WorldChina Rebuts Espionage Charges, Says US Runs Libel Campaign for "Political Reasons"

China Rebuts Espionage Charges, Says US Runs Libel Campaign for “Political Reasons”

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China on Tuesday categorically denied accusations by the United States and its allies, which blame it for a major global cyber-attack campaign. Mutual censorship has reopened a new front of friction in bilateral relations, already burdened by bitter differences on issues such as trade war, technological rivalry and the human rights of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang and places like Hong Kong and Taiwan.

At his daily press conference on Tuesday, the day after the allegations from Washington and allied capitals, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian described the allegations as “unfounded” and accused the United States of launching a smear campaign against Beijing for “political reasons”.

If of all allies — New Zealand, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, EU, NATO — the United States was the toughest in criticizing Beijing, China responded in the same way. Zhao, considered the emblematic representative of the most aggressive new current in Chinese diplomacy known as the “warrior wolves”, alluded to Washington’s record in espionage and cyber attacks on other countries.

“Bleeding the reputation of others doesn’t whiten yours,” the spokesman said. “The United States is the leading country in the world as a source of cyber attacks.” The diplomatic representative insisted that the Western denunciations constitute a “campaign of defamation and pressure totally motivated by political reasons”.

The line of accusations against the United States is also adopted by several Chinese embassies in countries participating in the allegations. Without mentioning the rival, other than as a “certain nation”, the Beijing legation in Brussels accuses the US of having spied for years on other states, including friendly countries, while “bragging to be the guardians of cybersecurity, trying to manipulate and pressure its partners to form small circles of exclusion and defame and attack other countries repeatedly on cybersecurity issues. This kind of practice reveals their double standards and hypocrisy.”

Washington accuses the Ministry of State Security — the Chinese secret services — of having collaborated with hackers dedicated to breaking into computer systems to carry out attacks on them and asking for a ransom to recover them. The White House referred to a “pattern of irresponsible behavior” on the part of Beijing, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to “irresponsible, destructive and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace” on the part of China.

So far, despite harsh words from both sides, the clash has gone no further. Unlike other occasions in the past, when conflicts arose as a result of allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong —among others—, neither party has made any move, at least for now, to impose sanctions against which the other side would respond with equal or greater hardness.

The Department of Justice in Washington accused four alleged Chinese hackers, including three “agents of the Ministry of State Security”, of having penetrated the computer systems of companies, government agencies and universities to obtain data stored there or using advanced technologies. This stolen information, says the Department of Justice, focuses especially on genetic sequencing technologies, electric vehicles and chemical formulas. A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the hackers also encrypted data to demand multimillion ransoms to decrypt it.

The cyber piracy charges against China are not new. Washington has denounced for years that Beijing is behind a series of cyber attacks against US federal agencies and companies, something the Xi Jinping administration has always flatly denied. As early as 2015, the Barack Obama Administration blamed China-backed hackers for breaking into the computer systems of the US Office of Personnel Management, the human resources arm of the US Government, in an operation to which its perpetrators had access. to personal data of federal employees up to 20 years ago.

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