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China Conveniently ‘Found’ Alleged OPM Hackers Ahead Of Obama Visit

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Steve Ambrose Contributor
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The Chinese government arrested several suspects they claim are connected with a U.S. data breach on the eve of a September state visit with President Barack Obama, in an apparent good-faith gesture.

While the identities of the Chinese suspects have not been confirmed as of yet, American officials said China confirmed plans to prosecute the hackers, reported The Washington Post. China alleges they are responsible for a major hack into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management discovered in June, 2015.

Officials in the U.S. are skeptical of the legitimacy of the arrests. “We don’t know if the arrests the Chinese purported to have made are the guilty parties,” an unnamed U.S. official told The Washington Post. “There is a history [in China] of people being arrested for things they didn’t do or other ‘crimes against the state.’”

The hack resulted in the data theft of roughly 22 million federal workers. Social security numbers, addresses, driver license numbers, and more were all stolen in what has been described as one of the largest cyber breaches in American history. (RELATED: Federal Agencies Still Lacking On Cybersecurity After OPM Debacle)

U.S. officials believe the Chinese government, specifically the civilian Ministry of State Security (MSS), was behind the attack, although President Xi Jinping has consistently denied the charges.

Ahead of the September summit in the U.S., Meng Jianzhu, a special envoy to Jinping, reiterated that China was not involved in the OPM breach and promised to find the hackers responsible. (RELATED: Feds Pay Out $133.3 Million After Massive Data Breach)

A number of American officials believe the hackers were MSS contractors who went rogue, but acted with the knowledge that any information acquired would be useful to the MSS. China and the U.S. have had a tense relationship regarding digital security.

During the September summit, both nations agreed to a cyber pact establishing a foundation for cooperation to combat the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets in an effort to achieve an unfair competitive advantage.

But a number of attacks—against health insurer Anthem and several technology and pharmaceutical companies—that were attributable to China have called the seriousness of the pact into doubt. And as a result of the breaches, members of Congress and the national security community have called for a more aggressive response to dissuade further threats.

The Obama Administration signed an executive order April 1, allowing the Department of the Treasury secretary “to impose sanctions on individuals or entities that engage in significant malicious cyber-enabled activities that…materially contributed to, a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States.”

Additionally, a congressional Chinese commission released a report Nov. 17 recommending Congress consider authorizing revenge-hacking as a deterrent to state-sponsored cyber aggression. (RELATED: Congress Advised To Allow Cyber Counter-Attacks on Chinese Hackers)

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.