Search GSSD

A New Old Threat: Countering the Return of Chinese Industrial Cyber Espionage

One of the major takeaways of this article is that Chinese cyber-industrial espionage against the United States continues to persist despite diplomatic efforts engaged by both countries. During their meeting in 2015, Obama and Xi JiPing sought to agree on international rules of the road for appropriate conduct in cyberspace. A drop in Chinese cyber attacks was nonetheless recorded following the meeting of the two leaders. This situation is in fact misleading. Chinese attacks become more efficient and harder to unseal. In addition, recent trade disputes between the two countries have increased the frequency of Chinese cyber attacks. In other words, China will continue to pursue its industrial espionage activities. Faced with this somewhat fatalistic finding, the author offers three solutions that the US administration should adopt in order to fight the persistent Chinese threat. The first is diplomatic. The United States and its allied countries must form a coalition to put in place concrete sanctions. The challenge is to make China understand that its behavior is reprimanded by a large part of the international community, thus legitimizing American grievances. The second solution lies on punishment. The United States must not only punish hackers but especially the beneficiaries of these cyber attacks, such as businesses. Finally, the last solution is more educational. The United States must help companies targeted by hackers by giving them the most efficient methods of cyber defense. I chose this article because it shows in a very pragmatic way that China does not intend to stop cyber spying. The different solutions proposed have the positive point of complementing each other. A good cyber defense must be associated with a high-performance technology, a punishment policy and with a better awareness of targeted companies. On the other hand, I have doubts about the diplomatic aspect. I think it is difficult to bring States together on such a delicate subject. Indeed, the definition of “hacking for national security purposes” remains unclear and subject to various interpretations. In terms of cyber defense, actions may also remain unilateral. At least, this would be faster and more consistent.
Lorand Laskai, Adam Segal
Council on Foreign Relations
China, U.S.
Case Studies