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The BRICS group comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, which is developing a shared currency to replace the US dollar and challenge American dominance. The action is being taken as Beijing and Moscow demand de-dollarization in response to Western sanctions.The US dollar has been the standard for international trade for many years. However, BRICS new currency has been recently discussed to replace the dollar and challenge American hegemony.

De-dollarization has gained momentum recently, notably since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February. The deputy chairman of the State Duma, Alexander Babakov, stated last week that the BRICS countries are developing a new payment system based on a plan that “does not defend the dollar or euro.” This gave more momentum to the campaign.

Do the BRICS countries genuinely produce a new trade currency? Who is leading this movement today? Will India profit from it? Will the plan come to pass? This situation raises numerous questions.

Replacing the ‘King of Money’ 

The US dollar is often called the “king of currencies.” In 1944, it was recognized as the world’s official reserve currency. The Bretton Woods Agreement, a delegation of 44 allies, decided the matter.Since then, the dollar has had a significant position in the global economy. It has given the US an excessive amount of sway over other economies. The US has historically used sanctions to further its foreign policy.

Others, like Russia and China, want to end the dollar’s hegemony because they don’t appreciate following US regulations. “De-dollarization” refers to diminishing the dollar’s dominance on international markets. It involves switching from using the US dollar to another currency to transact in oil and other commodities.

De-dollarization proponents contend that by lessening other nation’s reliance on the US dollar and its economy, they will be able to reduce the effects of US political and economic changes on their economies. Additionally, nations can lessen their susceptibility to interest rates and currency volatility, enhancing economic stability and lowering the likelihood of financial crises.Over the past few years, and particularly in the prior year, this movement has accelerated. The International Monetary Fund stated in 2022 that central banks today maintain fewer dollars in reserves than they did in the past.

Using data from the IMF’s Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves, the article reported that “the dollar’s share of global foreign exchange reserves fell below 59 percent in the final quarter of last year, extending a two-decade decline.” “Strikingly, the decrease in the dollar’s share has not been accompanied by a rise in the claims of the pound sterling, yen, or euro, other long-established reserve currencies, instead, the move away from dollars has been in two directions: one-quarter into the Chinese yuan and three-quarters into the money of smaller nations that have played a more restricted role as reserve currencies.

Approximately half of Russia’s foreign exchange assets, or $300 billion, were frozen by Western governments last year as retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine. Additionally, Russian banks were banned from the Swift system of global payments.”The so-called dollar “weaponization” has roiled many countries, not just Russia,” says Jason Hollands, managing director of investment platform Bestinvest.

“Countries willing to carry on business with Russia, like India and China, have begun doing so in rupees and yuan instead, sparking talk of the de-dollarization of the global trading system.”

He also noted that because of their recent yuan trade, Brazil and China had furthered the development of the Chinese renminbi as a viable alternative to the US dollar.

India has been attempting to stray from the dollar as well. Eighteen nations recently received authorization to transact in Indian rupees, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, and even the United Arab Emirates. Renowned economist NourielRoubini had predicted in February that the Indian rupee might eventually rank among the world’s reserve currencies.

The economist known as Doctor Doom remarked in an interview with ET Now, “One can see how the rupiah could become a vehicle currency for some of the trade that India does with the rest of the world, especially South-South trade.”

“The Indian rupee may be a unit of account, a method of exchange, and a store of wealth. Indeed, the rupiah has the potential to develop into one of the many global reserve currencies.

New Currency = Stronger Partnership

To improve commerce, the BRICS nations are also considering the creation of a new currency. According to reports, the nation’s annual conference in South Africa in August might mark the beginning of the recent financial deal. According to the news Russia is the driving force behind the plan because it has been subject to economic sanctions by the West due to its invasion of Ukraine.

The “most viable” course to follow at this moment, according to Alexander Babakov, is to create a shared currency that can be used for payments. He emphasized that both Russia and India would gain from this. Moscow and New Delhi should establish a new economic partnership with a new common currency, the Indian rupee or a digital ruble.

He continued that establishing a unified currency would also be significantly aided by China, bringing an extra 1.4 billion people into the system. The majority of governments today support a multipolar world presently instituted by three countries: New Delhi, Beijing, and Moscow, he claimed. “Its composition should be based on introducing new monetary ties established on a strategy that does not defend the US dollar or euro, but rather forms a new currency capable of benefiting our shared objectives.”

It’s interesting to note that Brazil has already started to accept the yuan as a currency for trade settlements and investments. Under the Rupee-Rouba arrangement for trade between India and Russia, dues are settled in rupees rather than dollars or euros.This demonstrates that the goal of the BRICS countries is to alter the dollar’s hegemony, which will finally result in the de-dollarization of the entire world.

Effects of the BRICS New Currency

The BRICS country’s economies might be stabilized if they move forward with their plan and create a new currency. It would translate into more consumer confidence for investment in the BRICS nations. Spending would increase, and the economy would expand as a result.

Will India, however, accept this new money? Will it desire to connect itself economically with China, with whom it is currently engaged in a confrontation at the border? It’s still being determined what will happen next. But it is undeniable that the dollar is weakening.

Ms. Pooja Kalbalia is presently pursuing her PhD in Media Studies from CHRIST University, Bangalore. She is an alumnus of the University of Delhi and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi. She has a rich experience in Media planning, Marketing, and Advertising industry. She is awarded Ad Person of the year by IIMCAA in the year 2021.

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The Brilliant Landing at Inchon – Retaking Seoul

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A crucial occasion during the Korean War was the 1950 landing at Inchon. To retake Seoul which had been lost to North Korean forces earlier in the conflict, the United Nations (UN) forces that were principally headed by the US, carried out the Brilliant Landing at Inchon or Operation Chromite.

Operation Chromite or ‘Inchon Landing’ was a massive amphibious attack on Korea’s western coast, close to the port city of Inchon. 

Why was Inchon selected for the military operation? 

Because the port city of Inchon was strategically significant on the Korean Peninsula’s western coast and it also offered easy access to Seoul.

A brief glimpse into the September 15, 1950 Landings

The landing at Inchon took place on September 15, 1950. 

The Korean War, which started on June 25, 1950, when North Korean forces invaded South Korea, was at a crucial point during this time. The North Koreans had made significant territorial gains in South Korea, and the UN forces aimed to change the course of the conflict.

The main goal of the Inchon landing was to retake Seoul, which had been lost to North Korean forces earlier in the conflict. The landing was purposefully timed to catch the North Koreans off guard and cut off their supply lines to drive them out of South Korea. The goal of the UN forces in retaking Seoul was to change the tide of the conflict and undermine the North Korean regime’s control over the nation.

A combination of military and political considerations led to the landing at Inchon. Regaining Seoul would have a profound psychological impact, raising South Koreans’ spirits and eroding the legitimacy of the North Korean government. Controlling Inchon’s harbour would also give the UN forces a logistical advantage and make resupply and reinforcement more straightforward.

How was the Event planned and executed?

General Douglas MacArthur, the head of the UN troops was in charge of planning operations. MacArthur’s brilliant and daring plan included an unexpected amphibious assault at Inchon. 

As the operation was to be coordinated between the Navy, Army and Airforce, the planning stage was the most crucial. General MacArthur and his team had to evaluate the topography, currents, tides, intelligence-gathering efforts, and the most suitable landing areas.

Naval and Air Support – To provide naval gunfire support and air cover, a maritime task force comprised of aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and other support vessels was organized. The naval troops were essential in weakening enemy defences and offering assistance during the landing.

Amphibious Assault – A combined force of US, South Korean, and other UN troops made the landing. The US 7th Infantry Division and other units assisted the US 1st Marine Division as it led the amphibious assault. Landing craft, amphibious vehicles, and helicopters were all used during the landing.

Reason for the Massive Success of the Inchon Landing Operation

The landing at Inchon was seen as being extremely effective for several reasons. Its strategic brilliance, use of surprise, careful planning, efficient deployment of combined arms, and quick seizure of Seoul all played a part in its victory. The operation significantly weakened North Korea’s position while turning the tide of the Korean War in favour of the UN forces and boosting their morale. In terms of successful amphibious assaults in military history, the Inchon landing stands out.

