US and China plan anti-cybertheft group together

By Olivia Rizzo
Social Media Editor

China’s President Xi Jiniping visited the U.S. this week to discuss cyber security with President Barack Obama, a top priority for both parties. On Friday, President Obama announced that a “common understanding” had been reached, according to Yahoo News.

There have been growing complaints from the U.S. about Chinese hacking government and corporate databases, with lingering suspicions in the capital that Beijing is occasionally the location of such hacks. A joint press conference was held in the White House Rose Garden after the leaders’ White House talks.

“It has to stop,” Obama said when he spoke to reporters with Xi standing beside him at the conference, according to Yahoo News. Obama stated that progress had been made, but words and actions need to be in line with one another.

Leaders promise a cybersecurity agreement. AP Photo.
Leaders promise a cybersecurity agreement. AP Photo.

A White House statement reported that the leaders agreed that neither government would knowingly allow or support cyber theft of corporate information.

However, the agreement stopped short of promising to stop government-to-government cyber spying for intelligence. This comes after a massive hack of the federal government’s personnel office this year in which data of more than 20 million people was compromised in the U.S., reported the Times. Officials have since traced the hack back to China, but have not said if the government was responsible.

Xi stated that the Chinese government has not had any role in the hack of U.S. corporate business secrets and said that the best way to resolve the issue is through “bilateral cooperation and not to politicize this issue,” according to Yahoo.

Reports from the White House said that the leaders plan to create two groups, one which will continue discussions of cyber issues, and another to talk about how to fight cyber-crime. Both groups will meet by the end of 2015 and then twice a year every year after.

Obama stressed that the idea of sanctions are still on the table, stating, “We will apply those and whatever other tools we have in our tool kit to go after cyber criminals,” Yahoo said.

Although tensions still linger between the two countries, the agreement was a significant first step for both sides.

According to James Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the White House’s handling of the situation had been conducted more effectively than originally anticipated.

According to Lewis, factors such as better U.S. tracking of cyber-attacks and a leaked plan for sanctions pushed the Chinese toward the agreement. China was also able get the U.S. to consider their concepts for acceptable norms and behavior and was able to win U.S. support for its pursuit of corruption suspects, Lewis said.