(Reuters) — China and Canada have signed an agreement vowing not to conduct state-sponsored cyber attacks against each other aimed at stealing trade secrets or other confidential business information.
The agreement was reached during talks between Canada’s national security and intelligence adviser, Daniel Jean, and senior communist party official Wang Yongqing, a statement dated June 22 on the Canadian government’s website showed.
“This is something that three or four years ago (Beijing) would not even have entertained in the conversation,” an unnamed Canadian government official told the Globe and Mail, which first reported the agreement.
The new agreement only covers economic cyber espionage, which includes hacking corporate secrets and proprietary technology, but does not deal with state-sponsored cyber spying for intelligence gathering.
“The two sides agreed that neither country’s government would conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors,” the Canadian government said in the statement.
A statement released by China’s official Xinhua news agency last week about the meeting contained broadly similar wording on cyber attacks.
Some countries, including the United States, have long accused Beijing of sponsoring hacking attacks on companies in an effort to acquire sensitive foreign technology. China denies those accusations, and says that it is also a victim of hacking.
In 2015, China and the United States came to a similar understanding on corporate cyber espionage, after the Obama administration had mulled targeted sanctions against Chinese individuals and companies for cyber attacks against U.S. commercial targets.
U.S. cyber security executives and government advisers said breaches attributed to China-based groups had dropped around the time of that agreement.
China this month put into effect a new cyber security law designed to strengthen critical infrastructure, even as many global tech firms and lobbies said the rules skewed the playing field against foreign firms.