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Women in the digital era: Unleashing the potential of female talent for a stronger Europe

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Huawei is celebrating International Women’s Day today (8 March) by holding a debate on gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the digital technology sector and society as a whole. 

The debate, 'Women in the Digital Era: Unleashing the Potential of Female Talent for a Stronger Europe', involved MEPs, representatives from European agencies and industry associations, and Huawei executives, and focused on how to get more women into leadership roles in the digital and wider economy.

“It is a fantastic way to celebrate International Women’s Day. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it, so congratulations to Huawei for the initiative,” said keynote speaker Maria da Graça Carvalho MEP, the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for the flagship report on Closing the Digital Gender Gap.

Huawei’s Senior EU Public Affairs Manager Berta Herrero moderated the conference’s two panels, 'Women’s Participation in Europe’s Recovery' and 'Women in Cybersecurity'. 

“We are proud to organize these conferences. We are happy to invest our resources in fostering the debate in the cybersecurity and technological fields with respect to equality, diversity and inclusion. Our end goal is to inspire the next generation of women to shape the world of tomorrow, and to build the appropriate foundations for them to be able to do it,” she said.


Watch the full debate

Visit the event website



WHAT THEY SAID DURING THE DEBATE:

Maria da Graça Carvalho, MEP: “We need to make sure that we remove the obstacles for women’s participation in the digital economy. We cannot afford digital to become a new way of discrimination, so we need to act. In Europe, only 18% of the professionals who work in ICT are women. 17% of students in ICT-related subjects are girls. Less than 3% of girls between 6 and 10 years-old want to work in ICT when they grow up. The importance of role models is crucial, that women identify with other women who are successful in careers in ICT.”

Agnieszka Stasiakowska,Senior Business Acceleration Manager, European Commission’s Executive Agency for SMEs: “We need more women in governing boards of companies, we need more women in science, in academia. We need to invest in skills enhancement, in leadership enhancement, in showing those model roles to women, sharing personal stories.”

Branwen Miles, Policy Advisor, COPA/COGECA (the European association of farmers and agri-cooperatives): “Digital tools have the ability to revolutionize the agricultural sector to help and assist farmers in becoming more sustainable, more efficient. This can also be an avenue of economic empowerment for women. Because there’s still this untapped potential that women farmers have which we need to support, to advocate and give them the opportunity to reach this potential.”

Sophie Batas, Huawei’s Director for Cyber Security and Data Privacy in Europe: “Cybersecurity is a very multi-disciplinary sector. It requires various types of profiles and very specific skills, for instance: caring for people, being able to communicate in a precise way swiftly, negotiation skills, a broad understanding of the situation, ability to react quickly, and I think all those skills are naturally embedded in the DNA of women. That’s why we have a growing number of women in cybersecurity. I’m also experiencing it in Huawei and it’s a pleasure to work hand in hand with other women and with men.”  

Nina Hasratyan, Policy Manager, European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO); Operational Coordinator, Women4Cyber Foundation: “We hope that women role models in cybersecurity will inspire the young generations and show them the pool of possibilities. Only 11% of the cybersecurity workforce in the world are women; it’s only 7% in Europe, very disappointing results here. We need to step up a lot. That’s exactly the reason we created Women4Cyber to actually have concrete activities and actions and show concrete results..”

Iva Tasheva, Co-Founder and Cybersecurity Management Lead, CyEn: “If we want society to be inclusive, we also have to have diversity in the design of technological solutions, to take into consideration the interests, shortcomings and issues of the different groups there are. It would work for me as a woman, it would work for everyone eventually, whether it’s language, interests or background that differentiates us.”

Berta Herrero, Senior EU Public Affairs Manager, Huawei: “For the Europe of tomorrow to be a Union of Equals, we need to start building true and full equality at all levels, in all fields, and across all countries and regions.”
“We rise up by lifting others. Change can only happen if society as a whole believes in it. So both men and women need to be part of this fight for equality, for inclusion and for diversity in the digital sphere and beyond.”

AND MEN… ON HOW MEN… CAN BEST SUPPORT THE FIGHT FOR EQUALITY IN THE DIGITAL ERA 

Ibán García del Blanco MEP: “It’s a question of attitude. I think men have to become feminists as well, because feminism is not only a question of feelings (or) justice, but even a question of efficiency from the economic perspective.”

