ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 01/10/2019

The Washington Post – Anna Fifield / China marks Communist Party’s 70th anniversary with grand show of power

  • The Chinese Communist Party marked the 70th anniversary of its mandate on Tuesday with a grandiose parade presided by its leader, Xi Jinping, who declared that “no force” could stop China’s rise. The Communist Party and its People’s Liberation Army put on a staggering display of military firepower.
  • Some 40 % of the armaments were displayed in public for the first time, including the DF-41 a three-stage, solid-fuel missile that can carry up to 10 independently targetable nuclear warheads and has a range of about 7,500 miles, putting the entire United States in range. There were also multiple new drones on display, including the Sharp Sword, an attack drone that can carry missiles or laser-guided bombs
  • Protesters in Hong Kong show they do not share Xi’s “Chinese Dream” and are pushing for democracy and greater autonomy. They have been demonstrating for 17 straight weeks and held multiple rallies around Hong Kong on Tuesday to underscore their different dream for themselves. Separately, China’s protracted trade war with the United States remains bogged down, with few anticipating Vice Premier Liu He’s trip to Washington next week for another round of talks will precipitate a breakthrough. Moreover, Chinese economy is tangibly slowing, with growth at its lowest level in more than a generation.
  • Reuters – Greg Torode, James Pomfret, David Lague & Christian Inton / The China Challenge. The Hong Kong Front
  • South China Morning Post / Protester shot in chest with live police round during Hong Kong National Day protests

The New York Times – Mark Mazzetti and Katie Benner / Trump pressed Australian leader to help Barr investigate Mueller inquiry’s origins

  • President Trump pushed the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison during a recent telephone call to help Attorney General William P. Barr gather material for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump thought it could discredit the Mueller investigation, according to two American officials. The White House prevented the access to a transcript of the call to a small group of aides, which was an unusual restriction similar to the handling of the Ukrainian call.
  • The discussion with President Morrison shows how the president may be using federal law enforcement powers to aid his political prospects, settle scores with his perceived “deep state” enemies and show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt, partisan origins.
  • The Justice Department review of the Russia investigation is not itself a criminal inquiry. However, others criticized Mr. Barr’s active role. “It would be extremely unusual for the attorney general to be this personally involved in any investigation, let alone one where his personal integrity has already come under question,” said Matthew Miller, a top Justice Department spokesman during the Obama administration.
  • On Monday evening, a spokesman for Mr. Morrison said that “the Australian government has always been ready to assist and cooperate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation.”
  • The Washington Post – Devlin Barrett , Shane Harris & Matt Zapotosky / Barr personally asked foreign officials to aid inquiry into CIA, FBI activities in 2016

The Guardian – Reuters / Confusion as Afghan election frontrunners each claim victory

  • Both frontrunners for Afghanistan’s presidency, the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, have both declared electoral victory, echoing a crisis that unraveled five years ago when competing claims by the two men led to months of turmoil.
  • The country’s  Independent Election Commission is gathering votes from Saturday’s poll, and if no candidate wins more than half, a runoff vote will be held. Ghani and Abdullah were also the top two candidates in the previous election five years ago, leading to months of confusion. The United States eventually stepped in to broker a power-sharing deal under which Ghani became president and Abdullah accepted the new post of chief executive.
  • The Taliban said the low turnout underlined that the election was illegitimate and that Afghan people did not accept “foreign imported processes”. The group threatened attacks leading to polling day, causing many voters to stay home. Preliminary results are not expected before 19 October and final results not until 7 November.

Financial Times – Siddharth Venkataramakrishnan / Experts struggle to set red lines for cyber warfare

  • Cyber warfare poses a clear threat to national security and citizens’ lives. Yet to date, no binding global framework has emerged to control it. Differences from conventional conflict also play a major role. Applying conventions such as proportionality can be daunting when cyber targets are often non-physical, and they are usually disrupted, rather than destroyed. 
  • A political combination of different conceptual schemes and conflicting national interests prompted the most promising effort to date: the 2017 UN Group of Governmental Experts’ report on developments in information and telecommunications in the context of international security. However, the UN group failed to provide a list of final recommendations to the General Assembly two years ago.
  • Nevertheless, there is a growing interest in cyber warfare and governance. Among the examples is the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, launched by French president Emmanuel Macron last year. The pact condemns malicious cyber activities during peacetime and reaffirms the applicability of international humanitarian law to technology. 67 countries have signed the document, as well as different private companies. However, the United States, Russia and China did not become signatories.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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