China is hacking the US to steal government secrets, says Clinton
Hillary Clinton has launched a withering attack on China, accusing Beijing of trying to steal American commercial secrets and government information.
Speaking at a campaign event in New Hampshire, the Democratic presidential candidate said she wanted to see China's peaceful rise.
"But we also have to be fully vigilant, China's military is growing very quickly, they're establishing military installations that again threaten countries we have treaties with, like the Philippines, because they are building on contested property," said Mrs Clinton.
"They're also trying to hack into everything that doesn't move in America. Stealing commercial secrets ... from defence contractors, stealing huge amounts of government information, all looking for an advantage," she said.
Last month, Beijing was accused of orchestrating a massive hack on a US government agency that compromised the personnel records up to 18 million current, former and prospective US government employees. China angrily denied the accusation but many in the US are unconvinced.
As secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, Mrs Clinton adopted a conciliatory approach to Beijing but her remarks echoed those of her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, who took office promising to "get tough" with China.
The 2016 presidential campaign has largely focused on domestic issues so far, but there is widespread anger over the US government agency hack and a belief that American jobs are being lost to China's low-wage economy.
There has also been concern about rising tensions in the South China Sea, especially in the Spratly archipelago, where China is creating artificial islands that could herald the construction of Chinese naval and military facilities.
Commentators have observed a clear gulf between Mrs Clinton's hawkish foreign policy and the Obama administration's more cautious approach.
Mrs Clinton also said engagement was the best option when confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We have to be much smarter in how we deal with Putin and how we deal with his ambitions," she said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington are at their lowest ebb since the Cold War over Russia's actions in neighbouring Ukraine.
Her stance could be seen as an attempt to head off Republican attacks over what they see as the administration's weakness in foreign affairs.
Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Rick Perry have called for sanctions on organisations involved in the US government hack.
Billionaire Donald Trump, whose strong polling in New Hampshire has unnerved the Republican establishment, has also vowed to take on China. (© Daily Telegraph, London)