China rejects economic espionage accusations from USA, allies

China rejects economic espionage accusations from USA, allies

The US justice department has indicted two Chinese men accused of hacking into the computer networks of companies and government agencies in Western countries.

Victims included Nasa's Goddard Space Centre and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Energy Department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and companies involved in aviation, space and satellite technology, finance, electronics, healthcare, oil and gas exploration, according to court documents.

In addition, the defendants are alleged to have "comprised more than 40 computers in order to steal confidential data from the U.S. Navy, "including the personally identifiable information of more than 100,000 Navy personnel".

The Justice Department said that through the "technology theft campaign" that reached into companies and organizations in several USA states, APT10 "stole hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data" from a "diverse array" of industries, from space and satellite technology to pharmaceuticals.

"China's goal, simply put, is to replace the the world's leading superpower, and they're using illegal methods to get there", FBI Director Christopher Wray told reporters.

In October, U.S. prosecutors charged two Chinese intelligence officers and their recruited hackers with conspiracy to hack private companies' computer networks in the United States and overseas for more than five years.

"More than 90 percent of cases involving alleged economic espionage involve China", Rosenstein said, as do two-thirds of investigations involving theft of intellectual property.

"The allegation itself will give rise to some suspicion, at least, among the worldwide public, that these hacking activities are actually supported by the Chinese state", he said.

China is New Zealand's largest trading partner.

Major global IT service providers, including Hewlett Packard, SAP and IBM, are believed to have been targeted by Chinese government-linked hackers, allowing them access to sensitive information held by their clients.

We urge the USA to "stop smearing the Chinese side on cyber security issues", China's foreign ministry said in statement, adding that it had lodged an official protest.

In November, Australian shipbuilder Austal Ltd, which makes ships for the US Navy, said its Australian business had detected and responded to a data breach in which some staff email addresses and mobile phone numbers were accessed. It is also inconsistent with G20 commitments that no country should conduct or support ICT enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information.

"Despite these indictments, prosecutions are unlikely given that the hackers are Chinese residents and extraditions are a rarity", Wright said.

Another news agency went as far as to point out that the U.S. has hacked China in the past, and the Chinese government is only now finding out the extent of those hacks. "And in some cases, we even know which individual people are doing it in association with the Chinese government". Because of the global nature of the attack, the Post says that United States and "more than a dozen" allies are expected to condemn China for ongoing attempts to steal trade secrets and compromise various government agencies.

The ministry emphasized that the Chinese government had never been engaged in theft of commercial data.

"We urge these countries to respect the facts and stop deliberately defamation of China so as not to damage their bilateral relations and cooperation in important areas with China", she said.

Officials said they had been raising the activities of ATP 10 with the Chinese government for the past two years, including during Theresa May's visit to Beijing in February. "That is why we are taking this action now", one official said.

The US and United Kingdom have accused China of violating an agreement relating to commercial espionage.

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