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Cyber warfareChina increasing significantly funding for cyber warfare capabilities

Published 6 April 2015

U.S. intelligence officials have warned that China is increasing significantly its investment in cyber warfare programs in an attempt to compete with the U.S. military. The new spending initiative is part of a long-term, large-scale resource reallocation strategy aiming to make China one of the most capable cyber warfare nations. The increases are an effort by the Chinese to improve their cyber capabilities following the realization that they are lagging behind U.S. programs in significant ways.

U.S. intelligence officials have warned that China is increasing significantly its investment in cyber warfare programs in an attempt to compete with the U.S. military.

As Business Insider reports, the new spending initiative is part of a long-term, large-scale resource reallocation strategy aiming to make China one of the most capable cyber warfare nations.

“There is now data we have that suggests that they have redirected as much as 20 to 30 percent more funding to cyber than they have in previous years. [Beijing] has made a long term commitment [to increasing cyber warfare efforts],” said an unnamed U.S. official familiar with details of the program.

According to another anonymous official, the increases are an effort by the Chinese to improve their cyber capabilities following the realization that they are lagging behind U.S. programs in significant ways. Analysts estimate that the spending increase could be valued anywhere between hundreds of millions of dollars to billions of dollars. The move is part of an even larger plan announced by the government to increase defense spending by 10 percent from last year, which had previously totaled $143.6 billion.

“They have stolen hundreds of billions of dollars of intellectual property from U.S. businesses and continue to commit this theft,” said Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Kanas). “The Chinese have now increased their capacity to conduct massive attacks and continue to consider this weapon as a primary tool in their arsenal.”

Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhu Haiquan declined directly to address the matter of the increased spending, but said that “China advocates for the peaceful use of cyberspace. Efforts should be made by the international community to prevent militarization of cyberspace and a cyber arms race.”

A state-run media site issued a report outlining the goals of the Communist Party Politburo and President Xi Jinping.

“Xi Jinping encouraged the army to change fixed mindsets on mechanized warfare and create a concept of information warfare, as the country faces escalating tensions on intelligence issues with other countries,” the report stated, adding that the president called for greater efforts to “counter non-traditional security threats” and to “improve combat capabilities.”

The vision for these programs and others within China, considered by U.S. officials to be the country’s most closely guarded secrets, follows the belief that cyber warfare might become the dominant show of force in the world.

“It is anticipated in the foreseeable future that it is extremely likely for cyber warfare to assist or even replace conventional firepower damage means as a major player in modern and future wars,” stated the journal China Military Science. “In conventional warfare, material media associated with kinetic energy, such as knifes, bullets, artillery shells and missiles are used as the damage media,” the report said. “In cyber warfare, computer technology represented by the Internet, or ‘information flow’ is used as the warring media. Warring parties only need to click a mouse to complete the entire attacking process.”

Rick Fisher, a Chinese military affairs expert at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said that the increased efforts may be a reaction to NSA intelligence details first released by former intelligence services contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.

Currently, the U.S. military is seeking an $5.5 billion for cybersecurity in the 2016 budget.