Biden Warns Cyberattacks Against US Could Spark a ‘Real Shooting War’

By Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang
journalist
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers news in China and Taiwan. He holds a Master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
July 28, 2021 Updated: July 28, 2021

President Joe Biden warned on July 27 that the United States could respond with a “real shooting war” against countries that decided to launch cyberattacks against America.

Biden made the remarks during a speech at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which provides oversight to the U.S. intelligence community.

“If we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power, it’s going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence,” Biden said.

The cyber breach including ransomware attacks “increasingly are able to cause damage and disruption to the real world,” Biden added.

Ransomware operations involve malicious actors encrypting victims’ data and making it inaccessible. The actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption.

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline and meat processing company JBS are recent victims of ransomware attacks that brought their operations to a halt. The FBI blamed the attack on Colonial on a Russia-based gang of hackers.

Biden’s warning came less than 10 days when the U.S. Department of Justice announced that four Chinese nationals working for China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), the regime’s chief intelligence agency, were charged in a global hacking campaign to steal trade secrets and sensitive information from companies, universities, and government bodies.

Victims of the hacking campaign included entities in numerous countries around the world, including Canada, Germany, Norway, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the United States.

Also last week, the National Security Agency (NSA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), issued a joint advisory providing guidelines on how companies and individuals can protect themselves from China’s state-sponsored cyber operations.

“These cyber operations support China’s long-term economic and military development objectives,” the advisory stated.

Doong Sy-chi, a vice executive at the Taiwan Thinktank of Global Taiwan Institute, believes that the Chinese cyber threats toward the democratic countries will only grow under Xi Jinping’s indefinite leadership.

“It’s hard to expect this communist China to change,” Doong told The Epoch Times. “China has spared no efforts to infiltrate other democratic countries to obtain whatever information they want while spreading their propaganda,” he said, calling the warning from Biden “very important.”

“It hits straight at the core nature of Xi’s Chinese Communist Party,” he said. “Chairman Xi Jinping wants to concentrate power in his hands forever, so to prevent any other political party or country to affect this, he will tighten control over domestic information and become more active in infiltrating other countries.”

During his speech, Biden mentioned China and Russia and how Washington sees them as growing threats to the United States.

On top of that, Biden highlighted China’s military threats, referring to Chinese leader Xi Jinping as “deadly earnest about becoming the most powerful military force in the world.”

Recently, there have been two separate reports based on satellite images showing China’s nuclear build-up. In 2020, the Pentagon estimated that China maintained “an operational nuclear warhead stockpile in the low-200s.”

On July 26, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) issued a report, pointing out China was building a new field of about 110 missile silos near Hami, a city in the eastern parts of China’s far-western Xinjiang region.

Weeks earlier, California-based James Martin Center revealed that China was building about 120 new silos near its northwestern desert city of Yumen.

“The silo construction at Yumen and Hami constitutes the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever,” the FAS report stated.

“Although significant, even such an expansion would still not give China near-parity with the nuclear stockpiles of Russia and the United States, each of whom operate nuclear warhead stockpiles close to 4,000 warheads,” according to the FAS report.

Several Republican lawmakers have since voiced concerns about China’s new missile bases.

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said China’s nuclear build-up was intended to “threaten the United States and our allies,” according to a statement.

“The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is not a responsible actor and cannot be trusted,” he added. “The rapid expansion of its nuclear arsenal and refusal to negotiate in good faith on arms control is a blatant violation of Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.”

In a recent video posted by a Chinese authority on social media, the regime threatened to nuke Japan if the country decides to defend Taiwan in the face of Chinese aggression against the self-ruled island.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, also issued a statement, saying that the United States must “rapidly modernize” its nuclear infrastructure.

“We have known that China has been undergoing a crash nuclear build-up for some time and now it has been laid bare for all the world to see,” Rogers said.

Luo Ya and Eva Fu contributed to this report. 

Frank Fang
Frank Fang
journalist
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers news in China and Taiwan. He holds a Master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.