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The Obama administration accused China’s military of a campaign of cyberattacks on American government computer systems and defense contractors for the purpose of identifying “military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.”
The New York Times reports that cyber experts estimate that about 90 percent of all cyberattacks in the United States originate in China, but these estimates have typically been offered by private-sector experts.
The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress is the first government document specifically and explicitly – and publically — to assert that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is behind a sustained, systematic campaign of cyberattacks on the United States in an effort to gain a strategic advantage.
“In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military,” the nearly 100-page report stated.
The report says China’s goals in the attacks were stealing industrial technology and gaining better understanding of American policy makers’ thinking. The report said the attacks could be used for “building a picture of U.S. network defense networks, logistics, and related military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.”
The report also details China’s efforts to bolster its offensive cyber warfare capabilities. These capabilities will allow China to blind American satellites and push the U.S. military presence back toward the mid-Pacific.
The Chinese do not make a secret of their effort to integrate cyberwarfare into their overall military strategy
The report notes that there is a debate in the higher echelons of China’s leadership about the country’s strategy. One school emphasizes the need to concentrate on addressing China’s mounting domestic problems. “[P]roponents of a more active and assertive Chinese role on the world stage… have suggested that China would be better served by a firm stance in the face of U.S. or other regional pressure.”