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20th Jan 2017

China is 'world's largest hacking victim,' ambassador says

  • "I think China is the largest victim in terms of hacker attacks," said China's ambassador to the EU, Wu Hailong (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

China’s ambassador to the EU, Wu Hailong, on Wednesday (12 September) refuted a recent Bloomberg report that hackers linked to his government had broken into the email accounts of 11 senior EU officials, including one belonging to EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy.

"I read this story and I think there are many more similar cases reported in recent years. I think China is the largest victim in terms of hacker attacks," said Hailong.

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Hailong said Chinese agencies and businesses are beingattacked on a daily basis but choose to keep quiet, unlike some Western counterparts.

"There is a cultural difference. In the EU, people go to the media. The same happens in China, but we do not go to the media. We firmly oppose hacking," he said.

A US-led investigation last summer claimed a hacker group with links to China's military, the People's Liberation Army, infiltrated and stole information, including attachments, from the EU institutions' email accounts.

The attacks took place over a period of four days in July 2011.

The Bloomberg report said the attacks are possibly part of a larger pattern to secure trade advantages by the Chinese. Other targets included lawyers working on anti-trust claims against China.

Wu's comments come ahead of the 15th EU-China summit on 20 September.

"It is the most important event in China-EU ties in 2012," said Hailong, who noted that it will also be Wen Jiabao, the outgoing Chinese premier's, final visit to the EU as a head of state.

Some 80 percent of China's exports end up in Europe.

The summit aims to help address the brewing trade disputes between the two sides. Among them is the recent anti-dumping investigation into imports of solar panels from China by the European Commission.

The European Commission claims sufficient evidence has been put forward to conduct a 15-month investigation into the multi-billion-euro industry.

Hailong noted that a negative outcome of the investigation could have potentially damaging affects on EU industry. While the panels are made in China "the machinery and technology was all from Europe, and specifically Germany" he said.

Meanwhile, the commission on Wednesday set up the EU's Computer Emergency Response Team, or CERT-EU, in order to better defend itself against cyber espionage in future.

Commission administration chief Maros Sefcovic noted that EU institutions are "frequently the target of information security incidents." The CERT-EU will be tasked to protect institutions from an ever greater and more sophisticated attempts by hackers to infiltrate the systems.

The project had already been in place as a pilot for the past year but has proven itself effective at thwarting attacks, claims the commission.

Sefcovic's spokesperson, Antony Gravili, would not comment on the origin of the attacks, but noted that even if such attacks were "routed via computers in China [it] does not mean it is an attack by the Chinese."

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