Chinese officials at the country's embassy in Washington have denied that China was responsible for a huge cyberattack, which saw the personal data of about 4 million U.S. federal workers compromised.
Embassy spokesman Zhu Haiquan said late Thursday that “jumping to conclusions and making hypothetical accusation[s] is not responsible, and counterproductive," in remarks emailed to Reuters. There has yet been no official comment on the allegations from Beijing, and Chinese state-run media have as yet given little attention to the allegations of China's involvement in the hack.
Chinese media cited repeated denials made in the past by the country's foreign ministry, which has railed against media and online security companies attempting to “blacken China's name,” and saying such allegations were irresponsible, and not worth responding to. One English-language journalist in China blamed lax U.S. cybersecurity for the attack, saying that such information was a “legitimate target” for foreign governments.
Chinese netizens expressed a wide range of opinions on the hack. One commenter going by the username daxian50 wrote: “This is a good thing, the first country they think of is China, that means China is capable. If they couldn’t imagine we were capable of doing this, that would be a tragedy.”
Other netizens urged caution, as the U.S. government has not yet officially accused China of involvement in the breach, while some suggested that the U.S. would blame China in any case, so the country might as well hack them.
The U.S. has, in the past, accused China of involvement in multiple hacking incidents. In May 2014, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced charges against five Chinese army officers, related to hacking attacks against private U.S. companies. The five were all said to be members of the secretive People's Liberation Army Unit 61398, which is widely alleged to carry out cyberattacks against Western companies, aimed at furthering China's political and economic aims.