The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) closed public feedback last month on a draft regulation to secure and manage data according to its importance to national security. While ostensibly a technical measure to enhance privacy protections, the regulation is part of China’s strategy to strengthen its power in cyberspace through large-scale data collection.
In December, the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism. Even though it wasn’t published until the end of 2021, the report covers only the previous calendar year. Therefore, some of the material is clearly dated, including a passage touting the supposedly “aggressive action” taken by Afghan security forces against “terrorist elements” throughout 2020. Of course, those security forces no longer exist, as the Taliban overran the entirety of Afghanistan in 2021.
On January 8, a Dassault Falcon 900EX executive jet (tail number EP-IGC) owned by the Iranian government took off from Tehran, heading west. Aboard the plane was an Iranian delegation traveling to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, where the local dictator, Daniel Ortega, was to be inaugurated to his fourth term as president two days later.
Welcome back to the Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker. Once a month, we ask FDD’s experts and scholars to assess the administration’s foreign policy. They provide trendlines of very positive, positive, neutral, negative, or very negative for the areas they watch. Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden set a “goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has not obliged. In December, Moscow put Europe on edge with persistent threats to launch a major military offensive against Ukraine. Meanwhile, nuclear negotiations with Iran continued even though Tehran’s proxies targeted U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria with armed drones. Belatedly, the White House announced a “diplomatic boycott” of next month’s Winter Games in Beijing, yet only a handful of allies will keep their diplomats home.
The Biden administration’s Iran policy is collapsing, and it is well past time for Congress to intervene using a key tool it crafted in 2015: the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). Soon after President Biden took office, the United States and five other world powers—the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China—engaged Iran in six rounds of talks to restore the 2015 nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which the Trump administration withdrew in 2018. The negotiations have stalled since June, shortly after the installation of Iran’s ultra-hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi. The administration—in apparent desperation to revive the deal—appears on the verge of offering Iran extensive new sanctions relief that would underwrite an expansion of the regime’s malign activities.
In July, Rear Adm. Mike Studeman, director of intelligence for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, warned that “it’s only a matter of time” until China resorts to military force and suggested that U.S. forces are not ready for that “very bad day.” Meanwhile, Russia continues to maneuver its forces aggressively on NATO’s eastern flank, Iran inches toward a nuclear weapons capability, North Korea builds its missile arsenal, and the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan.
In the 1985 blockbuster Back to the Future, California teen Marty McFly journeyed back in time to save his present. The film’s universal themes are known around the world, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping appears to have internalized them as he approaches the most fraught moment of his political career. What Xi lacks in a time-traveling DeLorean, however, he more than makes up for with the theory of “continuous revolution,” as first championed by Mao Tse-Tung.