Time to end the cy­ber-spy­ing blame game

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

Re­spond­ing to a re­port in a Ger­man mag­a­zine that Chi­nese cy­ber spies stole sen­si­tive data on de­fense pro­grams, such as theUnited States’ F-35 Light­ning II fighter jet, China’s For­eignMin­istry spokesman Hong Lei said onMon­day that such al­le­ga­tions are “to­tally ground­less and un­proven”.

Such base­less ac­cu­sa­tions are not new­for China, which it­self has been at the re­ceiv­ing end of cy­ber­at­tacks. Chi­nese cy­ber-spy­ing might have in­creased the cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s and de­layed its pro­duc­tion, said Avi­a­tionWeek, aNewYork-based in­for­ma­tion and ser­vices provider spe­cial­iz­ing in aero­space and in­tel­li­gence, in 2012.

Th­ese al­le­ga­tions are be­ing lev­eled at China to “prove” that it “stole” data on theUS fighter jet to de­velop its own Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang J-31.

But they seem rather con­tra­dic­tory in the light of the ex­pla­na­tion given byMichaelHay­den, for­mer di­rec­tor of Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency, to de­fend theUS after for­merNa­tional Se­cu­rity Agency oper­a­tive Ed­ward Snow­den ex­posedWash­ing­ton’s surveil­lance pro­gram in 2013. TheNSA surveil­lance pro­gram, Hay­den said, was de­signed to col­lect in­tel­li­gence to safe­guard state se­cu­rity, while China’s “cy­ber-hack­ing” served as a tool for Beijing to launch un­fair eco­nomic com­pe­ti­tions.

As­sum­ing that China did col­lect in­for­ma­tion from cy­berspace to im­prove its fighter jets, how is it not fair? Didn’t it help the coun­try to safe­guard its na­tional se­cu­rity? At the most, it only shows that China’s in­tel­li­gence or­gan did a good job, for that is ex­actly what theUS wants the NSA to do for its own na­tional se­cu­rity.

Al­le­ga­tions of cy­ber es­pi­onage, es­pe­cially by theWest, have al­ways been aimed at slan­der­ing China— that it has made tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs only by pla­gia­riz­ingWestern in­no­va­tions. This per­cep­tion re­mains un­changed sinceWash­ing­ton is­sued the Cox Re­port in 1999 ac­cus­ing China of us­ing spies to steal nu­clear weapons’ tech­nol­ogy from theUS.

Most gov­ern­ments have in­tel­li­gence de­part­ments whose fun­da­men­tal func­tion is to col­lect data from other states and pro­tect their coun­tries from be­ing spied on. Ac­cord­ing toUS na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy in the late 1990s, ma­jor threats to the coun­try’s se­cu­rity in­tel­li­gence in­cluded even Is­rael, per­haps the clos­es­tUS ally. More­over, coun­tries such as the US should in­dulge in some

in­tro­spec­tion be­fore ac­cus­ing oth­ers of steal­ing sen­si­tive data, be­cause their al­le­ga­tions over the past quar­ter cen­tury, to some ex­tent, show they are rather re­luc­tant to see China’s in­de­pen­dent yet pow­er­ful rise. They need to im­ple­ment struc­tural re­forms, in­stead of blam­ing other coun­tries’ eco­nomic growth, to re­vive their economies.

China, on its part, has to act more con­fi­dently when con­fronted with ac­cu­sa­tions of launch­ing cy­ber­at­tacks; it has to de­fend its na­tional in­ter­ests with more nerve. In an ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Why we spy on our al­lies” in TheWall Street Jour­nal in 2000, R. James Woolsey, another for­mer CIA di­rec­tor, ad­dressed the Euro­pean com­pa­nies which theUS had spied on say­ing, “we have spied on you be­cause you bribe”. No coun­try should adopt such dou­ble stan­dards.

As for Beijing, it needs to more vig­or­ously de­fend its unim­peach­able rights and put an end to the fu­tile “fin­ger-point­ing” game that it is not at all in­ter­ested in play­ing. The au­thor is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Pol­i­tics at Fu­dan Univer­sity in Shang­hai.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.