US to enter first ever arms deal with China for cyberspace

Negotiations have been conducted with urgency in recent weeks, the goal being to announce an agreement when President Xi Jinping of China arrives in Washington

US President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping talking at a previous meeting

The US and China are currently negotiating what could well be the first arms control agreement for cyberspace, which would entail a commitment by each country that it will not be the first to use cyberweapons to cripple the others’ critical infrastructure during peacetime.

According to a report in the NY Times, such an agreement has the potential to address attacks on infrastructure like power stations, banking systems, cellphone networks, and hospitals.

The agreement however, may not, at least in its first form, protect against most of the attacks that China has already been accused of conducting including extensive poaching of intellectual property as well as the theft of millions of government employees’ personal data.

The NY Times reports that negotiations have been conducted with urgency in recent weeks, the goal being to announce an agreement when President Xi Jinping of China arrives in Washington for a state visit to the US on Thursday.

US President Barack Obama also hinted at negotiations on Wednesday when he told a business roundtable that the increasing number of cyberattacks would “probably be one of the biggest topics” of the summit meeting, and his goal was to see “if we and the Chinese are able to coalesce around a process for negotiations” that will eventually “bring a lot of other countries along”.

Obama has said very little about the United States’ development of cyberweapons during his presidency but has begun to speak about it a lot in recent days.

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