02/01/2013, 00.00
CHINA - UNITED STATES

Chinese leader downplays attack against US papers

After the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal comes under a cyberattack, something all too familiar to foreign correspondents in Beijing. Whilst Li Keqiang calls for Sino-US cooperation, Chinese authorities are silent on papers' accusations.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - China and the United States appear on the verge of an escalating cyberwar. After the New York Times, now the Wall Street Journal said its computer systems, too, had been breached by China-based hackers. In both cases, the papers' correspondents from Beijing were also the targets.

"These are the latest in a string of such incidents," said Peter Ford, president of the China Foreign Correspondents Club. "In the past a number of members have reported attempts to install malware on their computers that our security consultants have identified as being based in China.

For many reporters in Beijing, cyberattacks-such as attempts to infiltrate their computers, access their emails or clone their email addresses-have become an unavoidable part of the job.

"You assume it's pervasive and that your email is read and phone calls are overheard," a US reporter said.

Ford said security consultants for the organisation have said the attacks they have examined originated in China. "But the Chinese authorities have never appeared to take these allegations seriously," he said.

For his part, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang tried to ease tensions. Without mentioning the cyberattack against the two US newspapers, Li, during a meeting with Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the two countries should take care of each other's core interests, which form the basis of their relationship, whilst managing and controlling contradictions and differences.

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