A Chinese military official revealed last month that Beijing plans to rapidly build a new People’s Liberation Army cyberwarfare force in response to U.S. military cyberforces.
Col. Li Minghai of the PLA’s National Defense University wrote in the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times newspaper that a new cyberwarfare force is needed to counter the United States as the Pentagon is building up its cyberattack capabilities.“It is more necessary for us to build a brand new ‘operation force,’” said Col. Li, identified as deputy director of the NDU’s Center for Cyberspace Security.
As a sign of the sensitivity of the report, Chinese censors quickly removed the posting in Chinese from the Global Times website shortly after it appeared Jan. 21.
Col. Li is one of China’s most senior cyberwarfare specialists, and his remarks provide some of the first clues to Beijing’s military priorities in future cyberwarfare operations. Military cyberoperations are among China’s most closely guarded secrets.
The 3rd Department of the PLA general staff, known as 3PLA, is China’s main military cyberwarfare force and is said to have up to 100,000 cyberwarriors. A copy of the colonel’s translated article was obtained by Inside the Ring.
Col. Li stated that the U.S. military’s cybersecurity strategy for the past four years has emphasized offensive electronic attacks on information systems and regards China as “one of the greatest threats to the United States’ cybersecurity.”
Noting that current cyberthreats to China are “not sensational or alarmist talk,” Col. Li said reforms to PLA cyberforces should not be limited to “tinkering,” but require “the rebuilding of a new-breed cyberforce in our country.”
“We should apply the brand-new development model in the information age to remold our cyberwarfare preparedness against the threat of the United States’ new cyberstrategy and guarantee our nation’s cybersecurity,” he said.
A key feature will be what is described as a “winning mechanism” for warfare in the cyberspace domain.
“In the 21st century, seizing control of cyberspace is of decisive significance, like seizing control of the sea in the 19th century and seizing control of the air in the 20th century,” Col. Li wrote. “Cyberoperations in the future will follow the new battlefield rules determined by the winning mechanisms of ‘real-time sensing, sensitive response, source destruction and chain cutoff, joint winning.’”
Also, cyberpower must be combined with conventional military power “with winning being based on information power.”
Full article: PLA on cyberwarfare buildup (Washington Free Beacon)