Philip Herd, Huawei EU Communications Director: 
“It’s a supporting role (that men can play) in many ways, and it may be simple things such as making the workplace more inclusive, less threatening or making the work-life balance better, because it’s a fact that burden of child care, balancing of career and home, generally falls on women more than on men.”

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Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou freed by Canada arrives home in China

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A Chinese tech executive released after being detained in Canada for nearly three years has returned home writes BBC News.

Huawei's Meng Wanzhou flew to Shenzhen on Saturday evening, hours after two Canadians freed by China had gone back.

In 2018 China accused Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig of espionage, denying detaining them was in retaliation for Ms Meng's arrest.

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The apparent swap brings to an end a damaging diplomatic row between Beijing and the West.

Mr Spavor and Mr Kovrig arrived in the western city of Calgary just before 06:00 local time (12:00 GMT) and were met by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

A couple of hours later Ms Meng touched down in Shenzhen, China, to applauds from a crowd gathered at the airport.

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"I'm finally back home!," said Ms Meng, according to the Global Times, a Chinese tabloid backed by the ruling Communist Party.

"Where there is a Chinese flag, there is a beacon of faith," she added. "If faith has a colour, it must be China red."

Ms Meng was wanted on charges in the US but was released after a deal between Canada and US prosecutors.

Michael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig (composite image)
image captionMichael Kovrig (r) and Michael Spavor had been held since 2018

Before her release, Ms Meng admitted misleading US investigators about Huawei's business dealings in Iran.

She spent three years under house arrest in Canada while fighting extradition to the United States.

China had earlier insisted that her case was not related to the sudden arrest of Mr Kovrig and Mr Spavor in 2018. But China's the decision to free them after Ms Meng's release appears to show that pretence has been abandoned, reports Robin Brant, the BBC's Shanghai correspondent.

Mr Kovrig and Mr Spavor have maintained their innocence throughout, and critics have accused China of using them as political bargaining chips.

After they arrived in Calgary, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared images on Twitter of him welcoming the pair.

"You've shown incredible strength, resilience, and perseverance," he wrote in the tweet. "Know that Canadians across the country will continue to be here for you, just as they have been."

Mr Kovrig is a former diplomat employed by International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank.

Mr Spavor is a founding member of an organization that facilitates international business and cultural ties with North Korea.

In August this year a Chinese court sentenced Mr Spavor to 11 years in prison for espionage. There had been no decision in Mr Kovrig's case.

On Friday, a Canadian judge ordered the release of Ms Meng, Huawei's chief financial officer, after she reached a deal with US prosecutors over fraud charges against her.

Huawei said in a statement that it would continue to defend itself in court, and looked forward to seeing Ms Meng reunited with her family.https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.43.9/iframe.htmlmedia caption"My life has been turned upside down," Ms Meng tells reporters after being freed from Canadian detention

Before her arrest, US prosecutors accused Ms Meng of fraud, alleging that she misled banks into processing transactions for Huawei that broke US sanctions against Iran.

As part of a deferred prosecution agreement, Ms Meng admitted to misleading HSBC about Huawei's relationship with Skycom, a Hong-Kong based company that operated in Iran.

China's foreign ministry said the charges against her had been "fabricated" to suppress the country's high-tech industries, according to state media.

But in a statement the US justice department insisted it would continue to prepare for trial against Huawei, which is still on a trade blacklist.

Ms Meng is the elder daughter of Ren Zhengfei, who set up Huawei in 1987. He also served in the Chinese army for nine years, until 1983, and is a member of the Chinese Communist Party.

Huawei itself is now the largest telecom equipment maker in the world. It has faced accusations that Chinese authorities could use its equipment for espionage - allegations it denies.

In 2019, the US imposed sanctions on Huawei and placed it on an export blacklist, cutting it off from key technologies.

The UK, Sweden, Australia and Japan have also banned Huawei, while other countries including France and India have adopted measures stopping short of an outright ban.

