Obama and Chinese president lay groundwork for new relationship

The Obama administration has accused China of stealing billions of dollars of technical, financial and other data and intellectual property through cyber attacks.
MCT Regional News
Jun 9, 2013

President Barack Obama and his new Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, wrapped up a two-day summit at this sweltering California desert resort Saturday after nearly eight hours of talks and a candle-lit dinner aimed at shaping what both leaders called a “new model” of relations for the future.

The meetings grew contentious Saturday morning when Obama pushed Xi to do more to curb Chinese cyber attacks on U.S. businesses and infrastructure. Obama argued the hacking is “inconsistent with the kind of relationship we want to have with China,” according to Tom Donilon, the president’s national security adviser.

Donilon said Obama detailed cases of massive digital thefts at U.S. companies by entities in China, and he said if they are not addressed, it would become a “very difficult problem in the economic relationship” between the two countries.

Cyber theft, Donilon told reporters, “really now is at the center of the relationship. It is not an adjunct issue.”

The Obama administration has accused China of stealing billions of dollars of technical, financial and other data and intellectual property through cyber attacks. China denies the charge, insisting it is the victim, not the instigator, of digital looting.

On other issues, the two sides agreed to work together for the first time to “phase down the production and consumption” of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are potent greenhouse gases linked to climate change. The gases are in refrigerators, air conditioners and industrial applications.

Donilon said the two leaders also found “quite a bit of alignment” on North Korea, and a possible path for increased cooperation given the threat to regional and U.S. security. Both agreed that North Korea should give up its nuclear weapons.

The presidents discussed North Korea over their Friday night dinner of lobster tamales, porterhouse steak and cherry pie by celebrity chef Bobby Flay.

The summit at the Sunnylands estate was notable for its dress code: No one wore neckties, a testament to the oven-like heat and the carefully scripted informality of the presidents’ first meeting since Xi assumed office in March.

Yang Jiechi, China’s state counselor and former foreign minister, told reporters that the importance of the summit was to lay the groundwork for a new relationship, not in any specific accords.

He said cyber security “should not become the root cause of mutual suspicion and friction, rather it should be a new bright spot in our cooperation.”

Yang said the leaders “blazed a new trail” away from disputes in the last 18 months on regional security and computer hacking. He called the session a “strategic, constructive and historic meeting.”

His comments reflect Beijing’s desire to demonstrate Xi’s skills as a firm steward of China’s interests. Xi’s aides viewed the summit as a way to show China and the United States as equals, a theme the Chinese leader has emphasized in public comments.

Undergirding the shift is a worrisome challenge: Will China’s rising ambitions and growing military and economic clout inevitably lead to a clash with the world’s richest and most powerful nation.

The jockeying already has begun. The Obama administration has started to “pivot” military forces and diplomatic focus to China’s periphery in the western Pacific. For his part, Xi arrived here after doling out largesse in high-profile visits to America’s backyard, Mexico and the Caribbean.

“What will happen when a rising power and a great power encounter one another?” asked an editorial in Saturday’s Global Times, a newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party. “The U.S. is trying its best to maintain its status quo, in order to retain its hegemony. China ... is eager to become a world power under the rules approved by Western countries.”

Obama gave only a one-word summary of the summit Saturday, his only public comment of the day. “Terrific,” he replied when a reporter asked how the meetings had gone, as he and Xi strolled for 50 minutes by a pond, and then sat together on a redwood bench that Obama presented to his guest.

But in more detailed comments Friday night, both leaders sought to downplay the possibility of tension, highlighting instead shared interests and opportunities for cooperation. They pledged to expand official and informal exchanges on military affairs, economics and trade, cyber security, the environment and other issues.

“China and the United States must find a new path, one that is different from the inevitable confrontation and conflict between the major countries of the past,” Xi said. If the two nations work together, he added, “we can be an anchor for world stability and the propeller of world peace.”

Obama said he firmly believes “it is very much in the interest of the United States for China to continue its peaceful rise” and to “work with us as equal partners in dealing with many of the global challenges that no single nation can address by itself.”

In response to a question, Obama said both leaders agreed on the need for stiffer cyber security.

“These are uncharted waters and you don’t have the kind of protocols that have governed military and arms issues, where nations have a lot of experience in trying to negotiate what’s acceptable and what’s not,” he said.

In response, Xi said recent media reports “might give people the sense or feeling that cyber security as a threat mainly comes from China” or the issue is the chief irritant in relations with Washington. He suggested that reports were wrong.

