Obama: I Asked China to Stop Hacking, and They Said OK

President Obama said he got the word of Chinese President Xi Jinping that the People's Republic will stop hacking the U.S., but members of Congress warned those could just be hollow promises.

"I raised once again our very serious concerns about growing cyber-threats to American companies and American citizens. I indicated that it has to stop," Obama said in a press conference with Xi today. "The United States government does not engage in cyber economic espionage for commercial gain. And today, I can announce that our two countries have reached a common understanding on the way forward."

"We’ve agreed that neither the U.S. or the Chinese government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information for commercial advantage," he said. "In addition, we’ll work together, and with other nations, to promote international rules of the road for appropriate conduct in cyberspace."

Xi said "confrontation and friction are not made by choice for both sides."

"During my visit, competent authorities of both countries have reached important consensus on joint fight against cyber-crimes," the Chinese leader said. "Both sides agree to step up crime cases, investigation assistance and information-sharing. And both governments will not be engaged in or knowingly support online theft of intellectual properties."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said that agreement "would be a big step forward if China abides by it."

"Unfortunately, in light of its many long-running cyber-theft enterprises, there is little reason to believe China will live up to its commitments," Nunes said. "These cyberattacks will almost certainly continue until the Obama administration puts forward a credible deterrence policy.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who has called for a select committee on cybersecurity in the Senate, stressed that "we cannot be blind to the damage already inflicted upon us by hackers linked to the Chinese government, who are widely believed to be responsible for the recent hack of the Office of Personnel Management and numerous commercial breaches that have undermined our economic security."

"The United States must make every effort to hold those criminals accountable immediately," Gardner said. "That’s why I've written two letters urging the president to use all the tools at his disposal to punish perpetrators of Chinese-sponsored cyber crimes."

Even the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee noted "we can’t just believe what China says."

"We also have to see what they do and continue to monitor their actions in cyberspace very closely," Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said. “...In order for this agreement to be successful, everyone must do their part to uphold their end of the deal, including the United States. If we can get this agreement fully implemented, it will be a major achievement."

As Gardner noted, "Cybersecurity is not the flavor of the week. This is the future of our national security."