Policy & Strategy

China warns against ‘double standard’ on cyberattack claims

Despite the ongoing tensions between China and the United States in the area of cybersecurity, it is and will remain the the country’s position to pursue the “peaceful use of cyberspace,” Chang said during a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. 

{mosads}However, the Chinese defense chief warned against a growing “double standard” in the growing cybersecurity debate, where the Asian power is continually perceived as the aggressor. 

To that end, Chang pointed out that China is and will likely remain one of the biggest targets of cyberattacks and espionage in the world. 

That narrative, according to Chang, has been reinforced by “unwarranted accusations” against China for being the hidden hand behind a majority of cyberattack against the United States and its allies across the globe. 

These accusations, he warned, could lead to “miscalculations” that may result in undoing the cooperative work between the two countries to establish stronger military-to-military ties.

That said, the Pentagon is spearheading a new notification system designed to immediately alert military leaders in Washington and Beijing of potential flare-ups between the two countries’ armed forces in the Pacific and elsewhere. 

As part of that effort, Hagel has tasked the plans and programs directorate on the Joint Staff to liaise with their Chinese counterparts to develop that early warning system. 

Both countries’ military leaders are also drafting a slate of shared rules governing air and sea operations in the Asia-Pacific region, Hagel said during Monday’s briefing, to help cut down on such miscalculations that could lead to a larger conflict. 

On cyber warfare specifically, both officials agreed to continue work under a new U.S.-China cyber working group agreed to during last year’s bilateral talks hosted by former Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, according to Hagel. 

“Our staffs are exploring those initiatives and will continue discussing them,” Hagel said Monday, adding the group will be an integral “venue for addressing issues of mutual concern in the area of cyber.” 

The defense leaders’ comments came after a brief, closed-door meeting at the Pentagon that touched upon a range of pressing defense and national security issues. 

The comments also come weeks before Hagel, Chang and other top military leaders in the Asia-Pacific region are set to meet at the annual The Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit later this year. 

Chang’s sit-down with Hagel will cap off the Chinese defense chief’s four-day visit to the United States, including stops at Pacific Command in Hawaii and Northern Command headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Chang is only the second defense minister to visit the Pentagon in person in over a decade. 

He replaced former defense chief Gen. Liang Guanglie, the last Chinese defense leader to visit the U.S., when Chinese President Xi Jinping took power in March.

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