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US fabricating facts on hacking, should stop smearing China on cyber security: Foreign ministry

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Beijing, China Dec 21, 2018, 07.51 AM (IST)

Beijing on Friday accused Washington of 'fabricating facts' after the US Justice Department indicted two hackers tied to Chinese security services who allegedly targeted companies and agencies in a dozen countries.

We urge the US to "stop smearing the Chinese side on cyber security issues," China's foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that it had lodged an official protest.

China said the US should drop the prosecution "to avoid serious damage to the relations between the two countries".

While making the announcement on hacking, the US Justice Department had said the hackers had targeted managed service providers (MSPs) in several countries. However, it did not name the companies or the countries hit by hacking.

The department said several US agencies were hit including the NASA Goddard Space Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the US Navy.

China, however, denied the US indictment asking it to drop the charges.

"US should drop the prosecution to avoid serious damage to the relations between the two countries," the foreign ministry said.

In an announcement earlier, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had said: "It is unacceptable that we continue to uncover cybercrime committed by China against America and other nations. That was a commitment they made to members of the international community to the United States to the G 20 and to OPEC," he said, adding, "we want China to cease its illegal cyber activities and honour its commitment to the international community.

The two men identified were Zhu Hua and Zhang Jianguo. They allegedly stole intellectual property and confidential business and technological data, according to the Justice department.

The Justice Department said the two hackers worked for a group called "APT10" which it said was backed by China's ministry of state security.

"We also worked with our counterparts in the NCIS to investigate APT theft of personally identifiable information from more than one hundred thousand US naval service members. We are deeply concerned about American innovation ending up in the wrong hands," FBI director Christopher Wray added.

Britian, a key US ally also sided with the US indictment insisting that the hacking went against the "commitments made to the UK in 2015, and, as part of the G20, not to conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property or trade secrets."