A rising China: shifting the economic balance of power through cyberspace
Kihara, Stacy A.
Huntley, Wade L.
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The growing evidence of Chinese government complicity in commercial cyber espionage and theft of intellectual property, costing the United States billions of dollars, has blurred the distinction between the geopolitical and economic realms, complicating an already complex relationship. Yet, China’s cyber activity takes place in the context of an extensive economic interdependence between the two countries that may be seen as a source of stability in the relationship. Taking into consideration the economic interdependence between the United States and China, the rise of China as a potential global power, and the threat of state-sponsored malicious cyber activity, the major question driving this thesis is: What does China’s cyber behavior tell us about the role of economic interdependence in U.S.-China relations? This thesis applies the complex interdependence framework to demonstrate that China has systematically conducted cyber-enabled economic espionage against the United States in an effort to shift the economic balance of power. Furthermore, this thesis shows China’s ability to use asymmetric interdependence as a source of power and instrument of political coercion and prove its willingness to use these instruments against the United States. Finally, this thesis reasons that if China continues its persistent cyber espionage campaign, it would indicate that the potential costs of its cyber programs outweigh the benefits of its relationship with the United States.
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