The indictment on Monday was the first criminal hacking charge the
U.S. has filed against specific foreign officials, and follows a
rise in public criticism and private confrontation between the
world's two biggest economies over cyber espionage.
As a first response, China suspended a Sino-U.S. working group on
cyber issues. In an editorial, the Global Times, an influential
tabloid run by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of China's
Communist Party, said this was the "right move, but we should take
"We should encourage organizations and individuals whose rights have
been infringed to stand up and sue Washington," the newspaper said.
"Regarding the issue of network security, the U.S. is such a mincing
rascal that we must stop developing any illusions about it."
The Chinese-language version of the Global Times called the United
States a "high-level hooligan".
Washington's legal approach against China is "high-handed and
hypocritical," the People's Daily said, citing media reports that
the U.S. National Security Administration (NSA) spied on Brazilian
President Dilma Rousseff.
"Suspending the operations of a bilateral group on cyber affairs is
a reasonable start, but more countermeasures should be prepared in
case Washington obstinately sticks to the wrong track," state news
agency Xinhua said in a commentary on Tuesday. "Otherwise, it should
take full responsibility for the consequences of the farce that
features itself as a robber playing cop."
On Wednesday, a senior Chinese internet security official cancelled
an appearance at an American Chamber of Commerce event where he had
been due to speak on "the current global deficit of trust on
cybersecurity". An organizer, who declined to be named, said Du
Yuejin backed out of the event in Beijing "due to the sensitivity of
the political environment, in particular related to the U.S.
In an editorial, the official English-language China Daily newspaper
said the U.S. indictment was "ill-advised, if not downright stupid."
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The cyber spying charges are likely to further sour ties between
China and the United States, already under strain from a range of
issues, including human rights, trade disputes and China's growing
military assertiveness in contested seas.
But, despite the colorful rhetoric, they are unlikely to permanently
undermine a deeply entrenched relationship, said Duncan Clark,
chairman of Beijing-based tech advisory BDA.
"Bringing it into the public eye, as the FBI has done with these
posters, will affect the theatre in the U.S. and China for the way
in which we look at these relations," he told Reuters, referring to
the "Wanted" posters of the five Chinese charged.
"But cyber attacks are only one element in a much broader economic
relationship between the two countries. I think it would be unlikely
that this one case would completely unravel over a decade of
(China's) WTO membership and a very deeply entrenched relationship
between the two countries."
While China is unlikely to hand over the five officers charged, the
indictment would prevent them from travelling to the U.S. or any
country with an extradition agreement with the United States.
(Additional reporting by Megha Rajagopalan and Maxim Duncan; Editing
by Ian Geoghegan)
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