Earlier this month, the United States and China met for the first U.S.-China Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Dialogue. This and future similar dialogues seek to expand upon cooperation begun in 2015 with the Obama-Xi cyber agreement, which barred state-sanctioned cyber theft of intellectual property for the purpose of enhancing commercial competitive advantage. Although some reports indicate the agreement has contributed to a quantitative decline in cyber theft, further reports indicate that that the U.S.-China intellectual property cyber front is anything but calm. Not only are state-to-state cyber espionage activities likely ongoing (a category of competition not addressed in the 2015 agreement), but analysts suggest efforts to infiltrate U.S. companies continue, but are simply more sophisticated, targeted, and calculated. Why has the 2015 agreement seemingly fallen short despite apparent bilateral support?
There are several possible explanations.