US, China signal hope over Web security

Updated: 2013-03-13 11:24

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily)

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Improved cooperation sought after cyberattack allegations

China and the United States are expressing hope for developing their relationship in the sensitive and controversial area of cyber security, just days before the new Chinese leadership takes power.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry in Beijing, Hua Chunying, briefly commented on remarks the day before by Thomas Donilon, President Barack Obama's national security adviser.

Donilon said in a speech in New York that the US is deepening partnerships with emerging powers and building a "stable, productive and constructive relationship" with China.

He said both countries' leaders endorsed the goal of building a new model of relations between an existing power and an emerging one.

Hua said China-US relations are at an important stage of transition, and that China hopes to enhance coordination and cooperation with the US.

Chinese legislators at the annual session of the National People's Congress in Beijing are expected to select the country's president on Thursday, along with the premier, based on the nomination of the new president the following day.

The high-level remarks are being seen as expressions of mutual goodwill amid China's once-a-decade leadership change and the start of Obama's second term.

Hua also said that China will engage in dialogue and cooperation with the international community, including the US, on cyber security - a contentious issue between the two countries recently.

"The security of cyberspace is a global issue, which needs rules and cooperation, instead of a cyberspace war," the ministry spokeswoman said.

"China is willing, on the basis of the principles of mutual respect and trust, to have constructive dialogue and cooperation on this issue with the international community including the United States to maintain the security, openness and peace of the Internet," she added.

On Monday, Donilon had described cyber security as "a growing challenge" that the two sides should address.

In February, a Virginia-based Internet security firm, Mandiant Inc, issued a report alleging that it had traced the origin of multiple attacks against US and other Western companies to the Shanghai headquarters of secret unit of hackers backed by China's military.

Hua, calling Internet security a global issue, reiterated the official response that China is also vulnerable and has been one of the biggest targets of hacking attacks in the world.

The National Computer Network Emergency Response Coordination Center said on Sunday that in the past two months, more than 11,000 websites in China were attacked by computers from other countries. One-third of these attacks were traced to the US, it said.

The United States has invested heavily in and become increasingly reliant on networks while also developing cyber weapons, according to George Koo, an international business consultant and board member of San Francisco-based New America Media, which produces programs aimed at specific ethnic groups in the US.

The US- and Israeli-developed Stuxnet virus is believed to have been used to dismantle centrifuges at an Iranian nuclear fuel-enrichment facility. As the first country believed to have launched a cyber attack in peacetime, the US has ceded the moral high ground and is in no position to define appropriate cyber conduct, Koo said.

He cited a blog post by Jeffrey Carr, CEO of Taia Global Inc, another US Internet security firm, who said more than 30 countries are able to run "military-grade network operations" necessary to mount the kind of sophisticated attacks cited in Mandiant's report.

(China Daily 03/13/2013 page1)