Very sharp, detailed critique of the famous Mandiant report on alleged PLA cyber spying over here. The takeaway is that the Mandiant analysis is based on the old Iraq WMD stovepiping technique, in which the evidence is shaped to fit the conjecture of PLA led hacking to the exclusion of anything else.
As the author says, it’s pretty obvious that China does engage in ‘cyberespionage’, ie it spies using the latest available technical means, as does every other country with the capability (*cough* Stuxnet *cough*). But I think a lot of Chinese hacking is just another example of China exporting its internal chaos : a lot of the perpetrators having a similar profile to the Black PR operatives in the post below – people in the milieu with the skills, awareness and moral flexibility to obtain and trade in information commodities. In a highly wired, brutally competitive and massively trust-deficient society it’s actually faintly ridiculous to assign the phenomena of hacking as a whole to Dr Evil of the PLA and his army of cyberminions.
Then again, Mandiant work for the New York Times among many other clients, and perhaps is responsive to the self-regard of its custiomers. It wouldn’t do for the NYT or major corporates to be hacked by some grubby little bastards: nothing less will do than the PLA itself.