US Charges Chinese Military with Cyber Espionage

The Justice Department formally indicted several Chinese military personnel on cyber espionage, filing the “first-ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking,” Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday. “The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response,” said Holder in a May 19 release. The US “will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies,” he said. The Pentagon accused the Chinese of hacking US defense contractors and compromising weapons systems such as the F-35 in last year’s report on the Chinese military. The Department of Justice filed specific charges against five Chinese People’s Liberation Army officers who are part of the hacking outfit known as “Unit 61398,” officials said. The five “hacked or attempted to hack” nuclear power, metals, and solar technology companies to pass trade secrets to state-owned industry. The Chinese government denied the charges and accused the US of damaging trust between the two countries, reported Reuters. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Tuesday the Defense Department still hopes to “further grow and develop the military-to-military relationship [between the US and Chinese] and to find ways to have a more productive conversation about these very tough issues,” including cyber. (Kirby transcript.)