Economic Hacking by China

The lead article in today’s New York Times, “Five in China Army Face U.S. Charges of Cyberattacks,” describes a bold move by the Obama administration to hold China accountable for its army’s hackers, especially with regard to economic activities.

By only bringing charges against commercial hacking, the administration is making a distinction the Chinese may not consider relevant: China has long said that economic security and national security are the same thing. Still, when the Chinese stole more than 700,000 pages of emails from Westinghouse while their state-run company was competing with them, some type of penalty was inevitable.

The question now becomes whether the Chinese will retaliate in more than a pro forma manner. The U.S. is vulnerable in terms of corporate entities doing business in China, and China has already suspended participation in a joint group working on cyberattacks. However, it is hypocritical for the Chinese to give lip service to this group while they run a 12-story military tower in Shanghai devoted to evading it.

The U.S. companies bringing charges should be commended for braving the possibility of Chinese retaliation, and the Justice Department should also be praised for at last standing up to this detestable Chinese practice, now affecting more than 3,000 U.S. companies. Our nation generates its creativity through freedom, and the Chinese should not be allowed to steal that because they are only imitators.