The Chinese defense ministry said nothing; the foreign ministry, meanwhile, said, “We have explicit laws and regulations in this regard…Hacking is a global issue and China is frequently a victim.”
Readers know that I am relatively sanguine about the rise of China. At the same time, however, stories like this give me pause, because if the PLA is free to do what it wants, then all bets are off. If the civilian ministries are useful only to provide convenient cover for the PLA — such as the aforementioned foreign ministry statement — then it is impossible to plot China’s trajectory, particularly in the event of a crisis.
It also means that if the US and its partners in the region are to avoid a hegemonic war with China, it will depend on not sending signals to the PLA that reinforce its paranoid world view; in short, forestalling crises at all costs.
For better or worse, the US, Japan, and others in the region are partners with civilians in the CCP in managing China’s rise.