In all the hype and hoopla surrounding China’s incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) into Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, a more sinister plan to attack cyber networks has gone almost completely unnoticed in India. In front page news reports published abroad recently, Chinese cyber spies were reported to have hacked into computers and stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Indian embassy in the US. Earlier it had been reported that the Chinese army uses more than 10,000 cyber warriors with degrees in IT to maintain an e-vigil on China’s borders. “Chinese soldiers now swipe cards and work on laptops as they monitor the border with great efficiency… electronic sentinels functioning 24 hours a day.” On June 23, 2009, Robert Gates, the US Secretary of Defence, authorised the creation of a new military command that will develop offensive cyber-weapons and defend command and control networks of the US armed forces against computer attacks.
While information about the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) cyber warriors has begun to appear in the public domain only recently, PLA watchers globally have known for long about China’s well conceived doctrine on information operations and cyberwar. China’s cyberwar doctrine is designed to level the playing field in a future war with better equipped Western armed forces that rely on Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) technologies and enjoy immense superiority in terms of weapons platforms and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and command and control networks.
In the first decade of the new century, China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) had called for a detailed study of the concept of “people’s war under conditions of informationisation”, implying increasing attention to the application of IT to the conduct of conventional conflict. Since then the scope of the cyber war doctrine has been expanded to develop the capabilities necessary to take control of all the major networks that drive the world’s economic engines. .
Analysts of the PLA have called the ongoing RMA an informationised military revolution with Chinese characteristics. Informationisation relates to the PLA’s ability to adopt information technologies to command, intelligence, training and weapon systems. The PLA is seeking to contest the information battle space with its space-based, airborne, naval and ground-based surveillance and intelligence gathering systems and its new anti-satellite, anti-radar, electronic warfare and information warfare systems. According to China’s White Paper on National Defence, “In