Mike Pompeo rips China over alleged hacking of coronavirus research

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday ripped China for allegedly trying to hack into US research on the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.

“The United States condemns attempts by cyber actors and non-traditional collectors affiliated with the People’s Republic of China to steal US intellectual property and data related to COVID-19 research. The United States calls on the PRC to cease this malicious activity,” Pompeo said in a statement.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning Wednesday that Chinese hackers and spies were using the coronavirus pandemic as cover to shield their sneak cyber attacks.

“The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options,” the warning said in part.

The top US diplomat, President Trump and a Congressional commission have been highly critical of China’s coronavirus response and lack of transparency, and accused China of making the global pandemic, which has killed more than 85,000 Americans, worse than it could have been.

“The PRC’s behavior in cyberspace is an extension of its counterproductive actions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While the United States and our allies and partners are coordinating a collective, transparent response to save lives, the PRC continues to silence scientists, journalists, and citizens, and to spread disinformation, which has exacerbated the dangers of this health crisis,” Pompeo said.

But China’s ruling Communist Party adamantly denied any hacking or links to hackers — asserting that their research and development operations were better than that of the US, so they’d have no reason to seek other data.

“China’s Foreign Ministry and experts have slammed rumors hyped by the US side that Chinese hackers and spies are trying to steal their research materials for COVID-19 vaccine and drug development, saying the two countries are developing different products and that China is actually leading in vaccine development,” the communist state-run People’s Daily said in a report this week.

“China leads in R&D for COVID-19 vaccines and other therapies, and any attempt to smear or frame China without evidence is immoral,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian added.

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