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Slight shift seen in official Chinese attitude on cybersecurity

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The government of China has slightly shifted its stance on cybersecurity issues from "outright denials, counter-accusations, conflating various cyber activities, rejection of laws of warfare in cyberspace, promotion of sovereign control over cyberspace, and expressions of victimization" to a new one of some willingness to talk directly with the United States about cybersecurity, says a Congressional Research Service report.

The report (.pdf), posted online by Secrecy News and a general overview of U.S-China military contacts, notes that U.S. and Chinese civilian and military officials met for a first meeting of the Cyber Working Group on July 8. President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to the talks during an informal June meeting between the two leaders in California.

During the meeting, the officials "agreed to talk more about international norms and principles to guide cyber activities" the CRS report says.

Revelations from former intelligence community contractor Edward Snowden (granted temporary asylum in Russia) about U.S. Internet surveillance, including of systems in Hong Kong and China, did complicate diplomatic efforts, the CRS reports acknowledges.

"China used Snowden's case to protest to the United States about so-called 'cyber attacks,' despite the People's Republic of China's suspected surveillance against its own citizens (especially resulting in reported arrests and imprisonment of Uighurs for their allegedly illegal Internet activities)," the report notes.

A decision by Hong Kong authorities, where Snowden first emerged in early June to leak documents to the press, to let him travel onward to Russia also led the White House to say that the U.S.-China relationship has been negatively impacted.

For more:
- download the CRS report, RL32496 (.pdf)

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