The Great Power Race in GCC Cyberspace

Secure and uninterrupted cyber cooperation is central to successfully fighting conventional wars, defending against hybrid threats, ensuring the security of stationed personnel, monitoring financial transactions and terrorist movements, and enforcing sanctions. As China and the United States have found new venues for conflict over the last decade, cyberspace is no exception. China has sought to counter the United States’ Clean Network Initiative (CNI), a digital trade zone that excludes Chinese companies, by introducing its own Global Data Security Initiative. Amid this escalating interplay of techno-politics, geopolitics, and the looming prospect of splinternet, Beijing and Washington are in a race to attract as many states as possible into their respective orbits.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are working closely with Chinese companies to develop their 5G networks, putting these countries in the middle of Chinese-U.S cyber competition. With GCC member states, China has the upper hand on the normative side of this competition. China’s closed political system and top-down approach to governance, as well as its disregard for individual rights and freedoms, are mirrored across the Middle East’s political landscapes. Meanwhile, Washington’s role as the main security guarantor remains its most potent asset in the region. How the two sides will play their hands and how the GCC states respond to their efforts will have significant implications not only for the region and Beijing and Washington’s respective roles in it, but also for the broader issue of global internet governance.

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Don’t Institutionalize the Internet by Constance Bommelaer de Leusse and Juan Peirano
As the United Nations turned 75, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the General Assembly by calling for a New Global Deal to ensure that political and economic systems deliver on critical global public goods. “Today, that is simply not happening,” he said. “We have huge gaps in governance structures and ethical frameworks. To close these gaps, we need to ensure that power, wealth and opportunities are broadly and fairly shared.” At the Internet Society, we couldn’t agree more. But just what will this ‘New Global Deal’ and its governance structures look like with regards to digital cooperation? Let’s make sure that traditional, top-down governance of the Internet is not the answer.

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