China a major cyberthreat, commission warns

China a major cyberthreat, commission warns
China a major cyberthreat, commission warns 

By Josh Rogin
Dec. 1, 2006

China is fielding information warfare units and developing 
anti-satellite capabilities aimed at countering U.S. military 
technology, according to a U.S. congressional commission.

Chinas cyberwarfare strategy has switched from a defensive to an 
offensive posture, with the goal of attacking enemy networks and denying 
adversaries access to information, said the U.S.-China Economic and 
Security Review Commission (USCC) [1] in its annual report, released 
Nov. 16. Chinese strategy focuses on U.S. systems that perform command 
and control or deliver precision weapons, the report states.

China is enhancing its advanced command, control, communications, 
computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in 
response to U.S. progress. China now has mobile command and control 
centers that use wireless and satellite communications to relay 
battlefield information.

Its very clear from the doctoral writings of the [Peoples Liberation 
Army] that they take cyberwarfare as one of the main ways they must be 
ready to attack the United States, said USCC Chairman Larry Wortzel in 
an interview. Their overall doctrine holds that a modern war in the 21st 
century involves cyberwarfare, electronic attack and warfare in space.

The PLA has an extensive cyberwarfare infrastructure, including its own 
engineering and electronic warfare schools and cyberwarfare regiments, 
Wortzel said. China may be a potential or latent military threat, but 
the cyberwar is on, he said.

The PLA is using private-sector expertise to maximize their efforts. But 
the army often uses shady tactics to procure military assets, according 
to the commission.

To bolster its armed forces and their capabilities, China makes 
concerted efforts to obtain foreign military and military-related goods 
and technologies, and tries to acquire these through legal and illegal 
means, including espionage, the report states.

An attack traced back to a Chinese server compromised a network at the 
Commerce Departments Bureau of Industry and Security last month. The 
bureau was forced to replace hundreds of computers. Part of its 
responsibility is to determine restrictions on technology exports to 

In May, four Chinese Americans were convicted of illegally exporting 
sensitive technology to a Chinese research institution, including 
components used in radar and electronic warfare. These technologies 
could then be exported to other hostile states or terrorist 
organizations, the commission said.

The commission recommends Congress investigate the federal procurement 
process to ensure computer security. Also, it said that because more 
computer components are manufactured in China, there is a risk of supply 
disruption if political unrest there increases.

The Defense Departments 2006 annual report to Congress on Chinese 
military power states that the PLA is developing information warfare 
reserves 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, it 

The PLA seeks to combine computer network operations with electronic 
warfare, kinetic strikes against C4 nodes and virus attacks on enemy 
systems, to form what PLA theorists call Integrated Network Electronic 
Warfare, the report states.


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