A few days ago, I blogged an article in Wired about the cyberattack on Estonia ("eStonia") by Russian hackers. Last week, news emerged about attacks on U.S. and German government websites by hackers who were apparently operating from China. As this piece in the International Herald Tribune shows, the Chinese attackers resemble the Russians in that they may or may not be operating with sanction from their government. Even more troubling than the idea that, in Russia, Putin is using his geeks to probe NATO (as suggested in the Wired piece) is the idea that, in China, the People's Liberation Army may be pursuing military and foreign policy that is not only disconnected from the Communist Party's, but perhaps opposed to it:
Outside the secretive party and government bureaucracy in China, little is known about the ties between the civilian leadership and the sprawling, 2.3 million-strong People's Liberation Army.Great: 2.3 million Chinese troops, answering only to their rogue generals. It's like the obverse of the crazy situation in Washington, where a rogue president is somehow answerable only to a high-ranking general in Iraq.
As Hu [Jintao, the president of China] attempts to consolidate his power ahead of the important 17th Party Congress expected to be held in October, doubts remain that he exercises the same control over the military as earlier Communist leaders.
These doubts were heightened when the Chinese military shot down an obsolete weather satellite in January, seemingly without informing the civilian bureaucracy in advance of what was clearly a provocative move that drew widespread international protest.
Some foreign analysts suspect that it is difficult for the civilian leadership to keep track of cyber warfare research and development because it is not centralized under a single military or intelligence command.