The adjustment and trend of the Biden administration’s cybersecurity policy towards China

In 2021, with the Biden administration taking office, the US policy toward China will also usher in a new round of adjustment. Historically, there has been no substantial difference in the tone of China policy between the two parties in the United States, but there will be differences in emphases and policy approaches. The political concept and strategic focus of the Biden administration are significantly different from those of the predecessor, and there are also many new ideas in China. Due to the damage to Sino-US relations during the Trump administration’s tenure, the United States has formed a basic consensus on being tough on China. Therefore, the changes that the Biden administration can make are relatively limited. To grasp the adjustment of the new US government’s cybersecurity policy towards China, we must start on this basis.

1. The “China View” of the Biden Administration

During the general election process, Biden and his campaign team have made many remarks on China-US relations. Biden’s own attitude has also undergone a process of significant change. When he just decided to run for the election, he said lightly that “China has too many problems of its own, so it is not a threat.” This remark sparked widespread doubts from hardliners in the United States. Later, he revised his claim, stating that “China is a serious problem that the United States needs to face”, and pointed fingers at China’s Xinjiang issue, and even directly attacked Chinese leaders. However, the change in Biden’s public remarks on China is largely due to the needs of the election, and I am afraid it is not his true thoughts. In fact, during his candidacy, Biden has repeatedly quoted the famous words of previous Chinese leaders, naturally showing his self-appreciation for his close ties with all walks of life in China, as well as his confidence that he can have positive exchanges with Chinese leaders.

From the history of Biden’s own contacts with China, he has maintained good relations with Chinese high-level officials. He believes that China cannot pose an effective challenge to the United States because of its many problems. He also believes that the United States does not need to do everything possible like the Trump administration. , and even pay a lose-lose price to suppress China. After winning the election, in an interview with the media, he said that “the biggest security threat to the United States is Russia” and that “China is the biggest competitor of the United States.” These remarks once again showed its true understanding of China.

Among the members of the team that Biden has nominated, many are officials from the Obama era, and some are long-term followers of the Democratic Party, and they are professionals familiar with the situation in various fields. They are very close to Biden in terms of basic concepts, and have a more traditional approach to U.S. diplomatic planning. Regarding China, Biden and his staff generally agree with three views: First, China is still very different from the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Sino-US dispute is not a confrontation between two values ​​and two fronts. The shared hatred does not necessarily lead to a new Cold War. There is still room for cooperation between the two countries on some issues. Second, the Trump administration’s trade war against China is “harmful to others and not to itself”. The United States does not need to lose both ways. At the same time, it has given up its original dominant position in many mechanisms and ceded the initiative to China in vain; third, the United States really needs to be tough on China and prevent China from hurting the United States in an “unfair” way. However, it does not need to do everything possible to prevent China’s development, but to greatly enhance its competitiveness and further widen the distance with China by allowing itself to go faster.

2. The specific policy planning of the Biden administration towards China

The specific China policy of the Biden administration will be affected by many factors such as the political climate in the United States, the impression of the American elite and the public on China, the further interaction between China and the United States, and the evolution of the international situation. Policy planning will play a central role in this. Judging from the statements of Biden himself and his cabinet members, the specific policy plans for China after the Biden administration takes office are roughly as follows.

First, become a world leader again and compete head-to-head with China. The Biden administration believes that the Trump administration’s move to withdraw from the group is very irresponsible. On the one hand, this move has seriously hurt the soft power of the United States, making many countries believe that the United States is no longer worthy of reliance and respect; on the other hand, the United States has formed a leadership vacuum after withdrawing from a large number of international institutions, which has instead allowed China to take advantage of the situation to expand its influence. machine. Therefore, the Biden administration will no longer publicly advocate the “America First” strategy, and strive to return to the international institutions that the Trump administration withdrew as soon as possible, continue to provide the world with various public goods including vaccines, reopen borders, and allow high-quality Immigrants enter, strengthen cooperation with various countries, enhance soft power through more “excellent” performance, and increase the bargaining chip for head-to-head competition with China.

