US Threatens To Cut Off China From SWIFT If It Violates North Korea Sanctions

While this sounds like a step that needed to be taken, and it is, it’s too little too late. China (and Russia) have created an alternative to SWIFT. Thus, cutting China off only means it will switch to its own and abandon the U.S. Dollar system — with Russia likely to join. In effect, it will end up hurting the United States more than the intended target(s).

Over the last decade China and Russia have feverishly worked around America’s global influence. Russia and China no longer need GPS, as they have their own indigenous satellite navigation systems — Europe, too. You’ll only do their militaries a favor if you cut that off. Control over the internet has been ceded by America, so there’s also no method or means of punishment there. The IMF has been undermined by the AIIB, so it’s also hard to do anything there as well.

America’s choices are limited and not as effective as they used to be. The joke may be on the U.S. should push come to shove. The alternatives set up only mean America will likely isolate itself should it choose punitive measures.

 

In an unexpectedly strong diplomatic escalation, one day after China agreed to vote alongside the US (and Russia) during Monday’s United National Security Council vote in passing the watered down North Korea sanctions, the US warned that if China were to violate or fail to comply with the newly imposed sanctions against Kim’s regime, it could cut off Beijing’s access to both the US financial system as well as the “international dollar system.”

Speaking at CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference on Tuesday, Steven Mnuchin said that China had agreed to “historic” North Korean sanctions during Monday’s United Nations vote. “We worked very closely with the U.N.  I’m very pleased with the resolution that was just passed.  This is some of the strongest items.  We now have more tools in our toolbox, and we will continue to use them and put additional sanctions on North Korea until they stop this behavior.”

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China Threatens Arms Race Over U.S. Missile Defense

Trucks are seen carrying parts required to set up the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system that had arrived at the Osan Air Base on March 6 / Getty Images

 

THAAD deployed to South Korea

China on Tuesday reacted harshly to the U.S. military’s deployment of an advanced missile defense system to South Korea—one day after North Korea fired a salvo of 600-mile range missiles toward Japan.

The first battery of the Army’s Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, a long-range mobile missile defense system, arrived in South Korea on Tuesday for deployment to a location in the southeastern part of the country. Continue reading

China says carrier testing weapons, engaged in ‘scientific research’ in South China Sea

In this image taken from video run by China’s CCTV via AP Video, a J-15 fighter jet takes off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Liaoning during a drill in the South China Sea. China confirmed that its aircraft carrier has for the first time conducted drills in the South China Sea with a formation of other warships and fighter jets, a move that could raise concerns among its neighbors. | CCTV VIA AP VIDEO

 

A group of Chinese warships led by its sole aircraft carrier is testing weapons and equipment in exercises this week in the South China Sea that are going to plan, China’s foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Exercises by the ships, in particular the aircraft carrier Liaoning, since last month have unnerved China’s neighbors, especially at a time of heightened strain with self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, and given long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

China says the Soviet-built Liaoning and the other ships conduct routine exercises that comply with international law. Continue reading

Researchers identify sophisticated Chinese cyberespionage group

A coalition of security researchers has identified a Chinese cyberespionage group that appears to be the most sophisticated of any publicly known Chinese hacker unit and targets not only U.S. and Western government agencies but also dissidents inside and outside China.

In a report to be issued Tuesday, the researchers said Axiom is going after intelligence benefiting Chinese domestic and international policies — an across-the-waterfront approach that combines commercial cyberespionage, foreign intelligence and counterintelligence with the monitoring of dissidents.

Axiom’s work, the FBI said in an industry alert this month, is more sophisticated than that of Unit 61398, a People’s Liberation Army hacker unit that was highlighted in a report last year. Five of the unit’s members were indicted this year by a U.S. grand jury. The researchers concur with the FBI’s conclusion, noting that, unlike Unit 61398, Axiom is focused on spying on dissidents as well as on industrial espionage and theft of intellectual property.

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Exclusive: Cyberattack leaves natural gas pipelines vulnerable to sabotage

For further information on SCADAs, please see the following Global Geopolitics entries that were ahead of the curve:

Red Dragon Rising: Communist China’s Military Threat to America” from 1999 is a highly recommended read. The United States is in more vulnerable than most people know, and longer than most people would have thought.

Cyberspies linked to China’s military targeted nearly two dozen US natural gas pipeline operators over a recent six-month period, stealing information that could be used to sabotage US gas pipelines, according to a restricted US government report and a source familiar with the government investigation.

From December 2011 through June 2012, cyberspies targeted 23 gas pipeline companies with e-mails crafted to deceive key personnel into clicking on malicious links or file attachments that let the attackers slip into company networks, says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report.

The report does not mention China, but the digital signatures of the attacks have been identified by independent cybersecurity researchers as belonging to a particular espionage group recently linked to China’s military.

The confluence of these factors –  along with the sensitive operational and technical details that were stolen – make the cyberbreaches perhaps among the most serious so far, some experts say. The stolen information could give an adversary all the insider knowledge necessary to blow up not just a few compressor stations but perhaps many of them simultaneously, effectively holding the nation’s gas infrastructure hostage. Nearly 30 percent of the nation’s power grid now relies on natural gas generation.

“This theft of key information is about hearing the footsteps get closer and closer,” says William Rush, a retired scientist formerly with the Gas Technology Institute who chaired the effort to create a cybersecurity standard applicable to the gas pipeline industry.

“Anyone can blow up a gas pipeline with dynamite. But with this stolen information, if I wanted to blow up not one, but 1,000 compressor stations, I could,” he adds. “I could put the attack vectors in place, let them sit there for years, and set them all off at the same time. I don’t have to worry about getting people physically in place to do the job, I just pull the trigger with one mouse click.Continue reading