World / China-US

US State Dept calls for cyber security boost

By Hua Shengdun in Washington (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-02-25 11:46

The US government pledges to have more cooperation with China on cyber security issues, an official from the US State Department said on Tuesday in Washington.

"I believe I speak for both governments when I say we would like to do even more than we are doing, but we are pleased with what we have accomplished so far," said William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, at a press briefing on national cyber security.

A former ambassador, Brownfield discussed the US-China Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation (JLG), a bilateral organization focusing on the global issues of cybercrime, corruption, intellectual property violations, drugs, repatriation of illegal immigrants and criminal fugitives.

It allows all of the major law enforcement players in both governments to "meet regularly and systematically" to "address general cooperation and specific case cooperation" and "allows us in an open and frank matter to discuss both things that we are doing well and we wish would work better", he said.

The JLG dates back to a 1997 joint statement by former US President Bill Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

The China-US working group on cyber security has been shelved since last May when the US Justice Department indicted five People's Liberation Army officers for cyber espionage.

China has asked its US counterparts several times to provide evidence for the allegations. The US rejected the request and went ahead with the indictments without informing China in advance, a move that was "unnecessary and played up China's threat in terms of cyber security", according to Lu Chuanying, a research fellow at Shanghai Institute for International Studies and a visiting fellow at Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Lu Wei, minister of the State Internet Information Office, said in his keynote speech in an Internet forum in Washington in December that instead of engaging in confrontation and accusation, both countries should "respect each other's cyber sovereignty, Internet governance, major concerns and cultural differences".

Cyber issues are expected in the upcoming first official state visit to the US by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September, according to Da Wei, a researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

He said Xi's upcoming state visit would help Beijing and Washington control and manage differences on sensitive issues, such as disputes in cyber-security.

While the US has accused China of state-sponsored cyber espionage of intellectual property rights, China, like many countries in the world, has been deeply worried about the revelations made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that NSA has been engaging in widespread surveillance against foreign governments, corporations and citizens.

Just last week, Russian Internet security firm Kaspersky published a report documenting a malware used by the US to infect thousands of computer systems and steal data in 30 countries around the world, including China. Targets include governments, telecom, energy and aerospace companies as well as Islamic scholars and media organizations.

Many US tech firms have also been found to collaborate with NSA willingly and unwillingly in the past. It is expected that more of the NSA secret surveillance programs will be exposed either by Snowden or other sources.

While some foreign tech firms have expressed concerns over China's new regulations regarding cyber security, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying emphasized on Feb 12 that that cyber security is given great attention by all countries in the world.

"Enhancing the security and controllability of information technology products is an important measure and common practice for all countries to ensure their cyber security," she said.

"China is unswerving in implementing the opening-up policy. As long as foreign enterprises abide by Chinese laws, and do nothing to undermine China's national security and Chinese consumers' interests, China will protect their lawful rights and interests in accordance with the law. We welcome and support foreign enterprises in expanding their operations in China."

Sheng Yang in Washington contributed to this story. 

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