China blasted the United States after an American top intelligence official emphasized the need to intensify cyber security against Chinese hackers. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said U.S. officials should stop their unfounded accusations.
According to U.S. National Intelligence Director, James Clapper, it is critical for the United States to boost its cyber security against Chinese hackers targeting a broad spectrum of American interests including national security information, sensitive economic data, and intellectual property.
“Although China is an advanced cyber actor in terms of capabilities, Chinese hackers are often able to gain access to their targets without having to resort to using advanced capabilities,” said Clapper to the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives.
He also stated that the United States could improve cyber security and complicate Chinese cyber espionage by “addressing the less sophisticated threats, raise the cost and risks” for China if it persists to engage in such activities.
Some U.S. officials said the Obama administration is considering targeted sanctions against Chinese individuals and companies for cyber attacks on American interests.
Clapper previously stated that China was the “leading suspect” behind the massive hacking of the network of the Office of Personnel Mangement (OPM). The Chinese government repeatedly denied any involvement in the hacking incidents in the United States and emphasized that it was also a victim of such activities.
China says cyber security should be a point of cooperation
In response to Clapper’s statement, Hong Lei, spokesman for Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “Maintaining cyber security should be a point of cooperation rather than a source of friction between both China and the United States.”
“We hope that the U.S. stops its groundless attacks against China, start dialogue based on a foundation of mutual respect, and jointly build a cyberspace that is peaceful, secure, open and cooperative,” added Hong.
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi also expressed a similar position on the issue of cyber security. According to Yang,”We hope China, the United States, and other countries could work together to work out the rules for cyber security in the international arena in the spirit of mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit.”
Furthermore, Yang pointed out that China was also a victim of hacking, and the handling and investigation of suspected cases should be done on “solid, factual basis.”
South China Sea territorial disputes: US should stay on the sidelines
Yang also expressed comment regarding the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The Chinese official is hoping for the United Stay on the sidelines since it is not part of the disputes.
“It is important for both countries to stay in close touch even if they have different perceptions and views,” said Yang.
In August, the Chinese government was irked by the statement of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel that both China and the Phillippines are both signatories to U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Both countries should abide by the decision of the tribunal.
Russel said, “We are not neutral when it comes to adhering to international law. We will come down forcefully when it comes to following the rules.”
In response, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kung said Washington was using its influence to move the case forward and to achieve a ruling in favor of the Philippines, its oldest ally in Asia. Lu said the U.S. was acting like an “arbitrator outside the tribunal.”
Issue on Chinese undocumented immigrants
Political observers suggested that the issue of Chinese undocumented immigrants would be likely discussed during the President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington.
There are currently 39,000 Chinese nationals awaiting deportation for violating U.S. immigrating laws. Nine hundred (900) of the Chinese nationals were classified by immigration officials as violent offenders.
According to Reuters, China finally took actions to provide the required documents to deport the undocumented Chinese nationals.
DHS Press Secretary Marsha Catron said Secretary Jeh Johnson and his Chinese counterparts “agreed to begin repatriation flights from the U.S. for Chinese nationals with final deportation orders.”
Additionally, China is also asking the United States regarding the return of Chinese citizens who were fugitive of corruption investigations (Operation Fox Hunt) in their country.
U.S. officials put separation on the two immigration issues involving Chinese nations. According to them, there would be no “quid pro quo” agreement to hand over Operation Fox Hunt suspects in exchange for cooperation on immigration violators. However, they said there is a parallel discussion on the issues.
On the other hand, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “China believes that there should be no double standards when it comes to the issue of handling the repatriation of illegal immigrants.” The Ministry is asking for “support for China’s efforts to fight corruption.”