On January 31, 2024, Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), held a hearing
titled “The CCP Cyber Threat to the American Homeland and National Security.” His opening remarks:
“Our intelligence agencies have discovered that the CCP has hacked into American infrastructure for the sole purpose of disabling and destroying critical infrastructure. This is the cyberspace equivalent of placing bombs on American bridges, water facilities, and power plants.”
Representative Gallagher was referring to the Volt Typhoon, a CCP cyber bomb detected and made public by Microsoft’s cybersecurity team in May 2023. Microsoft described the perpetrators as state-sponsored hackers from China who were developing “capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises.” Initially, the threat was considered to be centered on Guam, a western Pacific hub of American military resources, but further investigations discovered threats to West Coast ports, the Texas power grid, and oil pipelines.
Volt Typhoon is just one of many CCP cyber-attacks on the American government, military, and businesses. Billions of dollars’ worth of trade secrets, patents, individual personal data, and military data have been stolen.
FBI Director Christopher Wray discussed the threat posed by TikTok. He noted that the CCP controls ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, headquartered in Beijing. This allows the CCP to:
● Collect data on the approximate 102 million American users of TikTok.
● Drive TikTok users down rabbit holes of anti-American bias with algorithms that emphasize social divisiveness and discord. The algorithms promote China and the CCP while denigrating America.
● Compromise software on millions of devices with TikTok.
● Influence elections in favor of candidates who favor the CCP Marxist ideology of oppressors versus oppressed.
TikTok is a national security threat and should be banned in the United States. India banned TikTok, WeChat, and 50 other Chinese-owned apps in 2020 on the basis that the apps were “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state, and public order.” The same dangers apply to the U.S.
China's cyber crimes are perhaps the most dangerous of all CCP gray zone actions in its “unrestricted warfare” against the United States. The gray zone is defined as "competitive interactions among and within state and non-state actors that fall between traditional war and peace.
In 1999, two colonels in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) authored “Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America.” The colonels advocated for “new concept weapons” to leverage the full power of the CCP state to avoid direct military conflict with the United States. “Unrestricted Warfare” was based on the 600 B.C. Chinese general and philosopher Sun Tzu’s book “The Art of War.” Famous quotes:
● The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting
● In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity
● All warfare is based on deception
● The greatest victory is that which requires no battle
The “new concept weapons” include non-military instruments in information control, capital investments, and technology. Less costly than military hardware, these weapons in place before conflict could force the adversary (U.S.) to change policy before kinetic conflict or disrupt its military preparedness. If computers are infected with Chinese viruses, water supplies and electric grids would be shut down. Military communications and response actions are nullified.
The authors added that the U.S. does not appreciate the ramifications of fusion between all organizations within the state (military, business, media, and individuals). The reliance by the U.S. military on expensive technology, but with limited quantities, is a disadvantage, resulting in winning battles but losing wars.
Chinese cyber espionage is not only operating in America but worldwide. Mustang Panda group has targeted over 200 diplomatic, maritime, telecommunication, and immigration entities in Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Americans need to know that the CCP is engaged in an unrestricted war with us. They are engaging all organs of the state to achieve their goal of world domination. We need to defend and protect ourselves from the all-encompassing assault. Reciprocity should be the foundation of American policy towards the CCP.
Chinese spying in the U.S. is so widespread that the FBI is launching, on average, two counterintelligence operations per day. FBI Director Wray said the “sheer scale” of Chinese efforts to steal U.S. technology shocked him when he became director in 2017. Over 2,000 cases are open.
Yet the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) gave over $30 million to Chinese-born Song-Chun Zhu, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard and spent 18 years at UCLA training Chinese students in Artificial Intelligence (AI) studying in the U.S. The majority of the students then returned to China. Zhu returned to Beijing in 2020 to join Peking and Tsinghua universities and to found BIGAI, one of the nation's leading AI institutes. He also heads up a new, state-funded AI institute in Wuhan.
Not only is China conducting cyber war against the U.S., but so is Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Islamic terror groups. Assorted crime syndicates and nerds living in basements are also assaulting American institutions for ransom payments.
● Establish a domestic counterintelligence service separate from the FBI. The FBI should revert to its original purpose of fighting crime.
● Fund private organizations to counter cyber warfare from all adversaries. Where would the U.S. Space Program be today without private industry?
● Aggressively respond to any cyber intrusions. The CCP recently passed a law requiring all citizens to report within 48 hours any security loopholes found in software. In 2021, China had 170,000 white hat hackers engaged in cybersecurity.
● Reciprocity - Ban TikTok since American media companies cannot operate in China. Ban Chinese land purchases for the same reason.
● Increase tariffs on Chinese goods until the trade deficit is narrowed. The trade deficit in 2022 was over $350 billion.
Peace Through Strength!
Author Laurence F. Sanford is a veteran of the United States Navy and the Central Intelligence Agency and now serves as Senior Analyst for the American Security Council Foundation. Please support ASCF’s education efforts by donating to the American Security Council Foundation at www.ascf.us.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
Committee on the Present Danger: China
Chinese Communist Party
Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement
Chinese Students and Scholars Association
One child policy
Chinese cyber crimes