ASD kicked off GMF’s annual Brussels Forum with discussions on democratic resilience and how democracies can offset autocratic advances. Tune in Friday, June 18 as ASD Cybersecurity Fellow Maurice Turner leads a panel on making cyberspace safe for democracy with the United States’ Mieke Eoyang, the United Kingdom’s Katherine Fox, Canada’s Scott Jones, and Microsoft’s Casper Klynge. 

Our Take

President Biden’s trip ends with a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Putin on Wednesday. What can Biden hope to achieve in this sit down? ASD experts weigh in ahead of the summit.

Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

As G7 leaders met at a summit last weekend, Russian state media criticized the group as outdated, pointless, hypocritical, and exclusive, while also attempting to discredit U.S. President Biden’s mental health. Ahead of tomorrow’s Biden-Putin summit, Russian officials and state media characterized Russia as reasonable and at times suggested that recent U.S. military activities could “overshadow” the meeting. State media and diplomats also criticized Ukraine’s uniforms for the Euro 2020 soccer tournament, which they lambasted for including Crimea in a map of Ukraine and for what they described as “the slogan of Holocaust perpetrators.” 

Chinese officials and state media similarly criticized the G7 as both irrelevant and a global bully. Chinese accounts monitored on Hamilton 2.0 disparaged the G7’s vaccine strategy, dismissed the group’s global infrastructure plan, and amplified disagreements between the United Kingdom and its European neighbors. Chinese officials and state media also continued to deflect growing calls for a new investigation into the origins of Covid-19, repeating accusations that the coronavirus was leaked from Fort Detrick in Maryland. Chinese diplomats and state media’s coverage of yesterday’s NATO summit will be included in next week’s Hamilton 2.0 analysis.

Coverage of the Iranian presidential campaign again dominated Tehran-linked Twitter accounts last week, with Iranian embassies and consulates around the world trumpeting the upcoming elections. The @iraninfrance Twitter account claimed, in an odd attempt to cast Iran as a healthy democracy, “Elections in #Iran. 39 elections since 1979 ….. ‘almost every year.’” Coverage by Iranian media of the NATO summit was minimal, though PressTV invited an American conspiracy theorist onto their program as a “political commentator” to disparage the alliance. Finally, Fars News played up tensions between the United States and Russia in the lead up to the Biden-Putin summit, focusing on U.S. military aid to Ukraine and Russian military exercises in the Pacific.

Read the full report here.

News and Commentary

G7, NATO, U.S.-EU summits focus on outcompeting autocracies: G7, NATO, and European Union leaders met at separate summits over the last week to emphasize the importance of democratic cooperation and to roll out strategies to combat a range of emerging challenges, including strategic competition with autocracies. The G7 called on China to respect human rights and condemned Russia’s “destabilizing behavior and malign activities.” G7 leaders also agreed to launch a global infrastructure initiative, called Build Back Better World, to offset China’s multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative and announced plans to collectively tackle the threats of corruption and ransomware. NATO leaders committed to strengthening their collective defense and developing a new strategic concept to better meet challenges posed by Russia, China, and transnational threats like climate change. The alliance also updated its cyber defense policy and launched an initiative to facilitate technological cooperation and the adoption of emerging technologies. The European Union and the United States likewise committed to cooperating to address a range of harmful activities carried out by Russia and China. ASD Head of Policy and Research Jessica Brandt praised the United States and EU’s focus on coordinating to advance democratic values, technology standards, and anti-corruption efforts. 

Senate approves bill to bolster U.S. competitiveness with China: Last Tuesday, the Senate adopted bipartisan legislation designed to counter China’s influence by investing roughly $250 billion in U.S. technology, science, and research. The sweeping legislation—titled the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act—includes over $50 billion to spur the U.S. semiconductor industry. It also commits $81 billion to the National Science Foundation, including spending to establish a Directorate of Technology and Innovation. The legislation allocates $300 million for a Counter Chinese Influence Fund and puts money towards establishing international technology and cybersecurity partnerships, infrastructure investments in the Indo-Pacific, and expert teams to help countries respond to Chinese economic coercion. It also imposes sanctions on China for human rights abuses and mandates sanctions be placed on hackers carrying out cyberattacks and cyber espionage on China’s behalf. The bill’s fate in the House is uncertain. ASD China Analyst Bryce Barros noted that the bill does a good job of identifying the ways that transnational criminal networks benefit from the Chinese Communist Party. 

In Case You Missed It

  • President Biden revoked a Trump-era executive order that sought to ban Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat and ordered a Commerce Department review of data privacy risks associated with foreign-owned apps. 
  • The Justice Department in 2018 subpoenaed Apple for the personal data of at least a dozen individuals tied to the House Intelligence Committee, including Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
  • Former President Trump’s staff pressured Jeffrey Rosen to embrace claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election in the days before Rosen became acting attorney general, according to emails disclosed by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. 
  • Almost 60 offices in the House of Representatives were unable to access some constituent information after a ransomware attack hit the tech vendor iConstituent. 
  • U.S. intelligence officials said Iran is intensifying a disinformation campaign to create social discord and spread anti-Semitism within the United States. 
  • The U.K. Parliament’s China Research Group found that 20 leading British universities have collectively accepted more than £40 million in funding from Huawei and other state-owned Chinese companies since 2015.
  • Italy plans to establish a new national agency to fend off cyberattacks as it seeks to secure its public administration data in a more robust cloud infrastructure.
  • The U.S. State Department criticized the Nigerian government’s decision to ban Twitter following a temporary suspension of President Muhammadu Buhari.

ASD in the News

What to expect from Biden’s first NATO summit as US president, Al Jazeera. Comments from Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina

NATO-Summit in Brussels – Interview with Kristine Berzina, World Focus from Brussels. Interview with Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina 

 Inside Europe: 10.06.2020, Deutsche Welle. Interview with Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina

What to Watch: All Eyes on Europe as the Transatlantic Community Meets at Various Summits, GMF. Contribution from Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina

Biden, Putin and the new era of information warfare, Financial Times. Comments from Media and Digital Disinformation Fellow Bret Schafer

More ballot reviews pending in Georgia, sowing doubts in elections, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Comments from Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine

Strengthening the transatlantic relationship in response to geopolitical challengers – Russia and China, EUROPEUM. Virtual event with Deputy Director David Salvo

Taiwan: Middle Path or Muddled Strategy? War on the Rocks’ Net Assessment. Co-hosted by Co-Director Zack Cooper 

Zack Cooper and Evan Feigenbaum on ConversationSix, ConversationSix. Interview with Co-Director Zack Cooper

Quote of the Week

The United States must lead an effort in close coordination with our allies to update and enforce norms in cyberspace, including a norm against letting one’s territory and infrastructure be used to conduct criminal activity.”

  • Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) wrote on June 15.
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The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.