• China syndromeChina Could Be Using TikTok to Spy on Australians, but Banning It Isn’t a Simple Fix

    By Paul Haskell-Dowland and James Jin Kang

    In an age of isolation, video sharing platform TikTok has emerged as a bonding force for many. But recent headlines allege the service, owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, is feeding users’ data to the Chinese Communist Party. In Australia, for example, politicians from both the governing party and the opposition are calling for banning the app. Could the app be a tool used by the Chinese government to spy on us? And could it be effectively banned?

  • China syndromeFBI Director: China Uses Anti-Corruption Campaign to Target Dissidents in U.S.

    By Masood Farivar

    China is targeting hundreds of Chinese dissidents in the United States under the cover of an international anti-corruption campaign, using coercive tactics to force critics to return to China, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. 

  • China syndromeChina and AI: What the World Can Learn and What It Should Be Wary of

    By Hessy Elliott

    China announced in 2017 its ambition to become the world leader in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2030. While the US still leads in absolute terms, China appears to be making more rapid progress than either the US or the EU, and central and local government spending on AI in China is estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars. The move has led – at least in the West – to warnings of a global AI arms race and concerns about the growing reach of China’s authoritarian surveillance state.

  • China syndromeU.K. Will Not Be Able to Prevent “Misuse of Data” by China if Huawei Deal Goes Ahead: U.S. Ambassador

    Robert Wood Johnson, the U.S. ambassador to the U.K., warned that if the U.K. allowed Huawei access to the U.K. 5G communication infrastructure, there would be no way for the U.K. to prevent Chinese intelligence agencies from misusing the data collected by Huawei in the course of the company’s operations. Experts say that even more worryingly, if Huawei is allowed access to the nascent U.K. 5G infrastructure, the company, with a flip of a switch, could take down the entire U.K. communication system when ordered to do so by the Chinese government.

  • DisinformationChinese, Russian COVID-19 Disinformation More Influential than Domestic European News Sources

    Chinese, Russia, Turkish, and Iranian state-backed propaganda outlets disseminate COVID-19-related disinformation throughout Europe in French, German, and Spanish, and this professionally presented disinformation is generating greater engagement across Facebook and Twitter than prominent domestic news media such as Le Monde in France or El Pais in Spain. Russian outlets producing fake coronavirus content in French and German consistently emphasized weak democratic institutions and civil disorder in Europe.

  • The Russia connectionCongress Calls for Probe into Reported Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops

    As members of Congress called for an investigation, President Donald Trump said Sunday he was not briefed on reports that a Russian military intelligence unit offered bounties to Taliban militants in Afghanistan to kill U.S. soldiers because U.S. intelligence officials did not deem them credible. But U.S. intelligence officials had concluded months ago that a Russian covert operations unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and covert operations in Europe aimed at destabilizing the West, had carried out the mission in Afghanistan last year and that Trump had been briefed about it in late March.

  • The Russia connectionRussia’s Kleptocracy Is a Tool for Undermining the West

    By Lynn Berry

    The West misread Russian corruption, such as the money laundering revealed by the case against the Bank of New York and the release of the Panama Papers. The money was seen only as stolen cash, not as a vast slush fund to be used to buy influence and threaten the West. Belton’s book could not be more timely: She offers a treasure trove of details about a network of Russian intelligence operatives, tycoons, and organized crime associates who, beginning in the 1990s, ingratiate themselves with an indebted, not-yet-a-politician Trump. With U.S. banks cracking down on money laundering, they put their cash into real estate and paid Trump handsomely for the privilege of using his name. The Obama administration was slow to grasp the Russia’s interference intents and capabilities, but within the administration, Vice President Joe Biden was one of the most vocal in warning of the Kremlin’s ability to direct loyal oligarchs to carry out strategic operations and its use of corruption to undermine democratic governments. Trump and Biden will face each other in November.

  • State powerIn France, Drones, Apps and Racial Profiling

    In the wake of the January 2015 terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, and the November 2015 terrorist attacks on several targets in Paris, France saw more and more troops patrolling the streets of major cities alongside the police, and the declaration of a state of emergency, which gave the state vast new powers to monitor citizens. Many in France fear this is happening again, under the umbrella of measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Critics point to a raft of areas where they believe personal freedoms have been compromised under the health emergency, which saw France imposing one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns. Lisa Bryant writes for VOA that, to be sure, similar concerns are being echoed elsewhere around the globe as governments fight the pandemic. But in France – where authorities still promote the country’s revolution-era moniker as the “land of human rights” – activists say the new measures fit a years’-long pattern. 

  • China syndromeAnalysts See Shift in EU’s Approach Toward Dealing with China

    By Liyuan Lu

    Following a videoconference summit this week between leaders from China and the European Union, European officials released a statement that analysts say is the clearest sign yet that the relationship between the two massive economies is entering a new phase.

  • China syndromeA Selective Retreat from Trade with China Makes Sense for the United States

    By Amitrajeet A. Batabyal

    Behind the headlines and politics, a basic question remains: How much benefit is the U.S. getting out of its trade relationship with China? As a scholar in international trade theory and policy, I believe that answer must be looked at through a wider lens than just economics – one that includes national security.

  • The Russia connectionRussian Info Ops Putting U.S. Police in Their Crosshairs

    By Jeff Seldin

    Russia appears to be intensifying its focus on police enforcement issues in the United States, using popular reactions to protests that have gripped the nation as part of a larger propaganda campaign to divide Americans ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November. For weeks Russia has used state-controlled RT and Sputnik, and social media posts, to spread disinformation about the protests. Only now, it seems that Russia, through the English-language RT in particular, is reaching out to U.S. police officers and union officials, in what some U.S. officials and lawmakers say is an effort to further inflame tensions.

  • SecretsLawmaker Questions Intelligence Community Cybersecurity

    Following damning CIA report on stolen hacking tools — “the largest data loss in CIA history” — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) asked Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to explain what steps have been taken to improve the cybersecurity of some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets, held by federal intelligence agencies.

  • China syndromeChina-Backed Hackers Target Biden Campaign in Early Sign of 2020 Election Interference

    By Ping Zhang

    Google announced earlier this month that Chinese-backed hackers were observed targeting former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign staff. Google said that hackers did not appear to compromise the campaign’s security, but the surveillance was a reminder of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. 

  • Intelligence & epidemicsWas the Coronavirus Outbreak an Intelligence Failure?

    By Erik J. Dahl

    As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, it’s clear that having better information sooner, and acting more quickly on what was known, could have slowed the spread of the outbreak and saved more people’s lives. Initial indications are that the U.S. intelligence community did well in reporting on the virus once news of the outbreak in China became widely known by early January. Whether it could have done more before that time, and why the Trump administration did not act more decisively early on, will have to wait for a future national coronavirus commission to help us sort out.

  • China syndromeYielding to Chinese Demand, Zoom Closes Accounts of Regime Critics

    Three U.S. lawmakers sent letters to Zoom Video Communications, asking the company to clarify its data-collection practices and relationship with the Chinese government. The letters were sent after the firm said it had suspended user accounts in response to demands from the Chinese government. “It is time for you to pick a side: American principles and free-speech, or short-term global profits and censorship,” Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) implored in his letter to Zoom’s CEO.