THE People’s Daily ran a story last week by Liu Xin with the head “Cyber deal expected to halt disputes.” We pray the hopes come true but after the Obama-Xi summit on Friday it seems that prayers must continue.
After the Xi-Obama summit on Friday, the two presidents announced strong China-US partnerships in curbing Iran’s nuclear arms program, in fighting climate change/global warming and in helping put down Ebola in West Africa.
But on cybersecurity there were no words of common agreement, although both presidents announced an agreement not to conduct or support the hacking of intellectual property, including confidential business information for commercial gain.
This agreement is only an initial step to the all important agreement on cybersecurity that the world’s experts–and businessmen and industrialists—are waiting for. It is in this field that America and China, the world’s most powerful economies, are dangerously in conflict. This anti-hacking agreement even gives no definite clues as to how the two countries would enforce the terms of their agreement.
In fact, while President Obama was making much of this anti-hacking pact he had signed with President Xi, he was also threatening to file complaints and take steps to impose economic sanctions against China if it does not follow its words with actions.
To prevent future cyberwars, both presidents and their governments must be willing to act against their own government-sponsored cyberattacks and their compatriots’ acts of commercial espionage. But will they be willing to do so? Will President Obama’s and President Xi’s successor do?
Also, both the US and China must lead in bringing about international cooperation in arresting and prosecuting criminal doers of cybercrimes across national borders. To be credibly able to provide this leadership, both the US and China must have a serious agreement and will to collaborate in government-sponsored surveillance and police action against cybercriminals.
The US fact sheet on what the two presidents achieved in regard to Cybersecurity says only the following:
“The United States and China agree that timely responses should be provided to requests for information and assistance concerning malicious cyber activities. Further, both sides agree to cooperate, in a manner consistent with their respective national laws and relevant international obligations, with requests to investigate cybercrimes, collect electronic evidence, and mitigate malicious cyber activity emanating from their territory. Both sides also agree to provide updates on the status and results of those investigation to the other side, as appropriate.
“The United States and China agree 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.
“Both sides are committed to making common effort to further identify and promote appropriate norms of state behavior in cyberspace within the international community. The United States and China welcome the July 2015 report of the UN Group of Governmental Experts in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International security, which addresses norms of behavior and other crucial issues for international security in cyberspace. The two sides also agree to create a senior experts group for further discussions on this topic.
“The United States and China agree to establish a high-level joint dialogue mechanism on fighting cybercrime and related issues. China will designate an official at the ministerial level to be the lead and the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, Ministry of Justice, and the State Internet and Information Office will participate in the dialogue. The US Secretary of Homeland Security and the US Attorney General will co-chair the dialogue, with participation from representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Intelligence Community and other agencies, for the United States. This mechanism will be used to review the timeliness and quality of responses to requests for information and assistance with respect to malicious cyber activity of concern identified by either side. As part of this mechanism, both sides agree to establish a hotline for the escalation of issues that may arise in the course of responding to such requests. Finally, both sides agree that the first meeting of this dialogue will be held by the end of 2015, and will occur twice per year thereafter.”