An informal network of Chinese hackers pose a threat to the United States, according to Popular Science.
According to the article, there is no direct relationship between these Chinese hacker networks, on the one hand, and the Chinese government, on the other. However, it adds that the relationship in China between citizen and state is fluid. The Chinese government's failure to prosecute these hackers amounts to tacit approval. The government to some extent directs and controls them.
This picture resembles Queen Elizabeth I's relationship with her Sea Dogs. Vulnerable and strapped for cash, Elizabeth could not afford directly to confront Philip II's Spain. Instead, she relied upon a swarm of privateers to harry Spain while she refurbished her finances and built her fleet. Susan Ronald, in The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire provides us with an account of Elizabeth's relationship with her Sea Dogs; while Kenneth Andrews in Trade, Plunder and Settlement: Maritime Enterprise and the Genesis of the British Empire, 1480-1630 gives us a broader social and economic overview.
For more information consult the books on my Amazon.com list, Elizabethan Sea Dogs.