In the days leading up to Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to the U.S., the two countries are negotiating a “no first use” cyberspace arms deal that could limit the U.S. and China's use of cyberweapons against each other during peacetime, according to The New York Times.
These discussions come at a tenuous moment during the two countries' relationship. The U.S. has been considering economic sanctions again China over its increasing use of cyberattacks and cyberespionage against the U.S. government and private companies.
Economic sanctions against China likely won't be announced during President Xi's trip to the U.S. this week, and the agreement discussions weren't expected to address cybertheft of U.S. intellectual property.
A National Security Council spokesperson declined to comment but said there would be more to come this week.
China has repeatedly denied having a role in cyberattacks like those that caused the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) data breach and brought Sony Pictures to its knees.
Dr. Paul Stockton, Sonecon, LLC managing director and former assistant secretary of commerce of defense for homeland defense told SCMagazine.com that these discussions are an important first step, but emphasized that "many years of discussion will likely be required to build shared norms that will further U.S. economic and security interests."
Stockton said the U.S. must build stronger protections for private companies and information-sharing needs to continue to improve.
He also argued that the country must be prepared to inflict sanctions against Chinese companies that engage in cyber-theft against U.S. corporations. "We need to change their cost-benefit analysis," he said. "Executives of Chinese companies need to know that if we catch them stealing US intellectual property, it will be extremely costly."