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A Chinese perspective on cyber war

30-06-2012 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 886, by Li Zhang

The attacks on Estonian networks in April of 2007 are generally seen by Western nations as the first case of national-level cyber attacks (the impact of the attacks was mostly national, although the channel of attack may have been international). Additionally, the network attacks experienced by Georgia in August 2008 are considered the first instance of a coordinated traditional and cyber war. The United States and other Western nations regard these two cyber battles as causes for great attention and much reflection. They believe that although a ‘cyber Pearl Harbor’ has yet to occur, cyber warfare has now become a reality.


Li Zhang is Director of the Institute of Information and Social Development Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) in Beijing (a group of experts on crisis management and strategic and policy research on cyber security), and one of the co-sponsors of the Sino-US Cybersecurity Dialogue hosted by CICIR and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in the United States.