China cyber attack
The website of the ministry of national defence of China is seen on a computer screen - Reuters Reuters

China has rubbished a Pentagon report which points fingers at the Beijing administration alleging cyber espionage against the US and others.

A spokesman for China's People's Liberation Army said the report, which directly accuses China of cyber attacks for the first time, is based on prejudice and conjecture rather than fact.

Wang Xinjun, a researcher at the PLA's Academy of Military Sciences, told China's state-run Xinhua news agency: "Although it is common sense that you cannot determine sources of cyber attacks only through IP addresses, some people in the Pentagon still prefer believing they are from China as they always bear a sense of rivalry. It is an allegation based on presupposition."

The researcher also reiterated that China has been a victim of cyber attacks and denied Beijing's hand. Wang noted that such "groundless accusations" reflect the "distrust" between the two countries over the issue.

The US report alleges that state-sponsored hackers have been penetrating US computers in a bid to gather intelligence on the country's diplomatic, economic, and defence sectors.

"In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the US government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military," said the annual report of the US Department of Defence to Congress.

The 83-page report alleges that the hacked information "could potentially be used to benefit China's defence industry, high technology industries....and military planners.

"China continues to engage in activities designed to support military procurement and modernisation. These include economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, export control violations, and technology transfer."

Although reports have been speculating over China's hand in the cyber attacks, Washington has so far not openly blamed Beijing.

David Helvey, deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia, told a Pentagon briefing on the report: "What concerns me is the extent to which China's military modernisation occurs in the absence of the type of openness and transparency that others are certainly asking of China."