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US, China conclude cybersecurity talks

September 13, 2015

Officials from Washington and Beijing have wrapped up four days of talks ahead of the Chinese president's state visit to the US this month. Cybersecurity has been a thorny issue between the two nations.

Chinese and US flag next to each other (photo: REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/Files)
Image: Reuters/H. Kang

US national security adviser Susan Rice had a "frank and open exchange about cyber issues" in her meeting this week with Meng Jianzhu, secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, the White House said Saturday in a statement.

Cybersecurity is a touchy issue between the two powers; China has been blamed for cyberattacks on US commercial interests and sensitive government personnel records.

Following a number of hacks on US companies and government agencies that have been blamed on China, administration officials have pointedly let it be known that Chinese firms and individuals could face sanctions.

US President Barack Obama has said that cyberattacks cross a red line.

"There comes a point at which we consider this a core national security threat and will treat it as such," Obama said Friday.

Cyber attacks complicate US, China relations

China Barack Obama und Xi Jinping Pressekonferenz in Peking
Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to Washington September 24-25Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/P. Martinez Monsivais

China denies the accusations.

In remarks to Chinese media, Meng said that both the US and China agree it is "vital" they cooperate on fighting hacking, adding that China will punish anyone who hacks from within China's borders or steals corporate secrets.

"China's position on opposing hacking and stealing commercial secrets online is resolute," China's official news agency Xinhua cited Meng as saying.

The Chinese delegation also met with Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and representatives from the Justice, State and Treasury departments and the intelligence community, the White House's statement said.

China's official Xinhua news agency said that Meng, who is the country's domestic security chief, had reached "important consensus" with the US during his visit.

A recent breach of US federal government personnel files that left more than 20 million officials - including some at very senior levels - exposed has raised tensions as the US suspects Chinese hackers were responsible.

Still, Obama will offer Chinese President Xi Jinping a full welcome at the White House during his September 24-25 state visit.

jar/bw (Reuters, AFP)