- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Chinese officials this week urged FBI Director James Comey to strengthen ties with counterparts in Beijing so that the two nations can begin working closer together on issues related to cybersecurity and counterterrorism.

Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, reported that Chinese State Councilor Guo Shengkun met Monday with Mr. Comey in Beijing and pledged “to strengthen law enforcement cooperation” between countries.

“The two sides agreed to have more pragmatic cooperation in cyber security and anti-terrorism,” the media outlet reported.

Meng Jianzhu, a senior security official in charge of political and legal affairs, echoed the need for stronger ties between the U.S. and China while speaking Tuesday with Xinhua.

“China and U.S. law enforcement departments should implement the important consensus reached between the two heads of state and enhance cooperation in fighting terrorism, cyber crime and pursuing Chinese fugitives and their illegal assets,” Mr. Meng said.

Mr. Comey said that investigators in Washington are willing to enhance communication and expand bilateral cooperation in law enforcement and security with Beijing.

The Obama administration had reportedly been considering new sanctions to impose on China last year as a result of cyberattacks attributed to Beijing, but ultimately agreed to a truce after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the U.S. and September and reached a “common understanding” with his U.S. counterpart.

American officials largely blame China for the data breach revealed by the Officer of Personnel Management last year in which hackers compromised the personal data of more than 20 million federal employees and contractors. White House officials later told The Washington Post that the administration agreed not to impose sanctions after Chinese authorities arrested several individuals accused of participating in the hack.

In December, Xinhua said an investigation had determined that Chinese citizens, not state-sponsored hackers, had carried out the attack.

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