The Financial Times reports that U.S. President Barack Obama has negotiated a commitment from Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that China will not conduct commercial cyber espionage. In what were reportedly tense, prolonged talks, Obama communicated to the Chinese leader that the United States was ready to impose sanctions on Chinese companies accused of profiting from stolen industrial secrets.
Snip from the paywall-restricted Financial Times piece:
Speaking at a joint press conference with the Chinese president, Mr Obama said the two powers had reached a “common understanding” on the issue, while stressing that the US did not engage in cyber espionage. Mr Xi said they had reached an “important consensus” on tackling cyber crime, and added that “confrontation and friction are not the right choice” for the two powers.
Robert Knake, White House director of cyber security policy until earlier this year, said the deal represented a “massive” concession by China because it started to put in place an enforcement mechanism. The two countries have agreed to create a law enforcement dialogue involving senior officials who will analyse requests for co-operation about alleged cyber thefts.“We have agreed that neither the US nor the Chinese government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information for commercial advantage,” Mr Obama said following his meetings with the Chinese leader.
The deal came after Mr Obama last week warned that the theft of commercial secrets was “an act of aggression that has to stop”. He was considering putting sanctions on China before Mr Xi’s visit, but held off after last-minute meetings to attempt to find a resolution, and amid concern that such a move would damage the relationship.