UK Politics

David Cameron seeks cyber-security talks with China

Premier Li Keqiang and David Cameron
Image caption David Cameron was welcomed to Beijing by Premier Li Keqiang on Monday

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he is seeking "a proper dialogue" with China over cyber-security.

Speaking on the third day of his visit to the country, Mr Cameron said he had raised the issue in talks with Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang.

UK and US government sources have identified China as a major source of industrial espionage and hacking.

Beijing has always denied this but UK officials say Mr Li showed a "readiness to engage" on the issue.

The Chinese premier indicated that he would like to see more dialogue about cyber-security, government sources added, and diplomats would now work on how to take the proposal forward into practical action.

'Mutual concern'

Speaking in Shanghai, Mr Cameron said: "I think that a proper cyber dialogue between countries is necessary and I have raised this with the Chinese leadership - that we need to properly discuss these issues.

"It is an issue of mutual concern and one that we should be discussing."

In 2011, the British government launched a £650m National Cyber Security Programme, amid fears firms were having information stolen from their systems on an industrial scale.

UK government sources and security experts identified China as the main source of these cyber-attacks.

Mr Cameron said: "What we need to do is to up our investment in cyber-security and cyber-defence and that is exactly what GCHQ is doing. I launched with them a partnership with British industry to make sure that we properly protect ourselves."

Image caption Mr Cameron plays table tennis with children from Long Jiang Lu Primary School in Chengdu

The prime minister also defended UK pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline, which was drawn into a bribery case in China earlier this year which resulted in police detaining four Chinese executives.

Peter Humphrey, a British man running a risk advisory group, was also detained and is still being held.

Mr Cameron said he didn't want to comment on an "ongoing case," but added that GSK was "a very important, very decent and strong British business that is a long-term investor in China" and it was "right" to raise the case with the Chinese authorities.

GSK were among more than 120 British companies joining Mr Cameron on his three day trade mission to China, which he says has resulted in £5.6bn in deals, creating 1.500 jobs, and opened up important new markets.

Image caption Mr Cameron takes tea at the home of author and poet Du Fu in Chengdu

Deals signed ranged from a £4.5bn contract for Jaguar Land Rover to supply 100,000 luxury vehicles, to smaller deals such as an agreement allowing bicycle-maker Moulton access to the Chinese market and a contract for Manchester-based Sweet Mandarin foods to export Chinese sauces.

The prime minister has also been attempting to repair relations with the Chinese leadership amid ongoing anger there about his decision to meet the Dalai Lama last year.

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