China, US agree to establish cyber code of conduct

Governments from both nations say they will work to develop a code of conduct outlining acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace, following talks at the annual China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Government officials from China and the United States have agreed to establish a code of conduct outlining appropriate behavior in cyberspace.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters Wednesday that the two countries must cooperate to address cybersecurity concerns. The announcement followed two days of discussions in Washington where representatives from both governments gathered for the annual China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

"The United States and China should be working together to develop and implement a shared understanding of appropriate state behavior in cyberspace. And I'm pleased to say China agreed that we must work together to complete a code of conduct regarding cyber activities," Kerry said.

US President Barack Obama earlier raised concerns about "China's cyber and maritime behavior" and urged his Chinese counterparts to ease tensions, Bloomberg reported, citing a statement from the White House which did not provide further details.

Chinese hackers were said to be responsible for the recent security breach at the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which affected 4 million former and current U.S. federal employees. China, though, denied an involvement in the breach, reported BBC, and asked the U.S. to "respect the facts".

Following the bilateral talks in Washington, Kerry said both sides had "an honest discussion, without accusations [and] any finger-pointing" about issues related to cyber theft, the BBC report stated. "We need to work through how all countries are going to behave, but particularly how we're going to work this out in terms of the bilateral relationship," he said, adding that both governments needed to define and observe acceptable international norms of behavior.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) itself was involved in several cyberspying scandals, where it secretly monitored phone conversations of 35 world leaders as well as hacked the systems of Chinese mobile companies.

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