(Above: one of the trillions of images of Chinese dragons flooding the intertubes in order to slow it down, a scheme devised by the awfully clever and cunning Chinese government. Please be advised that this site - since it has a Chinese dragon in it - is clearly part of the Chinese government's plan to destroy the intertubes and make the world full of servile vassals singing The East is Red out of tune. Now read on).
We don't normally bother to read Greg Sheridan, there being enjoyable loons and then just straight out uncomfortable loonacy, but he deserves a special mention for his Red China, the Communists are coming hysteria in Cyber warfare a real-time threat.
It seems the Chinese state, especially the People's Liberation Army, has in recent years embarked on a huge cyber assault on Western targets, including Australia. Why, the intertubes has been reduced to a crawl, and netizens are being tracked on a daily basis and freedom of speech is no longer viable, and Australians can no longer visit their favorite porn sites in safety.
Oh wait, that's Stephen Conroy at work.
The targets are both military and commercial, and the ambition is both to obtain secret information and to gain the ability, in the event of conflict, to sabotage or even disable key Western computer systems. There is also a considerable effort to infiltrate the computer systems that run Western Western infrastructure. The Chinese have identified the West's use of information as a key social and military strength, but they also see it as a key vulnerability.
Sources suggest the Chinese effort is led by the PLA and involves tens of thousands of people.
Mmmm, sources suggest. Well, just who stands in the way of this massive horde of Chinese geeks, these devouring fiends consuming everything digital in their way, like slanty eyed grasshoppers on a field of sweet Caucasian wheat?
Australian defence and intelligence agencies, especially the Defence Signals Directorate and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, devote huge resources to countering this effort and ensuring that key Australian systems are secure.
Oh well played brave lads. A subtle cut past point, and then a hoiking of these awful Orientals over midwicket for six.
Who are these brave lads? Mmm, the same bunch of loons who've just been involved in the Fitzgibbon affair. Cynics might think this is just a huge amount of flim flam, let loose in the stratosphere like aluminium chafe.
But no, you'd be a mug, falling for the devious Chinese, who have developed elaborate mechanisms to disguise the origins of their cyber mis-deeds. Fortunately our brave lads have been up the task of defeating the odious oriental dragon: Australian counter-efforts have been successful at establishing that the majority of the cyber attacks are Chinese in origin.
Of course, the Chinese are not the only players in this field. The Russians are also active and some of their efforts are highly sophisticated, but they are not remotely on the scale of China.
Wait a second: the brave lads have only been successful in establishing the source of the cyber attacks? They've done bugger all to actually stop them, or turn them back on the Mongolian horde, the Han invaders, like a reverse cycle of cyber abuse? That's why the intertubes is a festering sore of slow speeds and inefficiencies?
But of course we already knew the cunning swine the Ruskis are also involved, and likely responsible for everything wrong in the virtual world. It was the Russian mob that forced ACMA and Conroy to put an innocent Queensland dentist on their blacklist, some kind of cashew or caching or peanut problem, so we know the Russians are fiends. Not only supplying porn but weakening our very moral fibre, with the likely aim of stealing our precious bodily fluids.
And what's Sheridan's source for this hysteria, apart from "sources suggesting." Well there are deeply concerned "defence analysts", who know that the Chinese have developed a huge "asymmetric" war effort, with an aggressive array of offensive capabilities.
Both Washington and Canberra are deeply aware of the Chinese effort and devote massive resources to countering it. However, they are staggered by the huge, industrial scale of the Chinese cyber warfare effort.
Massive, I tells ya, staggering it is. Huge. Maybe even hugest. Aye Jim lad when those Chinese pirates be swaggering aboard ye computer, best be up the mizzen mast with ye.
Worst of all, our brave lads are fighting with one hand tied behind their backs, always playing defence but never offence in this area, like some kind of New England Patriots outfit with a dud quarter back.
When confronted with any effort to expose the Chinese cyber espionage effort, Beijing blandly denies it. The cunning Fu Manchu fiends. Its regular apologists explain it away as the work of freelance hackers in China. If the US or allied governments were discovered doing the same to Chinese systems, the diplomatic consequences would likely be much more serious.