Overcoming Obstacles – The Inchon landing encountered many obstacles, including dangerous tidal currents and shallow waters. But with careful planning and preparation, the UN forces were able to get over these challenges and establish a beachhead at Inchon.

Speed and cooperation – After securing the beachhead, the UN forces moved quickly ashore while exhibiting superb collaboration between ground, naval, and air elements. Their speed and momentum dislodged the North Korean defences, allowing Seoul to be retaken soon.

Psychological Impact – The success of the Inchon landing had a profound psychological effect on the North Korean government and the UN forces. The North Koreans were caught off guard and forced into retreating, lowering their confidence and raising the UN troops’ confidence.

The 1950 landing at Inchon had major significance and considerably influenced how the Korean War developed. 

Inchon Landing’s most crucial aspects and effects

Turning Point in Korean War – The Inchon landing was a significant turning point in the conflict. The UN forces were pushed to the Pusan Perimeter in the southeast of the Korean Peninsula by North Korean forces who had made significant progress before the landing, taking Seoul. These gains were undone by the success of the Inchon landing, which also altered the tide of the conflict in the UN forces’ favour.

Recapture Seoul –  One of the main goals of the Inchon landing was to retake Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The operation was a success, as it not only inflicted a crushing blow to the North Korean soldiers but also raised the spirits of the people of South Korea and called into question the legitimacy of the North Korean government.

Strategic Disruption – The unexpected invasion at Inchon cut off North Korea’s communication and supply routes. It effectively cut off the southward-moving North Korean forces from their sources of reinforcement and assistance, weakening their position.

Coalition Warfare – The Inchon landing demonstrated the value of coalition warfare and international cooperation. It involved a multinational force, principally led by the United States, consisting of South Korean and other UN soldiers. The operation’s success illustrated the power of integrated processes and the capacity to manage different forces in a way that advances a single goal.

Psychological Victory – The success of the Inchon landing had a profound psychological effect on both sides of the fight. The UN forces’ confidence and morale increased because they viewed the operation as a significant triumph. On the other hand, it demoralized the North Korean soldiers, who were surprised and suffered a severe blow.

Geographical Consequences – The success of the Inchon landing had wider geopolitical consequences. It highlighted the tenacity and strength of the UN forces, mainly the US, in halting the expansion of communism in the early Cold War. Additionally, the operation garnered global attention and altered public impressions of the UN soldiers’ might and will.

Fighting the Chinese Aggression – Repercussions of Landing at Inchon

The Inchon landing was a tactical victory but had unexpected repercussions. As a result of the UN’s subsequent move towards China’s border, the war in China was heavily intervened in, sharply increasing and lengthening its duration.

Despite being generally viewed as successful, the Inchon landing has drawn some criticism. The UN forces were placed in difficult situations and well-reinforced enemy positions, according to critics, who claim that the manoeuvre was high-risk and foolhardy. It has been noted that a lack of coordination and communication among military units and intelligence breakdowns resulted in an underestimation of the North Korean forces’ power. Concerns have been voiced regarding the operation’s overconfidence and arrogance and its neglect of other fighting fronts. Critics have also pointed out the civilian deaths and destruction brought on by the attack and the accompanying combat. Despite these criticisms, the Inchon landing remains among the pivotal moments in the Korean War since it succeeded in retaking Seoul and changed the tide of the war.

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Malign India – Hidden Agenda Behind Qatar Arrests

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Eight Indian personnel who were working with the private company Dahra Global Technology & Consulting Services, were detained in Doha (Qatar) on 30th August 2022. Though the formal charges against have still not been disclosed by the Qatar authorities, certain national and international media have started presuming the Indians guilty without reason and tainting the country’s image amidst the G20 summit that was happening in India this year!

Dahra Global’s Contract & Dealings with Qatar Navy

Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy services is a private company owned by a former Oman Air Force Officer Khamis al-Ajmi. The Qatar-based defence company was contracted to work with Qatari Emiri Navy to establish a navy base and train its soldiers. Therefore, the company had hired retired Naval specialists from India for the project. 

