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  • Dec 19, 2014
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China open to cybersecurity talks with US

Central government open to talks with US after White House warns of threats in cyberspace

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 March, 2013, 6:21pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 5:36am

China has offered to talk to the US about cybersecurity, amid an escalating war of words over computer hacking, with suspicions as deep in Beijing as in Washington about the accusations.

The move comes after the Obama administration demanded that China take steps to stop the widespread hacking of US government and corporate computer networks and that it engage in a dialogue to set standards for security in cyberspace.

Yesterday, national intelligence director James Clapper told Congress in an annual assessment of global threats that the US faced a growing threat of a crippling cyberattack. The dangers from digital assaults on power grids and other infrastructure while cyberespionage threatened to undercut the US military's technological edge.

Until now, the White House has steered clear of mentioning China by name when discussing cybercrime, prompted in part by qualms about escalating a dispute with Beijing while it is in the midst of a leadership transition.

In his State of the Union address, Obama said: "We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets."

A US computer security company said last month that a secretive PLA military unit was likely behind a series of hacking attacks mostly targeting the US.

China is willing, on the basis of the principles of mutual respect and mutual trust, to have constructive dialogue and co-operation on this issue

In response to the US concerns, Beijing said yesterday it was happy to talk. "China is willing, on the basis of the principles of mutual respect and mutual trust, to have constructive dialogue and co-operation on this issue with the international community including the United States to maintain the security, openness and peace of the internet," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuying told a news briefing.

"Internet security is a global issue. In fact, China is a marginalised group in this regard, and one of the biggest victims of hacking attacks," she said.

Two major Chinese military websites, including that of the Defence Ministry, were subject to more than 140,000 hacking attacks a month last year, almost two-thirds from the US, the ministry said last month.

Senior People's Liberation Army officers yesterday repeated government denials of having anything to do with hacking.

Wang Hongguang, deputy commander of the PLA's Nanjing Military Region, called the US "a thief calling others a thief".

Asked if China would develop its own offensive hacking capabilities, Wang said: "If the enemy has it, we'll want to have it too."

Reuters, The New York Times


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This article is now closed to comments

At the bottom of the cyber attacks issue and most of China's conflicts with it neighbors is a PLA that is staffed by too many xenophobic officers who believe the propaganda on which they were raised.
Does the PLA also have hi-tech business interests to benefit from purloined research?
The PLA officer corps thinks that they run China and are apparently being allowed to get away with it. Wang Hongguang, deputy commander of the PLA’s Nanjing Military District ... said: “Personally, I think we will. If the enemy has it we’ll want to have it too. We must have the means at least to defend ourselves."
Using the word "enemy" is revealing. There's no reason to believe that Wang is out of step with his fellow officers.
In fact, China has no "enemies" in any real sense. It has global competitors and a few border disputes with its neighbors, but is, once again, a rising power that cannot possibly do anything but dominate East and Southeast Asia in future.
The critical with the PLA issue is whether the Standing Committee can trust what it reports to it in a military incident. Back in 2001, it took the better part of a week to cut through what happened off Hainan Island, where the PLA alleged that an unarmed, subsonic surveillance "flying pig" on auto-pilot at 180 knots somehow managed to knock a Shenyang J-8 high-altitude single seat interceptor fighter jet out of the air.
Will the PLA be permitted to start a war?


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