By Rebecca Shabad - 03/24/14 01:34 PM EDT
China is calling on the United States to explain its use of cyber espionage and to stop spying on its companies after a report revealed the National Security Agency hacked into the servers of a major Chinese company.
At a press conference Monday, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Li said his government is “seriously concerned” with reports published over the weekend that exposed the spying operation.
“We require the American side to give a clear explanation and stop such behaviours,” Hong said.
One document from 2010 revealed the NSA had launched an operation nicknamed “Shotgiant” to determine whether telecommunications company Huawei is independent or associated with China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army.
NSA officials monitored the communications and obtained information about the company’s routers and digital switches, the reports said.
Both reports said the documents did not specify whether the U.S. was able to tie Huawei to China’s military.
While they also said the NSA began looking into Huawei as far back as 2007, it’s unclear when the “Shotgiant” operation ended, if it has.
According to the Times, few Chinese media outlets have highlighted the revelations, which could be due to first lady Michelle Obama’s current visit to China.
Obama left last Wednesday for a one-week trip to China with her two daughters, Sasha and Malia, and her mother, Marian Shields Robinson.
Meanwhile, President Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for a bilateral meeting at The Hague in the Netherlands during this year's nuclear summit on Monday.
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the two presidents discussed the NSA allegations during their meeting.
"President Xi did raise those recent reports in the context of their discussion on cybersecurity," Rhodes told reporters. "What President Obama made clear to him is that, again, the United States does not engage in espionage to gain a commercial advantage. We don’t share information with our companies."
Neither president mentioned the spying allegations during a joint press conference ahead of the meeting.
Xi, in fact, emphasized strengthening the already close relationship the U.S. has developed with China.
“I wish to emphasize that China is firmly committed to the set direction of building a new model of major country relations,” he said. “We are committed to our position of no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation with regard to the United States.”