China / Foreign Policy

Cyber Espionage in China

News of information control in China is nothing new, but cyber espionage is. For the past four months, the Chinese were able to continuously penetrate the New York Times’ computer system to track sensitive information. The spies first penetrated the computers when the Times ran a story about the $2 billion empire that the family of Premier Wen Jiabao had built. Then, the Times was set to do a story on the wealth of China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, and the Chinese were worried about the proper and appropriate representation regarding favoritism and growing irritation with the widening wealth gap.

It’s not enough that Chinese officials have to control the flow of information in their own country, but now they are attempting to control all the information regarding their country. They first installed malware on computers used by the Times in the United States and were able to connect and penetrate the computers in the Asia offices. Operating from different American universities, the cyber spies switched from one IP address to the next without getting caught.

Allegedly, this case of espionage is just one of a larger case of American news media outlets attacked by China. The Chinese military may be behind the tactics.

United States officials need to take concrete action to protect not only our government but also the private sector from such tactics. Firstly, identifying the culprits and perhaps even restricting visas for those at fault. There is however, a fine line between protecting our economy and keeping relations between China and the United States stable. We must navigate judiciously.