China's president promises to address US tech concerns

China's president promises to address US tech concerns

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged Wednesday to maintain an open market for foreign companies and assured business leaders he would address their concerns about intellectual property theft and discriminatory policies.

“As our business ties deepen it is only natural to see frictions and differences of one kind or another,” Xi said at a Beijing-organized tech forum in Seattle, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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“However, problems are always outnumbered by solutions,” Xi added. “Actually, some of the issues raised by the U.S., we want to address through reform. We’ll look into these issues and speedily try to address as many as possible.”

Held at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the forum was an opportunity for China to show that it could gather Silicon Valley’s biggest names a day ahead of Xi’s first official state visit in Washington.

The Obama administration has criticized Beijing for trade practices that discriminate against U.S. firms, and has blamed the country for a widespread cyber campaign to pilfer U.S. corporate secrets.

Apple chief Tim Cook, Amazon head Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg were among the U.S. business leaders in attendance.

They showed up reportedly under some pressure from Beijing officials but also for a chance to talk directly to China’s top government leaders about a slate of proposed technology laws that critics say will restrict the Internet and unfairly target foreign firms.

Xi listened to about 30 minutes of comments from the industry representatives before giving his remarks, The Journal reported.

While the Chinese leader tried to assuage any concerns in his remarks, he also defended a country’s right to regulate the Internet “in line with their national realities.”

“A secure, stable and prosperous cyberspace is of great significance,” he said, The Seattle Times reported.

The topics are expected to bleed over into Xi’s Washington visit, where the Obama administration has vowed to put Chinese hacking and trade differences at the top of the agenda.

Xi is scheduled to have an informal dinner with President Obama Thursday night, before more official meetings and a state dinner on Friday.

While no broad cybersecurity agreement is expected, the two sides may announce a limited cyber warfare deal. The pact would forbid either country from launching the first cyberattack on the other’s critical infrastructure.

In a private meeting after the forum, Lu Wei, China’s top Internet regulator, indicated the deal was imminent, Reuters reported, despite cautions from the White House not to expect any agreement.

“We are on the same boat,” Lu said in his speech. “The only choice we have is to cooperate.”