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China calls for international 'rules and cooperation' for cyber attacks

In the latest round of international he-said, she-said, Chinese officials are continuing to deny responsibility for a recent series of high-profile hacks against American-based websites and businesses – including a number of journalistic entities like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and others.

Additionally, reports The New York Times, Chinese officials are now asking for international "rules and cooperation" related to the attacks. To them, China's just as much of a target as the United States, and officials are seemingly reluctant to turn cyberspace "into a battlefield." The accusations that China's had a role in the attacks is more a "smear campaign" than anything, officials suggest.

Of course, that all depends on just who is behind the various attacks on either country, which is where the finger-pointing – official, or unspoken – comes into play. Both China and the US have been repeatedly accusing each other for a variety of hacking attempts over the past few months.

On China's side, officials at its National Computer Network Emergency Response Coordination Center have maintained that 2,196 "control servers" in the United States have affected more than 1.29 million computers in China – in essence, making the US the biggest source of cyberattacks toward China.

For the United States, a recent report by the American security firm Mandiant indicates that "an overwhelming percentage of the attacks on American corporations, organizations, and government agencies" stems from a cyber espionage headquarters of sorts for China's People's Liberation Army, reported the Times in mid-February.

This building, home to PLA Unit 61398, is part of the neighborhood where 90 per cent of the attacks Mandiant researched over the last half-decade have originated.

Chinese officials have denied the allegations, suggesting that attackers could have used spoofed IP addresses in order to make it appears as if the attacks originated from China. It's a suggestion that Mandiant touches on in its report, but in a more tongue-in-cheek fashion than Chinese officials would have likely preferred.

Or, as Mandiant puts it, there's also the possibility that, "a secret, resourced organization full of mainland Chinese speakers with direct access to Shanghai-based telecommunications infrastructure is engaged in a multiyear enterprise-scale computer espionage campaign right outside of Unit 61398's gates."

According to a February report by AOL Defense's Colin Clark, a significant chunk of intellectual property stolen from the United States last year - a $300 billion (£200 billion) figure - could be traced directly to Chinese attacks.