NEWPORT, R.I. -- The U.S. Naval War College's EMC Informationist Chair
, Professor Derek Reveron
, co-hosted a conference with the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, April 11-12 in La Jolla, Calif.
The collaboration brought together scholars and practioners to improve understanding of China and cybersecurity, which has become a controversial topic in China’s relations with the U.S. and other Western states.
According to Professor Reveron, who teaches for the National Security Affairs Department, “The intent was to foster an open-source China cybersecurity research community in order to advance academically-rigorous, empirically-grounded, and policy-relevant understandings of the cyberspace dimensions of conflict and cooperation in China’s relations with the U.S. and its regional neighbors.”
Professor Dex Wilson of the Strategy and Policy Department moderated a panel on the Chinese state, society, and the Internet. Panelists examined both Internet filtering and the use of malicious code. The PLA, like the U.S. Department of Defense, sees cyberspace as a domain of conflict, and so is investing in information warfare capabilities in order to counteract Western military strengths. “Patriotic hacktivism” is an increasingly disruptive feature of Chinese nationalism, with ambiguous connections to the state.
Unfortunately, there is a dearth of open source empirical research on Chinese policies, organizations, and activity in the cyber field. This makes it difficult to evaluate the true severity of the threat, the level of involvement or integration of different parts of the Chinese state, and the implications for the balance of power and trade in international relations.
To better understand this, panelist Jackie Newmyer Deal, of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the Long Term Strategy Group, shared ideas on Chinese military doctrine and information warfare.
"General uncertainty exists about the impact of what some in the United States call the information technology RMA [Revolution of Military Affairs] on the future battlefield,” said Deal. “In the face of this uncertainty, Chinese writers seem to be drawing historical analogies from past moments of significant change in warfare. My intent is to try to understand which analogies are being invoked, how they are being interpreted, and what this might imply about how an "informatized" Chinese military would fight a future conflict."
The conference came on the heals of recent testimony by General Keith Alexander, head of U.S. Cyber Command. He recently told the Senate Armed Service Committee that cyberspace “is increasingly critical to our national and economic security. … The theft of intellectual property is astounding.”
Professor Terry Roehrig, who attended the conference and moderated a panel on China’s policy and strategy for cybersecurity, noted the benefits of conferences like these.
“It was a fantastic conference that brought many top experts to share research on an area of growing importance.”