China summons US ambassador and military attaché over indictments

US ambassador and the military attache summoned as Beijing protests indictments of five PLA officials for hi-tech snooping

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 11:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 11:10am

China summoned the US ambassador to the country, Max Baucus, in protest after vehemently denying allegations by the United States of cyberespionage by military officials.

Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang told Baucus that China could "take further action on the so-called charges" depending on how the situation developed.

The defence ministry's Foreign Affairs Office also summoned the US' acting military attaché yesterday to protest.

Watch: US indicts five members of China military for hacking

A Xinhua commentary slammed the accusations against China, highlighting ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's revelations that the US spied on Chinese companies and calling the move "a typical case of a thief crying thief".

On Monday, the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against five officials from the People's Liberation Army, accusing them of hacking into computers of US companies involved in nuclear energy, steel manufacturing and solar energy. The unprecedented indictment marked the first time Washington had filed hacking charges against foreign officials. The White House emphasised cybersecurity was at the top of President Barack Obama's agenda.

China's foreign ministry said the move was based on "deliberately fabricated facts" and "grossly violates basic norms governing international relations and jeopardises China-US cooperation and mutual trust".

"The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cybertheft of trade secrets. The US accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded with ulterior motives," the statement said. China has suspended activities of the China-US Cyber Working Group.

The US accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded
China's foreign ministry

Geng Yansheng , a spokesman for the defence ministry, echoed those sentiments, saying in a statement that Chinese military computer terminals had suffered a large number of cyberattacks in recent years, many of which came from US internet protocol addresses.

"From 'Wikileaks' to 'the Snowden incident', the hypocrisy and double standards of the US side on this issue has long been obvious," the statement said.

In the Xinhua commentary, China urged the US to withdraw the charges and return to dialogue and cooperation.

"Otherwise, it should take full responsibility for the consequences of the farce that features itself as a robber playing cop."

Watch: How does a hacker hack?

Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse