Both U.S. and China have been “secretly” engaging themselves in war games designed in order to prevent a sudden military escalation between the two. Last year two war games were conducted through the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington thinktank, and the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a Beijing thinktank – in the first both sides had to describe what they would do if they were attacked by a sophisticated computer virus and in the second they had to describe their reaction if the attack was known to have been launched from the other side. The next session is slated for May.
“The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is very hostile,” Jim Lewis, a senior fellow and director at CSIS who brokered the meetings, told the Guardian. “They see the US as a target. They feel they have justification for their actions. They think the U.S. is in decline. We want to find ways to change their behaviour … [but] they can justify what they are doing. Their attitude is, they have experienced imperialism and they had a century of humiliation. The Chinese have a deep distrust of the US. They are concerned about US military capabilities. They tend to think we have a grand strategy to preserve US hegemony and they see a direct challenge. The [Chinese officials] who favour co-operation are not as strong as the people who favour conflict. Of the countries actively involved in cyber espionage, China is the only one likely to be a military competitor to the US. US and Chinese forces are in close proximity and there are hostile incidents … The odds of miscalculation are high, so we are trying to get a clear understanding of each side’s position.”
“The United States is committed to engaging countries to build a global environment in which all states recognise and adhere to norms of acceptable behaviour in cyberspace,” a state department spokesperson said in a statement, declining to speak about the war games. “We are engaging broadly with the Chinese government on cyber issues so that we can find common ground on these issues which have increasing importance in our bilateral relationship.”