War which has undergone the changes of modern technology and the market system will be launched even more in atypical forms. In other words, while we are seeing a relative reduction in military violence, at the same time we definitely are seeing an increase in political, economic, and technological violence. However, regardless of the form the violence takes, war is war, and a change in the external appearance does not keep any war from abiding by the principles of war.
The above quote is from the book “Unrestricted Warfare“, written by a pair of People’s Liberation Army Colonels, Qaio Liang and Wang Xiangsui, and published in Beijing in early 1999. The book has gotten some attention, but often in the eleven years since it was unveiled to the West, the work has largely been dismissed as unlikely wishful thinking on the part of the two authors, and not representative of PLA viewpoints or policy. As recently as early 2008, discussion in strategic-level war games was dismissive of Chinese capability and intent in the cyber realm.
Well, today the Times of London published yet another ominous summary of China’s ongoing activities in the cyber realm. One should be reminded that this represents only what is being acknowledged publicly. Of particular note are the words of Dr. James Lewis of CSIS:
Dr Lewis said that neither the US nor any of its Western allies had formed an effective response to the Chinese threat, which has its origins in a massive boost to Chinese technology ordered by Deng Xiaoping, the late Chinese leader, in 1986. The West’s own cyber offensives have so far been directed largely at terrorists rather than nation states, giving China virtually free rein to penetrate Western systems with its own world-class hackers and increasingly popular Chinese-made components. “You almost have to admire them,” Dr Lewis said. “They have been very consistent in their goals.”
Will we look back across an economic or military cataclysm years or decades on and acknowledge, regretfully, that the warnings had been in front of us since 1999, or even 1986?