A US government report warned that China is sharply stepping up espionage against the United States as the rising Asian power invests in cyber warfare and grows more sophisticated in recruiting spies.
"China is changing the way that espionage is being done," said Carolyn Bartholomew, the chair of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
In its wide-ranging annual report to Congress yesterday, the commission reported a steep rise in the disruption and infiltration of websites of the US government and perceived Beijing rivals such as Tibet's exiled leader the Dalai Lama.
Colonel Gary McAlum, a senior military officer, told the commission the US Defense Department detected 54,640 malicious cyber incidents to its systems in 2008, a 20 percent rise from a year earlier. The figure is on track to jump another 60 percent this year.
While the attacks came from around the world, the commission said China was the largest culprit. Some Chinese "patriotic hackers" may not receive official support, but the report said the government likely planned to deploy them in a conflict to disrupt a foreign adversary's computers.
The bipartisan commission found that China was the most aggressive nation in spying on the United States and was trying to recruit more American spies.