China rejects hacking allegations and accuses USA of cyber espionage

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BEIJING (AP) – China on Tuesday denied allegations by Washington and its Western allies that Beijing was responsible for hacking the Microsoft Exchange email system and complained that Chinese companies were victims of harmful US cyberattacks.

A State Department spokesman urged Washington to drop charges announced Monday against four Chinese citizens alleged to have collaborated with the Department of State Security in an attempt to steal U.S. trade secrets, technology and disease research.

The announcement that the Biden government and European allies are officially blaming Chinese pro-government hackers for ransomware attacks increased pressure over long-running complaints against Beijing, but did not include sanctions.

“The United States has teamed up with its allies to make unjustified allegations against Chinese cybersecurity,” said spokesman Zhao Lijian. “It was made up out of nowhere and confused right and wrong. It is pure slander and oppression with political motives. “

“China will never accept this,” said Zhao, although he gave no indication of possible retaliation.

China, along with the United States and Russia, leads the way in cyberwar research, but Beijing denies allegations that Chinese hackers are stealing trade secrets and technology. Security experts say the military and the Department of Security also sponsor hackers outside of the government.

On Monday, US authorities announced that pro-government hackers had targeted American and other victims with claims for millions of dollars. Officials alleged that contract hackers associated with the MSS were involved in blackmail schemes and theft for their own profit.

Microsoft Corp. blamed Chinese spies for the Microsoft Exchange attack that compromised tens of thousands of computers around the world. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called this on Monday “a ruthless but familiar pattern of behavior”.

Also on Monday, the Justice Department announced charges against four Chinese nationals who prosecutors said had partnered with the MSS to attack computers in businesses, universities and government agencies. The defendants are charged with targeting trade secrets, scientific technology and infectious disease research.

“China firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyberattacks and will not encourage, support or condone cyberattacks,” said Zhao.

Citing Chinese cybersecurity research, Zhao charged the CIA with hacking attacks on China’s aerospace research facilities, the oil industry, internet companies and government agencies for 11 years.

These attacks “seriously threatened” national and economic security, Zhao said.

“China once again urges the United States and its allies to cease cyber theft and attacks against China, to stop pelting China on cybersecurity issues and to pull back on so-called law enforcement,” he said. “China will take the necessary measures to firmly protect China’s cybersecurity and interests.”

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