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Adam Segal

Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Expertise

Technology and development in China and India; East Asian security; Chinese domestic and foreign policy; cyberconflict, cybersecurity

Programs

Internet Governance After Busan , Roundtable Series on Cyberconflict and Cybersecurity , U.S.-Asia Update Roundtable Series

Bio

Adam Segal is the Maurice R. Greenberg senior fellow for China studies and director of the Program on Digital and Cyberspace Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). An expert on security issues, technology development, and Chinese domestic and foreign policy, Dr. Segal was the project director for the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet. His book Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge (W.W. Norton, 2011) looks at the technological rise of Asia. His work has appeared in the Financial Times, The EconomistForeign PolicyThe Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Affairs, among others. He currently writes for the blog, "Net Politics."

Before coming to CFR, Dr. Segal was an arms control analyst for the China Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. There, he wrote about missile defense, nuclear weapons, and Asian security issues. He has been a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, and Tsinghua University in Beijing. He has taught at Vassar College and Columbia University. Dr. Segal is the author of Digital Dragon: High-Technology Enterprises in China (Cornell University Press, 2003), as well as several articles and book chapters on Chinese technology policy.

Dr. Segal has a BA and PhD in government from Cornell University, and an MA in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

The Geopolitics of Cyberspace

During the Cold War, many of the most intense ideological and political struggles revolved around the organization of economic systems. Even among Western allies, there were differences over the state's role in the market, the distribution of benefits between labor and capital, and the degree of openness to international trade. The competition over economic systems of course continues but is now joined by a new conflict over the organization and ownership of data and information—how states create and regulate new information, defend it, and deploy it as a weapon against their adversaries. In my forthcoming book, The Geopolitics of Cyberspace, I describe this new conflict, explain how rising cyber power states are developing, and suggest a set of policies that improve the United States' ability to advance its interests in and through cyberspace. I direct CFR's Program on Digital and Cyberspace Policy,oversee a roundtable on cybersecurity,and have written about cyber threats to the oil and gas industry. I blog at Net Politics and was the projector director of a CFR Independent Task Force on U.S. policy toward cyberspace.

Cyberspace and U.S.-China Relations

Both the United States and China have identified cyberspace as critical to their economic and national security, and have adopted a number of domestic and international strategies in order to shape the Internet. At the same time, each country is likely to see the other as an important, if not the main, impediment to the pursuit of its interests in cyberspace. Washington and Beijing differ on the international governance of cyberspace, the definition and legitimacy of espionage, and the balance between the values of national sovereignty and the free flow of information. U.S. and Chinese technology companies battle over customers, international standards, and access to markets, the subject of my last book, Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge.Yet, the two sides have a shared interest in preventing third party attacks on critical infrastructure and in developing confidence building measures in the areas of cyber conflict. In my blog posts at Asia Unbound and Forbes,writings in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Guardian, and other media outlets, and by hosting a roundtable series, I explore how the two sides can stem the growing distrust and suggest workable policies.

Featured Publications

Task Force Report No. 70

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet

The CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report, Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet, finds that as more people and services become interconnected and dependent on the Internet, societies are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. To support security, innovation, growth, and the free flow of information, the Task Force recommends that the United States and its partners work to build a cyber alliance, make the free flow of information a part of all future trade agreements, and articulate an inclusive and robust vision of Internet governance.

See more in Global; Cybersecurity; Internet Policy

All Publications

Foreign Affairs Article

Chinese Computer Games

Author: Adam Segal

In March 2011, the U.S. computer security company RSA announced that hackers had gained access to security tokens it produces that let millions of government and private-sector employees, including those of defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, connect remotely to their office computers.

See more in China; Cybersecurity

Foreign Affairs Article

Has Globalization Passed Its Peak?

Authors: Rawi Abdelal and Adam Segal

Not long ago, the expansion of free trade worldwide seemed inevitable. Over the last few years, however, economic barriers have started to rise once more. The forecast for the future looks mixed: some integration will probably continue even as a new economic nationalism takes hold. Managing this new, muddled world will take deft handling, in Washington, Brussels, and Beijing.

See more in Trade; Globalization; Global

Article

The People's Republic of Hacking

Author: Adam Segal
Foreign Policy

Adam Segal says the recent Chinese cyberattacks on Bloomberg and the New York Times highlights both the willingness of Beijing to shape the narrative about China, as well as the vulnerability the top leadership feels about how they are portrayed.

