Beijing has threatened retaliatory action against the US, following yesterday's decision by the Department of Justice (DoJ) to charge five members of the Chinese military with conducting cyber espionage against US firms and utilities.
The DoJ accused the five of working with state support and with the aim of harming US business. In a statement, US attorney general Eric Holder said: "This is a case alleging economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking.
"The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response."
The Chinese government denies the charges and has accused the US of hypocrisy, in light of revelations about Washington-sponsored surveillance by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
"China's position on the issue of network security is consistent and clear," it said in a statement. "China is a staunch defender of network security. The Chinese government and the army never engaged in any theft of trade secrets by network activity.
"From the ‘WikiLeaks' to the 'Snowden' incident, the US hypocrisy and double standards on the issue of network security has long been obvious."
According to Reuters, a spokesman for the Chinese government told the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, that if the US presses the charges "China will take measures to resolutely fight back".
In its statement, the Beijing government claimed that Chinese systems have suffered at the hands of US-sanctioned hackers, and it asks the US government to reconsider its stance.
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