In August 2022, the Qatar State Security detained 8 of these Indian employees. The CEO of the company, Khamis Al Ajmi was also detained but was released within a few days. 10 months since, the reason of the arrest of the employees as well as the release of CEO still remain shrouded in mystery.

Another controversial aspect of this incident is the way it became public. The arrest only came to light when a Twitter user (supposedly a relative of one of the Indians accused) requested assistance of the Indian government.

Disinformation & Agenda-driven Fake News

A few media outlets have claimed that the reason of arrest is the stealing information of Qatar’s secret submarine project. It is alleged that the Gulf nation is working on a super-secret project to develop advanced near-future submarines with Italy-based company Fincantieri. However Fincantieri spokesperson vehemently denies building or planning to build any submarines for the Qatari Navy. 

Till now there is neither any proof nor any verdict on the stealing of information, but the allegations have been unduly amplified in the media outlets, especially in Pakistan news outlets. Further, Pakistani news outlets ‘The Express Tribune’ and ‘The News International’ have also reported that the detained Indians have been given the death penalty by Qatar court, which is baseless. There are other news outlets that published clickbait stories in the last two months acting completely on speculations and citing each other on this certain incident. 

Though these types of tactics are not new to India, their numbers have increased in past months as India took the presidency for the global G20 summits in 2023. 

In contrast to Pakistan’s economic crisis and political chaos, India has been emerging as one of the most powerful players in Asia. Which is why Pakistan through print and digital media (especially social media like YouTube) has increased attacks on India by spreading disinformation and fake news. India’s development has earned appreciation globally. And the successful presidency of the G20 too demonstrates its ability to provide leadership on the global stage and navigate complex challenges. All this no doubt irks the neighbour which is battling financial, social, political and moral crisis at home.

Present Situation on Qatar’s detention of Indians

India’s embassy in Qatar has been in touch with Qatari authorities and has gotten consular access to the detained Indian nationals. The embassy is also providing robust legal support for the eight men. The first hearing of the trial was held on March 29, followed by a second hearing on May 3rd, 2023.

The situation after the second hearing stands at this – 

  • Second Hearing Adjourned – As the defence attorney was not given access to the required documents, the second hearing that was scheduled on May 3rd (yesterday) has been adjourned. The date for the next hearing is not known yet.

 

  • No formal charges on the Indians yet – It is now almost 10 months since they were first detained, however the Qatar authorities are yet to inform India & their families of the charges under which they have been imprisoned.

 

  • CEO establishes new company and dissolves Dahra Global – As per the investigations done by The Sunday Guardian, the CEO of Dahra Global, Retired Omani Air Force Squadron Leader Khamis Al Ajmi with the help of two French nationals has set up a new company called Advanced Services and Maintenance. This company is in the process of taking over all the assets owned by Dahra, including office buildings, contracts and non-Indian employees.

 

  • All Indian nationals employed with the company have been sacked. 
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WAR OF NATIONS (II): CHINA’S FORGOTTEN CHALLENGE IN THE EAST

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For most Chinese, memory of relations with Japan is a reminder of “Century of Humiliation” (1839 -1939). The two Sino-Japanese wars (1894-95 and 1937-45) in particular are amongst the most mortifying tales for the people of China. The defeat of Japan in WW2 and its subsequent demilitarisation was a big relief for the CCP, as its toughest adversary was silenced.

Japan’s pacifism and downgrading military to ‘Self Defence Force’ provided a sense of security to Chinese planners, but their leadership always regarded Japan as a sleeping demon, which should not be disturbed. Thus, China was never too vocal about territorial issues with Japan (Senkaku Islands) and its military kept misadventures in Japanese waters/ airspace under check. They knew that the military might of Japan is leashed by a frail rope of ‘Article 9 of Japanese Constitution’ – a rope bound to break in due course of time. Deep in their hearts, China’s naval leadership was expecting Japan to emerge as a competitor in the near seas in future, but was hoping that it will not happen in their time. However, the recent misadventures of Shandong Carrier Battle Group near Miyako Islands set the records straight.

