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China & the Internet!

Updated on December 1, 2010

True Cyber Warriors

Yes, China is a land of contrast; however some may argue that China is also a nation of remarkable consistencies; from its conception history tells us that China was adamant in regards to keeping foreign intruders and its influences out, along with internal unrest contained.

The concept of China keeping enemies out at all cost was solidified thousands of years ago when “a first set of walls, designed to keep Mongol nomads out of China, were built of earth and stones in wood frames during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE). Since the Great Wall was discontinuous, Mongol invaders had no trouble breaching the wall by going around it, so the wall proved unsuccessful and was eventually abandoned.”(1) And just like the original Great Wall of China was laced with vulnerabilities; so today is the Great Firewall of China. The World Wide Web is simply too vast and too untested for any one nation, or entity to control it.

However moving forward the PRC has made a valiant effort in its quest to contain and maintain the Internet. It appears that the regime in Beijing views most of the “outside world” in a similar manner as their ancestors viewed the marauding Mongols and other foreigners throughout the centuries.

Therefore Beijing has formulated “agencies that watch over the Net that employ more than 30,000 people to prowl Web sites, blogs, and chat rooms on the lookout for offensive content as well as scammers. In the U.S., by contrast, the entire CIA employs an estimated 16,000 people.”(2) Although it would be overly simplistic for Westerners to perceive that the PRC’s goal in the creation of their Internet Firewall is to secure Chinese cyberspace from Western influence. However it also appears that due to the millenniums of Chinese dynasties battles for supremacy, warlord led clan feuds; has left PRC leadership feeling compelled to also closely monitor their own citizens.“One official from the internet publishing department, Kuo Xiao Wei, admitted the authorities consider the net a mixed blessing. He said it abounds with pornography and gambling sites, and while it can be a source of good information, it also carries with it the possibility of spreading rumor and misinformation. "With 56 ethnic minorities, we can't risk one slandering another", he added.”(3)

Moving forward even with the zealous Internet policing being perpetrated in China; the cyber warriors of the PLA perform covert forms of cyber warfare against the United States military. Also highly publicized cyber attacks on American corporate giant Google among other U.S. business entities.

In retrospect many Westerners may sum up the “Great Firewall of China” cyber isolation of its citizens as a tragic and unfair human rights violation. However my personal concern revolves around the PRC cyber attacks against the United States. Quite frankly, I find the relentless nature of the PLA cyber attacks disturbing; in fact “'China has downloaded 10 to 20 terabytes of data from the NIPRNet (DOD's Non-Classified IP Router Network),' said Maj. Gen. William Lord, director of information, services and integration in the Air Force's Office of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer, during the recent Air Force IT Conference in Montgomery, Ala. They're looking for your identity so they can get into the network as you,' said Lord, adding that Chinese hackers had yet to penetrate DOD's secret, classified network. There is a nation-state threat by the Chinese.”(4)

In closing to reiterate my personal views on the PRC aggressive internal cyber security measures; in my opinion it is quite simply China remaining consistent to their closed society mentality that has survived throughout the ages. The China cyber threat is real; their first strike capability is proven on the battleground of the 21st Century, cyber space. I find myself pondering with concern; what are our nation’s leaders prepared to do as a counter measure strategy to thwart future attacks and eventually prevail in the war for dominance in the realm of cyber space?




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