* U.S. companies "constant target" of cyber attacks
* U.S, China urged to hold regular annual summits
* Analyst optimistic Xi Jinping will bring in reforms
By Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON, Feb 4 U.S. companies want the U.S.
and Chinese governments to work together to address the growing
problem of cyber attacks that threaten to undermine trade
between the world's two largest economies, a U.S. business
leader said on Monday.
"We would simply say it's time for the governments to work
on it," John Frisbie, president of the U.S.-China Business
Council, told reporters at a briefing on the trade group's
priorities for 2013. "We do know that companies are constant
targets of efforts to get into their systems globally."
The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington
Post have in recent days complained of large-scale cyber attacks
believed to have originated from China. In the Post's case, the
attacks dated back to 2011.
The U.S.-China Business Council represents about 230 U.S.
companies with operations in China, ranging from manufacturers
such as Boeing and Caterpillar to financial
services giants such as Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase
The companies' cyber security systems shield valuable
intellectual property and propriety business information worth
millions, if not billions, of dollars.
The Chinese government has frequently said it opposes
hacking and that China too suffers frequently from hackers.
Frisbie avoided putting all the blame for the incursions on
China, but said failure to address the problem would "threaten
to undermine a constructive trade relationship."
"What we're saying is it is becoming a concern, a serious
concern. We'd like to see the two governments try to work on it
together and see if it can be addressed regardless of the source
and we would encourage them to do so ... this year," he said.
Frisbie also urged the two governments to consider holding a
regular annual summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and
China's president-in-waiting Xi Jinping.
Obama over the past four years has met regularly with
outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of larger
international meetings such as the Group of 20 forum.
Regularly scheduled summits could focus more effort on
resolving problems in the U.S-China relationship, Frisbie said.
They should be in addition to existing bilateral forums that
bring together high-ranking officials on both sides, such and
the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the Joint
Commission on Commerce and Trade, he said.
Chinese leaders, after years of relying on exports to fuel
their economy, realize they have to shift to a growth model
focused more on domestic consumption to satisfy the rising
aspirations of Chinese workers, said Jan Borgonjon, president of
InterChina Consulting, based in Beijing.
"I think there's increased reason for optimism (about
Chinese government reform). I wouldn't have said that two years
ago because then I was quite pessimistic about the potential for
change," Borgonjon told reporters at a briefing arranged by the
U.S.-China Business Council last week.
Frisbie told reporters on Monday he shared some of that
optimism, but said it was still unclear whether Beijing would
address barriers to foreign investment, licensing restrictions
and other U.S. business priorities.
Meanwhile, U.S. government figures due out on Friday are
expected to show the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2012
surpassed the record of $295 billion set in 2011.
The same report is also expected to show U.S. imports from
China topped $400 billion for the first time, setting another
record. U.S. exports to China likely reached close to $110
billion, which would also be a record.