Second, join forces with allies to put pressure on China. During its tenure, the Trump administration only paid attention to the unilateral interests of the United States, attacked from all sides on the grounds of maintaining “fairness”, and suppressed many countries, including its allies, seriously harming the US alliance system. The Biden administration believes that the Trump administration’s approach is extremely short-sighted and ignores America’s diplomatic priorities. The alliance is an important part of the US international power system, and it is also China’s biggest shortcoming. The US should make full use of the alliance and cooperation to jointly deal with China. The Biden administration believes that in the future, the United States should play down the differences and contradictions with its allies, cooperate with allies, and jointly exert pressure on China to make it difficult to ignore. At the same time, it can also prevent China from dividing and disintegrating the US alliance system. strategic planning.

Third, focus on economic security over military security. The Trump administration’s national security concept mainly focuses on developing the U.S. military. During his tenure in office, government funding for areas including environmental protection, human rights, and international aid has been drastically cut. Against the backdrop of the ever-increasing budget deficit, the Trump administration has repeatedly increased the defense budget. , that military strength is at the heart of protecting U.S. national security. The Biden administration believes that the core competitiveness of the United States comes from its economic and technological level. The Trump administration’s approach of launching a large-scale trade war abroad cannot bring security to the United States, and its promised return of manufacturing has not really been fulfilled. The Biden administration plans to strive to maintain the unique dominant position of the United States in the field of high-tech industries, establish a more complete industrial chain for sensitive industries as soon as possible, greatly increase the proportion of manufacturing in the national economy, and significantly speed up domestic infrastructure such as roads and communications. Construction, re-planning of overseas investment destinations, opening up more overseas markets, and reducing the excessive dependence of the United States on the Chinese market and raw materials.

Fourth, insist on selective decoupling from China. People from all walks of life in the United States generally believe that the original policy of engagement with China has actually failed, that China has gained significantly more from the interaction between China and the United States than the United States, and the United States has no illusions about changing China through engagement. Therefore, decoupling from China has become a reality. The inevitable choice. The Biden administration agrees with this as well. However, the Trump administration adheres to the policy of comprehensive decoupling and must completely isolate itself from China in all fields. This approach protects the US’s own security, but also loses the opportunity to develop itself through cooperation with China. The Biden administration believes that in areas such as high-tech industries, sensitive dual-use technologies, sunrise industries, and the supply of sensitive raw materials that are critical to U.S. national security, the U.S. must insist on decoupling from China, and while ensuring U.S. self-sufficiency, It can also prevent China from continuing to benefit unilaterally from the United States. However, in the trade of labor-intensive products, as well as in the fields of social culture and people-to-people exchanges, the United States should remain open to China in order to maintain domestic employment and commodity market stability, and continue to leverage the advantages of American soft power to exert influence over China.

Fifth, high-profile implementation of human rights diplomacy. The Biden administration believes that universal values ​​and the protection of human rights are originally the advantages of the United States, and at the same time help the United States use it to rally allies and mobilize domestically. However, the Trump administration has not only paid no attention to human rights issues at all, but has also been suspected of violating human rights, which has seriously weakened the international image of the United States and its ability to compete with China. The Biden administration made a high-profile announcement when it was formed that it would regard human rights issues as a diplomatic priority and actively advocate for the protection of human rights internationally. It is expected that after the Biden administration takes office, it will significantly increase its attention to domestic human rights issues in China. It has repeatedly claimed to establish a so-called “alliance of democratic countries” to jointly carry out encirclement and suppression of countries that “violate human rights”, and the main target is China. However, the Biden administration will not emphasize ideological confrontation like the Trump administration, but will focus on national interests, and its focus on human rights issues is also to protect the rights and interests of American citizens internationally. Human rights issues in China.

Sixth, maintain cooperative relations with China in areas of common interest. Unlike the Trump administration, the Biden administration does not exclude certain cooperation with China, especially on issues of common interest between the two countries, such as addressing climate change, environmental protection, disease prevention and control, and drug smuggling. The Biden administration has publicly stated that it is willing to maintain the partnership. However, the premise is that China and the United States should make joint efforts to this end, and both believe that this kind of cooperation is in the common interests of the two countries. It should not be considered that one party has demands from the other, let alone coerce the other party to do something on other issues on the condition of cooperation. make a compromise.

3. The Biden Administration’s Considerations and Planning for Cybersecurity

Network security is an important part of the US government’s security policy planning. During the Trump administration, China and the United States have engaged in a long-term game over cybersecurity issues. The U.S. government accuses China of implementing “digital authoritarianism” and using its technological advances in the digital field to exert political influence on the U.S. and the international community; at the same time, the U.S. has also prosecuted some Chinese technicians, claiming that they hacked into U.S. network systems as hackers , stealing information. Compared with the Trump administration, the Biden administration’s overall policy on cybersecurity has not changed significantly, but its focus may be adjusted and some different measures will be adopted.

