Accusations and counter-accusations hurl regarding hacking

The U.S. claims China is actively stealing U.S. companies' intellectual property and hacking the federal government.  China accuses American hackers of attacking government sites and trying to stir insurrection.  The strong accusations are casting an awkward shadow on America's relationship with its second largest trade partner, a nation that it heavily relies on for its manufacturing needs.

I. White House: China Hacking Must Stop

Following statements by the White House that there would be consequences for Chinese hacking, National Security Adviser Thomas Donilo hurled more criticism at the Asian superpower this week.  He said President Barack Obama wants a friendlier relationship with China, but that the hacking issues are stifling his hopes.

In a speech before the Asia Society in New York he accused China of creating "a growing challenge" to economic relations, via the hacking.  He says that U.S. intellectual property is being stolen through "cyber intrusions emanating from China at a very large scale."

He says that the President is trying, noting that he "engaged with China at an unprecedented pace, including twelve face-to-face meetings with [departing Chinese Prime Minister] Hu Jintao."

He concludes, "We have worked hard to build a constructive bilateral relationship that allows us to engage forthrightly on priority issues.  The United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, both dependent on the Internet, must lead the way in addressing this problem."

President Obama
President Obama and Security Adviser Thomas Donilo [Image Source: White House/Flickr]

China gives a counter case-study in which if found 140,000 attacks a month to be directed against a pair of its government sites, with roughly two-thirds of those attacks being traced to the U.S.

U.S. research firm Mandiat labels the U.S. and China as the world's top two sources of attack traffic on the internet.  China accounts for about a third of global attack traffic, while the U.S. is in second place, account for about a tenth of attack traffic.

II. China Sympathetic, But Military Officials Blast U.S.

At times China has responded to accusations with an aggressive counterattack, but this time it took a sympathetic tone.  In a speech over the weekend Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi remarked, "[Cyberspace is] a community of common destiny.  What cyberspace needs is not war, but rules and cooperation.  We oppose turning cyberspace into another battlefield, or using the Internet as a new tool to interfere in other countries' internal affairs."

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that her government was working to "protect peace, safety, openness and cooperation in cyberspace", including looking to protect the U.S.

She adds, "China is willing, on the basis of the principles of mutual respect and mutual trust, to have constructive dialogue and cooperation on this issue with the international community including the United States to maintain the security, openness and peace of the Internet."

One big question though is whether a February report by Mandiat is accurate.  That report shows evidence that a number of the attacks on U.S. corporations and government networks were carried out by what is believed to be a secret unit in China's military.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Mar. 9 said the American media was exploiting the report for political gains and said the report itself was on "shaky ground" in terms of facts.

Maj. Gen. Liu Lianhua commented to Reuters, "This talk from the U.S. has no foundation whatsoever.  And what evidence is there? There isn't any!"
China hackers
China claims the U.S. is the real cyberaggressor. [Image Source: Asia Society]

Wang Hongguang, deputy commander of the PLA's Nanjing Military District, claims his nation's military lacks cyber offensive capabilities, but when asked whether they would develop them to counter foreign threats, he replied, "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."

He calls the U.S. "a thief calling others a thief."

III. The North Korea Factor

Ultimately both sides claim to want to talk, but at the same time both seem determined to attack the other.  But there is additional pressure to resolve the differences on cybersecurity amid the crisis in North Korea.  With North Korea moving to possibly go to war, the U.S. has cause to try to work out its difference with China, a long time ally of the North.

In his speech Mr. Donilo alluded to this threat, praising China for backing new UN sanctions against North Korea.

He comments, "North Korea’s claims may be hyperbolic -- but as to the policy of the United States, there should be no doubt: We will draw upon the full range of our capabilities to protect against, and to respond to, the threat posed to us and to our allies by North Korea."

North Korea
China is reportedly concerned that North Korea could turn on it. [Image Source: CNN]
Reports indicate China is concerned that North Korea could turn on it, using the threat of its emerging nuclear capabilities to blackmail it into increasing financial support.  In a sign that China and the U.S. may be approaching a collective "solution" to the North Korean crisis, a senior Japanese diplomat arrived in China late last month.

Japan -- a top ally to the U.S. in the region -- has long been at odds with China over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, a group of islands south of Japan, which both China and Japan claim to own.  But much like America and China's hacking dispute, Japan and China may be forced to compromise as their common neighbor North Korea flexs its military muscle.

Sources: The White House, Reuters

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

Most Popular Articles

Copyright 2018 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki