“China’s military strategists view our dependence on space assets and information technology as ‘soft ribs’ and a strategic weakness,” Coleman told the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission.
“This action also made our offensive cyber capabilities ineffective against them, given the cyber weapons were designed to be used against Linux, UNIX and Windows,” he said.
Coleman said he recently planned to meet Chinese counterparts involved in electronic research, including the co-author of the alarming book, “Unrestricted Warfare” in which co-author Wang Xiangsui advocated all methods, including terrorism, to win future conflicts. However, China’s government blocked the meeting, due to their concerns about him.
Coleman also said the meeting was cancelled amid reports of Chinese scanning of the U.S. power grid and the discovery of a Chinese cyber spying network in 103 countries.
“It is my belief that this threat is real and we must take a proactive posture on acts of cyber aggression and espionage,” he said. “For over two decades, China has been attempting to do what the Soviet Union never accomplished — covertly acquire Western technology, then use it to move ahead of the West.”
Coleman said cyber spying is a serious and evolving threat “that requires immediate attention.” One academic study concluded that sophisticated computer attacks have been "devastatingly effective" and that "few organizations, outside the defense and intelligence sector, could withstand such an attack," he said.
Coleman also noted that the U.S. government has been unable to determine when a cyber attack constitutes an act of war.