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Amid China Row, U.S. to Help Firms Guard Trade Secrets

WASHINGTON - Amid rising concern over alleged cyber crime originating from China, the White House will unveil a new plan Wednesday to help US firms thwart the theft of billions of dollars in trade secrets.

The strategy will be made public a day after a report by American Internet security firm Mandiant said that a Chinese military cyberspying unit was targeting US and other foreign firms and organizations with hacking attacks.

White House, Washington, D.C.

White House officials said the strategy would combat a rising trend in which the competitive advantage of US firms is threatened by the theft of sensitive information, which they said could put American jobs at risk.

"The strategy that we are releasing today coordinates and improves US government efforts to protect the innovation that drives the American economy and supports jobs in the United States," a White House official said.

"This strategy is not focused on any one country, nor is it focused on cybersecurity exclusively, though cyber does play an important role in the strategy."

The strategy will be rolled out at 2000 GMT at an event in the Eisenhower Old Executive Office Building in the White House complex.

On Tuesday, the White House said it was constantly bringing up allegations of cyberspying with China at the highest levels, including with the military.

China has denied charges of state-sponsored hacking and said Mandiant's claims had "no factual basis."

A defense ministry spokesman also said there was no clear internationally agreed definition for what constitutes a cyberattack.

The White House event on Wednesday will be attended by US Attorney General Eric Holder and Victoria Espinel, the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

The latest cyber security scare has seen firms, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, report attacks believed to emanate from China, and comes amid mounting concern over hacking as a military threat.

The latest classified National Intelligence Estimate identified China as the country most aggressively seeking to penetrate the computer systems of US businesses and institutions, the Washington Post reported this month.

The document, according to the Post, identifies energy, finance, information technology, aerospace and automotive companies as the most frequent targets of cyberattacks.

Outside experts have estimated the damage to the US economy in the tens of billions of dollars, the paper said.

Last October US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sounded the alarm about the growing threat of Internet attacks, warning of a "cyber-Pearl Harbor" and saying the military had amended rules of engagement to defend the country.

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