US indicts Chinese hackers over attacks in 12 countries

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In October, the USA government charged Chinese intelligence officers with stealing information on a turbo fan engine used in commercial jetliners.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the defendants "gave China's intelligence service access to sensitive business information".

"It is unacceptable that we continue to uncover cybercrime committed by China against other nations", he said.

"This activity is counter to the commitment all APEC economies, including China, made in November 2016", said New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). "China will find it hard to pretend that it is not responsible for these actions".

U.S. ally Britain also joined the charge, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt saying Beijing continued to hack computer systems for commercial and economic motives.

"These activities must stop", he said in a statement. They are accused of stealing intellectual property and other data from dozens of companies in various countries.

The hollowing out of Chinese technology companies gathers pace.

Prosecutors charged Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong in hacking attacks against the US Navy, the space agency NASA and the Energy Department and dozens of companies.

A public company registry says that Huaying Haitai's work includes the development of computer software, consulting and business related to a variety of technical equipment.

She also accused United States of indulging in cyber espionage against China and other countries.

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"China's goal, simply put, is to replace the U.S.as the world's leading superpower and they're using illegal methods to get there", FBI Director Chris Wray said at a news conference. Such a move is a serious violation of the basic norms of worldwide relations and will seriously damage Sino-US cooperation.

"The Chinese government has never participated in or supported anyone in stealing trade secrets in any way", Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) said. An indictment alleges that over a 12-year period APT10 "conducted extensive campaigns of global intrusions into computer systems".

The hackers are part of a group called APT10 that attacked managed IT service providers to obtain intellectual property and trade secrets from across the world.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying asked the USA to withdraw the accusations "as soon as possible" and not to prosecute suspected Chinese hackers, Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, who have been linked to China's Ministry of State Security, Efe news reported.

This is the latest salvo in Washington's attempt to pressure Beijing on a range of issues, with economic espionage one of the most high-profile.

But, he added: "If one goal of today's indictment is to underline how serious the U.S. government is about addressing Chinese state-sponsored commercial cybertheft, that objective is strengthened considerably by USA allies' remarkably unified statements condemning China's behaviour".

Similar breaches of Rio Tinto's systems at the height of the mining boom reportedly cost the company more than $1 billion in lost revenue as Chinese buyers used insider knowledge to squeeze down prices.

And, according to reports, United States officials believe Chinese government-linked hackers were behind the theft of data on some 500 million guests of hotel giant Marriott, first reported on November 30. The attacks began as early as 2017.

"For a long time, it has always been an open secret for the relevant departments of the United States to conduct large-scale and organised network theft and monitoring of the activities of foreign governments, enterprises and individuals", she said.

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