Incidents of espionage are as old as human history itself. Traditional methods mostly included human spies and wire tapping for eavesdropping purposes.
Now technology is helping in this age-old industry. Satellite surveillance of all electronic transmissions including cell phone logs, voice mail, email, packet sniffing, trace routing and wireless transmissions are standard techniques. The boundaries are pushed farther by the advances in new technology.
Computer hackers believed to be associated with the Chinese government are being blamed for a breach of computer security at the Pentagon in which some information may have been stolen.
China denies the allegations, but it's the second time in recent weeks that the Chinese government has been linked with cyber-spying allegations. Two weeks ago, an attack on German government computers was attributed to China.
The robust Chinese response followed a front-page report in the Financial Times saying Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) hackers broke into a US defence department network in June, taking data and causing the shutdown of a system serving the secretary of defence, Robert Gates.
Although Chinese authorities blame US of going back to the cold war thinking, it is believed that both the Chinese military and the U.S. defense bodies are active in probing into one another.
The compromise of the U.S. defense system has forced officials to reconsider the type of information that is transmitted via email or with BlackBerry mobiles.
US and China have differing ideologies and values. Fundamental ideals such as promoting democracy, good governance, and rule of law, upholding human rights, encouraging the spread of free market ideals and institutions, which form the basis for U.S. alliances with Great Britain, Japan, and Australia, as well as cooperation with other democratic security partners, are not shared by China.
Foreign policy analysts believe that in the absence of a greater convergence of values and agreement of the international system, a comprehensive strategic security partnership with China is fraught with difficulties.