“US pushes cyber-war confrontation with China” – Justice Department’s absurd indictment of PLA officers [World Socialist Website]

By Patrick Martin
20 May 2014

A federal grand jury has indicted five officers of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army on computer hacking, economic espionage and other charges, officials of the US Department of Justice announced at a press conference Monday morning.

The indictment is unprecedented under international law, as it aims to criminalize actions allegedly carried out not by individual hackers, or “rogue” elements, but by serving officers in the armed forces of a major country. It is calculated to provoke a confrontation between the US and Chinese governments.

“These represent the first ever charges against known state actors for infiltrating US commercial targets by cyber means,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at the press briefing, emphasizing that the Obama administration was undertaking a major escalation in its anti-China policy. “The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response.”

The five men, named as Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui, are said to be officers in Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, based in Shanghai. Each faces 31 counts of computer and economic crimes. While none is in US custody, the charges would carry lengthy prison sentences.

The alleged targets of the hacking include Westinghouse Electric Co., United States Steel, Alcoa Inc., Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG, and the United Steel Workers union, which represents some workers at those companies.

Westinghouse is the major US builder of nuclear power plants, and built four such facilities in China in 2010-2011. The other companies entered into production agreements with Chinese companies during that time, or were engaged in trade litigation, as was the USW. The Chinese officers supposedly used cyber-warfare techniques to gain access to internal e-mails and other confidential materials at all six organizations.

The indictment is an act of monumental cynicism. The revelations of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, which began almost exactly one year ago, have demonstrated that the US government is by far the world’s largest “hacker,” with tens of thousands of employees and tens of billions in resources devoted to invading computer systems all over the world and stealing e-mails, text messages, communications metadata, address books and every other form of electronic data.

The US government collects the content of the voice, text and e-mail communications of nearly everyone on the planet. It has engineered back-door entry into the business activities of Internet service providers and e-mail providers like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to bypass their security and encryption and conduct illegal surveillance of their customers. It has broken into corporate servers, either electronically or physically, to install monitoring devices.

The NSA particularly targets for surveillance strategic companies like Huawei, the Chinese manufacturer of servers and routers, aiming to use Huawei machines as a vehicle for spying on the company’s customers, corporations and governments throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

The US television networks gave enormous play to the indictments in their Monday evening broadcasts, without a hint of the grotesque contradictions in the US government action. One can only imagine the reaction in Washington, and in the American media, if China were to indict NSA director Keith Alexander, who recently retired, or his successor Admiral Michael Rogers, on charges of espionage, hacking and information theft…

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/20/usch-m20.html
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Related Xinhua articles:

China strongly opposes U.S. indictment against Chinese military personnel – http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-05/20/c_133347615.htm

China publishes latest data of U.S. cyber attack – http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-05/20/c_126520552.htm

China suspends cyber working group activities with U.S. to protest cyber theft indictment – http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-05/20/c_126520553.htm

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