Getting to Yes with China in Cyberspace: Is It Possible?

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the U.S.-China relationship has been characterized by conflict, confrontation, and strategic mistrust. The tensions that divide the two countries have been growing in recent years.

Unfortunately, relations in cyberspace are just as strained as relations in the physical world, as the hacks of the Office of Personnel Management, Anthem, and United Airlines have shown. Indeed, of all the areas where the relationship between the two sides is troubled, cyberspace has been one of the most contentious. Is it possible for the United States and China to come to an understanding on norms and rules in cyberspace through formal negotiations? Are there any areas of agreement between the two sides?

In this May 2016 congressional briefing, RAND experts Scott W. Harold and Martin Libicki discuss

  • the differing perspectives and interests of the U.S. and China in cyberspace and how these affect the prospects for managing the two sides' bilateral relationship in cyberspace
  • how the U.S. and China approach negotiations and deterrence, and when a military response to a cyber incident is acceptable
  • feasible paths to getting to meaningful and lasting agreements over norms in cyberspace.


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