Chinese officials are suspected of secretly copying the contents of a US government laptop computer during a visit by Carlos Gutierrez, the American trade secretary.
The Chinese cyberspies then allegedly tried to use the information to hack into US government computers.
The copying is believed to have occurred when a laptop was left unattended during Mr Gutierrez's trip to Beijing for trade talks last December. Web Link
There has been growing concern in the US about the extent of Chinese economic and industrial espionage, particularly involving computers.
Chinese working in America have with growing frequency been expelled from the US for suspected industrial spying.
In the past two years, the Pentagon, State Department and Commerce Department have all been hit by widespread computer intrusions blamed on China.