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China demands clear definition of cyber spying from U.S.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder filing of the indictment against Chinese military personnel on Monday for cyber spying and theft of “trade secrets” and sensitive information intrinsic to the competitive success of the U.S. has drawn a fine line in defining cyber spying. China has demanded that the U.S. give it a clear explanation of its cyber theft, bugging and monitoring activities, reports the New York Times.

AG Holder Announces Economic Cyber-Espionage Charges Against China
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement released on Tuesday that it wants the U.S. to define its actions. The fine line in the sand has been drawn as an announcement. Holder had intended on Monday to send a message out to the world that the U.S. is prepared to defend its cyber space. "Enough is enough," proclaimed Holder during Monday's press release.

Simultaneously, China is trying to equate the spying of its Unit 61398 with the N.S.A. of the U.S. by issuing a demand of explanation of the activities and immediate cease of operations by the U.S. James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, stated unequivocally last year that the N.S.A. does not use its foreign intelligence to steal trade secrets and supply U.S. companies with the information for international competition.

This is a benchmark case in that is names specifically the persons involved in specific actions of hacking into a U.S. company and theft of the trade secrets. The U.S. has been tracking this activity of China since 2006 through one month ago to bring this indictment public and send a message to foreign countries.

China’s Unit 61398 did two specific actions of cyber theft. First, it obtained Westinghouse and Alcoa trade secrets and strategies to enter the Chinese market. Second, the objective of the other cyber theft was to gain intelligence from United Steelworkers union and SolarWorld in order to use the trade complaints against the U.S.

The U.S. does infiltrate into foreign corporate computers because they want to know if a company is supplying technology to the North Koreans or the Iranians. It was a computer virus from the U.S. government that went into Iranian government computer system to corrupt work on uranium development for its nuclear program.

James Lewis, director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and US President Barack Obama's former cyber security advisor stated in an interview with Deutsche Welle (DW), "If America went too far in political-military espionage, China has gone far too far in commercial espionage.”

Lewis explains that China is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) but it does not honor its commitment to treat foreign countries’ intellectual property on an equal basis. China should leave the WTO suggests Lewis.

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