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China denies U.S. charge of cyber espionage

China's foreign ministry denounced cyber espionage charges leveled by the U.S. government against Chinese People's Liberation Army officers.

By JC Finley
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, pictured in 2013. (CC/Voice of America)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, pictured in 2013. (CC/Voice of America)

BEIJING, May 19 (UPI) -- China's foreign ministry responded Monday to charges leveled by the U.S. government that five named Chinese People's Liberation Army officers had engaged in cyber espionage.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang was quoted by the state-run Xinhua news agency as saying the accused "never engaged or participated" in cyber espionage and that the charges are "purely ungrounded and with ulterior purpose."

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Qin appealed to the U.S. "to make a clear explanation of what it has done and immediately stop such kind of activities."

In response to the allegations, the Chinese government also announced it had decided to suspend the China-U.S. Cyber Working Group "Given the lack of sincerity on the part of the U.S. to solve issues related to cyber security through dialogue and cooperation."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made public the grand jury charges against the Chinese nationals on Monday, commenting that the charges were the first filed against "known state actors for infiltrating U.S. commercial targets by cyber means."

Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui were named in the indictment as the alleged conspirators. They were all identified as officers in Unit 61398 of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

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According to the indictment, the accused were charged with hacking Westinghouse Electric, U.S. Steel, Alcoa Inc., Allegheny Technologies, SolarWorld, and the U.S. Steelworkers Union "to advantage state-owned companies and other interests in China, at the expense of businesses here in the United States."

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