo, President Sebastian Pinera speaks in front of the plane carrying the country’s first batch of the C…
FILE – In this Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 file photo, a worker inspects syringes of a vaccine for COVID-19 produced by Sinovac at its factory in Beijing…
FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, file photo, Terezinha da Conceicao, 80, left, and Dulcinea da Silva Lopes, 59, become the first women in the cou…
FILE – In this Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, an elderly man looks at his vaccination card after getting a shot of the CoronaVac vaccine for COV…
FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, file photo, medical workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination in Jakarta, Indonesia. The c…
FILE – In this Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, file photo, a woman gets a shot of China’s Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine as part of a priority COVID-19 vaccination p…
FILE – In this Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a health worker holds a box containing a dose of China’s Sinopharm vaccine during the start of the …
FILE – In this Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 file photo, workers unload a container of China’s Sinopharm coronavirus vaccines at the Belgrade Airport in Se…
FILE – In this July 15, 2020 photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Sinovac staff members work in a purification area to be used in production…
People rest and are monitored for the possibility of side effects after receiving a dose of Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in Belgrade, Serbia, We…
FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 file photo, Dr. Lili Rahmawaty, right, gives a shot of COVID-19 vaccine to a colleague at North Sumatra Univer…
FILE – In this Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 file photo, a health worker wearing a face mask and shield holds a sign as she and others call on the government …
A man receives a Chinese made Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in Budapest, Hungary on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. China is providing the vaccine to countries…
FILE – In this Monday, Feb, 15, 2021 file photo, an official from the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe holds a Chinese flag next to a plane carrying Sinoph…
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The plane laden with vaccines had just rolled to a stop at Santiago’s airport in late January, and Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, was beaming. “Today,” he said, “is a day of joy, emotion and hope.”
The source of that hope: China – a country that Chile and dozens of other nations are depending on to help rescue them from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid a dearth of public data on China’s vaccines, hesitations over their efficacy and safety are still pervasive in the countries depending on them, along with concerns about what China might want in return for deliveries. Nonetheless, inoculations with Chinese vaccines already have begun in more than 25 countries, and the Chinese shots have been delivered to another 11, according to the AP tally, based on independent reporting in those countries along with government and company announcements.
It’s a potential face-saving coup for China, which has been determined to transform itself from an object of mistrust over its initial mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak to a savior. Like India and Russia, China is trying to build goodwill, and has pledged roughly 10 times more vaccines abroad than it has distributed at home.
“We’re seeing certainly real-time vaccine diplomacy start to play out, with China in the lead in terms of being able to manufacture vaccines within China and make them available to others,” said Krishna Udayakumar, founding director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center at Duke University. “Some of them donated, some of them sold, and some of them sold with debt financing associated with it.”
China has said it is supplying “vaccine aid” to 53 countries and exports to 27, but it rejected a request by the AP for the list. Beijing has also denied vaccine diplomacy, and a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said China considered the vaccine a “global public good.” Chinese experts reject any connection between the export of its vaccines and the revamping of its image.
“I don’t see any linkage there,” said Wang Huiyao, president of the Centre for China and Globalization, a Beijing think tank. “China should do more to help other countries, because it’s doing well.”
China has targeted the low- and middle-income countries largely left behind as rich nations scooped up most of the pricey vaccines produced by the likes of Pfizer and Moderna. And despite a few delays of its own in Brazil and Turkey, China has largely capitalized on slower-than-hoped-for deliveries by U.S. and European vaccine makers.
Like many other countries, Chile received far fewer doses of the Pfizer vaccine than first promised. In the month after its vaccination program began in late December, only around 150,000 of the 10 million Pfizer doses the South American country ordered arrived.
It wasn’t until Chinese company Sinovac Biotech Ltd. swooped in with 4 million doses in late January that Chile began inoculating its population of 19 million with impressive speed. The country now has the fifth highest vaccination rate per capita in the world, according to Oxford University.
Chilean Vilma Ortiz got her Sinovac shot at a school in Santiago’s Nunoa neighborhood, along with about 60 other people. Although she considers herself “kind of a skeptical person,” she said she researched the Chinese vaccines on the Internet and was satisfied.
“I have a lot of faith and confidence in the vaccine,” she said.
