Former US secretary of state and potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton accused China on Saturday of stealing commercial secrets and “huge amounts of government information,” and of trying to “hack into everything that doesn’t move in America.”
Clinton’s language on China appeared to be far stronger than that usually used by US President Barack Obama’s administration.
Speaking at a campaign event in New Hampshire, Clinton said she wanted to see China’s peaceful rise.
“But we also have to be fully vigilant, China’s military is growing very quickly, they’re establishing military installations that again threaten countries we have treaties with, like the Philippines, because they are building on contested property,” Clinton said. “They’re also trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America. Stealing commercial secrets ... from defense contractors, stealing huge amounts of government information, all looking for an advantage.”
Clinton is the front-runner to win the Democratic nomination for the US presidential election in November next year.
Asked about the remarks, a White House official declined to comment.
In the most recent case involving suspicions of Chinese hacking, Obama administration officials have said China is the top suspect in the massive hacking of a US government agency that compromised the personnel records of at least 4.2 million current and former government workers.
China has denied hacking into the computers of the US Office of Personnel Management.
Clinton also addressed the current talks over Iran’s nuclear program and had strong words for Tehran.
Even if a deal is reached with Iran, Tehran’s “aggressiveness will not end” and it will remain a principal state sponsor of terrorism, she said.
Clinton said she hoped that “a strong verifiable deal” would be reached at talks in Vienna between world powers and Iran.
“[Even with an agreement] they will continue to be the principal state sponsor of terrorism. They will continue to destabilize governments in the region and beyond. They will continue to use their proxies like Hezbollah and they will continue to be an existential threat to Israel,” she said.
The US, other world powers and Iran have set a deadline for tomorrow to reach a deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy, she said.
The US has to be “much smarter” about how it deals with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions, she said at the event.
Putin’s moves to expand Russia’s boundaries, such as the annexation of Crimea last year, pose a challenge for the US, but she touted her experience as the countries top diplomat.
She said that because of NATO members’ agreement to protect fellow members, had Ukraine been a member of NATO when Crimea was annexed, “that would have caused us to have to respond.”
“I’ve dealt with him. I know him. He’s not an easy man ... but I don’t think there is any substitute other than constant engagement,” she said of Putin.
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