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1 of 17
Original Problem Statement
How can the U.S. employ its cyber
capabilities to provide the populace of
China with unrestricted Internet access?
How can it use this access to bolster civil
society against CCP crackdowns, in order to
pressure the PRC, spread American liberal
values, and uphold U.S. freedom of action in
the information domain?
Total Interviews: 18
Laura Bocek
- BA Int’l Rel. ‘24
Fátima Ptacek
- BA Political Science ‘22
Jay Meier
- MSx ‘22
Pierce Lowary
- BS Comp. Sci. ‘22
Final Problem Statement
How does the USG leverage a soft-power
information campaign to support Hong
Kong residents’ right to self-determination
and democratic governance without placing
individuals at undue risk (of prosecution as
foreign agents under the National Security
Law)?
Week 2
Original Problem
Use cyber capabilities to
uncensor internet access
for Chinese citizens
Week 3
Week 5
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
China
Offensive Cyber
Professor on China
Support democratic
values in Hong Kong
through activists
Hong Kong
Activists
Big Tech causes lots
of problems for
activists
Activist Interviews
Big Tech and
International Policy
Google Policy Lead
The US does not set
norms for freedom of
speech
Public Diplomacy
Department of State
Department of
State Employees
Solution Validation
Project Trajectory
Week 2
Week 3
China
Offensive Cyber
Original Problem
Use cyber capabilities to
uncensor internet access
for Chinese citizens
Week 5 Week 8
Week 7 Week 9
Initial Interviews
Interview: Cyber Professor
@ CISAC
● Investigate
offensive cyber
operations & info
ops
● Great Firewall of
China
Idea: Offensive Cyber
Operations + info ops
● Degrade
censorship
● Disrupt
enforcement
Crack the Great Firewall
Interview: Chinese
Censorship Professor
● Too aggressive,
provocative
● Support HKers
seeking free info
Idea: HK Activists =
Consumers
● HKers value free info
● Primary
stakeholders
● PRC: less demand
Initial Hypothesis Challenged
Activists as stakeholders?
Week 2
Week 3
Week 5
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Solution Validation
Hong Kong
Activists
China
Offensive Cyber
Professor on China
Support democratic
values in Hong Kong
through activists
Original Problem
Use cyber capabilities to
uncensor internet access
for Chinese citizens
Pivot to Activists
Both are
reliant on
Big Tech
to maintain
information
flows
Internal
Activists in
HK
● More concerned
with safety
● Worried about Hong
Kong becoming a
black hole
Activists in
Exile
● Less concerned with
safety
● See exiled activists
as security threat
Activists Not Monolithic
Week 2
Week 3
Week 5
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
China
Offensive Cyber
Professor on China
Support democratic
values in Hong Kong
through activists
Hong Kong
Activists
Big Tech causes lots
of problems for
activists
Activist Interviews
Big Tech
International Policy
Original Problem
Use cyber capabilities to
uncensor internet access
for Chinese citizens
Leveraging Tech Policy
“Google has to respond to legal requests in jurisdictions that it
works in… we either comply with the law or we don’t.”
● Easier to push back with extrajudicial requests
● Limited options for recourse
● Western democracies NOT on the same page on freedom of
speech and censorship.
Overwhelming international consensus required… not realistic.
Tech Policy - Dead End
Week 2
Week 3
Week 5
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
China
Offensive Cyber
Professor on China
Support democratic
values in Hong Kong
through activists
Hong Kong
Activists
Big Tech causes lots
of problems for
activists
Activist Interviews
Big Tech and
International Policy
Google Policy Lead
The US does not set
norms for freedom of
speech
Public Diplomacy
Department of State
Original Problem
Use cyber capabilities to
uncensor internet access
for Chinese citizens
Pivot to Public Diplomacy
CCP leverages
“foreign
interference” to
pass additional
restrictions.
CCP increases
restrictions on HK
civil society.
Hong Kong citizens protest /
USG offers overt support to
HK activism.
