By Josh Rogin
May 25, 2006
China is stepping up its information warfare and computer network
attack capabilities, according to a Defense Department report released
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is developing information
warfare reserve and militia units and has begun incorporating them
into broader exercises and training. Also, China is developing the
ability to launch pre-emptive attacks against enemy computer networks
in a crisis, according to the document, "Annual Report to Congress:
Military Power of the People's Republic of China 2006."
The Chinese approach centers on using civilian computer expertise and
equipment to enhance PLA operations, the DOD report states.
"During a military contingency, information warfare units could
support active PLA forces by conducting "hacker attacks" and network
intrusions, or other forms of "cyber" warfare, on an adversary's
military and commercial computer systems, while helping to defend
Chinese networks," according to the report. These units would be
composed of computer experts from academies, institutes and IT
industries, it states.
In 2005, the PLA began to incorporate offensive computer network
operations into military exercises, with the goal of developing first
strike capability, "The PLA considers active offense to be the most
important requirement for information warfare to destroy or disrupt an
adversary's capability to receive and process data," the report
Computer Network Operations is an important part of the Chinese
strategy to achieve electromagnetic dominance in any conflict, and as
a force multiplier, according to the report. The PLA seeks to combine
CNO with electronic warfare, kinetic strikes against C4 nodes, and
virus attacks on enemy systems, to form what PLA theorists call
"Integrated Network Electronic Warfare," it noted.
This year's DOD report on Chinese military modernization is the latest
of six annual installments. Congress mandated the annual reports in
the fiscal 2000 Defense authorization bill.
China has often criticized the reports as an attempt to exaggerate its
military modernization and demonize China. A spokesman for the Chinese
Foreign Ministry called this year's report an attempt to spread the
China threat theory with a Cold War mentality, according to the Xinhua
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