New York: A new cold war has erupted between Washington and Beijing after it was claimed that Chinese cyberspies are behind hacking attempts on almost all powerful American institutions, a report has said.
In warning to Internet providers, as the Obama administration circulated a lengthy confidential list of computer addresses linked to a hacking group that has stolen terabytes of data from American corporations, it left out one crucial fact: that nearly every one of the digital addresses could be traced to the neighborhood in Shanghai that is headquarters to the Chinese military’s cybercommand.
According to the New York Times, that deliberate omission underscored the heightened sensitivities inside the Obama administration over just how directly to confront China’s untested new leadership over the hacking issue, as the administration escalates demands that China halt the state-sponsored attacks that Beijing insists it is not mounting.
The paper pointed out that, the administration officials say they are now more willing than before to call out the Chinese directly, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. did last week in announcing a new strategy to combat theft of intellectual property.
But President Barack Obama avoided mentioning China by name when he declared in his State of the Union address that “we know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets,” the paper added.
That explains why China went unmentioned as the location of the suspect servers in the warning to Internet providers.
According to one intelligence official, the administration has been told that directly embarrassing the Chinese would backfire, and it would only make them more defensive, and more nationalistic.
In the next few months, American officials say, there will be many private warnings delivered by Washington to Chinese leaders, including Xi Jinping, who will soon assume China’s presidency, the paper said.
Those private conversations are expected to make a case that the sheer size and sophistication of the attacks over the past few years threaten to erode support for China among the country’s biggest allies in Washington, the American business community, the paper added.