Chinese Official Accuses Nations of Hacking

Chinese Official Accuses Nations of Hacking
Chinese Official Accuses Nations of Hacking 

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
September 13, 2007

BEIJING, Sept. 12 -- A senior Chinese official has accused foreign 
intelligence agencies of causing "massive and shocking" damage to China 
by hacking into computers to ferret out political, military and 
scientific secrets.

The charge was made by Vice Information Industry Minister Lou Qinjian in 
a Communist Party magazine and appeared designed as a response to recent 
reports that Chinese hackers had infiltrated high-security computers at 
the Pentagon, the British Foreign Office and the German chancellor's 
headquarters, among other targets.

Lou, writing in the September issue of the Chinese Cadres Tribune, did 
not specifically name the countries carrying out what he described as 
"external espionage activities against our core, vital departments." But 
he said 80 percent of the computers used to hack into other systems are 
based in the United States.

His comments were interpreted as a reflection of authorities' 
frustrations with the recent reports of Chinese hacking. The monthly 
magazine is published by the Central Party School, a Communist Party 
training facility for up-and-coming officials.

Surprisingly, Lou said the electronic espionage against China has met 
with success. It therefore needs to addressed by President Hu Jintao's 
government, he added, with additional investment in computer security 
and perhaps formation of a unified information security bureau.

"In recent years, party, government and military organs and national 
defense scientific research units have had many major cases of loss, 
theft and leakage of secrets," he said, "and the damage to national 
interests has been massive and shocking."

When the reports about Chinese hacking surfaced early this month, the 
Chinese Foreign Ministry roundly denied them, saying China would never 
resort to such tactics. Foreign specialists recalled at the time, 
however, that the People's Liberation Army is believed to have an active 
information warfare program -- as do most advanced militaries -- as part 
of its effort to gain the ability to protect its own computer systems 
and disable those of adversaries.

The hacking recently alleged in Washington, London and Berlin -- and now 
Beijing -- was described as something different, an attempt to burrow 
into government computers to gain secrets. As such, it appeared to fall 
more clearly into the domain of espionage.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, asked late last month whether she had 
brought up the issue during talks here with Chinese leaders, said, "We 
must together respect a set of game rules." Premier Wen Jiabao, with 
whom Merkel had just met, said hacking is a problem faced by all 
countries and should be combated jointly.

Striking a different tone, Lou said China should also consider the 
Internet in a larger sense as a threat to its security. He said the 
United States and other Western countries use advanced technology "to 
create an information hegemony" and relay unfavorable news from China, 
raising the risk of social instability.

These countries "have made the Internet a very important channel to 
infiltrate our politics, strengthening the delivery of Western democracy 
and values," he added. "More and more frequently, they organize writers 
to create bad information, exaggerating things that are inharmonious 
with our development and raise the specter of the China threat on the 
international scene."

As examples, he listed foreign-based Web sites built by the Falun Gong, 
a spiritual movement banned as a harmful sect in China. More than 1,000 
"negative reports" about the 2008 Beijing Olympics have been detected on 
those and other sites, he said.

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