Others believe that U.S. accusations of five Chinese military officers in 2014 prompted China to limit its theft of intellectual property. Such observers also point to the hasty and extra-budgetary visit of Meng Jianzhu, a senior Chinese Communist Party official in charge of political and legal affairs, to Washington in early September, shortly after the United States announced sanctions against Chinese actors for cyberespionage. From this point of view, Meng`s last-minute visit suggests that Chinese leaders have agreed to reduce their hacker attacks on U.S. companies, lest Xi`s visit be preceded by additional U.S. accusations against Chinese hackers. In addition to discussions on cybersecurity issues, the two heads of state discussed a number of global, regional and bilateral issues. According to a White House fact sheet, Obama and Xi "agreed to manage our differences together and decided to expand and deepen cooperation." The fact sheet indicates that former National Security Agency official Dave Aitel says the Chinese are moving to a higher class of hacking and have increased skills in all areas, making it more likely that the U.S. and China will be able to cooperate in cyberspace. As Aitel says, "you don`t need to hack EVERYTHING if you can hack EVERYTHING," which allows you to work together in areas of common interest. After years of multi-billion-euro losses due to china`s economic-motivated cyberespionage, there are signs that China has begun to scale back its intervention on the computer networks of U.S. companies. What led to this unexpected change in Chinese behaviour? Is this due to the high-level agreement signed by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping last September? How durable is this agreement? And what other consequences will this have on the overall relationship between the United States and China? The answers to these questions have important implications for the national interests of the United States.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) charged five Chinese army officers with stealing trade secrets and other information from U.S. companies to help Chinese companies economically (those affected were designated as members of PLA 61398, which is discussed below). The case, U.S. v. Wang Dong, includes numerous charges of cyber-economic espionage, including the theft of secrets from solar, steel and aluminum companies.