- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping said he’s ready to discuss cybersecurity concerns raised by American officials amid reports that the White House is weighing whether to impose sanctions in response to data breaches blamed on China.

Speaking Tuesday evening at an event in Seattle, Mr. Xi said China too is often the target of cyberattacks and digital espionage campaigns and insisted world leaders reach an agreement in order to curb a wave of recent international incidents that have erupted within the digital sphere.

“China is a staunch defender of cybersecurity and also a victim of hacking,” Mr. Xi said.

“The Chinese government will not in whatever form engage in commercial theft, and hacking against government networks are crimes that must be punished in accordance with the law and relevant international treaties,” he said. “The international community should, on the basis of mutual respect and trust, work together to build a peaceful, safe, open and cooperative Internet space.”

Nevertheless, the president’s remarks might not be enough to assuage concerns raised in recent months by a barrage of high-profile hacks and data breaches that U.S. officials have attributed to China.

Washington has largely blamed Beijing for compromising the personally identifiable information of millions of government contractors and employees through an attack earlier this year against the network of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Others have said hackers acting on behalf of the Chinese government launched attacks waged in recent months against the computer systems of United Airlines and health insurer Anthem, but investigators haven’t yet determined who was behind those attacks.

“We are preparing a number of measures that will indicate to the Chinese that this is not just a matter of us being mildly upset,” President Obama told executives last week at an event in Washington regarding possible sanctions.

Jack Ma, the Chinese businessman behind Hangzhou-headquartered e-commerce company Alibaba, told CNN that American corporations and government agencies aren’t the only entities suffering.

“This is a very big problem for both sides, not just the U.S.,” Mr. Ma said. “We have had 19 million hacks against our company. So this is a global problem that we are all going to have to work on together.”

American officials, meanwhile, aren’t convinced by Mr. Xi’s claims just yet.

“We — and our companies — continue to have serious concerns about an overall lack of legal and regulatory transparency, inconsistent protection of intellectual property, discriminatory cyber and technology policies, and more generally, the lack of a level playing field across a range of sectors,” Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said at Tuesday’s event, The New York Times reported.

Mr. Obama is expected to voice similar concerns when he speaks with his Chinese counterpart later this week. First, however, Mr. Xi is slated to meet with executives from U.S. companies including Boeing, Amazon, Pepsi, Microsoft and DuPont.

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