China enraged by Pentagon’s claims it is waging new cyberwar

US report makes first  explicit accusation that Beijing is hacking for military secrets

Washington, Beijing

An unprecedented and blunt Pentagon report that accuses China of cyber-espionage aimed at extracting US military secrets has prompted a war of words between Washington and Beijing, with the latter angrily denying the accusations.

Click image above to enlarge graphic

The 83-page report marked the first time the US has explicitly accused China’s military of hacking American government computer networks, and has underscored how electronic warfare is now one of the prime elements in the growing military rivalry  between the two countries. It contends that the cyber-intrusions, aimed at gathering information and at honing the ability to disrupt, are a key part of Beijing’s military strategy as it jostles with Washington for dominance in East Asia.

The computer security firm Mandiant recently identified a single agency in the People’s Liberation Army, Unit 61398, as responsible for over 140 such operations since 2006.

Predictably, the charges levelled in the Pentagon report were dismissed by the Chinese authorities, who termed them “groundless,” and “hype” that would only harm bilateral cooperation and dialogue. “This is not beneficial to US-China mutual trust and cooperation,” the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

Despite its accusations against China, the US is no slouch when it comes to cyberwarfare, as evidenced by the 2010 Stuxnet attacks on computers controlling Iran’s nuclear programme, believed to be a joint American/Israeli operation, and the rapid build-up of the Pentagon’s own Cyber Command.

Despite the rapid and sustained expansion of China’s armed forces, the US remains far ahead in terms of firepower and military technology. Although Beijing’s defence spending is growing by some 10 per cent annually and is described by the new report at totalling between $135bn (£87bn) and $215bn (£139bn), it is eclipsed by the US defence budget, almost $700bn (£452bn) for 2013. China, says the Pentagon, sees electronic warfare as a way to “reduce or eliminate” US advantage.

China’s military expansion – symbolised by the commissioning in 2012 of its first aircraft carrier, stepped-up spending on medium and short range missiles, and advances in stealth technology for aircraft – has long been rattling nerves in the region. Ever more assertive about territories it claims in the South China Sea and elsewhere, Beijing is embroiled in disputes with Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and other neighbours, not to mention the island of Taiwan which China has always considered its own. The Chinese government, says the Pentagon, “is capable of increasingly sophisticated military action against Taiwan.”

With the Iraq war over and the Afghan conflict soon to join it, President Barack Obama announced plans in November 2011 for an American “pivot to Asia” in part to assuage US allies in the region over China’s perceived expansionism. The shift is presented by Washington in the context of ‘partnership’ with Beijing. China however is visibly less than convinced and, the Pentagon contends, has made cyber weaponry a centrepiece of its new strategy.

Evidence, the report declares, can be found in two recent public statements, entitled ‘Science of Strategy’ and ‘Science of Campaigns.’ Both are said to identify cyber-spying as “integral to achieving information superiority and countering a stronger foe.”

Some elements in the current Chinese leadership favour a more aggressive posture. But the Pentagon also notes the 1990s advice of former leader Deng Xiaoping – that China should “cope with affairs calmly, hide our capabilities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile and never claim leadership.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Biomass Sales Consultant

£20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Senior Analyst - Financial Modelling

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This really is a fantastic chance to joi...

MS Dynamics NAV/Navision Developer

£45000 - £53000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: **MS DYNAMICS N...

SAP Data Migration Consultant (LSMW)

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Purpose of Role: The SAP Data Migration ...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game