M A I N   N E W S

special to the tribune
Obama-Xi talks focus on cybersecurity
ashish k sen in washington dc

Cybersecurity was at the top of the agenda in talks between US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in California on Friday and Saturday, but it was the activities of Chinese hackers and not the US Government that Obama had hoped to discuss.

Instead, Obama spent a lot of time discussing a scandal created by the disclosure of massive surveillance programmes that give the US National Security Agency access to phone logs and to even more detailed information such as photos and chat logs from Internet firms, including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Speaking to reporters at the private Sunnylands Retreat in Rancho Mirage, California, where he is meeting Xi, Obama insisted that there is a distinction between hacking and the theft of intellectual property, activities attributed to Chinese hackers, and the NSA programme revealed this week by Britain’s Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post in reports on an order by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, said the programme does not allow the US Government to listen in on anyone’s phone calls and that only “metadata”, such as telephone numbers dialed and length of calls is collected. Clapper said the disclosure of the programme was “reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans”. Obama and Xi had not had an in-depth discussion on cybersecurity when they met reporters on Friday. “We’re speaking at the 40,000-foot level on cybersecurity,” Obama said, but a detailed discussion was on their agenda.

“What both President Xi and I recognise is that because of these incredible advances in technology, that the issue of cybersecurity and the need for rules and common approaches to cybersecurity are going to be increasingly important as part of bilateral relationships and multilateral relationships,” the US President said.

Obama described cybersecurity as “uncharted waters and you don’t have the kinds of protocols that have governed military issues where nations have a lot of experience in trying to negotiate what’s acceptable and what’s not”. Xi described new technology as a “double-edged sword” and said China, too, has been a victim of cyber attacks.

The Obama-Xi summit on Friday was dominated by discussions on the US and China’s domestic and foreign policies, as well as international and regional issues of mutual concern, including North Korea’s nuclear threat. “The President and I reached important consensus on these issues,” Xi said. He assured Obama that China will be firmly committed to the path of peaceful development. “When China and the United States work together, we can be an anchor for world stability and the propeller of world peace.” Obama said the talks had been “very constructive”.

Major irritant

  • Cybersecurity is a major irritant between the world's top two economic powers
  • The United States says Chinese hackers have accessed American military secrets, an accusation China denies
  • The White House itself faces questions at home over its own massive surveillance of emails and phone records and Obama spent a lot of time discussing the scandal
  • Xi described new technology as a double-edged sword and said China, too, has been a victim of cyber attacks




HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |