MH370: Naval Nationalism on display in search efforts

The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 risks turning into a national “test of manhood” by the various forces involved, according to retired RAF Vice Marshal Michael Harwood quoted by Reuters.

China’s “ability to deploy forces deep into the southern hemisphere is particularly striking,” the report says.

China sent five ships to the new search area in the Indian Ocean on Friday, displaying military capabilities it lacked just “a handful of years ago.”

This should be seen alongside the desire by China to own aircraft carriers – even if they don’t exactly fit into its alleged carrier-killer strategy.

One of the more interesting lines in the Reuters piece is this, however: “Already, several governments have been openly competing in announcing findings and satellite images.”

This gets right at this notion of a Cold War-technical competition.  A nation’s narrative is about its ability to succeed in a dealing with an issue whose parameters are unknown, to step into a situation and create the reality through technology and determination.


China’s satellites using US-made chips

A fine piece of journalism by John Shiffman and Duff Wilson of Reuters about the difficulties in preventing military use equipment from finding its way to China. It tells the story of a batch of rad-chips, used in satellites, that have been spirited out of the US to China, where they are likely used for its space program. The story gets into all the nuances around the legality of high-technology purchase and export and the issue of China. “By its very definition, black market smuggling is hard to monitor and quantify. Quite often, sensitive US technology is legally shipped to friendly nations and then immediately and illegally reshipped to China.”

I am convinced that this legal-illegal export conundrum is going to begin the affect the shape of the global economy. No longer will it be open borders, free trade, and let’s all hope for the best. The calculus will have to change. But how is anyone’s guess.

The White House is bright enough to realize that the future for the US economy is creating high-end, high-tech, sophisticated goods and services. At the same time, the US is increasingly in a race with China, for increasing technological abilities. China, starting at a lower level, knows it must also pursue new tech industries if it doesn’t want to escape a stagnant, middle income economy trap future. The US must build those industries bigger for the sake of its own future in the world.

To use a term coined by sci-fi author John Brunner the “brain race” is on.

And while it’s not like the Cold War when the global economy was severed, any wide disparities in new technology between China and the West will increasingly carry the potential for destabilization.

China interference with US satellites?

This article pointing to possible interference with US satellites from China is the kind of thing that is probably at the front of minds of US politicians when they make their statements on China regarding cyber espionage.

Naturally, it’s hard to know if China is behind the events. Even if the US knew, it would be embarrassing to say so public. But seeing the trend across other networks, it shouldn’t be a surprise. I suppose this colors a lot of the hacking debate:

The report couldn’t pin blame for the attacks on China, but did say the techniques involved were consistent with those seen in other attacks the Dept. of Defense has blamed on China.

Japan ups surveillance capability

Japan has launched another radar satellite, according to Kyodo News.

Once the radar satellite commences full operation in April, Japan will have two radar satellites and two optical satellites in operation, enabling it to observe any point on the ground at least once a day.

That ability to better observe its neighbors will be handy, especially as North Korea is threatening more missile launches and raised the prospect of a nuclear test.