US and China Take Steps Together to Stop Cybercrime

US and China Take Steps Together to Stop Cybercrime

While both the US and China refute allegations that their institutions have been involved in cybercrime, they recognize the harm of breached cyber systems and firmly resolve to prevent it together.

On Friday, September 25th at the White House joint news conference, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping “agreed that neither country would engage in cyber economic espionage.” [1] President Obama added that if covert Chinese institutions continue alleged acts of cyber spying, the United States will promptly lay down penalties to individuals, businesses, or state-run companies [2].

Governments have been juggling the question of what defines private and public space.   Two years ago–around the same time President Obama was preparing to address China on cyber spying[3]–Edward Snowden leaked the National Security Agency’s covert spying operations on its own American citizens, bringing to light the precarious balance between invasion of privacy and a government’s responsibility for its people’s virtual actions [4].

In May 2014, the US Department of Justice placed charges against five Chinese hackers for carrying out cyber spying on US companies. [5] Even this year, there has been an account for 22 million breaches. [6]

The United States is irritated at China for purportedly stealing intellectual and business-sensitive information from U.S. companies, while China is annoyed at the United States for not laying down identical protocols on cyber spying for both countries. [7] Similarly to the Snowden incident, the U.S. holds double standards by brooking U.S. spying operations on foreign companies while cracking down on Chinese spying on U.S. companies. [8]

The disagreement on cybercrime between the two major countries has not only created economic and national concerns for the United States, but has complicated the work of U.S. tech companies trying to make business in China. [9]

While technological advancements have their perks, problems like cyber spying demonstrate the detriments of technology as well. The pervasive nature of technology challenges definitions of privacy; accessibility gives way to online fraud and abuse. Not only does cyber crime endanger daily lives, it can bring countries in conflict with one other.

Although officially the United States and China reached an agreement, many were skeptical on its actual outcome. During a toast at the state lunch with President Obama and President Jinping, “[m]ost people stood up – but not everybody. People clapped, too, though not very enthusiastically.” [10]

by Stephanie Yoon ’19