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US military cyber head questions Beijing's spying activities
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 5, 2016

China's ZTE names new boss to try to shake off US curbs
Beijing (AFP) April 5, 2016 - Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Tuesday announced a new president as it seeks the permanent lifting of US restrictions imposed for alleged violations of sanctions against Iran.

Shi Lirong, in place since 2010, will be replaced by Zhao Xianming who will also become board chairman, the firm said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Zhao was previously chief technology officer.

Tian Wenguo and Qiu Weizhao were replaced as executive vice presidents.

China's second-biggest telecoms equipment maker is trying to shake off the US restrictions imposed on ZTE and three linked companies last month.

The US says they illicitly re-exported controlled items from the United States to sanctioned countries including Iran.

The curbs require ZTE to have specific licences before shipping US-made items to the parent company or the other three named firms.

According to documents published by the US Department of Commerce, Tian and Qiu were in charge of ZTE's plans to allegedly avoid the US export rules starting from 2011, by setting up shell companies to circumvent the US sanctions, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The newspaper added that as part of a deal between the US Department of Commerce and ZTE to temporarily remove the sanctions, the company executives involved in the alleged violations should be removed from senior roles.

Washington in January eased several restrictions on doing business with Iran following an international agreement over its nuclear programme.

But sanctions linked to accusations that Tehran supports terrorism remain in force, still largely blocking US companies from doing business with Iran.

ZTE has customers in more than 160 countries.

Six months after Washington and Beijing agreed not to conduct cyber attacks on each other's private sector for commercial gain, a top US spy questioned Tuesday whether China has cut such activities.

In September 2015, President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping announced an accord under which neither the United States nor the Chinese government would conduct cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property.

But Admiral Michael Rogers, who heads the US military's Cyber Command, told lawmakers it was unclear if the Chinese government was holding up its end of the deal.

"We continue to see them engaged in activity directed against US companies. The question I think we still need to ask is, is that activity then in turn shared with the Chinese private industry?" Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington.

He acknowledged nations -- including the United States -- routinely use cyber to "gain access or knowledge" but suggested American spy agencies don't share insights with the private sector.

"The ... issue we've always had with the Chinese is while we understand we do that for nations to generate insight, using that then to generate economic advantage is not something that is acceptable to the US," he said, later adding the "jury is still out" on whether China indeed passes intel to the business world.

The US Cyber Command is charged with protecting America's military and some of its major civilian networks from attacks, as well as deploying its own offensive cyber strategies if needed.

By 2018, it will have more than 6,000 military and civilian technical experts working across 133 teams, Rogers said.

One such team, comprising about 65 people, today works in the Middle East and carries out cyber operations against the Islamic State group's networks.

"USCYBERCOM is executing orders to make it more difficult for ISIL to plan or conduct attacks against the US or our allies from their bases in Iraq and Syria to keep our service men and women safer as they conduct kinetic operations to degrade, dismantle, and ultimately destroy ISIL," Rogers told lawmakers, using an IS acronym.

The Pentagon pans to spend a total of $6.7 billion in the 2017 budget -- up 15.5 percent from the previous year. In all, the Pentagon is projected to spend $34.6 billion over the coming five years.

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Previous Report
China's ZTE executives to step down amid US sanctions row
Beijing (AFP) April 05, 2016
Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE will replace three top executives, the WSJ reported, in an apparent bid to see US restrictions on its business lifted after it was accused of violating sanctions against Iran. Washington slapped restrictions on ZTE and three linked companies last month for illicitly re-exporting controlled items from the United States to sanctioned countries, including Ir ... read more

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