Wed, May 21, 2014 - Page 1 News List

China accuses US of hypocrisy as hacking row grows

AFP, BEIJING

Beijing summoned the US ambassador and accused Washington of double standards yesterday as a diplomatic row escalated over the unprecedented indictment of five Chinese military officers for cyberespionage.

The world’s top two economies have long been at loggerheads over hacking and the Chinese Ministry of National Defense denounced Washington’s allegations as “a pure fabrication by the US, a move to mislead the public based on ulterior motives.”

“From ‘WikiLeaks’ to the ‘Snowden’ case, US hypocrisy and double standards regarding the issue of cybersecurity have long been abundantly clear,” the ministry said in a statement on its Web site.

China also summoned US Ambassador to China Max Baucus to lodge a “solemn representation” over the indictment, suspended cooperation with the US on cybersecurity issues and banned the use of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system on all new government computers.

Beijing’s furious response came a day after the US charged five members of a shadowy Chinese military unit with allegedly hacking of US companies for trade secrets.

In the first-ever prosecution of state actors over cyberespionage, a federal grand jury indicted the five on charges they broke into US computers to benefit Chinese state-owned companies, leading to job losses in the US in the steel, solar and other industries.

Cyberspying has long been a major sticking point in relations, but Washington’s move marked a major escalation in the dispute.

Analysts said the US was unlikely to be able to put the men on trial, but the indictments were an attempt to apply public pressure on China over the issue.

US prosecutors said the five officers belonged to Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army.

A report last year by US security firm Mandiant said the unit had thousands of workers operating from a nondescript, 12-story building on the outskirts of Shanghai to pilfer intellectual property and government secrets.

The grand jury indicted each of the five on 31 counts, which each carry up to 15 years in prison.

US Attorney General Eric Holder called on China to hand over the men for trial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and said the US would use “all the means that are available to us” should it refuse.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the US indictment as “absurd” and suspended the activities of a bilateral cyber working group.

Beijing has in the past accused the US of hypocrisy on cyberspying.

“It is the US who has launched cybersurveillance and wire-tapping against individuals, companies and institutions of many countries around the world. China is a victim of this,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) said yesterday.

Leaks by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have alleged widespread US snooping in China, including on telecom Huawei — which has itself been the object of security allegations.

Xinhua news agency cited data from an official Chinese network center as showing that from mid-March to the middle of this month, “a total of 2,077 Trojan horse networks or botnet servers in the US directly controlled 1.18 million host computers in China.”

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