It’s uncertain whether Beijing will respond appropriately to US rhetoric. Reportedly, a PLA (military) building on the outskirts of Shanghai is the source of cyber attacks from China. The US is the primary victim, though it’s not alone. Mandiant is the firm responsible for researching the attacks and finding their source location within China. Kevin Mandia is the chief executive of the firm.
Though it’s unverified whether the building in question is truly the source, it remains a PoI (place of interest). Mandia used classic American sarcasm to explain this, telling The New York Times: “Either they are coming from inside Unit 61398 or the people who run the most controlled, most monitored Internet networks in the world are clueless about thousands of people generating attacks from this one neighbourhood.”
Mandia’s rhetoric is a typical water tight way of refuting the anticipated denial of Beijing. Of course, every American knows that Beijing officials will deny any claim that China’s Communist party is less than perfect. By explaining with “process of elimination” logic, coupled with humour, Mandia makes China look foolish if they do anything but apologise.
According to Mandia’s sarcasm, there are two options: 1. The building in question is, in fact, the source or 2. the neighbourhood surrounding that building is the source—and they were able to get past the super-secure Internet of China.
In other words, China must either admit that Unit 61398 was the source, as Mandiant suspects it is, or else China would have to admit that they don’t know how to watch their own Internet. This was Mandia’s thinking in his use of a sarcastic two-scenario consideration.
It’s doubtful, however, that Beijing will see this since sarcasm often eludes native Mandarin speakers.
But there is more to the rhetoric of the US that will likely elude China. By allowing the Associated Press photos of a building (supposedly Unit 61398) which the Chinese have reportedly forbidden to be photographed, America is sending a message: We know that you know that we know that you know that we know. So, stop.
In the Beijing/Mandarin-speaking/Communist/Post-China-cultural-revolution mind, any allegations can be eliminated, merely by denying them. If someone produces a smoking gun and a bloody knife, Beijingers merely say, “I don’t believe it,” and they expect everyone else to dismiss the evidence. By denying allegations, the Chinese aren’t finding a way to avoid self-incrimination, as allegation-denying politicians do in America—they actually think they are overcoming those allegations in the minds of the people.
This is not a cynical analysis; Beijing mentality literally believes that a simple denial is all it takes! So, they miss the most important point…
If Unit 61398 is the actual building, then Beijing knows it. America isn’t trying to prove anything—they are implying something. The news reports are a veiled threat… a very veiled threat.
Chinese culture uses implication and insinuation all the time. What isn’t said, to Chinese speakers, is more important than what is. But, because the Chinese don’t understand sarcasm, this implication from the American government, from the AP, and from Mandiant, may be too subtle of an implication for Beijing to understand.
Beijing probably thinks that America is threatening to not pay back owed debt in lieu of the financial damages of the cyber attacks. Beijing may think that America is planning or threatening a military retaliation. But this is not the case. The threat is much deeper and more subtle than the grand dragon of the East could even estimate.
If this round of Clue turns out to be Miss Scarlet, with the hammer and sickle, in Unit 61398, then several of China’s customers will know that the game is over.
Possibly, some of China’s biggest customers know about Unit 61398, suspect “something”, but they can’t put their finger on it—and the AP story merely explains the rest of the story. Intelligence communities may hold other pieces of the puzzle, and then number “61398” is the missing piece.
Or, it could be that the simple sarcasm of Mandia was understood by China’s customers. Those customers would see China’s dismissal of the smoking gun as a form of incompetence. Those same customers might say, “If China can’t even respond properly to the sarcasm-logic trap set by Mandia, how can China make integrated circuits properly?” and it’s the end of the business relationship. Then, the American government “generously forgives” Beijing, China looses tons of money, and America looks as innocent as the pussy cat who clawed the dog’s nose while the master wasn’t looking.
Why does the West see what China doesn’t? The answer comes from Sunday School: Jesus. Whether you believe Jesus or not, He had a philosophy… Turn the other cheek… Do to others as you would have them do to you… Forgive and you will be forgiven… Jesus’ philosophy, which was rammed down the throats of every European and American for nearly two thousand years, contains an artful strategy that eluded Machiavelli and Sun Tsu.
Beijing doesn’t understand that Jesus is more shrewd than Sun Tsu because China only recently received the Bible. Only in the last few years did Beijing discover that underground Church Christians are more likely to obey the law, less likely to resist government, and least likely to do anything to topple Communist power. Though that’s something that Big Sister in America needs to rediscover (suggesting that she has more ties to Beijing than we may know about <joke>) most Americans know that Church-going Christians are less likely to be involved in street crime. For better or worse, we all know it. Beijing doesn’t.
So, Beijing has been warned with a form of implication that makes the Chinese look Western. The repercussions will touch far deeper than the fist-shaking Eastern power-lovers would ever dream up against their own enemies.
The Communist-Chinese hackers have, themselves, been “cracked” into.Source: AP: US READY TO STRIKE BACK AGAINST CHINA CYBERATTACKS Source: The Telegraph: Major Chinese internet hacking base exposed
- China hacking claims: tech firms become powerful line of attack in US cyberwar (guardian.co.uk)
- China hacking reveals outsourcing to private US firms in international cyberwar (timescolonist.com)
- Chinese cyber-warfare unit identified by American computer security firm (chinadailymail.com)