BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry on Monday it welcomed comments by the U.S. defense chief saying the United States would exercise restraint in using the military in cyberspace, but added Beijing hoped Washington would match its words with actual policy.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, pushing for openness ahead of a trip to China next month, said the Pentagon sought to be "open and transparent" about its cyber capabilities and intentions with both allies and competitors.
He also urged other nations to exercise restraint in cyberspace, saying the United States wanted to promote the qualities of the Internet that have made it a "catalyst for freedom and prosperity".
Beijing and Washington have been squaring off for months over the issue of cyber attacks, each accusing the other of hacking into sensitive government websites.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China paid great attention to Hagel's comments and also believes the Internet should be used for promoting development and people's wellbeing.
"Maintaining peace on the Internet and avoiding cyber-wars accords with the interests of both China and the United States," Hong told a daily news briefing.
"We hope that the United States can earnestly turn its comments into policy and action and work with China to create a peaceful, open, safe and cooperative space online."
Earlier this month, The New York Times and German magazine Der Spiegel said the U.S. government spied on major Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies Co.
Last week, China's Defence Ministry said that it would beef up its Internet security following the report, but also accused the United States of hypocrisy.
The White House has said that the United States does not spy to gain commercial advantage.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Matt Driskill)