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China rejects US claims of 'cyber attacks'

By Chen Weihua in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-11 02:07

China rejects US claims of 'cyber attacks'

A customer buys a mobile phone at a Huawei store in Yichang, Hubei province. Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of Huawei Technologies Co, defended the Chinese company in the face of US cyber security claims on Thursday. Liu Fengjun / for China Daily 

The war of words over cyber attacks escalated this week with an official Chinese newspaper branding the US "the real hacking empire", two days after the Pentagon explicitly accused China of spying on the computer networks of US companies and government agencies.

The US Defense Department on Monday issued a report entitled 2013 Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China. Annual Pentagon reports on Chinese military development have been mandated by Congress since 2000.

On Wednesday, the People's Daily published a commentary which said the United States, by promoting the notion of a Chinese military threat, was trying to "sow discord" between China and neighboring countries in an effort to "contain China and profit from it".

"As we all know, the United States is the real 'hacking empire' and has an extensive espionage network," the newspaper said.

It accused the US of operating an extensive espionage network that targets both adversaries and allies, and it said the nation's intelligence gathering extends across political, military, scientific, technological and business fields.

The commentary described the large US investment in cyber-warfare capabilities and said the country has a 50,000-member "cyber army".

"To establish military hegemony on the Internet by repeatedly smearing other countries is a dangerous and wrong path to take and will ultimately end up in shooting themselves in the foot," the paper said.

In Beijing, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman on Tuesday described the US defense report — issued the same day — as "irresponsible" and "groundless".

Also on Wednesday, the People's Liberation Army Daily ridiculed the Pentagon report as "sloppy work" that was based on "sheer speculation by netizens chatting on Chinese military websites".

It accused the US of "trumpeting China's military threat to promote its domestic interest groups and arms dealers", adding that it expects "US arms manufacturers are gearing up to start counting their money".

Washington has issued stern public rebukes over alleged Chinese cyber attacks since a report by the private Internet security-software provider Mandiant Corp was released in February. The company accused China's government of sponsoring a secret military unit in Shanghai that had repeatedly breached the networks of over 100 Western — mostly US — businesses, and stole data from them.

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