05/10/2013 12:12 pm ET Updated Jul 10, 2013

China's Military: Here We Are!

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The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD/Pentagon) released their Annual Report to Congress titled "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2013" recently and it should surprise no one as to how the PRC is effectively taking the technology of the U.S. and others, like the tough kid takes the meeker child's lunch. The PRC is chowing down on U.S. technology and advancing their own global agenda at the same time. They are utilizing all of their national intelligence resources to rapidly close the gap between western military capabilities and Chinese-desired capabilities. That whoosh sound we hear, every so often, is U.S. technology exiting the country.

The DoD report says, the PRC-sanctioned intrusions are focused on exfiltrating information. Specifically, "China is using its computer network exploitation (CNE) capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support US national defense programs." What I find somewhat strange is the apparent event amnesia which is taking place within the U.S. and specifically the Pentagon. This report concerning Chinese efforts which occurred in 2012, rings surprisingly similar to that which occurred in March 1986, the PRC embarked on their infamous 863 Program.

The purpose of this program? To acquire foreign technologies by any means so as to augment and advance Chinese technological acumen. At that time and through 2008, the seven most desired technologies were -- Information technology; Military technology; clean technologies, advanced materials, health care and pharmaceuticals; agricultural technology; and energy. Thus, the Chinese have been stealing our lunch for more than 25 years.

We now see the US F-35 fighter has a Chinese twin, the J-20 which conducted its first flight on Oct. 31, 2012. The DoD report continues to explain how the Chinese network of "government affiliated entities enables the PLA to access sensitive and dual-use technologies or knowledgeable experts under the guise of civilian research and development. The enterprises and institutes accomplish this through technology conferences and symposia,legitimate contracts and joint commercial ventures, partnerships with foreign firms, and joint development of specific technologies. In the case of key national security technologies, Controlled equipment, and other materials not readily obtainable through commercial means or academia, China has utilized its intelligence services and employed other illicit approaches that involve violations of U.S. laws and export controls."

One of the keys to putting a dent in this situation is to ensure that your personnel are up to speed on ITAR and EARS. Those who weren't, paid a pretty penny in fines. The report identifies United Technologies and two subsidiaries for transferring, illegally, technology to China which advanced Chinese capabilities in the helicopters; a Steve Liu (aka Sixing Liu) was convicted of stealing performance and design of guidance systems for missiles. Add to this noise, the recent Mandiant report attributing advanced persistent threat to one country, the PRC (though we collectively know there are other countries which have advanced cyber capabilities) the 800-pound gorilla has never been more evident -- it is standing in front of us.

So perhaps we pay attention to what the PRC is telling us by their actions. According to the DoD report, the PRC's military information operations (IO), cyber conflict, have five key features.

  1. IO Defense: the Computer Network Defense (CND) is the highest priority. The report goes on to say that the Chinese doctrine calls for "tactical counteroffensives," when the adversary's operations could not be countered.
  2. IO unconventional warfare: IO is an unconventional warfare weapon, to be used at the opening phase of conflict and continue throughout all phases of any war.
  3. IO: preemptive weapon to be used to achieve information dominance and controlling the electromagnetic spectrum
  4. IO information campaign: designed to fight and win information campaign, precluding need for conventional military action
  5. U.S. is information dependent: a strength and a vulnerability.

These five features are important to note. Why? Because the PLA is exercising! They have been conducting exercises demonstrative of their ability to integrate information technologies with information integration of its military. The PLA, during a conflict, according to the DoD report, will have its IO entities execute "[t]heir primary tasks... to protect the PLA's campaign information systems, collect intelligence from enemy information systems, destroy enemy information systems, and weaken the enemy's ability to acquire, transmit, process, and use information during war."

The above analysis by the DOD on the PLA's IO role during conflict is not at all new. In fact, two senior PLA Air Force colonels Qiao Liang [STC: 0829 5328] of the PLA Air Force Political Department and Wang Xiangsui [STC: 3769 3276 4482] wrote Unrestricted Warfare in February 1999 -- which did not capture U.S. attention until the November 1999 U.S. Embassy Beijing telegram arrived in Washington, and presented the new PRC information warfare doctrine:

"Summary: Two senior PLA Air Force colonels wrote 'Unrestricted Warfare', presented here in summary translation, to explore how technology innovation is setting off a revolution in military tactics, strategy and organization. 'Unrestricted Warfare' discusses new types of warfare which may be conducted by civilians as well as by soldiers including computer hacker attacks, trade wars and finance wars. 'Unrestricted Warfare' provides insight into the thinking of some Chinese military theorists about the impact of science and technological change on China and other countries. Many Chinese books and magazines on military subjects have appeared this year. Overviews of three other recent books by a National Defense University Professor on innovations on the lessons of the Gulf and Kosovo wars along with his reflections on post-Kosovo U.S.-China relations are provided in the appendix to this first of four summaries of "Unrestricted Warfare". End summary."

Unrestricted Warfare makes clear the doctrine which the Pentagon presented in this week's report.

Do we listen to the DoD or to the PRC government and Senior Colonel Wang XinJun, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing, who recently stated, "The Chinese government and armed forces have never sanctioned hacking activities"?

In sum, I think it prudent to allow the PRC's actions and stated doctrine which places the U.S. as the number one adversary as gospel. The PRC has and will continue to try and absorb the technological advances of the United States and other western nations in preparation for a seemingly inevitable conflict (as noted in the Pentagon's report). We really should listen as, tantum iterum vivere.

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