China says U.S. hackers target its military websites

The Chinese defense ministry returns condemnation from White House over reported PLA hacks

Published February 28, 2013 2:00PM (EST)


While the Obama administration has condemned ongoing cyberattacks against U.S. institutions believed to originate with the Chinese military, China Thursday claimed it was a two-way street. China's defense minister said Thursday that of the approximately 1.7 million cyberattacks launched against two of its military websites last year, two-thirds came from the U.S..

"The defence ministry and China military online websites have faced a serious threat from hacking attacks since they were established, and the number of hacks has risen steadily in recent years," said a ministry spokesman, Geng Yansheng, on Thursday according to Reuters."According to the IP addresses, the websites were, in 2012, hacked on average from overseas 144,000 times a month, of which attacks from the US accounted for 62.9 percent."

China has called "groundless" claims that one of its military is responsible for hacks against U.S. corporations, newspapers and government sites, but evidence gathered by security firm Mandiant reportedly points strongly to one People’s Liberation Army unit based in the outskirts of Shanghai.

"We hope that the U.S. side can explain and clarify this," Geng added.

As the New York Times noted earlier this week, there are "heightened sensitivities" in Washington over how to deal with the burgeoning cyber "cold war" with China:

Administration officials say they are now more willing than before to call out the Chinese directly — as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. did last week in announcing a new strategy to combat theft of intellectual property. But President Obama avoided mentioning China by name — or Russia or Iran, the other two countries the president worries most about — when he declared in his State of the Union address that “we know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets.”

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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