Left-wing think tank pushes new effort to counter China online

by Danielle F. Winter

Left-wing think tank Third Way is launching a new initiative to counter China online, emphasizing the need for “digital democracy” to triumph over “digital autocracy.”

Valerie Shen, vice president of the Third Way’s national security program, said on Tuesday that China thinks US democracy is too messy to win the digital competition online. But she said the US could succeed. Her organization is leading a new US-China Digital World Order Initiative.

Left-wing think tank pushes new effort to counter China online

“The US will have to dig deep, find out, come to an agreement, and then execute our plan to win,” Ms. Shen said at an event at the International Spy Museum in Washington. “The entire government, big tech, corporations, civil society, and, yes, even Democrats and Republicans are passing laws together. And ideally, start as soon as possible.”

Describing itself as the center-left, Third Way proposes developing a “comprehensive strategy to secure a democratic digital world order for the 21st century” that will drive policymakers to implement it. The organization lists several federal lawmakers as honorary co-chairs on its website, including Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Gary Peters of Michigan, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware.

Despite its Democratic backing, the group said its initiative would strive to be two-pronged. It emphasized the need to imbue cyberspace with American values ​​such as freedom of expression, privacy, human rights, truth, and accountability. In an example of his GOP outreach, former Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican, attends the launch event on Tuesday.

The group also has allies within the ranks of the Biden administration. Officials from the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Security Council spoke at the launch meeting.

According to the State Department, the Biden administration called on more than 60 countries to participate in its Declaration for the Future of the Internet earlier this year, which sought to demonstrate a “political commitment” to a positive vision of the Internet and digital technology. Promote.

Ruth Berry, a deputy assistant secretary of the State Department, said the government is not seeking decoupling from China.

“The United States and China will be related for the foreseeable future, but that said, there are areas of critical importance to US national and economic security where the United States and its partners and allies will work together to do what we have to do to protect ourselves,” Ms. Berry said at Third Way’s event. “I think it fits this protection and promotion strategy idea.”

Third Way isn’t the only think tank emphasizing countering China in the digital realm. The Brookings Institution will host White House officials on Wednesday to explain the statement for the future of the Internet, which the officials helped draft.

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