President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China ended two days of informal meetings moving closer on pressuring a nuclear North Korea and addressing climate change, but remaining sharply divided over cyber espionage and other issues that have divided the countries for years. Their talks delved into security and geopolitical issues, on economic and trade issues.
The two presidents met for nearly eight hours and appeared eager to redefine the relationship in a way that would allow their countries to overcome their economic, political and diplomatic differences, rather than letting new — or old — crises derail progress across the spectrum of issues.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for implementing the spirit of building new type ties with the United States in all aspects of the bilateral relationship. Xi made the proposal during the June 7-8 summit with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama.
Xi summarized the concept of new type relations between the two nations in three phrases — “no conflict and no confrontation,” “mutual respect” and “cooperation toward win-win results.”
Obama responded actively to the proposal, saying that the U.S. side placed high importance on its relations with China and is willing to construct a new state-to-state cooperation modal with China based on mutual benefit and mutual respect, so as to jointly meet various global challenges.
Mr. Obama’s administration has welcomed China’s new assertiveness with its neighbor and ally, believing that it reflects a new calculation that a constant state of crisis on the Korean Peninsula is destabilizing for the Chinese as well. “They agreed that North Korea has to denuclearize, that neither country will accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state”
Although the leaders of the world’s two biggest powers made no public statements on their second day of talks, their disagreements — over cyberattacks as well as arms sales to Taiwan, maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea and manipulation of the Chinese currency — spilled into the open when senior officials from both countries emerged to describe the meetings in detail.
The White House announced that the two countries had reached at least one concrete accord that environmentalists welcomed as a potential step in combating climate change. China and the United States agreed to discuss ways to reduce emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, known as HFCs, that are used in refrigerants and insulating foams.
On the most contentious issue in recent months — American accusations that Chinese corporations linked to the military had pilfered military and economic secrets and property in cyberspace — the officials seemed to speak past each other. Mr. Obama warned that if the hacking continued, Mr. Donilon said, it “was going to be a very difficult problem in the economic relationship.”
He added, “We’re going to have to work very hard to build a system of defenses and protections, both in the private sector and in the public sector, even as we negotiate with other countries around setting up common rules of the road.” And, Mr. Obama said, China would face similar threats as its economy develops — Mr. Xi suggested it already had — “which is why I believe we can work together on this rather than at cross-purposes.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the meetings, has previously announced that the two countries would discuss the matter as part of the annual meetings known as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, to be held in Washington in July.
Chinese State Councilor Mr. Yang said that the two discussed a host of contentious issues and “did not shy away from differences.” Mr. Xi called on the United States to end its arms sales to Taiwan, he said, and reasserted its territorial claims, while pledging to resolve them peacefully. Mr. Yang also defended China’s control of its currency and said it was not the core trade issue between them.
Laying out a four-point proposal, the Chinese leader said first of all, the two sides need to elevate the level of dialogue and mutual trust and institutionalize the meetings between leaders of the two nations at multilateral venues such as the Group of 20 and the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, while making good use of the existing over 90 dialogue and communication mechanisms between the two governments.
Secondly, to open a new horizon for pragmatic cooperation, Washington should take active steps to relax restrictions on hi-tech exports to China and promote the bilateral trade and investment structures toward a more balanced future.
Thirdly, to create a new mode of interaction between major countries, the two sides need to maintain close coordination and collaboration on the Korean Peninsula, Afghanistan and other global hotspot issues, and work more closely on issues such as crackdown on piracy and transnational crimes, peacekeeping tasks, disaster relief, cyber security, climate change and space security.
Last, the two sides need to find a new way to manage their difference and actively foster a new type of military relations in accordance with the new type of inter-power tie
Broadly, though, both leaders urged cooperation, not conflict. Mr. Obama called for joint efforts to address climate change, including through sharing clean-energy technologies, and to establish better military communications so “that we each understand our strategic objectives at the military as well as the political levels.”
Mr. Xi agreed. “China and the United States must find a new path,” he said, “one that is different from the inevitable confrontation and conflict between the major countries of the past.”