China’s Cyber Statecraft is a far Greater Concern than Cyber Espionage.
China has become notorious for its sponsorship of cyber industrial espionage, but such activity distracts attention from the country’s comprehensive cyber strategy, according to a new book, China’s Cyber Power. This strategy is designed to maintain domestic political cohesion, empower the Chinese military, and reshape global cyber governance.
China has become notorious for its sponsorship of cyber industrial espionage, but such activity distracts attention from the country’s comprehensive cyber strategy, according to China’s Cyber Power, the new book by Nigel Inkster, Director of Future Conflict and Cyber Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). This strategy is designed to maintain domestic political cohesion, empower the Chinese military, and reshape global cyber governance.
“The cyber domain is an increasingly critical factor in the country’s pursuit of strength through modernization, and of protection from perceived threats, whether internal or external,” Inkster writes.
IISS says that with the world’s largest Internet-user community and four of its most valuable Internet companies, China is likely to soon have a digital marketplace more extensive than any other. Beijing therefore sees the development of world-class cyber capabilities as key to economic and social development. It regards the effective integration of advanced cyber capabilities into its armed forces as crucial to enhancing their combat capabilities. And it perceives efforts to shape international cyber-governance and cyber-security regimes as increasingly important to national security, as well as to its ability to protect and promote Chinese interests worldwide.
China’s Cyber Powerexamines the country’s use of cyber industrial espionage against Western corporations and strategic competitors. It finds that while there is much evidence to support the case against Beijing, such activity may diminish in the face of US pressure – based on threats of legal action against Chinese corporations – and a pressing need to clean up China’s chaotic online environment.
Yet the most significant effects of China’s cyber strategy will be on statecraft. Beijing’s assertiveness has grown with its economic power, and it has become more selective in adhering to the norms of the post-war global order. In the cyber domain, China has sought to promote the concepts of information security and cyber sovereignty – in essence, the right of states to control content – and in doing so has created a system of values increasingly at odds with Western liberal democracy. Managing this challenge will be a growing preoccupation of Western policymakers for some time to come.
China has an ambitious strategy to integrate its real-world and virtual economies, called Internet Plus. But, from the outset, the Chinese Communist Party has had to confront the inherent tension between the free flow of information facilitated by the internet and its overriding imperative of remaining in power. On balance, the Chinese state appears to have achieved a level of domestic information dominance that, while not absolute, is sufficient to prevent its citizens from accessing undesirable information, and to keep exchanges on China’s lively social-media platforms within acceptable bounds.
IISS says that China’s Cyber Power provides a detailed analysis of the country’s growing cyber capabilities, and situates these capabilities within their wider cultural, historical, and strategic context. Through the prism of the cyber domain, the book examines China’s long struggle to modernize while preserving cultural self-esteem. It addresses many of the significant strategic questions about China’s rise that occupy the attention of policymakers and scholars.
Read full article on Homeland Security News Wire.