By Emily Birnbaum, thehill.com
The U.S. and more than a dozen of its allies are expected to condemn China’s alleged espionage efforts on Thursday, intensifying pressure against Beijing over allegations that Chinese hackers are violating international law by stealing trade secrets.
Western officials told The Washington Post that Britain, Germany, Japan, Australia and Canada are expected to join the U.S. in an unprecedented mass condemnation on Thursday. Leaders in these countries reportedly conferred with their cabinets before they agreed to sign onto the effort.
China has targeted all six countries in an espionage campaign over several years, according to the Post. Chinese spies have allegedly hacked cybersecurity and information technology companies in each country.
The countries on Thursday will say that China is violating international norms and laws in order to accrue military and economic power.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday is also poised to announce criminal charges against hackers with China’s intelligence service, Ministry of State Security (MSS), which allegedly targeted the U.S. and other countries in a long-running cyberspying campaign, the Post reported. The DOJ is also likely to bring sanctions related to the Chinese hacking effort.
Federal officials have repeatedly accused Chinese hackers of stealing trade secrets, saying those actions are the underlying reason for billions of dollars worth of tariffs on imports from China.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) last month alleged that China continues to conduct economic espionage despite the U.S. trade penalties.
“China shows no sign of ceasing its policy and practice of conducting and supporting cyber-enabled theft and intrusions into the commercial networks of U.S. companies,” USTR wrote in its assessment, arguing that tariffs are needed to counter China’s hacking efforts.
China has so far denied the allegations.
While intellectual property theft from U.S. companies has been a common practice by China for decades, cyber experts told The Hill last month that hackers have been more aggressive over the past year.