"They do it because they can," the ambassador says. "My country doesn't do it because we don't have that kind of money and we don't have the technology."
Stewart Baker, a former senior U.S. homeland security official in the Bush administration, says the outrage in Europe appears to ignore the scale of hacking from China, most of it believed to be state-sponsored.
"The difference is the Chinese have never leaked documents," he said.
He also noted that protests by Merkel now are different from 2007 when the German leader traveled to China shortly after revelations that Chinese hackers had infiltrated German computer networks.
News accounts then said only that Merkel smiled as she met Chinese leaders.
"When she had a chance of take on some real communists for hacking into her computer, she swallowed her objections," Baker said.