Existing
CCP
Censorship
Cycle
Don’t Grant CCP More Leverage
Any solution MUST:
- - Minimize perception of “foreign meddling”
- - Avoid US vs China narrative
- - Build awareness of the “democratic option”
Play the Long Game - Soft Power
“All of these can be accomplished through existing DoS
programs… when properly resourced and implemented.”
- USEMB Beijing Public Affairs Official
Week 2
Original Hypothesis
Cyber operation to disrupt
the Great Firewall
Week 3
Week 5
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
China
Offensive Cyber
Professor on China
Support democratic
values in Hong Kong
through activists
Hong Kong
Activists
Big Tech causes lots
of problems for
activists
Activist Interviews
Big Tech and
International Policy
Google Policy Lead
The US does not set
norms for freedom of
speech
Public Diplomacy
Department of State
Department of
State Employees
Solution Validation
Solution Affirmation
US Soft Power
Campaign -
Democracy
Pros:
• Light impact over a
long period of time
• Less likely to see
CCP pushback
Cons:
• Requires time and
space
Direct Support to
Activists
Pros:
• Increased resilience
Cons:
• Could make them
easier to target
• Strengthens CCP’s
assertions of US
meddling
Leverage Big Tech /
Tech Policy
Pros:
• Bolster free speech
Cons:
• Limited leverage /
could play into
CCP’s hands
• Western
democracies divided
Offensive Cyber
Operation
Pros:
• Powerful in event
of military action
Cons:
• Overt, attributable
• Implications for
activists
• Anti - China
Solution Silos
Implementation Concept
Increase Resourcing for
Public Diplomacy
Increase DP PD (0113.7) funding for
messaging activities
Push additional funding to Embassy
level
Create new appropriations as required
1
Delegate Messaging to the
Country Teams
Broad Themes from DOS HQ
Local Knowledge Drives Messaging
Resourcing for Market Research
2
Bring in Outside Expertise
Authority / Funding to hire SMEs
Public Affairs / Journalism
Support FSOs with Experts
3
QUESTIONS / DISCUSSION
International Platform for Freedom
Ultimate Goal
- Horizontal connection
between democratic
activists
- multinational platform
- add value, not compete
with, traditional forms of
aid
Providers of Aid
- Foundations
- NGOs
- Professors
- Private Individuals
Seekers of
Democracy Assistance
- Ideas
- Money
- Training
- Infrastructure
Marketplace
for
Democracy

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Team Aurora - 2021 Technology, Innovation & Great Power Competition

  • 1. Original Problem Statement How can the U.S. employ its cyber capabilities to provide the populace of China with unrestricted Internet access? How can it use this access to bolster civil society against CCP crackdowns, in order to pressure the PRC, spread American liberal values, and uphold U.S. freedom of action in the information domain? Total Interviews: 18 Laura Bocek - BA Int’l Rel. ‘24 Fátima Ptacek - BA Political Science ‘22 Jay Meier - MSx ‘22 Pierce Lowary - BS Comp. Sci. ‘22 Final Problem Statement How does the USG leverage a soft-power information campaign to support Hong Kong residents’ right to self-determination and democratic governance without placing individuals at undue risk (of prosecution as foreign agents under the National Security Law)?
  • 2. Week 2 Original Problem Use cyber capabilities to uncensor internet access for Chinese citizens Week 3 Week 5 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 China Offensive Cyber Professor on China Support democratic values in Hong Kong through activists Hong Kong Activists Big Tech causes lots of problems for activists Activist Interviews Big Tech and International Policy Google Policy Lead The US does not set norms for freedom of speech Public Diplomacy Department of State Department of State Employees Solution Validation Project Trajectory
  • 3. Week 2 Week 3 China Offensive Cyber Original Problem Use cyber capabilities to uncensor internet access for Chinese citizens Week 5 Week 8 Week 7 Week 9 Initial Interviews
  • 4. Interview: Cyber Professor @ CISAC ● Investigate offensive cyber operations & info ops ● Great Firewall of China Idea: Offensive Cyber Operations + info ops ● Degrade censorship ● Disrupt enforcement Crack the Great Firewall
  • 5. Interview: Chinese Censorship Professor ● Too aggressive, provocative ● Support HKers seeking free info Idea: HK Activists = Consumers ● HKers value free info ● Primary stakeholders ● PRC: less demand Initial Hypothesis Challenged Activists as stakeholders?
