A new era in cyber warfare has arrived.

In charging five Chinese military officials with cyber espionage, the U.S. extended the battle lines to combatants who wage war behind keyboards.

Already at odds with China over the communist country's air defense zone, trade pacts and human rights, the U.S. slapped China in a manner often threatened but never before used.

The indictments showcase growing frustration with Chinese cyber theft that is draining hundreds of billions of dollars from the American economy each year, analysts said. And it signaled a newly aggressive approach in combating cyber attacks that are becoming easier to carry out.

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