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Afghanistan

China was the biggest beneficiary of the 'forever' war in Afghanistan

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Nobody would have imagined in his/her wildest dreams that the technologically most advanced, economically and militarily most powerful nation on the earth that had recently claimed the status of being the sole superpower in the world after the collapse of the USSR, could be attacked at home by a group of 16-17 fanatic Saudi Arabian citizens that were members of a non-state entity, the al-Quida, led by another Saudi Arabian Islamic fundamentalist, Osama bin-Laden based in Afghanistan, one of the most backward and isolated countries on earth, writes Vidya S Sharma Ph.D.

These individuals hijacked 4 civilian jet aeroplanes and used them as missiles to destroy the Twin Towers in New York, attacked the Pentagon’s west wall and crash-landed the fourth one in a field in Stonycreek, a township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. These attacks resulted in nearly 3000 civilian US fatalities.

Though the Americans knew that the Russian or Chinese ICBMs could reach them yet they largely believed that ensconced between two oceans, the Pacific and the Atlantic, they were safe from any conventional attack. They could undertake a military adventure anywhere in the globe without any fear of retaliation.

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But the events of the eleventh of September, 2001 shattered their sense of security. In two important ways, it changed the world forever. The deeply embedded myth in the minds of the US citizens and political and security elite that the US was impregnable and invincible was smashed overnight. Second, the US now knew it could not cocoon itself from the rest of the world.

This unprovoked attack made Americans palpably angry. All Americans - irrespective of their political leanings – wanted the terrorists punished.

On Sept. 18, 2001, Congress nearly unanimously voted to go to war (House of Representatives voted 420-1 and the Senate 98-0). Congress gave a blank cheque to President Bush, ie, hunt down terrorists wherever they may be on this planet. What followed was 20 years long war on terror.

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Neo-con advisers of President Bush knew that Congress had given them as a blank cheque. On September 20, 2001, in an address to a joint session of Congress, President Bush said: “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaida, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

The 20 years-war in Afghanistan, the Iraq War Mark II instigated under the pretext of finding the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and the US involvement in other insurgencies (totally 76 countries) around the globe (see Figure 1) not only cost the US $8.00 trillion ( see Figure 2). Of this amount, $2.31 trillion is the cost of fighting the war in Afghanistan (not including the future cost of veteran’s care) and the rest can very largely be attributed to Iraq War II. To put it differently, the cost of fighting insurgency in Afghanistan alone so far is roughly equal to the entire Gross Domestic Product of the UK or India for one year.

In Afghanistan alone, the US lost 2445 service members including 13 U.S. troops who were killed by ISIS-K in the Kabul airport attack on Aug. 26, 2021. This figure of 2445 also includes 130 or so US military personnel killed in other insurgency locations).

Figure 1: Worldwide locations where the US engaged in fighting the war on terror

Source: Watson Institute, Brown University

Figure 2: Cumulative cost of war-related to September 11 attacks

Source: Neta C. Crawford, Boston University and Co-Director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University

In addition, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) lost 18 of its operatives in Afghanistan. Further, there were 1,822 civilian contractor fatalities. These were mainly ex-servicemen who were now working privately

Further, by the end of August 2021, 20722 members of the US defence forces had been wounded. This figure includes 18 wounded when ISIS (K) attacked near on August 26.

I mention some salient figures relating to the war on terror to impress upon the reader to what extent this war has consumed the US’s economic resources and the time of generals and policymakers in the Pentagon.

Certainly, the biggest price the US has paid for the war on terror – a war of choice - has been its perceived diminution of status in geostrategic terms. It resulted in the Pentagon taking its eyes off China. This oversight allowed the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) to emerge as a serious competitor of the US not only economically but also militarily.

The PRC’s leader, Xi Jinping, now has both economic and military power projection capability to tell the leaders of less developed countries that China has “pioneered a new and uniquely Chinese path to modernization, and created a new model for human advancement”. The US’s inability to quell the insurgency in Afghanistan even after 20 years, has given Xi Jinping one more example to underscore to the political leaders and public intellectuals all over the world that “The East is rising, the West is falling”.

In other words, President Xi and his wolf-warrior diplomats have been telling the leaders of the less developed world, you would be better off joining our camp than seeking help and assistance from the West that before offering any financial assistance will insist on transparency, accountability, free press, free elections, feasibility studies regarding a project’s environmental impact, governance issues and many such issues you do not want to be bothered by. We would help you economically develop through our Belt and Road Initiative.

