US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks at a press conference about Chinese hacking. Photo: AFP

The US Justice Department announced charges against two Chinese nationals on Thursday, alleging participation in a campaign of cyber-espionage backed by China’s Ministry of State Security.

The two defendants, named as Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong in the announcement, are accused of conducting cyber attacks which targeted entities in at least a dozen countries.

“China stands accused of engaging in criminal activity that victimizes individuals and companies in the United States, violates our laws, and departs from international norms of responsible state behavior,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement.

“Faced with the detailed factual allegations released today, and the corroborating statements of other victimized nations, China will find it difficult to feign ignorance,” he added.

The UK joined the US in levying the accusations.

“These activities must stop. Our message to governments prepared to enable these activities is clear: together with our allies, we will expose your actions,” UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

The announcement from the Justice Department specifically cited China’s domestic industrial policy in connection with the cyber attacks.

“…the Chinese industrial policy, known as ‘Made in China 2025,’ lists ten strategic advanced manufacturing industries that the nation has targeted for promotion and development.  Many of the companies allegedly targeted recently by Chinese defendants operate in sectors identified by that official policy,” Rosenstein said in a statement.

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