China is indeed the nation that has the highest frequency of cyber crimes. It is expected that the nation at least has some frequency of cyber issues since it is the highest populated country in the world and has a lot of censorship of information, especially on the internet. However, the U.S. has accused China, on multiple occasions, of attempting to take sensitive information from officials. The question is whether or not the Chinese government is actually behind cyber attacks in the U.S. that originate from their country, or is it just Chinese citizens and groups that are working independently to hack into U.S. intelligence? Though it has yet to be confirmed if the hacks were state-sponsored, it is notable that the hacks seem too organized and advanced to be executed by independent groups. With all the mystery in the air, China is going to have a difficult time earning back trust.
A number of officials and researchers say that the hackers that have compromised the Office of Personal Management databases work for the Chinese government, but the Chinese Foreign Ministry says that Beijing hopes for more trust from the U.S. and fewer accusations. In short, it is a mystery; either the Chinese government is indeed hacking into the U.S. government’s information and will not admit it, or there are some very advanced groups in the country that are threatening U.S. security.
The problem with hacks in federal databases such as the OPM’s is that information found can let hackers find passwords to test on other sites. Sensitive information is now susceptible to being accessed by intruders, including knowledge on critical weapons systems. This can threaten American security.
This is not the first time China has been accused by the U.S. of cyberspying. In the past, the U.S. had claimed to trace hacks from Pentagon records back to the Chinese military. The Chinese military was also accused of hacking into computers of major businesses that manufacture nuclear and solar technology. To this accusation, the Chinese government vehemently objected and even counterclaimed that there were spying activities that were aimed at its own nation. An American private security company even claimed that a major hacking rampage directed at U.S. businesses was traced back to a building ran by the People’s Liberation Army’s Unit 61398, which is a secret Chinese military organization. Cyber attack issues got so bad that Google took its search engine away from the China’s mainland since hacking attacks that were launched to steal the company’s operating code and email account hacks were traced back to the country. With all these cyber attack problems, China is going to have a hard time earning trust back from the United States.
Why would China want U.S. data anyways? In the past few decades relations between the two nations have been improving, and China should want things to look good for the U.S. because it has loaned so much money to the U.S. If either nation can avoid a war, than why would it not? Because the two nations share critical similarities. In Asia, the regional hegemon is China, while globally, many consider the U.S. to be a hegemon. This means that both nations dominate major global industries and have influence in other nations. Though neither countries have major war-stirring issues with each other, the imbalance of power is a constant threat. In international relations, this is known as the security dilemma. Though the U.S has been powerful for awhile, it has not attacked the eastern hegemon because it has no legitimate reason to, so far. Many scholars say that U.S. hegemony will remain. Perhaps that is all the more reason the U.S. is a threat and China either feels the need to prepare should U.S. power become too overwhelming, or to get ready to meet its western match. Either way, there is no denying that global competition affects the two nations and puts friction in their relationship. In spite of some amicable relations, the race between the two nations makes things hostile, which means that China is going to have a hard time earning back any trust that was lost in the wake of the cyber-scandals.
By Tania Dawood
AOL News- China says hacking claims irresponsible, asks for more trust
ABC News- A Look at Some of Hacking Accusations Against China
Business Insider- US official on China hacking government database: ‘This is deep’
Featured Photo Courtesy of Michael Garrigues’s Flickr- Creative Commons License