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Saying cyber attacks against the U.S. don’t always come from China, the U.S. and Chinese defense ministers agreed to work together on cyber issues to avoid miscalculations that could lead to future crises.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said since China and the United States have advanced cyber capabilities, it is important to develop better cooperation.

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“It’s true, as the general pointed out, that obviously there are other countries, actors, others involved in some of the attacks that both of our countries receive,” Panetta said after an afternoon meeting in the Pentagon marking the first visit by a Chinese defense minister to the U.S. since 2003. “But because the United States and China have developed technological capabilities in this arena it’s extremely important that we work together to develop ways to avoid any miscalculation or misperception that could lead to crisis in this area.”

Gen. Liang Guanglie, China’s minister of national defense, said, “I can hardly agree with the proposition that the cyber attacks directed to the United States are directly coming from China. … We cannot attribute all of the cyber attacks (against the) United States to China.”

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Just six months ago, however, senior U.S. intelligence officials for the first time publicly accused China of systematically stealing American high-tech data for its own national economic gain.

It was the most forceful and detailed airing of U.S. allegations against Beijing after years of private complaints, and it signaled the opening salvo of a broad diplomatic push to combat cyber attacks that originate in China.

Liang said that he and Panetta talked about ways to strengthen cyber security, but they are leaving the details to the experts.

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