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STRATEGI

JOURNAL OF STRATEGIC STUDIES AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

CYBER WARFARE:
THE CHINESE WAY OF DEFENDING CYBERSPACE
CYBER WARFARE:
THE CHINESE WAY OF DEFENDING CYBERSPACE

Senior Lieutenant-Colonel (SLTC) Goh Wee Tiong is from the Singapore Armed Forces
(SAF) and was commissioned on 15 December 1995 at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
He is an Armour officer by vocation. He holds a Bachelor in Business Studies from Nanyang
Senior University,
Technological Lieutenant-Colonel
Singapore(SLTC)
and aGoh Wee Tiong
Graduate Diplomais from the Singapore
in Defence Armedand
Technology
Forces (SAF) and was commissioned on 15 December 1995 at the Royal Military
Science from the National University of Singapore.
Academy Sandhurst. He is an Armour officer by vocation. He holds a Bachelor in
Business Studies from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and a Graduate
ABSTRACT
Diploma in Defence Technology and Science from the National University of
Singapore.
This study examined China’s disproportionate focus on its offensive cyber warfare capabilities
in defending its sovereign cyberspace and the factors influencing this strategic preference. This
ABSTRACT
perspective on cyber defence stood out in stark contrast to the Western emphasis on defensive
Thisasstudy
capabilities well examined
as China’sChinaÕlobbyings disproportionate
of the peaceful focus
use ofontheitsInternet
offensive
and cyber warfare
overt opposition
to all forms of cyber-attacks. Hence, this problematic explored the Western vs Chinesethis
capabilities in defending its sovereign cyberspace and the factors influencing cyber
strategic preference. This perspective on cyber defence stood out in stark contrast to the
warfare Western
norms and the Chinese
emphasis strategic
on defensive culture soasoften
capabilities welloverlooked in Western
as ChinaÕs lobbying interpretations
of the peaceful
usestrategic
of China’s of the Internet
actions.and overt opposition
Empirical research was to all formsbyofprimary
guided cyber-attacks. Hence,through
data collected this
problematic explored the Western vs Chinese cyber warfare norms
in-depth interviews with interviewees and regional institutions specializing in China and the and the Chinese
strategic culture so often overlooked in Western interpretations of ChinaÕs strategic
cyber phenomenon. The following
actions. Empirical researchfindings
was guided wereby discovered aboutcollected
primary data the factors affecting
through China’s
in-depth
choice ofinterviews
cyber defence strategies. The
with interviewees and focus on offensive
regional capabilities
institutions specializingreflected the uniqueness
in China and the
cyber phenomenon. The following findings were discovered about
of its cyber defence plans whereby the peace-war and civil-military boundaries were blurred in the factors affecting
ChinaÕs choice of cyber defence strategies. The focus on offensive capabilities reflected
assertingthe
cyber power and
uniqueness deterrence
of its in its domestic
cyber defence environment
plans whereby and foreign
the peace-war andrelations. Firstly,
civil-military
Chineseboundaries
President Xi Jinping
were had in
blurred driven its cyber
asserting warfare
cyber powerstrategies by amalgamating
and deterrence civilian
in its domestic
environment and foreign relations. Firstly, Chinese President
with military capabilities to pursue both peacetime socio-economic development as well Xi Jinping had driven its as
cyber warfare strategies by amalgamating civilian with military capabilities to pursue
wartimebothmilitary capabilities.
peacetime Next, China’s
socio-economic ambitions
development to match
as well the United
as wartime States’
military economic
capabilities.
and military
Next,powers
ChinaÕhad influenced
s ambitions it to develop
to match cyber
the United offensive
StatesÕ capabilities
economic against
and military superpower
powers had
influenced it to develop cyber offensive capabilities against superpower
political entities. Thirdly, Chinese state relations with the People’s Liberation Army and its cyber political
entities. Thirdly, Chinese state relations with the PeopleÕs Liberation Army and its cyber
militia has displayed bureaucratic-related challenges in integrating cyber capabilities which
militia has displayed bureaucratic-related challenges in integrating cyber capabilities
resulted which
in the resulted
inability into the
reininability
in nationalist
to reincyber-attacks
in nationalistand cybersecurity
cyber-attacks andweaknesses.
cybersecurity This
weaknesses. This study highlighted the need to carefully contextualise
study highlighted the need to carefully contextualise China’s unique notions of cyber power ChinaÕs unique
notions of cyber power within the constantly evolving field of strategic studies. The
within the constantly evolving field of strategic studies. The Chinese way of cyber warfare in
Chinese way of cyber warfare in blurring civil-military and peace-war boundaries is an
blurringeye-opening
civil-military andand peace-warway
asymmetric boundaries is an cyberspace
of employing eye-openingand andchallenge
asymmetric way of
to cyber
defenders.
employing cyberspace and challenge to cyber defenders.
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Prof Dato’ Dr Zakaria Bin Ahmad is the Deputy Vice Chancellor of HELP University.
Concurrently, Prof Zakaria is also the Distinguished Fellow of the Malaysian Armed
Forces Defence College (MPAT). He started his career at the Malaysian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in 1970, upon graduating from the University of Singapore with a Bachelor
of Social Science (Honours). He was a teaching fellow at McMaster University, Canada
from 1970-1971, where he completed his Master’s degree. Dr Zakaria joined Universiti
Malaysia after completing his Master’s degree. He later taught at the University of Malaya
from 1972-1973. Subsequently he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT) to pursue his PhD. Upon completion of his PhD, Dr. Zakaria was appointed Head
and Associate Professor of the Department of Political Science at Universiti Kebangsaan
Malaysia between 1978-1983. From 1983-1985 Dr. Zakaria was Deputy Director-General
(Studies) at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) in Malaysia. In 1987
he returned to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Dr Zakaria was the incumbent of the Tun
Abdul Razak Chair in Southeast Asian Studies at Ohio University from 2001 to 2003.
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