Even as China on Monday dismissed allegations that it hacked and stole data and plans related to Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as "groundless", the country's official Xinhua news agency was quick to hit back at the US.
It accused the US of trying to carry out an 'Internet war', citing the same leaked document of whistle-blower Edward Snowden carried by a German magazine.
"The so-called evidence that has been used to launch groundless accusations against China is completely unjustified," Hong Lei, China's foreign ministry spokesperson, told reporters on Monday.
The official Chinese reaction came after German magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday published a leaked document from Snowden, which included a top secret US government presentation that said China had stolen data on F-35 plans and program including radar designs and engine schematics.
Hong said that due to the "complex nature" of cyber attacks, it was difficult to pinpoint the relevant attacker, adding that China had always geared towards preventing hacking.
He then turned the heat on the US.
"According to the material presented by the relevant person, some countries themselves have disgraceful records on cyber security," Hong added, apparently referring to the US surveillance program.
As the official made the statement, Chinese mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency was quick to publish an article citing the report by the German magazine, which appears to expose the fact that the NSA was "planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role."
The Xinhua article was published on 19 January, the same day when western media were vigorously pushing the story of China trying to steal the fighter jet plans. The report cited the German magazine as revealing in a "recent report" that Washington was "seeking the ability to destroy enemy infrastructure remotely."
"The Spiegel disclosure highlighted an NSA project code-named 'Politerain', which is operated by digital snipers with Tailored Access Operations, the department responsible for breaking into computers," Xinhua said, adding that in the job posting of the project, the program said it was "looking for interns who want to break things."
Those interns were tasked to build up expertise on how to "remotely degrade or destroy opponent computers, routers, servers and network-enabled devices by attacking the hardware," the agency said, citing the Spiegel report.
The agency further cited the German magazine as saying that "Atomic, biological and chemical weapons" were the ABC weapons of the US government – a list that was now extended to 'D' – "digital weapons".
The NSA aims "to use the Net to paralyse computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money," Xinhua said, quoting the magazine.
"For the 2013 secret intelligence budget, the NSA projected it would need around 1 billion dollars in order to increase the strength of its computer network attack operations. The budget included an increase of some 32 million dollars for 'unconventional solutions' alone," the report revealed, according to Xinhua.