- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2013

China’s military fears a major cyberattack against its strategic forces, and communist leaders also worry about cyberstrikes against infrastructure, according to Michael Pillsbury, a former Reagan administration defense-planning chief.

A devastating cyberattack on its military or civilian infrastructure is one of Beijing’s 16 strategic fears, according to Mr. Pillsbury, writing in a recent issue of the bimonthly journal “Survival.”

The analysis is the first public account on Chinese strategic thinking.

Defense and intelligence officials say the list of China’s fears represents potential pressure points for the United States to exploit in targeting China, if Beijing continues its current aggressive behavior. That troubling behavior includes increased coercion and threats against most Asian nations and notably large-scale cyberattacks of its own.

A report by security company Mandiant Corp., made public last week, revealed that a Chinese military unit in Shanghai appears to have been engaged for years in a massive cyberespionage campaign against U.S. government and private-sector networks. The report said China has obtained large amounts of valuable information from the cyberspying operations.

China’s military denounced the report, and its military newspapers said the Pentagon wants to control the world through cyberspace power.

The U.S. government reportedly was behind several cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear program, including the Stuxnet virus that disrupted centrifuges used by Iran to enrich uranium in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Mr. Pillsbury, a Pentagon consultant now with the Hudson Institute, stated that the Chinese believe their information networks — the cornerstone of Beijing’s large-scale, high-tech military buildup — are vulnerable to attack.

The study is based on Chinese military writings that reveal numerous risks to Chinese networks, including the danger of information leaks and the inability to protect networks.

The Chinese are concerned about the vulnerabilities of their strategic nuclear forces that could be attacked by special-operations commandos, electronic jamming or precision missile strikes.

“The fears of the 2nd Artillery Corps, China’s strategic missile force, are revealed in reports published by China’s Rocket Force News that training exercises have emphasized strategies to counter air attacks, attacks by special forces, electromagnetic jamming, live-troop reconnaissance, and network attacks using hackers and computer viruses,” Mr. Pillsbury said.

China’s strategic missile forces in 2006 conducted a training exercise involving enemy forces using electronic jamming against a command post.

As reported by Inside the Ring in August, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, suggested that U.S. military forces are prepared to engage in offensive cyberattacks against foreign nuclear capabilities.

Such attacks — whether in North Korea, China, Russia or a future nuclear-armed Iran — remain a high-priority target, defense sources have said.

The communist government also fears the Internet.

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