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Right Hooks

Obama's Deal With China: Cyber Security in Our Time

The Chinese are too good at cyber espionage to give it up.

Dan Gilmore · Sep. 28, 2015
Unveiling of the F-35

Barack Obama just made the easiest cyber-security agreement in the world. From the administration that brought you the Russian reset, the red line in Syria and the nuclear deal with Iran comes an agreement with China that is billed as protecting American trade secrets and intellectual property. In the past, the U.S. has accused China of stealing billions of dollars’ worth of information through hacking — for example, information about America’s F-35 fighter jet from the plane’s manufacturers. When China’s President Xi Jinping visited Obama in Washington last week, they agreed: No more cyber stealing. “Both countries affirm that states should not conduct or knowingly support misappropriation of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information with the intent of providing competitive advantages to their companies or commercial sectors,” reads a White House Fact Sheet on the agreement. “Both countries affirm that states and companies should not by illegal methods make use of technology and commercial advantages to gain commercial benefits.” But here’s the catch: Both countries deny spying on the other. So why make the agreement in the first place? As The Washington Post points out, this agreement doesn’t stop attacks against the information held by the two governments, like the theft of federal employees’ data from the Office of Personnel Management. The Chinese are too good at cyber espionage to give up simply because Obama made a pinky-promise with them.

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