First, the Biden administration believes that the United States still has obvious technological advantages and development potential in terms of cybersecurity. Under the Trump administration, U.S. R&D spending fell to an all-time low of 0.7 percent of GDP, compared with 2 percent during the Cold War. The Biden administration believes that it is necessary for the United States to significantly increase its investment in scientific and technological research and development, especially in cybersecurity, to improve the U.S.’s leading position and leadership in cybersecurity rules and technologies, to develop its own online financial technology giants, and to further cooperate with China. Open the gap to ensure US cybersecurity with strength.

Second, the Biden administration believes that relying solely on passive defense will not be able to win the future cybersecurity race. The United States should pass new legislation to allow relevant agencies and individuals to proactively respond to external cyber threats or potential threats in advance. Launch a cyber attack on the other side to prevent the risks that the United States may face. Of course, all these actions must be implemented within the legal framework, and their scope of use should also be limited, and efforts should be made to avoid infinite escalation of cyber confrontation with other countries.

Third, strengthen cooperation between various departments to achieve efficiency improvement. Within the administration, to strengthen coordination across departments, agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of National Intelligence, and the FBI need to strengthen cooperation, speed up information sharing, and allow the White House to play a greater role in coordinating cybersecurity policy. Biden’s nomination of Avril Haynes as director of national intelligence was largely based on her extensive cybersecurity experience. In addition, it should strengthen the cooperation between government departments and private enterprises, improve the ability of the United States to contain cyber threats, accelerate the formulation of new-generation cyber rules and protocols, accelerate the development and application of advanced technologies, and strive to protect personal data. Critical infrastructure security, including the financial system.

Fourth, strengthen the staffing of network security management agencies. In May 2018, the Trump administration removed the White House’s top cybersecurity coordinator position for political purposes. The move has puzzled many experts, who see it as a deliberate move by Trump to downplay the risk of a Russian cyber threat. During the campaign, the Biden team attached great importance to cybersecurity issues, and did everything possible to prevent external forces from interfering in the election. He split a key management position into two, hiring Ford’s enterprise vulnerability management and application security program leader, and a senior technologist with ties to Google to assist him. After taking office, Biden will further strengthen the staffing of the cybersecurity management agency and give it greater authority.

Fifth, other possible initiatives. Possible steps taken by the Biden administration also include pushing Congress to provide more funding for federal, state and territorial cybersecurity; continue to prosecute some potential cybercriminals to demonstrate the digital forensics capabilities of U.S. intelligence agencies, and to monitor external networks. Attackers exert psychological pressure; re-examine the export control of important chip industries and network security facilities, and try to ensure sufficient supply in the international civilian market on the basis of ensuring the security of the United States.

4. Make various preparations in advance to deal with the US cyber offensive

It can be expected that after the Biden administration takes office, Russia will still be regarded as the main source of cyber threats, but its pressure on China will also increase, which may be implemented with reference to the relevant policies of the Obama administration.

It should be seen that in terms of network security, we still need to do a lot of work. In the future, China and the United States will have both room for cooperation and more confrontation in this field. For the sake of maintaining U.S. national security, the Biden administration will launch further offensives against my country and strengthen restrictions and blockades on China in the technical field. China can maintain cooperation with the United States in maintaining international cybersecurity, combating hackers and cybercrimes, purifying cyberspace, and jointly building an online mobile payment platform. Improve the ability to respond to cyber attacks, do a good job in preventing the penetration of cyber ideology, actively participate in the formulation of new generation Internet protocols and rules, make technical preparations to prevent the United States from cutting off international server connections, and significantly improve the performance of domestic related equipment and realize it as soon as possible. Self-sufficiency, at the same time, we must also pay close attention to all aspects of cyberspace warfare offensive and defensive.

All in all, with cyber security becoming more and more important today, it is necessary for us to invest more and improve ourselves as soon as possible. No matter what measures the Biden administration takes against our country, we can respond effectively and in a timely manner to ensure the security of our country’s cyberspace. Create better conditions for the realization of national rejuvenation and the establishment of a community with a shared future for mankind.


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