China denies US claims military uses two Beijing hotels as bases for cyber attacks

Ministry of National Defence says it does not back hacking activities and calls reports by US media ‘groundless’ and ‘an attempt to smear China’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 January, 2017, 8:21pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 January, 2017, 10:43pm

Beijing has denied United States media reports that its military is using two hotels in the Chinese capital as the bases for launching cyber attacks.

In a short statement released on Friday, the Ministry of National Defence said the reports were groundless and “an attempt to smear China”.

“The Chinese military has not supported any hacking activities,” the statement said. “The Chinese government has been consistent in cracking down on the criminal activities of cyber attacks in accordance with the law. The US should not make groundless claims against China.”

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It added that the US should give an explanation to China and the international community about Prism, the name of a surveillance programme that involves the US National Security Agency collecting internet communications from at least nine major US internet companies.

US media, including The Washington Times, reported on Wednesday that two Beijing hotels owned or connected to the People’s Liberation Army were the headquarters of Chinese military hacking units.

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The report said electronic and information warfare were among China’s most secret operations, and the location of the headquarters at the hotels appeared to be following the strategic dictum of hiding in plain sight.

Concerns over cyber security have been a flashpoint of confrontation between China and the US.

Last July, a Chinese businessman, Su Bin, who pleaded guilty to hacking sensitive US military information, was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

Su was charged with taking part in a years-long scheme by Chinese military officers to hack into the computer networks of aircraft manufacturer Boeing and other major US defence contractors.

In September 2015, the two nations reached an agreement pledging that they would not condone hacking to steal commercial secrets.