Japan Flexing Muscles

Xi Jinping’s leadership marked CCP’s obstinance of Taiwan’s reunification and insatiable desire for expansion. China’s behaviour, declining American supremacy and emerging geopolitical situation seems to have made Japan uncertain about the existing security mechanism.

In December 2022 Japan issued ‘Three Strategic Documents’ to highlight the need for reviewing existing policy of maintaining “only counter attack capabilities”. It also emphasized the need to build realistic expertise to safeguard against the increasing Chinese aggression in Indo-Pacific region. This document was supported by a 26.3% year over year increase in defence budget.

Following this, Japan’s political/military leadership have started discussions on inducting nuclear capabilities and reviewing the “Three Non-Nuclear Principles” (TNNP) of the nation. Induction of nuclear submarines is being discussed with greater momentum. Apart from this, extending use of Japanese Bases for USA’s nuclear weapon carrying aircraft and submarines has already commenced.

At sea, Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) is complementing the spirit of the “Three Strategic Documents”. They have started aggressively challenging Chinese Navy and Coast Guard ships operating close to Senkaku Islands and Okinawa. Before the recent Shandong incident, JMSDF had forced a Chinese submarine to surface and raise flag near Senkaku Islands. And operation of F-35 B fighters from the Japanese Ship Izumo could be signalling towards induction of Aircraft Carriers in future.

These incidents are an indication of JMSDF’s commitment to challenge PLA navy’s unlawful actions. The message is clear – Japan will no longer be a spectator to China’s ‘might is right’ tactics.

Why is Chinese Navy Nervous?

Retired Vice Admiral Toshiyaki Ito, former Chief of JMSDF, have highlighted China’s weaknesses in defensive operations like Anti-Submarine and Mine Warfare.  As per him, Chinese strategy is based on “Active Defence” or A2AD using shore based ballistic missiles to keep adversary out of first island chain. Japan as an opponent in the ‘decisive’ war has not been catered in their strategy, but now it is emerging as a new challenge.

Another Japanese strategist, Professor Toshi Yoshihara (US Naval War College) feels that the way JMSDF is building its procedures and inventory, using combination of submarines, mines, asymmetric attacks and shore-based antiship missiles/fighters, they can easily tie down Chinese Navy inside the first chain and restrict their freedom of movement in East China Sea.

JMSDF is a world leader in the field of Anti-Submarine and Mine Warfare. It operates some of the best conventional submarines in the world, and has inherited finest war fighting traditions from the Imperial Japanese Navy. JMSDF maintains close relations with the best Navies in the world including that of US, India, South Korea and Australia, all of whom are being challenged by China and therefore are keen to partner with each other. Japan’s geographic location, technological superiority, maritime power and a new political outlook, coupled with strength it derives from capabilities of its partners makes it an extremely dangerous opponent for China.

74th Naval Anniversary Should Be More Than Just Cake Cutting

It is evident that Japan is emerging as a new challenge for China. JMSDF has always been a highly professional and potent Navy, but was reluctant to display its prowess. But geopolitical uncertainty and China’s actions has forced Japan to re-think. China’s overall strategy does not cater for an aggressive Japan and Chinese Navy is unprepared for a powerful opponent in their backyard (possibly with Aircraft Carriers and Nuclear Submarines in the near future). If Japan goes nuclear, the power balance in North Pacific will topple and first to be affected will be China.

In this backdrop, Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or QUAD Alliances also assumes significance. While so far the QUAD has strayed clear of portraying itself as a military coalition, it nevertheless remains an ‘alliance in being’ of like-minded partners facing the China menace. Across the wide Indo-Pacific canvas, there is perceptible discomfort in the manner in which China has chosen to portray its rise. With India increasingly being viewed as a natural ally in the Indian Ocean and Japan shedding its ‘Self Defence Force’ image, China’s freedom of adventure in the Indo-Pacific will certainly be challenged.

On its 74th Anniversary, the Chinese Navy must do more than just ‘Cake Cutting’. It is time to finally display respect for international law and exchange courtesies with other countries as is expected from a world power that it claims to be.