In Jakarta, the sports stadium was abuzz as masked healthcare workers filed in to receive their Sinovac shot. Wandering the rows of vaccination stations was Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the first person in the Southeast Asian country to get the Chinese shot, 140 million doses of which he has ordered for his people.
Among those at the stadium was Susi Monica, an intern doctor receiving her second dose. Despite questions over its efficacy, getting the shot was worth it to her, particularly because she didn’t have any adverse reactions to the first dose.
Besides, she said, “Do I have another choice right now?”
The choices are limited for Indonesia and many other low- and middle-income countries clobbered by COVID. Vaccine deployment globally has been dominated by wealthier countries, which have snapped up 5.8 billion of the 8.2 billion doses purchased worldwide, according to Duke University.
China’s vaccines, which can be stored in standard refrigerators, are attractive to countries like Indonesia, a sweltering nation that straddles the equator and could struggle to accommodate the ultracold storage needs of vaccines like Pfizer’s.
The bulk of Chinese shots are from Sinovac and Sinopharm, which both rely on a traditional technology called an inactivated virus vaccine, based on cultivating batches of the virus and then killing it. Some countries view it as safer than the newer, less-proven technology used by some Western competitors that targets the coronavirus’ spike protein, despite publicly available safety data for the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines and none for China’s.
“The choice was made for this vaccine because it is developed on a traditional and safe inactivated platform,” said Teymur Musayev, an official with the Ministry of Health in Azerbaijan, which has ordered 4 million Sinovac doses.
In Europe, China is providing the vaccine to countries such as Serbia and Hungary — a significant geopolitical victory in Central Europe and the Balkans, where the West, China and Russia are competing for political and economic influence. This stretch of Europe has offered fertile ground for China to strengthen bilateral ties with Serbia and Hungary’s populist leaders, who often criticize the EU.
Serbia became the first country in Europe to start inoculating its population with China’s vaccines in January. The country has so far purchased 1.5 million doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine, which makes up the majority of the country’s supply, and smaller amounts of Russia’s Sputnik V and Pfizer’s vaccines.
Donning heavy coats against the winter chill, masked-up Serbians have been waiting in long lines for their turn to get the vaccine.
“They have been vaccinating their own people for (a) long period, I assume they have more experience,” Natasa Stermenski, a Belgrade resident, said of her choice to get the Chinese shot at a vaccination center in February.
Neighboring Hungary, impatient over delays in the European Union, soon became the first country in the EU to approve the same Chinese vaccine. On Sunday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban got the Sinopharm shot, after recently saying he trusted the Chinese vaccine the most.
Many leaders have publicly supported the Chinese shots to allay concerns. Early on, “people had all these microchip theories in their heads, genetic modification, sterilization, running around on social media platforms,” said Sanjeev Pugazhendi, a medical officer in the Indian Ocean island nation of the Seychelles, whose president recently received a Sinopharm shot on camera. “But the moment we started giving out the vaccines to leaders, religious leaders and health workers, that started to subside.”
Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy efforts are good for both China and the developing world, experts say.
“Because of the competition for influence, the poor countries can get earlier access for vaccines,” said Yun Jiang, managing editor of the China Story Blog at the Australian National University. “Of course, that’s assuming that all the vaccines are safe and delivered in the right way.”
China’s vaccine diplomacy will only be as good as the vaccines it is offering, and it still faces hurdles.
Ahmed Hamdan Zayed, a nurse in Egypt, was reluctant to receive a vaccine, especially a Chinese one. The frontline health worker would be among the first in the country to get Sinopharm’s shot as part of a mass vaccination campaign. Over 9 million Sinopharm shots have been given outside China.
“We had concerns about vaccines in general,” the 27-year-old father of two said in a phone interview from the Abu Khalifa hospital in the northeastern part of the country. “The Chinese vaccine, in particular, there was insufficient data available compared to other vaccines.”
But Zayed ultimately decided to get the shot after conducting more research. A doctor at his hospital called colleagues in the United Arab Emirates, which had approved the same shot, and they met with Egyptian health officials.
Sinopharm, which said its vaccine was 79% effective based on interim data from clinical trials, did not respond to requests for an interview. Sinopharm’s chairman has said they have not had a single severe adverse event in response to their vaccine.
Chinese vaccine companies have been “slow and spotty” in releasing their trial data, compared to companies like Pfizer and Moderna, said Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert at the U.S. think tank Council for Foreign Relations. None of China’s three vaccine candidates used globally have publicly released their late-stage clinical trial data. CanSino, another Chinese company with a one-shot vaccine that it says is 65% effective, declined to be interviewed.