But it's not just those things deep in our security system, and our brave lads personning their computers at huge digital peril, and our vast interactive, interoperable computerised defence fortifications that are at risk. No it's western corporations, targeted both for strategic commercial information they possess and for specific technologies the Chinese seek to acquire.
No, you don't say. The Chinese actually rip off technology, might even pirate software, have no respect for IP. Revelation brothers and sisters, what an insight into their diabolical plot hatching.
But quick tell Rupert immediately. I have no doubt he will immediately stop all News Ltd. commercial activity in China, and return its business safely to the western digital redoubt, away from these cunning merchants of doom.
Although China is more diverse and liberal than it used to be, such information is ultimately centralised and added to the national Chinese effort, both commercially and strategically. There is no similar Western effort.
That's the way it's always been. They're like ants, I tells ya, ants, and there's billions of them, and they all work together, like some kind of mysterious swarm which has spent too long watching the X-Files. We don't know how to match this cunning bee hive think tank mentality. Our very individualism, our joyous separateness makes us vulnerable to the body snatchers who've drifted down from space, or the north, or wherever to infest our bodily fluids with vegetable thinking.
The need for cyber security against predominantly Chinese assaults will drive a great deal of technical effort within the relevant Australian agencies for a long time to come.
Quick. Give more money, heaps more manpower to the poor possums in the Defence Signals Directorate, whom we last heard were whiling away their hours spying on the Defence Minister. Clearly he's in the grip of the Chinese.
Geeks, head to Canberra. Stop Whirlpooling away, the task at hand is clear, and its a monstrous, momentous one - the taking down of the hordes of Chinese super geeks who threaten our daily existence in ways that Senator Conroy will surely emulate once he can somehow manage to clone them.
Meantime, Sheridan hands down wins the over active use of silly adjectives and egg beater of the week story. Well actually he should share it with his unnamed sources, but never no mind, we'll give it him, all on his own.
But what if Sheridan is right? Quick, run to your bed right now. Look under it. Can you see a Chinese spy with a small, cunningly contrived computer? You can? Hell they're here already ... or wait a second, is that a lickspittle lackey of Senator Conroy checking to see you haven't accessed the black list?
Now quick do a ping on your computerised internet thingy communicating device. Better still open it up. See that miniaturised Chinese person? Ha, you hadn't realized just how advanced they'd become. An incredible shrinking Chinese person in every home. We're doomed, I tells ya.
Meanwhile, over at the Daily Terror Joe Hildebrand was running a light-hearted take on the hysteria in Are you A Chinese Spy? Take our exclusive quiz. I went to access it, and this is what I got:
Database Error: Unable to connect to your database. Your database appears to be turned off or the database connection settings in your config file are not correct. Please contact your hosting provider if the problem persists.
Eek. The fiendish Chinese are already in the heart of News Ltd. We're all doomed.
Phew. Went back and checked a little later, and now it's working. A quick set of answers to his quiz proves conclusively that we're all Chinese spies, and that Greg Sheridan has been turned and might well be our fearless leader, though the cell structure the fiendish Chinese have devised makes this a little uncertain. But some of my comrades think that red under the bed hysteria is actually a clever way for the real Chinese work at hand - flooding the country with two dollar stores, thereby ruining our retail and manufacturing base - to pass unnoticed.
Meanwhile over at The Australian Dennis Shanahan contributes a sober assessment of the recent debate over China under the header Coalition trashes its China legacy.
Ah now I get it. Greg Sheridan has been turned and is a mole for the Labor party, whipping up fears of China to make the Liberals look silly.
Shanahan looks askance at the recent Liberal positioning on China and their tactics on hunting Fitzgibbon as the 'wildebeest of the week':
But that's no excuse to trash years of responsible bipartisan policy on relations with China.
Yes, China is difficult to deal with, but we have no choice but to deal with it, and appealing to the lowest common demoninator of old fears is no substitute for policy.
What on earth does he make of LCD Sheridan?