By Mick Krever, CNN
Amanpour and Ambassador Cui also spoke about Russian President Putin's visit to China, the American pivot to Asia, and China's territorial disputes. You can see that portion of the interview here.
A day after the United States announced indictments against five members of the Chinese military, China’s ambassador to the U.S. accused America of hypocrisy in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“It’s really amazing to see that some people still believe they have moral high ground and credibility to accuse others, if we consider the Snowden revelations and so on and so forth,” Cui Tiankai said.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday accused five Chinese nationals of engaging in commercial espionage, hacking into American businesses including U.S. Steel Corp., Westinghouse, Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies, the United Steel Workers Union, and SolarWorld.
In some instances, Holder said, the hackers stole trade secrets that would have been "particularly beneficial to Chinese companies at the time that they were stolen.”
The United States engages in widespread espionage around the world, but draws a distinction between spying for national security and spying for the advancement of domestic business.
“The fact is China is a victim to such cyberattacks,” Ambassador Cui said.
“I don't know how they can make a distinction between such activities. How do they explain the attacks on Chinese companies, universities, and even individuals? Is that for national defense? Or is that for other purposes?”
The Ambassador urged dialogue on the issue, but said that would be not possible until the U.S. reversed its “wrong decision” on issuing the indictment.
Soon after Chinese President Xi Jinping took office last year, he and U.S. President Barack Obama held a landmark one-on-one summit in California.
But ominously, Ambassador Cui suggested this latest U.S. move could jeopardize the whole relationship.
“We have to have corresponding efforts by the United States. China itself cannot guarantee that the relations will move on the right tracks. It requires efforts by both sides.”
The United States’ reason for issuing the indictment at this time is unclear. The five people in question work for China’s military and live in that country; it is doubtful America would ever actually detain them.
“I don’t know why the United States made such a decision,” Ambassador Cui said.
Last April, the United States and China set up a cybersecurity working group to address the issue.
“The very basis for the working group is the commitment of all sides to work to address these measures, to address these issues for cooperation and dialogue,” Cui said. “And now they are taking unilateral action. They really undermine the very basis of the working group.”
China, he told Amanpour, is not only denying America’s “false charges,” but it is demanding an account of the U.S.’s own cyberespionage activities.
“We also have a long list over very good and well-known Chinese companies that have been attacked by such activities, originating from the United States.”
“So I think it would be constructive and practical for the two governments to work together on these issues, to address these issues together – not to exchange accusations like this.”
You can see the full transcript of Amanpour's conversation with Ambassador Cui here.