China is accusing the American military of launching cyberattacks against itself in order to boost its budgets and portray Beijing negatively.
“The so-called cyberattacks claimed by the United States may well be a farce directed by the superpower itself,” said an op-ed published in China’s state-run news outlet Xinhua.
The push-back comes on the heels of congressional testimony last week from the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, who claimed that Chinese hackers were launching attacks on the Pentagon’s missile defense networks “every day.”
The agency’s leader, Vice Adm. James Syring, told a House Armed Services subcommittee that these cyberattacks were becoming as big a threat to U.S. weapons programs as intercontinental ballistic missiles.
China, as it has done before regarding hacking accusations, denied culpability. Instead, it claimed Syring had “ulterior motives.”
“By fabricating such ‘Chinese hacker threat’ rhetoric under the ‘China threat’ cliche, certain interest groups in the United States would stand to benefit,” read the op-ed.
“With such gimmick, certain politicians and parties could reap political gains, while the intelligence agencies and the military obtain new authorization or more budgets, and related contractors win large orders,” it added.
China and the U.S. have long been at odds over digital assaults.
The Obama administration has routinely accused Beijing of orchestrating a massive cyber espionage program to steal U.S. corporate secrets and pass along the information to Chinese competitors.
White House officials also privately blame China for the massive hacks last summer at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which exposed over 20 million federal workers’ sensitive data.
Beijing regularly denies any hand in these incidents.
Chinese President Xi Jinping did, however, agree to a deal with President Obama last September to end corporate hacking for profit. U.S. officials have not yet said whether Beijing is complying with the agreement.
The Xinhua op-ed told the U.S. to stop its “groundless” accusations and “malicious condemnation” if it wants to continue working with China to develop “a cyberspace of peace, security, openness and cooperation.”