Pentagon’s assessment of PLA in 2000 and 2020

This is how Michael E. O’Hanlon of Brookings Institution summarised the Pentagon’s assessment of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 2000:

The PLA is “slowly and unevenly adapting to the trends in modern warfare. The PLA’s force structure and capabilities [are] focused largely on waging large-scale land warfare along China’s borders... The PLA’s ground, air, and naval forces were sizable but mostly obsolete. Its conventional missiles were generally of short-range and modest accuracy. The PLA’s emergent cyber capabilities were rudimentary; its use of information technology was well behind the curve; and its nominal space capabilities were based on outdated technologies for the day. Further, China’s defense industry struggled to produce high-quality systems.”

This was at the beginning of the war on terror launched by neo-cons who colonised foreign and defence policies during the George W Bush Administration (eg, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Richard Perle, to name a few).

Now fast forward to 2020. This is how O’Hanlon summarises the Pentagon’s assessment of the PLA in its 2020 report:

“The PLA’s objective is to become a “world-class” military by the end of 2049—a goal first announced by General Secretary Xi Jinping in 2017. Although the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] has not defined [the term world class] it is likely that Beijing will seek to develop a military by mid-century that is equal to—or in some cases superior to—the U.S. military or that of any other great power that the PRC views as a threat. [It] has marshal[l]ed the resources, technology, and political will over the past two decades to strengthen and modernize the PLA in nearly every respect.”

China now has the second-largest research and development budget in the world (behind the US) for science and technology. President Xi is very keen to overtake the US technologically and ease the problems of stranglehold and enhance self-reliance.

China is now ahead of the US in many areas

China aims to become the dominant military power in Asia and the western half of the Pacific.

China’s rapid modernization of the PLA is increasingly forcing the Pentagon to face its own procurement problems arising from shifting goalposts/capabilities for different weapon programmes, endemic cost overruns and delays in deployment.

Despite starting technologically well behind the United States as the 2000 Pentagon report shows, China has developed new systems faster and more cheaply.

For example, at the time of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, the PLA put on display its new high-tech drones, robot submarines and hypersonic missiles — none of which can be matched by the US.

China has used well-honed methods that it mastered to modernize its industrial sector to catch up with the US. It has acquired technology from abroad from countries like France, Israel, Russia and Ukraine. It has reverse-engineered the components. But above all, it has relied on industrial espionage. To mention just two instances: its cyber-thieves stole blueprints of F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters and the US navy’s most advanced anti-ship cruise missiles.

But it is not only by industrial espionage, hacking computers of defence establishments and coercing companies to transfer their technical know-how to Chinese companies that China has modernised its weapon systems. It has also been successful in developing its own silicon valleys and carried out a lot of innovation domestically.

For example, China is a world leader in laser-based submarine detection, hand-held laser guns, particle teleportation, and quantum radar. And, of course, in cyber-theft, as we all know. It has also developed a specially designed light tank for high altitude for land warfare (with India). Its nuclear-powered submarines can travel faster than the US submarines. There are many other areas where it has a technological edge over the West.

In previous parades, it exhibited its H-20 long-range stealth bomber. If this bomber lives up to its specifications then it will severely expose US naval assets and bases across the Pacific to surprise air attacks.

We often hear about the artificial islands being erected by China to unilaterally change its maritime boundaries. But there are numerous such territorial expansion ventures China is engaged in.

I just mention one such venture here: China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), a state-owned company, is in the final stages of building a vast underwater spying network across the sea bed of disputed territory in the East China Sea and South China Sea (between Hainan Island and the Paracel Islands). This unmanned network of sensors, underwater cameras and communications capabilities (radar) will enable China to monitor shipping traffic and scrutinise any attempts by its neighbours that may interfere with China’s claim to those waters. This network will give China “round-the-clock, real-time, high-definition, multiple interface, and three-dimensional observations.”

As mentioned before, China’s modernisation programme is aimed at becoming the dominant military power in Asia and the western half of the Pacific. When it comes to sheer military might and hard power projection, it is already far ahead of all the democratic countries in its region: India, Australia, South Korea and Japan.

