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The US and China have been battling it out over the Internet for quite some time, with many fearing that the situation could escalate to a full on cyber war. 

In a rather aggressive and unprecedented move, the US has charged five Chinese military hackers over an alleged theft of trade secrets from six US companies. The indictment lists 31 charges, including economic espionage, identity theft, and conspiracy to commit computer fraud. The case, which the Attorney General's office has been building for several years, relates to secrets allegedly stolen from the following companies: Alcoa, Westinghouse, SolarWorld, US Steel, Allegheny Technologies Incorporated, and the US Steelworkers Union. All six trade in metals and energy.

“This is a case alleging economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking,”said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.  “The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response...This Administration will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market."

China denied the accusations and warned that the case would affect relations between the two countries. It's only going to get more complicated from here on out.

[via The Verge]