Obama talks cyber with Chinese President Xi Jinping

Obama talks cyber with Chinese President Xi Jinping
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President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a “candid” talk about cybersecurity, a major source of friction between the two global powers, Obama said Thursday.

“We have deep concerns about our ability to protect the intellectual property of our companies,” the president said during joint remarks with the Chinese leader.

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“I very much appreciate President Xi’s willingness to have candid conversations on these issues in a constructive way,” Obama continued, adding that the two sides were also set to discuss human rights and China’s contested territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The meeting between the two world leaders came on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit taking place this week in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. and China have clashed over the issue of hacking in recent years. The Obama administration has accused Beijing of orchestrating a major cyber campaign to pilfer American trade secrets and pass the information along to Chinese competitors.

White House officials also privately blame China for the catastrophic digital intrusion at the Office of Personnel Management last summer, which exposed over 20 million people’s sensitive data.

The two sides have taken some tentative steps in recent months to curb a rampant Chinese hacking campaign that American businesses say is costing them hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

During Xi’s state visit in September, the U.S. and China struck a deal to eradicate this type of corporate hacking. But the Obama administration has not yet said whether Beijing is complying with the agreement, leaving many to wonder whether it has had any discernible effect on trade secret theft.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday said he was “confident” the two leaders would have “an additional discussion” about the deal during their Thursday meeting.

In his brief remarks, Xi vowed to “actively explore possibilities of deepening cooperation” on issues like cybersecurity.

The two sides have been working to jointly define the rules of cyber warfare, and agreed last September to also exchange more data on cyber crime investigations.

"Our two countries have some disputes and disagreements in some areas," Xi said. "We should seek active solutions through dialogue and consultation."