By Sumner Lemon
IDG News Service
May 28, 2007
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) continues to build cyberwarfare units
and develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems as part of its
information-warfare strategy, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
warned in a report released on Friday.
"The PLA has established information warfare units to develop viruses to
attack enemy computer systems and networks," the annual DOD report 
on China's military warned. At the same, Chinese armed forces are
developing ways to protect its own systems from an enemy attack, it
said, echoing similar warnings made in previous years.
These capabilities are part of China's ongoing military modernization
efforts, which have seen the country add dozens of high-tech fighters
and ballistic missiles to its arsenal. China isn't alone in building the
capability to attack an enemy's computer systems. The U.S. and other
countries have developed similar abilities.
The PLA's virus-writing efforts have been underway for years, reflecting
the importance that China apparently attaches to information warfare. As
early as 2000, the DOD warned, "China has the capability to penetrate
poorly protected U.S. computer systems and potentially could use CNA
[computer network attacks] to attack specific U.S. civilian and military
In recent years, the PLA has begun training more seriously for computer
attacks, including them as part of larger military exercises in 2005.
The main focus of China's military modernization efforts are Taiwan, an
island nation that China views as a renegade province. The two separated
in 1949 after a civil war between the Communist and Nationalist armies,
with the Nationalist forces retreating to Taiwan. China has long
threatened to attack Taiwan if the island formally declares
independence, and the expansion of China's military capabilities are
largely geared towards a possible attack against Taiwan.
"A limited military campaign could include computer network attacks
against Taiwans political, military, and economic infrastructure to
undermine the Taiwan populations confidence in its leadership," the
But the U.S., which would likely intervene in a Chinese attack on
Taiwan, is also a potential target, it said.
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