China’s pharmaceutical business practices also have raised concerns. In 2018, it emerged that one of China’s biggest vaccine companies falsified data to sell its rabies vaccines. That same year, news broke that a Sinopharm subsidiary, which is behind one of the COVID-19 vaccines now, had made substandard diphtheria vaccines used in mandatory immunizations.
With Chinese vaccines, “for a lot of people, the first thing you think about is ‘Made in China,’ and that doesn’t give you much assurance,” said Joy Zhang, a professor at the University of Kent in the UK who studies the ethics of emerging science.
Russia and India have faced similar skepticism, partly because people have less trust in products made outside the Western world, said Sayedur Rahman, head of the pharmacology department at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Bangladesh.
“China, India, Russia, Cuba, whenever they develop a vaccine or conduct research, their data is questioned, and people say their process is not transparent,” he said.
A December YouGov poll of 19,000 people in 17 countries and regions on how they felt about different vaccines found that China’s received the second-lowest score, tied with India’s. In the Philippines, which has ordered 25 million Sinovac doses, less than 20% of those surveyed by a research group expressed confidence in China’s vaccines.
Those concerns have been exacerbated by confusion around the efficacy of Sinovac’s shot. In Turkey, where Sinovac conducted part of its efficacy trials, officials have said the vaccine was 91% effective. However, in Brazil, officials revised the efficacy rate in late-stage clinical trials from 78% to just over 50% after including mild infections.
A senior Chinese official said Brazil’s numbers were lower because its volunteers were healthcare workers who faced a higher risk of infection. But other medical experts have said exposure would not affect a vaccine’s effectiveness.
Sinovac’s trials were conducted separately in Turkey and Brazil, and the differences in efficacy rates arise from differences in the populations, a spokesman for the company said in a previous interview with the AP. The company declined to be interviewed for this article. An expert panel in Hong Kong assessed the efficacy of the vaccine at about 51%, and the city approved its use in mid-February.
Globally, public health officials have said any vaccine that is at least 50% effective is useful. International scientists are anxious to see results from final-stage testing published in a peer-reviewed science journal for all three Chinese companies.
It’s also unclear how the Chinese shots work against new strains of the virus that are emerging, especially a variant first identified in South Africa. For example, Sinopharm has pledged 800,000 shots to South Africa’s neighbor, Zimbabwe.
There are concerns among receiving countries that China’s vaccine diplomacy may come at a cost, which China has denied. In the Philippines, where Beijing is donating 600,000 vaccines, a senior diplomat said China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, gave a subtle message to tone down public criticism of growing Chinese assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.
The senior diplomat said Wang did not ask for anything in exchange for vaccines, but it was clear he wanted “friendly exchanges in public, like control your megaphone diplomacy a little.” The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the issue publicly.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte publicly said in a news conference on Sunday that China did not ask for anything, as the donations were flown in.
Meanwhile, opposition legislators in Turkey are accusing Ankara’s leaders of secretly selling out Uyghurs to China in exchange for vaccines after a recent shipment delay. The legislators and the Uyghur diaspora community fear Beijing is trying to win passage of an extradition treaty that could see more Uyghurs deported to China.
Despite all the worries, the pandemic’s urgency has largely superseded hesitations over China’s vaccines.
“Vaccines, particularly those made in the West, are reserved for rich countries,” said one Egyptian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter. “We had to guarantee a vaccine. Any vaccine.”
Gelineau reported from Sydney.
Associated Press researcher Chen Si in Shanghai, and AP reporters Patricia Luna in Santiago, Chile; Sam Magdy in Cairo; Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines; Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia; Aida Sultanova in London; Justin Spike in Budapest, Hungary; Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia; Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya; Allen G. Breed in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Diane Jeantet in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.09: The first major move is expected over the next three weeks, officials said, with a series of clandestine actions across Russian networks that are intended to be evident to President Vladimir V. Putin and his intelligence services and military but not to the wider world:
Preparing for Retaliation Against Russia, U.S. Confronts Hacking by China: ‘Just as it plans to begin retaliating against Russia for the large-scale hacking of American government agencies and corporations discovered late last year, the Biden administration faces a new cyberattack that raises the question of whether it will have to strike back at another major adversary’
The proliferation of cyberattacks by rivals is presenting a challenge to the Biden administration as it seeks to deter intrusions on government and corporate systems.
