March 16, 2018

China’s Quest for Political Control and Military Supremacy in the Cyber Domain

By Elsa B. Kania

The People’s Republic of China seeks to contest information dominance (制信息权) and discursive dominance (话语权) in cyberspace. For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), cybersecurity is integral to comprehensive state security (国家安全). That’s distinct from ‘national’ security in that it focuses on preserving stability and legitimacy to ensure the regime’s survival. Xi Jinping has said that ‘without cybersecurity, there is no state security’.

In this concept of cybersecurity, information security and control take priority. Indeed, for the CCP, threats to cyber sovereignty (网络主权) are seen as existential in nature. For that reason, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is actively building its capabilities to engage in ‘military struggle’ (军事斗争) in the cyber domain.

The CCP has long believed itself to be engaged in an ideological contest in cyberspace. It has sought to counter foreign ‘hostile forces’ (敌对势力) through censorship and propaganda. It blames those influences for popular protests that have overthrown authoritarian governments, as in the Arab Spring.

Read the full op-ed on Real Clear Defense.

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