China has reacted angrily to suggestions that it may be responsible for the cyberattacks in Australia, saying any such claims are fictitious and completely baseless.
The comments were made late on Friday in Beijing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian and reported by ABC News.
He pointed the finger for the claims at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a Canberra-based think-tank on defence and strategic policy issues. It was founded by the Australian government and is partly funded by the Department of Defence.
‘Baseless’ attacks coming from Canberra institute
“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,” ABC News quotes the spokesperson as saying. “It has been hyping up, or creating, all kinds of anti-China topics,” he added.
“The attacks and the blame coming from this institute against China is totally baseless and nonsense.”
According to Zhao, China is a “staunch upholder of cybersecurity” and “the biggest victim of cyberattacks”.
Remarks are aimed at distracting attention from research
Responding to the remarks from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the institute’s executive director, Peter Jennings, said the ministry’s comments were an attempt to distract attention from the think-tank’s research into the Chinese Government.
He believed China was “highly likely” to be the source of the cyberattacks on Australia.
“Our China research is based on extensive use of sources in Mandarin,” Jennings said. “At no stage has the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs ever seriously addressed the content of our research.”
Institute receives funding from various foreign sources
Referring to the Chinese statement about funding from US arms companies, Jennings said the institute received funding from the US State Department, the Netherlands Government and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for specific projects.
He noted that all funding details could be found in annual reports tabled in parliament and available online at the ASPI website.
Among the companies providing funding are American aerospace and defence technology company Northrop Grumman, MBDA Missile Systems and Raytheon Australia.