David Cameron has personally pushed for formal talks with China over the vexed issue of cyber security, as the UK escalates its diplomatic response to what ministers believe is one of the toughest foreign policy challenges they face.
The prime minister urged Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, to join bilateral talks with British ministers, elevating the issue to the same status of other concerns such as trade, the economy and foreign affairs.
Whitehall departments and British businesses warn they face a growing cyber threat from foreign entities trying to steal trade secrets over the internet, with China seen as a significant source of such attacks.
Mr Cameron told reporters in Shanghai yesterday: “A proper cyber dialogue between countries is necessary and I have raised this with the Chinese leadership, that we need to properly discuss these issues. It is an issue of mutual concern and one that we should be discussing.”
Britain wants to open a “formal dialogue” with China, which would mean regular contact between the countries to discuss the problem and an admission by both sides that it needs tackling.
UK officials said the prime minister had raised the issue in front of Mr Li during talks in Beijing this week and in a room full of officials from both countries, a high-risk strategy that could have backfired. But Number 10 was pleased that Mr Li did not reject the suggestion, instead acknow-ledging that it was “an issue”.
That leaves Mr Cameron further ahead than President Barack Obama, who put the issue at the centre of his talks with President Xi Jinping last summer, only to see those talks derailed by the revelations on US spying by the whistleblower, Edward Snowden.
Mr Cameron also promised greater resources to tackle the problem, saying: “We need?.?.?.?to up our in-vestment in cyber security and cyber defence?.?.?. There is an enormous amount of work to be done.”
The prime minister made the intervention despite worries that it might detract from his focus on trade, which has been the priority of his trip, leading him to play down concerns such as human rights.
这一结果意味着，卡梅伦取得了比美国总统巴拉克?奥巴马(Barack Obama)更大的进展。去年夏天，奥巴马将这个问题作为其与中国国家主席习近平会谈的核心议题，没想到那次会谈却因揭秘者爱德华?斯诺登(Edward Snowden)关于美国间谍活动的爆料而泡汤。