U.S. China Cyber Détente

By Kevin Coleman — Defense Tech Cyber Warfare Correspondent

You would have to have been totally isolated from the Internet to have missed all the coverage about cyber attacks on U.S. targets that have been attributed to China. Some claim that attacks from the U.S. on China are equal to those the U.S. gets from China. While few individuals know the true magnitude of these attacks in either direction, it is clear this is a huge problem that shows no sign of going away anytime soon.
Last week, perhaps the most respected U.S. statesman, Dr. Henry Kissinger, who really was the catalyst for the U.S.’ relationship with China back in the 70’s, made a statement concerning the current cyber threat environment with China. In his statement he recommended the two nations need to come to some sort of cyber détente to mitigate this rapidly growing issue. Détente in this context is defined as an easing of tensions or strained relations between countries through the establishment of an agreement, through negotiation or though implicit understandings between the parties. Chinese officials have stated that they are open to discussions with the international community about Internet security.

One has to stop and think of just how dangerous the acts of cyber aggression have become when a senior statesman and international relations expert like Henry Kissinger comes out with such a statement. Also include in your thoughts the fact that in the past 6 months the U.S. State Department has established new positions specifically in the cyber domain.

Clearly cyber tensions between the U.S. and China are running high. Perhaps it is time these talks take place!


  • Tim

    The definite answer is “No”. One only negotiates when in a losing position. We are not in the losing position, are we?

  • http://www.facebook.com/greysave Gregory Savage

    Not only that there is nothing to negotiate. We stated what our acts of war is, if the line is crossed then it is what it is. Furthermore, they have to be straight up before they negotiate. China is anything but straight up.

  • John Moore

    No good while u have a pupet in charge who knows nothing does nothing but rack up the CC bill.

  • LaurensBancroft

    If a panda hugger like Dr. K is pushing for a detente, then the U.S. must be doing something right and we shouldn’t stop!

  • Jya

    Unfortunately, we are in the more vulnerable position; the Chinese government has more to gain from continuing its cyber attacks on the basis that they can steal important technology from us with very little investment on their part while we can’t, or will have great difficulty to, retaliate for such attacks.

    • Pete

      Exactly! China has everything to gain, and very little to lose compared to the United States. It is not in China’s interest to willingly cease their cyber espionage and attacks, and won’t be for the foreseeable future. Theft of Western civilian and military technology is the only way the Chinese can hope to develop at such a fast pace.

      • joe

        Depends what you mean by ‘everything to lose’. Given how much has been invested in the PRC in the ‘great firewall’ there is certainly a degree of nervousness about losing control over the internet within chinese borders and its effects on domestic tranquility. As a starting suggestion; does the technological and military benefit gained from stealing document X from lockboeing outweigh the economic and social penalty lost when you find direct, unfiltered links to every Tibetan/Falun Gong/Taiwanese pro-independence page splattered all over the Chinese internet?

        • Pete

          That is a good point Joe-China is absolutely paranoid about losing control of its people and specifically the information they have access too. But the Party is convinced that they must continue their economic expansion or they’re finished. And cutting corners seems to be the only way they know how to get ahead.

  • tomatojuice

    You mad Andrew? Did someone steal you lunch when you were a kid? Did some asian kid steal your girlfriend? Do tell me…

  • Hunter78

    China may fear the internet more than we. Perhaps we can exploit that edge.

  • Oblat

    The Chinese see an opportunity to leverage American fears about the future to make some changes to the internet. The cost to American industry is negligible but as long as people like Kevin are trying to make a buck selling FUD the Chinese are keen to ride along and clamp down on the free flow of information. It costs them almost nothing since Kevin and friends are doing all the lobbying for free for them.

    It used to be that the Chinese were worried about the future and wanted to clamp down on the free flow of information. But increasingly we see a more open China and terrified Americans willing to surrender anything for a little reassurance.

  • blight

    ‘What war? This conflict exists only in your imagination’