Reports of the Chinese hacking into government systems are nothing new. Along with the constant reports of substandard products being put on our shelves, there is little doubt that the Chinese pose a threat to our safety in a LOT of different ways.
The U.S. China Commission has just released a disturbing report, which indicates some alarming evidence that the Chinese might be a threat to our National security.
The first concern is what appears to be a growing capability to target satellites. I got the following directly from the report, which was provided to Congress:
The hearing was timely, coming only three months after a successful direct-ascent anti satellite test by China that destroyed one of its own aging weather satellites in low-earth orbit. This test was only the third of its kind by any nation in history and served as a useful reference point during the hearing to illustrate not only Chinaâ€™s advances in military capabilities, but also the extent to which Chinaâ€™s decision making process is still very much opaque. This incident raises questions about Chinese intentions in space. The Commission will address these questions as it continues to monitor developments.
In the same realm, it appears that China is actively developing capabilities to conduct “irregular warfare.” It should be noted that in addition to this report there have been regular reports of hackers from China specifically targeting government systems.
This is what the current report concluded:
Several experts testified that if China were to find itself in an armed conflict with the United States and its allies such as that resulting from a Taiwan dispute, China is likely to employ an array of irregular warfare strategies against its adversaries. According to Michael Vickers, Senior Vice President for Strategic Studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Chinese attack on Taiwan could entail special operations and cyber attacks on U.S. regional bases in Japan and South Korea, and might even include cyber attacks on the U.S. homeland that target the U.S. financial, economic, energy, and communications infrastructure.
Also covered in the report are previously documented cyber-intrusions into U.S. Government systems:
As evidenced by the trajectory of its military modernization, Chinese defense planners are seeking to accomplish the goal of undermining the U.S. militaryâ€™s technological edgethrough a variety of disruptive means. Among these is cyber warfare. USSTRATCOM Commander General Cartwright testified before the Commission that China is actively engaging in cyber reconnaissance by probing the computer networks of U.S. government agencies as well as private companies. The data collected from these computer reconnaissance campaigns can be used for myriad purposes, including identifying weak points in the networks, understanding how leaders in the United States think, discovering the communication patterns of American government agencies and private companies, and attaining valuable information stored throughout the networks. General Cartwright testified that this information is akin to that which in times past had to be gathered by human intelligence over a much longer period of time. He went on to say that in todayâ€™s information environment, the exfiltration that once took years can be accomplished in a matter of minutes in one download session.
The report also concludes that the Chinese have been building up their more traditional military capabilities since 1992.
Going into the reasons why China has been able to accomplish this, the report states:
Chinaâ€™s policies of market liberalization have resulted in rapid export-led economic growth prompting increased foreign investment; development of Chinaâ€™s manufacturing capabilities; and integration into the global supply chain. Chinaâ€™s abundant and inexpensive labor supply has made that country an obvious place for multinational companies to expand their production. However, as Dr. Peter Navarro, Professor of Business at the University of California, Irvine, observed in his testimony, five of eight factors identified as major drivers of Chinaâ€™s comparative advantageâ€”i.e., its ability to undercut the prices of global competitorsâ€”are considered unfair trading practices. These include its undervalued currency, counterfeiting and piracy, export industry subsidies, and lax health, safety, and environmental regulations. These practices violate Chinaâ€™s WTO commitments, especially regarding workersâ€™ rights, market access, currency manipulation, subsidies, and the protection of intellectual property rights. These violations and unfair practices also contribute to a growing U.S. trade deficit with China, one that U.S. Census Bureau statistics confirm increased 177 percent in the past six years from $83.8 billion in 2000 to $232.5 billion in 2006.
Granting China a “Permanent Normal Trading Relationship” six years ago was sold to the American public as a means of making China a better place (more democratic) place for it’s people.
Instead, we have seen a lot of questionable government activity, which includes a variety of criminal enterprises when we consider all the hacking, counterfeiting and piracy that can be directly traced back to that country.
The lack of safe manufacturing practices and counterfeiting also poses a threat to our safety. It should be noted that according to International Anticounterfeiting Coalition, counterfeiting is a $600 billion a year problem, worldwide.
There are no figures on how much of this comes from China, although most experts on this subject speculate a lot of it does. Additionally, there is a lot of evidence that a lot of counterfeit merchandise is present in our supply chain. This evidence would include products of a consumable nature such as drugs, also.
The FDA estimates that 10 percent of the drugs in our supply system are counterfeit.
A lot of this probably tied into another phenomenon traced to the Chinese known as corporate (industrial) espionage. Of course, there is probably less of a need for the Chinese to plant spies in our industrial complexes anymore. With the amount of outsourcing going on, they probably never have to set foot out of China to steal a lot of secrets from us.
According to the Washington Post, American companies are even outsourcing the manufacture of military parts:
The Pentagon is increasingly buying planes, weapons and military vehicles from private contractors that outsource the manufacturing to plants in China and elsewhere in Asia, the report said. But when questioned by the commission, defense officials admitted that they do not have the ability to track where the components of military equipment are made.
To me, given all the recent implications of Chinese intentions, this makes the least sense!
All of these factors have led to a loss of jobs within our country as corporations take advantage of cheap labor, which is often the greatest expense in any business.
This translates into record profits for the Chinese and a select few people in the West.
Given the safety, National security and economic implications, continuing down this road doesn’t seem to be in the best interests of the average person.
The full report from the U.S. China Commission can be viewed, here.