Recently, the United States has been blaming China for its cyber activities. In February, Mandiant released a report entitled APT1: Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units. Subsequently, the White House, Department of State and Department of Defense expressed their high-level concerns. Similarly, the Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2013, issued on May 6, points out that intrusions focused on the exfiltration of information from US diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors “appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military”. However, just one month later, Edward Snowden, a former employee of US National Security Agency, exposed the vast American surveillance programs and the fact that the US government has attacked Hong Kong and Chinese Mainland Internet networks for quite a few years. In addition to that, the Snowden incident has revealed three facts.
The first fact is the vulnerability of US security. The Unites States is the only superpower in the world. With its mighty military strength, it can “wantonly” launch a war against any country in the world. Through Snowden, it is apparent that the US is so vulnerable that it has to use some mean methods to maintain its national security. With its overwhelming advantages in cyber technologies, the US finds it natural to make use of them to monitor hundreds of thousands of individual computers. Nevertheless, it cannot guarantee absolute security, which the US has been pursuing. The Boston Marathon bombing is a bitter example.
The second fact is the sham of US policies. The US has claimed to establish an international order for cyber security and left no stones unturned in accusing China of hacking activities. The tone is getting more and more assertive and aggressive. The reality is, according to Snowden, the National Security Agency has conducted more than 61,000 global hacking operations, involving hundreds of targets in the Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong. A thief crying “Stop thief” shows the true color of US policies. As a matter of fact, before the Snowden incident, some had doubts about Americans’ propaganda. In the military and security fields, intelligence has been collected by fair means or foul. Is the US an exception? It is Snowden who removed the veil of falseness and confirmed the suspicion. It can be expected that the US will not give up the PRISM intelligence program, but intensify Internet-monitoring schemes and offensive cyber operations.
The third fact is the hypocrisy of US democracy. The US society is said to be a model of democracy. Protection of privacy and freedom of speech have always been core US values, which it has been trying to export to other countries. However, Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency required nine Internet giants, including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, to submit phone logs and data, peeking into the emails, online chats, photos and videos of millions of common people. The US has flaunted that the Internet monitoring program did not target Americans or even foreigners on US soil, while Snowden’s revelations have exposed the hypocrisy of the US government. After the “PRISM gate”, those who intend to choose US information technologies and services should be more prudent. Those who worship US democracy should also think twice.
Ma Jun is a Specially Invited Research Fellow for the Center on China-America Defense Relations at the PLA Academy of Military Science.