BEIJING (AP) – China on Tuesday rejected an accusation by Washington and its Western allies that Beijing is guilty of a hack of the Microsoft Exchange email system and complained that Chinese entities are the victims of harmful cyberattacks by the United States.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman demanded that Washington drop the charges announced Monday against four Chinese nationals accused of working with the State Security Ministry to try to steal trade secrets, technology and disease research from the United States.
The announcement that the Biden administration and European allies formally blame hackers linked to the Chinese government for the ransomware attacks increased pressure on long-standing complaints against Beijing, but did not include sanctions.
“The United States joined its allies in making unwarranted accusations against Chinese cybersecurity,” said the spokesman, Zhao Lijian. “This was made out of thin air and confused good and evil. It is purely politically motivated defamation and repression. “
“China will never accept this,” Zhao said, although he gave no indication of possible retaliation.
China is a leader in cyberwar investigation alongside the United States and Russia, but Beijing denies allegations that Chinese hackers steal technology and trade secrets. Security experts say the military and security ministry also sponsors hackers outside the government.
On Monday, US authorities said government-affiliated hackers targeted Americans and other victims with million-dollar lawsuits. Officials alleged that the hired hackers associated with the MSS participated in extortion and robbery schemes for their own gain.
Microsoft Corp. blamed Chinese spies for the attack on Microsoft Exchange that compromised tens of thousands of computers around the world. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Monday that it is “a reckless but familiar pattern of behavior.”
Also on Monday, the Justice Department announced charges against four Chinese nationals who prosecutors say worked with the MSS to attack computers in companies, universities and government entities. The defendants are charged with targeting trade secrets, scientific technologies and infectious disease research.
“China firmly opposes and fights any form of cyberattacks, and will not encourage, support or tolerate any cyberattacks,” Zhao said.
Citing what he said was a Chinese cybersecurity investigation, Zhao accused the United States Central Intelligence Agency of carrying out hacking attacks against aerospace research facilities, the oil industry, Internet companies, and government agencies in China. China over a period of 11 years.
Those attacks “seriously compromised” national and economic security, Zhao said.
“China once again strongly demands that the United States and its allies stop theft and cyberattacks against China, stop throwing mud at China on cybersecurity issues and drop the so-called prosecution,” he said. “China will take the necessary measures to firmly safeguard China’s cybersecurity and interests.”
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