News / Asia

    Will the US-China Cybersecurity Pact Work?

    President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Sept. 25, 2015.
    President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Sept. 25, 2015.

    The new cybersecurity agreement signed by U. S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping last week marks a significant first step for both governments to join forces in clamping down on commercial espionage in the cyberspace, analysts say. But many remain skeptical if concrete actions will follow.

    President Obama told a joint news conference on Friday that both countries had “affirmed the principle that governments don't engage in cyber espionage for commercial gain against companies" while President Xi stressed such cooperation would be mutually beneficial.

    Both nations agreed to investigate online malicious activity toward one another that take place within their respective borders "in a manner consistent with their respective national laws and relevant international obligations." The investigating nation will keep the victim nation updated "as appropriate" during such processes while the victim country won’t be involved in any of the investigations, according to the fact sheet from the White House. 

    Overseeing the investigative commitments are top-level officials from both countries who will meet for the first time by the end of 2015 and biannually every year after that.

    A Win for President Obama

    From the outset, the pact heralds a triumph for the Obama administration because China has, for the first time, admitted that cybercrime perpetrated by Chinese companies or individuals does exist and action should be taken. Yet it remains to be seen how China will curb hacking activities originated from its territory said Alexander Neill, a Shangri-La Dialogue senior fellow for Asia Pacific security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

    China has repeatedly claimed it’s as much a victim as a perpetrator for hacking attacks but rarely made public specific hacking incidents.

    Empty Promises?

    The deal’s significance, he adds, lies in substance, not in form, as it may turn out to create few tangible results, such as the Chinese government’s prosecution of perpetrators.

    “Evidence that it’s been successful is that China publicizes its companies or individuals who are perpetrating and successfully prosecutes them. Once we start to see that, then, that would show that China is putting its money where its mouth is,” the Singapore-based researcher said.

    Neither will the newly-established hot line in the U.S.-China cyber dialogue guarantee real investigation by Chinese authorities into the theft of intellectual property or trade secrets on its soil argued Nicholas Thomas, associate head of the City University of Hong Kong’s department of Asian and International Studies, sharing similar skepticism.

    US President Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping (R) walk from the White House to a working dinner at Blair House, on Sept. 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
    US President Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping (R) walk from the White House to a working dinner at Blair House, on Sept. 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.

    That’s because China has not come anywhere close to matching the U.S. government’s crackdown on intellectual property infringements. He also said that tracing cybersecurity attacks remains complicated and difficult, and could reveal the methods and capabilities of U.S. cyberdefenses.

    “Now they do have this hot line that’s been set up to register complaints. But you’ve got to back up the complaints with evidence, which means, America will have to reveal its ability, in terms of tracking cyber intrusions,” said professor Thomas.

    The professor believes that the U. S. Justice Department’s indictment of five Chinese military officers last year, charged with hacking into U.S. companies, as well as the White House’s recent threat of imposing trade sanctions on China, put pressure on Xi to step up efforts in addressing the U.S. government’s cybertheft concerns.

    A Win For Whom?

    President Xi has given little ground to critics on issues such as China's human rights record or its military actions in the South China Sea. But the U.S. threats of sanctions over cybertheft may have gotten the attention of leaders who are already concerned over the performance of the Chinese economy.

    “If Xi Jinping had been confident of the resilience of his leadership, then, he may not have offered such concession. So, the deal on cyber [security] may be an indicator that [there is] some degree of vulnerability in the Chinese system at this point,” he says.

    Even though China says that it too suffers from cybertheft, there have been no publicized cases of companies that have suffered the theft of intellectual property by U.S.-based hackers.

    "How much of China's commercial information is stolen is difficult to assess. It is very difficult for us to defend IPR (intellectual property rights) in cyber space," Teng Jianqun, director of China Institute of International Relations’ department of American Studies, told the All China Journalist Association on Monday. "Both countries will benefit from the new agreement."

    Many more believe U.S. firms will gain more than their Chinese rivals. A 2013 estimate by the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimated annual losses of $300 billion, more than 50 percent of which was attributed to Chinese hackers.

    “The fact that a lot of U.S. companies are much more advanced than Chinese companies, they do have upper hands because there’s not much confidential information for them to steal or access for them to move forward. And so, you can easily see that it’s going one direction,” Peter Yu, law professor at Texas A&M University, said prior to the Obama-Xi summit talks.

    Saibal Dasgupta also contributed to this story.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora