Three Faces of the Cyber Dragon: Cyber Peace Activist, Spook, Attacker (Timothy L. Thomas)

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China’s cyber policy has become partly visible to foreign nations through observation, tracking, and inference. The policy appears to have three vectors. The first vector is in the public opinion or “soft power” arena, where China professes to be led by a policy of active defense and cooperation with other nations over cyber issues. The second and most prominent vector is China’s exhibited capability to conduct strong and stealthy intelligence and reconnaissance activities against nation’s worldwide, using the guise of anonymity to hide these efforts. The third vector is the offensive character of China’s cyber strategy. It contains the theoretical backing for preemptive cyber operations against other nations in times of crisis. These three aspects—peace activist, espionage activist, and attack planner—dominate China’s cyber policy. Some are always hidden from view while others are demonstrated daily. Three Faces of the Cyber Dragon is divided into sections that coincide with these vectors.