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China Information Warfare & The Largest Spy Network

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China information warfare capabilities have been a subject of concern and study by various analysts and experts. The Chinese government has recognized the importance of information warfare and has invested significant resources into developing and expanding its capabilities in this domain.

“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine” 

So said Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice President of Gartner Research…And no country has embraced this reality more fervently than China.

The Chinese government has made it clear that they aspire to be the world leader in technology and data, and its efforts to gather, analyse, and control information have been relentless. They have ensured their stronghold in information gathering through variety of means like surveillance, espionage, businesses & overseas projects and unwarranted data collection both domestically and internationally. But that’s not the only things that’s interesting – the Chinese government has been very successful in using this data (gathered through illicit means) to launch targeted attacks and propaganda campaigns within China and outside. 

Domestic Surveillance: Censorship and Social Credit System

China has become notorious for its extensive and highly sophisticated surveillance system, which monitors millions of Chinese citizens in real time. The scale of the system is unprecedented, and the misuse of this technology has raised significant ethical concerns. This discusses the scope of China’s surveillance apparatus, instances of misuse, and how the social credit system works in conjunction with the surveillance system to exert control over the population.

The integration of cutting-edge technology into China’s surveillance system is a key factor in its vast scale. The country has deployed more than 200 million surveillance cameras, making it the most heavily surveilled nation in the world. These cameras are equipped with facial recognition, AI algorithms, and machine learning, which enable them to identify and track individuals in real time. This massive surveillance network is further complemented by the widespread use of mobile devices, which are often pre-installed with government-approved apps that monitor users’ online activities. The Great Firewall of China, the country’s internet censorship system, also filters and controls the flow of information in and out of China, allowing the government to maintain a tight grip on the digital lives of citizens.

The misuse of surveillance in China has led to multiple instances of human rights abuses and privacy violations. 

One of the most striking examples of this is the treatment of the minority in the country especially in areas like Tibet and Xinjiang. Chinese authorities have leveraged the surveillance system to identify, track, and detain Uighurs and Tibetans based on their ethnicity and religious practices, resulting in more than one million people being held in internment camps. The surveillance system has transformed Xinjiang into a virtual police state, with pervasive monitoring of Uighurs’ daily lives. 

Another instance of misuse is the crackdown on political dissidents and activists. The Chinese government has frequently used surveillance to monitor, harass, and detain individuals who express dissenting opinions or engage in activism. This has led to a chilling effect on free speech and political expression in the country, as citizens are increasingly aware that their every move is being watched and recorded.

But the effects of this surveillance gets worse with the ‘Social Credit System’.

The Chinese government has been developing a Social Credit System (SCS) since 2014, which assigns individuals and businesses a social credit score based on their behaviour. The SCS is designed to encourage good behaviour and punish those who are deemed untrustworthy. The surveillance infrastructure plays a critical role in the implementation of the SCS, as it provides the data used to assess and monitor citizens’ behaviour. It evaluates individuals based on a wide range of criteria, including financial creditworthiness, adherence to laws and regulations, and even personal habits such as smoking and playing video games. A low social credit score can have severe consequences, including restricted access to loans, travel bans, and exclusion from certain jobs. The surveillance system and the SCS work in tandem to create a powerful and pervasive tool for social control. The constant monitoring of citizens feeds into the SCS, enabling the government to identify and penalize those who engage in undesirable behaviours or express dissenting opinions. Critics argue that this combination of surveillance and social credit creates an Orwellian dystopia, where citizens are constantly monitored and evaluated by an all-seeing, all-knowing government.

International Espionage: Spy, phoney Establishments and business deals

Apart from domestic surveillance, China has deployed several espionage tactics to gain dominance over the info-gathering network of the world.

How does China do this?

Three major ways have been come to light are these – 

(1) establishing a covert spy team under the guise of ‘Chinese Overseas Police Stations’, 

(2) disguising spies/agents as students, scientists and industry workers, and 

(3) through IT companies and their entrepreneurs. 

