Sunnylands: Obama and Xi sit to eat, discuss cybersecurity

June 7th, 2013 | by Daniel Simon | Comments

Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping arrived at the Sunnylands estate and ate dinner at 8:55 p.m. with two translators nearby.

The presidents answered a question from a U.S. and Chinese reporter.

Obama and Xi were asked about alleged Chinese hacking and the U.S. government’s Prism program.

Recent revelations show that the U.S. government, with the help of major online firms and cell phone providers, are involved in a massive cyber operation in what the American government thinks will root out potential and various threats.

Under this new operation called Prism, the government has access to the servers of major Internet firms and cell phone providers including Google, Apple, Verizon and Facebook. According to the Guardian, officials are allowed to collect data including “search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats.”

Both presidents gave lengthy answers on the topic of cybersecurity, but were also able to discuss overall goals between the countries. For the most part, both countries seem to be in the spirit of cooperation.

Here are some of the highlights of their responses given to The Desert Sun by pool reporters Colleen McCain Nelson of The Wall Street Journal and Zeke Miller of TIME Magazine:

Obama’s highlights:

On the Prism program, Obama said his answer to the issue is “limited” but said the implications are broad in how the U.S. will identify potential terrorists, criminals and private sector thieves. He referred to these individuals as “malicious forces.”

Obama: “So we’ll be taking steps to institutionalize and regularize such discussions. But more broadly I think President Xi identified the essence of our discussions in which we shared our respective visions for our countries futures and agreed that we’re more likely to achieve our objectives of prosperity and security of our peoples if we’re working together cooperatively rather than engaged in conflict.”

Obama: “And I emphasize my firm belief to president xi that it is very much in the interests of the United States for china to continue its peaceful rise. Because if China is successful that helps to drive the world economy and it puts china in position to work with us as equal partners in dealing with many of the global challenges that no single nation can address by itself.”

Obama also added in talks of climate change and how this issue cannot be resolved unless both countries make cooperative steps towards a solution.


Xi’s highlights:

Xi’s answers on cybersecurity were more focused on how the U.S. media has covered the meeting between both presidents. Xi said, “I note a sharp increase in media coverage of the issue of cybersecurity.” Xi concluded his initial remarks by stating that the media’s focus on cybersecurity primes citizens into thinking that hacking primarily comes from China and that this issue is the most important between the two countries.

Xi: “The application of new technology is a double- edged sword. On the one hand, it will drive progress …. on the other hand it might create some problems for regulators and it might infringe upon the rights of states, enterprises, societies and individuals.”

Xi: “We need to pay close attention to this issue and study ways to effectively resolve this issue and this matter can actually be an area for China and the United States to work together…. in a pragmatic way.”

Xi then pivoted to discuss long-term goals between the two countries. Xi additionally made a link between the American Dream and the hope of his people for economic prosperity. He referred to citizens of both countries as “beautiful people.”

Xi seems to recognize that there are tensions between both countries, but like Obama wants to create a collaborative political environment. Xi said, “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 finished up his remarks by saying he wants a more synergistic relationship when it comes to the economy, the environment and trade. He wants China and the U.S. to expand and continue to exchange cultures.

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