U.S. Charges 2 Chinese Hackers Working for Chinese Government with Global Hacking and Orders Closing of the Houston Consulate as China Retaliates

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Thursday, July 30, 2020
Bruce Zagaris

                On July 21, 2020, a federal grand jury in Spokane, Washington, returned an indictment that earlier in the month charged two nationals and residents of the People’s Republic of China with hacking into the computer systems of hundreds of victim companies, governments, and non-governmental organizations, as well as individual dissidents, clergy, and democratic and human rights activists in the United States and abroad, including Hong Kong and China.  The defendants acted for their own personal financial gain in some cases, and for the benefit of the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) or other Chinese government agencies in other cases.[1] On July 23, 2020, the US ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, within 72 hours, due to  "stealing intellectual property” - a move described as "political provocation" by Beijing.[2]  On July 24, China ordered the U.S. to close its consulate in Chengdu in response to the U.S.’s order that China close the Houston consulate.[3]

[1]    U.S. Department of Justice, Two Chinese Hackers Working with the Ministry of State Security Charged with Global Computer Intrusion Campaign Targeting Intellectual Property and Confidential Business Information, Including COVID-19 Research, Press Rel. 20-675, July 21, 2020.


[2]  Chinese consulate in Houston ordered to close by US,  BBC,  July 23, 2020.


[3]   Anna Fifield, Carol Morello and Ellen Nakashima, In retaliation, China tells U.S. to shut consulate in Chengdu, Wash. Post, July 25, 2020, at A13, col. 1.