China Establishes New Military Cyber Unit to Strengthen Warfighting Capabilities

China establishes new military cyber unit, the Information Support Force, to strengthen its ability to win conflicts in the digital domain, underscoring its ambitions to build a modern, technologically advanced military.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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China Establishes New Military Cyber Unit to Strengthen Warfighting Capabilities

China Establishes New Military Cyber Unit to Strengthen Warfighting Capabilities

China has established a new military cyber unit called the Information Support Force (ISF) to strengthen its ability to win conflicts. The ISF is a revised version of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF), which was established in 2015 to deal with space, cyber, political, and electronic warfare.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who also heads the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), launched the ISF and stated that it is a new, strategic branch of the military and a key pillar in coordinating the construction and application of the network information system. Xi ordered the force to be loyal to the Communist Party and to integrate deeply into the Chinese military's joint operation system, carry out information support operations effectively, and accelerate the development of integrated combat capabilities.

The establishment of the ISF is part of Xi's efforts to revamp the Chinese military, which has included reducing its size and overhauling its command structures. The new cyber force represents a major strategic step to establish a new system of services and arms and improve China's modern military force structure.

The ISF replaces the previous Strategic Support Force, which was believed to have overseen cyber and space operations as part of China's military reforms in 2015. The move is part of China's efforts to strengthen its military in the lead-up to the 100th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army in 2027.

Why this matters: The establishment of the Information Support Force underscores China's ambitions to build a modern, technologically advanced, and world-class military. The focus on advanced and emerging technologies, including cyber capabilities, is a key priority for China as it seeks to strengthen its ability to win conflicts in the digital domain.

The restructuring aims to streamline the coordination and utilization of cyber information systems, highlighting the Communist Party's continued leadership over the military. Key leadership appointments have been made, including Li Wei as the political commissar and Bi Yi as the commander of the Information Support Force. This reorganization comes amid escalating cyber tensions between China and other global powers, particularly the United States, emphasizing the strategic importance of strengthening China's defensive and offensive capabilities in the cyber domain.

Key Takeaways

  • China establishes new military cyber unit, the Information Support Force (ISF).
  • ISF replaces the previous Strategic Support Force, part of military reforms.
  • ISF aims to strengthen China's ability to win conflicts in the digital domain.
  • Restructuring streamlines cyber systems, maintains Communist Party control over military.
  • Reorganization amid escalating cyber tensions, emphasizes strengthening defensive and offensive capabilities.