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Silence Amidst Suspicions: UK Government’s Muted Response to China’s Alleged MoD Hack Raises Questions

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Accusations are mounting against China for the cyberattack on the Ministry of Defence, yet it's peculiar that officials have not openly identified Beijing as the perpetrator. Sky News recently reported that Chinese operatives infiltrated a Ministry of Defence network, compromising payroll information of the UK Armed Forces.

Assistant political editor @SamCoatesSky

Tuesday, May 7, 2024, 12:

On Monday night, Sky News reported for the first time that a significant cyber-attack on the Ministry of Defence systems was orchestrated by China. A day later, the details of the incident remain unclear.

The Ministry of Defense has been swiftly acting to determine the extent and impact of the breach after finding out that its payroll system, managed by an external contractor, was compromised, revealing names, banking information, and occasionally the addresses of active duty members.

Several sources within Whitehall have corroborated that the government suspects the Chinese state, potentially acting via an intermediary, of being culpable.

Other news organizations have now received the same confirmation and are reporting on it as well.

Despite this, the government is avoiding public identification of China. There is significant apprehension within government circles regarding the best way to manage this issue openly.

Discover more: Beijing represents a 'persistent' risk to Western cybersecurity, as China 'attempts to weaken our democratic systems'

The government's decision to withhold China's name today has raised many eyebrows. Sources suggest there's a simpler reason behind it.

In Political News

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps Reveals Contractor Name for MoD System Breached by Chinese Hackers

Sky News has discovered that China infiltrated the Ministry of Defence's

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick suggests dividing the Home Office into two separate entities to better manage migration issues.

The primary purpose of today's public statement is to comply with data protection regulations, which mandate that individuals impacted must be notified within a few days following the incident.

The process of "designation," or officially accusing another nation, often requires months or even years to meet the necessary standard of proof. This was evident when Oliver Dowden held China responsible two months ago for hacking the Electoral Commission several years prior.

Many continue to think that the government remains silent on certain issues due to economic ties, along with Rishi Sunak's complex stance on the relationship between the UK and China.

That opportunity has passed – China is facing widespread criticism, making government officials appear strange and somewhat timid for avoiding the issue.

This reflects broader ambiguities regarding whether the UK's approach to China aligns more closely with the US, where certain hardliners view China as a clear danger, or with the EU. Notably, President Xi is presently visiting France, a country known for its more conciliatory stance towards China.

Can Britain continue to want the best of both worlds – as the Chinese proverb "yu yu xiong zhang jian de" suggests, you can't have it all – on this matter indefinitely?

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