Attribution in cyberspace provides room for governments to maneuver. China can be party to cyber agreements, while perpetuating its current actions. As Timothy Thomas, a noted cyber expert on China has observed, Chinese spokespeople have plenty of experience denying their country’s involvement in cyber exploitation. Purported acquiescence to cyber norms, when combined with firm denials of intrusive cyber activities, allows China to “support a righteous cause” and not “lose face,” all while continuing its state-sponsored industrial espionage campaign.
Jennifer McArdle is a Fellow in the Center for Revolutionary Scientific Thought at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and a PhD candidate at Kings College London in the War Studies department. Follow her on Twitter: @jlmcardle01.