Beijing denied U.S. charges that two Chinese nationals stole identities and engaged in a conspiracy to commit computer intrusions and wire fraud.
"The U.S. made false accusations against the Chinese on the grounds of so-called 'cyber stealing,'" the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "The move is a serious violation of the basic principles of international relations."
The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed the indictment Dec. 20 and in a statement said the defendants "acted in association with the Chinese Ministry of State Security's Tianjin State Security Bureau."
"The indictment alleges that the defendants were part of a group that hacked computers in at least a dozen countries and gave China's intelligence service access to sensitive business information," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement. "This is outright cheating and theft, and it gives China an unfair advantage at the expense of law-abiding businesses and countries that follow the international rules in return for the privilege of participating in the global economic system."
According to a Reuters report, sources familiar with the attacks indicated the hackers were able to breach the networks of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and IBM.
The incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said the affected industries included medical equipment, manufacturing, healthcare, biotechnology, automobiles, oil and gas exploration, telecommunications and consumer electronics. "These attacks are intolerable, and we plan to continue to work together on a bipartisan basis next Congress to defend American consumers and enterprise from international criminals like those indicted yesterday," Pallone said in a statement.