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Our Takes

“Outpacing China no longer simply means outrunning the [People’s Republic of China], but also impeding its capabilities in select game-changer and ‘force-multiplier’ technologies”, Senior Fellow Lindsay Gorman told the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs in her testimony on US-China competition in emerging technology.

The US Congress can play a constructive role in shaping a tougher US approach to transnational repression efforts, Co-Managing Director David Salvo and Research Analyst Nathan Kohlenberg write in testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence.

“Even the illusion through the use of AI tools that the integrity of an election cannot be trusted … can potentially cause a lot of chaos”, Co-Managing Director David Salvo said on a panel about foreign interference hosted by the Canada School of Public Service.

Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media focused on two main narratives this week: 

  • Red Sea attacks: Russian state media devoted significant space last week to the US and UK-led airstrikes against the Houthis. “Red Sea” and “Houthis” were the first and second-most used key phrases in articles published on monitored state media websites. The dominant narratives were that the strikes represent yet another failure of US foreign policy in the Middle East, that they reveal fissures within the United States and among Western allies, and that they will ultimately be unsuccessful.
  • “Fraud” in US elections: Last week, multiple state media outlets amplified Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that the 2020 US presidential election was “falsified through voting by mail”. Putin’s allegation that Democrats “bought ballots for $10” was in response to a question about voting in Russian occupied regions of Ukraine, which Putin claimed represented true democracy because people “voted with their feet”.

Chinese diplomats and state media focused on two main narratives this week:

  • Taiwan’s election: Chinese messaging zeroed in on the Taiwanese election results, which CGTN declared “reveal that the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] cannot represent the mainstream public opinion on the island”. Chinese diplomats and state media celebrated Nauru’s switch of diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. And, on Monday and Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) exhaustively listed all the countries that openly supported the one-China principle, from Egypt and South Africa to Kiribati and Vanuatu.
  • 100 days of war: Chinese diplomats and state media stayed the course over conflict in the Middle East, with stories highlighting the death toll and suffering among the Palestinian people. Chinese state media focused on pro-Palestinian protests around the world, for instance in the United Kingdom and Indonesia. They also covered the fallout from allied strikes in Yemen, emphasizing their ineffectiveness by highlighting how undeterred and capable the Houthis remained.

Iranian diplomats and state media focused on two main narratives this week: 

  • Iranian strikes: Iranian state-backed media last week was dominated by coverage of Iran’s military strikes in Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed that a strike in the Kurdish-majority city of Erbil, Iraq, targeted a Mossad headquarters. The strike in Pakistan targeted an insurgent group known as Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), though Tehran refers to them almost exclusively as Jaish al-Zulm (Army of Injustice).
  • Conflicts in the Middle East: Iranian media continued to report on the Israel-Gaza War, although the most engaged with coverage focused on the conflict in the Gulf of Aden and the efforts by Houthi rebels to interrupt global shipping.

News and Commentary

Putin echoes election falsehoods about mail-in voting in US elections: Russian President Vladimir Putin falsely claimed over a television broadcast that previous US elections were “falsified through postal voting”, echoing a prominent falsehood used by domestic actors in the United States to cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election. Co-Managing Director David Salvo told the Dispatch, “It’s unsurprising that Putin would denigrate—without evidence—the integrity of the 2020 US presidential election. Putin is running for another term in what will be sham elections, and disparaging how democratic elections are conducted in the West is a necessary tactic to distract Russian citizens’ attention away from the Kremlin’s hands-on approach to managing the vote in Russia.”

OpenAI unveils plan to counter election misinformation in 2024: ChatGPT-maker OpenAI announced a series of new initiatives created to limit use of its tools for spreading election misinformation, including by adding digital credentials that will encode the origin details about images created by its image generator tool, as voters in more than 50 countries head to the polls in 2024. Senior Fellow Lindsay Gorman said, “This is a huge step in the adoption of content provenance technologies more broadly across the information ecosystem. These technologies are not a panacea for disinformation, but can help increase trust and transparency in our information sphere. It’s time for media organizations and social media platforms to hop on board this trend.”

EU aligns with US cybersecurity labeling system for consumer devices: The United States and the European Union agreed to align their plans to create cybersecurity rating labels for internet-connected consumer devices, bringing EU efforts closer to the Biden administration’s “cyber trust mark” program. Senior Manager for Europe and Fellow Vassilis Ntousas said, “Although the specifics of the labeling policy and related standards are expected to be finalized by the end of 2024, the United States and the EU have now signed on an important joint roadmap towards a cyber trust labeling program for consumer Internet of Things devices. This will help make products safer for consumers and our critical infrastructure safer from disruptions on both sides of the Atlantic. The EU is a huge market for tech, and transatlantic convergence is therefore vital. This is why under-the-radar developments like this are significant, timely, and necessary.”

In Case You Missed It

  • US-based AI companies held secret meetings with experts from Chinese state-backed institutions about AI risks to the information space and the need for AI safety research.
  • Canada banned federal agencies from funding sensitive technology research at institutions that cooperate with state military or defense bodies in China, Russia, and Iran.
  • Arizona election officials expressed concern that the state could be unable to report 2024 presidential election results on time due to a complex timeline involving state laws on recounts and time frames for counting ballots.
  • OpenAI is working with the US Department of Defense to develop open-source cybersecurity software tools.
  • Chinese military agencies, state-run AI research institutes, and universities have all purchased small batches of Nvidia semiconductors banned by US export controls introduced last year, Reuters found.
  • Switzerland accused Russian-linked hackers of targeting several government websites with cyberattacks in retaliation for hosting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the World Economic Forum this week.

ASD in the News

Taiwan’s Election Offers Strong Lessons on Disinformation. China Technology Analyst Dylan Welch quoted in The Cipher Brief

Taiwan’s new president Lai to aid FDI beyond China. China Technology Analyst Dylan Welch quoted in fDi Intelligence

Quote of the Week

“What we have seen since 2018 is that … more foreign actors, more nation-states want to get in the business of trying to interfere or at least influence elections. And we’ve seen the techniques evolve. … The threats are more challenging but the defense is better.”

—US FBI Director Christopher Wray said on January 9 at the 10th International Conference on Cyber Security in New York.


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