US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has accused China of "trying to hack into everything that doesn't move in America" and stealing government information, in strongly worded comments likely to irk Beijing.
Clinton, a former secretary of state, pulled no punches in remarks to Democratic supporters at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Saturday.
James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, said last month that China was the "leading suspect" in a massive breach affecting the personal data of millions of US government employees. Beijing dismissed the charge, saying it was based on "absurd logic".
Clinton, the current frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said: "They're trying to hack into everything that doesn't move in America ... stealing huge amounts of government information, all looking for an advantage.
"Make no mistake, they know they're in competition -- and they're gonna do everything they can to win."
The US has in recent years blamed several hacks on Beijing, including some that it says were carried out by members of the Chinese military.
Last month, leaked documents from National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden claimed that the NSA GCHQ had reverse engineered security software to obtain intelligence.
Kaspersky said in early June that it had discovered an advanced attack on its software and was quite confident that there was a nation state behind the attack, but did not wish to attribute who was behind it.
"We're security experts -- the best -- and we don't want to dilute our core competence by getting into politics," Eugene Kaspersky said in a blog post. "Governments attacking IT security companies is simply outrageous.
"We're supposed to be on the same side as responsible nations, sharing the common goal of a safe and secure cyberworld. We share our knowledge to fight cybercrime and help investigations become more effective.
"There are many things we do together to make this cyberworld a better place. But now we see some members of this 'community' paying no respect to laws, professional ethics, or common sense."
In May, it was revealed that the intelligence arms of the Five Eyes nations -- the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand -- planned to infect millions of Android smartphones with spyware.
Chinese hackers were blamed for a massive data breach from the US Office of Personnel Management, the federal agency responsible for vetting about 90 percent of the people for working in the federal government.
The data of potentially 18 million current, former, and prospective US federal employees was taken in the attack.