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North Korea's Economy

North Korea's Tourism Industry: A Grand Initiative in Limbo

In partnership with Stimson/38 North - Jan. 25, 2023

North Korea's tourism industry took a major hit in 2020 when the pandemic forced the country to close its borders. Once high-profile construction projects, such as the Wonsan-Kalma Beach Resort, were effectively halted as priorities shifted toward domestically oriented projects. Despite a slow reopening to trade in 2022, activity at the North's key tourist sites remains largely unchanged.

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Geospatial Analysis of Afghanistan Gemstone Production Under the Taliban

In partnership with Johns Hopkins University - June 30, 2022

With the recent Taliban takeover of government in Afghanistan, it is important to analyze gemstone mining sites as they may be strategic sources of income. Gemstones have long been a source of wealth for both miners and for those who control the supply. Geospatial analysis of gemstone mining sites in Afghanistan answers critical intelligence questions related to these sites.

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Sanctions Delay Chinese Equipment to Russian Arctic Energy Projects

In partnership with Washington University in St. Louis - Oct. 25, 2022

Chinese investments in Russian Arctic energy projects are facing complications due to sanctions on Russia.

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The Ice Curtain: Kola Peninsula Part 2: Expanded Maritime Facilities

In partnership with CSIS - March 10, 2020

GEOINT analysis confirms Russian public declarations to expand the storage facilities at Okolnaya submarine support base and Gadzhiyevo submarine base.

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The Ice Curtain: Kola Peninsula Part 1: Slow Modernization of Severomorsk-1 Air Base

In partnership with CSIS - March 10, 2020

Upgrades at Severomorsk-1 Air base increases Russia's operational readiness, presence, and capabilities in the northwest Arctic region, improving domain awareness and operational capacity around the Kola Peninsula. Further upgrades would expand operational capacity towards the GIUK-N Gap. However, GEOINT analysis shows slow construction progress.

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The Ice Curtain: Enhanced Defense of Russia's Western Arctic

In partnership with CSIS - Dec. 20, 2019

Russia's military posture and the deployment of S-400s in its Western Arctic reflects the Soviet legacy of bastion defense comprised of "concentric circles" designed to protect strategic territory.

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The Ice Curtain: Russia's Military Moves Further North

In partnership with CSIS - Oct. 1, 2019

Alexandra Land provides air-sea-land capabilities that reinforce Russia’s multi-layered maritime and air denial power; safeguard the Kola Peninsula which is home to Northern Fleet headquarters and Russia's control over the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

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Exploring China’s Footprint in the Andes Mountains: Copper Mining in Ecuador

In partnership with College of William & Mary - March 11, 2022

Ecuador's desire to become a global exporter of copper coincides with increased Chinese demand for and investment in copper mining. Both copper mines in Ecuador are owned by the same Chinese company. The inauguration of mine construction and activity has led to negative environmental damage and forced relocations of indigenous communities at both mines.

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Exploring China’s Footprint in the Andes Mountains: Copper Mining in Peru

In partnership with College of William & Mary - March 11, 2022

Expansion of copper mining is driving economic growth in Peru, which coincides with increased Chinese demand and investment in copper mining. Chinese involvement in Peru's mining sector varies by project and is often obfuscated through intermediary company involvement in mine acquisition or construction.

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Chinese Maritime Expansion and Potential Dual-Use Implications on Critical Maritime Chokepoints

In partnership with Johns Hopkins University - July 20, 2021

Though Chinese "Belt-and-Road Initiative" (BRI) investments and related economic activities abroad have been a touchpoint for international studies, this report poses a hypothetical "what if" scenario and seeks to address one facet of the potential implications if Chinese facilities abroad are used for dual-use military/civilian purposes.

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China’s BRI in Latin America: Case Study – Hydropower in Ecuador

In partnership with College of William & Mary - June 15, 2021

In contrast to our findings of BRI hydroelectric power projects in Bolivia, in Ecuador, we observe fewer problematic environmental impacts in the majority of Chinese projects, with several accompanied by substantial local community development initiatives.

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China's BRI in Latin America: Case Study - Hydropower in Bolivia

In partnership with College of William & Mary - June 1, 2021

In line with the push for environmentally friendly Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure projects and Bolivia's former President Evo Morales' "2025 Patriotic Agenda" to transform Bolivia into a regional energy hub, China has supported six hydropower energy projects in the country. The success of these projects vary, and are more dependent on domestic factors in Bolivia than the actions of China.

