Whatever dodgy cyber activities the Chinese network security firm Hainan Xiandun is being accused of by the United States, it doesn’t concern you and me. For one thing, despite the big fuss being made by US prosecutors, the mainland firm has already been disbanded . NSO Group, an Israeli cybersecurity company at the cutting edge of network surveillance, has not been accused by Washington of anything. But the firm produces the kind of surveillance software that should worry everyone. Among products it has made and sold to governments and state agencies is a malware called Pegasus . It can infect any device that operates on an iOS or Android system to extract text, sound and visual contents as well as data and records. Washington wants you to know all about Hainan Xiandun, but not NSO. It has even marshalled the European Union to denounce the Chinese firm, which it claims was linked to the communist state. US, China trade hacking claims on new cyberspace rivalry front But EU officials such as Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, are much more alarmed by how the Israeli-made spyware has been used by some NSO clients. “Against any kind of rules we have in the European Union,” von der Leyen said. “Free press is one of the core values of the EU. It is completely unacceptable if this [hacking] were to be the case.” Why the outrage? An international group of investigative reporters has identified more than 1,000 victims from over 50 countries, from a list of some 50,000 infected phone numbers. Among them were the slain journalists Jamal Khashoggi, from Saudi Arabia, and the Mexican Cecilio Pineda Birto as well as Khashoggi’s fiancée. Others include opposition politicians such as India’s Rahul Gandhi, business executives, human and labour rights activists, and journalists from around the world. Whatever Hainan Xiandun did happened between 2011 and 2018. Its hacking methods were described as primitive, even by the standards of those years. NSO Group’s surveillance is cutting edge. If a private Israeli company can commercialise high-end spyware for governments on an industrial scale, you can be sure the US and Israel have the same or better capabilities. After all, NSO says it only sells to legitimate governments and state agencies. It so happens that Washington’s allegations of old crimes, whether real or trumped-up, come during its intensifying anti-China campaign, and just in time to distract the news cycle over NSO’s Pegasus. Convenient timing, indeed!