U.S.A. accuses China of cyber-espionage against American enterprises.


On May 19, five Chinese military officers were accused by a grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania (WDPA) for spying six American nuclear power, metals and solar products companies in order to steal trade secrets. China, on the contrary, denies these accusations and warns that bilateral relations between the two countries are going to be damaged.

A few days after the announcement of the American accusation, China signed a 30 year-gas-supply agreement with Russia, American’s rival counterpart due to the friction in Ukraine.

The defendants Gu Chunhui, Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu and Huang Zhenyu were officers in Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The indictment alleges that the defendants hacked or intended to hack into the following American entities: Westinghouse Electric Co., U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG (SolarWorld); United States Steel Corp; Allegheny Technologies Inc; the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union; and Alcoa Inc. Mandiant, an American Cyber security firm, identified Unit 61398 as the source of a large Lumber of espionage operations. Unit 61398 is said not to be one of the most sophisticated bodies in China but it has hundreds of active spies.

It is the first time that the U.S.A. has filed charges against specific foreign officials for criminal hacking. However, it’s not the first time that the U.S. has taken measures to try and stop cyber espionage. For instance, on the 6th of September 2013 president Obama met the Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in the city of St. Petersburg to talk about cyber espionage among many other issues.

China has denied the implication of its citizens regarding these criminal acts. Geng Yansheng, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, met with the U.S. Ambassador in Beijin, Max Baucus shortly after the U.S. charged the five Chinese officials and stated, “The Chinese government and military and its associated personnel have never conducted or participated in the theft of trade secrets over the Internet”.

China warns that the indictment is likely to damage the relationship between both countries. During the last decade, the accusations coming from both countries regarding cyber espionage are becoming more frequent. The two biggest economic forces have entered in a spiral of accusations and complaints dealing with the steal of national security information.

China denies the existence of this serious problem. What the U.S. expects from China is the elimination of the Sino-US Cyber Working Group’s interactions. Moreover, this indictment is merely an accusation, a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. The U.S. is going to go forward with the charges, probably in order to prove its commitment to the protection of American businesses and for the absence of a better idea. However, sceptics said that U.S. authorities would not be able to arrest the Chinese officials because Beijing would not hand them over. Still, they won’t be able to travel to the United States or other countries that have an extradition agreement with the United States.

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