World View: Algeria Closes Its Borders with Libya as Fighting Mounts in Tripoli

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • U.S. charges China's People's Liberation Army with cyber espionage
  • China brags about it's growing military power and influence
  • China's military can now destroy every U.S. satellite
  • Massive floods in Balkans uncovering landmines from 1990s war
  • Algeria closes its borders with Libya as fighting mounts in Tripoli
  • Thailand's army declares martial law

U.S. charges China's People's Liberation Army with cyber espionage

The Dept. of Justice on Monday indicted five specific military officers in China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) for computer hacking, economic espionage and other offenses directed at six American victims in the U.S. nuclear power, metals and solar products industries. According to the press release: 
The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to hack into American entities, to maintain unauthorized access to their computers and to steal information from those entities that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs). In some cases, it alleges, the conspirators stole trade secrets that would have been particularly beneficial to Chinese companies at the time they were stolen. In other cases, it alleges, the conspirators also stole sensitive, internal communications that would provide a competitor, or an adversary in litigation, with insight into the strategy and vulnerabilities of the American entity.

The indictment is specifically related to economic espionage, which it distinguishes from the other, more common kind of espionage used for "national security." 

The extent of the espionage was revealed last year in a report by the American computer security firm Mandiant, which identified a PLA "Unit 61398" in a Shanghai building guarded by PLA soldiers. ( "20-Feb-13 World View -- New report reveals massive cyber war attack by China's army") According to the Mandiant, which refers to this unit as APT1: 

Our evidence indicates that APT1 has been stealing hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations across a diverse set of industries beginning as early as 2006. Remarkably, we have witnessed APT1 target dozens of organizations simultaneously. Once the group establishes access to a victim’s network, they continue to access it periodically over several months or years to steal large volumes of valuable intellectual property, including technology blueprints, proprietary manufacturing processes, test results, business plans, pricing documents, partnership agreements, emails and contact lists from victim organizations’ leadership. We believe that the extensive activity we have directly observed represents only a small fraction of the cyber espionage that APT1 has committed. ... Since 2006 we have seen APT1 relentlessly expand its access to new victims.

Once APT1 gains control of someone's network, it retains control in stealth mode and downloads all the data in the network. In one case, APT1 accessed a network for four years and ten months. In another case, APT1 downloaded 6.5 terabytes of information in ten months. 

Monday's indictment is for political purposes only. There is zero probability that any of the people named in the indictment will be tried in court. Dept. of Justice and LA Times

China brags about it's growing military power and influence

According to Global Times, which is a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, China is rising to become the most powerful nation in the world and is ready to resort to "non-peaceful" measures as necessary: 

China is at a delicate point in its rising process. On the one hand, China's growing strength empowers it to take initiatives on the global stage, but on the other, the uncertainty oozing from such a rise is discussed and even hyped up by the outside world. The US, as well as China's other neighboring countries have unprecedented ambitions to contain China's use of growing influence.

It's a demanding and risky job to let other countries get used to China's rise and treat China as a major power. Vietnam and the Philippines, which haven't updated their knowledge about China, still cherish the illusion that China can simply be forced back by pressure. 

China's interests are beyond the South China Sea. It must strike a balance between securing its territorial waters and maintaining a vibrant growth trend. 

China faces a dilemma with its growing power. On the one hand, it will be confronted by neighbors like Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, and other stakeholders like the US if it makes use of its power. 

On the other, if China conceals its power, its determination to safeguard territorial integrity will be underestimated, which would further foster the unscrupulousness of countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan. 

China also bears pressure from the inside, which simply calls for a rough stand against provocations from Vietnam and the Philippines. 

But the Chinese government needs to weigh up different scenarios and look at the big picture.

China has taken the first assertive step in securing its territorial integrity in the South China Sea, and in the meantime faces strong protests from Hanoi and Manila, and obvious bias from the US. China's diplomatic risks are rising, but these are the costs that have to be borne as China becomes more powerful. 

The South China Sea disputes should be settled in a peaceful manner, but that doesn't mean China can't resort to non-peaceful measures in the face of provocation from Vietnam and the Philippines. Many people believe that a forced war would convince some countries of China's sincerely peaceful intentions, but it is also highly likely that China's strategy would face more uncertainties.

