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US National Security in a New Era of Intense Global Competition

This article outlines challenges of USA relations with China, specifically related to political, economic and military domains.

With regard to 5G, the article states:

“The initial salvo for strategic industry leadership began with 5G wireless-telecommunications, as part of the “new information technology” sector. This is the entry point to the global digital and cyber-physical infrastructure with the opportunity to control the network infrastructure. This is also the path to position China as a “first mover” in training artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms on massive global data, driving AI to the network edge and accelerating digital transformation across many industries.”

U.S. leadership has enabled the installation of vulnerable (4G-5G+) wireless systems in the USA that have a built-in back door to China.  Correcting this critical problem with America’s electrical / “smart” grid is crucial to boosting national security, as these easily hackable (weapons) systems not only harvest personal data of Americans 24/7/365, but also engage in constant unwarranted surveillance, in violation of human rights and 4th Amendment Constitutional rights.  -JD




US National Security in a New Era of Intense Global Competition

05 April 2022 | Written by The Honorable Zachary J. Lemnios |  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Policy Studies | Original article published by Potomac Institute for Policy Studies |

A New Era

The United States and China are in a great power competition that will have profound impact on the national security and economic security of both countries for decades. 1,2 This competition aligns across interdependent economic, military, and political vectors. At the core, this is a competition of ideals and governance. But unlike the 20th century Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, the competition with China involves new challenges. The resulting tension between the US and China has opened a new era requiring a new national security framework.3,4

In the past, the United States has confronted the need for a complete transformation in the national security environment. For example, after World War II and the proliferation of nuclear weapons capabilities, the nation undertook Project Solarium and the Project Charles Air Defense Study to define a new national security operating model to contain the Soviet Union.5The competition with China poses an equally significant challenge now.




Economic Competition

The United States and China are in a fierce rivalry spanning a broad range of global markets and complex global supply chains. In 2020, US goods imports of $435 billion and exports of $125 billion reflect a trade imbalance with China. Persistent trade imbalances of this magnitude are unsustainable. This is caused by a complex competition in which the playing field is skewed and can lead to global market instability. Our companies and supply chains are interrelated. We depend upon each other’s markets and host each other’s companies.

The “Made in China 2025” plan, published in 2015, is China’s ten-year plan to reduce China’s dependence on foreign technology and to promote China’s technology position in the global marketplace. 6 China is focused on leading ten key high-tech industries (see the “Made in China 2025” figure above). Particular technology areas of competition with the US include information technology, robotics, new materials, and aerospace equipment. This plan is structured to raise the Chinese domestic content of core components and materials to 70% by 2025. The plan is the foundation of China’s economic competition.

The initial salvo for strategic industry leadership began with 5G wireless-telecommunications, as part of the “new information technology” sector. This is the entry point to the global digital and cyber-physical infrastructure with the opportunity to control the network infrastructure. This is also the path to position China as a “first mover” in training artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms on massive global data, driving AI to the network edge and accelerating digital transformation across many industries. 7

As a result, China is driving the development of technologies in the 5G telecommunications sector, led by its pri- vate sector companies Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei, and ZTE (Zhongxing Telecommunications Company Ltd.). While there are over 200 Chinese companies listed on US stock exchanges with a total market capitalization in excess of $2.2 trillion, Huawei and ZTE have been the subject of special scrutiny.8 In late 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that Huawei had access to as much as $75 billion in support from the China state government.9 In July 2020, the US government officially designated Huawei and ZTE as threats to US national security, because of their close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus and their legal obligation to cooperate with China’s intelligence services. More recently, White House Executive Order 13959 identified 59 Chinese entities for which US investments are banned by the Treasury Department.10

The “new information technology” sector of the “Made in China 2025” plan also depends on advanced semiconductor technology. State-of-the-art-microelectronics requires a complex supply chain with specialized technical talent and massive capital investments. Manufacturing facilities (fabs) are benchmarked by semiconductor wafer size (measured in millimeter in diameter), manufacturing volume (wafers/ month) and smallest printed geometric feature (nanometers). Today’s state-of-the-art products are manufactured on 300mm wafers at 5nm geometries. At the end of 2018 there were 112 production-class fabs globally utilizing 300mm wafers. 11 The global industry is projected to add at least 38 new 300mm fabs by 2024. Of these, Taiwan is expected to add 11 large-volume fabs, and China will add 8 to account for half of the global 300mm large-volume fabs by 2024. To support this, the China state government has established an investment fund of $150 billion to finance mergers and acquisitions for companies and technologies in the semiconductor industry.12

