Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei called reports that China is attempting to steal military drone technology from the United States "groundless" on Tuesday.
Competition between the two countries over the development of drone technology has been the focus of the media's attention in recent days. The New York Times said on Saturday that "hackers based in Shanghai went after one foreign defence contractor after another" for almost two years. A US cybersecurity company told the newspaper the Shanghai hackers were after "the technology behind the clear US lead in military drones".
On Sept 9, Japanese media reported that Tokyo sent fighter planes after an unidentified drone approaching Japan above the East China Sea. The drone, according to Japanese reports, was at one point in close proximity to China's Diaoyu Islands.
Unmanned aircraft have been put into widespread use around China for military reconnaissance, geological surveys and disaster relief. But Chinese analysts said the US is ramping up pressure on China to gain the upper hand in the development and trade of military drones.
Ding Hao, a senior researcher at the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science, said it's common for Washington to tarnish China's image with accusations of technology theft.
"In the eyes of Washington, China also stole technologies regarding nuclear submarines," Ding said.
Yang Jian, vice-president of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the US has failed to shed its Cold War mentality.
The US is the leading developer of drones, but international powers such as China, Russia and countries in Europe are also working to develop their own drone technologies.