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The Chinese state-controlled press is having a field day with U.S. Justice Department indictments claiming the Chinese army is spying on American companies. They have been leveling counter-charges that the NSA is doing the same thing to Chinese companies.

Who’s to blame all depends on which side you’re on, says David Sanger, the National Security Correspondent for the New York Times.
He says Americans argue that “…when the NSA spies, it is spying either for pure national security – say it’s hunting for terrorists or nuclear proliferators  or it is spying for some kind of national economic advantage.” They argue that the Chinese spy for individual companies.

Sanger has been writing about the charges since they were revealed earlier this week. He says it’s unlikely the Chinese and Americans will just acknowledge they’re both spying on each other and move on, a la The Cold War.

“American companies are losing hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in stolen intellectual property. And frankly, the Chinese are not at a state of development where we’re that interested in stealing their stuff. But they’re highly interested in stealing ours. And so the cost of jobs in the United States, the cost in lost revenue is very high for us, and it’s been very low for the Chinese.”

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal