* Military says Internet can spread unrest
* "Blue army" exercises show PLA focused on cyber threats
* Clinton says allegations Google hacked from China "very
(Adds details about Chinese cyber-war efforts)
By Chris Buckley
BEIJING, Jun 3 China must master cyber-warfare
as the Internet emerges as a crucial battleground for opinion
and intelligence, two military officers said on Friday, two days
after Google revealed hacking attacks it said came from
The researchers from the People's Liberation Army's Academy
of Military Sciences did not mention Google's statement that
hackers apparently based in China had tried to steal into the
Gmail accounts of hundreds of users, including U.S. officials,
Chinese rights activists and reporters.[ID:nN02261322]
The essay by two PLA scholars, Senior Colonel Ye Zheng and
his colleague Zhao Baoxian, in the China Youth Daily nonetheless
stressed Beijing is focused on honing its cyber-warfare skills,
and sees an unfettered Internet as a threat to its Communist
"Just as nuclear warfare was the strategic war of the
industrial era, cyber-warfare has become the strategic war of
the information era, and this has become a form of battle that
is massively destructive and concerns the life and death of
nations," they wrote in the Party-run paper.
Google said on Wednesday that the hacking attacks appeared
to come from Jinan, which is the capital of China's eastern
Shandong province and home to an intelligence unit of the
People's Liberation Army.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday dismissed Google's
statement as groundless and motivated by "ulterior motives."
Recent Chinese reports about efforts to nurture a "blue
army" of specialist troops to strengthen defences against
hacking have also given a rare glimpse into the PLA's advance
into online battle.
The Chinese military has been holding simulated cyber
battles pitting a "blue army" unit using virus and mass spam
attacks against "red teams" in an effort to strengthen troops'
readiness for online attacks, the Liberation Army Daily said
"I'd guess every defense ministry in the world has faced
hacking attacks, and we also face attacks. So we've formed a
blue army to train our military to deal with this," Xu Guangyu,
a researcher at the China Arms Control and Disarmament
Association and a retired PLA major general, told Reuters.
"It represents the hacker threat, and other units using
digital and Internet capabilities have to stop it. It uses lots
of virus and other means to try to get into your website, and
you have to prevent it," he said.
Last year, contention over Internet policy became an
irritant between Beijing and Washington after the Obama
administration took up Google's complaints about hacking and
censorship from China. Google partly pulled out of China, the
world's largest Internet market by users, after the dispute.
So far, neither Google nor Washington has outright blamed
China for the hacking attacks. Both governments have sought to
steady their relations after last year's turbulence, and they
may want to avoid another escalating feud.
But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday
that the "allegations are very serious."
The PLA scholars, Ye and Zhao, said China has its own fears
about the Internet being wielded as a tool for political
challenges, and pointed to the anti-authoritarian uprisings
across the Arab world as an alarming example.
The Internet "has become the main battleground of contention
over public opinion," they said, citing the "domino effect"
across the Middle East and north Africa.
China's ruling Communist Party fears it could become one of
those dominoes, despite robust economic growth and stringent
domestic security and censorship.
In February, overseas Chinese websites, inspired by the
"Jasmine Revolution" across the Arab world, called for protests
across China, raising Beijing's alarm about dissent and spurring
a burst of detentions of dissidents and human rights lawyers.
China has also tightened censorship of the Internet, and it
already blocks major foreign social websites such as Facebook
The latest Google hacking attempt follows a series of
high-profile hacking cases, including an attack on the U.S.
defense giant Lockheed Martin .
The PLA scholars said the threats to China come from more
than sophisticated intelligence operations on the Internet.
"Cyberware is an entirely new mode of battle that is
invisible and silent, and it is active not only in wars and
conflicts, but also flares in the everyday political, economic,
military, cultural and scientific activities."
(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)