Chinese government has hit back at the allegations of carrying a major cyber-attack against tech giant Microsoft labelling the claims “groundless” and demanding the US drops charges, while complaining that China itself has been a victim of cyber attacks from the US.
Calling the claims “unwarranted”, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson has said on Tuesday that the allegations are “smear and suppression with political motives”.
“The United States ganged up with its allies to make unwarranted accusations against Chinese cybersecurity,” said the spokesman, Zhao Lijian at a regular press briefing in Beijing. “This was made up out of thin air and confused right and wrong. It is purely a smear and suppression with political motives. China will never accept this.”
Mr Zhao also accused the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of carrying out hacking attacks on China’s aerospace research facilities, oil industry, internet companies and government agencies over an 11-year period, stating that these were the findings of Chinese cybersecurity research.
He said the attacks by the US “severely compromised” national and economic security of China.
“China once again strongly demands that the United States and its allies stop cyber theft and attacks against China, stop throwing mud at China on cybersecurity issues and withdraw the so-called prosecution,” he said. “China will take necessary measures to firmly safeguard China’s cybersecurity and interests.”
The series of defensive statements from China comes after the statements from US authorities on Monday where the officials said the Chinese government-affiliated hackers targeted American and other victims in a cyber attack with demands for millions of dollars. The White House said it reserved the right to take additional action against China over its cyber activities.
US President Joe Biden told reporters that the Chinese government may not have been carrying out the attacks themselves, but were “ protecting those who are doing it. And maybe even accommodating them being able to do it.”
Also, on Monday, the US Department of Justice has also announced criminal charges against four Chinese nationals accused of being hackers who the prosecutors said worked with the MSS to target computers at companies, universities and government entities, as part of a long-term campaign targeting foreign governments and entities in key sectors in a least a dozen countries. They are accused of targeting trade secrets, scientific technologies and infectious-disease research.
The British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, on Monday called that “a reckless but familiar pattern of behavior.”
Microsoft Corp also blamed Chinese spies for the Microsoft Exchange attack that compromised tens of thousands of computers around the world.
The Microsoft hack affected at least 30,000 organisations globally where the MSS system powers the email chain.
Additional reporting by agencies