US, China to hold regular, high-level talks on hacking etiquette

NEW YORK (AFP) - The United States and China have agreed to hold regular, high-level meetings aimed at setting standards for behaviour on cybersecurity and commercial spying, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

It would be the "first diplomatic effort to defuse the tensions over what Washington says is a daily barrage of computer break-ins and theft of corporate and government secrets", the report said.

An unnamed senior US official involved in negotiations to hold regular meetings said in an interview with the daily on Friday that "we need to get some norms and rules". The first talks were set for next month.

The development comes ahead of President Barack Obama's informal summit in Rancho Mirage, California on Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"American officials say they do not expect the process to immediately yield a significant reduction in the daily intrusions from China," the Times report said.

However, "it is a serious issue that cannot simply be swatted away with talking points", said an unnamed US official, who noted that the meetings would focus primarily on the theft of intellectual property from American companies.

"Our concerns are not limited to that, but that's what needs urgent attention," the source added.

In Singapore on Saturday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel accused China of waging cyber espionage against the US, raising pressure on Beijing over the issue ahead of a key summit between their leaders.

The Pentagon chief, speaking at a Singapore security forum attended by senior Chinese military officials, pointedly blamed the Chinese government and armed forces for repeated intrusions into sensitive US information systems.