China has challenged U.S.-led allegations that Beijing was at the heart of a wave of global cyber attacks including an offensive against a Microsoft email application that has affected tens of thousands of organizations.
Diplomats across the EU, the UK, Canada, Norway and New Zealand released statements Tuesday that dismissed the allegations as “unfounded” and a “malicious streak”.
“China urges Canada to abandon its Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice…. Stop political manipulation on relevant issues, and stop unprovoked attacks and deliberate slander against China,” he said. Embassy of Beijing in Ottawa.
Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s foreign minister, insisted that the claims of a small number of countries do not represent the international community and called on the United States to stage its own cyber attacks against China. their country.
“China will take the necessary measures to firmly protect its cyber security and interests,” he said.
Beijing’s strong response has followed a rare coordinated effort by the United States, NATO, the EU, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan. Western allies accused China of collaborating with criminal cyber gangs and compromising global security, including an attack on Microsoft’s Exchange application that allowed hackers to access a wide range of e-mail systems. of public and private sector organizations.
The United States has also said that the Beijing State Security Ministry oversaw a major campaign to infiltrate foreign companies, universities and government organizations for much of the 2010s.
The Global Times, a state-backed tabloid, has accused U.S.-based hackers of long-standing and repeated cyber attacks on Chinese companies, research institutes and departments of the Communist Party. The nationalist newspaper alleged that a US-based group called “A” launched the brute force attacks called last October in an attempt to gain remote access to the servers of Chinese groups, including Chinese companies. of steel and car engines.
“All major countries suffer every now and then from cyber attacks and in this regard China has been harmed much more than the US,” he wrote in an editorial.
“The US is forcibly creating a new geopolitical zone by transforming an Internet dispute into a major one,” tightening allies to frame China as a sinister player, he added.
The coordinated effort followed a joint approach separate from the United States, the United Kingdom, the EU and Canada in March to impose sanctions against Chinese officials for the mass internment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. Beijing has retaliated with its own sanctions and the resulting diplomatic sputum has led to a freeze on EU-China market access negotiations.
Fergus Hanson, director of the International Center for Cybernetics Policy at the Australian Institute of Strategic Policy, a think-tank, said the multilateral approach was “more difficult to contrast” for China.
“Beijing wants to keep the bilateral issue, where it can appeal to, or punish, individual countries,” he said.
Accusations about China’s alleged cyber activities have come amid intensifying diplomatic hostility between the world’s two largest economies.
Washington and Beijing have not held top-level meetings since March, when negotiations in Alaska between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign policy official, ended sharply.
Beijing this month declined to grant Wendy Sherman, the U.S. deputy director of state, a meeting with its counterpart in China when it visits Asia this week. China had previously rejected requests for Lloyd Austin, the U.S. secretary of defense, to meet with General Xu Qiliang, China’s top military officer.
The latest confrontation between the United States and China has also emerged as Joe Biden seeks to intensify engagement after months of pursuing a tougher stance against the policies of Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.
Despite those openings, however, the Biden administration continued to exert pressure on Beijing’s repression in Hong Kong and policies that eroded the promised freedoms at the financial center after the transfer from the UK to China in 1997.
More information from Xinning Liu in Beijing
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