Xi has stated numerous times that one of his goals is to bring back Taiwan into China’s fold. China shares land borders with 14 countries and maritime boundaries with 6 (including Taiwan). It has territorial disputes with all of its neighbours. It wants to settle these disputes (including the absorption of Taiwan into China) on its terms without any regard to international law and treaties.

China sees the US as a major obstacle in achieving its territorial and global ambitions. Therefore, China sees U.S. military presence in Japan, South Korea, and is bases in the Philippines and Guam as its chief military threat.

For the US there is still time to re-establish dominance

The US has been distracted/obsessed with the “war on terror” for the last 20 years. China has taken full advantage of this period to modernise the PLA. But it has not reached parity with the US yet.

The US has extricated itself from Afghanistan and learnt it is not possible to build a nation that subscribes to western values (eg, democracy, free speech, an independent judiciary, separation of religion from the government, etc.) without regard to that country’s cultural and religious traditions, traditional power structure, and political history.

The US has a window of 15-20 years to reassert its dominance in both spheres: the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans where it relies on its air force and ocean-going navy to exert its influence.

The US needs to take some steps to remedy the situation urgently. First, Congress must bring about stability to the Pentagon budget. Outgoing the 21st chief of staff of the Air Force, General Goldfein in an interview with Brookings’ Michael O’Hanlon said, “no enemy on the battlefield has done more damage to the United States military than budget instability.”

Emphasizing the long lead time necessary for the development of weapon systems, Goldfein noted, “I’m the 21st Chief of Staff. In 2030, Chief 24 will go to war with the Force I built. If we go to war this year, I will go to war with the Force that John Jumper and Mike Ryan built [in the late 1990s and early 2000s].”

But the Pentagon also needs to do some house cleaning. For example, the cost of the development of the F-35 stealth jet was not only well above budget but also behind time. It is also maintenance-intensive, unreliable and some of its software still malfunctions.

Similarly, the navy’s Zumwalt stealth destroyer has failed to live up to its specified potential. Roblin points out in his article in The National Interest, “Eventually, program costs exceeded the budget by 50 per cent, triggering an automatic cancellation according to the Nunn—McCurdy Act.”

It seems there is recognition in the Pentagon that it needs to put its act together. The outgoing Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer in a forum at Brookings Institution said that to enhance our readiness “we looked at our systems, we looked at our command and control,” to determine what changes we needed to make. Then “we looked outside … It is kind of an irony that in the ‘50s and ‘60s, corporate America looked to the Pentagon for risk management and industrial process, but we atrophied there completely, and the private sector went around us, and now are way out in front of us.”

When comparing China’s military capabilities with that of the US, instead of being amazed at what China has achieved, we also need to keep in mind that (a) the PLA was trying to catch up from a very low base; and (b) the PLA does not have any experience of real war. The last time it fought a war was with Vietnam in 1979. At that time, the PLA was thoroughly defeated.

Further, there is some evidence that the PLA has deployed some of its weapon systems without thoroughly testing them. For example, China rushed its first advanced stealth fighter jet into service ahead of schedule in 2017. It was later discovered that the first batch of J-20s was not so stealthy at supersonic speeds.

Furthermore, it has not modernised all of its weapon systems. For example, many of its combat aircraft and tanks that are in service are of 1950s-era designs.

Aware of the increasing ability of China to project its military power and the need to be more efficient in procurement and development of weapon systems, outgoing Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper, conducted a series of internal reviews at the Pentagon to determine if there was any programme duplication going on. But quick programme reviews as conducted by Esper are not going to be enough as the waste in the Pentagon takes many forms.

Increase in influence through Trade and Diplomacy

It is just not only in weapon systems that China has been able to catch up with the US. It has used the past 20 years to cement its influence through enhanced trading links and strengthening its diplomatic ties. It has particularly used its debt-trap diplomacy to considerably increase its influence in island countries in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean and Africa.

For instance, When nobody was willing to finance the project (including India on the grounds of not being economically feasible), former President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa (brother of the current president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa), in 2009 turned to China to develop a deepwater port in his hometown of Hambantota. China was too eager to oblige. The port did not attract any traffic. Consequently, in December 2017, Sri Lanka, not being able to pay the debt, was forced to surrender the ownership of the port to China. China, for all purposes, has converted the port to a military base.

