News / USA

US Indicts Chinese Officials for Cyber Theft

US Charges Chinese Military Officers With Cyber Espionagei
X
May 20, 2014 3:10 AM
A grand jury in the United States on Monday indicted five members of the Chinese military on charges of cyber espionage against six American businesses. Analysts say the move sends a powerful signal to China that Washington has reached its limit. Natalie Liu has more from Washington.
Watch related video from Natalie Liu.
Luis Ramirez
The United States has filed charges against five Chinese military officials it accuses of stealing business secrets from American companies.

Obama administration officials say the criminal indictments - the first of their kind against foreign government officials - are meant to send a message that the U.S. wants China to stop stealing cyber secrets.

“We have consistently and candidly raised these concerns with the Chinese government, and today's announcement reflects our growing concerns that this behavior has continued,” said White House Spokesman Jay Carney.

The U.S. accuses officials of a unit of China's People's Liberation Army [Department 61398 in Shaghai] of stealing secrets from U.S. metals, nuclear and solar energy companies to give Chinese firms - including state-owned ones - a business advantage.

Announcing the indictments Monday, the top U.S. prosecutor, Attorney General Eric Holder, said the thefts have provided significant information to Chinese companies.

China responded quickly, saying it will suspend participation in a China-U.S. Internet working group. It called the cyber spying allegations absurd.

Carney said the U.S. will continue to engage with China, but he said Washington needed to send a message.

“We believe there are ample and important areas where we can and should be able to cooperate with China on issues related to cyber security. But it is also very important that the rules of the road are established,” he said.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States regrets the action taken.

"We regret China’s decision on the suspension of activities of the working group. We continue to believe that dialogue is an essential part of resolving these and other cyber security concerns," she said.

Carney said there is no comparison between China's stealing of business secrets for commercial gain and American intelligence gathering - which he said is done in the interest of U.S. national security, not money.

Industrial espionage

Six American companies, including United States Steel , Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies, Westinghouse Electric, SolarWorld, United Steel Workers Union were victims of Chinese hacking attacks, U.S. officials said. Also targeted were Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied-Industrial and Service Workers International Union.
 
Press materials are displayed on a table of the Justice Department in Washington, May 19, 2014, before Attorney General Eric Holder was to speak at a news conference.Press materials are displayed on a table of the Justice Department in Washington, May 19, 2014, before Attorney General Eric Holder was to speak at a news conference.
x
Press materials are displayed on a table of the Justice Department in Washington, May 19, 2014, before Attorney General Eric Holder was to speak at a news conference.
Press materials are displayed on a table of the Justice Department in Washington, May 19, 2014, before Attorney General Eric Holder was to speak at a news conference.
Underscoring that this was "a real threat to our economy and security," Holder said the Chinese hackers stole information that provides China's competitors with insight into the "strategy and vulnerabilities" of American companies in key industries.

"The alleged hacking appears to have been conducted for no reason other than to advantage state-owned companies and other interests in China, at the expense of businesses here in the United States," said Holder.

"Our economic security and our ability to compete fairly in the global marketplace are directly linked to our national security," he added. "When a foreign nation uses military or intelligence resources and tools against an American executive or corporation to obtain trade secrets or sensitive business information for the benefit of state-owned companies, we must say, enough is enough."

An American computer security company says the Shanghai unit at the heart of U.S. economic espionage allegations against Chinese military officers has been spying for years on companies around the world.

In a report earlier this year, Washington-based Mandiant said it found that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of workers at the People's Liberation Army unit have hacked into the computers at 141 companies in 20 major industries since 2006, mostly in English-speaking countries. Mandiant says the Chinese military stole secretive information about their business operations and passed it on to Chinese companies, including state-run enterprises.
 

Early fallout

China's foreign ministry denounced the charges as "fabricated" and said they would undermine trust between the two governments. In protest, Beijing said it is suspending the activities of a Sino-U.S. Internet working group.

Whether the five Chinese military officers ever stand trial in the U.S. is an open question.

Holder said the U.S. is hopeful that Beijing "will respect our criminal justice system" and allow the accused military officers to be brought to trial. "It is our hope to have these people stand before an American jury and face justice," he said.

The U.S. identified the five military officers as Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu and Gu Chunhui, all of whom face 31 charges, each of which each carries a 15-year prison term.

Wen Yunchao, a China Internet expert based in New York, told VOA's Mandarin service that he thinks the indictments are part of a bigger picture.
 
“I think the criminal charges against Chinese officials can be considered as part of U.S. pivot to Asia policy. And of course, it could have something to do with the upcoming U.S. congressional midterm elections as well. It’s not an isolated case.”

The charges pit the world's two biggest economies against each other.

The United States has an overall economic output that is twice the size of China's, about $16 trillion to $8 trillion annually. Some analysts say that by other measures, however, China could surpass the United States within the year as the world's biggest economy.
 
