US, Chinese officials pleased with cyber talks

US, Chinese officials pleased with cyber talks
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The U.S. and China are making progress in improving their relationship on cybersecurity, a key administration official said during a high-level meeting between the two nations this week, according to Reuters.

The second U.S.-China High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues — being held in Beijing — was intended to be a ministerial-level meeting, but both Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson pulled out at the last minute to focus on the Orlando shooting investigation.

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Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Suzanne Spaulding said Tuesday that the focus of the meetings was to ensure that the two nations fulfilled agreements made during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit in September.

The two nations agreed to exchange more information on cyber crime, and struck a pledge that neither government will hack the other for financial gain.

Since then, Spaulding said, the two sides have set up email addresses to share information.

“A key element of the agreement is information-sharing and establishing mechanisms,” she told reporters. “We are very pleased to have temporary email addresses and very much appreciate" working to set up permanent addresses, she continued.

Chinese officials also gave a positive account of the talks.

"We want to bring the discussions from policies on paper to actual implementation," Chinese Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun said.

"Both sides will continue to cooperate on cyber cases. I believe the leadership on both sides places emphasis on the issue and values participation. Xi Jinping has personally been involved,” Guo said.

Cyber issues have been an intense point of friction between the two nations. Beijing is widely believed to be behind the hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), discovered last summer, which exposed over 20 million U.S. federal employees, contractors and others.

The Obama administration has yet to publicly blame Beijing for the intrusion. The White House has attempted to draw a distinction between hacking for economic gain — forbidden under the September agreement — and hacking for traditional intelligence purposes, in which the U.S. also engages. The OPM intrusion is widely considered to be an act of espionage.

The first official meeting of the U.S.-China High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues was held in Washington, D.C., in December.

It was among the first ministry-level dialogues on cyber issues since China pulled out of a separate bilateral working group in 2014 over allegations that members of the Chinese military had hacked U.S. companies.