A U.S. report to Congress that suggests there is Chinese state support for internet network hacking activities is “full of Cold War mentality and political bias,” China's Foreign Ministry said Friday.
Hong Lei, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was responding to the annual report issued Wednesday by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressional advisory group established a decade ago.
“We urge the commission to stop this so-called interference in China's internal affairs and do more to improve Chinese-U.S. mutual trust and co-operation on the matter,” Lei said in a statement published on the Foreign Ministry's website in Chinese. As of Friday morning, it was not available on the English, French or Spanish versions of the site.
The commission's report concluded that China's government, the Chinese Communist Party, and Chinese individuals have been hacking into American and other computer systems, and that they are using more sophisticated techniques than in the past.
“The massive scale and the extensive intelligence and reconnaissance components of recent high-profile, China-based computer exploitations suggest that there continues to be some level of state support for these activities,” said Carolyn Bartholomew, vice-chair of the committee, in a statement at the time the report was released.
The report described a number of notable incidents including two that received wide media coverage:
- In January, Google's chief legal officer announced that its intellectual property had been stolen in a sophisticated attack originating in China. The attack was found to be part of a larger campaign targeting a wide range of businesses that became known as Operation Aurora.
- In April, Chinese state-controlled internet service provider China Telecom briefly hijacked U.S. internet traffic, affecting U.S. government sites that included the office of the secretary of defence and the Senate. For about 18 minutes, all traffic from about 15 per cent of destinations on the internet was routed through Chinese servers. While it was not clear if the incident was intentional, “the capability could enable severe malicious activities,” the report said.
Following the release of the commission's report, China Telecom denied “any hijack of internet traffic” in a statement emailed to the Reuters news wire service.
In addition to the section on “external implications of China's internet-related activities,” the report dealt with a range of economic, defence, foreign affairs, energy, environment and censorship issues in U.S.-China relations.