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The U.S. Wants To Be Upfront With China About Cyberwarfare

US President Barack Obama during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping

US President Barack Obama during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping // Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The Obama administration held briefings with Chinese military leadership about the United States’ growing cyberwarfare program, according to a new report fromThe New York Times. In a speech planned for Tuesday at the People’s Liberation Army’s National Defense University, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to bring up the issue, and the fact the the Chinese have not been similarly forthright in detailing their cyber initiatives.

From the Times:

The effort, senior Pentagon officials say, is to head off what Mr. Hagel and his advisers fear is the growing possibility of a fast-escalating series of cyberattacks and counterattacks between the United States and China. … American officials say their latest initiatives were inspired by Cold-War-era exchanges held with the Soviets so that each side understood the “red lines” for employing nuclear weapons against each other.

America plans to have more than 6,000 cyberwarriors by the end of 2016 — more than triple the current numbers — and the Pentagon plans to spend $26 billion on related technology programs over the next five years. In the past year, the pace of cyberattacks from China have increased. Most of these attacks target technology companies in Silicon Valley, as well as military contractors and energy companies. The Obama administration's hopes for these back-channel talks is to establish norms and avoid a cyberattack escalating into full-scale conflict.

A couple of weeks ago, it was revealed that U.S. hackers had breached Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications giant in an effort known as Operation Shotgiant. Chinese President Xi Jinping brought up the attack to President Obama when that met at the Hague shortly thereafter. Obama told Xi that “the United States, unlike China, did not use its technological powers to steal corporate data and give it to its own companies; its spying, one of Mr. Obama’s aides later told reporters, is solely for ‘national security priorities.’”

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