For the first time ever, a United States grand jury indicted five Chinese military officials for hacking American companies. The charges include economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, computer fraud, accessing a protected computer, transmitting code with intent to damage a computer, and aggravated identity theft. Do not expect the accused to be tried anytime soon – – China is denying all charges and the defendants are military officials.
So what is the Unites State’s position on offensive espionage? While the United States admits to having a robust clandestine service, it denies spying on other countries to steal trade secrets. What about American companies? Do they ever steal trade secrets from foreign competitors? Contrast this with China – – which of course is a communist country. Almost ever facet of Chinese commercial activity is control by the government. So when China steals trade secrets from a foreign competitor, are they trying to level the playing field?