Following a report (registration required) that a new hacker unit in Shanghai with ties to China’s People’s Liberation Army has been targeting American, European, and Japanese networks, China’s foreign ministry hit back with a pop culture reference meant to highlight America’s hypocrisy.
When asked about China’s response to the report from Crowdstrike, an American security firm, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chun Ying said yesterday, ”The US shouldn’t try to dress up as the victim. America itself is The Matrix. This is a fact the whole world knows.” Hua went on to cast doubt on parts of the report, namely the part that names a Chinese hacker who claimed on his blog that he works for the Chinese military. (“Have you ever seen a thief on the street who has a name tag pinned on his chest saying that he is a thief?” she asked.)
Whether Hua intended to compare the US to a futuristic computer system that subdues mankind in order to use their energy is unclear. More likely, Hua wanted to underline the fact that the US is no stranger to cyber sleuthing—the Chinese translation for The Matrix translates to “hacker’s empire.” (The phrase can also be taken literally, but given the popularity of the movie and its sequels in China, many people are likely to think of the film.)
Still, these aren’t the worst comments coming from China in response to spying allegations—in May, Chinese state media called the US a “mincing rascal” after US authorities charged five Chinese military officers with cyber espionage.