The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) today announced a US grand jury had issued indictments against five members of the Chinese military for cybertheft of US company secrets. China responded by suspending its participation in bilateral discussions on cybersecurity issues.
DOJ’s announcement, made on Monday morning in Washington, indicated that a grand jury in Pittsburgh handed down the indictments in relation to cyberespionage that occurred between 2006 and 2014 at five companies: Westinghouse, Alcoa, Allegheny Electric, SolarWorld, and US Steel, as well as the United Steel Workers. US Attorney General Eric Holder told a news conference that, "the indictment alleges that these PLA officers maintained unauthorized access to victim computers to steal information from those entities that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises."
In response to DOJ’s actions, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that China rejected the allegations as false and would halt its participation in the US-China Cyber Working Group, a dialogue that was launched by Presidents Obama and Xi in June 2013. The group met twice officially since its initiation.
US-China Business Council President John Frisbie issued a statement on Monday highlighting the importance of addressing commercial cybersecurity issues. "USCBC’s board of directors has stated that cybersecurity concerns threaten to undermine a constructive US-China commercial relationship." Frisbie noted that companies can only do so much to combat these types of intrusions on their own. USCBC has urged the US and Chinese governments to take appropriate actions to curtail cyber activity targeting company networks.