President Barack Obama confronted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping with detailed evidence of Chinese entities engaged in theft of intellectual property from American firms and warned that continued cyber-theft could be an “inhibitor” in bilateral ties, said a U.S. official.
In the meeting, spread over two days — Friday and Saturday — at a picturesque desert resort in Southern California, Mr. Obama (51) and Mr. Xi (59) had several rounds of meetings on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues.
The summit, held just four months after Mr. Xi took office, was meant to launch a “new model” of relationship with a new Chinese leader.
Mr. Obama had very good discussions in an informal atmosphere the President’s National Security Advisor Tom Donilon told reporters.
Mr. Obama, presenting detailed examples, told the Chinese delegation that the U.S. has no doubt that the intrusions are coming from within China, Mr. Donilon said.
“The President went through this in some detail”, he said. Mr. Obama told Mr. Xi that “if there continues to be this direct theft of U.S. property that this was going to be a very difficult problem in the economic relationship and was going to be an inhibitor to the relationship reaching its full potential”.
Cyber-theft, Mr. Donilon said, “really now is at the centre of the relationship. It is not an adjunct issue”.
The U.S. has accused China of stealing billions of dollars of technical, financial, military and other data and intellectual property through cyber attacks. China denies the charge, insisting it is the victim of digital looting.
HFCs, N. Korea
On other issues, both sides agreed for the first time to work together to “phase down the production and consumption” of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are potent greenhouse gases linked to climate change. The gases are in refrigerators, air conditioners and industrial applications.
Both leaders discussed North Korea. Mr. Donilon said the two leaders also found “quite a bit of alignment”, and a possible path for increased cooperation given the threat to regional and U.S. security. Both agreed that North Korea should give up its nuclear weapons.
Yang Jiechi, China’s state counsellor and former Foreign Minister, told reporters that the importance of the summit was to lay the groundwork for a new relationship. Mr. Obama gave a one-word summary of the summit — “Terrific”. Both leaders sought to downplay the possibility of tension, highlighting instead opportunities for cooperation.
They pledged to expand exchanges on military affairs, economics and trade, cyber security, the environment and other issues.
“China and the United States must find a new path, one that is different from the inevitable confrontation and conflict between the major countries of the past,” Mr. Xi said. If the two nations work together, he added, “we can be an anchor for world stability and the propeller of world peace.”