BEIJING – Washington is playing the victim of cyber-espionage when in fact it is the world’s top intelligence power, a Chinese state-run newspaper said Wednesday in a sharply-worded editorial.
“Regarding the issue of network security, the US is such a mincing rascal that we must stop developing any illusions about it,” wrote the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party.
On Monday, a US grand jury indicted five Chinese military officers on charges they broke into US computers to benefit Chinese state-owned companies, in the first-ever prosecution by Washington of state actors over cyber-espionage.
Beijing responded furiously on Tuesday, summoning US ambassador Max Baucus and accusing Washington of double standards.
Authorities also banned the use of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system on all new government computers and suspended activities of a bilateral cyber working group.
The Global Times, which often takes a nationalistic stance, said that Washington’s “pretentious accusation against Chinese army officers is ridiculous” given that the US National Security Agency itself has engaged in widespread cyber-spying through its PRISM program.
“Interpol should have ordered the arrest of designers and implementers of the PRISM program but they did not,” the paper wrote. “Therefore the US is acting so shameless by posting photos of the five Chinese army officers.”
US prosecutors said the five indicted officers belonged to Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army.
A report last year by US security firm Mandiant said the unit had thousands of workers operating from a nondescript, 12-story building on the outskirts of Shanghai to pilfer intellectual property and government secrets.
Beijing has denied the accusations, and the Global Times on Wednesday called them “beyond our imagination”.
“It’s fresh to us that Chinese military and civil companies have such a close relationship,” the paper said.