Cyber Dragon: Inside China’s Information Warfare And Cyber Operations

Book Cover: Cyber Dragon

Dean Cheng  provides a deep insight into China’s extensive cyber espionage efforts and multi-decade modernization of its military with ‘information warfare’ as the key component of its military strategy. 

Here are excerpts from the book:

“The Chinese leadership believes we now live in the Information Age . Over the
past quarter century, the leadership of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)
has been increasingly focused on moving China into the Information Age.
From the perspective of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders, this
is a matter of national as well as regime survival. The new currency of
“comprehensive national power”—the measurement of a state and society’s power,
which includes military, economic, political, diplomatic, science and technology,
and cultural components—is measured in terms of information.

Information has become decisively important in the conduct of current and
likely future wars . In the view of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA),
the rise of the Information Age means that future wars will be contests in the
ability to exploit information. Such informationized warfare will be the hallmark
of the Information Age, as mechanized warfare was for the Industrial Age. Wars will
be decided by the side better able to generate, gather, transmit, analyze, and exploit
information. This will require the PLA to sustain its efforts to focus more on quality
than quantity and to improve its ability to conduct joint operations.

The PLA is reorienting itself, at a fundamental level, to better conduct informationized warfare,
information warfare, and information operations . The PLA has never been organized entirely along
Western lines; there has always been a lesser emphasis on services and greater focus on different
functions (especially with a political department). This divergence will grow in the future, as
the PLA modifies itself to fight informationized wars. The resulting overhaul
already touches on every aspect of the PLA, including not only its equipment
but its doctrine (how the equipment will best be used), its training, and even
its organizational layout, in terms of both peacetime administration and wartime

Informationized warfare blurs the lines between peacetime and wartime, between what
is considered military and what is considered civilian . Part of this
overhaul is necessary because, in the Information Age, peace and war, military
and civilian are increasingly indistinguishable. One cannot wait until the outbreak of
war to gather intelligence, influence psychological outlooks, develop
antisatellite systems, or design computer software weapons. The interlinkages
of information infrastructure mean that all of these elements are melded together.

The preparation and conduct of informationized warfare will therefore
include activities in peacetime, aimed at civilian and commercial entities, as
well as wartime operations against adversary military systems.

Informationized warfare is more than just cyber warfare; cyber warfare is
just one piece of the larger whole . In the Chinese view, informationized warfare
extends beyond cyber activities and is instead about establishing “information
dominance.” This involves being able to gather, transmit, analyze, assess, and
exploit information more quickly and more accurately than one’s adversary.
It includes the conduct of political warfare, which shapes and influences
friendly, adversary, and third-party views and assessments. Winning future
wars will depend upon winning information dominance, while denying it to
the adversary.

Establishing information dominance involves waging information warfare.
This encompasses a range of military operations, including warfare in the
electromagnetic domain, warfare across networks, and warfare of the mind
and perception, that is, electronic warfare, network warfare, and psychological warfare.

There will be special emphasis placed on targeting the adversary’s
command and control and intelligence organizations and infrastructure, at
the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of conflict, as these are the most
important networks, systems, and commanders. Information warfare also entails establishing
space dominance, because of the extent to which various nations depend on space-based systems
for collecting and transmitting their information.

In all of these cases, what matters is the information, rather than
the hardware or software per se. Information has itself become not only a resource but a weapon.
Information warfare is comprised of an extensive array of information operations .

These include reconnaissance operations, offensive and defensive
operations, and deterrence operations, in the electromagnetic, network, and
psychological realms. It also includes the employment of physically destructive
means against key information infrastructure targets, ranging from satellite
constellations to landlines and command posts. Just as information warfare is
about more than computer network warfare, information operations involve
more than just interfering with information systems.

Information warfare is fundamentally shaping the PLA, including its organization .
Several of the major reforms announced in 2015 and 2016 are aimed
at sharpening the PLA’s ability to secure information dominance.
This includes the creation of a new service, the PLA Strategic Support Force, which
will bring under a single bureaucratic umbrella all the key combat elements
that the PLA believes are central to waging information warfare—space forces,
network warfare (cyber) forces, and electronic warfare forces.”

(The book is available at;it is also available at and other major digital platforms selling books)

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