The United States is on the brink of making another grave mistake under the name of protecting cyber security, as it is reportedly considering retaliatory measures against China for unfounded hacking accusations.
Senior U.S. government and intelligence officials were quoted by a U.S. newspaper as saying Friday that President Barack Obama's administration has determined to retaliate against China for its alleged theft of personnel information of more than 20 million Americans from the database of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), but the forms and specific measures of the retaliation have not been decided.
The report added that Obama has allegedly ordered his staff to come up with "a more creative set of responses," while a U.S. official hinted that the United States will employ "a full range of tools to tailor a response."
The decision came amid a growing chorus in the United States demonizing China as the culprit behind the massive breach of the OPM computer networks. As witnessed by most past similar cases, the U.S. government, Congress and media once again called for punishing China for this after a top U.S. intelligence official indirectly pointed a finger at China.
Obviously, cyber security has become another tool for Washington to exert pressure on China and another barrier that restrains the further development of China-U.S. relations.
Washington will be blamed for any adverse effects this might have on its ties with China, as all the U.S. accusations against China were made without providing concrete evidence.
The U.S. government was also self-contradictory for declining to directly name China as the attacker on the one hand, while deciding to target China for retaliation on the other.
By repeatedly blaming China for hacking into its government computers, Washington apparently tries to portray Beijing as the No. 1 bad guy in cyber space, but this is doomed to fail because the United States is the most powerful country with the most advanced cyber technologies.
As exposed by former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden, the U.S. government has been notoriously and blatantly engaged in worldwide surveillance operations against numerous other countries. To divert criticism against its relentless espionage activities, it portrays itself as a victim of cyber attacks.
By heating up the issue of the OPM hacking, Washington perhaps also aims to pressure China to restore the bilateral cyber work group which was suspended last year after Washington sued five Chinese military officers on so-called charges of commercial espionage despite strong protests from China.
China has repeatedly stated that it is against all forms of cyber attacks and will crack down on them, as it has long been a major victim of such illegal activities, many of which originated from the United States.
China has also called for conducting cooperation with the U.S. side and any other country to protect cyber security and its peaceful order.
Just like protecting its territorial sovereignty and integrity, China is strongly determined to protect the safety of its cyber space and reserves all rights to counter any outside threats and intrusions. It will meet any form of political or economic retaliation with corresponding countermeasures
The United States, which made a mistake last year with its false charges against the Chinese officers, should not repeat the mistake by taking retaliatory measures against China over the OPM incident.
If it stubbornly implements retaliatory measures against China in cyber space, it will be known for being a cyber bully and will have to shoulder responsibility for escalating confrontation and disrupting the peaceful order in the cyber space.