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US panel warns of espionage by China

By Foster Klug
Associated Press / November 21, 2008
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WASHINGTON - China has stepped up computer espionage attacks on the US government, defense contractors, and American businesses, a congressional advisory panel said yesterday.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission also said in its annual report to lawmakers that aggressive Chinese space programs are allowing Beijing to target US military computers more effectively.

"China is stealing vast amounts of sensitive information from US computer networks," said Larry Wortzel, chairman of the commission set up by Congress in 2000 to advise, investigate and report on US-China affairs.

The commission of six Democrats and six Republicans said in the unanimously approved report that China's massive military modernization and its "impressive but disturbing" space and computer warfare capabilities "suggest China is intent on expanding its sphere of control even at the expense of its Asian neighbors and the United States."

The commission recommended that lawmakers provide money for US government programs that would monitor and protect computer networks.

Messages left with the Chinese Embassy in Washington were not immediately returned. Officials in Beijing have responded to past reports by saying China does not try to undermine other countries' interests and seeks healthy ties with the United States.

The report comes two months before President-elect Barack Obama takes office. The Democratic Obama administration will probably continue the Republican Bush administration's efforts to work with and encourage China, a veto-holding member of the UN Security Council that the United States needs in nuclear confrontations with Iran and North Korea.

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