White House officials say U.S. President Barack Obama will take a tough stance on China-based cyberattacks when he hosts his Chinese counterpart at an informal summit later this week.
Speaking anonymously Tuesday, the officials said Obama will tell President Xi Jinping that Washington holds the Chinese government responsible for any hacking attempts that originate inside China.
The official told reporters Obama will urge China to take action to stop the large-scale theft of U.S. military and commercial secrets that has been detailed in a series of recent government and private reports.
Both sides hope to use the relatively relaxed, two-day summit beginning Friday at a luxury resort in California to ease tensions between the world's two largest economic powers.
But the two leaders are expected to find little agreement on the issue of cyber attacks, which are becoming a growing strain to U.S.-China relations.
Much to the displeasure of China, which denies the attacks, Washington has grown increasingly bold in directly accusing Beijing of involvement in the cyber theft and espionage.
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel told a Singapore security forum Saturday the U.S. is concerned about the growing threat of cyber intrusions, "some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military."
A recent report prepared for the Pentagon by the U.S. Defense Science Board said Chinese hackers have stolen the designs for over two dozen top U.S. weapons systems. Earlier this year, the U.S. Internet security firm Mandiant said the Chinese military has stolen large amounts of data from about 150 U.S. companies and organizations.
China has accused Washington of using the media to make what it views as irresponsible claims for political reasons. It has also returned the accusations, saying it is the victim of widespread cyberattacks by U.S. hackers.
A top Chinese Internet security official on Tuesday told Chinese state media that Beijing has "mountains of data" with which to accuse the U.S. of hacking attacks, if it wished to do so.
But Huang Chengqing, director of the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China, said such disputes are best settled "through communication, not confrontation."
Last week, the U.S. and China agreed to hold regular, high-level talks on cyber security. The first such panel will occur in July. Obama officials say they hope it will focus on developing an international code of conduct for operating in cyberspace."