The U.S.-China Cyber Agreement: A Good First Step

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After years of the U.S. suffering losses valued in the billions of dollars due to economically-motivated cyber espionage from China, there are some signs that China has begun to reduce its intrusions into U.S. private sector firms’ computer networks. What led to this unexpected change in Chinese behavior? Is it because of the high-profile agreement signed by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping last September? How sustainable is that agreement? And what broader implications does it have for the overall U.S.-China relationship? The answers to these questions carry important consequences for U.S. national interests. 

It remains somewhat unclear whether China has indeed reduced its intrusions into U.S. private sector computer systems, as some U.S. cybersecurity firms that previously tracked Chinese cyber threat actors have claimed. The nature of hacking is such that it is virtually impossible to ever know for certain exactly what level of intrusion sets are occurring.

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