China scorns U.S. cyber espionage charges

BEIJING Fri Nov 4, 2011 10:52am EDT

Analysts work in a watch and warning center of a cyber security defense lab at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho September 29, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Analysts work in a watch and warning center of a cyber security defense lab at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho September 29, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Friday dismissed a U.S. report on online spying as "irresponsible," rejecting the charge that China uses cyber espionage to steal lucrative U.S. trade and technology secrets.

The U.S. intelligence report said on Thursday China and Russia are using cyber espionage to steal U.S. trade and technology secrets to bolster their own economic development, which poses a threat to U.S. prosperity and security.

So much sensitive information sits on computer networks that foreign intruders can net massive amounts of valuable data with scant risk of detection, said the report to Congress.

Foreign intelligence services, corporations and individuals stepped up their efforts to steal information about U.S. technology that cost many millions of dollars to develop, according to the report by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, a U.S. government agency.

But the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei rejected the report, and repeated Beijing's long-standing position that it wants to help.

"Online attacks are notable for spanning national borders and being anonymous. Identifying the attackers without carrying out a comprehensive investigation and making inferences about the attackers is both unprofessional and irresponsible," Hong told a daily news briefing in answer to a question about the report.

"I hope the international community can abandon prejudice and work hard with China to maintain online security," he added.

The U.S. report acknowledged the difficulty of determining who exactly is behind a cyber attack. U.S. companies have reported intrusions into their computer networks that originated in China, but U.S. intelligence agencies cannot confirm who specifically is behind them.

Intelligence officials say it is part of the national policy of China and Russia to try to acquire sensitive technology for their own economic development, while the United States does not do economic espionage as part of its national policy.

The State Department in June said it had asked Beijing to investigate Google's allegation of a major hacking attack that the Internet giant said originated in China.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sugita Katyal)

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