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

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

This morning’s key headlines from

  • 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 militaryofficers in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for computerhacking, economic espionage and other offenses directed at sixAmerican victims in the U.S. nuclear power, metals and solar productsindustries. According to the press release: 

The indictment alleges that the defendants conspiredto hack into American entities, to maintain unauthorized access totheir computers and to steal information from those entities thatwould be useful to their competitors in China, includingstate-owned enterprises (SOEs). In some cases, it alleges, theconspirators stole trade secrets that would have been particularlybeneficial to Chinese companies at the time they were stolen. Inother cases, it alleges, the conspirators also stole sensitive,internal communications that would provide a competitor, or anadversary in litigation, with insight into the strategy andvulnerabilities of the American entity.

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

The extent of the espionage was revealed last year in a report by theAmerican computer security firm Mandiant, which identified a PLA “Unit61398” in a Shanghai building guarded by PLA soldiers. ( “20-Feb-13 World View — New report reveals massive cyber war attack by China’s army”) Accordingto the Mandiant, which refers to this unit as APT1: 

Our evidence indicates that APT1 has been stealinghundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizationsacross a diverse set of industries beginning as early as2006. Remarkably, we have witnessed APT1 target dozens oforganizations simultaneously. Once the group establishes access toa victim’s network, they continue to access it periodically overseveral months or years to steal large volumes of valuableintellectual property, including technology blueprints,proprietary manufacturing processes, test results, business plans,pricing documents, partnership agreements, emails and contactlists from victim organizations’ leadership. We believe that theextensive activity we have directly observed represents only asmall fraction of the cyber espionage that APT1 has committed…. Since 2006 we have seen APT1 relentlessly expand its accessto new victims.

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

Monday’s indictment is for political purposes only. There is zeroprobability that any of the people named in the indictment will betried 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 ChineseCommunist Party, China is rising to become the most powerful nation inthe world and is ready to resort to “non-peaceful” measures asnecessary: 

China is at a delicate point in its risingprocess. On the one hand, China’s growing strength empowers it totake initiatives on the global stage, but on the other, theuncertainty oozing from such a rise is discussed and even hyped upby the outside world. The US, as well as China’s other neighboringcountries have unprecedented ambitions to contain China’s use ofgrowing influence.

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

China’s interests are beyond the South China Sea. It must strike abalance between securing its territorial waters and maintaining avibrant growth trend. 

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

On the other, if China conceals its power, its determination tosafeguard territorial integrity will be underestimated, whichwould further foster the unscrupulousness of countries likeVietnam, the Philippines and Japan. 

China also bears pressure from the inside, which simply calls fora rough stand against provocations from Vietnam and thePhilippines. 

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

China has taken the first assertive step in securing itsterritorial integrity in the South China Sea, and in the meantimefaces strong protests from Hanoi and Manila, and obvious bias fromthe US. China’s diplomatic risks are rising, but these are thecosts that have to be borne as China becomes more powerful. 

The South China Sea disputes should be settled in a peacefulmanner, but that doesn’t mean China can’t resort to non-peacefulmeasures in the face of provocation from Vietnam and thePhilippines. Many people believe that a forced war would convincesome countries of China’s sincerely peaceful intentions, but it isalso highly likely that China’s strategy would face moreuncertainties.

There are some people who hope that China will seek some compromisewith Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, to avoid going to war. Thisessay, like many other essays, shows that China has no intention ofeven minimal compromise and will continue to annex other countries’territories. These countries will have a choice of being repeatedlydemeaned, debased and humiliated, or striking back. But these are allproud countries with proud populations that are growing increasinglynationalistic 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 countryin the world with a weapon capable of destroying satellites ingeostationary orbit. When combined with their other anti-satellitesystems, every U.S. satellite is now vulnerable to destruction in timeof war. 

This is only one of the ways that China’s military is today becomingmore technologically superior to the U.S. In numerous areas ofmilitary competition, China’s military capabilities are rapidlyapproaching and exceeding those of the United States. 

Military analysts have frequently made mistakes in the last decadethat systematically underestimate China’s military capabilities. Oneerror is to misjudge China’s doctrinal and capability innovations,such as ballistic missiles, because they operate differently thanAmerica’s military capabilities. Today, many analysts substantiallyoverestimate the time and underestimate the ability of the Chinese totrain their military to use the new capabilities. In fact, every yearin the last decade, U.S. intelligence estimates of what and how muchChina 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 isthe worst since record keeping began 120 years ago.  Entirecities and villages have been submerged by the floods, and dozens ofpeople have been killed. Over 50,000 people have been forced toevacuate their homes. The region received in two days the amountof rain normally received in two months. 

The flooding is also uncovering land mines that were buried during theBosnian war in the 1990s. The flooding is also causing landslidesthat shift the locations of the land mines from their originallocations in minefields. Signs that had been erected that warned ofland mines and marked the locations of mine fields have been washedaway, 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 countriesevacuating their embassies in Tripoli, the capital city of Libya, andAlgeria has closed its border with Libya as civil war is threatened.Libya is a land of hundreds of militias, all competing with oneanother for power and money. Before 2011, dictator Muammar Gaddafihad been in power for 30 years and had succeeded in keeping themilitias under control. After he was ousted by the NATO militaryintervention, Libya has been increasingly lawless, with a centralgovernment in Tripoli having difficulties governing. 

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

There are now two main groups of militias in Libya, the Islamistmilitias headed by parliament chief Nouri Abu Sahmein versus Haftar’sgroup of those opposed to the Islamists. There has already beenfighting in Benghazi and Tripoli, and it’s feared that the fightingwill spiral out of control. 

The U.S. military has doubled the number of aircraft standing by inItaly if needed to evacuate Americans from the U.S. Embassy inTripoli. A decision to evacuate will be made “minute by minute, hourby 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 thegovernment to declare martial law in Bangkok on Tuesday morning, aftermonths 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 orderfor people from all sides” and to stop “ill-intentioned groups fromusing war weapons.” The army has conducted coups in the past,including a 2006 coup ousting Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother ofYingluck Shinawatra, who was forced to resign as prime minister lastweek. However, the army announcement insists that Tuesday’sdeclaration is not a coup. “The public do not need to panic but canstill live their lives as normal.” BBC

Note: Some days it’s hard to find any news stories more relevant thanthe search for airplane parts in the Indian Ocean. But that was notthe 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 

Permanent web link to this article

Receive daily World View columns by e-mail