Skip to content

Dai Xu: The United States Has Launched a Cyber War against China

[Editor’s Note: Dai Xu, the Director of the Marine Security and Cooperation Research Institute, is an Air Force Colonel who is well known for his anti-American Hawk statements. He is frequently invited to give lectures to different groups around China. Such lectures often serve as "political or nationalistic education" for the younger generations and particularly for students in military schools. Dai has attracted a sizable base of Internet followers due to his extreme nationalistic talk which is highly promoted by China’s state-run media. He also is said to be well regarded among the leaders of the Central Military Commission. Dai holds that the United States fabricated that hacking emanated from China’s military headquarters and that, furthermore, the U.S. is waging a "cultural war" throughout the world to spread "American values." The following is a translation of his recent article on the cyber war between the U.S. and China.]

February 25, 2013 Huanqiu

After many years of framing China and making arbitrary accusations, the United States has suddenly upgraded its activities designed to discredit China. A U.S. cyber security firm, Mandiant, published a report saying that the cyber hacking that the United States has suffered in recent years is related to the Chinese military. The Western media immediately magnified it, calling it “world public opinion.” The Chinese Ministry of National Defense then had to come out to refute the rumor. This is a warning. Many Chinese people do not realize that, while the United States accuses China of “cyber hacking,” the United States and the West have been engaged in attacks against China that are far more than this strategic “hacker attack,” which is only limited to the scope of Internet. The ongoing cyber attack accusation by the United States, which is a thief-crying out, “Stop thief!” is only the tip of the iceberg of the United States’ cyber warfare activities.

In the United States, Cyber Warfare Has Become a State Act

Observing the U.S. government’s policy stance on the Internet, one can see clearly how the U.S. cyberspace strategy has evolved, over a short period of time, from a comprehensive defense to a full-scale attack: during the Clinton era, the Internet policy primarily emphasized comprehensive cyber defense; in the George W. Bush era, the emphasis progressed to cyber terrorism; and finally under Obama, the policy bears the characteristics of systematic deterrence and cyber attacks. This is truly a new military revolution, with its meaning not limited to the military sphere.

To cover up the substantial arrangements of its cyber strategy, the departments of the U.S. government and the media have promoted the U.S. return to Asia and its strategic eastward shift in a big way, thus drawing China’s attention to the academic concept level; the United States also announced that 60 percent of its Navy will be deployed in the Asia-Pacific regions, while engaging in consecutive multi-national military exercises in the Asia-Pacific.

In fact, these activities are all “sham attacks,” a kind of tactic designed to “confuse the enemy at the front while secretly attacking it on the side.” In the 2003 Iraq War, the United States emailed Iraqi senior officers to incite defection. In June 2012, the U.S. National Security Agency, the CIA, and the Israeli military launched secret cyber attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities. This is already national strategic behavior.

To establish the legitimacy of the U.S. development of cyber warfare units, the enhancement of its cyber offensive, and its defensive capabilities, the United States uses some technical and tactical means of cyber warfare to fabricate other countries hacking of itself. Thus the United States can defend itself by going on the offense in order to deter, through public opinion and psychologically, its adversaries from developing their cyber retaliatory capabilities. Thus, the United States can obtain its own absolute and relative superiority in the new field of cyber warfare.

This is the true intention behind identifying the so-called “Chinese military hackers headquarters” incident that United States fabricated. However, the United States is conducting much bigger cyber activities than what this incident shows. The United States not only discredits China and targets its strategic facilities, but it is also waging a cyber “cultural war” throughout the world to spread American values.

Cyberspace is the Battlefield for Launching Weapons That Use American Culture Bullets

After the completion of the information technology revolution, the United States has relied on its strong information technology and industrial base forces and has carried out a revolution in the information economy. Its companies, such as Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Google and other representatives of high-end products, control the top of the food chain of the global economy. Relying on its achievements in information technology and the economic revolution, the United States has easily and simultaneously achieved an information revolution in its military affairs.

What truly astounded the world in the 1991 Gulf War were the precision-guided bombs that American aircraft dropped. Now its military system, supported by its Global Positioning System, is able to conduct real-time precision strikes anywhere in the world within one hour and on the battlefield. After the United States completed the military transformation of net-centric warfare,
it launched a worldwide “cultural revolution” with information psychological warfare as the core. Through computers, mobile phones, and other information technology delivery modes, the United States psychologically projects freedom, democracy, and other traditional cultural weapons onto the people of the world, particularly to its primary strategic adversaries, all directly for the purpose of winning the hearts of these people.

The information technology products that the United States manufactures and distributes carry cyber technology that can crack the defenses of its adversaries. For example, the Apple phones and tablet PCs have the function of “over the wall” software which causes the failure of China’s filtering technology. These are not ordinary products and merchandize; they themselves are “weapons” capable of launching American culture bullets.

The Tunisia events and the war in Libya best displayed the new American warfare style: through control of cyberspace and world opinion, the United States can, at its own will, shape and discredit the image of its adversaries; instigate domestic unrest and uprisings among its adversaries; then, with the support of U.S. bases around the world and in collaboration with a huge NATO military system, it can impose economic embargos, military strikes, use all possible means, and kill and dismember its adversaries.

China Must Attach Great Importance to the Ideological and Cultural Sovereignty of Cyberspace

The fact that the United States fabricated a Chinese military hacker headquarters incident should serve as an incentive to Chinese from all walks of life to increase our strong vigilance. It indicates that, after Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, the United States directed the world cyber cultural revolution toward China. Yet China’s Internet is a total chaos where anyone can be anonymous, enrage and attack, and spread rumors and disinformation. The United States found that cyberspace has become a critical battlefield for big powers and nations. In this area, the United States has far more absolute superiority than in the area of nuclear weapons. Through control of cyberspace, the United States can, at low cost, strangle anti-American small countries; it can also disintegrate and dismember powerful military adversaries, quietly and at no cost.

A cause for concern is that a considerable number of Chinese people today still think of national defense and security in terms of the concept of a showdown involving traditional land, sea, and air military platforms. They are not yet aware of the dangers in the ideological and cultural fields. China must attach importance to ideological and cultural sovereignty in cyberspace the same way as it does to territorial sovereignty over land and sea.

First, the Chinese departments concerned should, in their thinking and understanding, raise cyber security to the national strategic level, learn from the practice of the United States, Russia, and other countries, pass comprehensive legislation on cyberspace, as well as respond to offensive and defensive cyber warfare, so as to prevent hostile forces from using cyberspace to ignite the fire of social unrest in China.

Second, China should, as soon as possible, vigorously develop its information industry to do away with its dependence on the technologies of the United States. In 1969, the Internet was born in the United States. Once the Cold War ended, the United States immediately set up regulatory agencies for Internet domain names and addresses. Presently, two-thirds of the information flow on the Internet comes from the United States, followed by Japan, which accounts for seven percent. Only 0.05 percent comes from China. This demonstrates how powerful the U.S. cyber hegemony is; it also highlights China’s disadvantage in this area. China should quickly shift away from the mode of low skill development and move funds and manpower towards new strategic industries as soon as possible.

Third, under the banner of patriotism and with great concern for national peril, China should guard against infiltration from foreign non-governmental organizations, restrict foreign investments in China’s websites in the areas of politics and the news, and recapture the leading role in public opinion in the field of ideology and culture. When conditions are ripe, China should also build our own cyber warfare forces to counter the cyber attacks from the external anti-China forces.