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Cyberwar: Calling out China

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Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

State-sponsored Chinese hackers increasingly aim to hijack control of critical U.S. infrastructure. A new private-sector report blames China's military for most such cyberattacks — tantamount to acts of war. The ever-deferential Obama administration's response? A weak new strategy for diplomatic and law-enforcement protection of trade secrets and intellectual property.

U.S. computer security firm Mandiant's report follows the digital trails left by China's most sophisticated hacker group “to the doorstep of” the People's Liberation Army Unit 61398 headquarters in Shanghai. The New York Times also reports that a classified U.S. National Intelligence Estimate “makes a strong case” that PLA officers or contractors run that hacker group and others.

The harsh light cast on China by the Mandiant report makes the shortcomings of that new White House strategy all the more glaring.

It doesn't focus exclusively on cyberattacks. Or mention U.S. cyberoffensive capabilities. Or single out China as America's primary online adversary — “to avoid upsetting relations with Beijing,” The Washington Free Beacon reports.

Foreign policy in Mr. Obama's second term is parroting the first and continues to be defined by reckless deferentialism.

The Obama administration shouldn't be playing catch-up with — or playing coy about — China's cyberwarfare. Instead, this White House must treat China as the enemy it undoubtedly is, by calling out the PLA for its cyberattacks and leading an all-out response that puts America's capabilities in cyberspace — public, private, defensive and offensive — on no less than a war footing.

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