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Obama, Xi, and Cyberspace

by Adam Segal
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with China's Vice President Xi Jinping in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on February 14, 2012. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with China's Vice President Xi Jinping in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on February 14, 2012. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters)

In the run up to the “shirt-sleeves” summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama, which will take place at the Sunnylands estate in California on June 7-8, one of the questions has been how would Obama raise the cyber espionage issue. An approach that directly calls out the seriousness of the attacks but indirectly hints at the possible sanctions seems the most likely. This would be a “good cop, bad cop” approach. Obama would stress that Chinese attacks, especially on the private sector, needed to be dialed back, but that Washington also wanted to continue working with Beijing on a range of issues, including Iran, North Korea denuclearization, and climate change. Obama would also hint that there is a great deal of legislation being considered that might lead to sanctions on Chinese companies and travel restrictions on individuals, and that China should work with him to prevent that from happening. Read more »

Mihoko Matsubara: A Roadmap for U.S.-Japan Cybersecurity Cooperation

by Guest Blogger for Adam Segal
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey (centre R) stands below flags of Japan (L) and the U.S. as he talks to U.S. military personnel stationed at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo on April 25, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Yuya Shino) U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey (centre R) stands below flags of Japan (L) and the U.S. as he talks to U.S. military personnel stationed at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo on April 25, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Yuya Shino)

This is a blog post by Mihoko Matsubara, a cybersecurity analyst and adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

On May 9-10, 2013, American and Japanese governments held the first U.S.-Japan Cyber Dialogue in Tokyo. This meeting comes nineteen months after the two sides met in September 2011, for the first working-level dialogue on cybersecurity. These meetings have set a good foundation for cooperation, but they must be followed by concrete steps if Tokyo and Washington truly want to make cybersecurity a cornerstone of the U.S.-Japan relationship. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 10, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks to China's Premier Li Keqiang during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 8, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks to China's Premier Li Keqiang during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 8, 2013. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. China offers to play peacemaker, but Bibi and Abbas don’t bite. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas both visited China this week. The Chinese media enthusiastically reported on the possibility that the country could serve as neutral territory for the two leaders to negotiate a peace settlement. However, the Chinese government made sure the leaders stayed far apart throughout the trip and were never in the same city at the same time. Read more »

Three Thoughts on Cyber and the Defense Department’s Report on the Chinese Military

by Adam Segal
U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey (R) and Chief of the general staff of China's People's Liberation Army Fang Fenghui salute after inspecting a guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony at the Bayi Building in Beijing on April 22, 2013. (Andy Wong/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey (R) and Chief of the general staff of China's People's Liberation Army Fang Fenghui salute after inspecting a guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony at the Bayi Building in Beijing on April 22, 2013. (Andy Wong/Courtesy Reuters)

The Defense Department released its annual report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2013. Besides being delivered relatively early compared to past editions and being almost twice as long as the 2012 version, this year’s version has at least three interesting points about Chinese cyber activities.

First, as many have noted, the sharpest break from the past is that the report directly ascribes blame for cyberattacks to the Chinese government and military, saying, “numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military.” Read more »

Big Data: An Interview with Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger

by Guest Blogger for Adam Segal
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think (Courtesy Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin) Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think (Courtesy Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin)

Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, authors of the new book Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, published last month, answered several questions on big data, foreign policy, and China. Questions by Sharone Tobias. Read more »

The Thai Government’s Priorities

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (C), editor of "Voice of the Oppressed", a magazine devoted to self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, gestures as he arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok January 23, 2013. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (C), editor of "Voice of the Oppressed", a magazine devoted to self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, gestures as he arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok January 23, 2013 (Chaiwat Subprasom/Courtesy Reuters).

Over the past week, since the sentencing of a prominent Thai editor Somyot Prueksakakasemsuk and activist to ten years (eleven if you count the suspended sentence he must serve again) in jail for publishing articles that supposedly violated Thailand’s broad and outdated lèse majesté law, both Thai and foreign commentators have hotly debated whether, and how, to alter or abolish the law. On New Mandala, there is a lively discussion of whether the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand—which itself has been hit with lèse majesté charges—is too weak in defending the rights of free speech in Thailand. Read more »

What To Do About Chinese Cyber Espionage?

by Adam Segal
The facade of the New York Times building is seen in New York, on November 29, 2010. The facade of the New York Times building is seen in New York, on November 29, 2010. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters)

A few days after the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post all admitted that their computer networks had been attacked, apparently by China-based hackers, it seems fair to say that both sides agree the “naming and shaming” approach to the problem is not working. The United States can call China out, but it has no real affect on behavior. Read more »

Presidential Inbox: The Constant Irrititant of Cybersecurity in Asia

by Adam Segal
U.S. President Barack Obama recites his oath of office as first lady Michelle Obama looks on during swearing-in ceremonies on the West front of the U.S Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama recites his oath of office as first lady Michelle Obama looks on during swearing-in ceremonies on the West front of the U.S Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2013. (Jim Bourg/Courtesy Reuters)

Mr. President, as you look toward Asia in your second term, cybersecurity will be a grain of sand in the eye, a major irritant but not one that blocks the larger vision of what you hope to accomplish in the region. That grain, namely Chinese cyber espionage, is not going away any time soon, but there are things you can do to make it slightly less annoying. Moreover, many of the policies to mitigate the situation will overlap with other efforts to re-energize the U.S. presence and boost ties to allies and friends in the region. Read more »

Mihoko Matsubara: What the LDP Victory Means for Japan’s Cybersecurity Policy

by Guest Blogger for Adam Segal
Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) leader and next Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a news conference at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo December 17, 2012. Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) leader and next Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a news conference at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, December 17, 2012 (Toru Hanai/Courtesy Reuters).

Mihoko Matsubara is a cybersecurity analyst and a nonresident Sasakawa Peace Foundation fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS, Honolulu, Hawaii. The views expressed here are her own. 

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won a majority in the lower house election on December 16. This victory will make it easier for the next administration to reinforce cybersecurity as part of national security and improve technologies to deal with cyber attacks. Yet this will not be sufficient, and the new government must also enhance nontechnical aspects of cybersecurity policy, including international cooperation. Read more »

Five Trends to Watch for in Chinese Cybersecurity in 2013

by Adam Segal
A man smokes as he uses a computer at an internet cafe in Hefei, Anhui province, A man smokes as he uses a computer at an internet cafe in Hefei, Anhui province, (Jianan Yu/Courtesy Reuters)

With 2012 coming to an end, here are some of the larger trends to watch in Chinese cybersecurity in the upcoming year.

New institutions/bureaucratic reform. There are rumors that there will be another round of bureaucratic reforms in the spring. Chinese analysts have pointed out that one of the great weaknesses in their defenses is that institutional oversight of cybersecurity is fragmented and ineffective, and there is a low degree of information sharing between the government and industry. There have also been complaints that China lacks adequate strategic planning for information security. In the past, efforts at ministerial reform have been underwhelming, resulting in little more than shuffling around of titles. This CCID report, however, does make the interesting suggestion that China should set up an “information security agency” to better coordinate cyber strategy. Read more »