The Obama administration has again accused the Chinese government of conducting cyber-attacks against U.S. government computer systems and defense contractors, but has yet to make public any hard evidence to that effect.
“In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military,” said the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress, which was thoroughly coordinated from the White House.
China has consistently denied the accusations. On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, said “we resolutely oppose all forms of hacker attacks. We’re willing to carry out an even-tempered and constructive dialogue with the U.S. on the issue of Internet security.”
“But we are firmly opposed to any groundless accusations and speculations, since they will only damage the cooperation efforts and atmosphere between the two sides to strengthen dialogue and cooperation,” she added.
Even as the President chastises Beijing for alleged cyber attacks, Washington is aggressively beefing up its own offensive cyber capabilities and waging its own cyber warfare.
The largest government-sponsored cyber attack to date came out of Washington; the Stuxnet virus aimed at Iran’s civilian nuclear facilities. The US government also routinely conducts cyber espionage, as international investigations have shown. And China apparently feels just as targeted as Washington claims to be.
“China is one of the world’s biggest victims of cyber attacks,” a Chinese news outlet reported in March.
“Major sources of the attacks include the United States, South Korea, Japan and India,” China Daily reported, citing a report released by Beijing Rising Information Technology Co.
The Obama administration’s bluster over the supposed Chinese cyber threat should not be viewed in isolation, but in the context of their explicit policy of military containment of China. The so-called Asia-Pivot consists of aggressively surging U.S. military presence and activities in the Asia-Pacific and bolstering China’s regional geo-political competitors.
The U.S.’s public relations campaign denouncing China for cyber-warfare is sure to help garner public support for aggressive U.S. policies toward China. But at the very least the accusations are baseless until evidence is put forth, and seem only to serve a political purpose, not a security purpose.