Follow us on social


NYT hypes China threat: They’re reading the internet

That Beijing is mining publicly available information is not new or surprising but fear mongering about it in Washington is good for business.

Reporting | QiOSK

China threat inflation is all the rage these days in Washington, particularly among lawmakers, administration officials, or policy experts who either want to look “tough” on Beijing, provide fodder to throw more money at the Pentagon to sustain or build local defense industry jobs, or maintain weapons company money flowing to many DC think tanks.

You might think that the fourth estate should serve as a check on some of this anti-China hysteria but oftentimes the U.S. mainstream media joins in. This week, the New York Times was the latest to fear monger about the Chinese threat. The Times reported on Thursday (June 1) that Beijing is mining “open-source intelligence” from the United States — or in other words, reading American newspapers and publicly available academic or think tank reports — that it can “use to help plan for a potential conflict with the United States.”


The Times was passing on findings from an analysis by threat intelligence company Recorded Future, which says a Chinese open-source intel company has been mining publicly available information from the Office of Net Assessment, a Pentagon think tank, and the U.S. Naval War College. 

“The P.L.A. very much assumes the United States will in some form intervene in a Taiwan conflict, and they work very hard to prepare for that type of scenario,” said Recorded Future’s Zoe Haver.

But of course, none of this is new information or surprising. Everyone knows the Chinese military is preparing for the possibility that the United States will intervene in any Taiwan conflict. And anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention to U.S.-China relations would assume Beijing is mining open-source data, just as the United States does with friends and foes alike. 

“Powerful countries collecting intelligence on other powerful countries (including their own allies) is a universal and banal feature of international relations, and it only becomes a danger to national security if the other country is a committed enemy,” said Jake Werner, who specializes in U.S.-China relations as a Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute. “China is not today a U.S. enemy, but feverishly hyping supposed threats from China is driving a confrontational approach to U.S.–China relations that risks turning China into such an enemy.” 

Werner added, referring to the Times article, “treating China as an enemy encourages the exaggeration of differences between the two countries and blindness to similarities.”

Exaggerating those differences and engaging in China threat-inflation is also good for business, whether that means selling more newspapers, getting reelected, giving more money to the defense industry, and getting funding directly from it. Indeed, any company involved in “threat intelligence,” as Recorded Future apparently is, certainly has an interest in seeing that those threats exist, real or imagined.

Image: durantelallera via
Reporting | QiOSK
Chris Murphy Ben Cardin

Photo Credit: viewimage and lev radin via

Senate has two days to right Menendez’s wrongs on Egypt


Time is ticking if senators want to reinstate a hold on U.S. military aid to Egypt following indictments this week against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is accused of taking bribes in exchange for greasing the skids for Cairo to receive weapons and aid.

On September 22, the Southern District of New York indicted the New Jersey Democrat, his wife Nadine Arslanian Menendez, and three associates on federal corruption charges. Prosecutors alleged that the senator accepted bribes, including gold bars, stacks of cash, and a Mercedes-Benz convertible, using his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to benefit the government of Egypt. The FBI is now investigating Egyptian intelligence’s possible role.

keep readingShow less
Diplomacy Watch: A peace summit without Russia
Diplomacy Watch: Laying the groundwork for a peace deal in Ukraine

Diplomacy Watch: Domestic politics continue to challenge Ukraine’s allies


Last week’s edition of Diplomacy Watch focused on how politics in Poland and Slovakia were threatening Western unity over Ukraine. A spat between Warsaw and Kyiv over grain imports led Polish President Andrzej Duda to compare Ukraine to a “drowning person … capable of pulling you down to the depths ,” while upcoming elections in Slovakia could bring to power a new leader who has pledged to halt weapons sales to Ukraine.

As Connor Echols wrote last week, “the West will soon face far greater challenges in maintaining unity on Ukraine than at any time since the war began.”

keep readingShow less
What the GOP candidates said about Ukraine in 4:39 minutes

What the GOP candidates said about Ukraine in 4:39 minutes


The second Republican debate last night hosted by Fox news was marked by a lot of acrimony, interruptions, personal insults and jokes that didn't quite land, like Chris Christie calling an (absent) Donald Trump, "Donald Duck," and Mike Pence saying he's "slept with a teacher for 30 years" (his wife).

What it did not feature was an informed exchange on the land war in Europe that the United States is heavily invested in, to the tune of $113 billon dollars and counting, not to mention precious weapons, trainers, intelligence and political capital. Out of the tortuous two hours of the debate — which included of course, minutes-long commercials and a "game" at the end that they all refused to play — Ukraine was afforded all but 4 minutes and 39 seconds. This, before the rancor moved on — not to China, though that country took a beating throughout the evening — but to militarizing the border and sending special forces into Mexico to take out cartel-terrorists who are working with the Chinese.

keep readingShow less

Ukraine War Crisis