U.S.-CHINA STRATE­GIC TALKS END

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion con­cluded the eighth and fi­nal round of its much her­alded high-level U.S.China talks in Bei­jing, talks that have pro­duced lit­tle in the way of re­solv­ing is­sues such as China’s mas­sive gov­ern­ment cy­ber­at­tacks on U.S. net­works.

The Strate­gic and Eco­nomic Di­a­logue, held in Bei­jing June 6-7, ended, as in the past, with an­other long list­ing of ques­tion­able achieve­ments.

A 32-page White House state­ment lists “spe­cific out­comes” couched in vague diplo­matic-speak and con­tain­ing no spe­cific ac­com­plish­ments, other than many prom­ises to con­tinue talks. The is­sues ranged from mil­i­tary ex­changes, to wildlife traf­fick­ing and cli­mate change to work on the “China-U.S. Smoke-Free Work­places ini­tia­tive.”

The state­ment made no men­tion of China’s largescale pro­gram of cy­bertheft of both U.S. com­mer­cial and gov­ern­ment se­crets be­ing raised dur­ing the talks at the Bei­jing di­a­logue, led on the U.S. side by Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry and Sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury Jack Lew.

In­stead, the White House said the two coun­tries “wel­comed” the in­for­mal cy­ber com­mit­ment made by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Pres­i­dent Obama in Sep­tem­ber not to con­duct state-spon­sored eco­nomic cy­beres­pi­onage to ben­e­fit in­dus­tries, some­thing the United States does not do but that China has shown no sign of end­ing. Se­nior U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials re­cently said as much to Congress that there is no ev­i­dence Bei­jing has curbed cy­ber at­tacks since Sep­tem­ber.

China was blamed for steal­ing 22 mil­lion records of fed­eral work­ers from the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment, in­clud­ing ex­tremely sen­si­tive data on se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence per­son­nel.

To date, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken no ac­tion against China for the cy­ber­at­tacks, de­spite a re­cent ex­ec­u­tive or­der call­ing for sanc­tions against states linked to such cy­ber­at­tacks.

Con­trary to stat­ing its op­po­si­tion to Chi­nese cy­ber­spy­ing, the White House list says the ad­min­is­tra­tion plans to dis­cuss with Bei­jing the se­cu­rity of on­line users’ per­sonal in­for­ma­tion — talks that could pro­vide Chi­nese hack­ers with new clues to en­able ad­di­tional cy­bertheft.

The talks with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment on net­work data se­cu­rity and the pro­tec­tion of com­puter users’ per­sonal in­for­ma­tion are some­thing that should raise se­cu­rity con­cerns con­sid­er­ing the OPM hack.

Of­fi­cials from China’s Min­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy will meet U.S. Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion of­fi­cials “to dis­cuss ap­proaches to data se­cu­rity and user’s per­sonal in­for­ma­tion pro­tec­tion of the two coun­tries,” the state­ment said.

The White House also re­vealed plans for other ex­changes that could raise se­cu­rity con­cerns, in­clud­ing talks on ad­vanced elec­tric power-grid tech­nol­ogy, some­thing crit­ics say could be used by China to con­duct fu­ture cy­ber at­tacks against U.S. in­fra­struc­ture.

Also, the En­ergy De­part­ment plans meet­ings with the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sciences of­fi­cials on high­en­ergy physics, harken­ing back to dam­ag­ing Chi­nese nu­clear es­pi­onage in the 1990s that grew out of U.S.China nu­clear lab­o­ra­tory ex­changes. The lab ex­changes led to the loss of strate­gic se­crets to China through es­pi­onage re­lated to ev­ery de­ployed nu­clear war­head in the U.S. ar­se­nal.

An­other ex­change is listed un­der “civil space” co­op­er­a­tion, an in­ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tion be­cause all China’s space ac­tiv­i­ties are done un­der the di­rec­tion of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army.

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