As a result, China is poised to successfully compete in the semiconductor sector. China is making significant investments and now has 13% of the global fabless market, up from 5% in 2010. 13 The Chinese semiconductor manufacturing sector has seen an average compound growth rate of nearly 25% since 2014.14 Design of semiconductors is also making significant progress in China. In 2019, China’s semiconductor design sector reached a level that surpassed Taiwan, making China the second-largest design industry cluster after the United States globally. China’s share of semiconductor design grew from 3.6% in 2004 to nearly 43% in 2019.15 Leadership in semiconductor design and manufacturing implies leadership in new information technology, which is but one sector of emphasis of the “Made in China 2025” plan for economic competition.

The US has begun to recognize the criticality of America’s supply chains and the economic security and national security challenge posed by foreign disruption. The recent White House review on this topic launched a comprehensive whole-of-government effort to strengthen domestic competitiveness and supply chain resilience across four critical sectors: (1) semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging, (2) large capacity batteries, (3) critical minerals and materials, and (4) pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients.16

To answer the challenge of economic competition, the US will need to greatly improve its ability to understand the national security implications of foreign economic developments and to provide better security for its own developments. New technologies can assist in addressing the national security implications of economic competition. Pursuit and integration of these directions into a comprehensive national defense apparatus might require new agencies and resources. Technology concepts, adapted from the commercial sector, could open new approaches to respond to economic challenges. These include the following.

  • Development and utilization of real-time national financial models to provide early warning indicators of critical supply chain disruptions, on both sides, thereby playing long-term offense and defense. Statistical models applied to open-source financial and industry data are being used today by companies to optimize global supply chain efficiencies and costs. With additional data, these could be used at a national level to preemptively forecast supply chain risks and economic impact and to make decisions to secure critical supplies for national needs.
  • Development and utilization of macroeconomic models to forecast foreign government involvements across global markets, and to provide early indicators of potential disruptive activities. For example, modeling mainland China’s potential economic futures with Taiwan would help to better understand and shape the region to thwart conflicts. Monte Carlo simulation techniques exist today to model thousands of scenarios and alert on early warnings and emerging scenarios, and to game threats and optimize responses. Analysts today monitor military threats; future analysts will use tools to analyze economic threats.
  • Utilization of blockchain, watermarking, design partitioning, and hardware obfuscation security approaches. Such approaches, emerging for use in commercial venues, can mitigate risks of counterfeiting, intellectual property theft, and tampering. A national approach is needed to integrate in-line data from millions of sensors across complex global supply chains with comprehensive analysis of the data to model and deploy strategies to defend the economic homeland.


Military Competition

Military strength and resiliency comprise a second element of competition. China’s strategy of “Military-Civil Fusion” poses significant challenges for the US and our allies. China’s Military-Civil Fusion development strategy has leveraged a whole-of-government approach to achieving parity with the United States in several military areas, including air defense systems, land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles, and shipbuilding.17 The prospect of China developing and fielding advanced military capabilities by integrating research across its commercial sector with its military and defense industrial sectors, is a key element of this great power competition.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has established the goal of building a “fully modern military” by 2027, with the capability to defend national sovereignty, safeguard against security threats in the western pacific region, and protect overseas development interests as China’s global economic presence grows.18 These plans include accelerating its integrated development in “mechanization,” “informatization,” and “intelligentization,” comprehensively strengthening military training and preparation. A recent report outlines the pace and impact of China’s military modernization, with a focus on the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) strategy to use science and technology for military purposes.19

Over the past decade, China has made significant progress in key technical areas including radio frequency systems, electronic warfare, hypersonics, and more recently quantum computing. As an example, Chinese researchers recently published an approach to network hypersonic weapons into a smart swarm for coordinated attacks.20 The concept opens the alarming prospect of a saturation attack that would be difficult to counter, even with future air defense systems. Particularly alarming are the references that the Beijing Institute of Technology authors cited, including the Raytheon Tomahawk Cruise Missile (RGM/UGM-109) Technical Manual and System Description.

