from Net Politics and Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

The Internet Was Created in the United States, But China Will Shape Its Future

QR codes of Alipay (top) and Wechat Pay are seen next to toys displayed for sale at a shop ahead of the Lunar Year of the Dog in Beijing, China on February 8, 2018. Jason Lee/Reuters

For good reason, Russia and Russian hacking have dominated discussions about cyberspace this summer. But policymakers also must not lose track of the more decisive, long-term threat: China.

August 16, 2018

QR codes of Alipay (top) and Wechat Pay are seen next to toys displayed for sale at a shop ahead of the Lunar Year of the Dog in Beijing, China on February 8, 2018. Jason Lee/Reuters
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For good reason, Russia and Russian hacking have dominated discussions about cyberspace this summer. With the midterm elections quickly approaching, there is a great deal of concern that the United States has not done enough to shore up the defenses of voting systems or deter Russia, or other state actors, from interfering in the democratic process again. There have also been warnings from U.S. policymakers and private cybersecurity companies that hackers have been in the electric grid, perhaps preparing for an attack that could cause widespread outages and economic disruption.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has warned the "lights are blinking red," and it makes sense to pay attention to the immediate risk presented by Russian hackers. But policymakers also must not lose track of the more decisive, long-term threat: China, though technology, policy, and diplomacy, is changing the shape and nature of cyberspace. The internet is an American invention, but the future of the internet looks likely to be Chinese. It is that challenge that I highlight in "When China Rules the Web," in the newest issue of Foreign Affairs.  

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I'll be hosting a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, August 21 at 1 p.m. (EDT; GMT-4) on r/IAmA. I'll be taking your questions about "When China Rules the Web," the U.S.-China tech rivalry, and anything else about states using the internet or cyberattacks to promote their political or economic interests. Join me!

More on:

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