On any given day there are hundreds of millions of hacking attempts (approximately 300 million, on the conservative side) directed at the U.S. Defense Department, and various other agencies of the U.S. government. Most of these attacks can be traced back to Jinin, which is host to a Chinese military school. Online attacks on Google and dozens of American corporations were traced to institutions in China and one, namely the Lanxiang Vocational School, is a mammoth institution that was established with military support. It trains computer scientists for the Chinese military. Instead of having specified units within agencies dealing with espionage, they shrewdly involve their ‘patriotic hackers’ flaunting a nationalistic fervor amongst them to do their bidding. These attacks have been directed not just at the U.S. but against South Korea, various departments in the Canadian government and the Indian defense ministry where they stole vital information. British defense, energy, communications and manufacturing companies were hacked into resulting in a warning from Britain’s security agency MI 5, titled “The Threat from Chinese Espionage.”
Britain’s Intelligence Committee warns that China’s rapidly growing and highly sophisticated cyber units, could one day enable it to shut down critical services like power, food, water supplies and transportation sectors. Military strategists and China specialists in the U.S. have sounded alarms about the prowess of Chinese researchers in a published paper last year on how to attack a small U.S. power grid sub network which could cascade into a failure of the entire U.S. There is circumstantial and forensic evidence pointing to Chinese state involvement despite their attempts to disguise it through other entities or state sponsored third parties. The travails of Google is a case in point. Google decided to move its operations out of China to Hong Kong rather than comply with Chinese censorship regulations and even then, there were lots of young Chinese people who stopped by Google’s office and left flowers and supportive notes expressing solidarity. These are the people who hopefully will overthrow the regime and enable China’s peaceful ascent in the world.
So sophisticated is this regime’s cyber spying that any country that it considers a threat, even potentially, is paid special attention to. Internally, its censorship is legendary with the pervasive use of its Great Firewall. But with a rising, urbane and enlightened populace, especially its youth, aware of outside and external factors and bolstered by the dedicated efforts of its valiant activists outside China in Paris, Seoul, Hong Kong, Australia, Taiwan and the U.S., it is to be hoped that change will occur within China too.