Chinese Hackers’ Attack on Key US Bases on Guam Is Part of Unrestricted Warfare: Military Expert

Jenny Li
Olivia Li
By Jenny Li&Olivia Li
June 2, 2023Chinashare
Chinese Hackers’ Attack on Key US Bases on Guam Is Part of Unrestricted Warfare: Military Expert
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is docked at Naval Base Guam in Apra Harbor amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 27, 2020. (Tony Azios/AFP via Getty Images)

In response to the Five Eyes Coalition’s discovery of a Chinese hacker attack on American military bases in Guam, a U.S. military expert told The Epoch Times that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is either rehearsing for an impending war or has already launched some form of war against the United States.

Together with various cybersecurity agencies under the Five Eye alliance, Microsoft released details of the covert malware attack on May 24.

The attack was carried out by Beijing-sponsored hacker group codenamed “Volt Typhoon” and relied on “living-off-the-land techniques,” according to the Microsoft report.

“Volt Typhoon has been active since mid-2021 and has targeted critical infrastructure organizations in Guam and elsewhere in the United States,” it said.

Microsoft believes that the hackers are “pursuing development of capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises.”

The organizations affected include communications, manufacturing, utility, transportation, construction, maritime, government, information technology, and education sectors, as identified by the report.

Security experts observed that the hackers intended to perform spying activities and maintain access for as long as possible without being detected.

“For years, China has conducted aggressive cyber operations to steal intellectual property and sensitive data from organizations around the globe. Today’s advisory highlights China’s continued use of sophisticated means to target our nation’s critical infrastructure,” said Jen Easterly, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in a news release on May 24.

CCP Is Conducting ‘A Form of Warfare’

Carl Schuster, a retired Navy captain and former director of operations at U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, told The Epoch Times that the CCP has been conducting cyber operations against the United States for years, but the hacking against Guam has him particularly concerned.

“My concern is that I believe at least some part of the Chinese leadership is conducting a form of warfare. We’re not at war per se, but any form of attack that depresses your capacity to function as a country should be considered an act of war. China is either practicing for the moment when war occurs or, they are already actively pursuing the degradation, if you will, of America’s financial infrastructure and its digital infrastructure,” Schuster said.

He speculated that the hacking was carried out by the strategic support force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Guam’s Strategic Importance

Located in the Western Pacific, Guam is one of the four unincorporated organized territories of the United States. It is home to three military bases, including Andersen Air Force Base, Naval Base Guam, and Apra Harbor Naval Base. These bases have played significant roles in major conflicts, such as World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Schuster said Guam is a major strategic hub for the United States.

“If China were to attack [Japan], Guam is the closest U.S. military facility through which we would send our military assistance or military forces going to help Japan. It’s also the island on which we would stage most of the support if we had to come to the Philippines defense or even Taiwan,” he explained.

Similarity to Balloon Incident

Schuster believes that the hacking operation has similarities with the spy balloon incident, and both are treading in the gray area.

He said he believes they are testing the United States.

“I think they’re both looking at what they can depress and damage via cyber attack, and I think they are, in many ways, testing our willingness to respond,” he said.

“First of all, it’s like the balloon case. They look at something that they think will not draw notice. Gather what they can. And then, when they see a reaction, withdraw or modify to try a different avenue,” Schuster said. “The balloon was a classic case of operating in near space to get a close picture of the environmental data over our key facilities. … And we didn’t respond.

“So in fact it was a covert operation in plain sight. I think these hacking attacks on Guam are similar in that they provide plausible deniability,” he said.

On Feb. 4 of this year, the U.S. military shot down a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon off the Carolina coast, but the Chinese Defense Ministry claimed it was a “civilian airship” intended for meteorological research that had blown off course by winds.

This time, facing the accusation of hacking by the Five Eyes Alliance, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning again denied it, claiming that it was a collective disinformation campaign launched by the United States through the Five Eyes Alliance.

 CCP’s Unrestricted Warfare Against US

It is quite possible that flying spy balloons over the U.S. airspace and hacking key military infrastructure are both part of the CCP’s Unrestricted Warfare strategy, a concept developed by former Chinese Air Force Majors General Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangshui in their 1999 book “Unrestricted Warfare.” They claim unrestricted warfare employs all means, including economic warfare, cyber attacks, and terrorism.

In August 2016, Qiao Liang released a revised version of the book, which expands the scope of unrestricted warfare to include cyber warfare, resource warfare, media warfare, financial warfare, and cultural warfare. The book says that today’s battles have gone far beyond uniformed soldiers and aircraft and artillery and that the CCP must militarize all areas and must actively engage in all areas of invisible warfare as soon as possible.

In the book, Qiao said that unrestricted warfare is “a war that transcends all boundaries and limits … by all means … and beyond all political, historical, cultural, and moral constraints.”

Schuster said that in the CCP’s military thinking on unrestricted warfare, cyber warfare is an important part.

“Our finances travel over the web. Much of our business and logistics is coordinated through cyber systems. So it [cyber warfare] attacks our variability to operate as a country, it attacks our economy, it attacks our culture,” he said.

He also said that those in power in the CCP really believe in the concept of unrestricted warfare.

Political Warfare: Affecting US Elections and Public Opinion

In addition to the quasi-military actions fought in the gray zone, the CCP’s efforts to manipulate public opinion and suspected interference with U.S. elections are also part of unrestricted warfare.

In August 2022, two Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) sent a letter to Jeffrey Wichman, the head of the U.S. intelligence community responsible for foreign political interference, to express concerns about TikTok launching a feature called “Election Center” during the U.S. midterm elections.

This in-app program allows users to access election information in each state, including how to register to vote, how to vote by mail, how to find polling stations in the user’s area, and more.

“TikTok, an overseas subsidiary of Chinese company ByteDance, which has members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on its board, will be policing American political discourse and owning the data of potentially millions of voters. This new Elections Center could provide an unprecedented political surveillance and election interference tool for the Chinese Communist Party, our foremost foreign adversary,” Banks and Waltz said in the letter.

Schuster believes that China is trying to reshape public opinion in the West, through media warfare, law warfare, and opinion warfare. He refers to it as psychological warfare in general.

“China is conducting it on almost a daily basis against not just the United States, but the West in general. You will see, for example, some of the things they do to affect elections. You saw that in Canada. We believe we saw it in the United States. The Europeans believe they’ve seen some elements of it. All of these things are intended to shape the geopolitical environment in China’s favor,” he said.

He observed that the CCP is aiming to create the perception that Beijing’s actions are legitimate while undermining the legitimacy of its opponents’ military, diplomatic, and political efforts. The regime also seeks to manipulate public opinion in the West by controlling media narratives. Additionally, the CCP and its cronies employ a strategy known as “law warfare” in which they attempt to alter the interpretation of laws.

“If you divide your enemy politically, then you weaken your enemy without firing a shot. So in their view, the perfect military campaign is one that does not involve any fighting. If you can make them believe they cannot be defeated or they cannot win, or that they should not fight, then you can achieve your objectives without fighting,” he explained.

From The Epoch Times

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