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China’s intense campaign to boost its international cyberpower

 

China is pressing ahead with efforts to make it easier for dictatorships like that of Chinese President Xi Jinping to censor information on the Internet under the guise of “cybersovereignty’’. Cybersovereignty is a concept used to  try to maintain the power of dictatorships through the suppression of opposition voices.

Stephenie Andal warns in The Diplomat: “Yet while control measures such as the Great Firewall (Beijing’s central censorship apparatus) remain a great source of concern for cyber scholars, the overwhelming focus on the domestic aspects of Chinese cyber policy dangerously ignore the broader, international implications inherent in China’s move towards cybersovereignty, which I argue, we should see as nothing less than an innovative and bold push to reshape the global contours of cyberspace in China’s favor. We might do well to subvert our scholarly bias of China as playing second fiddle to other global power players (most prominently the United States), especially in areas of innovation, cyber policies, and digital communications, and explore the possibility of a China that…is playing a strategic ‘long game’ with highly forward-thinking digital policies. This presents to us a much more complex and challenging picture of a China intent on ‘leading the pack’ in a post-utopian cyber age, with thinking that may be as innovative as it is dangerous.’’

She concludes:

“China’s drive for cybersovereignty should be seen as a calculated power play by Beijing to seize on the moment of transition that the global Internet is in at present, a time when growing geographical and political cleavages in the global cyber terrain are becoming increasingly apparent. The inclusion of the term ‘multilateral’ (in reference to Internet governance) in an outcome document approved recently at the U.N. General Assembly, reflects China’s growing power on the global cyber stage and its sway over future approaches to how to govern and shape the global Internet….’’

To read Ms. Andal’s column in The Diplomat, please this this link.