Other than the high profile “Belt and Road initiative” that the US found itself reacting to (instead of being able to counter it before it was all set up to go), China has weakened the US and NATO’s ability to respond by buying critical infrastructure assets in countries like Greece.

I just mention three examples briefly, all involving Greece. When Greece was asked to implement tough austerity measures and privatise some of the nationally owned assets as part of receiving bailout funds from the EU in 2010. Greece sold 51% off its Piraeus port to China Ocean Shipping Co. (Cosco), a state-owned company.

Piraeus was a pretty backward under-developed container terminal that nobody took seriously. By 2019, according to the Piraeus Port Authority, its container handling capacity had increased by 5 times. China plans to develop it into the biggest port in Europe. Now it is not unusual to see Chinese naval vessels docked in the port. That must concern NATO a great deal now.

As a result of these economic ties and under diplomatic pressure from China, in 2016 Greece prevented the EU from issuing a unified statement against Chinese activities in the South China Sea (it was made easier by the fact that the US was led by President Trump then). Similarly, in June 2017, Greece threatened to use its veto to stop the EU from criticising China for its human rights violations, especially against Uyghurs who are native to the Xinjiang province.

Biden Doctrine and China

Biden and his administration seem to be fully aware of the threat posed by China to the US security interest and dominance in the Western Pacific ocean. Whatever steps Biden has taken in foreign affairs are meant to prepare the US to confront China.

I discuss the Biden doctrine in detail in a separate article. It would suffice here to mention a few steps taken by the Biden Administration to prove my contention.

First of all, it is worth remembering that Biden has not lifted any of the sanctions that the Trump administration imposed on China. He has not made any concessions to China on trade.

Biden reversed Trump’s decision and has agreed with Russia to extend lifespan of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). He has done so primarily for two reasons: he considers Russia and its various disinformation campaigns, attempts by Russia-based groups at seeking ransom by cyber-hacking the information systems of various US companies, fiddling with electoral processes in the US and Western Europe (2016 and 2020 Presidential elections in the US, Brexit, etc.) not as serious threat to the US security as what China poses. He simply does not want to take on both adversaries at the same time. When he saw President Putin, Biden gave him a list of infrastructure assets he did not want Russian hackers to touch. It seems Putin has taken Biden’s concerns on board.

Both right- and left-wing commentators criticised Biden for the way he decided to pull the troops out of Afghanistan. Yes, it looked untidy. Yes, it gave an impression as if the US troops were retreating in defeat. But, it must not be forgotten, as discussed above, that this neo-con project, the “war on terror”, had cost the US $8 trillion. By not continuing this war, the Biden Administration will save nearly $2trn. It is more than sufficient to pay for his domestic infrastructure programmes. Those programmes are not only needed to modernize the crumbling US infrastructure assets but will create many jobs in rural and regional towns in the US. Just as his emphasis on renewable energy will do.

I give one more example. Take the AUKUS security pact signed last week between Australia, the UK and the US. Under this pact, Britain and the US will help Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines and undertake the necessary technology transfer. This shows how serious Biden is to make China accountable for its revanchist acts. It shows he is genuine about committing the US to the Indo-Pacific region. It shows he is prepared to help allies of the US to equip them with necessary weapon systems. Lastly, it also shows that, just like Trump, he wants the allies of the US to carry a greater burden of their own security.

Captains of the industry in the West must play their part

The private sector can also play a very crucial role. The captains of the industry in the West helped China to become so economically powerful by offshoring their manufacturing activities. They need to do their share of spadework. They must take serious steps to decouple the Chinese economy with their respective country’s economy. For example, if Corporate America were outsourcing its manufacturing activity to countries within its region (eg, Central and South America), they would kill two birds with one stone. It would not only staunch the flow of illegal migrants from these countries to the US. And they would help the US to regain its position of dominance because it would considerably slow down China’s economic growth. Hence its ability to threaten the US militarily. Lastly, most of the Central and South American countries are so small that they would never threaten the US in any way. Similarly, Western European countries could shift their manufacturing base to Eastern European countries within the EU.

