China expressed outrage on Monday of formal claims from the United States, NATO, Britain, and the European Union (EU), that it paid criminal groups to carry out cyber hacks, including ransomware attacks that perpetrated the Microsoft email system breach earlier this year.

According to the Biden administration, China was behind the massive hack that compromised tens of thousands of Microsoft Exchange email servers worldwide.  The U.S. joined with other world powers to blame Beijing intelligence agency for a wide array of malicious cyber operations that targeted dozens of industries.

In a rare coordinated action on Monday, the U.S. and its allies condemned Beijing over its exploitation of Microsoft Exchange servers.  The group has attributed the attack earlier this year to China’s civilian intelligence service, the Ministry of State Security.  In a very telling example of its deference to Beijing, the EU only attributed the attack to actors located on Chinese soil.

Beijing called the claims “a huge lie,” “slander” and “ridiculous,” and it threatened devastating consequences if Washington proceeds with similar rhetoric or considers punitive action, according to a post in China’s English-languageGlobal Times, considered a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

In Global Times Monday post, the article said “What is the motive and benefit for China to launch large-scale cyber-attacks against the U.S. and severely hit China-U.S. relations as the U.S. has accused? Which piece of information or economic benefit from the U.S. is more important than China’s national reputation?”

The Global Times added, “The U.S. claims China is risking its ability to conduct international commerce so that hackers-for-hire can pursue personal profit, and it is totally unthinkable in socialist China.”

The sweeping condemnation from the U.S. and its allies came as the Justice Department announced indictments against four Chinese nationals, including three officers of the Hainan State Security Department, a provincial arm of the Ministry of State Security, who were accused in a years-long hacking scheme in which they allegedly stole trade secrets, confidential business information, sensitive technologies and scientific research from dozens of companies, universities and government entities in several countries, including the United States, from 2011 to 2018.

“We’re not ruling out further actions to hold the PRC accountable,” a senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity said Sunday night, referring to the People’s Republic of China, the country’s official name. And, with a candid assessment, the official added, “We’re also aware that no one action can change the PRC’s behavior, and neither can one country acting on its own.”

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