The U.S. government has accused and indicted five Chinese officials of cyberspying and economic espionage, stealing private companies' trade secrets.
The Chinese government has retaliated and says that the current charges against the five Chinese military officials are fabricated. China has also warned the U.S. that the current issue may affect both countries' diplomatic as well as commercial relations.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times report, the U.S. government has indicated that it will not tolerate China's cyberspying on state and private companies.
"This administration will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market," says U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
However, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, pointed out that in fact the U.S. had hacked into a Chinese telecommunications provider's systems. The spokesman highlighted the ongoing debate regarding Edward Snowden, a contractor of the U.S. National Security Agency, who leaked classified data regarding the agency's operations related to telephone hacking.
"The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cybertheft of trade secrets," says Qin Gang. "The U.S. accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded and absurd."
Holder says the controversial NSA surveillance program was meant solely for the purpose of national security and it was not meant to give any U.S. company a competitive advantage over any Chinese company.
U.S. government officials suggest that the Chinese military officials spied on several organizations based in the United States to get a competitive advantage. The five indicted Chinese officials are said to have spied on companies such as Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies, the United Steelworkers union, U.S. Steel, Westinghouse Electric, and more.
Holder claims that the five Chinese military workers stole "sensitive, internal communications" and trade secrets of several U.S. companies that give Chinese companies valuable details regarding strategies and weaknesses of U.S. competitors who are engaged in legal battles and trade disputes with some Chinese firms.
The U.S. government issued a detailed indictment about the five Chinese military officials, which included their names, pictures and Internet handles as well as the building addresses of the accused in China. The U.S. does not expect the Chinese government to arrest the five alleged military officials identified as Wang Dong, Wen Xinyu, Sun Kailiang, Gu Chunhui and Huang Zhenyu.
The Chinese government has urged the U.S. government to drop the indictment on the five Chinese military officials.