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Debunking Volt Typhoon: How U.S. intelligence fabricate disinformation against China



Editor's note: William Jones, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is the former Washington bureau chief for Executive Intelligence Review News Service and a non-resident fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Over the last year, much has been made in the U.S. Congress and the Western media about alleged Chinese cyberwarfare against the United States, which one official claims is meant to "cause disruption and sow societal panic."

While the FBI's notorious "China Initiative" which targeted ethnic Chinese scientists and professionals had been totally discredited as pure racial profiling, the FBI and the intelligence community had to come up with some other pretext to launch continued psywar against China. Given the inflamed environment on Capitol Hill around China, it is relatively easy these days to start a "wildfire" about Chinese cyberwarfare without the need to provide any evidence or factual material to that effect.

What then is "Volt Typhoon"? It is described as a malware that is attacking civilian infrastructure, electricity grids, transportation grids, and the like. While this is not the way cyber operations occur between countries' intelligence services, they have to describe it as "a new diabolical scheme by the Chinese government to destabilize the U.S."

China has reacted to this hue and cry with a serious investigation of the nature of this alleged Volt Typhoon. On July 8, China's National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) published a report indicating that Volt Typhoon was most likely a ransomware that was part of the criminal operations conducted by something known as Dark Power. They based this on material that had been pulled together by a U.S.-based cybersecurity firm, ThreatMon, which, in their initial report on the matter, had published the IP addresses of the source of the attacks, which corresponded with IP addresses used by Dark Power.

Once this was exposed, effectively debunking the myth of Chinese involvement, ThreatMon, no doubt pressured by the U.S. government, then tried to blacken out the references in the online material, but these could still be detected. So ThreatMon published a second report that eliminated these telltale IP addresses entirely. But the cat was out of the bag.

Further investigations by the CVERC indicated that the accusations against China were being used as a pretext to pass legislation to maintain unwarranted search capabilities for U.S. intelligence against American citizens, issued in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The FISA had come under some scrutiny by U.S. citizens, including former President Donald Trump, because of its blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which assures the right of Americans to be secure against "unreasonable searches and seizures." The legislation, which had been authorized for a limited period, was up for renewal, and the government didn't want any constitutional concerns to prevent it from being passed. An imminent and pervasive China "cyberthreat" was more than useful for this purpose.

Maintaining these warrantless "snooping powers" also assures that the U.S. can retain its cyber hegemony globally. The Volt Typhoon affair has also been coordinated through the Five Eyes intelligence consortium, which has been incorporated into the spy capabilities of the U.S., providing an "all-seeing eye" on the world population.

The seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seen outside of its headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 15, 2022. /CFP
The seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seen outside of its headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 15, 2022. /CFP

The seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seen outside of its headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 15, 2022. /CFP

The technological development of China, particularly in the area of telecommunications, has therefore been seen by the U.S. as a threat to that hegemony. Thus, the effort to cripple or penalize China in its efforts to move forward in this arena. This is also the reason that the U.S. has been doing everything to put Huawei out of business, albeit completely unsuccessfully.

The ironies of this "scare tactic" are really beyond imagination, especially coming from the only country that has clearly shown that it can resort to "causing disruption and societal panic" through the use of cyberwarfare if its self-styled role of "global hegemon" is being threatened or even questioned. This has been accomplished because the political processes outlined in the Constitution have been overridden by what former Central Intelligence Agency analyst, Ray McGovern, calls MICIMATT, which stands for a Military-Industrial-Congressional-Media-Academia-Think Tank.

Through the control and manipulation of these entities, the "military-industrial complex" hopes to maintain "thought control" over the U.S. population, but the obviously unsettled nature of the American electorate today indicates that this has not succeeded.

More importantly, the world is not prepared to accept some unilateral "overlord" that will dictate the shape of world governance, and the emergence of organizations like the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia show the emergence of institutions more attuned to the needs of the people than to the demands of some international Western oligarchy. In this development, China plays a key role, which has made it the target of these nefarious schemes.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on X, formerly Twitter, to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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