See all articles from China's Belt and Road Initiative
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Made in China 2025 and the Shenzhen High-Tech Industrial Park

In partnership with College of William & Mary - June 15, 2022

The policy goals of the Made in China 2025 (MIC25) plan have increased development in Shenzhen High-Tech Industrial Park's dominant industries. From 2015 to 2022, imagery analysis showed increased activity and construction, much of which promoted MIC25's core industries.

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Made in China 2025 and Shanghai's Zhangjiang High-Tech Industrial Park

In partnership with College of William & Mary - June 15, 2022

Zhangjiang High-Tech Industrial Park predates the 2015 inauguration of Made in China 2025 (MIC25). However, development in the park reaffirms MIC25 goals. Activity in the park reflects the policy priorities of MIC25: talent recruitment, foreign investment, and green development.

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Made in China 2025 and the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Zone

In partnership with College of William & Mary - Dec. 16, 2021

The broad policy goals of the Made in China 2025 (MIC25) plan have a real-world activity impact on the urban layout of the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, most notably in residential and environmental activity. Further, industrial clusters and companies in the zone appear to be guided by the MIC25's ten core industries.

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A Geospatial Strategy to Locate Future Chinese ICBM Silo Fields

In partnership with Johns Hopkins University - May 12, 2022

The People's Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) has garnered significant attention with respect to the construction of over three hundred missile silos dispersed across three silo fields. This report seeks to investigate the geospatial characteristics of each site and use that data to inform a search strategy. China watchers and analysts should have a systematic method for defining search strategies, and this report serves as a foundational first step in that effort.

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Infrastructure Developments for Training China's Army

In partnership with West Point - April 8, 2022

The Zhurihe training base, China's most premiere training site, has undergone significant infrastructure developments since the mid-to-late 2010s. Such developments include the expansion of rail depots, logistics areas, urban training areas, and construction of an energy farm. These developments and the extensive maneuver space suggest an improved ability to conduct and support realistic training exercises.

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Part 2: Evaluating China's Tree-Planting Activity

In partnership with Columbia University - Sept. 16, 2021

In September 2020, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and with the global economy still reeling, China pledged that it would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. In this two-part series, researchers from the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs explore China's progress towards that goal along two vectors: "brown" and "green." Part 2 ("green") examines how tree cover has changed in two provinces as China conducts major tree-planting efforts.

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Part I: Analyzing China's Continued Expansion of Coal-Fired Power Capacity

In partnership with Columbia University - June 29, 2021

In September 2020, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and with the global economy still reeling, China pledged that it would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. In this two-part series, researchers from the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs explore China's progress towards that goal along two vectors: "brown" and "green". Part I ("brown") identifies 5 coal-fired power plants, approved in March 2020, and tracks their construction and continued development.

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Tracking the Relocation of Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh: A Nighttime Lighting Approach

In partnership with RAND - Jan. 13, 2022

This report uses nighttime lighting data to track the relocation of Rohingya refugees from the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh to Bhasan Char, a 'floating island' in the Bay of Bengal built by the Government of Bangladesh to house roughly 100,000 refugees. Constructed on reclaimed land in a monsoon, cyclone, and tsunami-prone region, Bhasan Char poses not only humanitarian challenges, but physical and human rights challenges as the Rohingya become isolated from the mainland.

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Part 1: Investigating the Growth of Detention Facilities in Xinjiang Using Nighttime Lighting

In partnership with RAND - Feb. 26, 2021

A growing body of research has systematically documented Chinese efforts to imprison, detain, and re-educate ethnic Uyghur and minority groups throughout its western Xinjiang province. In this three-part investigation, RAND researchers explore new data on nighttime lighting in Xinjiang to offer new, empirical insights into China’s efforts to reeducate, detain, and imprison its Uyghur and ethnic minority populations across Xinjiang.

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Part 2: Have Any of Xinjiang’s Detention Facilities Closed?

In partnership with RAND - Feb. 26, 2021

This report, the second in a three-part series, employs a novel empirical approach to systematically assess the current operating status of known detention facilities in Xinjiang using nighttime lighting. This analysis provides new, empirical evidence to suggest that the overwhelming majority of detention facilities in Xinjiang remain active, operational, and in many cases, still under construction – despite Chinese claims to the contrary.

