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China’s Plan for Countering Weaponized Interdependence

In an article entitled “The international environment and countermeasures of network governance during the “14th Five-Year Plan” period” by Xu Xiujun (徐秀军) in the February 27, 2021 edition of China Information Security, we see the continuation of China’s concerns over Weaponized Interdependence and China’s desire to shape a global technology and economic environment that is less influenced by Western power.

Xiujun identifies concerns in several interconnected areas:

Cyber ​​security and governance challenges have become more prominent

The author contends that global security governance has become strategically important and that “security and governance challenges have become very prominent and have been deeply reflected in cyberspace.”

Issues of social integrity are identified as key concerns as are threats from unmanned drones and the risks of technology dependence based on our move to teleworking due to Covid.

“At present, the international security situation has not fundamentally improved, and the security of some regions and countries is still showing a trend of deterioration, and regional conflicts and local wars continue.”

“As for internal conditions within countries, many countries are in a period of frequent contradictions of development, transformation, adjustment and change. Various social thoughts are turbulent, social contradictions and conflicts have intensified, party politics has become polarized, resulting in chaos in the political arena, and social disturbances one after another. These problems and contradictions, as well as various forms of security incidents, have been amplified in cyberspace, and have further spawned more insecure conditions. At the same time, non-traditional global security issues such as food security, energy and resource security, network security, climate change, major epidemics and natural disasters have become more prominent. Especially after the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, people have become more dependent on digital technology and virtual space, which has increased the risks of network security.”

The article also argues that some nations failure to participate in true cooperative global governance initiatives will further lead to their internal decline.

“At the same time, a small number of Western powers ignore the rules, superstitiously believe in power, and shirk their responsibilities. They promote unilateralism and pull small groups in response to global problems, which not only leads to the failure of global governance, but also causes their own governance to fall into chaos.”

Information technology is reshaping the landscape of global competition

China should be concerned that with the advancement of International networks, the world has not become more decentralized, but rather control nodes have been concentrated and represent a technology and economic threat.

“Many scholars once believed that economic globalization has made information more dispersed and the world more flat. However, as globalized economic activities and information exchanges have increased, some “central nodes” where information gathers have become increasingly prominent, and the countries occupying these nodes therefore have ‘oversight powers’ [监视权] and “blocking powers” [阻断权] that restrict the behavior of other countries”

Advancements in new technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and next generation networks serve to enable disruptive power for the nations leading their development.

“In the international competition landscape, countries with the leading information technology have greater destructive power and are able to deal fatal blows to their competitors through “war without gunpowder.””

Consolidate a solid foundation for the network security assurance system and capacity building

The path forward for network security and assurance is dependent on developing innovation advancement and resistance to centralized nodes of control.

“Only by occupying an advantageous position of interdependence in the network domain can we effectively prevent China from becoming a target of weaponized interdependence. Unlike Iran and other countries, relying on existing technologies, China has the ability to actively increase its own central nodes and network control in certain areas, and strengthen its ability to counterattack the United States with weaponized interdependence. To this end, my country should rely on major breakthroughs in the development and application of core technologies in the field of network information such as high-performance computing, mobile communications, quantum communications, Beidou navigation, core chips, operating systems, etc., to continuously improve network control and form a powerful deterrent to prevent other countries from abusing weaponized networks to create security threats.”

As a second mechanism to reduce vulnerability, China should also play a strong role in the development of international standards and norms.

“In order to reduce dependence on external rules and standards, and to move from meeting and conforming to standards to setting standards, it is urgent to give play to the role of enterprises in the formulation of international rules and standards. On the one hand, it is necessary to strengthen the top-level design of Chinese standards “going out” and formulate supporting policies for enterprises to participate in the formulation of international Internet standards; on the other hand, it is necessary to give full play to the coordination role of industry associations in coordinating relevant departments and enterprises to participate in enterprises. Formulate international Internet standards and strive for industry voice to solve problems.”

OODA Analysis:

While not official policy, we’ve seen that academic articles such as this one typically are reflective of China’s perspective on global issues and provide insight into their strategic planning process. It is important to understand this thinking to drive your own business and security strategy and we will continue to track these issues for OODA Network Members.

Original Mandarin Article

Our analysis is greatly dependent on the excellent translation by Jeffry Ding.


Matt Devost

Matt Devost

Matthew G. Devost is the CEO & Co-Founder of OODA LLC. Matt is a technologist, entrepreneur, and international security expert specializing in counterterrorism, critical infrastructure protection, intelligence, risk management and cyber-security issues. Matt co-founded the cyber security consultancy FusionX from 2010-2017. Matt was President & CEO of the Terrorism Research Center/Total Intel from 1996-2009. For a full bio, please see