Thursday February 27, 2020

Cyber Security, Island Disputes, John Kerry, and U.S.-China Relations
March 1, 2013

Lately, there have been frequent news headlines involving China. The South and East China Sea island disputes, China’s new leadership, economic changes, and even the Lunar New Year’s celebrations—China has definitely caught the attention of Americans. But this is not just a one-way interest. The Chinese are also paying close attention to what happens in the U.S, especially considering the new U.S. focus on Asia. With new leadership in both countries and recently heightened tensions increasing the media attention, Americans and Chinese both have a lot to say.

The most recent example of tensions and strained ties between the U.S. and China is the conflict over hacking and cyber security concerns. There has been an increasing amount of direct public blame of China for hacking attacks on American business, media, organization, and government websites. These outright accusations represent a significant shift from the more subtle approach previously taken by Washington.

The White House has publicly stated that it has taken up its cyber security concerns with high-level Chinese officials. House Intelligence Committee Chair, Representative Rogers, also made accusations against China on national television. Patrick Cronin, from the Center for New American Security, argues that the increased cyber attacks are in line with China’s recent displays of power, linking them to China’s actions concerning the island disputes.

China has not remained silent. China denied the accusations made by the U.S. and has claimed that it, too, is a victim of hacking. China is now also claiming that U.S.-based hackers have been repeatedly attacking China’s military websites over an extended period. Comments from both the U.S. and China have mentioned the potential damage this conflict is having on larger U.S.-China relations.

Despite the recent emphasis on cyber security, it is not the only area receiving attention. Kurt Campbell, outgoing U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia, for example, warned about the possibility of the dispute between China and Japan erupting into a bigger conflict, with potential to have larger global and even economic consequences. Additionally, the first actions of John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of State are receiving close analysis by the Chinese media. There is a hope that Kerry’s initial focus on the Middle East and his reservations about the Pivot to Asia might indicate that Kerry might be a ‘friendlier’ Secretary of State towards China.

Those are just a couple examples of many where the events going on in the U.S. and China are discussed in the other country’s newspapers. This wide coverage and analysis shows how prominent America and China are in the other’s news. The recent events and tensions between the two countries have also brought on wider discussions about U.S.-China relations and the need for improvement. Articles are describing the misunderstanding between the U.S. and China and the need for the two countries to be friends if they want to thrive.

It is not just reporters who are focused on the importance of the U.S.-China relationship, especially in light of recent events. The leadership is also chiming in. Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA), co-chairs  of the U.S.-China Working Group recently wrote an editorial about improving U.S.-China Relations. They provided four “New Year’s Resolutions,” such as re-establishing ties with the new leadership, increased engagement, and more nuanced economic and military relationships. In China, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, former ambassador to the U.S., is likely going to be promoted to state councilor, signaling Chinese recognition of the importance of the U.S.-China relationship.

The news coverage about the U.S. and China highlights the impact our two countries have on each other. Both sides seem to realize how essential the U.S.-China relationship is, and appreciate the need to work towards a productive and cooperative relationship.

For more information on the above topics, see the following news articles:

The Wall Street Journal– “U.S., China Ties Tested in Cyberspace

ABC-Rep. Rogers: ‘Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt’ China Behind US hacking

BBC-US hackers attacked military websites, says China’s defence ministry

The Australian– “China-Japan dispute a powder keg, says US

The Washington Post-China is happy with John Kerry because it thinks he’ll drop the ‘pivot to Asia’

Politico- How to improve U.S.-China relations

Reuters- New top diplomats in China signal focus on U.S., Japan, North Korea

For Chinese language news on these topics, see the articles below:

Xinhua (新华网)- 专家建议中美有必要增强网络信任

The Voice of Russia (俄罗斯之声)-网络冷战考验中美关系

Sin Chew Daily (星洲日报)-克里首次外访 预示美外交方向转弯?

Xinhua (新华网)-罗照辉:中美两国难免有分歧 但合作是主流


Compiled and edited by Ariane Rosen