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A computer displays a message from the Chinese police on the proper use of the Internet at an Internet cafe, Beijing, China, Aug. 19, 2013 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

The Challenge of China’s Bid for Cyber Suzerainty

Friday, Feb. 12, 2016

Editor’s note: This article is one of three briefings on Chinas rise and its implications for U.S. regional and global interests, coinciding with an upcoming panel, in collaboration with WPR, at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs on Feb. 17-19 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The first, on Chinas global economic ambitions, appeared Monday; the second, on China’s naval modernization, appeared Wednesday.

The Internet revolution began in the 1990s, when China was still recovering from the damage done during Mao Zedong’s reign and the world was adjusting to the West’s post-Cold War pre-eminence. Under such circumstances, Chinese leaders saw the Internet as not just another transformative Western technology, but one that presented China with real risks. They did not want to escape Mao’s legacy only to become subservient to the West in cyberspace, and therefore vulnerable to ideas and influences they could not control. ...

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