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US and China cyber-security talks 'go well' despite Snowden factor

Cyber-security talks between the US and China in Washington this week have so far "gone well", according to Chinese state media, despite fears the Prism spying scandal would derail the talks (opens in new tab).

Former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, now in hiding at Moscow airport, had recently claimed the US National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on Chinese institutions in both Hong Kong and mainland China.

This had angered the Chinese, after they themselves had been constantly accused (opens in new tab) of hacking into US agencies and major corporates by the US government.

But China's official Xinhua news agency said of the talks, "The two sides held candid in-depth discussions on cyber-security, including the mechanism of a bilateral cyber working group, international cyberspace rules, and measures to boost dialogue and cooperation on cyber-security," reports Reuters (opens in new tab).

Xinhua said both sides had agreed to "play a positive role in enhancing mutual trust, reducing mutual suspicion, managing disputes and expanding cooperation".

Xinhua added, "The two sides agreed to hold an informal meeting at an appropriate time before the next strategic security dialogue."

Snowden's revelations of US electronic surveillance globally were set to give China an argument to counter US complaints that China steals private intellectual property (IP) from US companies and research centres.

The English language China Daily reported today, that in the first five months of this year, about one-third of hacking attacks on Chinese computers appeared to originate from the US.

In addition, it said, of a total of 249 Chinese government and academic websites hacked from January to May this year, 54 were targeted by US-based Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

"It's hard to say from the data whether these threats were made solely for political reasons, but Chinese government websites were apparently targeted more," Du Yuejin, from the National Computer Emergency Response Team and Coordination Centre of China, told the China Daily.

Snowden is believed to have been offered political asylum by Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia. A US warrant has been issued for his arrest.