Lew says cybersecurity on agenda for US-China talks

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Tuesday he will continue to press China toward changing its cybersecurity policies to better protect U.S. companies from intellectual property theft.

Lew said he hoped to make more progress on closing the gap between the views held by Washington and Beijing over the role governments play in protecting trade secrets during the next round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue set for next week. 

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"We do not view it as an acceptable practice for governmental entities to participate in the process of securing trade secrets for the economic benefits of firms in their country," Lew said.

“We’ve made clear how unacceptable it is for those practices to go on,” he said.

“It’s just a difference between how we do business. We just don’t engage in activity like that. We don’t condone it.”

He said he expected that cybersecurity will be one of nearly 60 topics discussed between U.S. and Chinese officials when they meet July 9–10 in Beijing. 

”I think it's important that we separate the issues out, not tie everything together," he said, which is one advantage of the yearly meeting.

"Notwithstanding other issues that come up between our countries, it is in both of our interests to maintain the economy discussions."

Lew said it is important to continue the discussion on cybersecurity, which developed as part of dialogue last year.

"I'm optimistic that we are going to be able to make some progress again this year," Lew said at an event sponsored by the U.S.-China Business Council.

Lew said the U.S. government has shown how seriously it takes the problem.

Last month, the United States issued criminal indictments on five members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for online theft of trade secrets from U.S. firms.

"I don’t think that there’s any question that it’s a source of some difference between us," he said.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to file a case against China over its cyber spying.

"The sanctioning of these attacks, in which Chinese military officials have illegally gathered corporate information from members of the U.S. solar, nuclear and metal industries is a threat not just to these specific companies, but to our entire economy," Schumer said.