US eyes visa restrictions on Chinese for Defcon hacker conference after filing charges against PLA officers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 May, 2014, 5:26am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 May, 2014, 9:15am

The United States is considering using visa restrictions to prevent Chinese hackers from attending the popular Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas, as part of a broad effort to curb Chinese cyberespionage, a senior US official said yesterday.

Washington could use such visa restrictions and other measures to maintain pressure on China after the United States last week filed criminal charges against five Chinese military officers accused of hacking into US nuclear, metals and solar power companies to steal trade secrets.

China has denied the charges, saying the indictment was "made up" and would damage trust between the two nations.

US officials are weighing a range of options if China does not begin to acknowledge and curb its corporate cyberespionage.

"We've tried to have a constructive dialogue. The State Department and the Defence Department have travelled to China to share evidence of hacking by the [People's Liberation Army], but those types of interchanges have not sparked a lot of progress or reciprocity," said the official.

Monday's indictment was the first criminal hacking charge that the United States has filed against specific foreign officials, and follows a steady increase in public criticism and private confrontation, including at a summit last year between US President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping .

The Wall Street Journal reported late on Friday that US options could include releasing additional evidence about how the hackers conducted their alleged operations, and imposing other business and financial restrictions on those indicted or people or organisations associated with them.