Obama: U.S. And China Reach “Common Understanding” on Cybersecurity

In a joint announcement made by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, the U.S. and China have reached a “common understanding on the way forward” with cyber-threats and the wider realm of cybersecurity.

In a jointly led press conference during President Xi’s first ever state visit to the U.S. as the Chinese President, President Obama and President Xi announced an agreement where the United States and China will not “conduct or knowingly support” cyber-theft of commercial trade secrets or intellectual property, reports NBC News.

The announcement comes at a time during criticism from security researchers reacting to President Xi’s flat denial of accusations pointing at China engaging in state-sponsored hacking.

Related article: United Airlines Breached, Chinese Hackers Suspected

“The Chinese government does not engage in theft of commercial secrets in any form, nor does it encourage or support Chinese companies to engage in such practices in any way,” said President Xi at the time, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

A recently leaked secret NSA report notes that China has successfully hacked over 600 American targets and installations over the past five years.

In making his point about cyber security and the U.S. being a frequent target of hackers based in China, President Obama said:

“I raised, once again, our very serious concerns about growing cyber threats,” before adding “I indicated that it has to stop.”

Despite not confirming a total cease-fire of cyber-attacks, President Obama noted that the talks were fruitful as a “common understanding on the way forward.”

A Time for Allies?

Along with the agreement to stop cyber-attacks to steal trade secrets of military and industry between each other, China and the U.S. will also come together to create two working groups in relation to cybersecurity, according to a press release from the White House.

The two groups comprise of:

  • A panel of experts who will hold further discussions on cyber security relations between China and the U.S.
  • A “high-level” collective group to focus on the means to fight cyber-crime. This group will meet once before the end of 2015 and twice every year going forward.

To sum up the talks, President Obama said:

“We have jointly affirmed the principle that governments don’t engage in cyber espionage for financial gain against companies.”