In a story about the Chinese attacking Western companies to obtain commercial advantage, The Times briefly mentions an alleged social engineering compromise of Royal Dutch Shell in Houston, Texas, by 'special interest group' of Chinese nationals. The brief story sounds remarkably similar to case studies in Ira Winkler's books, in which Chinese officials coerce Chinese nationals working abroad into providing insider information on targeted organizations.
Is this all just smoke and mirrors or a genuine threat? Despite being 'professionally paranoid', I normally dismiss claims about Chinese hackers and spies, specifically, as mere xenophobic propaganda by the US and its allies, especially when specific details of the alleged attacks are conveniently omitted. The Times refers to a letter from MI5 to 300 UK businesses warning them about the Chinese threat, and outlines an alleged Chinese Trojan attack on Rolls Royce. There are many other allegations flying around about the Chinese ... just as there were allegations about WMD in Iraq and Reds Under Beds. I'm not privvy to the inside track on these stories, but I bet the CIA and US/allies' secret services, diplomats and mercenaries are every bit as active in China and other "foreign places".