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China Hacking Scandal
A Gutsy, Confrontational Move

The decision to charge five Chinese military officers with hacking U.S. companies is a gutsy, confrontational move by the Obama Administration.

It will enrage China and color Chinese leaders’ views of U.S. policy throughout the Pacific. It will very much add to the climate of confrontation and suspicion that has been escalating since Team Obama announced, during his first term, the “pivot” to Asia. Coming right after General Fang Fenghui, the chief of the PLA’s general staff, visited the Pentagon last week, the charges are likely to embitter relations between the U.S. and Chinese militaries at a time when relations appeared to be improving.

It will certainly be read in China as sign that the U.S. is neither backing down nor knuckling under in the latest round of Pacific diplomacy. Already the backlash is underway. Beijing summoned the U.S. Ambassador to explain Washington’s actions and an official in the foreign ministry promised that China “will take further action on the so-called charges.” An article in Xinhua professes innocence:

The position of the Chinese government on cyber security is consistent and clear-cut. China is steadfast in upholding cyber security. The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have “never engaged or participated” in cyber theft of trade secrets. The U.S. accusation against Chinese personnel is “purely ungrounded and with ulterior purpose,” Qin said.

Let’s just hope that the timing of this news was deliberate and that the Administration hasn’t been blindsided by its own Department of Justice. That happens sometimes in the U.S.; one branch of the executive proceeds on its own logic and timing without overall policy coordination.

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  • rheddles

    Gutsy? More like whiney. China will only know we are not backing down or knuckling under when we stop doing so in the real world. So far the “I can be rolled” sign is still pinned to Obama’s back.

  • Fat_Man

    Indicting 5 Chinese military officials, who have never been inside the US, and will never be extradited isn’t gutsy. It is a waste of everybody’s time and energy. It is also a parody of the liberal mind set that holds all problems to be solvable by the US Court system.

    The Obama administration apparently believes that Teddy Roosevelt said shout at the top of your lungs and never carry a stick.

    • Corlyss

      You know the administration doesn’t take its policy cues from people they consider white racist warmongering imperialist bullies. Curiously enough, that was Twain’s opinion of TR too.

      • Fat_Man

        It makes no difference, if a Republican said 2+2=4, the Administration would assert that 2+2=5.

        • PDX_traveler

          and the thing that’s wrong with that is..? I dunno, seems like a conservative assumption to make on the Administration’s part

  • Corlyss

    Another empty gesture from the administration famous for empty gestures.

  • B-Sabre

    $5 says that Obama learned about the indictment from the news media, just like he learns about everything else his administration does, apparently….

    Then again, when General Fang Fenghui showed up, he spent a good bit of time lecturing GEN Dempsey over the CinC’s last Tour d’Orient. This could be a response to that.

  • LivingRock

    The strategic implications and point about the timing are pertinent. But China should not be stealing intellectual property and sharing it with Chinese state owned and “private” companies. They need to be held to the fire on that.

  • Anthony

    Two questions: does charge change facts on ground (in that China’s cyber behavior moderates)? And will Generals ever be brought to trial?

  • Breif2

    “The decision to charge five Chinese military officers with hacking U.S. companies is a gutsy, confrontational move”

    I would have thought that Chinese military officers hacking U.S. companies is the confrontational move.

  • El Gringo

    Well, it’s a good thing that U.S. doesn’t breach the laws of other countries by infiltrating electronic systems. It’s good to have the moral high ground.

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