China planting cyberattacks against countries denying its claim on South China Sea

Hong Kong: China is trying to rule South Asian Sea but the countries neighbouring it are not allowing Chinese projects in answer to which China is repeatedly employing cyber attacks on such countries.

Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a meeting with South Asian countries leaders. Beijing would never seek hegemony nor take advantage of its size to bully smaller countries and work with them to eliminate “interference,” Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and Laos complained of cyber-attacks by hackers from China.

The development has taken place at a time when the gulf between China and ASEAN countries are increasing, according to the report in Hong Kong Post.

“Whatever layer of trust was there between the two sides has eroded. Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam are already fighting a battle for sovereignty over the South China Sea with their backs to the wall,” the report read.

On November 22, China held a leader-level summit with ASEAN and promised to remain a good neighbour and good friend of the Southeast Asian countries. Just a week after such a heart-warming speech by President Xi Jinping, Beijing told Indonesia to stop drilling for oil and natural gas in the Natuna Sea that Jakarta claims belongs to it.

While claiming the entire South China Sea as its own, China is developing artificial islands and military outposts in the waters backed up by Coast Guard and so-called maritime militia, the report noted.

As per the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, as many as 300 vessels from China’s maritime militia, patrol the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea at any one time.

Maritime militia, supported by the Chinese government in terms of getting subsidized fuel, free vessel construction and repairs, are engaged in surveillance and also in creating obstacles in the way of foreign military activity.

Amidst this, Chinese hackers, who, according to Insikt Group, could be state-sponsored, have been targeting government and private-sector organizations across Southeast Asia, including those closely involved with Beijing on infrastructure development projects.

However, this is not the first time when Chinese hackers have targeted private or government institutions across the Southeast Asian nations.

“These developments have led the Southeast Asian countries to sit and ponder over their security.

Should they strive for China’s alternative or put all their eggs in one basket? To their disappointment, China has repeatedly employed cyberattacks to damage their interests and most often these attacks have been employed against them because of their claims on the South China Sea or their inability to give Chinese projects green signals in their respective countries even if they are controversial,” the report read.

“Ironically, the chasm between Southeast Asian countries and China is widening at the time when Beijing’ economy has started shrinking, the population has started graying and domestic debts have ballooned to nearly 300 per cent of GDP,” the report added.