US, China conclude cybersecurity discussions

September 14, 2015

Katie Bo Williams

Senior U.S. and Chinese officials wrapped up four days of meetings on cybersecurity over the weekend, Reuters reports.

According to a White House statement obtained by Reuters, U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice had a “frank and open exchange about cyber issues” with China’s domestic security chief, Meng Jianzhu.

Chinese officials also met with FBI Director James Comey and representatives from the State, Justice and Treasury departments, as well as the intelligence community.

The meetings come in the shadow of Chinese President Xi Jinping's politically-charged state visit later this month. The Obama administration is reportedly weighing possible economic sanctions in response to ongoing cyberattacks originating in China, a divisive decision that some have suggested could cause Xi to call off the visit.

China’s state news agency Xinhua reported that Meng reached "important consensus" with the U.S. during the recently-concluded meetings and that both countries agree it is “vital” they cooperate to fight cyberattacks.

Meng said China will punish domestic hackers, including cyber thiefs that steal corporate secrets.

"China's position on opposing hacking and stealing commercial secrets online is resolute," Meng said, according to Xinhua.

The meetings were not reported to the House Intelligence Committee during a rare open hearing on Thursday, in which Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other intelligence leaders testified on the state of U.S. cybersecurity.

During that meeting, Clapper testified that “Chinese cyber espionage continues to target a broad spectrum of U.S. interests, ranging from national security information to sensitive economic data and U.S. intellectual property.”

On Friday, President Obama reiterated White House statements that he would address China’s digital behavior during the state visit.

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