According to a Justice Department summary released on Thursday, so far this year the department has brought charges in 10 China-related cases of espionage and hacking, including three recent cases involving alleged crimes committed at the behest of a branch of the Ministry of State Security, the country's main intelligence service.
"The indictment alleges that the defendants were part of a group that hacked computers in at least a dozen countries and gave China's intelligence service access to sensitive business information", said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The defendants compromised the data of MSP clients in 12 countries, they said.
They allegedly presided over a Chinese-government-backed campaign of cyber theft targeting advanced technologies with commercial and military applications. U.S. prosecutors say they also compromised the names, Social Security numbers and other personal information of more than 100,000 U.S. Navy personnel.
The UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), through its public-facing National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) offshoot, said APT10 had "targeted healthcare, defense, aerospace, government, heavy industry/mining, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and IT industries, among many other sectors".
"These activities must stop", Hunt said.
"The Chinese government is attempting to acquire or steal not only the plans and intentions of the United States government, but also the ideas and innovations of the very people that make our economy so incredibly successful", he said.
The United Kingdom, meanwhile, said it held "elements of the Chinese government" responsible for the hacking and accused China of breaking worldwide commitments including a deal it signed with the U.K.in 2015 to end state-directed cyber espionage of industrial targets.
Officials also accused China of breaking its non-hacking pact that the country signed with the United States in 2015.
"China's goal, simply put, is to replace the U.S. as the world's leading superpower and they're using illegal methods to get there", FBI Director Chris Wray said at a news conference on Thursday.
The UK's National Cyber Security Centre assesses that APT 10 was nearly certainly responsible for a campaign of activity against global Managed Service Providers (MSPs) since at least 2016, widely known as Cloud Hopper. "They go against commitments made to the United Kingdom in 2015 and as part of the G20 not to support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property or trade secrets".
Rosenstein told reporters that China stands accused of engaging in criminal activity that victimizes individuals and companies in the United States, violates USA laws, and departs from worldwide norms of responsible state behavior.
The indictments come only a week after the US Navy announced that China had hacked several of its contractors over the last 18 months and the NSA warned of attacks against "critical infrastructure".
The Justice Department said that one of the managed service providers hacked was a NY company that gave the Chinese nationals access to data from the company's clients involved in banking, telecommunications, medical equipment, manufacturing, health care, biotechnology, oil and gas exploration, and others.
In early December, Canada arrested an executive of China's leading Huawei telecommunications company at Washington's request.
"You can see the initial intrusion but it becomes harder to track secondary and tertiary intrusions, so there is an element about this technically which we will not know".