China is seeking to unseat the US as the dominant power in cyberspace, a US Air Force general, quoted by a Reuters report, said.
'They're the only nation that has been quite that blatant about saying, 'We're looking to do that,'' 8th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Robert Elder was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Elder is to head a new three-star cyber command being set up at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, already home to about 25,000 military personnel involved in everything from electronic warfare to network defense, the Reuters report said.
The command's focus is to control the cyber domain, critical to everything from communications to surveillance to infrastructure security, it added.
'We have peer competitors right now in terms of doing computer network attack "&brkbar; and I believe we're going to be able to ratchet up our capability,' Elder said. 'We're going to go way ahead.'
The Reuters report also quoted a Defense Department annual report as saying that China regarded computer network operations, attacks, defense and exploitation, as critical to achieving 'electromagnetic dominance' early in a conflict.
China's People's Liberation Army has established information warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, the Pentagon said.
China also was investing in electronic countermeasures and defenses against electronic attack, including infrared decoys, angle reflectors and false-target generators, it said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry rejected the US report as 'brutal interference' in China's internal affairs and insisted Beijing's military preparations were purely defensive, the report said.
Elder described the bulk of current alleged Chinese cyber-operations as industrial espionage aimed at stealing trade secrets to save years of high-tech development, the Reuters report said.