Chinese ambassador: US has broken cyber faith

It’s the U.S., not China, that needs to repair tense relations over cybersecurity between the two countries, according to the Chinese ambassador.

In an interview with Foreign Policy published Tuesday, Cui Tiankai, claimed China “did not walk away from the table,” on cyber issues. “What the United States did was basically tear down this table, destroy this table. They need to restore confidence.”

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Cui’s comments come as Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe continuous whipsawing of climate change policy Budowsky: United Democrats and Biden's New Deal Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil MORE travels to Beijing for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting. President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NYT publishes controversial Tom Cotton op-ed The millions of young people forgotten amid pandemic response Poll: Biden leads Trump, Cunningham neck and neck with Tillis in North Carolina MORE will follow him next week.

The two sides are expected to talk cybersecurity, a fraught topic as both countries have accused the other of hacking government agencies and critical industries.

“We want assurance that the United States, as the most powerful and technologically advanced country in the world in information technology, will not hurt China's interest with this technological advantage,” Cui said. “The weaker one should be worried about the stronger one, not the other way around.”

In comments Tuesday, Kerry stressed that the U.S. has been “very clear about how strongly we object to any cyber-enabled theft.”

But he also pledged not to “agree to disagree” with China on hacking. The U.S. will work to find common ground and establish guidelines, he said.

Cui believes the two sides are looking at cyber attacks from very different perspectives.

“My American colleagues often tell me that they distinguish between cyber activities for national security or intelligence purposes and cyber activity against commercial secrets,” Cui said. “This distinction is a bit artificial. How can you distinguish from activities that will hurt national security without hurting the nation's commercial interests?”

And the discovery of U.S. surveillance programs following leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has cast doubt on America's intentions.

“China — and maybe Germany and others — we have a good reason to be worried,” Cui said.

In May, China pulled out of a U.S.-China cybersecurity working group after the U.S. indicted five members of the Chinese military for hacking.

“The United States has the obligation to reassure other countries that it will not use its technological strength to violate the legitimate interest of other countries,” Cui said.