The American phonetapping case and Chinese hackers’ activity in certain United States companies are proof that cyberspace will be the most significant battlefield between the two great powers.
In one of my previous articles, I alluded to the new American strategy baptized Lightfootprint, which essentially relies on using drones, calling on Special Forces and mastering cyberspace. What has been going on between the U.S. and China for the past few months perfectly demonstrates the strategic character of new technologies that can penetrate the information systems and communications of others.
This started with accusations by Washington authorities against the People’s Liberation Army who they suspected of having created special units of hackers responsible for infiltrating the information systems and databases of American companies and administrations. In the U.S., the subject was serious enough to be at the center of discussions between Barack Obama and Xi Jinping June 8 through 9 in California, even if it was their first official meeting. The American president even communicated to his Chinese counterpart a list of concrete cases of stolen industrial and commercial secrets by hacking entities based in China to the detriment of U.S. companies ...
And finally, the latest episode to date: revelations by the Anglospheric press according to which the National Security Agency, through the program PRISM, was phone tapping and intruding in Internet conversations on “targets” outside of the United States, including Chinese citizens. Naturally, the Chinese press got a hold of this information, denouncing the American administration’s double standard on cyberespionage.
Chinese newspapers are already opposed to any extradition for leaks author Edward Snowden, who is hiding out in Hong Kong and denied working for Chinese services. Even the government’s reaction in Beijing was completely official, requesting that the U.S. “explain [the] hacking activity” of this infamous program — a way of letting Washington know that the high-tech giants of the Silicon Valley represent just as high a threat to Chinese interests as People's Liberation Army hackers do to America.
So, the rivalry between the two powers is here to stay. Further proof of this is China building the most powerful computer in the world, Tianhe-2, perfected in the labs of its National University for Defense Technology and much more powerful than the most capable American supercomputers ...
We can see, without saying too much about it, that the cyberspace rivalry between the two biggest economic forces in the world is foreshadowing the world of tomorrow, where companies will also have to consider the fifth domain to be their most strategic field.