• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 6:39pm

US panel urges sanctions against China for cyberspying

US-China Economic and Security Review Commission report alleges large-scale cyberespionage by Beijing and recommends action including sanctions and visa restrictions

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 11:05am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 11:06am

A US panel on Wednesday called for tougher action against China, including possible sanctions to stop cyberspying, warning that Beijing has yet to be persuaded to end rampant espionage.

In an annual report to Congress, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission charged that Beijing “is directing and executing a large-scale cyberespionage campaign” that has penetrated the US government and private industry.

“There is an urgent need for Washington to take action to prompt Beijing to change its approach to cyberspace and deter future Chinese cybertheft,” said the commission, which was set up by Congress to make policy recommendations.

The report listed proposals aimed at “changing the cost-benefit calculus” for China including banning the import of the manufacturing giant’s goods that are determined to include technologies stolen from the United States.

Other possibilities include restricting access to US banks for companies deemed to have used stolen technologies or banning travel to the United States for people involved in hacking.

The commission did not endorse specific steps but said the potential measures “would be more effective if used in combination".

“They probably would lead Beijing to make only temporary or minor changes to its cyberespionage activities if used in isolation,” it said.

The report comes after months of disclosures by former security contractor Edward Snowden that US intelligence has engaged in sweeping espionage worldwide, including monitoring online correspondence and tapping the communications of leaders of both friendly and rival countries.

China has cited Snowden’s revelations to accuse US President Barack Obama of double standards, saying Beijing is also a victim of cyberespionage.

The report said the United States and China have maintained dialogue on cybersecurity but quoted observers as estimating that Snowden’s disclosures have set back US efforts “by at least six months”.

“There is a distinction between what the United States does for security purposes and the wholesale economic espionage that’s going on.”
Dennis Shea

“Frankly, yes, it has hurt the US ability to express concern. There’s no question of that,” Dennis Shea, the vice-chairman of the commission, told reporters.

“But we continue to believe that this is an important issue, and at least I personally believe there is a distinction between what the United States does for security purposes and the wholesale economic espionage that’s going on directed against the United States,” he said.

In a report released in February, the security firm Mandiant said China was devoting thousands of people to, and has made a major investment in, a military-linked unit that has pilfered intellectual property and government secrets.

The commission said the Chinese unit decreased activity for about one month after the Mandiant report, but that the reduction may have been because the US government shared information with internet service providers.

The wide-ranging annual report warned that China, which has steadily ramped-up its military budget as its economy soared to the world’s second largest, may soon challenge US forces’ dominant role in Asia.

People’s Liberation Army “modernisation is altering the security balance in the Asia-Pacific, challenging decades of US military pre-eminence in the region,” it said.

China is “rapidly expanding and diversifying its ability to strike US bases, ships and aircraft” throughout the region, including areas it could not previously reach, such as the US Pacific territory of Guam, it said.

Quoting the Office of Naval Intelligence, the report said that China by 2020 will probably have 313-342 submarines – including around 60 that can fire intercontinental ballistic missiles or cruise missiles against ships.

Obama has pledged to “pivot” US foreign policy to pay greater attention to Asia in light of the rise of China, which has increasingly tense relations with US allies Japan and the Philippines over territorial disputes.

The commission called on Congress to fund shipbuilding to meet Obama’s goal of stationing 60 per cent of US warships in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020, up from 50 per cent.

The United States has reduced military spending as it seeks to control its debt following two wars and a recession. But the Republican Party, which has pushed Obama for greater cuts to social services, generally supports military funding.



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This article is now closed to comments

It is totally ridiculous for the Americans to call China on cyber spying especially after last summer. Tell them to go to hell.
"...including banning the import of the manufacturing giant’s goods that are determined to include technologies stolen from the United States."
That would mean banning virtually ALL Chinese made goods.
hilarious. United States of Hypocrisy
This is bizarre: Like this think tank missed the news about Snowden and the NSA? Boggles the mind, the hypocrisy. Unless <shock awakening> the NSA is run by China!!!!!
A righteous cause and action. Let us start with the USA.
Shouldn't it be tougher action against US after what Snowden has revealed ?
Most of you are missing the point: there is a distinction between what the United States does for security purposes and whole scale economic espionage.
Comparing China's muscle for cyber espionage with that of the United States, is very much like comparing China's 1 aircraft carrier with US's 12.
The other analogy I can think of is comparing the power of China's CCTV with that of the ubiquitous CNN.
So I see the Yanks are back to bashing China about the Yuan being too cheap and cyberscoopoing.........I suppose DC needs to get all the bashing done before the Christmas holidays.


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