China military paper urges steps against U.S. cyber war threat

BEIJING Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:54am EDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - China must boost its cyber-warfare strength to counter a Pentagon push, the country's top military newspaper said on Thursday after weeks of friction over accusations that Beijing may have launched a string of Internet hacking attacks.

The accusations against China have centered on an intrusion into the security networks of Lockheed Martin Corp and other U.S. military contractors, and deceptions intended to gain access to the Google e-mail accounts of U.S. officials and Chinese human rights advocates.

But the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army said it was Beijing that was vulnerable to attack, in a news report that surveyed the Pentagon's efforts in cyber security.

"The U.S. military is hastening to seize the commanding military heights on the Internet, and another Internet war is being pushed to a stormy peak," concluded the report in the Chinese-language Liberation Army Daily.

"Their actions remind us that to protect the nation's Internet security, we must accelerate Internet defense development and accelerate steps to make a strong Internet army," said the Liberation Army Daily article.

The article was also published on the website of China's Ministry of Defense (www.mod.gov.cn).

Although it does not amount to an official government statement, the report in the military newspaper -- which is closely vetted to reflect official thinking -- shows how China is also focused on the issues of Internet attacks and defense.

"Although our country has developed into an Internet great power, our Internet security defenses are still very weak. So we must accelerate development of Internet battle technology and armament," said the report.

"Comprehensively improve our military's ability to defend the Internet frontiers," it urged.

Earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Washington was seriously concerned about cyber-attacks and prepared to use force against any it considered acts of war.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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