White House National Security Adviser actually talks about China's hacking campaign
In a speech to the Asia Society on Monday, Thomas Donilon, National Security Adviser to President Obama, addressed the Administration's ongoing foreign policy pivot from the Middle East toward Asia.
That's a lot of ground to cover in one speech. Asia is an awfully big place.
But despite the breadth of issues, Donilon managed to get specific — and interesting — on one subject that, as of late, has been of great interest in the media: China's state-sponsored hacking campaign. He said:
From the President on down, this has become a key point of concern and discussion with China at all levels of our governments. And it will continue to be. The United States will do all it must to protect our national networks, critical infrastructure, and our valuable public and private sector property. But, specifically with respect to the issue of cyber-enabled theft, we seek three things from the Chinese side. First, we need a recognition of the urgency and scope of this problem and the risk it poses — to international trade, to the reputation of Chinese industry and to our overall relations. Second, Beijing should take serious steps to investigate and put a stop to these activities. Finally, we need China to engage with us in a constructive direct dialogue to establish acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has a suggestion that could prompt some serious steps from the Chinese government.
Shortly after the story broke, AAM President Scott Paul wrote in Politico that the most effective way to respond to China's hacking campaign is simple: Ding them on trade. The Chinese police state has grown rich (and sophisticated, as demonstrated by the scope of their cyber attacks) from selling their heavily subsidized exports in the United States. So, when Beijing uses military hackers to find the trade secrets of America's private industry and the controls of our public infrastructure, we should start to close off the money spigot.
As it stands, Donilon's call for "constructive direct dialogue to establish acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace" with Beijing is decidedly more milquetoast. But in this case, the messenger is just as important as the message: The Administration is starting to talk like it's time to hold China accountable for its policy of theft. Well, it's well past time. But maybe, just maybe, the White House is catching up to that reality.
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