China has offered to open discussions with the US on the issue of cyber security, following tit-for-tat accusations by both sides of hacking and stealing data from government and corporate websites.
The Chinese offer follows comments by US national security adviser Thomas Donilon, who on Monday used a speech at the Asia Society in New York to urge China to acknowledge the problem of cyber attacks emanating from within its borders.
"We seek three things from the Chinese side," he said. "First, we need a recognition of the urgency and scope of this problem and the risk it poses to international trade, to the reputation of Chinese industry and to our overall relations.
"Second, Beijing should take serious steps to investigate and put a stop to these activities.
"Finally, we need China to engage with us in a constructive direct dialogue to establish acceptable norms of behaviour in cyberspace."
Donilon added that the US and China "must lead the way in addressing this problem".
China responded by stating it is willing to open talks with the US, insisting that it too is threatened by cyber crime.
"China is willing, on the basis of the principles of mutual respect and mutual trust, to have constructive dialogue and cooperation on this issue with the international community including the United States to maintain the security, openness and peace of the internet", said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuying.
"Internet security is a global issue. In fact, China is a marginalised group in this regard, and one of the biggest victims of hacking attacks," she added.
A recent report by US cyber security firm Mandiant suggested a building used by the Chinese military is home to one of the world's "most prolific espionage groups", responsible for stealing data from at least 141 organisations around the world.
Meanwhile, organisations including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have also been victims of cyber attacks by hackers with alleged ties to the Chinese government.
However, China insists that it is also the victim of regular cyber attacks, with two military websites, including that of the Defence Ministry, subject to over 140,000 attempted hacks a month during 2012. Chinese officials said over two-thirds of the attacks originated from within the US.
The increasing threat of cyber crime led US President Barack Obama to sign a cybersecurity executive order last month aimed at protecting key elements of national infrastructure from hacking.
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