Chinese President Xi Jinping is on his first state visit to the United States.
The Chinese leader spent his first two days meeting with the leaders of America’s largest technology companies. They include Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. Mr. Xi said he wants to improve intellectual property rights, such as patents for inventions and industrial designs.
Property rights have been a tense issue between China and the U.S. China has been accused of copying American products without credit or fee to the American makers.
Mr. Xi also said he wants to make it easier for foreign companies to do business in China.
“We are working to create a new open economic system, push forward reform of foreign investment management, and greatly reduce the restrictions on foreign investment,” he said.
Mr. Xi visited the headquarters of Microsoft Corporation and a nearby Boeing factory in Seattle. Chinese companies have agreed to buy 300 jets from the U.S. airplane maker. The aircraft reportedly cost about $38 billion. The deal also calls for Boeing to build a factory in China.
U.S. business leaders want Mr. Xi to promise that their companies will be treated fairly when they do business in China. They want China to reduce the theft of business secrets from American computer networks, too. Those cyberattacks have cost companies billions of dollars in recent years.
Cyberattacks on U.S. government computers
In a policy speech Tuesday, President Xi said China wanted to cooperate with the United States to prevent cyberattacks. He said China is not the aggressor, and was attacked, as well.
But many American officials do not believe that. President Obama has said he is considering taking action against China because of the attacks.
This week, a U.S. government agency released its inquiry of an attack on the personnel records of millions of government workers. The Office of Personnel Management found that more than 5.5 million fingerprint records were stolen in the cyberattack. That is more than five times as many as officials first reported.
The attack was discovered earlier this year. It affected about 22-million federal workers, applicants, and their families.
Investigators have told reporters privately they believe the Chinese government is responsible for the attack. But U.S. officials have not yet made this accusation public.
Federal experts say that, “as of now, the ability to misuse fingerprint data is limited. However, this probability could change over time as technology evolves.”
The attack could put at risk any U.S. intelligence officers or individuals working secretly overseas.
American businesswoman detained
President Xi’s visit comes only days after Chinese officials arrested and jailed an American businesswoman from Texas. Chinese officials say the woman -- Sandy Phan-Gillis -- is suspected of spying and stealing state secrets.
Ms. Phan-Gillis operates a service that helps set up business deals between U.S. and Chinese companies. Chinese officials detained her when she was on a trip to China in March.
Her husband, Jeff Gillis, says it has been difficult to get information about her. Ms. Phan-Gillis sent a message to her husband this week that said: “This is a political case. I hope you can lobby for an exchange of political prisoners. I know it’s not easy.”
Mr. Gillis has publicly asked President Obama to bring up the case with Mr. Xi.
State Department official Mark Toner says U.S. officials have talked about the case with the Chinese government.
He says "we, obviously, are monitoring this case very closely. We’ve been to visit her six times since her arrest, and we’ve raised her case with Chinese government officials on multiple occasions at a very senior level.”
The arrest of Sandy Phan-Gillis shocked the Vietnamese and Chinese communities in Houston, Texas. Although Ms. Phan-Gillis has Chinese ancestors, she was born in Vietnam and came to the U.S. as a refugee 40 years ago.
Over the years, many Texas businesses have developed relationships with Chinese companies. But the arrest of Sandy Phan-Gillis has made some of them feel uneasy now.
I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.
This report was based on information from VOANews.com and VOA correspondent Greg Flakus in Houston, Texas. George Grow adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Words in The News
intellectual – adj. relating to knowledge
patent – n. an official document that gives a person or company the right to be the only one that makes or sells a product for a certain period of time
management – n. businesses or groups that organize the efforts of people
jets – n. an airplane powered by one or more jet engines
aircraft – n. a machine that flies through the air
cyberattack – n. an attack on or by computers
fingerprints – n. marks made by pressing the end of a finger on a surface
lobby – v. to try to get something you want by talking to the people who make decisions