Understand China’s Taiwan Cyber Strategy—Prepare Now

Understanding China's Taiwan Cyber Strategy

How to succeed at annexation without really fighting

Will the People’s Republic of China (PRC)* invade Taiwan? Many Americans worry an invasion will take place. Business leaders worry, too. In fact, a war over Taiwan is neither inevitable nor looming. But an unconventional risk lurks in the shadows: The PRC has a Taiwan cyber strategy for annexing Taiwan without an invasion. This strategy is in use right now. And it puts global stability at risk. That’s why we wrote a new study on the strategy called How to Succeed at Annexation Without Really Fighting.

Now, the PRC doesn’t see one big Taiwan cyberattack as the way to win. Instead, the strategy calls for using cyber power in a comprehensive way—on political, military, and economic fronts. The aim is to isolate, weaken, and absorb Taiwan in the long run. This is done through spying, stealing data, spreading lies, and beyond. The PRC also targets U.S. critical infrastructure with cyber threats to deter U.S. involvement in the event of a Taiwan crisis.

Other studies often look at discrete PRC plans and cyber capabilities in isolation. This report offers a unique holistic perspective on the PRC’s Taiwan cyber strategy. It includes:

  • Insights into the PRC's actions, plans, and intentions
  • 10 key facets of the PRC’s Taiwan cyber strategy
  • Evolving dynamics of power, influence, and security
  • Actionable advice for government and commercial leaders

The PRC is the nation’s top pacing challenge. The U.S. must effectively compete with the PRC while reducing the risk of miscalculation, provocation, and unnecessary escalation. That means that U.S. leaders need to know how the PRC views cyber competition and kinetic conflict in the context of its Taiwan policy. And commercial leaders need to know how to manage related business risks.

*Note: In the headline, “China” refers to the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the issue with Taiwan and the PRC?

The PRC is determined to “reunify” with Taiwan.

Why is Taiwan so important to the U.S.?

The U.S. National Security Strategy states, “We have an abiding interest in maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is critical to regional and global security and prosperity and a matter of international concern and attention.”

Did threats increase just before Taiwan’s 2024 national election?

Influence campaigns tried to undermine Taiwan’s democratic process. Also, the PRC flooded Taiwan with anti-U.S. disinformation and propaganda, aiming to make the U.S. look like the main threat to Taiwan and an unreliable partner.

What is Volt Typhoon?

Volt Typhoon is a PRC cyber threat group. It’s trying to gain long-term access to U.S. critical infrastructure systems. The U.S. government has warned the PRC believes it could use such access to disrupt vital services and crush American will for the U.S. to defend Taiwan in the event of a major conflict there.

Is the PRC preparing for war?

A conventional war over Taiwan is neither inevitable nor looming. But the PRC has a Taiwan cyber strategy that aims to advance its goal of annexing Taiwan without an invasion.

Why is 2027 important for the PRC?

The PRC’s 2027 military modernization goals coincide with the centenary of the People‘s Liberation Army (PLA). The goals include being ready to invade Taiwan by 2027.

Which country is ranked No. 1 in cybersecurity?

The U.S. is ranked No. 1 in the 2020 Global Cybersecurity Index.

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