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Treasury Secretary Lew to press Chinese leaders on cyber attacks

March 18, 2013|By Jim Puzzanghera
  • Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew is traveling to Beijing, his first foreign trip since being confirmed.
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew is traveling to Beijing, his first foreign… (Chris Rank / Bloomberg )

WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew plans to pressure Chinese leaders to crack down on cyber attacks against U.S. targets when he visits Beijing this week on his first foreign trip since being confirmed.

A senior Obama administration official told the Financial Times that one focus of Lew's talks in China will be to press the country to "take serious steps to investigate and put a stop to these activities."

In addition to cyber-security, Lew will discuss intellectual property enforcement and export financing with Chinese leaders, the Financial Times said.

"We have a very important relationship with the Chinese," Lew told Bloomberg TV last week. "They have a new government that’s in place now. We have many new people in our government.

"It’s important that we engage immediately on a broad range of issues because it’s important to each of us to have that conversation," Lew said.

Lew left Washington for Beijing on Sunday night and is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday with China's new leaders and senior economic officials.

The meetings come amid heightened concern in the U.S. about cyber attacks.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., was hit last week, part of a wave of recent denial-of-service incidents targeting U.S. banks and other companies. A Middle Eastern group has said it is behind the bank attacks, in retaliation for a video produced by amateur U.S. filmmakers, mocking the prophet Muhammad.

But U.S. officials said many cyber attacks emanate from China.

National security advisor Thomas Donilon this month said "cyber-intrusions emanating from China" were on an "unprecedented scale." The attacks were "a key point of concern" for Obama administration officials, he said.

Obama mentioned the issue in a phone call Thursday with new Chinese President Xi Jinping, the White House said. The Chinese government has denied being behind the attacks.

Last week, Obama held a closed-door meeting with top corporate chief executives asking for their support for legislation that would require companies to meet mandatory cyber-security standards.

"We've made it very clear to China and some other state actors that, you know, we expect them to follow international norms and abide by international rules," Obama said in a recent interview with ABC. "And we'll have some pretty tough talk with them. We already have."

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