Academic journal article The Journal of East Asian Affairs

Defying Borders in Future Conflict in East Asia: Chinese Capabilities in the Realm of Information Warfare and Cyber Space

Academic journal article The Journal of East Asian Affairs

Defying Borders in Future Conflict in East Asia: Chinese Capabilities in the Realm of Information Warfare and Cyber Space

Article excerpt

Abstract

Information Warfare (IW) especially in the digital ether of cyberspace has become a realm that defies borders, challenges state boundaries, and most significantly, provides the military of a nation to realize certain political goals, allowing for a more precise form of propaganda. With the world heavily slipping into, and relying upon, the age of information, a future conflict within Asia, more specifically East Asia, could witness tactics of cyber war becoming a key component and feature. Potential future conflicts of the 21st century will not simply be restricted to the traditional military sphere, and growing reliance on cyberspace has made issues pertaining to national security even more susceptible. The tactics of cyber war are relatively low-cost and readily available, thus making it all the more attractive for states as well as non-state actors to exploit the skills of hackers or so-called 'patriotic cyber-warriors'. The increasing use of asymmetric techniques which will define future conflict, exhibits the use of cyber warfare as the foremost tool. The central premise in current Chinese military thinking tends to revolve around the scenario that if Beijing needed to win future wars, it would have to prepare for conducting warfare "beyond all boundaries and limitations." Perhaps the most crucial among the 'beyond rules' criteria is manifested in the form of "asymmetric warfare," for instance, guerrilla war (mostly urban), terrorist activities and cyber attacks directed against data networks. China in all probability is likely to develop greater depth and sophistication in its understanding and handling of information warfare techniques and information operations. Given that China views the Middle Kingdom as the center of the world, it would attempt to dominate the information space, and gain an "information advantage."

Key Words: Information Warfare, Cyber Attacks, China's Campaign of "Informationization", Information Dominance (zhixinxiquan), Cyber Cops, Global Digital Warfare

INTRODUCTION

Information Warfare (IW) especially in the digital ether of cyberspace has become a realm that defies borders, challenges state boundaries, and most significantly, provides the military of a nation to realize certain political goals, allowing for a more precise form of propaganda. With the world heavily slipping into, and relying upon, the age of information, a future conflict within Asia, more specifically East Asia, could witness tactics of cyber war becoming a key component and feature. Potential future conflicts of the 21st century will not simply be restricted to the traditional military sphere, and growing reliance on cyberspace has made issues pertaining to national security even more susceptible. The tactics of cyber war are relatively low-cost and readily available, thus making it all the more attractive for states as well as non-state actors to exploit the skills of hackers or so-called 'patriotic cyber- warriors. '

Information warfare breaks the boundaries between military and societal autonomy, as well as between peace and war, thus allowing for unimaginable social disruption. Inter-state conflict will be transformed by the capacity to attack and disable an adversary's transport, energy supply and communications networks using computer technology.1 As a matter of fact, the global flow of information is one of many resources and non-military security issues affecting domestic and international politics with little regard for political or geographical boundaries and increasingly outside the prerogatives of state power.2 In this context, much of East Asia's security architecture is designed around the essentially realist principles of balances of power and the maximization of state interests. As the political history of the region tragically demonstrates, strategic competition between states over territory and resources continues to provide the core motivation for military conflict.3

The increasing use of asymmetric techniques which will define future conflict, exhibits the use of cyber warfare as the foremost tool. …

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