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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More