The United States will publicly accuse China of attempting to hack US research into a coronavirus vaccine to gain useful information, American newspapers reported on Monday.
The US federal police and the Department of Homeland Security will publish “in the coming days” an official alert warning of alleged attempts to obtain “illicitly valuable items covered by intellectual property and data health officials on vaccines, treatments and screening tests, “according to New York Times and Wall Street Journal .
In the FBI's sights, hackers and “non-traditional actors”, in other words researchers and students who, according to the government of Donald Trump, have activated themselves to steal information from academic institutes and public laboratories where they work.
They are in any case suspected of acting on behalf of China, say the two dailies.
When questioned by AFP, the US State Department refused to confirm or deny this information. “We continue to urge all foreign governments to honor their commitment to act responsibly to promote stability in cyberspace,” added a spokesperson.
The United States has long criticized the Asian giant for engaging in industrial espionage and has made the defense of their intellectual property a priority in the trade war between the two great powers.
But such an accusation risks further aggravating relations between Washington and Beijing, already very tense since the appearance of the new fine coronavirus 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has cleared all suspicions of piracy on Monday after the publication of the New York Times information.
“China is a great defender of cybersecurity and a victim of cyber attacks. We strongly oppose and combat any kind of cyber attack by hackers, “spokesman Zhao Lijian replied at a press conference.
“We are at the forefront of global research on a vaccine and treatment for COVID disease – 19. It is immoral to target China with rumors and slander in the absence of evidence, “he said.
The Trump government accuses the Chinese authorities of having delayed alerting the world to the epidemic, and of having concealed the magnitude of it. And therefore to be “responsible” for its global spread, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and the current unprecedented economic crisis.
Worse, the American president and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, now openly suspect Beijing of having hidden a laboratory accident in Wuhan which would have been at the origin of the pandemic.