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China is being widely blamed for the Ministry of Defence hack, so ministers look odd as the government isn’t naming Beijing publicly | Politics News

It was only Monday evening when Sky News first revealed that China was behind a massive cyber-attack on Ministry of Defence systems – and a day on, it is still a mystery.

The MoD has been working at pace to ascertain the scale of the leak and damage done since it discovered the payroll system – run by an outside contractor – had been hacked, exposing names, bank details and in some cases addresses of serving personnel.

I have had it confirmed through multiple Whitehall sources that the Chinese state, possibly working through a third party, is believed by government to be responsible.

Other media outlets have now caught up and had the same confirmation.

Yet the government is not naming China publicly. There is a huge amount of nervousness inside government about how exactly to handle this publicly.

Read more:
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China ‘trying to undermine our democracy’

It appears the government does not want to say things publicly because of the economic relationship, and Rishi Sunak’s own nuanced position on UK-Sino relations.

Yet that ship has sailed – China is being widely blamed, so ministers look odd, and even a bit cowardly, for ducking the question.

This speaks to the wider uncertainty – whether the UK policy on China looks more to the US, where some hawks want China to be seen as an overt threat, or looks to the EU – President Xi is currently in France – which takes a more emollient role.

Can Britain have its cake and eat it – yu yu xiong zhang jian de (a Chinese saying meaning you can’t have everything you want and must choose) – on this issue for much longer?

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