Cyber security in the post-Snowden age

By Xu Peixi
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 12, 2013
Adjust font size:
 [By Zhai Haijun/]

 [By Zhai Haijun/]

This year's China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue has begun and a working group from each side is on hand to explore the current hot-button issue of cyber security. Dialogue on this topic was originally initiated and vigorously pursued by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and was intended to shame China if the story could proceed as it was plotted earlier. After the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden, however, the momentum changed and the American accusations turned out to be a hoax, creating a classic God-bless-truth case that echoes deep in the minds of justice-seeking and freedom-loving people across the world. The topic has turned from one that the U.S. was keen to talk about, into one the nation's leadership tries its best to avoid. We must bear in mind that an EU-U.S. dialogue on the same matter has thus far been blocked by America's closest ally: the UK. A somewhat more reassuring development is that, following the China-U.S. dialogue, Germany will raise the same controversial topic with President Obama.

China and Germany are taking action to engage with the U.S. on its aggressive PRISM surveillance project. When politicians start talking, there is a bitter lesson for both the Chinese and the global public to learn. Politicians have showcased their inability to handle dialogues on cyber security; bilateral and governmental negotiations with the U.S. behind closed doors cannot fully address the dispute; and any further talks regarding global Internet governance will have to take place on a multinational and multi-stakeholder basis. I here recount the twists and turns in the China-U.S. cyber security row to clarify this point.

China, like many other developing states in Africa and the Middle East, often serves as a "dark" place on the cognitive map of many Americans (many influential yet market-controlled media and politicians in particular) and thus China is often used by them to project a darker version of the American mentality to treat China as a mirror contrasting its own "beauty." This mentality is reflected in the series of fabricated cyber attack accusations the United Stated waged against China. The image of an "evil" communist China was painted in great detail, ready to spy on America's every move, while the U.S. would be the white knight that prevailed. Were it not for Snowden's public disclosures, this image would have remained intact.

Before Snowden spoke up, China had been accused of hacking into U.S. computer systems and stealing intellectual property from numerous American businesses. American politicians, from the bottom to the very top levels, were engaged in a so-called China-bashing campaign. A record number of American institutions, from the Justice Department to Congress and the Pentagon, spoke with one voice that was continuously recycled between politicians and commercial media. A powerful hurricane of curse and condemnation took shape and force. Discourse itself has the capacity to produce new discourse; one lie can generate others. The topic had been pushed to such extremes that some were discussing the imminent danger of state-sponsored Chinese hackers attacking American infrastructures such as telecommunication, power grids, airports and nuclear facilities.

It is also this abovementioned backdrop that the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) debate was brought under the umbrella of cyber security as one topic. China's main motive behind the alleged hacking activities was said to be the obtaining of property rights, yet thanks to Snowden we have come to realize how the U.S. was able to maneuver and manipulate the discourse against China in such a skillful way. These espionage activities are what they have been for decades. After all, if both China and Germany had not sent terrorists to the U.S., then for what possible reason were they to be regarded as top spying targets? Who can testify that the U.S. did not grab large sums of gigabytes of information in the economic field from China and Germany?

1   2   Next  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from