May 25th, 2014
11:28 AM ET
7 months ago

Huntsman: Chinese hackers indictment a ‘symbolic’ move

(CNN) – Jon Huntsman, former U.S. ambassador to China, said the indictment alleging five members of the Chinese military hacked American businesses is a "symbolic" move by the United States and will do little to curb the intellectual property theft.

"This is symbolic," Huntsman said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

The indictment, announced last week by Attorney General Eric Holder, alleges that five People's Liberation Army officers violated U.S. federal law by hacking to spy and steal secrets.

"You put five PLA members in a most wanted poster. We're not going to make any headway on this until such time that we really target” the access that China has to U.S. markets.

Huntsman, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate and former governor of Utah, said the theft of intellectual property – 70% of which comes from China - costs the United States "roughly $300 billion a year."

"At some point we have to start getting serious about how we respond beyond just the symbolic measures, and while this will ratchet up the level of discussion, I don't think it's going to really do much to stop the activity that's going on," Huntsman said.

China has pushed back on the allegations, demanding that the United States withdraw the charges. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang called the charges "extremely absurd," saying that the United States "has fabricated facts" and that China is a "staunch defender of cybersecurity."

Huntsman said he anticipates a reaction from the Chinese, and "it probably will cost us a whole lot more than it's costing them, is what is sad about this whole thing, this symbolic gesture."

He also suggested that United States needs to do a better job in differentiating between espionage and the theft of intellectual property, which he called a "serious economic issue."

CNN's Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.


Filed under: China • cybersecurity • Eric Holder • Jon Huntsman
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Jon Huntsman, former U.S. ambassador to China.

    Why won't the Republican party ever nominate a smart candidate ?

    Because they are the party of NO !

    May 25, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. jboh

    Get real! China is our enemy, because they see us as their enemy. Theft, product piracy, pattent infringement, industrial espianoge have been standard practice by China for decades. We need to slap the same import restrictions on them that they impose on us. If it hurts the Walmart Walton family, so be it. The USA comes before private family fortunes, even for 1%ers.

    May 25, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. Chris-E...al

    0bama said he was going to make Chinas head turn 6 years
    ago and that was a lie . Also lets see what 0bama does with the time left in the W.H. . Bring some good j0bs back maybe ?

    May 25, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Smitty

    Holder cant find his backside, im sure this will get handled--NOT. Putin just did a 400 bil deal with China on energy, Where is Obumbles ??? Hiding behind the wookie ?????

    May 25, 2014 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  5. YoonYoungJo

    Its amazing every politician pretends to not understand how or why it got this bad. It couldn't possibly be because for years, other corporations swayed politicians to keep letting it go, that couldn't possibly be the reason, right? Let's take a more simplified and real world example. If the state of Washington began excusing gambling everywhere, there is no possible way, every bar and bowling alley would start adding gambling to their establishments right? You have US corporations who keep defending this stuff, as long as there best tech isn't stolen, and then everyone is sitting around wondering how it got this bad. Let me use another example, that's even simpler. If the police started ignoring every corner/bus stop drug dealer, you don't think corner/bus stop drug dealing would eventually reach epic proportions? Therein lies the reason and cause of the massive tech theft. Because too many US companies defend te practice because it doesn't directly hurt there own business, but it will. It will always reach every avenue if business eventually, if not curbed.

    May 26, 2014 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  6. YoonYoungJo

    At the same time, and as an addition to my last comment. I do not believe this has to be a deal breaker. And I believe this is the cultural difference between the US and China. To China, this would be a deal breaker, if US companies were actively cheating and stealing from Chinese companies. But the US is always willing to accept mistakes and differences will always exist. It's how you move on from those differences that determines the quality of relationship between our two nations. That is also why I don't understand why China cancelled their workshop scheduled with the US. How can these things be discussed and resolved by canceling the very workshop meant to discuss and resolve this? With that said, I do believe it becomes a deal breaker if no effort is made to correct it. What would China demand if they thought a US company was out to steal and cheat them?

    May 26, 2014 01:20 am at 1:20 am |