China To Make Mastering Cyberwarfare A Priority

China has rejected allegations of involvement in a cyberspying campaign targeting the Google email accounts of top U.S. officials, military personnel and journalists. In an op-ed in a party-run newspaper, two strategists from the Chinese military, without mentioning Google's recent claims, wrote that China must make mastering cyberwarfare a military priority as the Internet becomes the crucial battleground for opinion and intelligence.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

China is denying involvement in a cyber-spying campaign. Google this week accused China of hacking into e-mail accounts of hundreds of U.S. political and military officials. Now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ordered an FBI investigation into the hacking charges.

NPR's Rob Gifford reports from Shanghai.

ROB GIFFORD: Google said that senior U.S. officials were targeted in a hacking attack that tricked users into sharing their Gmail passwords with what it called bad actors based in the Chinese city of Jinan. Google said Chinese political activists and officials in other Asian countries were also targeted. The White House said it had no reason to believe that any official government emails were hacked into. But this is at least the third time since early last year that Google has pointed the finger at China as the origin of such attacks.

Google did not blame the Chinese government directly but by mentioning the city of Jinan, some 250 miles south of Beijing, it focused attention on an area where a national security arm of the People's Liberation Army is based. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was unacceptable to blame China. He told a news briefing that hacking is an international problem and China is also a victim. He also said that claims of Chinese government support for hacking are completely unfounded and had what he called ulterior motives.

China is known to be beefing up its own cyber-security. A military spokesman last week confirmed for the first time the existence of a military unit devoted to cyberspace.

Today in an op-ed in a party-run newspaper, two strategists from the Chinese military, without mentioning Google's recent claims, wrote that China must make mastering cyber-warfare a military priority as the Internet becomes the crucial battleground for opinion and intelligence. The article went on to say that recent computer attacks and incidents using the Internet to promote regime change in Arab nations appear to be traceable back to Washington.

Rob Gifford, NPR News, Shanghai.

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