80 Foreign Aff. 118 (2001)
China's Cyber-Strategy

handle is hein.journals/fora80 and id is 364 raw text is: China's Cyber-Strategy
Nina Hacbigian
OFTEN RESTRAINED in its enthusiasm for Western suitors, China
has fallen in love with the Internet. Not only is the Chinese Communist
Party (ccp) hailing the Internet's vast commercial potential, but it is
also successfully exerting state control over the Chinese Web and its
use. Recognizing that an unregulated network would shift power
from the state to citizens by providing an extensive forum for discussion
and collaboration, Beijing has taken care to prevent this commercial
gold mine from becoming political quicksand. But a victory over cyber-
space cannot be decisive, because the Internet cannot deliver its full
commercial benefits under strict political control.
It will be some time, however, before the Internet becomes a political
threat in China. In the near term, the Internet may in fact strengthen
the party. The ccp's popularity now so depends on economic growth
that its leaders are safer with the Internet than without it. And their
three-part strategy for maintaining authority in a networked society-
by providing economic growth and some personal freedoms, managing
the Internet's risks, and harnessing its potential-will be effective for
some time. The power shifts wrought by the Internet will surface
clearly only during an economic or political crisis in a future China
where the Internet is far more pervasive. At that time, the Internet
will fuel discontent and could be the linchpin to a successful challenge
to party rule.
NINA HACHIGIAN is Senior Fellow at the Pacific Council on Interna-
tional Policy in Los Angeles. From 1998 to 1999 she served on the staff of
the National Security Council and from 1999 to 2000 was a Council on
Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow.


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