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.”

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