BEIJING (AP) — Hacking that originates inside China is undermining its relationship with the United States and harms Beijing's long-term interests, a U.S. diplomat said Tuesday, in the latest high-level public expression of concern over a problem that has prompted threats of commercial retaliation from Washington.
The U.S. believes cyber intrusions originating from China that result in the theft of sensitive information have reached very high levels, adding to existing problems with the lack of protection for intellectual property rights, said Robert Hormats, the U.S. undersecretary of state for economic growth.
He urged China to take firm action against hacking and said Chinese officials need to question whether such activity "serves China's real interests" as it seeks to upgrade its economy, the world's second largest.
"The long-term interest of the Chinese government is to investigate and halt these cyber intrusions wherever in this country they come from," Hormats said. "The U.S. government is taking an active role in addressing this issue and we continue to raise our concerns with senior Chinese officials."
Hormats' comments in an address to an Internet industry conference in Beijing follow a forensically detailed report by Internet security company Mandiant that accused a Chinese military unit of carrying out a yearslong hacking attack against U.S. companies.
China's government and military deny carrying out cyberattacks. A senior Chinese official attending the conference repeated Beijing's contention that Beijing was itself a victim of hacking.
"Our opposition to all forms of hacking is clear and consistent," said Qian Xiaoqian, a vice minister and deputy director of the State Internet Information Office.
"Lately people have been cooking up a theory of a Chinese Internet threat, which is just an extension of the old 'China threat' and just as groundless," Qian said.