March 7, 2021:
Taken together, the responses will start to define how President Biden fashions his new administration’s response to escalating cyberconflictand whether he can find a way to impose a steeper penalty on rivals who regularly exploit vulnerabilities in government and corporate defenses to spy, steal information and potentially damage critical components of the nation’s infrastructure.
The officials said the actions would be combined with some kind of economic sanctions — though there are few truly effective sanctions left to impose — and an executive order from Mr. Biden to accelerate the hardening of federal government networks after the Russian hacking, which went undetected for months until it was discovered by a private cybersecurity firm.
The issue has taken on added urgency at the White House, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies in recent days after the public exposure of a major breach in Microsoft email systems used by small businesses, local governments and, by some accounts, key military contractors.
Microsoft identified the intruders as a state-sponsored Chinese group and moved quickly to issue a patch to allow users of its software to close off the vulnerability.
But that touched off a race between those responsible for patching the systems and a raft of new attackers — including multiple other Chinese hacking groups, according to Microsoft — who started using the same exploit this week.
The United States government has not made public any formal determination of who was responsible for the hacking, but at the White House and on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Wash., the fear is that espionage and theft may be a prelude to far more destructive activity, such as changing data or wiping it out.
The White House underscored the seriousness of the situation in a statement on Sunday from the National Security Council.
“The White House is undertaking a whole of government response to assess and address the impact” of the Microsoft intrusion, the statement said. It said the response was being led by Anne Neuberger, a former senior National Security Agency official who is the first occupant of a newly created post: deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies.
The statement said that national security officials were working throughout the weekend to address the hacking and that “this is an active threat still developing, and we urge network operators to take it very seriously.”
Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, said on Twitter on Thursday that the White House was “closely tracking” the reports that the vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange were being used in “potential compromises of U.S. think tanks and defense industrial base entities.”
The discovery came as Mr. Biden’s national security team, led by Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Neuberger, has moved to the top of its agenda an effort to deter attacks, whether their intent is theft, altering data or shutting down networks entirely. For the president, who promised that the Russian attack would not “go unanswered,” the administration’s reactions in the coming weeks will be a test of his ability to assert American power in an often unseen but increasingly high-stakes battle among major powers in cyberspace.
A mix of public sanctions and private actions is the most likely combination to force a “broad strategic discussion with the Russians,” Mr. Sullivan said in an interview on Thursday, before the scope of the Chinese attack was clear.
“I actually believe that a set of measures that are understood by the Russians, but may not be visible to the broader world, are actually likely to be the most effective measures in terms of clarifying what the United States believes are in bounds and out of bounds, and what we are prepared to do in response,” he added.
From the first day of the new administration, Mr. Sullivan has been reorganizing the White House to fashion such responses. The same order he issued on Jan. 20, requiring the military to advise the White House before conducting drone strikes outside war zones, contained a paragraph with separate instructions for dealing with major cyberoperations that risk escalating conflict.
The order left in place, however, a still secret document signed by President Donald J. Trump in August 2018 giving the United States Cyber Command broader authorities than it had during the Obama administration to conduct day-to-day, short-of-war skirmishes in cyberspace, often without explicit presidential authorization.
Under the new order, Cyber Command will have to bring operations of significant size and scope to the White House and allow the National Security Council to review or adjust those operations, according to officials briefed on the memo. The forthcoming operation against Russia, and any potential response to China, is likely to fall in this category.
American officials continue to try to better understand the scope and damage done by the Chinese attack, but every day since its revelation has suggested that it is bigger, and potentially more harmful, than first thought.
The initial estimates were that 30,000 or so systems were affected, mostly those operated by businesses or government agencies that use Microsoft software and run their email systems in-house. (Email and others systems run on Microsoft’s cloud were not affected.)
But the breadth of the intrusion and the identities of the victims are still unclear. And while the Chinese deployed the attack widely, they might have sought only to take information from a narrow group of targets in which they have the highest interest.
There is little doubt that the scope of the attack has American officials considering whether they will have to retaliate against China as well. That would put them in the position of engaging in a potentially escalating conflict with two countries that are also its biggest nuclear-armed adversaries.
