Cybersecurity is easily one of the biggest sources of tension between China and the United States, and it’s one that the two nations have slowly started to address. A few weeks ago, the two nations reached their first-ever high-level cybersecurity agreement, albeit one of little substance, in which they essentially promised to start working towards cooperation in the future. Many people have dismissed the agreement as little more than talk, and they’re not wrong, but there’s a chance that more will be achieved when the two nations meet again in Beijing in May 2016.
The U.S. and China have reached an agreement on how to begin cooperating on cybersecurity, an issue that has caused high tension between the two nations over the last few years. The agreement, reached in the first high-level meeting of its kind, calls for guidelines on sharing computer security information, a hotline to discuss issues, a so-called tabletop cybersecurity exercise and further dialog on concerns such as the theft of trade secrets. The U.S. and China have had a combative relationship on cybersecurity, which escalated in 2010 when Google directly accused China-based hackers of stealing its intellectual property. Security experts have long theorized that China has sanctioned and authorized the hacking of Western companies and governments. The two countries’ relationship became further strained in May 2014, when the U.S. Justice Department charged five members of the People’s Liberation Army with stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies. The indictment was the first-ever U.S. criminal action related to suspected state-sponsored hacking.