There are some people who hope that China will seek some compromise with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, to avoid going to war. This essay, like many other essays, shows that China has no intention of even minimal compromise and will continue to annex other countries' territories. These countries will have a choice of being repeatedly demeaned, debased and humiliated, or striking back. But these are all proud countries with proud populations that are growing increasingly nationalistic by the day. This can only end one way. Global Times (Beijing)

China's military can now destroy every U.S. satellite

A U.S. Air Force analysis demonstrates that China is the first country in the world with a weapon capable of destroying satellites in geostationary orbit. When combined with their other anti-satellite systems, every U.S. satellite is now vulnerable to destruction in time of war. 

This is only one of the ways that China's military is today becoming more technologically superior to the U.S. In numerous areas of military competition, China's military capabilities are rapidly approaching and exceeding those of the United States. 

Military analysts have frequently made mistakes in the last decade that systematically underestimate China's military capabilities. One error is to misjudge China's doctrinal and capability innovations, such as ballistic missiles, because they operate differently than America's military capabilities. Today, many analysts substantially overestimate the time and underestimate the ability of the Chinese to train their military to use the new capabilities. In fact, every year in the last decade, U.S. intelligence estimates of what and how much China can do have turned out to be wrong. The National Interest

Massive floods in Balkans uncovering landmines from 1990s war

The devastating flooding of the last few days in Serbia and Bosnia is the worst since record keeping began 120 years ago.  Entire cities and villages have been submerged by the floods, and dozens of people have been killed. Over 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes. The region received in two days the amount of rain normally received in two months. 

The flooding is also uncovering land mines that were buried during the Bosnian war in the 1990s. The flooding is also causing landslides that shift the locations of the land mines from their original locations in minefields. Signs that had been erected that warned of land mines and marked the locations of mine fields have been washed away, so that it's no longer knowable where the land mines are. CNN

Algeria closes its borders with Libya as fighting mounts in Tripoli

Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are among the countries evacuating their embassies in Tripoli, the capital city of Libya, and Algeria has closed its border with Libya as civil war is threatened. Libya is a land of hundreds of militias, all competing with one another for power and money. Before 2011, dictator Muammar Gaddafi had been in power for 30 years and had succeeded in keeping the militias under control. After he was ousted by the NATO military intervention, Libya has been increasingly lawless, with a central government in Tripoli having difficulties governing. 

Over the weekend, General Khalifa Haftar defected from the government and joined a group of anti-government militias, leading to fears of an all out civil war. Haftar says that he's fighting terrorism in Libya by fighting against Islamist militias, some of whom have links to al-Qaeda. Some are comparing him to Egypt's General Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government last year. 

There are now two main groups of militias in Libya, the Islamist militias headed by parliament chief Nouri Abu Sahmein versus Haftar's group of those opposed to the Islamists. There has already been fighting in Benghazi and Tripoli, and it's feared that the fighting will spiral out of control. 

The U.S. military has doubled the number of aircraft standing by in Italy if needed to evacuate Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. A decision to evacuate will be made "minute by minute, hour by hour," according to defense officials. Daily Star (Beirut) and CNN

Thailand's army declares martial law

Thailand's army has taken a surprise decision without consulting the government to declare martial law in Bangkok on Tuesday morning, after months of chaos that have all but shut the country's economy down. ( "10-May-14 World View -- Ethnic tensions rise in Thailand as PM is forced to resign"

According to the army, it's taken the step "to preserve law and order for people from all sides" and to stop "ill-intentioned groups from using war weapons." The army has conducted coups in the past, including a 2006 coup ousting Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of Yingluck Shinawatra, who was forced to resign as prime minister last week. However, the army announcement insists that Tuesday's declaration is not a coup. "The public do not need to panic but can still live their lives as normal." BBC

Note: Some days it's hard to find any news stories more relevant than the search for airplane parts in the Indian Ocean. But that was not the case today. 

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, People's Liberation Army, PLA, Department of Justice, Unit 61398, Shanghai, Mandiant, Global Times, Bosnia, Serbia, Libya, Tripoli, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Muammar Gaddafi, Khalifa Haftar, Nouri Abu Sahmein, Benghazi, Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, Thailand, Bangkok, Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck Shinawatra 

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