In 2014, President Xi Jinping took formal control of all economic, security and military aspects of cyber policy in the country. He opined that there can be no national security without cyber security and no modernisation without informatisation. He said the Communist Party would do everything necessary for China to become a cyber power. The move reflected disaffection with the pace of progress towards take-up of advanced information technologies in China’s military and civil sectors, notwithstanding the fact that the country had created the biggest cyber-enabled internal security monitoring system ever seen in history. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had come late to cyber technologies for combat, notwithstanding its espionage successes over a decade. It had been pursuing a balanced strategy of mechanisation and informatisation. Xi explicitly called for the PLA to abandon this dual strategy, going so far as to foreshadow cuts to the size of the armed forces to allow more money to flow to cyberisation. This process has not been as smooth as the leaders would want because of powerful countervailing influences, whether from a complex state security apparatus, the country’s brain drain, or its high dependence on foreign investment and technology transfer in its information technology sector. China’s leaders are likely to remain out of step with what is needed for a rapid transition to maximum security in the information age.
About the Speaker
Greg Austin is a Professorial Fellow at the EastWest Institute in New York and Visiting Professor in the Australian Centre for Cyber Security at the University of New South Wales (Canberra). He is the author or editor of six books on Asian security, concentrating most heavily on China. These include Cyber Policy in China (Cambridge: Polity 2014). He has also played a leading role in the Worldwide Cyberspace Cooperation Initiative of the EastWest Institute since 2009 and is a co-chair of its Breakthrough Group on Measures of Restraint in Cyberspace.
After the Seminar
To allow for informal discussion, the seminar will be followed by a dinner with the guest speaker at 6:15pm. The location of the restaurant will be announced at the seminar. All are welcome, though those who attend will need to pay for their own food and drinks. As reservations must be made at the restaurant, please RSVP by noon of the day before the seminar to firstname.lastname@example.org