See more in Cybersecurity; China

Ask CFR Experts

Is the threat of a "cyber Pearl Harbor" as potent as some have suggested?

Asked by James Bingham, from King's College, London

The phrase "cyber Pearl Harbor" received attention when it by former defense secretary Leon E. Panetta in a speech about U.S. vulnerability to cyberwarfare threats. It is best understood as an effort to shape the domestic political debate and as a description of a potential future scenario, rather than as an accurate description of the cybersecurity threat.

Read full answer

See more in Cybersecurity; United States

Book

Digital Dragon

Author: Adam Segal

Can China become a true global economic power? That depends on the evolution of the Chinese high-technology sector. The industry's success or failure will determine whether China becomes a modern economy or simply a large one, argues CFR Senior Fellow Adam Segal in the first detailed look at a major institutional experiment with high-tech endeavors in China.

See more in China; Technology and Foreign Policy

Recent Activity from Net Politics

Events

Internet Governance After Busan

Staff: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program
November 20, 2014

This symposium is a half-day, multisession symposium to bring together leading policymakers and experts for analysis of the Internet governance landscape and to discuss new ideas for reform.

Roundtable Series on Cyberconflict and Cybersecurity

Staff: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program
Director: James P. Dougherty, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Business and Foreign Policy
September 23, 2009—Present

This roundtable series brings together policymakers, scholars, and private sector specialists to explore the growing threats in cyberspace to the U.S. economy and security.

U.S.-Asia Update Roundtable Series

Directors: Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, and Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program
July 1, 2007—Present

The U.S.-Asia Update Roundtable Series provides a forum for discussion of the major issues that shape Chinese domestic policies, U.S.-China relations, and East Asian regional dynamics. This series is made possible through generous support from the Starr Foundation.

CFR Events

Media Conference Call

North Korean Cyberattack on Sony Pictures

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Symposium ⁄ Washington

Session III: Busan: What Happened and What Comes Next?

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ Washington

The Future of Internet Governance

This meeting is on the record.

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Guest Event ⁄ Washington

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet: Report of the CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy in the Digital Age

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Guest Event ⁄ New York

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet: Report of the CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy in the Digital Age

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Academic Conference Call

China, Cybersecurity, and Crisis Stability

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Corporate Meeting

The Business Impact of a Changing Cyber Landscape

This meeting is on the record.

Watch

Conference Panel Session

China 2025: Panel Two: China Goes Global

This meeting is on the record.

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General Meeting ⁄ New York

The U.S.-Chinese Economic Relationship: Symbiotic or Antagonistic

This meeting is not for attribution.

ListenWatch

Guest Event ⁄ New York

Koppel on Discovery: The People's Republic of Capitalism

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ Washington

High-Tech China: Challenges and Opportunities

This meeting is not for attribution.

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General Meeting

Independent Task Force on Chinese Military Power

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

General Meeting

APEC, Al-Qaeda, and Shifting Alliances: New Dynamics in the Asia Pacific Region

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

Press/Panels

Radio Interview

Hackers Access Information of 4 Million Government Employees


Speaking with KCRW's "To the Point," Council on Foreign Relations expert on China and cybersecurity Adam Segal discusses the breach of the Office of Personnel Management's records, possible sources of the attack, and how the U.S. can respond.

Listen

Video Interview

China Bashes US Allegations of Cyber-attacks

Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program Adam Segal discusses U.S. claims that China is responsible for the cyber-attack against U.S. federal workers.

Watch

Radio Interview

The Bob Rivers Show

Adam Segal discusses Chinese cyber economic espionage on the Bob Rivers Show.

Listen

Video Interview

Push for Cyber Diplomacy

Adam Segal appears on FOX Business news to discuss the push for cyber diplomacy in President Barack Obama's meeting with Xi Jinping in California.

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Panel

Arms Race vs. Relay Race: What Does Innovation Hold for China?

Adam Segal discusses doubts about China's ability to ever become an innovation superpower. Will China succeed at fostering creative incubators on par with Silicon Valley and America’s great research universities? And, contrary to the zero-sum nature of political rhetoric, should Americans root for China’s innovators?

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