Speculation over China being behind cyber attacks on Australia has been shot down by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, who labelled the theory “wholly baseless and nonsense”.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian said China was “firmly opposing” accusations it was the source of a “malicious” cyber attack on Australia’s government agencies, industry, essential services, and infrastructure.
Mr Lijian pointed the finger at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) as the source of rumours that China was behind the hacking, saying he believed it was funded by US arms companies.
"The attacks and the blame coming from this institute against China is totally baseless and nonsense,” he said, according to ABC News.
“We've pointed out many times, this institute has long been receiving funding from US arms companies, and the attacks coming from the institute are completely baseless.”
He accused it of “hyping up” and “creating” a multitude of anti-China messaging.
Meanwhile, he argued China was a “staunch upholder of cyber security” and has “always resolutely opposed and cracked down on all forms of cyberattacks”.
Scott Morrison revealed on Friday Australia was under a broad cyberattack from a “state-based actor” targeting government, public services and businesses, with suspicions falling on China.
The prime minister warned of “specific risks” and an increased tempo of attacks, telling a press conference that a range of sensitive institutions had been hit.
“This activity is targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure,” he said.
Mr Morrison levelled blame at a “sophisticated state-based cyber actor”, but declined to name the culprit, while saying that it could only come from one of a handful of states.
China, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia, the United States and a number of European countries are known to have developed advanced cyberwarfare capabilities.
Suspicions immediately fell on Beijing, which has clashed repeatedly with Canberra as it looks to increase the cost of Australia speaking out against Communist Party interests.
Most recently Australia enraged China by calling for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
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