WASHINGTON — President Obama and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping vowed Friday not to engage in economic cyber espionage, to cooperate more on climate change, and to work out disputes in the South China Sea region while indicating that differences remain in what has become a tense relationship between key global powers.
Obama said he told Xi about the “serious concerns” that U.S. officials and businesses have over cyberspying by China, and “I indicated that it has to stop.” He said the two nations have reached “a common understanding” against certain cyber activities, but “I have to insist that our work is not yet done” and “the question now is are words followed by actions.”
The United States and China have also struck a renewed deal to battle climate change, and to open “new channels of communications” designed to avoid confrontations between American and Chinese surveillance flights over the South China Sea, Obama said.
“The United States welcomes the rise of a China that is peaceful, stable, prosperous and a responsible player in global affairs,” the president said during Xi’s state visit. “And I’m committed to expanding our cooperation even as we address disagreements candidly and constructively.”
Xi, speaking with an interpreter, described his talks with Obama as “constructive and productive,” deigned to avoid “conflict” and “confrontation.” He also praised the planned cooperation on climate change.
Urging “dialogue” on the question of cybersecurity, Xi said that “confrontation and friction are the not the right course.” As for the South China Sea, Xi said China would respect lawful surveillance flights but would also protect “territorial sovereignty” as U.S. allies protest the apparent development of Chinese military bases in the region.
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