China's new premier rejects US hacking claims

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Associated Press

Posted on March 17, 2013 at 6:05 AM

Updated Sunday, Mar 17 at 1:02 PM

BEIJING (AP) — New Chinese Premier Li Keqiang dismissed hacking accusations against China as "groundless" on Sunday and said his government was committed to strong ties with Washington.

Referring to allegations that China's military was behind massive hacking attacks on U.S. entities, Li reiterated Beijing's statements that China is a major target of global hackers and opposes all such criminal activity.

"I think we should not make groundless accusations against each other but spend more time doing practical things that will contribute to cybersecurity," Li said in his first news conference in his new role.

Li is the highest-ranking official to comment on the hacking claims made by U.S. cybersecurity firm Mandiant that provided a detailed picture of alleged cyberspying carried out by a People's Liberation Army unit based in Shanghai.

Li said that despite their differences, conflict between the world's largest and second-largest economies is not inevitable as long as the countries respect each other's major concerns and manage their differences.

China's new leaders "attach great importance" to relations that meet the "fundamental interests of people in both countries and serves the global trend of peace and development," Li told reporters at the traditional premier's news conference that follows the close of the annual legislative session.

China-U.S. ties have weathered a series of crises over the past year over dissidents, Chinese trade practices, opposition to Chinese investment in the U.S. and — most recently — hacking accusations. While basically stable, political ties are seen as lagging behind the economic relationship, with two-way trade hitting almost $500 billion last year, and China's new president, Xi Jinping, isn't expected to meet President Barack Obama until an economic summit in Russia in September.

Following Xi's elevation, Li was appointed premier last week, with running China's economy his main responsibility.

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