Visible to the public Cyber deterrence in times of cyber anarchy - evaluating the divergences in U.S. and Chinese strategic thinking

TitleCyber deterrence in times of cyber anarchy - evaluating the divergences in U.S. and Chinese strategic thinking
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsKania, Elsa B.
Conference Name2016 International Conference on Cyber Conflict (CyCon U.S.)
Date Publishedoct
KeywordsBeijing, China, Chinese strategic thinking, Context, cyber anarchy, Cyber Attacks, cyber conflict, cyber deterrence, cyber domain, cyber strategy, cyber threats, cyber warfare, Cyberspace, deterrence, Economics, Human Behavior, Instruments, national contexts, People’s Liberation Army, programmable logic arrays, pubcrawl, resilience, Scalability, security of data, Sino-U.S. cyber interactions, strategic cultures, U.S. government, U.S. strategic thinking, US Department of Defense, war-fighting
AbstractThe advent of the cyber domain has introduced a new dimension into warfare and complicated existing strategic concepts, provoking divergent responses within different national contexts and strategic cultures. Although current theories regarding cyber deterrence remain relatively nascent, a comparison of U.S. and Chinese strategic thinking highlights notable asymmetries between their respective approaches. While U.S. debates on cyber deterrence have primarily focused on the deterrence of cyber threats, Chinese theorists have also emphasized the potential importance of cyber capabilities to enhance strategic deterrence. Whereas the U.S. government has maintained a consistent declaratory policy for response, Beijing has yet to progress toward transparency regarding its cyber strategy or capabilities. However, certain PLA strategists, informed by a conceptualization of deterrence as integrated with warfighting, have advocated for the actualization of deterrence through engaging in cyber attacks. Regardless of whether these major cyber powers' evolving strategic thinking on cyber deterrence will prove logically consistent or feasibly operational, their respective perspectives will certainly shape their attempts to achieve cyber deterrence. Ultimately, cyber deterrence may continue to be "what states make of it," given conditions of "cyber anarchy" and prevailing uncertainties regarding cyber conflict. Looking forward, future strategic stability in Sino-U.S. cyber interactions will require mitigation of the misperceptions and heightened risks of escalation that could be exacerbated by these divergent strategic approaches.
Citation Keykania_cyber_2016