Cybersecurity: Biden expected to embrace tough-on-China policy, think tank says
- New US administration will continue strategic rivalry but there is room for cooperation, according to report by Chinese government-affiliated institute
- It also calls for a return to high-level talks on cyber issues such as digital trade, cross-border data flows and cybercrime
“Competition will continue to be the defining feature of China-US cyber interaction in the Biden administration, as it had been during the Trump term,” the report, published in early February, said. “At the same time, initial signals from Beijing and Washington have indicated that there is still significant scope for cybersecurity cooperation in the years to come.”
Biden has said China would face “extreme competition” from the US, and signalled he would maintain the harder line against Beijing from the Trump era, albeit with a stronger focus on working in conjunction with allies to deal with China.
US President Joe Biden foresees ‘extreme competition’ with China
Chen Dongxiao, president of the SIIS, warned in the report that Biden’s policy towards China would “hang on to Trump’s legacy of containment and suppression of China”, and expected that there would be greater competition in the cyber digital transformation and in cyberspace rule-making.
He wrote that the policy direction was almost certain to bring “complexities to the overall China-US relations, including the bilateral dynamics in cyberspace and the digital domain”.
The report said that Biden was set to work with allies in a united front against China and Russia and to re-establish US leadership in shaping global cyber rules, while working to restrict Chinese technology companies, undermine Beijing’s influence in cyberspace governance and curb Beijing’s information and communications technology development.
“As the Biden administration sees it, cybersecurity must serve national security and economic well-being to preserve US strategic advantage over China,” it said. “The Biden team shares Trump’s perceptions on cyber development and security, and remains committed to implementing a cyber strategy in the service of economic and national security at home and maintaining America’s superiority in the global technology landscape vis-à-vis China and Russia.”
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“Cyber strategic stability depends, to a large degree, upon the way in which strategic rivals engage with each other,” it said. “China and the United States could also negotiate a bilateral agreement on the rules of engagement between the two militaries in cyberspace to help better perceive and interpret one another’s cyber behaviour, capabilities and intentions, with a view to keep cyber incidents from escalating into larger-scale crises or conflicts.”