America’s potential Achilles’ heel in a cyber battle with China: Guam

“Chinese hackers have found a dangerous vulnerability in U.S. military computer networks nearly 8,000 miles from the Pentagon — on the serene South Pacific island of Guam.
They attacked essential infrastructure in the military outpost in May, infiltrating networks in the U.S. territory closest to China. Lawmakers and federal officials fear these attacks, which used a new method that allows intruders to linger undetected, could threaten security in the volatile region and sabotage any U.S. response to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.”

“Officials in Guam welcome the help.

“When it comes to not just cyber, but our critical infrastructure as a whole, it’s important to realize that we are isolated,” Scott said. “We have proximity to the pacing threats, and we don’t have a lot of the resources on our own to self-sustain.””

Politicians Say They Want To Fight Climate Change. So Why Are They Fighting China on Electric Vehicles?

“Much of the banter surrounding the rise of China’s electric vehicle (E.V.) industry and the implication for the global economy is misleadingly alarmist. When our government gets involved in such narratives, it calls into question the sincerity of its insistence that E.V.s are essential to an existential battle against climate change. If China’s foray succeeds, the world gets cleaner cars and non-Chinese automakers are obliged to improve their own products.”

“any related national security concerns are often rooted in misconceptions about the technologies themselves. It’s important to differentiate between civilian and military technologies. E.V. manufacturing primarily involves civilian tech that’s unlikely to have significant national security implications.”

At G-20 and in Vietnam, Biden to sell American partnerships — all at China’s expense

Biden admin to China: Hands off our tech but we’ll take your tourists

“Chinese “visitors” — a broad term that encompasses both tourists and longer-term students — were at the forefront of a boom in international travel to the United States in the decade before the coronavirus pandemic hit. They spent a record $34 billion in the United States in 2018 and another $33 billion the following year.

That fell sharply as both governments clamped down on travel during the pandemic. Chinese spending in the United States plummeted to about $11.4 billion by 2021, nearly all by Chinese students at American colleges and universities. It rebounded slightly to around $14 billion last year, with education still accounting for most of the expenditures.”

China’s economy is slowing down. What gives?

“China’s economy is out of balance and has been for some time. Investments dominate the country’s economy, far more than consumption — that is, what households are spending. It didn’t matter so much when investment juiced China’s GDP in good times, and indeed, kept China’s economy afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But that investment playbook has been losing its potency. A chunk of investments are unproductive — for example, a shiny new airport is great, but if it sits empty and no one travels through it, that’s not a great return on investment. But whether the airport is busy or a ghost town, it required bonds and loans to build. That produced growth, but it also increased China’s debt, so much so that right now, it’s triple — yep, around 300 percent — the amount of China’s economic output. “That doesn’t really matter until the debt has to be settled. More stimulus simply increases debt and delays the reckoning,” Morgan said.

What that reckoning might look like is hard to answer because the Chinese government and its leader, President Xi Jinping, are not exactly known for transparency. As Morgan sees it, China is dealing with a “slow fizzle.” But how Xi and his government manage that fizzle is far from an easy question for anyone to answer.”

China behind ‘largest ever’ digital influence operation

“People with ties to China’s law enforcement agencies conducted the largest known covert digital influence operation aimed at discrediting the West and promoting Beijing’s agenda across more than 50 social media and online platforms, according to a report published Tuesday by Meta.
On Facebook, clandestine users with ties to the authoritarian government racked up more than 550,000 followers by spouting lies about the United States’ alleged role in creating the COVID-19 pandemic and criticizing Washington’s support of Taiwan.”

“The campaign, which lasted over a year, garnered few, if any, eyeballs from real social media users, based on Meta’s analysis. But the breadth of the international influence campaign by those associated with the Chinese government highlights how Beijing is vying for prominence alongside Moscow as the most active spreader of disinformation ahead of major elections in the European Union, U.S. and the United Kingdom next year.”

Biden’s risky Persian Gulf bet

“The 3,000 sailors and Marines arrived in the Middle East on August 6 alongside a deployment of US fighter jets to the region.
What exactly they’ll be doing isn’t yet clear: If US troops were to board commercial ships, the details would need to be worked out with the companies and countries in question. US officials told the Associated Press that such a policy is under consideration. (The Department of Defense did not respond to Vox’s questions for this story by press time.)

The Biden administration says that the Iranian threat to tanker traffic is the reason for the deployment of sailors and Marines. Iran seized two oil tankers in a week this past spring. Iran also intercepted a Tanzanian-flagged tanker on July 6, a day after the US Navy intervened to dissuade Iran from nearly seizing two ships. Iran has said that it sees itself as responsible for the security of the Gulf, not least because of its long coastline, and claimed it has not illegally seized tankers.

Other factors may be contributing to Biden’s decision-making: The US might be thinking about balancing China’s increased presence in the Middle East, as epitomized by the spring’s surprise rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The US also might be responding to concerns from other partners in the region, especially as the US is pushing for Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalize relations. “The noise has increased a lot from Gulf partners, especially as the [Biden] administration is pressuring Gulf partners on a number of different issues, including normalization with Israel,” Simone Ledeen, who served as a senior defense official in the Trump administration, told me. “It’s certainly connected.”

Above all, Iranian actions in the Gulf could affect oil prices. For President Biden, keeping oil prices low has been a priority of utmost importance. It’s partly why he traveled to Saudi Arabia last summer to make up with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. And since then, the Biden administration has sought to reassure Gulf partners like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of US commitment to the Middle East.

This “forward-deployed presence provides US officials with options,” writes analyst Bilal Saab, that would make Iran “think twice before using violence to achieve its political aims.””