Obama shouldn’t follow cyber spying hype

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-9-18 0:08:05

US President Barack Obama warned on Wednesday that his administration is preparing a series of measures against China over online attacks. Obama distinguished between normal espionage by governments and the theft of commercial data. He said, "this is not just a matter of us being mildly upset, but is something that will put significant strains on the bilateral relationship if not resolved."

"My hope," Obama added, "is that it gets resolved short of that." Obama's words are catering to the populist mood and will make the US commercial field, which is uncomfortable over its unfavorable position in competition with its Chinese counterparts, feel relieved. But it is disappointing that such words were uttered by Obama. Americans always like to exaggerate threats.

The cyber security issue between the two is mostly hyped up. Till now, the US has not displayed any evidence of commercial espionage by the Chinese government. However, a confirmed instance of widespread government espionage is provided by the US' PRISM program, to which leaders of American allies such as Germany's Angela Merkel and Japan's Shinzo Abe fell victim.

It is understandable that Obama has to draw a line between conventional espionage and the theft of commercial data, as he is covering for the infamous US intelligence agencies. Comparing bugging a head of state and a company CEO, which one causes more damage? The answer is clear to anyone.

Obama made these remarks just before Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the US next week, but may not be targeting this trip. He said this at a business roundtable, which is a routine show in American politics. Obama tries to curry favor with the commercial sector, but the timing coincided with Xi's visit. Like Zhongnanhai, the White House also hopes for a successful visit by Xi.

Top Chinese security official Meng Jianzhu visited the US as an envoy of Xi to address the cyber security issue and expressed China's sincerity in tackling this issue with the US. This visit has promoted communication between the leadership of both sides on this issue and the US should pass down the confidence brought by this communication to its people.

Some Americans are so arrogant  as to attribute China's modernization to its theft of American technology. With this mentality, they can only see China as a spy camp. Nowadays, they harbor suspicion toward Chinese-American scientists or even overseas students, which is an insane reaction.

Given the high skills of US Internet technology and the existence of cyber forces, it is China that should worry more about its cyber security. Cloud technology on iPhones enables the US to amass data about the Chinese people. President Obama should be clear that he and the White House have the highest level of information security. He should be candid to his people instead of shouting populist slogans.

Posted in: Editorial

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