U.S.-CHINA STRATEGIC TALKS END
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.