BEIJING – China summoned US ambassador Max Baucus over Washington’s indictment of five Chinese military officers it says were involved in cyber-espionage, state media said Tuesday.
Chinese assistant foreign minister Zheng Zeguang lodged a “solemn representation” with Baucus on Monday night, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the foreign ministry.
The protest from Beijing came after a federal grand jury on Monday indicted five members of Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army on charges they broke into US computers to benefit Chinese state-owned companies.
It is the first-ever prosecution of state actors over cyber-espionage.
The hacking led to US job losses in the steel, solar and other industries, US officials say.
Beijing has in the past accused the US of hypocrisy on the grounds that Washington conducts sweeping surveillance around the world.
China’s foreign ministry earlier rejected the US indictment as “absurd” and suspended the activities of a bilateral cyber working group announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry when he visited Beijing last month.
Also Tuesday, Xinhua cited a spokesperson for China’s State Internet Information Office as calling the US the biggest attacker of Chinese cyberspace.
It cited data from an official Chinese network centre as showing that from mid-March to mid-May, “a total of 2,077 Trojan horse networks or botnet servers in the US directly controlled 1.18 million host computers in China”.
The network centre also said that during the same period, computers or IP addresses based in the US had carried out some 57,000 “backdoor” attacks and 14,000 “phishing” attempts, which typically involve emails whose origin is disguised in an effort to obtain login information.
“China has repeatedly asked the US to stop, but it never makes any statement on its wiretaps, nor does it desist, not to mention make apology to the Chinese people,” Xinhua said.