In the field of quantum technologies, the Intelligent Perception Technology Laboratory of the 14th Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) announced China’s first quantum radar system in 2016 and displayed a mockup at the Zhuhai Airshow in 2018. 21,22 More recently, China opened the world’s largest quantum research center to push the frontier of quantum computing. The National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences, a $10 billion four-million square foot facility, has programs in quantum sensing, self-contained navigation, quantum computing, and quantum communications.

The United States has relied upon US technology leadership, unmatched engineering talent, and highly trained military personnel to build, deploy, and operate the world’s most technologically advanced military. With the development and availability of key advanced technologies from the commercial sector, nation state competitors and non-state actors now have equivalent access, eroding the technology overmatch to which our nation has grown accustomed. To recover and maintain technology superiority for military systems, new emphasis needs to be placed on defense technologies, involving new researchand development agencies and approaches. Some concepts that should be explored prior to establishing such centers include the following.

  • Faster movement toward reinvigorating US technology development demonstrating and fielding advanced technology in key areas . The Department of Defense can do so by expanding its Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) and Department Laboratories, or instituting new ones, in partnership with US industry. By using new partnership models to engage in a campaign of continuous development with field testing and integration, the US can match and exceed the efficiency of China’s Military-Civil Fusion model for military systems development.
  • Tools and techniques for persistent Gray Zone operations in competition with China. New approaches are needed to comprehend the long-term regional environment—economically, politically, and militarily. Long-duration campaign planning tools must employ tailorable and reversible effects at the most effective points in a regional campaign. Machine learning and dynamic planning could be adapted from the commercial sector and tailored with appropriate sensor data and modeling to preemptively plan for emerging scenarios. Emerging tools and techniques are beginning to provide military planners a “look ahead” into incipient scenarios and the opportunity to plan accordingly.23
  • A new deterrence strategy to address a combined Nuclear, Chemical, Biological, Cyber (NCBC) threat, expanding the range of highest priority threats requiring national capabilities . New deterrence, detection, and countermeasure techniques are needed considering that any combination of NCBC employment could present an existential threat to the United States. Natural or man-made, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in millions of deaths and crippled the world’s economy for many months. Fielding a global NCBC early warning capability is essential as engineered pathogens could have a similar impact. Deploying such a capability globally with allies and partner nations requires US global leadership.


Political Competition

Political strength is the third, and perhaps most challenging, element of the great power competition between the United States and China. China has harnessed its political and military strength in the South China Sea on a Gray Zone strategy. This has become an operational domain characterized by a long campaign of low threshold actions to achieve long-term strategic objectives without crossing the threshold of military confrontation. 24 It includes elements of Hybrid Warfare25 and Soft Power.26

China and Russia are increasingly using Gray Zone means to achieve their objectives without direct military engagement and below the level of war.27 The Gray Zone is growing rapidly in the South China Sea, where China is using coercion, intimidation, propaganda, and manipulation to expand its position in the region.28 China has built an artificial island chain, reclaimed disputed land, militarized islands, and is using legal arguments and diplomatic influence to expand its position.

In early 2020, China’s State Council established two new districts in Sansha City, a prefecture-level city headquartered on Woody Island which governs the bulk of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. This development will expand China’s control over the region and further complicate political and diplomatic dynamics.

While military deterrence is essential, the United States and our allies need a set of new technical and operational capabilities to operate in a persistent and multidomain Gray Zone.29,30

Prevailing in a prolonged political competition with China requires the United States to develop and implement a whole-of-government approach to integrate economic, political, and military signatures, indications, and warnings. The following technical approaches should be explored and deployed.

  • Intelligence, advanced forecasting, and decision support capabilities to detect, tailor, and preemptively plan economic, political, and military actions. Political actions can involve influence operations, marketing, competitive assistance, as well as tariffs and sanctions. Techniques can be adapted from the commercial sector to process live-stream data and alert on emergent behavior.
  • Whole-of-government synchronous strategic messaging and information operations using approaches from the commercial sector. Social media has opened a new strategic communication channel for enabling red teaming against a range of simulated actions and responses from China. The development of multi-domain models could open the prospects of predictive risk assessment to extend our economic, political, and military options.
  • New technical approaches to detect and protect government, enterprise, and private information that are increasingly entangled and increasingly vulnerable. Developing an effective layered information defense system is a daunting challenge. In addition to protecting critical infrastructure, effective capabilities would position the United States as a leader in information security, countering China’s cybersecurity laws that permit the government to obtain any information that they deem has an impact on Chinese security.


Link To Read the Full Article  Here_Potomac Institute for Policy Studies


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