The United States on Monday charged five Chinese military officers and accused them of hacking into American nuclear, metal and solar companies to steal trade secrets, ratcheting up tensions between the two world powers over cyber espionage.
China immediately denied the charges, saying in a strongly worded Foreign Ministry statement the U.S. grand jury indictment was “made up” and would damage trust between the two nations.
Officials in Washington have argued for years that cyber espionage is a top national security concern. The indictment was the first criminal hacking charge that the United States has filed against specific foreign officials, and follows a steady increase in public criticism and private confrontation, including at a summit last year between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“When a foreign nation uses military or intelligence resources and tools against an American executive or corporation to obtain trade secrets or sensitive business information for the benefit of its state-owned companies, we must say, ‘Enough is enough,'” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference.