Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has accused the US of smearing Chinese firms by implementing an unjustified crackdown that prevents American utilities from buying power grid equipment from Beijing.

US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette signed an order on Thursday banning utility companies that supply electricity to US defense facilities from purchasing equipment produced by China.

In a statement, the Department of Energy argued that the move is necessary to protect America from potential cyber-attacks. “It is imperative we secure the Bulk Power System against attacks and exploitation by foreign adversaries. This order is one of several steps this Administration is taking to greatly diminish the ability of our foreign adversaries to target our critical electric infrastructure.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin hit back at the decision, accusing America of implementing the policy without evidence, only doing so to persecute firms in Beijing.

Speaking at his regular press conference, Wang stated that “No matter how hard the U.S. side tries to smear China, it can not hide the fact that it is politically cracking down on its competitors, nor can it stop the development and progress of Chinese enterprises.”

Wang went on to accuse US agencies of engaging in the sort of cyber espionage that they are citing as the justification for their actions against China, declaring that the international community sees through American’s trick of slandering others in order to distract from their own behavior. 

The move from the United States comes as American officials revealed that they had uncovered a hacking campaign that they believe poses a “grave risk” to the country and its infrastructure. The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has not yet identified which departments or groups were affected, whether a data breach occurred, and who they believe was behind it, beyond saying it was an “advanced persistence threat actor.”

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