Cyber Security Policies of China: Cyber Space as a New Arena of Competition for Great Powers

04.04.2024

The concept of cyber space holds significant importance in today’s increasingly digitalized world. Countries and global companies, which are becoming more interconnected day by day, are facing growing competition and security threats in cyber space. Cybercrimes have become a serious problem threatening not only individuals or institutions but the security of entire nations. In fact, cyberattacks have revolutionized warfare in the military, leading to the emergence of a new battlefield. This reality shapes the foreign policies of countries, forming the cornerstone of international relations today.

Cyber Space in International Security

What is cyber space, that has become an integral tool in the foreign policies of countries? Cyber space, by definition, is the place where consumers are connected to the world, consisting of consumer computers, electronics, and communication networks. Since cyber space does not belong to the physical world, physical laws are not applied to cybercrimes. In countries where cybercrimes are intensively observed, separate sets of cyber laws have been enacted by governments, aimed at providing cyber security to cyber users. Such cyber laws are necessary to monitor and prevent individuals’ immoral or illegal activities. Common cybercrime activities include hacking, theft, money laundering, terrorism, and piracy.

According to estimates by Cybersecurity Ventures, the annual cost of cybercrimes worldwide is estimated to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. The United States in particular has been the world leader in terms of data breach costs for many years. According to reports by International Business Machines (IBM), the cost of a data breach in the United States exceeded $5 million in 2023. These figures indicate that cyber security is no longer just a technological issue but has also become an economic and political issue.

Meanwhile with the increase in geopolitical tensions, cyber threats have also increased. Particularly with the Russia-Ukraine war that began in 2022, 97% increase in cyber threats for organizations was observed. With the increasing use of cyber space in interstate relations, concerns about cyber security are also growing. In this context, understanding and effectively addressing the importance of cyber security has become one of the top priorities of the international community.

In terms of states, it is possible to examine their intentions to expand these threats and cyber capabilities with three objectives: Infiltrating the critical infrastructures of other states to deter them from security threats; Increasing knowledge accumulation by cyber espionage to advance states’ military developments faster; and obtaining economic gains in areas where technological advancements are made. In this sense, analyzing the state capabilities of China as a major cyber power is extremely important, considering its position in this field in contrast to other states.

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