China may be changing its views on conventional hacking and cybertheft — at least, that’s the perspective of U.S.-based cybersecurity firm FireEye.
The company said the reason China’s president, Xi Jinping, even signed the Memorandum of Understanding last year with the U.S. was because the country was already souring on its traditional hacking activities, The Wall Street Journal reported late last week.
William Glass, a threat intelligence analyst at FireEye, told WSJ that China’s recently released economic vision statement explains the country’s plans to strengthen its artificial intelligence, biotechnology and online services, in addition to other technologies.
Glass said that Chinese companies might be changing their tactics by realizing “they are better off partnering with foreign firms, or even acquiring them outright,” instead of hacking those firms and stealing their designs.
Data from Thomson Reuters that was released back in February shows Chinese acquisitions comprised four of the top six cross-border deals, with M&A activities within the country accounting for nearly 47 percent of all cross-border contracts in 2016.
The biggest M&A deal with Chinese involvement, as well as the biggest foreign purchase by a Chinese company, took place when ChemChina agreed to purchase Syngenta for $43 billion, according to the data.
The flurry of cross-border transactions, both commercial and corporate, is on the rise in the Asia-Pacific region.
But Glass made it clear that this shift in focus does not mean Chinese hacking will actually stop. Rather, he suggested to WSJ that Chinese hackers may use stolen financial data and other sensitive information to influence M&A deals.