Five Eyes intelligence alliance builds coalition to counter China

Chinese President Xi Jinping walks past a soldier. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 October 2018
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Five Eyes intelligence alliance builds coalition to counter China

BERLIN: The five nations in the world’s leading intelligence-sharing network have been exchanging classified information on China’s foreign activities with other like-minded countries since the start of the year, seven officials in four capitals said.
The increased cooperation by the Five Eyes alliance — grouping Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States — with countries such as Germany and Japan is a sign of a broadening international front against Chinese influence operations and investments.
Some of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said the enhanced cooperation amounted to an informal expansion of the Five Eyes group on the specific issue of foreign interference.
While China has been the main focus, discussions have also touched on Russia, several said.
“Consultations with our allies, with like-minded partners, on how to respond to China’s assertive international strategy have been frequent and are gathering momentum,” a US official told Reuters. “What might have started as ad hoc discussions are now leading to more detailed consultations on best practices and further opportunities for cooperation.”
All the governments involved, including Germany and Japan, declined to comment.
China, faced with a growing backlash from Washington, Canberra and other capitals, has rejected accusations that it is seeking to influence foreign governments and that its investments are politically driven.
The enhanced coordination by the Five Eyes network suggests that, despite signals from US President Donald Trump that he is prepared to go it alone in the confrontation with China, members of his administration are working hard behind the scenes to put together an informal coalition to counter Beijing.
It also represents another blow to China’s fading hopes of convincing European countries, unsettled by Trump’s “America First” policies, to distance themselves from Washington and move closer to Beijing.


Macron reshuffles government, names new interior minister

Updated 11 min 16 sec ago
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Macron reshuffles government, names new interior minister

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron reshuffled his government on Tuesday after two weeks of fevered speculation about the changes, which will see former Socialist MP Christophe Castaner take up the key position of interior minister.
The reshuffle was forced by the unexpected resignation of former interior minister Gerard Collomb on October 2, a major blow to Macron as the 40-year-old head of state struggles with record low polling figures.
Castaner is one of the main figures in Macron’s inner circle, having backed him from the early stages of his campaign for the presidency, and currently serves as head of Macron’s party, the Republic on the Move.
Macron will hope the reshaped government — which includes new faces at the culture, agriculture, and the so-called “social cohesion” ministries — will signal a fresh start after a torrid few months.
The centrist suffered the first major scandal of his presidency in July when a security aide was filmed hitting a protester, while three ministers have quit since the beginning of September.
A slowing economy and concerns about spending power in France, coupled with a series of verbal gaffes that have given ammunition to his opponents, have also served to undermine his popularity.
Macron’s polling numbers have slumped to their lowest level since his electoral victory in May 2017, with surveys showing that only around 30 percent of French voters have a positive view of his presidency.