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The International Strategic Trends of the U.S. Biden Administration’s Cyberspace and Its Influence

Posted by: 3D Printing 2022-08-24 Comments Off on The International Strategic Trends of the U.S. Biden Administration’s Cyberspace and Its Influence

In March of this year, the Biden administration of the United States released the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance (Interim National Security Strategic Guidance), which lays out the current national security priorities and strategic direction of the United States. It is worth noting that, under the overall vision of US foreign policy and national security, the Biden administration has gradually formed a cyberspace international network with ideology, geopolitics, technology and diplomacy as the pillars and strategic competition with China as the main goal. strategy. This trend is in line with the current US national security threat perception and the basic trend of its China policy. Previously, a series of policy measures of the Biden administration also showed that the United States has abandoned the relatively isolated state during the Trump administration and turned to relying on its own strength and alliance system to promote the United States’ international strategy in cyberspace.

1. The background of the formation of the Biden administration’s international strategy for cyberspace

When President Biden entered the White House, he faced an extremely complicated internal and external situation. As far as the field of cyberspace security is concerned, on the one hand, the huge impact of the “SolarWinds” incident continues to ferment, and the trend of competition among major powers in cyberspace is further strengthened; The legacy of cyberspace policy needs to be dealt with urgently, whether it is inherited, abandoned or totally denied will affect the direction of the Biden administration’s international cyberspace strategy.

(1) International factors

After the solar wind event, it caused a huge shock in the US strategic circle. The solar wind event highlights the new situation and new trend of great power competition in the digital age, namely stealing secrets by means of information technology and conducting limited actions aimed at disrupting and degrading the functions of entities. At the same time, the solar wind incident has also aroused doubts in the academic and policy circles about the concepts of “continuous engagement” and “forward defense” proposed by the Cyber ​​Command of the US Department of Defense. Therefore, after the Biden administration took office, the United States desperately hopes that the new government will introduce a more effective cyberspace strategy to safeguard the United States’ own cybersecurity from threats from foreign forces. The Interim National Security Strategy Guide highlights the threats that cyberattacks can pose and points to the need to make cybersecurity a top priority. The Interim National Security Strategy Guidance also notes the importance of working with allies and partners on cyber issues, especially in maintaining and shaping new global norms in cyberspace. In addition, the solar wind event also made the U.S. government realize that it should prioritize enhancing its cyber defense and sensing capabilities to recognize when a cyber intrusion has occurred and respond in a timely manner, while increasing cyber threat intelligence between the private and public sectors sharing mechanism. As a result, the perception, handling, and response mechanisms of domestic cybersecurity in the United States also need to be comprehensively improved.

The solar wind incident and the Microsoft Exchange email system intrusion that occurred shortly after made the already highly tense relationship between major powers in cyberspace into a more unstable state. More importantly, since both cyber incidents involved the so-called “geopolitical adversaries” of the United States, the threat perception and strategic deployment of the United States’ national security have had a huge impact: on the one hand, the United States has invested more resources to strengthen and consolidate its own “hard power” in cyberspace, thereby consolidating its hegemonic position and deterring competitors; on the other hand, the United States uses its cybersecurity narrative to win over international allies and build targeted and exclusive alliances in the form of small multilaterals Mechanism for international political games in cyberspace.

(2) Domestic factors

The Trump administration has indeed made some institutional arrangements for cybersecurity, but it is generally believed in the United States that its effectiveness is lackluster, including long-term vacancy or frequent replacement of important positions, bad relations with Internet giants, and interruption of online diplomacy. Overall, “chaos” is a “legacy” of the Trump administration’s cyber policy. However, the Trump administration has made two breakthroughs in the field of cybersecurity, which have had an indelible impact on the direction of cyber policy during the Biden administration.

The first is to bring security issues and ideological issues into cyberspace, breaking through the traditional boundaries of cyberspace issues. The Trump administration has bundled cyber security with various issues such as economy, trade, technology, and even ideology. As its main starting point for launching trade wars and technology wars, the issue of cyber security has become unprecedented generalization and politicization. trend. The second is to break through the institutional constraints of countries taking military actions in cyberspace. In August 2017, Trump upgraded Cyber ​​Command to the tenth U.S. joint combatant command. At the beginning of 2018, the U.S. Cyber ​​Army launched a vision document, which clearly put forward the concept of “continuous engagement”. The “DoD Cyber ​​Strategy” issued in September 2018 reiterated the concepts of “advance defense” and “continuous engagement”, and promoted major changes in the U.S. military’s cyber operations and strategic thinking. According to this concept, the scope of U.S. cyber operations goes beyond the scope of its own network facilities, information systems and data, enabling the U.S. military to conduct cyber infiltration and cyber attacks on any target around the world under the pretext of maintaining national security.