  • Sun Kailiang, from China's Third Department of the General Staff Department of the People's LIberation Army (3PLA), Second Bureau, Third Office, Military Unit Cover Designator (MUCD) 61398. (FBI photo).
  • Wen Xinyu, from China's Third Department of the General Staff Department of the People's LIberation Army (3PLA), Second Bureau, Third Office, Military Unit Cover Designator (MUCD) 61398. (FBI photo)
  • Huang Zhenyu, from China's Third Department of the General Staff Department of the People's LIberation Army (3PLA), Second Bureau, Third Office, Military Unit Cover Designator (MUCD) 61398. (FBI photo)
  • Wang Dong, from China's Third Department of the General Staff Department of the People's LIberation Army (3PLA), Second Bureau, Third Office, Military Unit Cover Designator (MUCD) 61398. (FBI photo)
  • Gu Chunhui, from China's Third Department of the General Staff Department of the People's LIberation Army (3PLA), Second Bureau, Third Office, Military Unit Cover Designator (MUCD) 61398. (FBI photo)

Unfair advantage

Stolen trade secrets could be a short-cut to developing products that unfairly compete with U.S. products. That is because it is far cheaper to steal plans than to do the research and take the time needed to develop an original product. That cost savings can give the thief a major advantage in pricing products.  

The hackers also are accused of spying on companies involved in trade disputes and business negotiations with China, to give Chinese state-owned firms an unfair advantage against their American rivals.

Much of this activity targeted offices in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area. The chief prosecutor in western Pennsylvania, David Hickton, said hacking has forced some plants to close, throwing people out of work.

"The important message is that cyber theft impacts real people, in real and painful ways. The lifeblood of any organization is the people who work, strive, and sweat for it," said Hickton. "When these cyber intrusions occur, production slows, plants close, workers get laid off and lose their homes."

American officials have long been concerned about hacking from abroad, especially China. An FBI official told Reuters last week to expect multiple cyber security-related cases, including indictments and arrests, in the coming weeks.

Long-standing concern

While such charges may be largely symbolic, the move would prevent the individuals indicted from traveling to the United States or other countries that have an extradition agreement with the U.S.

Several cyber security experts say Monday's action show the U.S. is serious about dealing with hacking.

“It sends a strong message to the Chinese,” a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International studies James Lewis told Reuters.

Others some remained skeptical the move would deter online invasions.

“It won't slow China down,” said Eric Johnson, an information technology expert at Vanderbilt University and dean of its School of Management.

On Sunday, a top Chinese Internet official called for Beijing to tighten its own cyber security, citing “overseas hostile forces.”

VOA's Jim RandIe in Washington contributed information for this report, along with Reuters.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
 Previous   Next 
by: tim from: Canberra
May 19, 2014 7:39 PM
In an interview with a Hong Kong paper, Edward Snowden asserts the U.S. has mounted hacking operations against hundreds of Chinese targets since 2009.

In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
May 21, 2014 6:02 AM
U.S. is responding to Chinese hacking against U.S. government and companies. Australia should be grateful for U.S. support during world war 2. You will need U.S. support against China in the future. Australia is allowing too many Chinese into their country.


by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
May 19, 2014 7:06 PM
Like Obama said, every country spies, therefore America would never stop spying, so does China.
To make China safer, China will keep spying Americas every department including obamas iPhone, since it's made in China.


by: Kettle from: Canada
May 19, 2014 5:53 PM
Hey pot?
Yes, it's kettle. Just calling to say that you are black.


by: Tom from: USA
May 19, 2014 5:48 PM
I am shocked, shocked...China is accused of stealing other people's intellectual property....


by: alfredo ibarra barajas from: mexico
May 19, 2014 3:31 PM
The griddle told the pot. Doesn't Holder remember the accusations of Snowden against his own government of spying in all the world. How can The U.S. be so cynical, he and Obama, who now is called in my country The Chief Executive Deporter, for the thousands of deportations that have caused the separation, and anguish of families, who were not even criminals, and their only crime was to look for the betterment of their families. Aren't we all born with that desire embeded in our genetical code? Or just the privileged ones have the right to a better life. I don't know what to think when the Obamas tear their clothes, for what is happening to the girls in Nigeria, when they separate families in The U.S. It is all so sad. They should keep quiet.


by: David from: Ireland
May 19, 2014 3:30 PM
Ah the words Pot, Kettle and Black come to mind here


by: Chi Ly from: USA
May 19, 2014 3:08 PM
Catch the thieves and bring them to justice. Don't be easy with those Chinese thieves.


by: Chi Ly from: USA
May 19, 2014 3:01 PM
China, stop steeling and behave as a permanent member of the U.N.S.C.


by: Yuanyuan from: China
May 19, 2014 1:34 PM
Yes,tighten our Cyber security and meantime detect US spyings via the same way.l figure US spying also conspire same thing in global location.

In Response

by: nelson from: new york
May 23, 2014 10:23 AM
Steve, REALLY. I think your life has too few problems, a few more would keep you in check with reality.

In Response

by: colin
May 19, 2014 11:00 PM
You have to admit those Americans have a sense of humour...The NSA has hacked against various people and countrie

In Response

by: Steve from: Canada
May 19, 2014 9:31 PM
China is now a monster sent to our time by Satan. Stealing intelligent properties of power countries, intimidating small countries, violating democracy,... are all actions China put on their top priority list for their final goal: CONTROL THE WORLD


by: remie from: canada
May 19, 2014 12:37 PM
No surprise but china had internet in ancient time therefore they have right to hack and its only a little. So stop bad mouthing china! Next , china owns moon from ancient time . America wasn't first. LOL

Comments page of 3
 Previous   Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid