China rejects Microsoft Exchange cyber hacking charge, accuses US of ‘massive’ eavesdropping


China has accused the United States of “indiscriminate eavesdropping across the world” while rejecting allegations by Washington and its allies that it had engaged in malicious cyberattacks.

Chinese diplomatic missions in five countries and the European Union denounced the US allegations – that Beijing sponsored a massive hack of the Microsoft Exchange email software – as a political conspiracy lacking in evidence. Britain, Australia, the EU and Nato are among those that have also blamed China for the alleged attack.

A statement issued by China’s mission to the EU on Tuesday did not name the US, but said “a certain country in the West” had abused its technological advantages for years to carry out “massive” eavesdropping, even on its close allies.

“At the same time, it has boasted of itself as the guardian of cybersecurity, attempted to manipulate and push around its allies to form small circles and repeatedly smeared and attacked other countries on cybersecurity issues,” it continued.

“Such practices fully expose its double standards and hypocrisy. It is also worth noting that Nato has made repeated and groundless accusations against China, attempting to break its geographical and sectoral constraints under the guise of cybersecurity and other issues. We are following this development with close attention.”

The US on Monday said cyber actors, working with China’s Ministry of State Security, had exploited vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Exchange software in a massive cyber espionage operation. The US Justice Department said it had charged four mainland Chinese with establishing a front company – Hainan Xiandun Technology Development – to carry out cyberattacks against users in 12 countries.

The Chinese diplomatic mission to the EU said China was itself a major victim of cyberattacks, citing an official 2020 report which said about 5.31 million hosts on the Chinese mainland were controlled by about 52,000 overseas servers, severely harming China’s national security, economic and social development, as well as people’s lives.

According to the Chinese statement, the top three servers in terms of the number of compromised Chinese hosts were all located in Nato member states, controlling 4.46 million, 2.15 million and 1.94 million hosts respectively.

China urged the countries concerned to adhere to international norms on cyberspace and take immediate and concrete measures to investigate and stop malicious cyber activities, it said. “Politicisation and stigmatisation do no good to solve cybersecurity issues, but weaken mutual trust and cooperation.”

Chinese diplomatic missions in Norway, Canada, Britain, New Zealand and the US issued similar remarks. China’s embassy in Washington called its allegations of cyber espionage irresponsible, ill-intentioned and lacking in evidence.

“The Chinese government and relevant personnel never engage in cyberattacks or cyber theft,” embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said. “We urge the US to immediately stop its ‘empire of hacker’ campaign and stop illegally damaging other countries’ interests and security.” – South China Morning Post


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