China's Undeclared Cyber War on the U.S.
At the next CNN/Salem Radio Republican debate on December 15th at the Venetian Hotel in Nevada, moderator Hugh Hewitt rolls out this question for frontrunner Donald Trump:
Should China’s repeated cyber attacks on the Pentagon and its theft of major weapons systems like the F-35 stealth fighter be treated as acts of war? If not, why not?
Four days later at the Democratic debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, ABC moderator Martha Raddatz asks former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
Why has the Obama Administration, including during your tenure as Secretary of State, allowed China to so freely launch cyber attacks on American businesses and consumers?
These are good questions that American voters deserve better answers to as Chinese hackers continue to launch thousands of attacks on American strategic and economic interests. CNN and ABC, are you listening?
In fact, Chinese state-sponsored hacking is under the full control of the People’s Liberation Army. According to the watershed Mandiant Report, China’s cyber command consists of over 100,000 soldiers and is stretched across 12 bureaus and three research institutes.
On the industrial front, these cyber thieves steal not just the obligatory blueprints, research and development, and proprietary manufacturing processes of American businesses large and small. They will also vacuum up everything from emails, contact lists, and test results to pricing information and partnership agreements. The economic goal is to provide China’s state-owned companies with the weapons they need to steal US jobs and profits from American competitors – even as such thefts weaken the US manufacturing base.
On the military front, there is also the massive theft of US weapons systems like the F-35 stealth fighter – now flying in cloned form as China’s Chengdu J-20. According to the Washington Post, the full list of purloined weapons includes the PAC-3 Patriot missile, the army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, the Navy’s Aegis ballistic-missile defense system and vital combat aircraft and ships, including the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey, and the Black Hawk helicopter.
Still a third major cyber warfare front involves attacking critical infrastructure such as America’s electricity grid, water purification plants, air traffic control, subway systems, and telecommunications. The twin goals here are to sow chaos among the US populace as well as to bring our economy to its knees in time of war – or perhaps the goal is to simply blackmail the US into inaction should a revanchist China move on Taiwan or the Senkaku Islands or Second Thomas Reef.
Finally, the Pentagon is now being forced to increasingly defend against Chinese attempts to implant “Trojans” and other malware into the computer and electronic circuitry of American’s weapons and logistics systems. Now that China has become the world’s factory floor, this has become far too easy to do. However, as defense analyst James Lewis has warned: “If you mess with that software, the airplane won’t fly, the missile will miss its target, and the ship might not get to where it was intended to go.”
Of course, the Chinese government – right up to President Xi Jinping’s straight face and lying eyes – continues to insist it is not involved in cyber warfare against America. This blanket denial raises yet another very good question for presidential candidates: How can you ever really trust the Chinese in any negotiation if its President will lie right to your face?
Here, American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Auslin has the last word on the cavalier attitudes that persist inside the Beltway when it comes to China’s hacking:
"We don't take cyber security seriously, and we don't take defense secrets seriously. The Chinese stole reams and reams of data on our missiles back in the 1990s under the Clinton administration. All of a sudden they had intercontinental ballistic missiles that could effectively reach the United States. During the Bush years they stole information on the F-35 and other things. During the Obama years, they've stolen information on our drones. I mean we just think we're so big and we're so sophisticated and we're so technologically advanced that whatever we build is going to beat the other guy; and they've been robbing us blind and robbing the American taxpayer blind of billions of dollars of development and research money for decades."
Such Chinese robbery may well be just one more reason why outsiders like Donald Trump and Ben Carson appear to have more appeal to voters than insiders like Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio who have long records of doing nothing to protect the American people from China’s relentless cyber assaults.