US-China summit: Obama calls for peaceful solution to disputes
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama indirectly urged China to resolve maritime disputes with its neighbors peacefully in welcoming remarks Friday ahead of a two-hour summit with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, who argued for a new type of relationship between the two powers.
Speaking at an arrival ceremony on the White House’s South Lawn, Obama said that “the United States welcomes the rise of a China that is stable, prosperous and peaceful.” He pointed to fighting climate change and bringing about a nuclear deal with Iran as examples of Sino-American cooperation before touching on what divides the two countries.
“Even as our nations cooperate, I believe — and I know you agree — that we must address our differences candidly,” the president said.
“The United Sates will always speak out on behalf of fundamental truths. We believe that nations are more successful and the world makes more progress when our companies compete on a level playing field, when disputes are resolved peacefully, and when the universal human rights of all people are upheld,” Obama said.
Taking his turn at the podium, Xi said his visit was meant “to promote peace and advance cooperation.” China and the U.S. must seek “a new model of major-country relations,” he argued, repeating a diplomatic theme he introduced in 2013.
“For further growth of our relations, we have no choice but to seek win-win cooperation,” Xi said.
By “new model” he means not Cold War-style confrontation but cooperation on global issues, coupled with mutual respect of fundamental differences. Xi is essentially asking the U.S. to recognize China as an equal and not to meddle in its internal affairs, be they the expansion of its naval power or human rights issues. The Obama administration has been unmoved.
“I raised once again our very serious concerns about growing cyberthreats to American companies and American citizens. I indicated that it has to stop,” Obama said at a joint news conference in the Rose Garden following the summit.
The Obama administration has hinted at the possibility of retaliatory economic sanctions. But Xi insists that China is innocent and a victim of hacking itself.
“We’ve agreed that neither the U.S. or the Chinese government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information for commercial advantage,” Obama said. The two nations agreed to a framework for ministerial talks on cybersecurity that will meet twice a year.
“With respect to security in the Asia Pacific, we agreed to new channels of communication to reduce the risks of miscalculations between our militaries,” Obama said, touching on measures to prevent inadvertent clashes between their military aircraft.
Obama also raised the issue of Chinese island-building in the South China Sea and urged Xi to act in accordance with international law.
“I conveyed to President Xi our significant concerns over land reclamation, construction and militarization of disputed areas, which makes it harder for countries in the region to resolve disagreements peacefully,” Obama said.
Xi, however, insisted that: “Islands in the South China Sea since ancient times are China’s territory. We have the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful and legitimate maritime rights and interests. We are committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea, managing differences and disputes through dialogue, and addressing disputes through negotiation, consultation, and peaceful manner, and exploring ways to achieve mutual benefit through cooperation.”
“We’re committed to respecting and upholding the freedom of navigation and overflight that countries enjoy according to international law. Relevant construction activities that China are undertaking in the island of South — Nansha Islands do not target or impact any country, and China does not intend to pursue militarization,” Xi said.
Xi made an appeal for China’s bid to include the yuan in the basket of currencies that makes up the International Monetary Fund’s reserve asset. “I appreciate the U.S. supporting including the RMB into the IMF Special Drawing Rights when certain standards of the IMF are met,” he said.
At an informal dinner the night before, Xi assured Obama that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other Chinese initiatives do not seek to challenge the U.S.-led global order, according to the Chinese foreign ministry. Obama, for his part, said he did not believe that advanced and emerging nations were destined to clash, the ministry said.