Beijing calls US ‘arrogant’ after Chinese citizens accused of hacking, stealing trade secrets

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Posted

December 22, 2018 08:19:30

China has lashed out at the US, calling it “arrogant” and “selfish” after two Chinese citizens were charged with stealing American trade secrets and other sensitive information on behalf of Beijing’s main intelligence agency.

Key points:

  • The US and other countries have accused China of stealing trade secrets
  • Australia, Japan, UK and India are among the impacted countries
  • The allegations are likely change the public’s perception of China, an expert says

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday “the Chinese Government has never participated in or supported anyone in stealing trade secrets in any way”.

She accused the US of undermining the development of other countries in order to defend its own hegemony.

“The US is a world superpower and it’s quite arrogant and selfish,” she said during a press briefing.

The US Justice Department announced the indictment of Chinese nationals Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong on Thursday for allegedly carrying out an extensive cyberespionage campaign against government agencies and major corporations.

Besides the alleged US infiltration, the men are also accused of breaching computers linked to companies in at least 11 other countries, including Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and India.

The indictment claims the pair worked for the Huaying Haitai Science and Technology Development Company in Tianjin and acted in association with the Chinese Ministry of State Security’s bureau in the north-eastern port city.

A public company registry states that Huaying Haitai’s work includes the development of computer software, consulting and business related to a variety of technical equipment.

US says China responsible for most espionage cases

More than 90 per cent of Justice Department economic espionage cases over the past seven years have involved China, US Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein said, and more than two-thirds of trade secrets cases are connected to the country.

“China’s state-sponsored actors are the most active perpetrators of economic espionage,” FBI director Chris Wray said when announcing the case. “While we welcome fair competition, we cannot and will not tolerate illegal hacking, stealing or cheating.”

Ms Hua, hit back, saying: “They believe that a lie repeated a thousand times will become the truth, but I want to tell them that a lie is still a lie even after it has been repeated ten thousand times”.

In a written statement issued earlier on Friday, she said the US was “fabricating facts”.

The whereabouts of Mr Zhu and Mr Zhang are unclear. China does not have an extradition treaty with the US.

“There is some cooperation under the framework of Interpol, but if the Chinese Government doesn’t agree with the US charges, there is no way to extradite the accused,” Li Fangping, a Beijing-based criminal lawyer, said.

Mr Li said if Mr Zhu and Mr Zhang travel to other countries that have signed treaties with the US, they could be detained for possible extradition, as was the case with Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou’s recent arrest in Canada.

Among the cyberespionage manoeuvrers detailed in the indictment is the alleged use of a phishing technique, which sent emails that appeared to be coming from legitimate email addresses but were in fact from members of “Advanced Persistent Threat 10,” the China-based hacking group to which Mr Zhu and Mr Zhang purportedly belong.

James Gong, a cybersecurity senior associate at the Herbert Smith Freehills law firm in Beijing, said the mere announcement of charges was likely to affect public perception of China.

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

AP

Topics:

crime,

law-crime-and-justice,

hacking,

defence-and-national-security,

security-intelligence,

china,

united-states



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