The US now realises the degree of threat China poses to democracy and the institutions necessary for the democratic societies to function properly (eg, rule of law, an independent judiciary, free press, free and fair elections, etc.). It also realises a great deal of precious time has been lost/wasted. But the US has the potential to rise to the challenge. One of the pillars of the Biden doctrine is relentless diplomacy, meaning that the US realises its biggest assets are its 60 allies distributed all over the world versus China’s one (North Korea).

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Vidya S. Sharma advises clients on country risks and technology-based joint ventures. He has contributed numerous articles for such prestigious newspapers as: The Canberra Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age (Melbourne), The Australian Financial Review, The Economic Times (India), The Business Standard (India), EU Reporter (Brussels), East Asia Forum (Canberra), The Business Line (Chennai, India), The Hindustan Times (India), The Financial Express (India), The Daily Caller (US. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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China

Lithuanian cybersecurity agency finds Chinese phones risk personal data leakage

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The National Cyber ​​Security Center under the Ministry of National Defense (NKSC) of Lithuania conducted a security investigation of the Chinese manufacturers Huawei P40 5G, Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G and OnePlus 8T 5G smart 5G devices sold in Lithuania.

“This study was initiated in order to ensure the safe use of 5G mobile devices sold in Lithuania and the software contained in them within our country. Three Chinese manufacturers have been selected who have been offering 5G mobile devices to Lithuanian consumers since last year and who have been identified by the international community as posing certain cyber security risks,” said Margiris Abukevičius, deputy minister of national defence.

The study identified four key cyber security risks. Two relate to gadgets installed on the manufacturer's devices, one to the risk of personal data leakage and one to possible restrictions on freedom of expression. Three risks were identified at Xiaomi's device, one at Huawei, and no cyber security vulnerabilities were identified at OnePlus' mobile device.

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Risks for gadgets manufacturers

Analyzing Huawei's 5G smartphone performance, the researchers found that the device's official app app store, App App, which does not find the user-requested app, automatically redirects it to third-party email. stores where some gadget antivirus programs have been rated as malicious or infected with viruses. Researchers have also attributed cyber security risks to Xiaomi's Mi Browser. It uses not only the standard Google Analytics module in other browsers, but also the Chinese Sensor Data, which collects and periodically sends up to 61 parameter data about the actions performed on the user's phone.

“In our opinion, this is really redundant information about user actions. The fact that this rich statistical information is sent and stored in an encrypted channel on Xiaomi servers in third countries where the General Data Protection Regulation does not apply is also a risk,” said Dr. Tautvydas Bakšys.

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Restrictions on freedom of expression

Analyzing the performance of the Xiaomi device, the researchers found that it had the technical capability to censor the content downloaded to it. Even several manufacturer's gadgets on your phone, including the Mi Browser, periodically receive a manufacturer's blocked keyword list. When it detects that the content you want to send contains words in the list, the device automatically blocks that content.

At the time of the study, the list included 449 keywords or groups of keywords in Chinese characters, such as "Free Tibet", "Voice of America", "Democratic Movement" "Longing Taiwan Independence" and more.

"We found that the content filtering function was disabled on Xiaomi phones sold in Lithuania and did not perform content censorship, but the lists were sent periodically. The device has the technical capability to activate this filtering function remotely at any minute without the user's knowledge and to start analyzing the downloaded content. We do not rule out the possibility that the list of blocked words could be compiled not only in Chinese but also in Latin characters,” added Bakšys.

Risk of personal data leakage

The risk of personal data leakage has been identified on a Xiaomi device when a user chooses to use the Xiaomi Cloud service on the Xiaomi device. To activate this service, an encrypted SMS registration message is sent from the device, which is not saved anywhere later. "Investigators were unable to read the contents of this encrypted message, so we can't tell you what information the device sent. This automated sending of messages and the hiding of their content by the manufacturer poses potential threats to the security of the user's personal data, because without his knowledge, data of unknown content can be collected and transmitted to servers in third countries," added Bakšys.

Lithuania has already incurred China's rancour; in August, Beijing demanded that it recall its ambassador after it established a representative office in Taiwan, which claims that Taiwan (Republic of China) is part of China (People's Republic of China).

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