Chinese state television lavished considerable footage on the summit, showing Xi animatedly chatting with Obama. Noticeably absent from the coverage was Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan, perhaps to avoid noting that first lady Michelle Obama did not attend. The two presidents drank tea for half an hour with Peng on Saturday before the Chinese delegation departed.

Some China watchers and historians say they were struck by how Xi seemed to move comfortably like a Western leader, not only in loosening his collar but in how he seemed to stroll at ease with Obama as the two leaders engaged with each other.

For all the optics, however, Jeff Wasserstrom, a China specialist at the University C Irvine and author of “China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know,” remained skeptical that Xi will take China down a reformist path as some have suggested.

“We shouldn’t let this blind us to how much continuity there seems to be between Xi and his predecessors when it comes to some basic policies,” he said. And “despite his distinctive personal style, he remains more the first among equals in a collective leadership than someone who can make bold moves largely on his own initiative.”

Nonetheless, analysts said the meeting probably eased tensions on several fronts even if it didn’t solve long-standing points of contention.

“We’ve been coming out of a difficult period for the last 18 months of distrust, and what (Xi is) trying to convey is that we’re heading in the wrong direction,” said Christopher Johnson, a senior fellow and China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “He’s saying, ‘Here’s the opportunity to hit the reset button and put this relationship on a more strategic plane.’”

U.S. officials praised the U.S.-China agreement to work together on climate change.

The agreement “is a tremendous accomplishment for (Obama) and his diplomatic team, and a big step forward on climate,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “The United States and China working together to tackle climate change is a major breakthrough. A global phase-down of HFCs would eliminate more heat-trapping gases by 2050 than the United States emits in an entire decade.”

HFCs are synthetic chemicals developed as substitutes for compounds that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer. But HFCs are also seen as contributing to climate change.

U.S. negotiators have pushed China to agree to reduce the gases in the past, but it has resisted because HFCs have come into wide use in the developing world for air conditioning, refrigeration and some foam products.

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By Christi Parsons and Paul Richter - Tribune Washington Bureau (MCT) (Parsons reported from Rancho Mirage and Richter from Washington. Don Lee of the Tribune Washington Bureau and Barbara Demick of the Los Angeles Times in Beijing contributed to this report.)

©2013 Tribune Co.

Visit Tribune Co. at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

Fromthe419

This was just photo op for Obama, I'm sure the real conversation went like this..."Hey China, we want you to back off on Hydro-Carbon emission, stop spying on Microsoft for it's intellectual property and cut us some slack on North Korea." Xi Jinping's answer "We'll quit financing your deficit spending, stop buying your bonds and dump the bonds we have." Obama's answer, what every you wish sir :)

Cliff Cannon

@ Fromthe419 : When we we're kids, Dad liked to use the phrase : " A debtor wears another mans collar " So to put it mildly I got a irony filled, sad belly laugh from your description of " Obama's answer "

Contango

Reminded me:

If you owe the bank $100, you have a problem.

If you owe the bank $1 million, the bank has a problem.

IOW: China, holding over $1 trillion in U.S. debt - has the PROBLEM.

Fromthe419

Interesting point Contango, with the Fed having a balance sheet of 3T who's problem is it? I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that one, are they screwed, are we screwed or is the whole system screwed? All of my research into the subject have come to the conclusion of systemic collapse.

Cliff Cannon

@ Contango & Fromthe419 : First, I totally agree with 'Contango' on who has " the problem " in this case. Obviously, if worse to comes to worse. The Chinese can use their U.S. bonds to start their campfires, so....


However, like ' Fromthe419 ' I am still " trying to wrap my brain " around the 'fed' buying their own debt, debt which of course, we all know they are creating at a massive pace.


So as Contango has pointed out about fiat currency's before, as well as Fromthe419 concludes here a " systemic collapse " is darn near inevitable.


Since Federal borrowing will never slow down w/o a collapse. All one can do in my opinion is to realize the " problem " belongs to the American people and as such encourage every driven young dreamer, we can.


Since as always youth will be at the helm of any great change. Youth, using its bound less energy and optimism will be the ones to solve the " problem". So here's hoping we never run out of ideas for encouraging them.

P.S. Unlike most, I don't think a 'collapse' will be a long drawn out thing where politicians try to hammer out a 'solution'. Rather, I think we will wake up one morning to it. But what do I know ?

