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China rubbishes reports of military-backed hackers targeting US

Chinese officials this week denied involvement in cyber attacks aimed at US targets.

"The Chinese army has never supported any hackings," the Ministry of National Defense told Xinhua, China's state-run news outlet. Suggesting otherwise would be unprofessional, according to the Ministry.

The agency's comments came after security firm Mandiant released a report that tied a prolific hacking group to a building in Shanghai used by the Chinese military. That group, dubbed APT1, has targeted more than 140 firms around the globe, hacking their systems in an effort to steal intellectual property, trade secrets, personal information, and more.

The Ministry of National Defense, however, insisted that hacking is illegal in China and the government "always strongly fights" against it, Xinhua said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei pointed the finger at the US, arguing that the States is the number one perpetrator of cyber attacks against China. China's Ministry of National Defense and China Military Online websites were hit by 240,000 cyber attacks during the first three months of 2012, the Ministry said.

Another state-run news source, People's Daily, said the Mandiant report is just an excuse for the US to expand cyber-security crackdowns and impose more tech-related restrictions on China.

During a Tuesday briefing at the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said the administration has "repeatedly raised our concerns at the highest levels about cyber theft with senior Chinese officials, including in the military, and we will continue to do so."

Carney pushed for a "sustained, meaningful dialogue" on the topic between the US and China in order to "develop an understanding of acceptable behaviour in cyberspace."

The Mandiant report came on the same day that Apple admitted to being the victim of a hack. That prompted speculation that the Chinese were also behind the breach of the Cupertino-based firm, but separate reports said the Apple - and possibly Facebook - cyber attacks originated in Eastern Europe.