It has become increasingly clear in recent days that the hacking that Microsoft has attributed to Beijing poses many of the same challenges as the SolarWinds attack conducted by the Russians, although the targets and the methodology are significantly different.
Like the Russians, the Chinese attackers initiated their campaign against Microsoft from computer servers — essentially cloud services — that they rented under assumed identities in the United States. Both countries know that American law prohibits intelligence agencies from looking in systems based in the United States, and they are exploiting that legal restriction.
“The Chinese actor apparently spent the time to research the legal authorities and recognized that if they could operate from inside the United States, it takes some of the government’s best threat-hunters off the field,” Tom Burt, the Microsoft executive overseeing the investigation, said on Friday.
The result was that in both the SolarWinds and the more recent Chinese hacking, American intelligence agencies appeared to have missed the evidence of what was happening until a private company saw it and alerted the authorities.
The debate preoccupying the White House is how to respond. Mr. Sullivan served as Mr. Biden’s national security adviser while he was vice president, as the Obama administration struggled to respond to a series of attacks.
In writings and talks over the past four years, Mr. Sullivan has made clear that he believes traditional sanctions alone do not sufficiently raise the cost to force powers like Russia or China to begin to talk about new rules of the road for cyberspace.
But government officials often fear that too strong a response risks escalation.
That is a particular concern in the Russian and Chinese attacks, where both countries have clearly planted “back doors” to American systems that could be used for more destructive purposes.
American officials say publicly that the current evidence suggests that the Russian intention in the SolarWinds attack was merely data theft. But several senior officials, when speaking not for attribution, said they believed the size, scope and expense of the operation suggested that the Russians might have had much broader motives.
“I’m struck by how many of these attacks undercut trust in our systems,” Mr. Burt said, “just as there are efforts to make the country distrust the voting infrastructure, which is a core component of our democracy.”
Russia broke into the Democratic National Committee and state voter-registration systems in 2016 largely by guessing or obtaining passwords. But they used a far more sophisticated method in the SolarWinds hacking, inserting code into the company’s software updates, which ushered them deep into about 18,000 systems that used the network management software. Once inside, the Russians had high-level access to the systems, with no passwords required.
Similarly, four years ago, a vast majority of Chinese government hacking was conducted via email spear-phishing campaigns. But over the past few years, China’s military hacking divisions have been consolidating into a new strategic support force, similar to the Pentagon’s Cyber Command. Some of the most important hacking operations are run by the stealthier Ministry of State Security, China’s premier intelligence agency, which maintains a satellite network of contractors.
Beijing also started hoarding so-called zero-days, flaws in code unknown to software vendors and for which a patch does not exist.
In August 2019, security researchers got their first glimpse of how these undisclosed zero-day flaws were being used: Security researchers at Google’s Project Zero and Volexity — the same company in Reston, Va., that discovered the Microsoft attack — found that Chinese hackers were using a software vulnerability to spy on anyone who visited a website read by Uighurs, an ethnic minority group whose persecution has drawn international condemnation.
For two years, until the campaign was discovered, anyone who visited the sites unwittingly downloaded Chinese implants onto their smartphones, allowing Beijing to monitor their communications.Kevin Mandia of FireEye, Sudhakar Ramakrishna of SolarWinds and Brad Smith of Microsoft testified last month in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the Russian hacking.Drew Angerer/Agence France-Presse, via Pool/Afp Via Getty Images
The Chinese attack on Microsoft’s servers used four zero-days flaws in the email software. Security experts estimated on Friday that as many as 30,000 organizations were affected by the hacking, a detail first reported by the security writer Brian Krebs. But there is some evidence that the number could be much higher.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.22: A massive effort to contain a Covid-19 outbreak has kicked off in China’s city of Manzhouli after two locals contracted the disease: Apart from restrictive measures, the operation involves the testing of around 300,000 residents: Strict quarantine rules were rolled out in the city on China’s border with Russia after two cases of coronavirus were detected on Saturday: Two residents, a sanitation worker and his wife, employed as a domestic aide, tested positive for the virus, yet it remains unclear where they managed to contract it from, local media reported
Authorities launched a large-scale operation to contain the virus immediately after the diagnosis was confirmed: They sealed off recent locations that the couple visited, including a local police station, and disinfected them: Places visited by close contacts of the infected pair have also been sealed:
Access to the city – which is a major trade and logistics hub – and movement within it has been heavily restricted. All operations at Manzhouli bus and train stations have been suspended, while schools and other public places are closed. While the residents have not been placed under a curfew, they have been “encouraged” to limit their travel: An ambitious plan to test all the residents of the city, some 300,000 people, is underway. Testing began early on Sunday and is expected to be completed within three days.
China has repeatedly introduced harsh and impressively large-scale measures over the course of this year to weed out detected clusters of coronavirus infections: The biggest one took place in the city of Wuhan, still widely referred to as the ‘ground zero’ of the pandemic that has plagued the whole globe throughout 2020:
Mounting scientific evidence, however, suggests Covid-19 was actually just first detected and identified in China, while the virus itself circulated across the globe as early as last summer, with the earliest traces of virus found in Spanish wastewater samples collected back in March 2019:
#AceNewsReport – Apr.11: This is an excellent News and Views posts by my friend Tony and his reply today on ‘ South China Sea ‘ and Beijing’s growing influence under Xi Jin-ping …well worth a read and any comments …his site is chocked full of interesting posts please visit link at bottom of post #AceNewsDesk reports
TonyTran2015 says China has completely broken the backbone of Vietnam, turning it from a Little Dragon into a Paralysed Snake, or a vegetative Lotus. Next is the Phillipines under Duterte. There are only two possible exits:
a. Either total submission or
b. Strikeback suddenly at any moment of advantage (Like the Soviet Union).
It has never been good to feed a reptile to give it a chance to turn into a monster Dinaosaur.
The current (1990 to 2017) situation on the Scarborough Shoal (Dao Vanh Khan as claimed by Vietnam) in the Sea of West Phillipines is interesting, It offers an example of the Tactic of Strike-then-Consolate in diplomacy.
Its resultant “mutual cooperations” is then revealed as only part of a long term plan for further aggression.
1. Concept of Strike-then-Consolate.
The aggressor nation finds an opportunity to attack the victim nation and makes territorial gains. Right after that, before international reaction can develop, thw aggressor offers to give back half the gains to make peace with the weaker victim. The weak victim may accept that offer if it cannot rely on internarional help or if its unpopular leader wants to make external peace to have time to strengthen his grip on domestic power (that is its leader sacrifies national interests to further his personal gains).
2. Application of Strike-then-Consolate.
2a. The aggressor nation looks for a neighbour with unpopular leader. Failing that it may promote corruptions, non-transparent dealings in that country to weaken popular support for the government of that nation.
2b. When popular support of the intended victim nation has reached a low point, the aggressor creates economic, environmental, social chaos to brew anti-government protests, uprisals and revolts.
2c. The defence of the victim nation is then dispirited weakened.
2d. A quick military attack is carried out for territorial gains.
2e. A peace delegate is immediately sent to the victim nation to offer peace with the return of half of the territorial gains together with some economic aids! “Mutual Cooperations” is a part of the package of economic “aids” by the aggressor to its victim.
3. “Mutual Cooperations” is never a fair deal.
“Mutual cooperations” from the aggressor always requires from the victim nation the following conditions:
3a. Not to take the aggressor to any international authority.
3b. The victim nation giving unaccountable benefits to its deal makers (that is giving high rewards to those who favors the deal).
3c. The victim nation allowing personels of the aggressor to be in vital future positions.
3d. The victim nation demoting fervent nationalists in its defence force.
3e. The victim nation ceasing most of its defence industrial plans.
3f. The victim nation reorganize its government and development plans to suit the aggressor.
4. So what is Mutual Cooperations in reality?
Mutual Cooperation is only a conditional surrender to the aggressor.
Sun Tzu said that the best victory is a victory gained without using the army!
. Sun Tzu, The Art of War. First published in Chinese before 200BC.
“China has already stopped,” Reuters quoted Wang Yi as saying at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers where the disputed waters have taken center stage. “Just take an airplane to take a look.”
#AceBreakingNews – IRAN:June.22: With some lawmakers chanting “Death to the America,” Iran’s parliament voted Sunday to ban access to military sites, documents and scientists as part of a future deal with world powers over its contested nuclear program.
The bill, if approved into law, could complicate the ongoing talks in Vienna between Iran and the six-nation group (#P6+Iran) the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — as they face a self-imposed June 30 deadline. The talks are focused on reaching a final accord that curbs Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.