Fromthe419

+1 very well thought out post :)

Cliff Cannon

@ From the 419 : Thank -you for your comment. Wish, I could claim originality here. Rather as we all know the ' Boy Scout' motto is " Be Prepared " so being a true admirer of " Eagle Scouts " Why waste one's time trying to out think such simple, brilliance ? Especially, when 'stealing' great idea's are so easy ? :)


Trivia note : Perhaps, THE greatest benefactor of the 'Boy Scouts' ever, was President Herbert Hoover. A very strong case could be made for his being one of the most talented, versatile, unselfish Americans ever to serve in the White House.


Yet, timing of course, is 'everything' so... Bottom line: Pres. Hoover from the time he was an orphan, to the time he 'resurrected ' his public life never,ever,gave up on America. As thankfully the 'Boy Scouts' can attest to. So neither will we, will we ?


Thanks again. Great Evening to you

JACKEL

Yea,and he was one of three that ran all the illegals out of the country so the vets could get jobs.The other two were Ike and Harry !

Cliff Cannon

@ Jackel : When one studies American history, one finds in every time frame. An " illegal " undesirable group of people, that " everyday normal " Americans wanted to get rid of.


So accordingly, politicians have always kept fingers to the breeze of public opinion and 'banned' or discriminated through laws against these 'undesirable people, agreed ? Which means quite a few Presidents, ran out 'illegals', true ?


So the public reaction to the Hispanic onslaught is as predictable as daisy's in April. Do we still agree ?


The real change this time is that the Hispanic move north into America is tacitly encouraged by our federal gov't. Then the 'illegals' get something also brand new in the history of border protection : Welcomed with darn near open arms. Arms, mind you that are laden with gifts of food, housing, clothing as well as medical treatment.


So only a fool would reject such gifts. Particularly, when Mexico is not only a some what poor country. But also because Mexico is in the midst of a civil war for one reason : American drug problems.


Certainly, if you or I lived in the midst of such challenge, we to would head north,agreed ?


So the real questions start with " Why " ? As in " Why is America allowing heroin, crack, meth, etc to destroy so many of its people ? We could fix the problem today, simply by getting the executioner going. Yet, we don't ,rather we watch our great cities crumble before our eyes. Again,' why ' ?


Obviously, we could close our borders. So; " Why don't we " ? Quite simply because that is how the federal gov't wants our border. Yet, " why " ?


Why tear the fabric of our country to shreds ? Why let Mexico fall into an unending civil war, simply so our drug habits can be satisfied ? Especially, when that drug induced war is coming to a city near you as we speak.


As always in this type of debate. I refer people to essayist Charlie Reese's " 545 people " essay ( just Google it ). There you will find THE people responsible for oh,so much of the mess we find ourselves in.


Which leaves 2 questions; " Why " did they " legalize " the whole sale destruction of so much of what we hold dear. Then this even more poignant question : Why did we allow it ?

Contango

Re: "I think we will wake up one morning to it."

With the collapse of the Weimar Republic, a German was asked:

How did you go broke?

He answered: Slowly at first, then suddenly.

Historically, in any debt re-structuring, the creditor takes the loss.

Check it out: I gave the book, "This Time is Different" to the Norwalk Library. Give it a skim.

http://www.amazon.com/This-Time-...

Cliff Cannon

@ Contango : " Slowly at first, then suddenly " The road to problems always obey this maxim, don't they ?

Worse, it don't matter if your a person, company or society. It is always 'slowly at first,then suddenly'....


Guess, mankind just has a 'thing' about not thinking ahead. To bad, we can not force folks as well as leaders to think like "Boy Scouts ". But, what do I know ?

Cliff Cannon

@ Contango : " Skimmed " your book in a review. It is never
" diFFerent " is it ? Just the actors on the stage change.


I hate to ask it, because, I might hate the answer : Is " Mankind " the dumbest animal on the planet ?

Contango

@ Reflector: The above photo is one of Pres. Obama and LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

--------------------

Can we trade the one crony capitalist for the other one?

Maybe we can find a U.S. birth cert. laying around somewhere for Premier Xi?

arnmcrmn

http://www.forbes.com/sites/thea...

Ohio Dept. Of Insurance: Obamacare To Increase Individual-Market Health Premiums By 88 Percent.

Thanks Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OHIOHOOSIER76

Why is that the Reflector and the Register (which are both published by the same group) use two different news sources (NR: MCT - SR: AP) and only one of them use a correct photo to go along with the story?

JACKEL

May be they will trade off some vital missile guidance system technology like Clinton did for campaign contributions !