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Part 3: Explaining Variation in the Growth and Decline of Detention Facilities across Xinjiang

In partnership with RAND - Feb. 26, 2021

This report, the final in our series, explores trends in the growth and decline of nighttime lighting over detention facilities across Xinjiang. It reveals evidence to suggest that long-term prisons have become a greater priority than reeducation centers, along with those located in rural areas or in areas administered by the XPCC, among other trends. Overall, this report helps chart the current trajectory of China’s widespread detention of Uyghur and ethnic minority populations in the region.

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Empty Lots, Green Spaces, and a Parking Lot – What Happened to the Demolished Uyghur Cemeteries?

In partnership with RAND - Jan. 19, 2021

Analysis of 48 Uyghur cemeteries in Xinjiang indicates that while many were repurposed for the reasons cited by the Chinese government, fully a third were demolished with no further development on the site.

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Tracking the Industrial Growth of Modern China with High-Resolution Panchromatic Imagery and Deep Learning

In partnership with College of William and Mary - July 28, 2022

This study investigates the effectiveness of state-of-the-art deep learning models trained on high-resolution single-band satellite images in estimating site-level industrial development over time in the People's Republic of China.

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Predicting Terrorism in Europe with Remote Sensing, Machine Learning, and Spatial Statistics

In partnership with St. Louis University - Feb. 16, 2022

This study defines and parses the differences between territorial / separatist terrorism versus non-territorial seeking terrorism from a spatial and geographic perspective. This spatial/geographic component of the research is foundational due to prior research often focusing on the motivations of terrorism rather than spatial and geographic perspectives.

See all articles from Machine Learning
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North Korea's Tourism Industry: A Grand Initiative in Limbo

In partnership with Stimson/38 North - Jan. 25, 2023

North Korea's tourism industry took a major hit in 2020 when the pandemic forced the country to close its borders. Once high-profile construction projects, such as the Wonsan-Kalma Beach Resort, were effectively halted as priorities shifted toward domestically oriented projects. Despite a slow reopening to trade in 2022, activity at the North's key tourist sites remains largely unchanged.

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North Korea's Komdok Mining Region: Empty Promises?

In partnership with Stimson/38 North - Aug. 15, 2022

In 2020, Typhoon Maysak ravaged North Korea's northeast provinces, devastating large portions of the mineral-rich mining region of Komdok. In the storm's wake, Kim Jong Un directed a plan to rebuild Komdok and transform it into a “model” mining community. Nearly two years later, the flood-damaged road and railway networks have been restored, and over 2,000 new housing units have been constructed.

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North Korea’s Tideland Reclamation Efforts

In partnership with Stimson/38 North - Dec. 22, 2021

Adequate domestic food production is a persistent challenge in North Korea, given its limited arable land. Long-term efforts to increase that capacity through tideland reclamation projects along the country’s west coast began in the 1980s, although suffered serious setbacks in the first decade due to poor engineering and maintenance and natural disasters.

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North Korea's Cement Industry: More Than Meets the Eye

In partnership with Stimson/38 North - May 17, 2021

North Korea’s cement industry is central to achieving several of the goals set forth in the new five-year economic plan. Cement and concrete are necessary for improvement or expansion of tourist facilities, housing, roads, major construction projects, and even non-carbon electrical energy production. However, it is difficult to assess the industry’s capacity, output, modernization and expansion.

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The Sepho Tableland: Changing Food Production in Marginal Areas

In partnership with Stimson/38 North - Jan. 21, 2021

The redevelopment of the Sepho Tableland is one example of North Korea’s efforts to adapt its agricultural practices to perform better within the constraints of the land. This project sought to convert high elevation terrains, which are not conducive to crop production, into grassy fields for supporting livestock farming, thus increasing protein production while maximizing less than ideal land resources.

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The Environmental Impact of Russian Mining in the Central African Republic

In partnership with College of William & Mary - Dec. 16, 2021

Since 2017, Russia has become increasingly involved in the affairs of the Central African Republic (CAR). A recent agreement between the two countries granted the Russian mining company "Lobaye Invest" exclusive mineral rights to ore deposits throughout the country. Activity in these sites has resulted in observable environmental degradation in the mining permit areas.

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Sustainability of China's Overseas Special Economic Zones: Introduction

In partnership with Columbia University - May 19, 2020

China’s economic diplomacy has encouraged the use of special economic zones (SEZs) abroad. These areas of specialized regulation and incentives are aimed at attracting foreign investment. However, China’s emphasis on SEZs to promote quick economic growth has raised questions about whether China is sacrificing sustainable development for speed.

