If information technology professionals have been following the most recent back-and-forth between the U.S. and China, it may seem like these two nations’ governmental bodies have renewed their Cold War sentiments – this time centering their points of contention on cyberespionage rather than socioeconomic models. The latest development in this ongoing international tiff can be seen as the U.S. issues a formal accusation against China, asserting that this Asian power has been hacking into networks belonging to American tech firms. In response, Chinese officials have turned the tables and voiced their own recriminations against the U.S., claiming that it is just as guilty in terms of tapping into other countries’ systems, including those in China.
U.S. officially accuses China of cybertheft
For some time now, these two nations have been going at one another when it comes to each other’s cyberespionage practices. However, this quarrel has recently been kicked up a notch, as U.S. officials decided to make formal charges against China. According to Computerworld, in light of several reports, the American government opted to take action against a number of people supposedly tied to the Chinese military, stating that it believed these individuals hacked businesses in the U.S. to obtain sensitive information.
The news source reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice will be making formal allegations against five individuals, accusing them for economic espionage and theft via virtual means. This marks the first time a country has charged another nation’s government employees with these crimes, which makes it a significant event in the history of not only international diplomacy, but also the information technology community around the globe.
Chinese fire back with counter-incriminations
Even though these two powers have been throwing informal accusations at one another for a while, the U.S. decision to take official action is believed to increase the tension between these countries. In the wake of these agencies’ announcement, Chinese officials have already responded by throwing allegations back at the American government. Xinhua news agency, a state-controlled media outlet, released a report that claimed China upheld cybersecurity, while the U.S. was the biggest opponent. A spokesman for the Asian government made a statement, maintaining that American organizations were heavily engaged in phishing and carrying out backdoor attacks on Chinese websites.
On top of this, Chinese officials have been trying to free their country of any potential incriminations. In the face of these charges, China’s government states that it has never been involved in cyberespionage or theft of any kind.
“The Chinese government and military and its associated personnel have never conducted or participated in the theft of trade secrets over the Internet,” Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang told U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, as reported by Xinhua news agency.
Americans anticipate economic fallout
Nothing has been proved in terms of either party’s allegations, and many experts think that this is only the beginning of a fallout between the nations. While political interactions are likely to be compromised, the majority of the repercussions may actually be in the economic arena. Fox Business explained that a share of people in the business world are bracing themselves, as American companies operating in or sharing ties with China are anticipating some sort of retribution.
A number of experts think that any economic consequences following these charges will probably be discreet, and the Chinese government may not be open about cracking down on U.S. businesses.
“I don’t think it will be overt retaliation, but there will certainly be ways that the Chinese government will preclude foreign companies from certain sectors,” a person connected with a business lobby based in China told Fox Business.
Additionally, some individuals believe that this move may only exacerbate already existent tension that American companies have had to endure. They maintain that the FBI and DOJ’s legal actions will make it that more difficult for U.S. companies.
“The environment in China for U.S. technology companies is not very good right now, and this won’t make it better,” stated James McGregor, chairman for advisory firm APCO China, as quoted by Fox Business. “But if they’re losing their intellectual property to cyber hacking they probably see this action as necessary and worrisome.”