SHANGHAI — China’s military on Thursday denied accusations that it hacked Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting companies in the United States.
In a harshly worded release, Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said that the American charges against four of its members were “without a basis in fact.”
“This behavior is completely hegemonic and amounts to legal bullying,” said Mr. Wu.
On Monday, American officials issued indictments that accused hackers in China’s military of stealing trade secrets and the personal data of about 145 million Americans in 2017 from Equifax. The Department of Justice suggested the data theft was part of an organized effort by China’s military and intelligence services to assemble caches of personal information on Americans to better target intelligence officers and other officials.
Hacking has re-emerged as a sore point between Washington and Beijing amid a broader worsening of relations. The two countries reached an interim pact in January that cooled but did not end their trade war. The United States has increasingly stopped Chinese investors from taking stakes in companies in sensitive industries, and it has warned American allies not to use equipment made by Huawei, the Chinese maker of telecommunications gear.
Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Chinese Communist Party “the central threat of our times.”
The indictments underscored the increasing irrelevance of a 2015 agreement between the two countries to refrain from hacking and cyberattacks targeting intellectual property for commercial gain. As both countries continue to squabble about attacks, both will also probably continue to carry them out, cybersecurity experts say.
In the statement, Mr. Wu mentioned revelations from WikiLeaks and the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that showed the United States had targeted China with cyberattacks.
“When it comes to online security, the United States has flagrant double standards,” said Mr. Wu, according to Chinese state media. “Its conduct and deeds are incredibly hypocritical.”
“We demand the United States immediately correct this mistake and repeal the charges in order to avoid another destructive step in the relationship between the two countries and militaries,” he said.