The United States and China have agreed to hold regular, high-level meetings aimed at setting standards for behavior on cybersecurity and commercial spying, The New York Times reported.
It would be the “first diplomatic effort to defuse the tensions over what the United States says is a daily barrage of computer break-ins and theft of corporate and government secrets,” the report said on Saturday.
An unnamed senior US official involved in negotiations to hold regular meetings said in an interview with the daily on Friday that “we need to get some norms and rules.” The first talks were set for July.
The development comes ahead of President Barack Obama’s informal summit in Rancho Mirage, California Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
But “it is a serious issue that cannot simply be swatted away with talking points,” said an unnamed US official, who noted that the meetings would focus primarily on the theft of intellectual property from American companies.
In Singapore Saturday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel accused China of waging cyber espionage against the United States, raising pressure on Beijing over the issue ahead of a key summit between their leaders.
The Pentagon chief, speaking at a Singapore security forum attended by senior Chinese military officials, pointedly blamed the Chinese government and armed forces for repeated intrusions into sensitive US information systems.
Hagel’s remarks came just days after China’s defense ministry dismissed a Pentagon report accusing Chinese hackers of accessing US weapons designs.
China says it is a victim of cyberattacks.
The Singapore conference took place ahead of the June 7-8 meeting between Obama and Xi, the first meeting between the two leaders since Xi took office in March.