Our Take

Proposals to update voters on the status of their mail ballots would help boost voter confidence and increase trust in electoral processes, Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine explained in a Tweet thread.

The decision by Japan and the Netherlands to join the United States in imposing chip export controls on China represents a strong foundation for future cooperation between democratic allies on technology issues, Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman explained on Twitter. 

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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media focused on three main narratives:

  • Jets and tanks: Kremlin-linked accounts continued to paint Western moves to supply tanks to Ukraine as unpopular with domestic audiences and unlikely to change battlefield conditions. Propagandists also showcased Western debates about whether to provide fighter jets to Ukraine.   
  • Bioweapons: Russian propagandists added details to their conspiracy around US biological weapons programs in Ukraine, with the Russian Defense Ministry claiming to have 20,000 documents related to the programs and state media suggesting those sites were linked to the coronavirus pandemic. The latter allegation, retweeted by Dmitry Polyanskiy, the First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia, included a rehashed claim that the US embassy in Kyiv deleted evidence of bioresearch activity in Ukraine after the Russian invasion—a claim that has been thoroughly debunked.
  • NATO: Russia-affiliated accounts tweeted more than 400 times about NATO last week, claiming that the alliance was escalating tensions with Russia and amplifying predictions that President Vladimir Putin would be “the man who defeated NATO and secured world peace.”

Chinese diplomats and state media focused on three main topics:

  • War in Ukraine: Assistant foreign minister Hua Chunying, the Chinese embassy in Paris, and the head of China Daily in Europe were among the many Chinese accounts that generated high engagement with tweets that accused Western democracies of encouraging bloodshed by providing military assistance to Ukraine.
  • US racism: Chinese state media mentioned Tyre Nichols in almost 100 tweets last week, with outlets like the Global Times, Xinhua, and CGTN using the story to highlight police brutality and systemic racism in the United States. Apart from the ministry of foreign affairs’ comment that the killing echoed that of George Floyd, Chinese diplomats abstained from commenting on the death.
  • Czech President on Taiwan: The Chinese ministry of foreign affairs reacted angrily to Czech president-elect Petr Pavel’s declarations on Taiwan and his phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Chinese diplomats as well as state media outlets and commentators amplified those protests on Twitter.

News and Commentary

Czech President-elect tows tougher line on China: Following his election last week, Czech President-elect Petr Pavel has taken a tougher stance against China, warning EU states of China’s incompatibility with Western values and agreeing to strengthen cooperation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, prompting China to warn of “irreparable damage” to Czech-Chinese relations. Research Analyst Etienne Soula told the Dispatch, “Beijing will likely escalate things if Pavel follows up his statements with more concrete outreach toward Taiwan, but his election comes at a time when China appears to want to mend bridges with Europe. After the major, and still ongoing spat, with Lithuania over its relations with Taiwan and the 2022 exit of all three Baltic states from the 17+1 format that was a key part of Beijing’s outreach to Central and Eastern Europe, Pavel’s tough line constitutes another setback for China in the region. This could explain why, apart from the MFA’s habitual protestations, most Chinese diplomats have so far remained silent on this issue.”

US cracks down on technology sales to Huawei: The United States reportedly stopped issuing licenses for US companies exporting technology to Huawei, further tightening restrictions on the Chinese technology firm, which is regarded as a national security threat and suspected of espionage. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said, “Defending US technological competitiveness and advancing democratic values in the tech age is an ever-evolving process and a whole-of-government team sport. We can expect that democratic governments will continually update key policies as the technology landscape evolves.”

Unfounded election fraud claims inform new GOP report: A new Republican National Committee internal report used unfounded claims of election fraud as the basis for a range of proposals that would expand the party’s “election integrity” activities in every state, which would include developing new training models for poll workers and observers and establishing a Republican organization of “election integrity officers.” Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson said, “After more than two years of false claims of widespread election fraud by many in the GOP, the Republican Party has made a lot of work for itself to rebuild trust in the election system among its members. Doubling down on election fraud claims is not the way to do it. Involving more people in the election process as volunteers or observers can help build trust, but a successful effort should be built on facts. The RNC characterized the report as an ‘early draft document.’ I hope the final version addresses the false allegations of stolen elections and massive voter fraud that discourages early voting, mail voting, and the use of drop boxes. Otherwise, the RNC will have an uphill battle convincing Republicans that their votes count, undermining their ability to win and democracy more broadly.”

In Case You Missed It

  • TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew agreed to testify before Congress to address the Chinese-owned application’s data use, privacy policies, and impact on youth amid efforts from several lawmakers to ban it.
  • China’s nuclear weapons research institute purchased US computer chips at least a dozen times in the past two years, circumventing a decades-long export ban.
  • On Tuesday, the United States and four allies in the Middle East and North Africa agreed to increase cooperation on cybersecurity to counter increasing cyber threats in the region from Iran and other malign actors.
  • Ukrainian authorities searched the homes of a billionaire and former interior minister, continuing Kyiv’s anti-corruption drive as it hopes to accelerate its progress toward EU membership.
  • Egyptian police are creating fake profiles on dating applications to find—and in some cases fabricate evidence against—people who identify as LGBT, according to a BBC investigation. 
  • The United States and India announced initiatives to cooperate on technology and weapons development, including in artificial intelligence, 5G networks, and semiconductors in an effort to counter China in the Indo-Pacific and decrease India’s dependence on Russian arms.

Quote of the Week

“We’re still in a norm-setting stage. We should set norms that we’re willing to live by when these technologies are widely proliferated—which will be sooner than we think.”

  • US Ambassador-at-Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy Nathaniel Fick said during an event hosted by the German Marshall Fund on technology and foreign policy on February 2, 2023.

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