Friday, April 20, 2018
Opinion

Chinese cyber spying

The following editorial appeared in Thursday's Washington Post:

For years, the United States complained privately to China about corporate espionage and intellectual property theft aimed at U.S. companies and institutions. Nothing changed. In recent months, the United States went public in a series of speeches by senior officials who demanded that China knock it off. In an address in March to the Asia Society, national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon said "sophisticated, targeted" thefts of confidential information and technology were coming from China "on an unprecedented scale."

This more assertive approach coincided with the rise of China's next generation of leaders, led by President Xi Jinping. President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet Xi today in California, and they have plenty to discuss. The United States hopes China will help influence North Korea and Iran to stem or reverse their pursuit of nuclear weapons. It wants Beijing to stop bullying its neighbors in the South China Sea. More broadly, Obama should make the case to Xi that his best interest lies in steps toward liberalizing China's political system — starting with an end to the persecution of human rights activists.

Economic espionage in cyberspace is a pressing issue where progress might be possible. To say that China has carried out a massive stealing campaign is not hyperbole, Chinese denials notwithstanding. The intrusions have been increasingly well documented. The United States also carries out cyber spying against China, and a nascent, offensive U.S. cyber warfare capability is growing. But U.S. intelligence agencies do not steal technology or proprietary information for the private sector.

China probably can't turn off the economic espionage like a switch. There's plenty of nasty stuff in cyberspace that both countries probably can't control — malicious code, disruptions and hacking. Both will remain wary military competitors, on the ground and in cyberspace.

But Xi could agree to a sustained and deeper engagement on the topic, perhaps with an accelerated pace of bilateral working groups, both military and diplomatic. A useful long-range goal for these talks would be an agreement on norms and standards of behavior. They could take off the table some of the most egregious actions, such as grand theft of intellectual property.

Xi has spoken expansively but vaguely of a "Chinese dream" of completing the leap from a poor and isolated nation to a global economic superpower. In the past, rogue behavior such as cyber theft may have provided a shortcut to greatness. But no longer. If China fails to evolve toward more responsible behavior both abroad and at home, a backlash that is already forming in the United States and among its neighbors will swell. A fundamental change at the top is needed, and Obama should urge Xi to provide it.

© 2013 Washington Post

Comments
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18