State Secretary Blinken tells China hackers will be held ‘accountable’

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told China’s top diplomat Thursday that Washington will hold hackers accountable after he raised alleged breaches of US government agencies, a US official said.

Blinken, in talks in Jakarta with Wang Yi, “made clear that any action that targets US government, US companies, American citizens, is of deep concern to us and that we will take appropriate action to hold those responsible accountable,” a senior US official said.

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The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Blinken raised the new cases but stopped short of saying whether Washington’s top diplomat directly accused China of involvement.

Microsoft said this week a Chinese hacking group had gained access to nearly 25 organizations with the goal of espionage.

Blinken and Wang were meeting on the sidelines of Association of Southeast Asian Nations talks, less than a month after Blinken made a rare trip to Beijing.

Despite a new flurry of diplomacy between the world’s two largest economies, the United States has failed to persuade China to resume communication between their two militaries, seen as crucial in preventing incidents from spiraling into all-out conflict.

Blinken “underscored we have a responsibility to keep our channels of communication open, including between our two militaries,” another US official said.

“I think it’s urgent that we do so. We haven’t achieved that yet,” he said.

China has demanded that the United States lift sanctions on its defense minister, Li Shangfu, which were imposed over weapons purchases from US adversary Russia.

Officials said Blinken also spoke to China about ways to combat precursor chemicals that make fentanyl, the synthetic opioid behind an addiction epidemic in the United States.

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