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Cover Story Why China hacks the world

Can aggressive espionage fuel the innovation that Beijing needs to reinvent its global role?

The e-mails wouldn’t have struckanyone as unusual. The messages to employees at Boeing Co.’s offices in Orange County, Calif., where the aerospace giant works on the big C-17 military transport, looked like any of the hundreds of messages from colleagues and contacts flooding inboxes every day. But beginning in the winter of 2009, two Chinese hackers began sending malicious e-mails to Boeing employees disguised to look as if they came from familiar people. Even if one employee opened the mail and downloaded the attached file, it could give hackers a portal to secrets, corporate and US Department of Defense plans, engineering details, and potentially classified Pentagon files stored on Boeing networks. And that’s exactly what happened.

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