Chinese hackers have allegedly read the Obama Administration’s emails, stolen millions of federal employee records, hijacked US health care records, and attacked anti-censorship projects. Now they’re reportedly getting arrested on US orders.
The Washington Post reports that these arrests were made prior to the agreement on cyber espionage China and the US announced during President Xi Jinping’s state visit:
The Chinese government has quietly arrested a handful of hackers at the urging of the U.S. government—an unprecedented step to defuse tensions with Washington at a time when the Obama administration has threatened economic sanctions.
The action came a week or two before President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Washington late last month. The hackers had been identified by U.S. officials as having stolen commercial secrets from U.S. firms to be sold or passed along to Chinese state-run companies.
This is a remarkably conciliatory strategy. It’s worth noting that neither the US or China has confirmed that this went down—and there’s no independent verification that the right people were actually arrested. It’s worth considering the possibility that China made arrests as a gesture, not a policy, and that those arrests may not actually correspond to hacking incidents.