Judging from the current series of policies of the Biden administration, its emphasis on cyberspace security and interests far exceeds that of its predecessor, and it still adopts a “tit-for-tat” approach when dealing with international threats to cyberspace security. At the same time, when dealing with the legacy of the Trump administration’s cyber policy, it did not choose to completely deny it, but further strengthened the internationalization of the U.S. cyberspace strategy on the basis of the original policy, that is, while emphasizing the U.S.’s own cyber strength Advance its international strategy in cyberspace through U.S. allies and structural power in the international system.

2. Trends of the Biden Administration’s International Strategy for Cyberspace

Under the combined effect of domestic and foreign factors, the Biden administration’s cyberspace strategy has formed four parallel key directions: restarting the democratization process of cyberspace; defending and deterring cyber threats from geopolitical opponents; ensuring the global technological leadership of the United States ; Reinvigorating American influence in the international community. Judging from the decrees and policies issued successively since the Biden administration came to power, its international cyberspace strategy is developed from four aspects: ideology, geopolitics, technology and international rules.

First, it emphasizes the use of “democracy” to confront the so-called “digital authoritarianism”, highlighting the division and opposition of ideologies. The Interim National Security Strategy Guide claims that democracies are under “siege”, “authoritarianism is spreading globally” and that democracy in cyberspace is under threat from election interference, disinformation, cyberattacks and digital authoritarianism. Under the guidance of the concept of ideological struggle, the United States has seized its discourse dominance in the international governance of cyberspace by using issues such as “democracy” and “freedom” as a starting point to curb the so-called “digital authoritarian” countries. In addition, the “Interim National Security Strategy Guide” also proposes that democratic countries with similar economic concepts should jointly defend the infrastructure of key supply chains and technology chains, with special emphasis on safeguarding the security of supply chains. Therefore, the “Democratic Alliance” and the “Supply Chain Alliance” will become important driving forces in the Biden administration’s international strategy for cyberspace, and the two will go hand in hand. The Biden administration has also sought to secure industrial chains and “ensure that the rules of cyberspace are set by democracies.” Biden believes that the greatest foreign policy tool of the United States is cooperation with allies. After the Biden administration took office, the United States actively reset its alliances and dealt with international issues. At the level of industrial chain security, promoting Western technology alliances will become a major task of the new US government.

Second, use the threat posed by geopolitical adversaries as an excuse to enhance its own cyber deterrence capabilities while leading international rulemaking. When the Biden administration took office, it faced cybersecurity incidents that included hacking of SolarWinds and Microsoft’s Exchange mail system. In response, the Biden administration plans to make strengthening cyber deterrence a cybersecurity priority and use diplomacy to enhance international cooperation and rulemaking on cybersecurity. In May 2021, the White House issued the Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, emphasizing that the federal government must strengthen its ability to identify, deter, prevent, detect and respond to malicious cyber operations and their initiators, It will focus on four aspects: strengthening public-private cooperation, improving the level of the federal government’s network modernization, ensuring supply chain security and establishing a network review mechanism. The U.S. cybersecurity policy has always revolved around cyber defense capabilities, cyber deterrence strategies and cyberspace rules. This hacking incident will prompt the U.S. cyber operations department to strengthen the building of deterrence capabilities, while suppressing geopolitical opponents through its superiority in traceability capabilities. And take this as an opportunity to push all parties to formulate a code of conduct in cyberspace that is in line with the interests of the United States.

In fact, in the fifth white paper, Transition Book for the Incoming Biden Administration, issued by the U.S. Cyberspace Sunbathing Council (CSC) in early 2021, it has been proposed that the new national cyber strategy should be based on a On the basis of this new operational architecture, it successfully disintegrates and prevents major cyber attacks by U.S. adversaries through layered cyber deterrence, and proposes the following methods and means: constructing adversary behavior; offsetting adversary advantages; increasing adversary costs. This move not only emphasizes the use of international rules to restrict, restrain and guide the behavior of competitors, but also mentions that the willingness and ability of competitors to compete with the United States will be attenuated through the strengthening of its own strength.

Third, continue to seek U.S. hegemony in the global ICT ecosystem. As Secretary of State Blinken emphasized, the United States will ensure “leadership in technology” to reap the economic benefits of new technologies, secure supply chains, and ensure that technology governance reflects the interests of democracies. In order to achieve the above goals, the Biden administration starts from the level of national security and diplomacy. On the one hand, it affects the distribution of the global supply chain through domestic policies and legislation, so that it serves the national security and strategic goals of the United States; The exaggeration of issues such as cybersecurity threats and digital authoritarianism has forcibly divided the current global technology chain, including isolating its competitors in terms of emerging technology research and development and commercial markets. For example, the U.S. National Security Council on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) recommended in March that Congress tighten the “bottleneck” of China’s chip manufacturing technology, that is, strengthen measures such as technology export controls to prevent China from overtaking the United States in the semiconductor field. At the same time, the Congressional Research Service also released the report “China’s New Semiconductor Policies”, exaggerating the so-called “threat” brought about by the development of China’s semiconductor industry, and even said that China’s industrial development policy will destroy the global industry norms.

