NBC News reports that on Monday, China suddenly reversed course and barred cooperation with the U.S. on cybersecurity.
Only a month ago China had agreed to cooperate with the U.S., but when the U.S. Department of Justice charged five Chinese hackers in the Chinese military with cyberespionage on Monday, the Chinese government was furious. Its Foreign Ministry immediately fired back that the charges were “deliberately fabricated” and blasted the U.S. for its “large-scale and organized cyber theft” that violated international law.
The Chinese government said, “China has decided to suspend activities of the China-US Cyber Working Group,” which was the agreement reached in April to stop the arguing over allegations of each government hacking into the other.
Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said the Obama administration was “disappointed” and added that Secretary of State John Kerry still wanted to attend a July U.S.-China strategic and economic conference. She stated:
We regret, of course, the decision about the suspension of activities related to this Cyber Working Group, but we continue to believe that dialogue on these important issues is the best way forward. We expect the Chinese government to understand that today’s announcement relates to law enforcement.
She defended the U.S charges against the Chinese hackers, saying the charges were “consistent with the concerns we’ve candidly raised with the Chinese government on these issues.”
Interviewed by NBC News, FBI Director James Comey said, “for too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyberespionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries.”
The Chinese government’s view was diametrically opposed, as they accused the U.S. of hypocrisy and “insincerity.” They added that the Chinese, rather than the U.S., had been victimized, asserting:
Large amounts of publicly disclosed information show that relevant US institutions have been conducting cyber intrusion, wiretapping and surveillance activities against Chinese government departments, institutions, companies, universities and individuals. China has, on many occasions, made serious representations with the US side. We once again strongly urge the US side to make a clear explanation of what it has done and immediately stop such kind of activities.