Friday, June 03, 2011

China's View Is More Important Than Yours

In my post Review of Dragon Bytes Posted I wrote the following to summarize analysis of Chinese thoughts on cyberwar, as translated from original Chinese publications:

The Chinese military sees Western culture, particularly American culture, as an assault on China, saying "the West uses a system of values (democracy, freedom, human rights, etc.) in a long-term attack on socialist countries...

Marxist theory opposes peaceful evolution, which... is the basic Western tactic for subverting socialist countries" (pp 102-3). They believe the US is conducting psychological warfare operations against socialism and consider culture as a "frontier" that has extended beyond American shores into the Chinese mainland.

The Chinese therefore consider control of information to be paramount, since they do not trust their population to "correctly" interpret American messaging (hence the "Great Firewall of China"). In this sense, China may consider the US as the aggressor in an ongoing cyberwar.


Today's Reuters article China PLA officers call Internet key battleground elaborated on these ideas:

The essay by two PLA scholars, Senior Colonel Ye Zheng and his colleague Zhao Baoxian, in the China Youth Daily nonetheless stressed that Beijing is focused on honing its cyber-warfare skills, and sees an unfettered Internet as a threat to its Communist Party-run state.

"Just as nuclear warfare was the strategic war of the industrial era, cyber-warfare has become the strategic war of the information era, and this has become a form of battle that is massively destructive and concerns the life and death of nations," they wrote in the Party-run paper...

"Cyberware [sic] is an entirely new mode of battle that is invisible and silent, and it is active not only in wars and conflicts, but also flares in the everyday political, economic, military, cultural and scientific activities."


The first highlight makes me think the Chinese see the current cyberwar as being similar to the Cold War. During the Cold War, nuclear warfare (or avoiding it) was the strategic form of war. During the current "Electronic War" (my term, not sure I like it), cyberwar is the strategic form of war.

The second highlight shows that the Chinese see cyberwar as being active right now, and "not only in wars and conflicts." By "wars and conflicts" they mean physical combat.

The AP article China Calls US Culprit in Global 'Internet War' contained a few more choice quotes:

Writing in the Communist Party-controlled China Youth Daily newspaper, the scholars did not mention Google's claims, but said recent computer attacks and incidents employing the Internet to promote regime change in Arab nations appeared to have originated with the U.S. government.

"Of late, an Internet tornado has swept across the world ... massively impacting and shocking the globe. Behind all this lies the shadow of America," said the article, signed by Ye Zheng and Zhao Baoxian, identified as scholars with the Academy of Military Sciences.

"Faced with this warmup for an Internet war, every nation and military can't be passive but is making preparations to fight the Internet war," it said...

China needs to "express to the world its principled stance of maintaining an 'Internet border' and protecting its 'Internet sovereignty,' unite all advanced forces to dive into the raging torrent of the age of peaceful use of the Internet, and return to the Internet world a healthy, orderly environment," the article said.


As you can see, the Chinese think an information war is already being waged. The US started it, and the US continues it (in the Chinese view) as demonstrated by turbulence in the Middle East.

China's view is more important than yours, because China is acting on its view while too many in the West and the US in particular argue about whether or not a cyberwar is happening. The Chinese believe cyberwar is ongoing, and that the US started it. From what I can tell, the Chinese intend to win it.

3 comments:

The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegroove said...

Excellent post!
I think that key difference between West's public opinion and China's is that West tries to firstly protect major economic assets, including critical infrastructure, then somewhat lesser like banking and only lastly they seem to put information warfare in the cyber warfare. Whereas China simply sees that its ongoing socialism vs. western values information war fare continues within the cyber realm.

Interestingly enough, it appears that Chinese leadership sees its own people as a threat, which I believe is a losing long-term strategy.

Lastly, I wonder whatever happened to economic warfare? I recall a media panic a while ago of Chinese investors owning a lot of western assets and that this will somehow be used to do harm onto western economies.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to watch the machinations of Google with respect to China and realize these blundering Americans, with their PhDs, are woefully ill-equipped to understand and deal with China. One of the few westerners to have a deep insight into how China works, and their 500-year plans, was James Clavell. His books on China and Asia, especially Tai-Pan, Shogun, are well worth reading. Only then can you begin the path to enlightenment ;)

Charles Smutz said...

Richard,

The implications of China viewing cyberwar as something we would categorize as propaganda or human terrain instead of the prevailing US view which seems to point to things like stuxnet or attacks on critical infrastructure is significant.

How do you reconcile economic espionage--something many people claim China is doing a bang up job of and which continues to trickle down from direct military targets to more general in nature (financial, energy, health care, etc)? It seems that as China continues to progress economically, it will advance not only military capability, but will enable increasingly more citizens to be in position (educated, healthy, etc) susceptible to the West's system of values.