China to close $1 billion facility to deal with cyberattacks
China will shut down the country’s biggest cyber-security facility, including one that deals with cyber-attacks, the Ministry of Public Security said Friday, in a sign that Beijing is cracking down on the threat from hackers.
The facility at the Wuhan State Cyber Security Center will be closed to new operations and new activities from the next two years, according to a statement posted on the official Weibo microblog.
The government said it will replace it with an information security center.
The center, known as the Wuchang Center, is one of China’s largest cyber-protection centers, with about 20,000 employees, including technicians, analysts and security specialists.
The country’s state-run Global Times newspaper published an editorial on Thursday calling the Wufan center an “embarrassment to national security” that “wasn’t ready for the Internet era.”
The newspaper said the center was an embarrassment to national defense.
The announcement comes amid an escalating debate about China’s cyber-defense capabilities, with U.S. officials accusing Beijing of stifling cybersecurity efforts and raising fears that Beijing may be using the Wuzhen center to spy on U.N. diplomats and spy on people in other countries.
The Chinese government has long claimed it has developed the most effective and robust cybersecurity defenses in the world.
But some analysts and former officials have questioned Beijing’s claim, saying Beijing has been slow to invest in the technology and has a tendency to back away from a technology initiative that might benefit the country.
China also faces criticism for a series of cyberattacks on the U.K. and other European countries in 2014 and 2015.
The U.H.S.-based National Security Agency has said Beijing has “used hacking tools to compromise the U,S.
and European systems.”