Code of safe conduct to help cyber security
China’s attempts to cooperate with the United States to safeguard the strategic stability of cyberspace have been welcomed, as the Chinese mainland andHong Kong have suffered a series of high-profile cyber attacks this year, according to the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers Global State of Information Security Survey. According to the report, the average financial loss caused by cyber crimes in the region rose 10 percent year-on-year to $2.63 million, compared with a 5 percent decline globally.
In cooperating to safeguard cyberspace, Beijing and Washington could seek the Internet equivalent of the code of safe conduct agreed between their militaries to avoid naval and air encounters, which has helped manage several bilateral disputes.
The two countries should first try their best to not point the finger at each other in case a conflict over cyber security emerges. The latest round of tensions in cyberspace started in early 2013, when American private security companyMandiant released a report, “APT1: Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units”, accusing the Chinese military of stealing US intellectual property.
Such an hysterical attitude, reflects the US’ anxiety over China’s impressive economic growth in recent years. It is, therefore, important that the US seek to adjust its strategic perception of China and accept that the power gap between them is closing.
Beijing, on its part, ought to make more efforts to make its ideas clear to acquire a bigger say in global cyber security affairs. Besides, neither country, especially the US, should make a habit of “making enemies” by taking irresponsible actions, even for the sake of national security.
True, most cutting-edge technologies in the age of the Internet can be lawfully and strategically used to gather military intelligence and keep cyber attacks at bay. But highly politicized discussions and operations, which used to be kept secret, can now be made public by the media today. So the challenge is to keep such details confidential.
In regard to China-US cyber cooperation, the major problem lies inWashington’s attempts to create enemies for political motives. Tactics such as exaggerating the perils of the so-called Chinese cyber attacks and intimidating the American public and legislature with some selectively chosen materials, for example, have been routinely used by the US cyber security authorities to create more room for political maneuverings and get more military budget.
Such tricks may have eased some of their pressure to safeguard homeland security, but they have come at the cost of cyberspace stability which China and the US both need. They have also failed to protect the two countries’ national interests, which need them to closely coordinate rather than oppose or accuse each other.
Washington should also be careful about its military industry, which is basically bolstered by certain security enterprises and departments trying to abduct the national security policy. For some US security companies, gathering evidence on the imaginary cyber attacks from China to help thwart them in the future can guarantee the consistent increase in their market values. Likewise, relevant governmental organs also tend to overstate the cyber security issue to increase their budget and influence security affairs. China and the US should not let such a parochial and hawkish mindset affectWashington’s cyber security strategy, because neither country would emerge the winner in a cyber war; in fact, such a war will cause huge damage to the world. As a responsible major power, the US is obliged to push forward the China-US strategic dialogue on cyber security to make global
cyberspace more stable, rather than using double standard to defend its controversial strategy and tactics, and condemn China for absurd reasons.