While Chinese officials continue to deny reports from security firms that a military unit on the outskirts of Shanghai has been carried out sustained and increasingly serious cyberattacks against U.S. industry, President Obama plans to confront Chinese president Xi Jin Ping directly during a summit next week in California.
Just this week a report prepared for the Defense Department claimed that hackers based in China accessed blueprints for U.S. combat aircraft and ships, as well as vital missile defenses. "Access to the designs would allow China to catch up on years of military development and save it billions of dollars. It would also make it easier for China to develop weapons to counter U.S. systems," the Guardian noted, adding:
The summit, at a private estate in southern California, is the first between the two since Xi was promoted to president and since Obama's re-election and comes at a time of friction between the two countries.
The White House national security adviser Tom Donilon, who is in Beijing for discussions with Chinese officials about the summit, has warned that cyber-attacks could jeopardise relations between the two countries.
Dean Cheng, a China specialist at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, said the summit "offers an opportunity to make clear to Beijing the serious consequences of its cyber activities. The question is whether the Obama administration will seize it."