European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called out China Monday for targeting EU hospitals and health care institutions with cyberattacks during the coronavirus crisis.
“We’ve seen attacks … on computer systems, on hospitals, and we know the origin of the cyberattacks,” von der Leyen said after a videoconference with China’s President Xi Jinping. “We put together the facts and the figures necessary to know.”
“We pointed out clearly that this cannot be tolerated,” she added, pointing to China’s use of disinformation to distort the public debate around the coronavirus pandemic.
The remarks from the EU’s top official come after the bloc earlier this month published a report on disinformation linked to the pandemic that slammed Beijing for targeting Europe with false and distorting narratives.
In April, the EU had singled out cyberattacks on hospitals and coronavirus research institutes for criticism, but without naming Chinese state-backed actors.
Von der Leyen’s criticism came in the wake of a videoconference in which the EU’s leaders discussed trade, human rights and other issues with Xi.
“Progress is needed in many areas to rebalance this relationship,” Charles Michel, president of the European Council, told reporters afterward, mentioning market access for European firms and forced technology transfers as two key issues that need to be solved.
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