China on Monday slammed the United States move to indict five People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel on alleged cyber theft, describing the indictment as “purely ungrounded” and “absurd”.

In a strong reaction issued unusually promptly, barely an hour after the U.S. announcement, the Foreign Ministry here accused the U.S. of making the indictment “based on fabricated facts”, adding that the move “grossly violates the basic norms governing international relations and jeopardises China-U.S. cooperation and mutual trust”.

The ministry said it had decided to “suspend activities” of the China-U.S. Cyber Working Group “given the lack of sincerity on the part of the U.S. to solve issues related to cyber security through dialogue and cooperation”.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said in a statement China had “lodged protest with the U.S. side right after the announcement, urging the U.S. side to immediately correct its mistake and withdraw the “indictment”.

Referring to the revelations of Washington’s own surveillance programme exposed by Edward Snowden, Mr. Qin said it was “a fact known to all that relevant U.S. institutions have long been involved in large-scale and organised cyber theft as well as wiretapping and surveillance activities against foreign political leaders, companies and individuals”.

“China,” he added, “is a victim of severe U.S. cyber theft, wiretapping and surveillance activities.”

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