2 President Xi Jinping, at a national conference, talks about cybersecurity work and computerization. See: „Xi Outlines Blueprint to Develop China`s Strength in Cyberspace,” Xinhua, April 21, 2018, www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-04/21/c_137127374.htm. The agreement has yet to show whether it has had a significant impact on U.S.-China relations, including by providing a platform for other important political disputes. Nor does the agreement eliminate the need to increase U.S. cybersecurity efforts, as any false confidence would be a weakness. It seems too early to say whether the agreement has had a significant impact on U.S.-China relations, particularly with the level of natural mistrust. More generally, cybersecurity takes on different meanings in both countries. This seems cluttered on the surface, because both countries place considerable importance on cybersecurity, and show increased fear about its vulnerabilities. Both also recognize that, in an area as offensive as cyberspace, the most vulnerable countries are also the most vulnerable. The United States even explicitly sees cybersecurity as its Achilles` heel.16 However, China and the United States continue to show strong differences of opinion on the most important cybersecurity priorities and the origin of major threats. The Chinese can refer to the increased U.S. concern about cybersecurity because it concerns critical infrastructure. But they say they are unable to understand the current U.S.
hypersensitivity to cybersecurity, as it concerns ict and ICS supply chain integrity issues. Both sides are right to rightly assert cybersecurity in general and the integrity of ict products in particular, but they are deeply suspicious of the attitude of the other. This seems to be a classic repetition of the security problem. In 2015, Obama and Xi Jingping agreed that there would be no state-subsidized economic espionage in cyberspace. The U.S.-China cybersecurity agreement is a bilateral agreement that aims to prevent economic cyberespionage between the two countries, particularly the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets. Although the United States is skeptical of China`s compliance with the agreement, China`s willingness to talk about economic espionage as a category of espionage in its own right was in itself a kind of victory. Mr. Xi`s agreement to ensure that the Chinese government does not knowingly participate in or support intellectual property theft to give private companies a competitive advantage was surprising.
In the past, China has not seemed to agree that there is a separate category of economic espionage and instead asserted that measures to strengthen the Chinese economy were ultimately aimed at national security. With this agreement, China seemed to adopt the American position that there is a different kind of espionage from the national security of espionage. If China and the United States agree that countries that spy on corporate profits are different from countries that spy on national security and less acceptable, this could have a profound impact on international standards in this area.