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The Great Leak Forward: Chinese Economic Espionage In The U.S.

By Camille Mouillard & Maxime Proud

In September 2015, Barack Obama and Xi Jinping publicly agreed that the United States and China would not engage in cyber espionage for commercial gain. The agreement came after China’s corporate espionage activities began to be seen as a national security emergency, costing American companies billions of dollars in losses, and millions of jobs every year.

By espionage for commercial gain, the 2015 agreement between Obama and Xi was specifically referring to the hacking activities conducted by state and non-state Chinese actors targeting U.S. private companies. The agreement did not seem to encompass more traditional espionage activities, such as intelligence gathering for political and military gains, and other forms of espionage such as HUMINT operations. After the agreement, cyber security experts worldwide have noted a significant decrease in the Chinese cyber attacks targeting private companies. One might think that Beijing is ready to adopt a less aggressive posture. However, knowledge of Chinese intelligence services and the Chinese government’s global agenda shows that nothing could be farther from the truth.

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