The second largest economy on the planet – and arguably the most powerful – China, has launched a venomous attack on the United States, labelling it an “espionage villain” after former US spy Edward Snowden raised new allegations on the far-reaching US cyber-surveillance program, PRISM.
Snowden’s latest allegations have the US spy-program directed squarely at Chinese targets.
The US is seeking to extradite the 30-year-old technician from Hong Kong, where he is holed up after leaking details of secret US intelligence programs to international media outlets.
Snowden’s leaks revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has access to vast amounts of internet data such as emails, chat rooms and video under a government program known as PRISM. The South China Morning Post says documents and statements by Snowden show PRISM also hacked major Chinese telecom companies to access text messages and targeted China’s top Tsinghua University.
US privacy proponentss have blasted Prism as unconstitutional government surveillance, they’ve called for a review of the program. The US Centre for Constitutional Rights says it believes PRISM to be the broadest surveillance order issued in American history. The Bashing China has received over the past decade on civil liberty, internet censorship and human rights now looks like COMPLETE hypocrisy. The scale of PRISM is daunting, it’s flow-on affect for US allies is likely to haunt us for the foreseeable future, ironically.
In an absolutely ironic twist, Snowden’s revelations come just weeks after US president Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held meeting on the subject of China/US relations where the US president took the Chinese leader to task on hacking charges ::::
The official Xinhua news agency says the US government owes the world an explanation. “These, along with previous allegations, are clearly troubling signs,” it said in a commentary following the South China Morning Post report. “They demonstrate that the United States, which has long been trying to play innocent as a victim of cyber attacks, has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age.”
Xinhua noted Washington has set the extradition process in motion.
“But for other countries, Washington should come clean about its record first,” it said. “It owes too an explanation to China and other countries it has allegedly spied on. It has to share with the world the range, extent and intent of its clandestine hacking programs.”
There has been no comment on the extradition request from authorities in semi-autonomous Hong Kong, but the government and police have said the law will take its course. Experts say that could take months, if not years, if Snowden appeals against any extradition ruling by a Hong Kong court.
Beijing, meanwhile, has the right to intervene. The Post said Snowden remains “safe” in Hong Kong and has not been detained by police after he was charged in the US with theft and espionage. Abandoning his well-paid job as an intelligence technician in Hawaii, Snowden came to Hong Kong on May 20 with a cache of documents detailing the reach of NSA operations around the world.
“The NSA does all kinds of things like hack Chinese cell phone companies to steal all of your SMS data,” Snowden said in the Post interview, which the newspaper said was conducted on June 12 and released after it had scrutinised and clarified his claims.
His claims about Pacnet followed a report in The Guardian in which he claimed the British government’s electronic eavesdropping agency GCHQ had gained secret access to fibre-optic cables carrying global internet traffic and telephone calls, and was sharing the information with the NSA.
Snowden said in the Post interview that Tsinghua University, which counts China’s president Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao among its graduates, was the target of extensive NSA hacking. The university, whose network backbone handles internet data from millions of Chinese citizens, was breached as recently as January, he was quoted as saying.
According to the Post report, the NSA in 2009 also attacked Pacnet, whose fibre-optic network stretches across 46,000 kilometres in 13 countries ranging from Singapore to Japan via Hong Kong and China.
US administration officials say the NSA’s overall surveillance has helped thwart up to 50 planned extremist attacks, some of them on US soil, by allowing US agents to track calls and messages to enemy operatives. There has been no comment on the extradition request from authorities in semi-autonomous Hong Kong, but the government and police have said the law will take its course.
Experts say that could take months, if not years, if Snowden appeals against any extradition ruling by a Hong Kong court.
REBLOG! via Technoid: In an absolutely ironic twist, as this article is published, US president Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a meeting on the subject of China/US relations – and China’s propensity of hacking – have pledged a new approach to cooperation, however the US president took the Chinese leader to task on hacking charges.
In their first meeting since Mr Xi assumed the presidency in March 2013, Mr Obama voiced hope the US and China “can forge a new model of cooperation between countries based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
“It is in the United States’ interests that China continues on the path of success because we believe that a peaceful and stable and prosperous China is not only good for the Chinese, but also good for the world and the United States,” Mr Obama said.
Mr Obama wasted no time in hitting a key theme of the visit from the US side – complaints of an alleged Chinese internet spying effort targeting American military and commercial secrets and intellectual property.
He voiced concern over the alleged theft – which a recent study said was costing the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year – and urged “common rules of the road” to protect against hacking.
“President Xi and I recognize that, because of the incredible advances of technology, the issue of cybersecurity and the need for rules, and common approaches to security, have become increasingly important,” Mr Obama said.
“It’s critical, as two of the largest economies and military powers of the world, that China and the United States arrive at a firm understanding.”
Mr Obama, who will hold a second day of talks with Mr Xi on Saturday, said they had not yet discussed cyber-security in-depth.
Ahead of the summit, the two countries announced working-level talks to clear up the issue.
Mr Xi said he wanted “good-faith cooperation” to clear up “misgivings” by the United States about cybersecurity, telling reporters that China was also “a victim of cyberattacks.”
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