- The Washington Times - Friday, February 26, 2016

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers on Thursday that despite the cyber pact, it remains to be seen whether China has retired from waging hack attacks against American businesses.

President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed in September to stop using cyber campaigns against one another to steal intellectual property and trade secrets from the computer systems of private companies.

Five months after announcing the deal, however, Mr. Clapper told Congress on Thursday that it’s too soon to tell if China has kept it’s end of the bargain.

“I think the jury’s out,” Mr. Clapper testified during a House Intelligence Committee hearing, The Hill reported.

“We have seen some reduction, but I don’t think we’re in a position to say at this point whether they’re in strict compliance,” he said in response to a question from Rep. Jim Himes, Connecticut Democrat.

Indeed, Mr. Clapper acknowledged in his prepared opening remarks that it may be difficult for U.S. observers to gauge’s China’s compliance given the very nature of Beijing’s cyber operations.

“Chinese military doctrine outlines the use of cyber deception operations to conceal intentions, modify stored data, transmit false data, manipulate the flow of information or influence public sentiments — all to induce errors and miscalculation in decision-making,” the spy chief said.

“Whether its commitment last September moderates its economic espionage remains to be seen,” he said.

Prior to announcing a milestone cyber deal between the U.S. and China last year, American officials blamed Beijing for hacking the Office of Personnel Management and stealing sensitive records containing the personally identifiable information of more than 20 million federal employees.

The U.S. had reportedly been considering the imposition of sanctions as a result of the breach, but ultimately took no such action after the arrangement was agreed to.

“We will monitor compliance with China’s September 2015 commitment to refrain from conducting or knowingly supporting cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property with the intent of providing competitive advantage to companies or commercial sectors,” Mr. Clapper’s prepared remarks read. “Private-sector security experts have identified limited ongoing cyber activity from China but have not verified state sponsorship or the use of exfiltrated data for commercial gain.”

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