We were all very clearly already thinking it, but the U.S. Department of Defense has taken the administration’s stance to official-status with their annual report to Congress on Chinese military developments. Real talk, via the NYT:

The Obama administration on Monday explicitly accused China’s military of mounting attacks on American government computer systems and defense contractors, saying one motive could be to map “military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.”

While some recent estimates have more than 90 percent of cyberespionage in the United States originating in China, the accusations relayed in the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on Chinese military capabilities were remarkable in their directness. Until now the administration avoided directly accusing both the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army of using cyberweapons against the United States in a deliberate, government-developed strategy to steal intellectual property and gain strategic advantage. …

The report, released Monday, described China’s primary goal as stealing industrial technology, but said many intrusions also seemed aimed at obtaining insights into American policy makers’ thinking. It warned that the same information-gathering could easily be used for “building a picture of U.S. network defense networks, logistics, and related military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.”

Why choose the Pentagon’s annual report to take a clear-cut position around which the White House has long skirted? Unclear, although a senior level White House official mentioned that “this was a thoroughly coordinated report.” Whichever way it happens, of course, China isn’t going to like that. Any negative media reports are reliably met with petulant and self-righteous protestations from communist regime officials, and this report is getting the usual outrageous-outrage treatment from Chinese spokesmen:

The U.S. Defense Department had repeatedly “made irresponsible comments about China’s normal and justified defense build-up and hyped up the so-called China military threat,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

“This is not beneficial to U.S.-China mutual trust and cooperation,” Hua told reporters. “We are firmly opposed to this and have already made representations to the U.S. side.” …

On the accusations of hacking, Hua said: “We firmly oppose any groundless criticism and hype, because groundless hype and criticism will only harm bilateral efforts at cooperation and dialogue.”

Riiiight. The Pentagon report pointed out that China’s publicly announced defense spending has grown at an inflation-adjusted pace of almost ten percent annually over the past decade, but they suspect that the actual numbers are higher, and that espionage is one of the main factors fueling their military buildup.

The DoD has already been making major moves to address the growing cyber-security threats, but sounds like they finally think it’s time to call China out on their many deceptions.