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China Daily Website

US claims about cyberthreats are a 'ruse'

Updated: 2013-03-15 10:16
By Zhang Yunbi ( China Daily)

The Pentagon is seeking support from mass media and public opinion to avoid a budget cut in US cyberforces, and resorting to cyberthreats as a "cover" to actually boost investment in the sector, experts said in Beijng.

US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that Washington will engage in more "tough talk" with other countries, including China, about alleged cyberthreats.

Obama told ABC News in an interview that some online intrusions targeting US firms and infrastructure were "state-sponsored", underlining attacks on civilian targets.

But Yin Zhuo, a military expert in Beijing, said: "The US repeatedly resorting to 'China's threat in cyberspace' is actually an attempt to shift global attention (from itself) and further ensure its hegemony in global computer networks."

China said on Thursday that the cyberattack issue is a global one. It reiterated its willingness to cooperate and take part in a constructive dialogue with world players, including the US, on the basis of "mutual respect and mutual trust".

Analysts said Washington is increasingly justifying its plan to expand its cyberforces, while hyping China's cyberthreat is a "good cover" for its ultimate goal of dominating cyberspace.

Obama and his top security advisers also met chief executives from 13 companies in the White House Situation Room on Wednesday for talks on how the government and private sector can improve US cybersecurity, including the need for legislation.

"We've made it very clear to China and some other state actors that, you know, we expect them to follow international norms and abide by international rules," Obama told ABC News.

Cui Baojiang, an expert on information studies at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, said Washington has avoided mentioning itself when highlighting cybersecurity factors related to other countries.

"The move may be viewed as discrimination or a crackdown on emerging economies," Cui said.

Washington has stepped up efforts to increase defense spending, with a report by the Defense Science Board published on March 6 saying the US military is unprepared for a full-scale cyberconflict with a top adversary, and must strengthen its digital offensive prowess.

James Clapper, director of national intelligence, warned on Tuesday that automatic budget cuts are threatening to cause "insidious" damage to US intelligence services and leave the country more vulnerable to cyberattacks and terrorism, the Financial Times reported.

General Keith Alexander, who heads the US National Security Agency and Cyber Command, told lawmakers on Tuesday that the military is creating units that will have offensive capabilities in cyberspace as part of efforts to protect US infrastructure.

"This is an offensive team that the Defense Department would use to defend the nation if it were attacked in cyberspace," Alexander told a Senate panel. "Thirteen of the teams that we're creating are for that mission alone."

The White House has elevated the issue after efforts to improve US cyberdefenses through new laws failed in Congress last year, Reuters commented.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said at a news conference on Saturday that Beijing "opposes turning cyberspace into another battlefield, or capitalizing on virtual reality to interfere in other countries' internal affairs".

Yang Xiyu, an expert on international relations studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said economic and political considerations are behind Western countries' recent hype of so-called cyberthreats from China.

Cybersecurity has become a sensitive topic in Sino-US ties, Yang Xiyu said.

Online attacks, rather than terrorism, now generate more heated discussions, and "playing up China's relevance in this heated issue by some US politicians and private business possibly will add fuel to existing complications in the bilateral relationship, and such a move is irresponsible", Yang said.

AFP and Xinhua contributed to this story.



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