The People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, will start running digital war games to test its technology and cyberwarfare capabilities for the first time, according to a report by China's official news agency Xinhua. The announcement comes at an interesting time, as U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet later this week to discuss allegations of hacking and digital espionage.
The report says the cyber war games will take place in late June at a training base in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the largest military training field in China. The war games will include “digitalized units, special operations forces, army aviation and electronic counter forces” from eight military academies and the 38th and 68th combined corps of the Beijing Military Area Command.
Obama and Xi will meet Friday and Saturday in California for the first time since Xi took office in March, and many expect that cybersecurity will be one of most-discussed issues. Last month, a new Pentagon report officially blamed numerous cyberattacks on U.S. computer systems on hackers working for China’s PLA. Recently, Chinese hackers gained access to major U.S. weapon systems, including that of the Navy’s new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet. China has denied official involvement with the hackers.
The U.S. has also taken steps to develop its cyberwarfare capabilities and define how the military can respond to a cyberattack. The Pentagon is currently finishing up a new set of rules for cyberwarfare, and the Defense Department plans to create 13 teams capable of offensive cyberattacks.