(Adds official cancelling speaking event, expert comment)
By Sui-Lee Wee
BEIJING May 21 Chinese state media labelled the
United States a "mincing rascal" and "high-level hooligan" on
Wednesday in response to Washington charging five Chinese
military officers with hacking U.S. companies to steal trade
The indictment on Monday was the first criminal hacking
charge the U.S. has filed against specific foreign officials,
and follows a rise in public criticism and private confrontation
between the world's two biggest economies over cyber espionage.
As a first response, China suspended a Sino-U.S. working
group on cyber issues. In an editorial, the Global Times, an
influential tabloid run by the People's Daily, the official
newspaper of China's Communist Party, said this was the "right
move, but we should take further actions."
"We should encourage organizations and individuals whose
rights have been infringed to stand up and sue Washington," the
newspaper said. "Regarding the issue of network security, the
U.S. is such a mincing rascal that we must stop developing any
illusions about it."
The Chinese-language version of the Global Times called the
United States a "high-level hooligan".
Washington's legal approach against China is "high-handed
and hypocritical," the People's Daily said, citing media reports
that the U.S. National Security Administration (NSA) spied on
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
"Suspending the operations of a bilateral group on cyber
affairs is a reasonable start, but more countermeasures should
be prepared in case Washington obstinately sticks to the wrong
track," state news agency Xinhua said in a commentary on
Tuesday. "Otherwise, it should take full responsibility for the
consequences of the farce that features itself as a robber
On Wednesday, a senior Chinese internet security official
cancelled an appearance at an American Chamber of Commerce event
where he had been due to speak on "the current global deficit of
trust on cybersecurity". An organiser, who declined to be named,
said Du Yuejin backed out of the event in Beijing "due to the
sensitivity of the political environment, in particular related
to the U.S. indictment."
In an editorial, the official English-language China Daily
newspaper said the U.S. indictment was "ill-advised, if not
The cyber spying charges are likely to further sour ties
between China and the United States, already under strain from a
range of issues, including human rights, trade disputes and
China's growing military assertiveness in contested seas.
But, despite the colourful rhetoric, they are unlikely to
permanently undermine a deeply entrenched relationship, said
Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing-based tech advisory BDA.
"Bringing it into the public eye, as the FBI has done with
these posters, will affect the theatre in the U.S. and China for
the way in which we look at these relations," he told Reuters,
referring to the "Wanted" posters of the five Chinese charged.
"But cyber attacks are only one element in a much broader
economic relationship between the two countries. I think it
would be unlikely that this one case would completely unravel
over a decade of (China's) WTO membership and a very deeply
entrenched relationship between the two countries."
While China is unlikely to hand over the five officers
charged, the indictment would prevent them from travelling to
the U.S. or any country with an extradition agreement with the
(Additional reporting by Megha Rajagopalan and Maxim Duncan;
Editing by Ian Geoghegan)