High-level talks on cyber security between Washington and Beijing this week may face a bump in the road, as discussions over NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden distract from other issues.
Officials from the US and China on Monday voiced concerns on hacking attacks ahead of talks aimed at tackling the issue, which is seen as a growing threat to bilateral relations.
Although both sides have clearly expressed their intentions to intensify cooperation and transparency, the looming issue of Snowden’s leaks might harm the talks.
The recent disclosures by Snowden could hamper US efforts to pressure China over allegations that it persistently hacks into computers of American firms to steal trade secrets, reportedly costing the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
The US has also accused China of waging vast cyber attacks against the US government and military.
China insisted that it is also the victim of computer intrusions.
President Barack Obama said that there is a distinction between intelligence gathering and the theft of trade secrets for commercial gains, reports AFP.
“We’re talking about apples and oranges here,” a US administration official said. “The US government is talking about cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property. And so that doesn’t have anything to do with the Snowden revelations.”