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China offers to talk with US about cyber security

A day after the White House called on Beijing to establish cyber security standards, China said was willing to discuss the issue.

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A person walks past a 12-story building alleged in a report by the Internet security firm Mandiant to be the home of a Chinese military-led hacking group on Feb. 19, 2013. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

Beijing said Tuesday it is willing to talk with the US about cyber security issues, though it did not mention specific areas for discussion. 

The official announcement came a day after the White house called on Beijing to take "serious steps" to curb cyber theft, as both countries have accused each other of hacking into foreign corporate and government websites, according to Reuters.

"China is willing, on the basis of the principles of mutual respect and mutual trust, to have constructive dialogue and cooperation on this issue with the international community including the US to maintain the security, openness and peace of the Internet," said China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuying.

On Monday, US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said China must be open to dialogue with the US and agree to “acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace.”

“Increasingly, US businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,” Donilon said in a speech to the Asia Society in New York.

Last month a US security firm released a detailed 60-page study that linked China's army to cyber attacks against the US. 

"Our research and observations indicate that the Communist Party of China is tasking the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to commit systematic cyber espionage and data theft against organizations around the world," the report said.

More from GlobalPost: China's army linked to cyber attacks against US

Beijing claims two of its military websites suffered more than 140,000 cyber attacks a month last year, two-thirds of the invasions emanating from the US, according to Reuters.  

At Tuesday's daily news briefing, Chuying repeated China's claim that it too is a victim of cyber theft and espionage.  

"Internet security is a global issue. In fact, China is a marginalized group in this regard, and one of the biggest victims of hacking attacks," she said.

JarnoLim More than 1 year ago
Cyber is today integral part of international relations, and "rules and procedures" for cyber talks seems to unclear. This is part of reality that nations have to face in today´s world - and when trying to be powerful. At the same time, in the line of these "US-China news" is that public interest in the threats posed by cyber warfare has grown exponentially over the last six months, due to both powerful rhetoric and some alarming examples like this. The media also got a rude awakening following the revelations that Chinese hackers have been infiltrating the New York Times and Wall Street Journal over several months. Furthermore, recent cyber attacks that have brought U.S. banks’ websites down hit home pretty hard – people will start to take notice when cyber threats begin to impinge upon their lives, and that includes when it affects where they keep their money. And when the White House itself gets hacked, it’s understandable that Joe Public will sit up and take notice. Presumably then, many people breathe a sigh of relief when they read in the pages of the Washington Post that the US Cyber Command intends to hire 4,000 new recruits, quintupling its current force. Should this be enough to set the American public’s minds at rest though? The debate could yet benefit from a more detailed exploration of the extremely powerful reasons why transparency is needed. First and foremost is the need for America to flex its muscles. It is important to accept that in cyber warfare, offense is typically a step or two ahead of defense. There is no such thing as a cast iron defense strategy when new threats and exploits emerge continually. It is therefore essential that the U.S. candidly communicates the ferocious power of its offensive capabilities as a deterrent. Akin to the scenario of mutually assured destruction at the hands of nuclear weapons during the cold war, the threat of vastly destructive retaliatory capabilities is a powerful deterrent for prospective cyber enemies. Another reason for an open approach is the danger of mistaken identity. Due to the intricate workings of the cyber threat landscape, misconstrued actions and intent is all too common, and can have drastic consequences. If wrongly suspected of a cyber attack due to ignorance about its capabilities, America could see retaliation from a major world power based on an attack that the U.S. cyber force didn’t even perpetrate. Finally, a prospective cyber attack might be more pertinently compared to September 11 than to Pearl Harbor because the impact is likely to be felt by civilians. Cyber warfare shifts the military paradigm to make civilian targets a priority over military. Cyber attacks have the potential to bring down critical infrastructure with terrifying ease, crippling water and power supplies, causing the maximum amount of damage to a nation or region.