China says hacking claims unproven, irresponsible and asks for more trust
China responded Friday to allegations it was involved in a hacking attack on U.S. government computers by saying such claims are unproven and irresponsible, and that it wishes the United States would trust it more.
Beijing generally does not explicitly deny specific hacking accusations, but seeks to dismiss them as unproven and irresponsible, while invariably noting that China is itself the target of hacking attacks and calling for greater international cooperation in combating hacking.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news briefing Friday that Beijing hopes the U.S. would be “less suspicious and stop making any unverified allegations, but show more trust and participate more in cooperation.”
“We know that hacker attacks are conducted anonymously, across nations, and that it is hard to track the source,” Hong said. “It’s irresponsible and unscientific to make conjectural, trumped-up allegations without deep investigation.”
Cybersecurity analysts who study hacking attacks believed to originate in China have cited evidence suggesting they are statesponsored rather than independent actions, including that they seem to be highly organized teams that focus on the same kinds of targets, sometimes for years, and tend to work regular hours excluding weekends.
Some Chinese expressed skepticism that Beijing was responsible for the attack on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department computers, made public Thursday. They note that even if an attack originated in China, it may not have been sanctioned by the government — and indeed could have been launched by antigovernment provocateurs.
Even if the attack were state- sanctioned, some said, Beijing would be doing nothing more devious than America’s National Security Agency, whose vast, secret data collection efforts at home and abroad were exposed by Edward Snowden.
“Just don’t pretend America is the only victim, America also victimizes others,” said Shen Dingli, the director of Fudan University’s Center for American Studies in Shanghai. “The U.S. government will target the Chinese government. If they happen to see the information of a few million Chinese government workers, would they not download it? I think they would.”
He said that rather than publicizing unproven allegations, Washington should have taken a more Chinese approach and quietly contacted Beijing to find a joint solution. “It is important not to publicize it, but to find a way to investigate together,” he said. “China may do its utmost to clear itself.”