China and the United States reached some important agreements and understandings regarding cybersecurity last month, but a lot of people are worried that it was all just meaningless talk with no real substance. While those concerns are still there, and still valid, the Chinese government’s recent decision to arrest hackers within its borders at the request of the United States definitely lends weight to the agreement. This marks the first time that China has actually arrested hackers that conducted cyberattacks against American corporations, and hopefully it won’t be the last.
For the first time ever, the Chinese government has arrested hackers within its borders at the urging of the United States government, according to anonymous Obama administration officials who spoke with the Washington Post. The arrests, which reportedly happened just prior to a historic cybersecurity agreement late last month between the the U.S. and China, targeted hackers who stole “commercial secrets from U.S. firms to be sold or passed along to Chinese state-run companies,” according to the Post. News of the arrests come as tensions mount between the two powers over China’s recent expansion into the South China Sea and the U.S. Navy’s insistence on their freedom of navigation, no matter what new territorial claims the Chinese government is making. It’s unclear how if at all the two nascent issues will affect one another. And specifics on the arrests in China are in short supply. There is currently no publicly available information about who exactly was arrested or what punishments they face, but American officials appear to be hoping for public trials as a means of deterrence and proof of China’s commitment to the deal struck between Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama last month in Washington.