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Beijing accused the United States Thursday of smearing China after Washington alleged Chinese hackers were attempting to steal research on developing a vaccine against the Coronavirus.

“China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to such smearing,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing, stressing Beijing has significant achievements of its own in the fight against the pandemic.

US authorities warned Wednesday that Chinese hackers were attempting to steal coronavirus data on treatments and vaccines, adding fuel to Washington’s war with Beijing over the pandemic, the AFP reports.

The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said organizations researching COVID-19 were at risk of “targeting and network compromise by the People’s Republic of China.”

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They warned that Chinese government-affiliated cyber actors and others were attempting to obtain “valuable intellectual property and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research.”

“China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation’s response to COVID-19,” they said.

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