Cold War 2.0 between China and the United States is already a hypothetical reality


President Xi Jinping also celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China with A. Huge military paradeThe President of the United States threatened to lift Taxes on Chinese products.

Meanwhile, war cyber activity is on the rise, mirroring the trade war between China and the United States. Could this multiply and cause our worst fear – conventional war? Every day, statements by the leaders of the United States and China highlight how far apart these two countries are ideologically and politically, and the extent of their economic and military rivalry.

History has taught us how this kind of confrontation often ends. When it comes to the rivalry between Sparta and Athens, the Athenian historian Thucydides Expect that the dominant nation, which sees its supremacy seemingly threatened by a rising power, will solve the matter with war. Thucydides’ escalation theory makes us fear the worst for the US-China Cold War, a war currently being fought in cyberspace.

From Estonia to Stuxnet

The Russia’s cyberspace attack on Estonia in 2007 It was a wake-up call for all developed nations. Russian hackers, using simple Denial of service attack, Was able to paralyze the Baltic nation for days. The work of the government, ministries, banks, hospitals, telecommunications companies and the media has been effectively paralyzed.

Before and after, techniques such as unit attacks (to extract information) or vulnerabilities (to penetrate networks and computers) have been used on a smaller scale, but in very effective ways. For example, the United States and Israel have developed Stuxnet process To slow down Iran’s nuclear program by remotely damaging uranium enrichment centrifuges through a complex attack that includes, among other things, a computer virus.

“The Secret History of Stuxnet” (Rikode Media, Alex Gibney).

New Cyber ​​Warfare Doctrines

Aware of the increased potential for cyberattacks, as witnessed by the Estonian incident, the United States and China are steadily modeling Cyber ​​warfare strategiesThe development of organizations, procedures and weapons for their delivery.

The Obama administration’s cyber strategy was primarily defensive. Under Donald Trump, the strategy has become More energeticIn line with his fanatical vision. The shift in tone between military and cyber strategies under the Obama and Trump administrations reflects the escalation of tensions between the United States and China. This electronic warfare, or Cold War 2.0, is based on the development of technical and human resources, intelligence gathering, sabotage and influence operations.

Increased resources have been deployed for cyberwarfare on both sides. Home of digital giants and with The largest military budget in the worldIt cannot be denied that the United States has significant cyber firepower. In 2009, the federal government created a new military command center, the American Electronic Command (Operating since 2010), which now employs more than 6000 experts.

Chinese “strategic support force”

For its part, China can count on The third section of the People’s Army, Specialized internal cybersecurity forces, and many technology companies. In 2015, Beijing established a counterpart to the US Electronic Command Center, Strategic Support Force, Which gathers SPLA resources in the field of electronic, space and electronic warfare.

Cases of espionage have doubled between the two countries, for example Theft of US F-35 warplane blueprints, Which miraculously turned into Shenyang FC-31, after that Chinese spies allegedly stole the American plans. The Second Cold War also targets economic interests. In 2012, former FBI Director Robert Mueller commented that there were only two types of companies: Those who have been hacked and who will be hacked.

Since then, More than 80% of cases of economic espionage Against the United States it has been linked to China. For example, hackers linked to the Chinese Ministry of State Security infiltrated the Marriott Group over the course of four years, in the process of stealing personal data from some 500 million of their clients.

Operation “Aurora” decrypted on CNNet.

Subversion and influence

Physical sabotage is also part of cyber warfare. In 2017, the United States was able to use its digital arsenal To defeat the attempted missile launch of North Korea, the loyal allies of China.

According to the Cartwright Doctrine (after US General James Cartwright), for cyber strategy to be effective, it must have an operational component supported, in some cases, by letters to Warning enemies of risks involved and detection of enemy threats.

Influence and destabilization were important goals of Cold War II. During 2009-2010 Cyber ​​attack “Aurora”, China allegedly targeted 34 US companies, which undermined leading US companies such as Northrop Grumman, Dow Chemical and Google. Will the next step be a Chinese digital advertising work In the US presidential election or other allied democracies? China has already demonstrated its ability to hack accounts or spread misinformation in the media in the meantime The recent unrest in Hong Kong.

Cold War 2.0 is a type of guerrilla warfare characterized by ongoing digital skirmishes between the United States and China, combined with a widespread threat to information gathering activities, sabotage, and influence. Given that they both possess nuclear weapons, it is now crucial that these two countries avoid the escalation trap imposed by Thucydides.

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