Analyzing China’s Cybersecurity Strategy

“Efforts should be made to build our country into a network powerhouse -Chinese President Xi Jinping

As the effects of globalization have spread, the amount of information stored on digital networks has simultaneously increased. A subsequent bi-product has been developing strategies to protect this information, or “Cybersecurity.”

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) recently released a report titled Warring State: China’s Cybersecurity Strategy written by Amy Chang. The report details the motives behind China’s actions in the cyber realm using “interdisciplinary methods, analysis, and Chinese language research.”

The United States and China are the two biggest economies in the world. Both countries are constantly trying to gain a competitive advantage in all sectors through innovation. Safeguarding trade secrets and intellectual property has driven cybersecurity research in both countries. CNAS’s report explains that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is devoting a substantial amount of resources towards cyber research in order to ensure “domestic stability, territorial integrity, and economic growth while simultaneously preparing for the possibility of militarized cyber conflict in the future.”

Major CCP stakeholders invested in cybersecurity include the Civillian Sector, State-Owned Enterprises, and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The report dissects these sectors, and lists organizations within each subset with a vested interest in cybersecurity. The report also details several organizations the CCP has created in order to develop network security. These organizations include:

  • State Network and Information Security Coordination Small Group: “Established in 2003. Staff­ed by senior government and military representatives, this small group focuses in particular on information security”
  • National Security Commission: “Established in 2013. With Xi Jinping at the helm, this group is a high priority for the Xi and other senior officials and focuses on domestic security concerns, of which network security is a consideration”
  • Central Network Security and Informatization Leading Small Group: “Established in 2014. Similarly with the National Security Commission, this group is important because of Xi Jinping’s involvement and indicates the prioritization of network security in national security considerations”
  • State Information Leading Group: “Sta­ffed by high-level representatives of the central government and military, the group promulgates strategic guidance and advises senior political leaders on informatization, R&D [research & development], personnel, and information security policies. The Leading Group did not meet between 2008 and January 2014; reasons are unclear but may be related to an absence of clear leadership or guidance”

The report displays how Chinese Academics have realized the importance of cyber knowledge as well. Journal articles and “influential literature” published on related subject matter has increased significantly. The chart “Journal Articles Search Results for Key Terms,” found on page 20 shows the amount of journal articles by topic in each year between 2009-2013. An internet search for the term “information warfare” would yield 5,260 Chinese journal articles written on the topic in 2009. The same search in 2013 doubled its yield, showing 11,336 articles.

After examining aspects of the US-China cyber relationship, the report concludes by suggesting a new US strategy to counter Chinese cyber exploitation.

Additional documents related to Cyber Infrastructure Protection, Cyber Crime & National Security, and Cyber Policy are available at the Homeland Security Digital Library (some resources may require HSDL login).


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