China will conduct its first “digital technology” military exercise next month, state media said yesterday, amid growing concern in Washington and elsewhere about Chinese hacking attacks.
A report by the official Xinhua news agency said the exercise, in northern China’s remote Inner Mongolia region, will “test new types of combat forces, including units using digital technology amid efforts to adjust to informationalized war.”
“It will be the first time a People’s Liberation Army exercise has focused on combat forces including digitalized units, special operations forces, army aviation and electronic counter forces,” the brief English-language report added.
Meanwhile, the security chief of controversial Chinese telecom giant Huawei (華為) said that using the Internet to spy and steal sensitive data is standard practice by all countries.
The comments published yesterday follow allegations that Chinese hackers gained access to secret designs for a slew of sophisticated US weapons programs, and stole the blueprints for Australia’s new intelligence agency headquarters.
John Suffolk, a former chief information officer with the British government and now head of security operations at Huawei, said he was not surprised by claims of international hacking.
“Governments have always done that,” he told the Australian Financial Review, adding that the “harsh reality is every government around the world has a similar strap-line for their security agencies.”
“Some people say that spying is the second-oldest profession, where people have tried to get information off us for somebody else, so I don’t think anyone is surprised that any government around the world is trying to find out what other governments around the world are doing,” Suffolk said.
Huawei has been at the center of cyberespionage concerns itself, with the US Congress last year raising fears that its ties with Beijing meant telecom equipment supplied by the company could be used for spying.