China Plots Winning Role in Cyberspace: Military Paper Cites Need for `Paralyzing' Internet Software

Article excerpt

China is preparing to carry out high-technology warfare over the Internet and could develop a fourth branch of the armed services devoted to information warfare, according to a Chinese military newspaper.

An article in Thursday's Liberation Army Daily, the official daily newspaper of the People's Liberation Army General Political Department, said Internet warfare should be equated with combat operations for air, land and sea forces.

Finance, commerce, communications, telecommunications and military affairs all rely heavily on the use of cyberspace and are key targets, it stated.

The article, "Bringing Internet Warfare Into the Military System Is of Equal Significance with Land, Sea, and Air Power," was published by the daily in Beijing and was translated by U.S. intelligence agencies.

"It is essential to have an all-conquering offensive technology and to develop software and technology for Net offensives so as to be able to launch attacks and countermeasures on the Net, including information-paralyzing software, information-blocking software, and information-deception software," the newspaper stated.

"Some of these are like bombs, they are electronic bombs which saturate the enemy's cyberspace," the article stated. "Some are like paintings, they are electronic scrawls which appear and disappear on the enemy's pages in chaotic fashion. Some are like phantoms and electronic flying saucers which come and go on the Net and disrupt the enemy's systems, and it is also possible to develop masquerade technology to steal the Internet command power."

A senior Pentagon official said he was notified about the article, which has raised concerns among defense officials who see China's information warfare capabilities as a potential threat to U.S. civilian infrastructures - computer-run communications, transportation, finance, electrical power networks and other critical services.

Chinese information warfare capabilities also threaten the U.S. military's dominance in high-technology weapons and war fighting.

The Clinton administration recently expressed its concern about the threat of attacks from cyberspace. The administration submitted a budget amendment in September adding $39 million to protect computers.

"The threats to the national information infrastructure from hostile states, terrorists, and hackers continue to increase," the White House said in a Sept. 21 statement.

The Chinese military daily said violation of a nation's cyberspace is as serious as violations of national sovereignty by land, water or air.

"A `Net force' is very likely to become another military branch following the army, air force and navy, and it will shoulder the formidable task of protecting Net sovereignty and engaging in Net warfare," the paper said.

To be victorious in the field of information warfare, China will need to obtain "the best technology," the article said.

The tools will include "scanning technology" that "scan the Net, including breaking codes, stealing data, and taking anti-follow-up measures," the report said. …