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.”

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
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

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game