US and China Agree Cyber Deal

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The United States and China have agreed a joint deal whereby neither government will engage in cyber-espionage for commercial advantage.

The agreement was issued on Friday and also includes a commitment at a law enforcement level to share more intelligence on data breaches as well as “provide timely responses to requests for information and assistance concerning those activities.”

It noted:

“The United States and China committed that neither country’s government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.”

The Department of Justice and FBI representatives will co-chair a high-level dialogue mechanism on cybercrime to ensure that these commitments will be honored, with representatives from China’s Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, Ministry of Justice and the State Internet and Information Office also in attendance.

“This dialogue will enable both sides to periodically assess our progress; address any issues related to investigative cooperation or information exchanges; and outline means for relevant agencies on both sides to enhance cooperation,” the DoJ said.

The agreement will also establish a hotline between the two superpowers in the event that an urgent matter has not been resolved by conventional means.

The US was at pains to point out that the joint agreement did not “resolve all our challenges with China on cyber issues,” but claimed it was a “step forward.”  

However, many will be skeptical about the chances of such a deal discouraging Beijing from what has been an extremely successful strategy thus far.

Whilst always denying state-sponsored hackers regularly infiltrate foreign companies to steal IP for the betterment of China PLC, the practice is widely acknowledged.

Last year, the DoJ even indicted five PLA soldiers for their part in such cyber-attacks.

President Xi Jinping repeated the same mantra heard so many times before from officials in an interview ahead of his trip to the US last week.

“Cyber theft of commercial secrets and hacking attacks against government networks are both illegal; such acts are criminal offences and should be punished according to law and relevant international conventions,” he argued.

One recent report claimed that the value of US IP stolen by Chinese hackers could be as much as $5trillion each year.  

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