US turns cyberspace into another anti-China battlefield, ‘futile to contain Beijing’
Published: Jul 20, 2021 11:13 PM
Cybersecurity. Photo: VCG

Cybersecurity. Photo: VCG

In an apparent attempt to contain China and as part of its ceaseless efforts to form an anti-China chorus among its major allies, the Biden administration is seeking to turn cyberspace into a new battlefield by ganging up with its allies to accuse China of conducting cyberattacks worldwide, an allegation that was swiftly denounced by Chinese diplomats, internet institutions and experts as China has always been a long-term victim of US cyberattacks.

Such groundless accusations will not change the fact that the US remains the world's top spying empire with widespread malfeasance in cyberspace, and some of its recent spying scandals even put some of its allies into an awkward position. 

Along with the US, NATO, the European Union, Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan and New Zealand accused China of a global cyber espionage campaign, an unusually broad coalition of Western countries coming together to publicly blame China for cyberattacks, according to media reports. Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice charged four Chinese nationals with targeting dozens of companies, universities and government agencies in the US and abroad, including three security officials and one contract hacker, Reuters said. 

Chinese embassies and diplomats quickly denounced the allegations, urging the US and its allies to stop bashing China on this subject, as the US has been a mastermind of cyberattacks for a long time. 

A slew of internet research reports published previously show that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been behind more than a decade of hacking activities targeting China's aerospace sector, scientific research institutions, internet companies, oil industry and government agencies. 

Such ill-intentioned tactics by the US by confusing right and wrong and orchestrating "hacker blame" with its allies is considered another step of the Biden administration in confronting and suppressing China at a larger scale. 

Some Chinese experts warned the new step could lead to a worsening China-US relationship which could spiral to a new low.  

America 'culprit No.1' 

Those allegations are absolutely unacceptable as they come out of political purposes with the aim of slandering and containing China, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a press conference on Tuesday in response to the latest accusations by the US and its allies against China on cyberattacks. 

The so-called technical details released by the US do not constitute a complete chain of evidence, the Chinese official said, noting that in fact, the US is the world's largest source of cyberattacks. 

Over the years, China has been a major victim of cyberattacks. According to the annual report by the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China (CNCERT/CC), in 2020 about 5.31 million hosts on the Chinese mainland were controlled by a total of about 52,000 overseas malicious program command and control servers, and the top three origins of overseas servers in terms of the number of compromised Chinese hosts are all from NATO member states, according to a statement of the Chinese Mission to the European Union (EU) in response to the accusations.

Since 2000, the US had already carried out extensive attacks on global education, operators and other servers on the internet side. Equation, a unit of the National Security Agency (NSA), has been hacking into important internet targets around the world, a leading anti-virus company Antiy Labs said in a document sent to the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The US has the world's largest cyberspace attack arsenal, including high-level malicious code covering the entire system platform and a large number of undisclosed vulnerability exploitation tools and attack platforms, Antiy Labs said. 

According to the Chinese company, the US has been lurking, penetrating and attacking Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, and attacking countries including its allies if they purchase Huawei products. 

The US also launched the "OlympicGames" campaign against Iran's nuclear facilities, and destructed Iran's nuclear facilities through the Stuxnet worm, severely slowing Iran's nuclear program. It was the first event to use malicious code to cause significant and irreversible damage to a physical facility, the company's document said. 

By using products from EastNets to hack into the international banking system, known as SWIFT, the US has been trying to monitor money flows between Middle Eastern and Latin American banks, according to the document.

From time to time, some US institutions with far-fetched evidence hype the so-called threat of Chinese hackers. In fact, with the most advanced internet infrastructure and abundant tools, the US has been dependent on its massive internet hacking capability to attack a number of countries including China in order to steal intelligence, the Chinese firm said, noting that when the US accuses others of internet spying, its own cyberattacks and hacking activities have never stopped at global scale. 

The Global Times learned from Chinese tech giant 360 Security Technology last year of a series of attacks against China's aerospace, scientific research institutions, petroleum industry and large-scale internet companies by a hacking organization affiliated with the CIA. The company found proof that the hacking group, APT-C-39, belongs to the CIA, and the hack was traced back to 2008, mainly targeting organizations in Beijing, South China's Guangdong and East China's Zhejiang provinces. 

This is a typical trick of a thief crying "stop thief" staged by the US government again, a leading Chinese cybersecurity company said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The Chinese cybersecurity company said in the statement that China has been a major victim of advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks in 2020, and 44 APT organizations from different countries have launched over 3,000 cyber attacks at national level against China. 

New weapon of US 

The purpose of the Biden administration is clear, as cybersecurity issue has now become a new weapon for it to align its allies in competition with China in an all-out scale, following a number of issues that the US government has exploited to contain China including Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the South China Sea, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"Biden is familiar with such 'forming alliance' tactics in confronting China, for example previously he tried to form a vaccine alliance, a climate change alliance, a security alliance and so on. The cyberattack allegations add some new elements to such tactics," Li said. 

At the NATO meeting in June, US President Joe Biden and the country's NATO partners stressed the security threats coming from China and Russia, and a description of containing China in NATO's communiqué was also considered as a shift in its strategy. Given its first joint accusation of China on cybersecurity, Zhao denounced the move as turning cyberspace into a new battlefield by introducing a military alliance into cyberspace. 

"It won't be helpful for maintaining its own security, but it will provoke an arms race in cyberspace, increasing conflicts among countries in the internet [realm] and endangering peace and security," the Chinese official said. 

The US recently used Denmark's secret service to spy on leaders of many European countries including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arousing controversy and security concerns, as Denmark hosts several key landing stations for subsea internet cables to and from Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, according to media reports. 

While the US has repeatedly claimed that it is under external cyberattacks and accuses China and Russia on this, observers noted that the recent spying incident on European leaders reveals the true face of the US.  

Qin An, head of the Beijing-based Institute of China Cyberspace Strategy, pointed out that the US is using old tricks to contain China, as Biden wants to show its allies that the US is still leading the world. "Biden also wants to prove to Americans that he is better than Trump."

 "If NATO really cares about its member states' cybersecurity, they should first discuss certain members' massive cyber theft programs against other members, Zhao said.