Fourth, rely on cooperation with “like-minded” countries to maintain and strengthen leadership in the international community and international organizations. The Biden administration regards geopolitical rivalries, ideological struggles and technological competition as the greatest challenges facing the United States in cyberspace, and at the same time, President Biden has also announced that it will repair alliances and reintegrate into the world. US Secretary of State Blinken also pointed out that “the international cooperation architecture needs to be adapted to the challenges of the new era”. At present, it seems that the Biden administration has formed a professional network security team, many of which are held by former members of the Obama administration. Therefore, the Biden administration’s cybersecurity strategy will follow the traditional thinking of the Democratic administration. In the future international cyberspace game, it cannot be ruled out that Biden will lead his allies to form higher-level alliances to strengthen policy coordination toward China, such as the “Five Eyes Alliance” based on sharing intelligence, and the “Five Eyes Alliance” centered on technology and values. T-12″ (Technology 12), etc., have formed a trend of containment against China in terms of information technology ecology and global industrial chain. At the same time, the United States will continue to strengthen its participation and voice in multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations and the G20, so as to seize the initiative in the international governance of cyberspace. In April 2021, the U.S. Senate concluded the second reading of the Cyber ​​Diplomacy Act of 2021. The Act is an important political tool for the United States to unite its allies to contain geopolitical rivals such as China and Russia, and to promote its advocated international cyber norms and arms control concepts.

3. The essence of the Biden administration’s international cyberspace strategy and its impact on China

Judging from the current policy inclination of the Biden administration, the intention of the United States to reshape cyberspace hegemony is very obvious. For China, the U.S. shaping an international cyberspace environment that suits its own interests will not only challenge China in terms of technological development, digital economic cooperation, and voice, but also provide an opportunity for the establishment of international norms.

First, wooing allies to boycott and block China’s international digital economic cooperation on the grounds of ideological differences. In order to maintain the absolute advantage of the United States in the digital economy, the Biden administration will obstruct China’s international digital cooperation through diplomatic, political, economic and other means. Especially under the influence of “democracy” against “authoritarianism”, the Biden administration will more actively attract allies to boycott Chinese companies and products, and comprehensively use various means to target developing countries along the “Belt and Road”. Interventions, including bilateral infrastructure investment under the China-EU cooperation framework. It can be seen from President Biden’s remarks when he went to Europe to participate in the G7 summit and NATO summit in June this year that this trend has become common practice.

Second, using geopolitical struggle as the main narrative, emphasizing the cybersecurity threat posed by China and severing the connection between China and the global ICT technology ecosystem. From the supply chain control measures introduced by the Biden administration, it is not difficult to find that the United States is exaggerating China’s threat to international supply chain security through the linkage of domestic policies and alliance systems, and thereby hindering China and third-party countries in artificial intelligence, 5G Exchange and cooperation in emerging technologies such as communications and quantum computing. Moreover, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Raimondo has announced that Huawei will remain on the “entity list”, emphasizing the “security threat” of China’s telecommunications products and services, and continuing to promote the “de-Sinization” of the ICT supply chain in the United States and around the world.

Third, eroding China’s voice and influence in multilateral mechanisms through diplomatic means. In February 2021, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released the “Global Strategic Vision” (CISAGlobal), which proposed to cultivate an international environment that is in line with U.S. interests and national security demands. To achieve this vision, the United States must increase Increase its influence and voice in international organizations and mechanisms. To this end, the Biden administration will spare no effort to weaken China’s influence in institutions such as the International Telecommunication Union, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the International Organization for Standardization, and hedge against China’s efforts to formulate international rules and standards. At the same time, the United States will work to win over its allies to establish a standard system in emerging technologies, and try to marginalize or even exclude China.

Fourth, the Biden administration emphasizes the role of international rules, which will promote the international community to conduct consultations and exchanges on behavioral norms in cyberspace. Although the Biden administration has highlighted the impact of ideological struggles, geopolitical games and other factors on its cyber policy, it has also emphasized the role of international rules in the international governance of cyberspace. What cannot be ignored is that the United States is not very willing to promote the formulation of international rules, and will build international norms from a small-scale multilateral perspective.

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