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China hits back over cyber-warfare allegations
Jim Middleton speaks to China's Ambassador to Australia Chen Yuming about claims Beijing is behind cyber attacks on the US and others.

China has hit back at accusations that it is engaging in cyber-warfare against the United States and its allies.

In a recent update of Australia's strategic priorities, Prime Minister Julia Gillard elevated cyber-security high up the list, but her Government refuses to say whether it regards China as a culprit.

Ms Gillard also expressed concern about the potential for conflict if China and the United States failed to manage competition in the Asia Pacific.

Chen Yuming is China's ambassador to Australia.
JIM MIDDLETON: Not so many days ago Julia Gillard unveiled Australia's current assessment of its strategic priorities. You were present for that speech. Among other things she said that strategic competition was inevitable between China and the United States in the Asia Pacific. She is right about that, is she not?

CHEN YUMING (translation): I believe that to the report released by the Prime Minister herself is a very important document and we are pleased to see that the Australian Government have recently before that released the White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century.

During the recent 18th Party Congress of China, which you have interviewed and reported, the new Chinese leadership has reaffirmed China's strong commitment to the state policy of peaceful development and developing friendly and cooperative relations with all other countries in the world, including Australia and the United States.

JIM MIDDLETON: China is clearly concerned about the direction of US policy in the Pacific. Why does Beijing not accept the assurances, repeated assurance s from Washington that its so-called pivot to Asia is not designed to contain China and its interests?

CHEN YUMING (translation): Perhaps I can understand your question from another direction. Perhaps rather than asking the question from the perspective that why China is not that acceptable to the position of another country, perhaps it is better for us to look at from the opposite direction that it is important for other countries in the region and in the world to have an objective and fair assessment and understanding of China's orientational development and of China's strategic intent.

I believe this is very important. So the question is: why there is still a small number of people in the world who still hold some doubt or scepticism about China's development? And we can assure the rest of the world that we will continue to go in the direction of peaceful development.

JIM MIDDLETON: On a related subject, it's often the case that when Australian ministers speak with their Chinese counterparts they are asked about the persistence of the ANZUS (Australian, New Zealand, United States)Treaty. Is it China's view that the ANZUS Treaty is now out-moded and something of an impediment to good relations between Australia and China in the 21st Century?

CHEN YUMING (translation): The 21st Century is a century of peace and development. It is also a century that all countries in the world should come together and jointly tackle the multiple challenges facing the world. So we have a lot of tasks before us. There is still a long way for us to - for the grow the economy of the world and we face the severe challenge of climate change. And also we face such challenges like epidemics and terrorism.

So we believe that it is important for us to on the one hand respect the history but also on the other hand have a Chinese saying goes we need to look forward. We need to focus on the future and think about how could we work together to best tackle those challenges together.

JIM MIDDLETON: Another subject, if I may, in the speech that Julia Gillard gave, which I mentioned earlier and which you attended, she also elevated cyber-security to a top-level Australian security concern. Can you guarantee that Australia is not subject to cyber-attack from Chinese sources?

CHEN YUMING (translation): I would also like to raise the same question to you, actually, because like Australia China also strongly calls for better protection in the cyberspace and we strongly support a stronger and a more stricter measures in tackling cyber-attacks.

China is also a big victim of cyber-attacks in the world and there are hundreds of thousands of computers in Chinese government agencies which have been attacked by cyber-attackers from overseas sources. And, according to the statistics that I have got, that 13 per cent of cyber attacks around the world have targeted China.

JIM MIDDLETON: There have been assertions on this subject from the United States, from Canada, from India that Chinese sources have been behind cyber-attacks. Can you, as I say, guarantee that Australia has not been subject to cyber-attack from Chinese sources?

CHEN YUMING (translation): As I have answered to that China is a big victim of cyber-attacks and China is also looking for and identifying the hackers and sources of these attacks. So we believe that it is not fair or it is unfounded that, if some other parties would like to describe China not as a victim of cyber-attacks but another part, another side of the story, we think this is not fair.

JIM MIDDLETON: Ambassador, thank you very much indeed.

CHEN YUMING: Thank you very much.
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