China and Russia were looking to develop rules of conduct that would guide the use of information technology to protect state secrets and personal privacy, a Russian state news agency reported yesterday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a joint statement that the two countries would seek to defend the "information space" together, Itar-Tass reported. "The sides are concerned over use of IT technologies running counter to tasks of maintaining international stability and security in detriment to state sovereignty and inviolability of private life," the agency said.
The news came a day after the US Justice Department charged five members of the People's Liberation Army with hacking the computer systems of major US companies involved in nuclear energy, steel manufacturing and solar energy.
Chinese authorities have denied the allegations, with ministries denouncing what they said were "groundless" criminal charges. They attacked the US in press statements for the country's massive collection of online and telecommunications information revealed by the documents that were collected by former US government contractor Edward Snowden.
The Chinese foreign ministry said the US move was based on "deliberately fabricated facts" and "grossly violates basic norms governing international relations and jeopardises China-US cooperation and mutual trust".
On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that other cases related to China were being prepared by US authorities. The paper also said that people believed to be hackers in Russia were expected to be charged soon, citing unnamed sources who were familiar with the government's investigations.
A 2011 report by the US Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive directly named China and Russia as growing threats to the nation's prosperity and security because of massive cyberespionage. "China and Russia view themselves as strategic competitors of the United States and are the most aggressive collectors of US economic information and technology," the report said.
"We judge that the governments of China and Russia will remain aggressive and capable collectors … particularly in cyberspace."
China's assistant foreign minister, Zheng Zeguang , told Max Baucus, US ambassador to the country, yesterday that it might "take further action on the so-called charges" depending on how the situation developed.