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Obama Xi Agreement

A year ago, Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping stood side by side and said that neither the U.S. administration nor the Chinese government "would knowingly carry out or support the theft of cyberprocessor intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information for commercial purposes." Despite widespread legitimate skepticism of the agreement, much of the cybersecurity heat has dissipated in bilateral relations. It is Russia, and the alleged hacking of the National Democratic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency, that now dominates the headlines and makes most of the debate on U.S. cybersecurity policy. In the past, experts familiar with the Obama deal have said China`s incessed attacks on private defense companies were in a "grey area" of the agreement. The 2015 agreement hoped to deter IP theft, but did nothing to hinder the daily spying for political profits. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China has violated an agreement with the United States to end cyberespionage through hacking of government and corporate data, a senior U.S. intelligence official said on Thursday. Chinese officials always quickly assert (sometimes without being asked) that there are no tensions between PLA and the party, but by pledging to end economic espionage, Xi is reducing the private income of the PLA. They won`t like it, and while the cybersecurity agreement is part of China`s recently announced military modernization efforts and Xi`s anti-corruption campaign, it will take time and tough partisan policies to produce results. Chinese leaders often talk about the need for a "new model of great power relations." The cybersecurity agreement between President Xi and Obama is a first step toward its definition.

The agreement does not mean that we are done with cybersecurity. This is the beginning of a long journey to define both cyberspace and the larger relationship. Agreements of this type are always filled with complaints that the other party will cheat. Fraud has been a problem in any arms control agreement since the 1922 Washington Naval Convention. Ikle`s play remains the best discussion on this subject. When democracies negotiate with authoritarians, the other party usually cheats. There is always a risk of fraud and it is not a good idea to point that out, and there is no reason not to move forward. An agreement is the first chapter and the following chapters deal with respect and consequences if the agreement is not respected. The White House says the U.S. is ready to act if China does not keep its agreement on cyberespionage.

The questions for this next chapter are at what level non-compliance warrants a criminal response, what format will adopt that response, how we would avoid delays in the response and what measures would strengthen the agreement. If we look at that last point, we have to say where we are prepared to make concessions, a difficult subject, but one that is being discussed in terms of standards. That may not be enough to think only about the standards, because we may have to consider limiting U.S. measures, but it is a broader debate. The theft of millions of records from the Human Resources Management Office prepared the terms of an agreement. Although the United States has not publicly blamed China, it has not hesitated to point it to the culprit in private briefings.

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