Pentagon chief talks cyber with Chinese general

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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter met with one of China’s top generals at the Pentagon on Thursday to discuss the two countries' military relationship in advance of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington later this year.

Although land disputes in the South China Sea dominated the discussion with Gen. Fan Changlong, a deputy head of China's Central Military Commission, cybersecurity was on the agenda as well, according to multiple reports.

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Cybersecurity has become a major irritant between the U.S. and China. The Obama administration has accused Beijing officials of orchestrating a massive digital espionage campaign against the U.S. as well as using domestic cybersecurity laws to lock out foreign businesses.

Most recently, Chinese hackers have been blamed for the breach at the Office of Personnel Management, which has potentially exposed up to 14 million people’s sensitive data.

Fan’s weeklong visit to the United States also includes a meeting with U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice on Friday.

Wu Xi, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Washington, told Reuters that the two countries should deal with their cybersecurity disagreements in “a proper way,” and not using “microphone diplomacy.”

In April, China accused the Pentagon of spurring an “Internet arms race” with its recently updated cybersecurity strategy that outlined a more robust role for cyber weapons and retaliatory cyber efforts.