The Pentagon Monday accused the Chinese government and military at the highest levels of using cyberespionage against the United States in a report released by the Defense Department.
The report marked the first time the U.S. had linked the practice to the highest echelons of the Chinese government, The Wall Street Journal
"China is using its computer network exploitation capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs," reads the report, which prepared at the request of Congress.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded by saying Beijing opposes any form of cyberespionage and that the U.S. is unjustly blaming China for otherwise "legitimate and normal defense building."
"China is carrying out necessary and moderate defense building, which is completely for the purpose of national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and it is the legitimate right of any sovereign state," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, according to the Journal.
"China has also made clear its position on cyberattacks and is firmly against any forms of cyberattacks," she added.
The Pentagon report says the Chinese have made investments in new Navy ships outfitted with anti-ship cruise missiles aimed at keeping foreign vessels away from Chinese waters, while advancing its development of ballistic missiles that could threaten American naval forces.
The anti-ship missile, the report said, "gives the PLA the capability to attack large ships, including aircraft carriers, in the western Pacific Ocean."
It was the first time the Pentagon said that Chinese anti-ship missiles have at least limited operational capability, the Journal reported.
At a Pentagon briefing, David Helvey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, would not say whether China had the necessary satellite network to enable missiles to hit moving ships, but noted that China has conducted "a significant number of space launches in the past year."
"It's something that we're watching very, very carefully," he added, according to the Journal.
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