Cybersecurity will be one of the many issues on the table this week when Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with President Barack Obama. The state visit will take place in Washington.
Tensions have increased over Internet hacking, territory disputes and China’s weakened economy.
U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice gave a sharp warning to the Chinese during a speech Monday. She says state-sponsored cyber espionage, or spying, must stop. Speaking at George Washington University in Washington D.C., Ms. Rice calls cyber espionage a national security concern — one that is critical to U.S.-China relations.
“In his meetings with President Xi, President Obama has repeatedly made plain that state-sponsored cyber-enabled economic espionage must stop. This isn’t a mild irritation, it’s an economic and national security concern to the United States. It puts enormous strain on our bilateral relationship, and it is a critical factor in determining the future trajectory of U.S.-China ties.”
Ms. Rice also says the U.S. government wants to solve issues around the South China Sea with diplomacy, not force. She says the U.S. wants all countries involved in maritime claims to stop taking land, building new facilities, and militarizing positions in disputed areas.
“We urge China and ASEAN countries to conclude a code of conduct and set clear, predictable, binding rules of the road in the South China Sea.”
The two leaders will also discuss North Korea and its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Ms. Rice says China and the United States are, in her words, “equally united in demanding the complete and verifiable de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
National security advisor Rice says China is a “fulcrum” of influence for North Korea. She says this week’s meetings would be another chance, in her words, “to discuss how we can sharpen Pyongyang’s choices between having nuclear weapons, and developing economically.”
Ms. Rice says human rights will also be discussed. She says China’s “increasing restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, including their visa restrictions on American journalists, are not only wrong, they’re short-sighted.”
She says U.S. officials raise their concern about human rights “at every level.” Ms. Rice also says they raise the cases of people who they say are unjustly detained in China.
No doubt the downturn of China’s large economy will also be discussed. Observers say problems in China’s economy might bring the two leaders together.
Michael O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
“When you see a major unanticipated slowdown in either economy, it’s a cause of concern to both, and therefore a mutual problem. It’s going to have to be addressed, in many ways, by cooperative policy rather than blamesmanship.”
Mr. O’Hanlon added that there could be another important part to China’s economic troubles:
“The other important dimension is that it may bring the Chinese down a half a peg in their confidence level.”
He says China’s economic situation could help the relationship between the two countries. He says China has made a lot of progress and is now the world’s second-biggest economy. But, he says, in his judgment, the U.S. remains “far ahead” of China.
“Whether it’s GDP, obviously GDP per capita, military strength, economic and global political leadership, number of allies, strength in defense budgets of our allies, there are just so many metrics by which the United States far outdistances China.”
That said, Mr. O’Hanlon makes the argument that the U.S. and China are in a “mutually dependent relationship.” Both are large economies that are dependent on each other. The bottom line, he says, is that we both need each other.
I’m Anne Ball.
Anne Ball wrote this story. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Words in This Story
on the table – phrase something to be discussed
hacking – n. gaining illegal access to computers to steal information
espionage – n. spying between two or more countries
irritation – n. something that bothers a person
strain – n. something that is difficult
trajectory – n. direction
maritime – adj. having to do with water, sea or ocean
verifiable – adj. able to prove something is true or correct
fulcrum – n. one that have capability for action