Overseas Police Stations

 According to reports, China has set up more than 50 overseas police stations in major cities around the world, including New York, London, Amsterdam, Budapest, Kampala, and Tokyo. These stations are staffed by Chinese police officers and are officially touted as providing diplomatic and logistical assistance to Chinese citizens living abroad. However, there is evidence many of these stations are involved in intelligence gathering, especially on Chinese students and dissidents. The police officers at these stations can put pressure on Chinese citizens to become informants for Beijing. They monitor the activities and allegiance of Chinese student groups, businesses, and other diaspora organizations. They have also been accused of harassing and intimidating Chinese dissidents and activists to get them to return to China. In some cases, individuals who refused to cooperate have threatened or detained their families in China.

The overseas police stations are part of China’s broader intelligence strategy to gain more control and oversight of the large numbers of Chinese citizens living and working abroad. It is a way for Beijing to project its power beyond its borders and stifle dissent even outside China’s territory. The stations have become outposts not only for Chinese police but also for Beijing’s intelligence agencies. They add a layer of surveillance for Chinese nationals regardless of where they travel. They act as an extension of China’s techno-authoritarian policies by infringing on civil liberties and facilitating spying at a global level. Many countries are now concerned about the influence and espionage these police stations enable, especially as some cities like Paris have given their Chinese police official office space and diplomatic status. However, China claims they are simply providing lawful services to Chinese citizens in need of assistance. The opaque nature of these stations and their activities remains controversial and suspicious. 

China Information Warfare Through International Students and Scientists

 There is evidence that China gathers intelligence using Chinese students, scientists, and researchers in foreign countries. They have been accused of conducting surveillance, censorship, and influence operations targeting Chinese student groups and research institutions in democracies like Australia, Canada, and the US. The Chinese government also pressures Chinese citizens abroad to become informants and report on fellow Chinese students or academics.

Technology Companies Exporting Censorship and Surveillance

Chinese companies like Huawei, ZTE, and Dahua have been accused of enabling Chinese government spying by selling telecommunications equipment and smart city surveillance systems to foreign countries that have security vulnerabilities or allow data sharing with Beijing. The US and Australia have banned some Chinese firms over spying concerns. Organisations like NASA and SpaceX refuse to work with Chinese tech firms due to this issue. Tik-Tok was banned in early 2020 and Huawei was also denied the bid for 5G bandwidth in India due to such spying concerns.

The scale of China’s surveillance system is unparalleled, and its misuse has led to numerous human rights abuses and privacy violations. These surveillance apparatuses are a potent tool for social control, discouraging dissent and promoting conformity. As China information warfare refine its surveillance capabilities, the international community must remain vigilant and advocate for the protection of privacy and human rights.

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Nakano Takeko : Uncovering Japan’s Legendary Female Samurai

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I have been researching the onna-bugeisha, female samurai warriors, and women of the samurai class and that’s when I realised – 

History is full of powerful women who have fought, sacrificed and won battles for their lands, however our storytellers have been miser in telling us these stories. 

So my curiosity was at its peak when I started reading about Japan’s elite women warriors. Who were these ladies? Which history did they come from? Exactly how did they appear? What functions did they fulfill during the conflicts they engaged in? What tools did they utilize? The men who served beside them, how did they think of them?

One such story that appealed to me was that of Nakano Takeko. 

Who was Nakano Takeko? 

On 15th January 1847, Nakano was raised during a turbulent period in Japanese history in Edo, Japan (today’s Tokyo). She was the third child of Nakano Heinai, a physician who worked for the northern solid Japanese feudal house known as the Aizu clan.

Takeko was raised in a household of scholars and warriors, and she developed an early interest in combat skills and military planning. Her father urged her to study with the top martial artists in Edo since he was aware of her gifts.

At 16, Takeko was chosen to join the Women’s Army of the Aizu clan, a group of female warriors trained to protect their families and homes during battle. Takeko swiftly rose to become one of the Women’s Army’s most promising recruits, a group of exceptional archers and swordswomen. Takeko mastered the naginata, a long polearm with a curved blade at the end, under her teacher, Akaoka Daisuke. Nakano’s teacher eventually adopted her, and in the 1860s, she collaborated with her as a martial arts instructor. By then, she had also received instruction in martial arts, horseback riding, and archery. Takeko and the other Women’s Army soldiers vowed to defend the Aizu family at all costs, even at the expense of their deaths.

