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China halts cybersecurity cooperation with U.S. over hacking charges


BEIJING, May 20 (Yonhap) -- China said Tuesday that it has decided to suspend its cooperation with the United States on cybersecurity issues, in a furious reaction to Washington's indictment of five Chinese military officials for alleged hacking.

A U.S. federal grand jury indicted the five Chinese officials on Monday for allegedly hacking into U.S. companies to steal trade secrets, further complicating the U.S.-China relationship at a time when Washington seeks Beijing's support on a range of diplomatic issues, including North Korea's nuclear program.

In a sharply worded statement, China's foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, warned that China would take more retaliatory measures.

"Given the lack of sincerity on the part of the U.S. to solve issues related to cybersecurity through dialogue and cooperation, China has decided to suspend activities of the China-U.S. Cyber Working Group," Qin said.

"China will react further to the U.S. 'indictment' as the situation evolves," the spokesman said.

Qin also strongly denied the U.S. accusation. "The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cybertheft of trade secrets. The U.S. accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded with ulterior motives," Qin said.

Cyberespionage has long been a thorn in relations between the U.S. and China, but Monday's prosecution marked a greater escalation in the dispute.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus on Monday night and lodged a "solemn representation" over the indictment, the Chinese ministry said.

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