China ‘gravely concerned’ by hacker reports


China’s Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday expressed “grave concern” over reports that Chinese army hackers had penetrated German government computers systems and he vowed to crack down on such activity.

“We in the government took (the reports) as a matter of grave concern. Hackers breaking into and sabotaging computers is a problem faced by the entire world,” Wen said after meeting visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

German weekly Der Spiegel reported earlier that espionage programs traced to China’s People’s Liberation Army had been detected in computer systems at Merkel’s office, the Foreign Ministry and other government agencies in Berlin.

While not directly confirming the reports, Merkel said she told Wen during their talks that solid ties depended on “mutual respect.”

“I saw those reports and expressed that in order to move relations forward … we must together respect a set of game rules,” she told reporters at a joint press conference with Wen.

Wen said China is firmly opposed to such hacking and offered to increase cooperation with Germany on the issue.

“We are willing to maintain cooperation with the German government and take firm and effective action to prevent all hacking acts that threaten computer systems,” he said.

Foreign critics have voiced concern in recent years over China’s rise, including the activities of its fast-expanding armed forces.

But Wen told Merkel that China’s emergence was “an opportunity, not a threat”.

“China will always take the peaceful road. China is very happy to cooperate with all nations but will never threaten… so it’s clear, everyone please be at ease, there is no such thing as the ‘China Threat Theory,’” he said.