After several months of increasingly public statements from the U.S. about Chinese commercial cyber-espionage, President Obama and Preside Xi announced an agreement on cyber activities. Specifically the two sides agreed to:
1. Timely response to information requests on malicious cyber activities
2. Neither country will knowingly conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property for commercial advantage.
3. Advance efforts to establish international norms of behavior in cyberspace building on the UN Group of Government Experts activities
4. Establish a ministerial level joint dialogue on cyber-crime to review the timeliness of responses to information requests on malicious activities. This includes establishing a cyber hotline between the two sides.
The agreement allowed for a successful conclusion of an important bi-lateral summit meeting. China, faced with a slowing economy, did not need additional economic problems caused by the U.S. imposing even minor sanctions.
The U.S. diplomacy around commercial cyberespionage can be judged to have been successful thus far. The U.S. by a combination of public denouncement and thinly-veiled threats of economic countermeasures was able to leverage the Chinese into making a public declaration that it will act against cyber espionage and theft of intellectual property for economic gain. The true determination of success however depends on Chinese actions going forward. The Chinese have been able to leverage the use of proxy groups as well as military forces to achieve their ends thus far to obtain commercial information. The key indications of success will be reductions of penetrations linked to Chinese groups, prosecution of cybercriminals on a larger scale in China, and the responsiveness of the Chinese to information requests on malicious activity outlined in the agreement.
To paraphrase President Reagan, trust will be based on verification through action.
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FACT SHEET: President Xi Jinping’s State Visit to the United States. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2015, fromhttps://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/25/fact-sheet-president-xi-jinpings-state-visit-united-states