On March 11, 2013, Thomas Donilon, President Obama’s national-security adviser, gave a speech at the Asia Society on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Much of it was boilerplate: a recitation of the administration’s policy of “rebalancing its global posture” away from the battles of the Middle East and toward the “dynamic” region of Asia-Pacific as a force for growth and prosperity.
But about two-thirds of the way through the speech, Donilon broke new diplomatic ground. After listing a couple of “challenges” facing U.S.-China relations, he said, “Another such issue is cybersecurity,” adding that Chinese aggression in this realm had “moved to the forefront of our agenda.”
American corporations, he went on, were increasingly concerned “about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber-intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale.”