It's just a smear campaign, say mainland experts

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 August, 2010, 12:00am

Mainland experts yesterday dismissed the Pentagon's accusation that the PLA army has used companies, research institutes and computer hacking to gather sensitive information and technology, saying it was just a smear campaign and an attempt to play up fears of the emerging power.

The Pentagon claimed that '[China] utilises a large, well-organised network of enterprises, defence factories and affiliated research institutes and computer network operations' to collect sensitive information and technology. 'These entities are not necessarily nor always linked to PRC intelligence and security services,' it said.

Xu Guangyu, a senior researcher of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association in Beijing, said China was not alone in doing this and that the Pentagon was making a mountain out of a molehill.

'Embassies around the world have spared no effort to collect intelligence for their countries. This is part of their missions,' Xu said. 'The rule of the game is: if you have enough evidence to prove these companies or institutes are stealing information and technology from you, you can charge them through the due legal process.'

Xinhua quoted Hu Qiheng, president of the official China Internet Association, as saying: 'I did not hear about China's development in computer network defence and attack projects, nor a well-organised internet attack system. It's groundless to accuse China of involvement in other countries' internet hacking incidents.

'The US aims at smearing China's [international] image as well as exaggerating the China threat.'

Shi Yihong, a Beijing-based Sino-US expert, said the report was 'aimed at building up the image of a militarily threatening China. I cannot say for sure if the accusations are all based on facts or not, but surely it would harm China's international image'.

Shi said the report would not harm the operation of companies that have military connections overseas, such as Huawei Technologies. 'For Huawei and other similar companies, they have been closely watched for many years,' Shi said.

Xinhua said allegations that the PLA had used hacking and cyber-attacks to steal information from other governments' computer systems were groundless.

Xinhua said it was just an excuse for the Pentagon to get more resources for its own cyberwar force.

'It's not true that the US is facing cyber-threats from China ... China is facing increasingly serious threats from the US over the internet,' it said, citing the example of the establishment of the US Cyber Command by Defence Secretary Dr Robert Gates last June.