Our Take

China is actively looking to attract engineers and technologists from around the world with incentives, such as unrivaled salaries and subsidized housing, to build a self-sufficient semiconductor industry, Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman explained on BBC’s The Inquiry.

Russia’s capture of the Ukrainian city of Soledar is a symbolic rather than strategic victory, as it allows Kremlin propagandists to claim military advances to domestic audiences, Director David Salvo says on Scripps News.

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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media focused on three main narratives:

  • War in Ukraine: Russian propagandists alternatively blamed technical failures and theUkrainian military for a helicopter crash that killed Ukraine’s interior minister and more than a dozen others, alleged that Ukraine was responsible for a missile that killed at least 40 people after striking an apartment complex in Dnipro, and celebrated the “liberation” of Soledar.
  • Biden’s classified documents: Russian media bashed US President Joe Biden as new details emerged about his mishandling of classified documents, with Kremlin-linked accounts amplifying Republican criticism of President Biden and spreadingdisinformation that connected Hunter Biden’s potential access to the documents with an alleged money laundering scheme.
  • Davos: Russia-affiliated accounts framed the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos as a gathering of the “ideologues of world capitalist terrorism” and asserted that attendees were known for soliciting prostitutes and beating women.

Chinese diplomats and state media focused on three main topics:

  • Covid: As China continues to struggle with the spread of covid-19, Beijing-linked accounts emphasized how well the country was handling the pandemic and pushed back against accusations that the government is undercounting the number of covid-related deaths.  
  • Japan: Japan was the third most mentioned country by Chinese propagandists, after only China itself and the United States. China-affiliated accounts attacked Japan for its military modernization efforts, with the Global Times asserting that Japan would become the “Ukraine of East Asia” if it continues to “stir up trouble.”
  • Africa: Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s tour through Africa also drew a significant level of attention from Chinese diplomats and state media. China’s key message to the continent was that Africa should not be “a wrestling ground for major-power rivalry.”

Read the full report here.


News and Commentary

TikTok seeks to appease US lawmakers by increasing transparency: As the Chinese-owned application TikTok negotiates with US regulators to continue operating in the United States, the platform shared its plans to increase oversight of its video-recommendation algorithms by enlisting third-party monitors to identify and flag signs of manipulation or irregularities in the code. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said, “While TikTok is certainly making every effort to retain its US business in the face of increasing scrutiny, the reality is that these monitoring efforts are infeasible. When an entity that is ultimately reportable and responsible to the Chinese Communist Party—due to its country of origin—has access and control over source code fundamental to our information ecosystem, the ability for misuse and manipulation to fly under the radar is just far, far greater than any ability we’d have to detect it. This is the Huawei-UK oversight conversation all over again.”

Jan 6 committee omitted social media memo in final report: The final report by the House special committee on January 6 did not include findings from a 122-page memo that detailed how social media platforms, especially Twitter, ignored internal warnings about violent rhetoric and bent their policies ahead of the attack on the Capitol. The committee reportedly omitted those findings to avoid a public fight with technology companies. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer told the Dispatch, “Whatever the January 6 committee’s rationale was for not including the section on social media in the final report, it seems like a critical omission, given the widespread use of tech platforms by the organizers and participants of the January 6 attack. Although the report’s findings were largely axiomatic to anyone paying attention to this issue, the one thing that stood out—again, unsurprisingly—is how much fear of political reprisal factored into the decision-making processes at social media companies. That could have huge implications as we head towards the 2024 election cycle.”

Failed candidate for NM legislature violently targeted political rivals: Solomon Peña, a Republican candidate who lost his bid for a New Mexico state house seat in November, was arrested for allegedly orchestrating a series of shootings at the homes of four elected Democratic officials in Albuquerque; Solomon claimed the election was stolen from him. Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine said, “Solomon Peña’s arrest is the latest example of how election denialism can fuel political violence. While the 2022 midterms had a number of encouraging signs for those who correctly believe America’s elections are free and fair, Pena’s arrest is a violent reminder that some individuals who believe false claims about stolen elections may feel increasingly inclined to try and take matters into their own hands rather than working through democratic processes and institutions. Such efforts are destabilizing and must be dealt with forcefully.”

In case you missed it
  • Iran sought to develop an expansive surveillance system that would enable state authorities to directly control and monitor all mobile communications in the country, according to a Citizen Lab report. 
  • The number of fake Twitter accounts discussing Brazil’s election has surged since October, with roughly one in five fake accounts claiming the election was rigged. 
  • US authorities arrested the Russian owner of a cryptocurrency exchange for allegedly helping to process more than $700 million in illicit funds. 
  • A little-known nonprofit gave federal, state, and local US law enforcement agencies warrantless access to a surveillance database of over 150 million money transfers between people in the United States and more than 20 countries.
  • A ransomware group that is widely thought to have ties to Russia disrupted the United Kingdom’s largest mail delivery service. 
  • China proposed that a UN cybercrime convention should criminalize the “dissemination of false information,” in what can be viewed as an attempt by the Chinese government to legitimize its censorship practices.

ASD in the News

New Mexico shootings follow two years of election assaults. Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine quoted in AP

Ukraine and the global battle for democracy. Senior Fellow for Malign Finance Josh Rudolph interviewed on Power Vertical 

The wolf is not coming? China wants to soften its diplomatic posture, experts: from time to time it will show the original appearance of ‘Wolf Warrior’. Research Analyst Etienne Soula quoted in VOA Chinese 

Young voters spoke up in November: In 2023, politicians must respond. ASD at GMF research highlighted in The Hill

US foreign policy elites and the great rejuvenation of the ideological China threat: The role of rhetoric and the ideologization of geopolitical threats. ASD at GMF research highlighted in Journal of International Relations and Development


Quote of the Week


“We will fight them [Russia] with the same determination and conviction that the Ukrainians are fighting the Russian forces. But of course, with different weapons. Our weapons will be democracy, transparency and effective policies.” 

  • Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in an address at Davo’s World Economic Forum on January 18, 2023.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.