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Sustainability of China's Overseas Special Economic Zones: Environmental Sustainability

In partnership with Columbia University - May 19, 2020

Evaluating the impact of SEZ development on land, water and air using satellite imagery, we identify examples of where zones appear to be succeeding or struggling to preserve and protect their local environmental conditions.

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Sustainability of China's Overseas Special Economic Zones: Social Sustainability

In partnership with Columbia University - May 19, 2020

Social sustainability revolves around how the zone treats its workers and the surrounding community. We observed variation in the provision of housing, training facilities and quality of infrastructure supporting workers' commutes.

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Sustainability of China's Overseas Special Economic Zones: Zambia

In partnership with Columbia University - May 19, 2020

Despite significant strides in implementing domestic regulation to curb environmental degradation, the Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone (ZCCZ) is an example of gaps that exist in China's sustainability practices overseas.

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The Rise of Turkey's Baykar Technologies, Part I: Facilities

In partnership with Johns Hopkins University - Sept. 4, 2022

Baykar Technologies, based in Istanbul, Turkey, is one of the predominant manufacturers of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) today. This report examines the growth, current disposition, and likely future changes to the company's physical infrastructure at its three principal facilities.

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The Rise of Turkey's Baykar Technologies, Part II: Operations

In partnership with Johns Hopkins University - Sept. 4, 2022

Baykar Technologies, based in Istanbul, Turkey, is one of the predominant manufacturers of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) today. This report examines Baykar's production, flight testing, training, and delivery operations using satellite imagery and open sources.

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Do We Have One Practical Global Coordinate System for Planet Earth?

In partnership with - Dec. 8, 2021

This is an article published by an NGA geodesy specialist on global navigation compatibility. This content is different than other Tearline content because the primary author is a government employee. Tearline is experimenting with this content type to broaden dissemination.

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Russia Reallocates Resources to Filtration Operations Based On Anticipated Flow of Displaced Ukrainian Civilians

In partnership with The Global Disinformation Lab at The University of Texas at Austin - Nov. 23, 2022

According to commercial satellite imagery and open-source reporting, Moscow dismantled tents at alleged filtration sites in the southern Donetsk Oblast region, at the Russian Veselo-Voznesenka border checkpoint, and along the M-2 Highway between the towns of Kharkiv and Belgorod in Russia likely due to the decline in displaced civilian movement (as evidenced in declining vehicle activity) and “filtration” needs through these areas.

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Impacts to Cultural Heritage in Ukraine, 1 July through 31 August 2022

In partnership with Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab (CHML) - Sept. 15, 2022

This report summarizes confirmed impacts to cultural heritage sites due to the conflict in Ukraine between July and August 2022 by the Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab (CHML). The methodology for the confirmation process relies on analysis of high-resolution commercial satellite imagery which has been supplied by CHML's partnership with NGA. In total, CHML analysts confirmed conflict-related impacts to 99 cultural sites between 1 July 2022 and 31 August 2022, totaling 207 since 24 February 2022.

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Impacts to Cultural Heritage in Ukraine

In partnership with Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab (CHML) - July 15, 2022

This report summarizes confirmed impacts to cultural heritage sites due to the armed conflict in Ukraine between February and June 2022. All impact confirmations were made by the Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab (CHML). CHML's methodology for the confirmation process relies on analysis of high-resolution commercial satellite imagery (access supplied by NGA). In total, CHML analysts confirmed conflict-related impacts to 108 cultural sites throughout Ukraine between 24 February and 30 June 2022.

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"Trust But Verify:" Analyzing Refugee Vehicle Movements in Eastern Ukraine

In partnership with The Global (Dis)Information Lab at The University of Texas at Austin - May 24, 2022

Commercial satellite imagery analysis of the Russia-Ukraine border suggests that the Russian government may have inflated its claimed number of Ukrainian refugees entering Russia. The Kremlin likely boosted official statistics on accepted Ukrainian refugees to present a positive image of the war to Russian citizens and Russian speakers to justify operations in Ukraine.

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Environmental Effect of Coal Mine Deterioration in Eastern Ukraine

In partnership with College of William & Mary - May 20, 2022

The Donbas has historically been the industrial heartland of Ukraine, serving as a center for industry and coal mining. The war in eastern Ukraine that began in 2014 led to the destruction of many forms of critical infrastructure and prohibited the maintenance of hundreds of coal mines. Destruction of this infrastructure has not only disrupted life in the region, but also set the stage for potential ecological damage.

See all articles from Ukraine