Overview of Boshin Conflict & Nakano’s role in War 

Midway through the 1860s, the Meiji imperial dynasty sought to subjugate the Tokugawa family. The civil war arose because many young nobles and samurai opposed the shogunate’s policy of allowing foreigners into the country.  The Aizu clan sided with the pro-shogunate side. Nakano wanted to enlist in the Aizu army and fight for the Tokugawa but was prohibited due to her gender. As a result, she organized the Aizu Joshitai, a group of female fighters. 

Takeko immediately gained a reputation as one of the most formidable fighters in the Aizu army thanks to her bravery and combat prowess. Her life, however, was tragically cut short in October 1868 during the Battle of Aizu. Takeko led a Women’s Army charge against the adversary lines as the imperial army drew closer to the Aizu castle. Despite her courageous efforts, a bullet to the chest eventually caused her to lose her life.

When the Tokugawa planned to submit to the imperials in 1868, the residents of Aizu stood their ground. This resulted in the Battle of Aizu, where Nakano led her army into conflict despite orders from the imperials to cease fire. 

Nakano Takeko Death- Brave Warrior Bids Goodbye

Nakano is thought to have killed about five troops during the battle before being fatally wounded in the chest. 

In her last moments, Takeko begged her sister to bury her body deeply to prevent wild animals from defiling it. Her sister complied with her wish and interred her in a private cemetery on the grounds of Aizu castle. 

Nakano Takeko’s Legacy 

Nakano Takeko’s memory has significantly impacted how female warriors are portrayed in Japanese culture. Numerous pieces of literature, visual art, and film that show strong, brave women in various roles have been inspired by her narrative. Traditional gender norms and prejudices in Japanese society have been challenged by Takeko’s portrayal as an accomplished and fearless fighter.

Takeko’s bravery and selflessness became legendary, and she is still revered as a representation of the strength and tenacity of women. She is often compared to Tomoe Gozen, whose bravery and tenacity typified a real female samurai. 

Despite only being 21 when she passed away in 1868, her short life did not lessen the significance of her historical contributions. Every year, at the Aizu Autumn Festival, young girls join the parade wearing hakama (a pleated skirt) and white headbands as a tribute to the bravery of the Joushitai ladies. The tomb and a memorial to her are situated at the Hokai Temple in the western Fukushima County city of Aizubange.

Japanese Way of War 

I have long pondered how much Nakano Takeko’s narrative might be based on historical myth. All women of higher social standing would have carried weapons (if covertly) throughout her era, and young girls would have been educated to use naginata to defend their homes. The Imperial Army’s existential danger to the Aizu was probably why it was permissible for an autonomous female combat army to be formed.

Admiral Dewa Shigeto, an Aizu native, referred to Takeko and her contemporaries as the “Joshitai,” or the “young (unmarried) women’s forces,” in the early 1920s, which was the first time they were publicly acknowledged. During the conflict, Shiget was a member of the “Byakkotai,” a reserve youth organization from the Aizu region that is also remembered. He wasn’t old enough to fight; he was only twelve.

Ironically, the fact that Takeko was merely gunned down is what makes her narrative more meaningful to the Japanese mentality. The Boshin War’s Battle of Aizu is renowned for pitting a force founded on traditional notions of honor and devotion against a power primarily based on numerical and technological advantage. Even today, Nakano Takeko’s tale illustrates the intense conflict many Japanese people have between honorable traditions and contemporary utility.

It’s interesting to note the differences in mindset between the older and younger generations of Japanese people. Takeko might have served as a spokeswoman for the forward movement if she had lived in the present. Although female fighters were uncommon in Japan, some were well-known and respected for their prowess and valor in combat. These women displayed incredible bravery and tenacity. They took up arms and fought for their families, territories, and principles. Several of them were in charge of their armies. 

Their accomplishments and the legacies they have left behind, have truly inspired me.

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