  • 6. Week 2 Week 3 Week 5 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Solution Validation Hong Kong Activists China Offensive Cyber Professor on China Support democratic values in Hong Kong through activists Original Problem Use cyber capabilities to uncensor internet access for Chinese citizens Pivot to Activists
  • 7. Both are reliant on Big Tech to maintain information flows Internal Activists in HK ● More concerned with safety ● Worried about Hong Kong becoming a black hole Activists in Exile ● Less concerned with safety ● See exiled activists as security threat Activists Not Monolithic
  • 8. Week 2 Week 3 Week 5 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 China Offensive Cyber Professor on China Support democratic values in Hong Kong through activists Hong Kong Activists Big Tech causes lots of problems for activists Activist Interviews Big Tech International Policy Original Problem Use cyber capabilities to uncensor internet access for Chinese citizens Leveraging Tech Policy
  • 9. “Google has to respond to legal requests in jurisdictions that it works in… we either comply with the law or we don’t.” ● Easier to push back with extrajudicial requests ● Limited options for recourse ● Western democracies NOT on the same page on freedom of speech and censorship. Overwhelming international consensus required… not realistic. Tech Policy - Dead End
  • 10. Week 2 Week 3 Week 5 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 China Offensive Cyber Professor on China Support democratic values in Hong Kong through activists Hong Kong Activists Big Tech causes lots of problems for activists Activist Interviews Big Tech and International Policy Google Policy Lead The US does not set norms for freedom of speech Public Diplomacy Department of State Original Problem Use cyber capabilities to uncensor internet access for Chinese citizens Pivot to Public Diplomacy
  • 11. CCP leverages “foreign interference” to pass additional restrictions. CCP increases restrictions on HK civil society. Hong Kong citizens protest / USG offers overt support to HK activism. Existing CCP Censorship Cycle Don’t Grant CCP More Leverage
  • 12. Any solution MUST: - - Minimize perception of “foreign meddling” - - Avoid US vs China narrative - - Build awareness of the “democratic option” Play the Long Game - Soft Power “All of these can be accomplished through existing DoS programs… when properly resourced and implemented.” - USEMB Beijing Public Affairs Official
  • 13. Week 2 Original Hypothesis Cyber operation to disrupt the Great Firewall Week 3 Week 5 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 China Offensive Cyber Professor on China Support democratic values in Hong Kong through activists Hong Kong Activists Big Tech causes lots of problems for activists Activist Interviews Big Tech and International Policy Google Policy Lead The US does not set norms for freedom of speech Public Diplomacy Department of State Department of State Employees Solution Validation Solution Affirmation
  • 14. US Soft Power Campaign - Democracy Pros: • Light impact over a long period of time • Less likely to see CCP pushback Cons: • Requires time and space Direct Support to Activists Pros: • Increased resilience Cons: • Could make them easier to target • Strengthens CCP’s assertions of US meddling Leverage Big Tech / Tech Policy Pros: • Bolster free speech Cons: • Limited leverage / could play into CCP’s hands • Western democracies divided Offensive Cyber Operation Pros: • Powerful in event of military action Cons: • Overt, attributable • Implications for activists • Anti - China Solution Silos
  • 15. Implementation Concept Increase Resourcing for Public Diplomacy Increase DP PD (0113.7) funding for messaging activities Push additional funding to Embassy level Create new appropriations as required 1 Delegate Messaging to the Country Teams Broad Themes from DOS HQ Local Knowledge Drives Messaging Resourcing for Market Research 2 Bring in Outside Expertise Authority / Funding to hire SMEs Public Affairs / Journalism Support FSOs with Experts 3
  • 17. International Platform for Freedom Ultimate Goal - Horizontal connection between democratic activists - multinational platform - add value, not compete with, traditional forms of aid Providers of Aid - Foundations - NGOs - Professors - Private Individuals Seekers of Democracy Assistance - Ideas - Money - Training - Infrastructure Marketplace for Democracy