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INNOFFARENA-Innovasjonsarena for stat og kommune

A comparative analysis of Chinese and Russian espionage and cyber operations

Alternative title: En komparativ analyse av kinesisk og russisk bruk av spionasje og cyberoperasjoner

Awarded: NOK 1.9 mill.

Intelligence services do not usually act independent of political guidance. Instead, they tend to be integrated with the political leadership and the development and implementation of political objectives. This argument is apparent in the two states that this proposed research will focus on: China and Russia. Nevertheless, their approaches to espionage and cyber activities differ. Thus, this proposed research project will examine to what extent their different heritages have influenced the strategies and methodologies used in their espionage and cyber activities to support their foreign policy objectives. This research will be divided into three stages. Stage 1 will analyse existing theories, analytical frameworks, and cases utilized for describing the intellectual and analogous political heritage in China and Russia. Stage 2 will select cases to use for establishing an empirical foundation on the use of espionage and cyber activities by China and Russia. Stage 3 will conduct an analysis of these activities, from which arguments can be made regarding trends and patterns in the use of espionage and cyber activities for desired foreign policy objectives in China and Russia. This research will predominantly extract relevant information from two disciplines, political science and security studies, as well as one subfield within international relations and one subfield within security studies. These subfields are intelligence culture and strategic culture, respectively. The literature, in the context of this research, must be addressed by looking at these fields and their mutual interdependence

Today, the ambiguous lines separating peace, conflict, and war offer an operational domain for some unique methods predominantly administered by a state’s intelligence services. Intelligence services do not usually act independent of political guidance. Instead, they tend to be integrated with the political leadership and the development and implementation of political objectives. This argument is apparent in the two states this proposed research will focus on: China and Russia. Due to its high relevance in today’s digitized world, the technological aspect of intelligence will comprise a significant portion of this research. David Gioe, Michael Goodman, and Tim Stevens conclude that cyber does not entail a revolution for intelligence. However, intelligence services must still enable themselves to effectively integrate this domain into the existing system. China’s use of cyber espionage is a continuation of its historic emphasis on infiltration. However, through the expansion of the internet, new methods of infiltration have been developed for intelligence services around the world. Nigel Inkster asserts that cyber operations have given China the tools to reduce operational risk at the same time as the country’s collection capabilities have expanded rapidly. The same is evident in Russia. Technology has not altered the concept of Russian espionage activities but rather provided several new methods for deployment. This proposed research project will enrich the existing literature by exploring the causal link between Chinese and Russian foreign political objectives and the role of their intelligence and security services in pursuit of these objectives by the use of espionage and cyber activities.

Funding scheme:

INNOFFARENA-Innovasjonsarena for stat og kommune