News / Asia

Spying Revelations Affect US-China Cyber Security Talks

A copy of the South China Morning Post newspaper, carrying the latest interview with Edward Snowden, is displayed on a newspaper stand along with local Chinese newspapers, in Hong Kong, June 13, 2013.A copy of the South China Morning Post newspaper, carrying the latest interview with Edward Snowden, is displayed on a newspaper stand along with local Chinese newspapers, in Hong Kong, June 13, 2013.
x
A copy of the South China Morning Post newspaper, carrying the latest interview with Edward Snowden, is displayed on a newspaper stand along with local Chinese newspapers, in Hong Kong, June 13, 2013.
A copy of the South China Morning Post newspaper, carrying the latest interview with Edward Snowden, is displayed on a newspaper stand along with local Chinese newspapers, in Hong Kong, June 13, 2013.
VOA News
As the United States increases pressure on Russia to extradite fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, experts in China and Hong Kong - Snowden’s first choice of refuge - are beginning to gauge what impact his revelations will have on the ongoing efforts for global cyber security.

Before boarding a plane to Moscow, the former National Security Agency contractor told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post that the intelligence agency was monitoring telecommunications within China, and had targeted Tsinghua University, one of Beijing’s most prestigious schools, famous for training many of China’s current top leaders.

The school runs one of China’s six Internet backbones, the China Education and Research Network, through which the data of millions of people pass.

Benjamin Koo, a professor at Tsinghua’s department of mechanical engineering, says Snowden’s allegations, if true, suggest that the United States may have access to a huge amount of personal and academic data.

“This would be a severe violation of privacy to say the least,” he said. “Not to say [a violation of] intellectual property and also the ideas that we might want to keep to ourselves.”

Snowden’s allegations come ahead of next month’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, S&ED, where cyber security will be a prominent issue.

Since 2011 the Obama administration has named China as the source of a significant amount of cyber attacks against American government agencies and businesses.

This year the Department of Defense has for the first time officially attributed these attacks directly to the Chinese government, or agencies within China’s military apparatus.

In response, the Chinese government has repeated statements saying that China is itself a victim of attacks, with officials at China’s internet security agency, CNCERT, linking many of those attacks to the United States.

Many analysts within China agree that government-backed cyber surveillance is a standard occurrence in a country that is defending its interests in the digital age.

“If the NSA is funding a big program to do this, I would imagine - based on proportion - there will be a lot of politicians on our side that would be saying we should be putting a lot of money into it too,” says Koo, “Whoever is holding the lower end in this game is not going to feel comfortable.”

Media reports have linked some research centers in China, including Beijing’s Tsinghua University, to Chinese military-backed training centers for cyber-warfare against Western targets.

Nicholas Thomas, Associate Professor at the Department of Asian and International Studies of City University of Hong Kong, says that China has been very active in pursuing asymmetric warfare capacity.

“This is a lesson going back 20 years,” he says. “China has realized that U.S. information warfare capacity far exceeded its own and could prove to be the decisive factor in any conflict.”

But apart from cyber attacks for military and intelligence purposes, the United States has blamed China for stealing intellectual property from U.S. businesses as well.

A report released in the United States earlier this year calculated a loss of hundreds of billions of dollars each year due to Chinese hacking into commercial entities in the United States.

Analysts say that the report, which was published before the informal meeting in California between President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping, increased the level of public pressure on Mr. Obama to raise the issue during those talks.

Wu Riqiang, professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University, says that it is unlikely that recent revelations about NSA spying on China will have a substantial impact on next month’s discussions on cyber security during the S&ED.

At the same time, Wu believes that Snowden has put the United States in an awkward position.

“The Snowden affair might dilute the attention that people in the United States put on hacking for economic motives,” he says.

Tsinghua University professor Benjamin Koo says that the allegations of the United States spying on academic centers in China is going to open up new territory in the two countries’ discussion on cyber security.

“It makes the two countries stand on the same footing,” he says.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid