RANCHO MIRAGE, California: Throwing formality aside at a desert retreat, the United States (US) and Chinese leaders pledged a new approach in ties, but US President Barack Obama took the rising power to task on cyber-hacking charges.
Skipping the usual summit pageantry, Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping both went without neckties at a resort under the blazing California sun as they looked to forge a personal chemistry that could shape the years to come.
In their first meeting since Xi assumed power in March, Obama voiced hope the US superpower and fast-growing China “can forge a new model of cooperation between countries based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
“It is in the United States’ interests that China continues on the path of success because we believe that a peaceful and stable and prosperous China is not only good for the Chinese, but also good for the world and the United States,” Obama said before a leisurely dinner.
Hovering over the summit at the Sunnylands retreat was a vexing question for both countries—whether China’s rise to regional and global prominence will mean an inevitable clash with the US.
Obama wasted no time in hitting a key theme of the visit from the US side—complaints of an alleged Chinese Internet spying effort targeting American military and commercial secrets and intellectual property.
He voiced concern over the alleged theft—which a recent study said was costing the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year—and urged “common rules of the road” to protect against hacking.
“President Xi and I recognize that, because of the incredible advances of technology, the issue of cybersecurity and the need for rules, and common approaches to security, have become increasingly important,” Obama said.
“It’s critical, as two of the largest economies and military powers of the world, that China and the United States arrive at a firm understanding,” he said.
Xi said he wanted “good-faith cooperation” to clear up “misgivings” by the US about cybersecurity, telling reporters that China was also “a victim of cyberattacks.”
“The Chinese government is firm in upholding cybersecurity and we have major concerns about cybersecurity,” Xi said, adding that recent media coverage “might give people the sense that cybersecurity as a threat mainly comes from China.”
Xi invited Obama to pay a parallel informal visit to China. Mirroring his host’s theme of a new approach, Xi said: “The vast Pacific Ocean has enough space for two large countries like the United States and China.”
“We’re meeting here today to chart the future of China-US relations and draw a blueprint for this relationship,” Xi said. “We need to think creatively and act energetically, so that, working together, we can build a new model of major country relationship.”