SHANGHAI — China has issued a new call for international “rules and cooperation” on Internet espionage issues, while insisting that accusations of Chinese government involvement in recent hacking attacks were part of an international smear campaign.
The remarks, by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, were China’s highest-level response yet to intensifying reports that the Chinese military may be engaging in cyberespionage.
“Anyone who tries to fabricate or piece together a sensational story to serve a political motive will not be able to blacken the name of others nor whitewash themselves,” he said.
Speaking to the news media on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress on Saturday, Mr. Yang said that the reports were “built on shaky ground” and that cyberspace should not be turned into a battlefield.
Beijing has stepped up its response to the attacks in recent weeks, saying that China is often the victim of such attacks. Although security experts have found evidence that many of the most aggressive attacks can be traced back to Internet addresses inside China, the Chinese military recently said that attacks on its own computers were linked to Internet addresses in the United States.
Many experts on the issue acknowledge that it is difficult to pinpoint the origins of attacks. However, some experts in the United States and Canada say there is more and more evidence that the attacks on Western governments and multinational companies are coming from China and that the data that is being retrieved seems to involve issues of concern to the Chinese government.
American intelligence officials have also said privately that they have evidence of Chinese government involvement in the attacks, and the White House is expected to press Beijing on the issue.
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