China and Southeast Asia: Offline Information Penetration and Suspicions of Online Hacking – Strategic Implications from a Singaporean Perspective

This is a most unusual chapter to compose, not the least because a Singaporean perspective is supposed to offer a window into China’s interactions with its geopolitical neighbourhood, Southeast Asia. Yet, there are compelling reasons for doing so. Singapore is, by most measures of global connectedness, a First World hub of trade, information and finance in Southeast Asia. Moreover, Sino-Singapore relations have gained unprecedented momentum on a political and ideological plane compared to its ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) neighbors. Finally, a small state perspective, such as Singapore’s, can be treated as a bellwether of security in its immediate “regional international society”. [CHO 06] A Singaporean perspective frames cybersecurity issues within a securitized frame of long term horizon forecasting, strategic anxiety and balanced appreciation of the political conditions of great and middle powers alike. In the area of cyber security, Singapore ranks amongst Asia’s top three most densely Internet penetrated national societies, with South Korea and Japan sharing the other two positions.

On the subject of Southeast Asia, it is proposed that China-Southeast Asia ties in relation to the cybersecurity sphere follow two strategic patterns. In the offline sphere, China’s foreign policy1 actively practises soft power in ...

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