US, China take first steps toward cybersecurity cooperation

The two countries have pledged to share information and establish a hotline

The U.S. and China have reached an agreement on how to begin cooperating on cybersecurity, an issue that has caused high tension between the two nations over the last few years.

The agreement, reached in the first high-level meeting of its kind, calls for guidelines on sharing computer security information, a hotline to discuss issues, a so-called tabletop cybersecurity exercise and further dialog on concerns such as the theft of trade secrets. 

The U.S. and China have had a combative relationship on cybersecurity, which escalated in 2010 when Google directly accused China-based hackers of stealing its intellectual property.

Security experts have long theorized that China has sanctioned and authorized the hacking of Western companies and governments.

The two countries' relationship became further strained in May 2014, when the U.S. Justice Department charged five members of the People's Liberation Army with stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies. The indictment was the first-ever U.S. criminal action related to suspected state-sponsored hacking.

China has consistently denied running state-sponsored actions and has in turn accused the U.S. of running network intrusion operations.

The agreement came after a meeting in Washington, D.C., between top-level U.S. and Chinese officials, including U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Chinese State Councilor Guo Shengkun, according to a news release.

The two sides will next meet in Beijing in May 2016.

 

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