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When cyber wars become shooting wars

President Joe Biden’s July 27 warning about a “shooting war” arising from cyberattacks underscores the fraught state of US-Chinese strategic relations.

“I think it’s more likely we’re going to end up – well, if we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power, it’s going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence,” Biden said during a speech at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “And it’s increasing exponentially – the capabilities.”

Significantly, the remarks were made available in a text circulated by the White House press office, not a spontaneous outburst by the president.

The United States and its allies last week denounced China for complicity in attacks on the Microsoft Exchange email server, and China responded by accusing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of hacking Chinese systems.