China steals new Australia spy agency blueprints

May 28, 2013 6:27 am
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Illustration. The national flags of Australia and China are displayed before a portrait of Mao Zedong in Beijing in April 2011. An Australian Broadcasting Corporation report says that Chinese hackers have stolen top secret blueprints to Australia's new intelligence agency headquarters/AFP
Illustration. The national flags of Australia and China are displayed before a portrait of Mao Zedong in Beijing in April 2011. An Australian Broadcasting Corporation report says that Chinese hackers have stolen top secret blueprints to Australia’s new intelligence agency headquarters/AFP
SYDNEY, May 28 – Chinese hackers have stolen top-secret blueprints to Australia’s new intelligence agency headquarters, a report said Tuesday, but Foreign Minister Bob Carr insisted ties with Beijing would not be hurt.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said the documents taken in the cyber hit included cabling layouts for the huge building’s security and communications systems, its floor plan, and its server locations.

Carr said the government was “very alive” to the threat of cyber attacks on national security, adding that “nothing that is being speculated about takes us by surprise”.

But he refused to confirm or deny China was behind the attack.

“I won’t comment on whether the Chinese have done what is being alleged or not,” he said.

“I won’t comment on matters of intelligence and security for the obvious reason: we don’t want to share with the world and potential aggressors what we know about what they might be doing, and how they might be doing it.”

While Australia has a long-standing military alliance with the United States, China is its largest trading partner and the two countries have been forging closer ties.

Carr insisted that the relationship would not be damaged by the allegations, which follow several other hacking attacks on government facilities in the past two years.

“It’s got absolutely no implications for a strategic partnership,” he said. “We have enormous areas of cooperation with China.”

“I won’t comment on matters of intelligence and security for the obvious reason: we don’t want to share with the world and potential aggressors what we know about what they might be doing, and how they might be doing it.”

The revelations saw Canberra came under pressure to launch an independent inquiry into the “sorry saga” by opposition politicians, but Prime Minister Julia Gillard declined to comment on “these unsubstantiated reports”.

The state broadcaster’s investigative Four Corners programme said the attack on a contractor involved with building the new Canberra headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was traced to a server in China.

It cited security experts as saying the theft exposed the agency to being spied on and may be the reason for a cost blowout and delays to the opening of the building, which was supposed to be operational last month.

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