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  • Jul 23, 2014
  • Updated: 2:30am

China spying on US to develop defence, says Pentagon

Beijing attacks as 'groundless' report claiming it is gleaning US information for its hi-tech and defence industries through cyberespionage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 7:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 May, 2013, 5:59am

China is using cyberspies to boost its defence industry and military planning by gathering information about US defence programmes, a Pentagon report claims.

The annual US Defence Department report on China also devotes considerable space to territorial disputes between China and its neighbours in the East and South China seas.

China is the country most capable of attacking the US' computer systems
Politics professor Richard Hu

"China is using its computer network exploitation capability to support intelligence collection against the US diplomatic, economic and defence industrial base sectors that support US national defence programmes," the nearly 100-page report to the US Congress says.

"The information targeted could potentially be used to benefit China's defence industry, high technology industries, policymaker interest in US leadership thinking on key China issues, and military planners building a picture of US defence networks, logistics and related military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis."

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Pentagon's accusations were "groundless" and "not beneficial to US-China mutual trust and co-operation".

A researcher at the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science was quoted by Xinhua as saying the accusations were "irresponsible and harmful" to mutual trust.

At a news briefing in Washington, David Helvey, America's deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia, said it was the first time the annual report had mentioned China was targeting US defence networks.

Richard Hu, an associate professor in the University of Hong Kong's politics and public administration department, said, "there is much to be said on both sides" when it came to claims about cyberspying.

"The US owns the best cyberespionage technologies, as America is the inventor of the internet, but it's a fact that China is the country most capable of attacking the US' computer systems," he said.

Dr Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, said the Pentagon was being blunter in its accusations of PLA-backed cyberspying and hacking.

"There has been a huge increase in cyberattacks on various US institutions - not only military computer networks but those of various think tanks and policy organisations," he said, referring to previous reports that said 90 per cent of cyberattacks on the US originated from PLA-backed organisations in China.

Unlike last year's Pentagon report, this year's also devoted more space to the impact of the Chinese military's increasing presence in the East and South China seas, where Beijing has been involved in territorial disputes with Japan, a close ally of the US, and other countries.

Bitzinger said America's strategic "pivot" towards Asia meant it was more concerned about the stability of the region. Washington did not want to see China rewarded for aggressive behaviour, as that might embolden it to act similarly elsewhere.

Hu also said changes in China's military assertiveness and strategy since 2008 had provided a window for the US to shift its attention to the Asia-Pacific.

"The US found that China has changed late leader Deng Xiaoping's dao guang yang hui policy [a diplomatic doctrine stressing the need to maintain a low profile on the international stage], which it advocated to highlight the importance of keeping stable and friendly relations with its neighbours," he said. "[This] change provides Washington with a good opportunity to enhance its ties and co-operation with its allies in the Asia- Pacific."


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This article is now closed to comments

This cyber-espionage is just foreplay between the US and China before they go to war.
There will be a war.
Not likely. Each has too much to lose and neither wants to fight the war the other wants. The US has no interest in invading China and having a war on Chinese soil, which is exactly what the PLA wants so it can use its size and understanding of the topography to ensnare any enemy who attacks. The US would want to lure the PLA off the mainland and into a series of conflicts to tax its navy and air forces, which the PLA hardly wants as it neutralizes its strengths. Neither wants the other to go at its satellites and comms as that leaves the entire nation open to other potential threats. Further, China makes money selling products to the rest of the world. A war disrupts that and then china has to depend on domestic funding for a war as well as to keep people employed. No longer funded by FDI and with an enemy seeking to destroy your access to natural resources, that effort becomes much harder. The US loses 10% of its debt market and so the cost of debt goes up. That taxes is ability to prosecute a far flung operation meant to lure the PLA off the mainland.
People who doubt the report are, the least to say, either naive or blind (or believe the Party, something even Chinese have given up on). Anybody who has been in China for some time knows the Chinese are one of the most aggressive in getting technology free by all means. That is in any field, industrial, defense,... Yes other countries also spy but they at least have some respect for IPR. The problem of IPR is still one of the most serious issues for business in China. Just talk with any foreign chamber of commerce in China. It might be difficult to give "solid proof" but all indices are more than clear.
Jenny, what facts are you alluding to. You say you base your comment on facts but I see no facts whatsoever, but purely speculation. Perhaps you are not acquainted with the distinction. I note for your attention your line that "it is quite conceivable that...." I guess that one could assert almost anything on the grounds that it is not inconceivable. Thus anything is possible despite how absurd it is. That is not basing something on facts but on speculation. As to the evidence of Chinese government involvement in hacking of the US system, actually there was a fair bit of circumstantial evidence (which is just as good as direct evidence depending on the circumstances) which was disclosed. You may reject it as it does not appeal to your biases but that does not mean it was not there. Based on facts? Your assertion as to your comments being based on the facts, does not seem to be.
Pentagon should provide evidences to Chinese government about the cyber attacks. I am not taking sides. US and US media have made many accusations about China Cyber attacking US computer systems yet the US and its media have never provided any evidence affiliating with Chinese military or Chinese government.
"China is the country most capable of attacking the US' computer systems" Pentagon's claim is based on speculation, not based on the facts or evidences. Almost every country has commercial offices in Shanghai or Beijing. Any country can start the cyber attack routing through Shanghai or Beijing and look like its from Shanghai, even we can fake a Chinese attack.
On a darker note, it is also quite conceivable that the US military, CIA or NSA orchestrated these attacks to frame China for geo-political gains. Again, we would never know until the technical evidence and details were presented to proper Chinese authority for in-depth investigation. At this point, its basically all political posturing and polemics. One thing for sure but puzzling and disturbing, it doesn’t sound like the attackers are after much given the huge amount of effort expanded. Indeed, it is utterly senseless and outright stupid especially for such a humongously powerful and resourceful entity like the Chinese government to waste time and energy, it seems to me, for such pitiful returns. Again, my comments, like it or not, are based on the facts.
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 05/08/13 美國
Yes or no. For Example there is no secret that Chinese companies, including SOEs, are not paying for MS Wondow software or some Oracle or many software license, and most consumers are buying copy DVD etc hurting IP, but what can you do about it? Like Google China pulling out, if they are not concerned why would they pull out from China? They are not stupid I guess.
Why else would a nation spy on another nation? What is the point of having spies and satellites and hackers if you are not going to get information about their defense programs so you can create your own deterrents. It is sort of like accusing bank robbers of casing the bank before robbing it or of doing analysis of a company before making an unsolicited offer to purchase it.
Carioca no Coracao
american dilemma, raise tax to increase military spending or cut social security/medicare/medicaid and use the money to increase military spending. but wait a minute... there is an easy way out... QE2,3,4,5.......
Denial, Denial, Denial. The official river that runs through Zhongnanhai
What about all the smelly hypocritamuses wallowing in the muddy Potomac flowing through Washington ?


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