One day after China claimed that it is a frequent victim of cyberattacks and called for rules governing cyberespionage, the Obama administration has publicly asked the Chinese government to stop its cyberattacks on U.S. businesses. Observers say it is the first time the U.S. government has addressed China’s reputation for cyberespionage so directly.
The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima reported, “In an unusually direct appeal, the Obama administration on Monday called on China to halt its persistent theft of trade secrets from corporate computers and engage in a dialogue to establish norms of behavior in cyberspace. The demands mark the administration’s first public effort to hold China to account for what officials have described as an extensive, years-long campaign of commercial cyber-espionage.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Gorman added, “National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon called on the Chinese government to recognize the urgency of this issue, investigate and stop the alleged hacking, and be part of a process to create international rules of the road for appropriate activities in cyberspace. ‘Increasingly, U.S. businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,’ Mr. Donilon told the Asia Society in New York. ‘The international community cannot afford to tolerate such activity from any country,’ he said.”
Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Flavia Krause-Jackson noted, “Donilon, who helps shape U.S. foreign policy, said China needs to recognize the scope of the hacking issue, take steps to halt computer espionage and start a ‘constructive dialogue’ with the U.S. on standards for conduct in cyberspace. ‘We have worked hard to build a constructive bilateral relationship that allows us to engage forthrightly on priority issues,’ he said in his prepared remarks. ‘The United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, both dependent on the Internet, must lead the way in addressing this problem.'”
Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane with The New York Times reported on a separate cybersecurity speech from another U.S. official. They wrote, “The nation’s top intelligence official warned Congress on Tuesday that a cyberattack could cripple America’s infrastructure and economy and suggested that such attacks pose the most dangerous immediate threat to the United States, more pressing than an attack by global terrorist networks. James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said in prepared testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee that American spy agencies saw only a ‘remote chance’ in the next two years of a major cyberattack — what he defined as an operation that ‘would result in long-term, wide-scale disruption of services, such as a regional power outage.’ Still, it was the first time that Mr. Clapper has listed cyberattacks first in his annual presentation to Congress about the various threats facing the United States, and the rare occasion since 2001 that intelligence officials have not listed international terrorism first in the catalog of dangers facing the United States.”