BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese armed forces never sanction hacking activities and speculation about a special "Internet unit" is groundless, a former defense ministry official said on Sunday.
There have been many recent allegations of habitual international cyber attacks by China, but Qian Lihua, who used to head the ministry's foreign affairs office, said China is itself one of the world's main targets of hacking.
The official website of the National Defense Ministry and the website of China Military Online stood against hacking from overseas on average 144,000 times a month in 2012, with 60 percent of the attacks coming from the United States, Qian told Xinhua in an interview in Beijing.
Late last month, U.S. cyber security firm Mandiant released a report which alleged that a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai was behind years of cyber attacks against U.S. companies.
The report was followed by a wave of Western media criticism of hacking by China.
"Both China and the U.S. face cyber security problems and should work together and improve mutual trust in the aspect," said Qian, a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body.
He suggested that the two countries, using the United Nations as a platform, discuss and set rules on how to jointly create a peaceful, safe, cooperative and open cyber space.
"China is against countries that take the advantage of their technological development and draw up self-serving rules," Qian said. "Equal dialogue is the only correct way to protect cyber security."
The CPPCC National Committee started its annual session in Beijing Sunday.