US accuses China of cyberspying

Five members of the Chinese military have been indicted by America on charges of stealing trade secrets.

The United States has indicted five members of the Chinese military on charges relating to stealing trade secrets. The information allegedly stolen includes both technical information and internal discussions about strategy and pricing, from firms including nuclear power plant company Westinghouse and solar panel maker Solar World.

The five people accused are based in China and highly unlikely to be extradited to face trial, since China responded by calling the claims "ridiculous". It also said that this represented "double standards" and that China has also been "victims of US cyber surveillance and theft".

What the commentators said

In contrast, "Beijing uses it mainly to help Chinese companies, many of them state-owned, gain access to valuable intellectual property". They then use this information "to climb the value chain as China modernises its economy".

But the line between spying for national security and industrial espionage is often blurred, said David Sanger of The New York Times. "While the NSA cannot spy on Airbus and give the results to Boeing", it can "spy on European or Asian trade negotiators and use the results to help American trade officials".

Indeed, "state-run oil companies are a fascination to the NSA, just as American high-tech firms are a Chinese obsession". The only reason why the NSA doesn't share information with US firms is that "unlike the Chinese, they would not know which companies to help".

Still, while China's espionage "might make sense in the short term", a strategy of "aggressively mixing espionage with commerce is doomed", concluded Bloomberg View. After all, "it's going to have to convince international customers, not to mention foreign regulators, that their products aren't being bugged".

China also needs to realise that "its own companies will face digital intrusions as they become global powers". This means that "helping to build an international consensus about the rules of the game now will help ensure that such disputes don't escalate dangerously".

Recommended

Why all eyes will be on US inflation data this week
Inflation

Why all eyes will be on US inflation data this week

As the world comes out of lockdown and demand for goods and services rises, attention will shift to inflation and what it means for interest rates. Th…
12 Apr 2021
What China’s new red dawn means for Hong Kong
Chinese economy

What China’s new red dawn means for Hong Kong

China has once again moved to tighten its control over the former British territory and global financial centre. What will remain of the old Hong Kong…
10 Apr 2021
The charts that matter: gold up; dollar down
Global Economy

The charts that matter: gold up; dollar down

Gold rallied a little this week, while the US dollar drifted. Here’s how the charts that matter most to the global economy reacted.
10 Apr 2021
The global property bubble
Property

The global property bubble

Forget equities, the real post-pandemic action has been in property. And not just in the UK – it is a worldwide phenomenon.
9 Apr 2021

Most Popular

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it
Bitcoin

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it

The cryptocurrency’s price has soared far beyond its fundamentals, says Matthew Partridge. Here, he looks at how to short bitcoin.
12 Apr 2021
Central banks are rushing to build digital currencies. What are they, and what do they mean for you?
Bitcoin

Central banks are rushing to build digital currencies. What are they, and what do they mean for you?

As bitcoin continues to soar in value, many of the world’s central banks are looking to emulate it by issuing their own digital currencies. But centra…
8 Apr 2021
House prices: from boom to even bigger boom
House prices

House prices: from boom to even bigger boom

UK house prices have risen to new to record highs, says Nicole Garcia Merida. Demand continues to outpace supply, but continued low interest rates, th…
9 Apr 2021