APEC’s New Strategic Action Plan for the Internet Shows Limited Cyber Security Cooperation within the Region

APEC’s Telecommunication and Information Ministers adopted a new five-year strategic action plan to maximise the potential of the Internet to drive growth in the Asia-Pacific economies. In the context of cyber security, the strategic plan appears not to provide either a substantial change in the current policy or a push for deeper cooperation.

The new strategy, endorsed by the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group (TEL WG), replaces the previous strategic plan for 2010-2015; it lists the following five priority areas:

  1. Develop and support ICT innovation
  2. Promote a secure, resilient and trusted ICT environment
  3. Promote regional economic integration
  4. Enhance the Digital Economy and the Internet Economy
  5. Strengthen cooperation.

For each priority area, the strategy proposes specific objectives, actions and possible future initiatives. The objectives listed in the cyber security-related priority area (promoting a secure, resilient and trusted ICT environment) are not considerably different from the previous strategic plan; the only observation is that the new plan covers action areas and potential initiatives in slightly more detail. Nevertheless, the actions listed in the document promote fairly basic forms of cooperation between the APEC members and relevant stakeholders. It mostly calls for capacity-building efforts, raising awareness on cyber security, and enhanced cooperation by sharing information on best practices among stakeholders such as CERTs. (For the specific actions, objectives and proposed initiatives, see page 16 of the strategy)

The somewhat limited level of cooperation does not come as a surprise, as APEC comprises a diverse set of 21 member states1 of very different cyber capabilities, economic development and political systems; it also includes key players China, Russia and the US. Most prominently, the difficult Sino-US cyber relations have received attention in the context of APEC. For example, many have highlighted the fact that the pressing issue of cyber security was avoided in the 2014 APEC Summit due to divergent interests between the two states.

Henry Rõigas

This publication does not necessarily reflect the policy or the opinion of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (the Centre) or NATO. The Centre may not be held responsible for any loss or harm arising from the use of information contained in this publication and is not responsible for the content of the external sources, including external websites referenced in this publication.

  1. Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, United States, Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russian Federation, Vietnam, The Philippines []