WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will confront Chinese President Xi Jinping at talks in Beijing next week over deep U.S. concerns about cyber spying by China’s government and military and will insist that it be stopped, senior U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
The officials, briefing reporters before Obama’s trip to Beijing for an Asia-Pacific summit and one-on-one meetings with Xi, said that while U.S. complaints had brought about a temporary reduction of Chinese cyber espionage, there had been no fundamental change in behaviour.
Cybersecurity has been a significant irritant in ties. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation last month said hackers it believes to be backed by the Chinese government recently launched more attacks on U.S. companies, a charge China rejected as unfounded.
In May, the United States charged five Chinese military officers with hacking American firms, prompting China to shut down a bilateral working group on cybersecurity.
Obama’s message to Xi will be that China, the world’s second largest economy after the United States, cannot continue seeking competitive advantage over other countries using methods that violate international norms, one of the officials said. China has denied the accusations.
“We’ve been very clear about how strongly we object to any cyber-enabled theft of trade secrets and other sensitive information from our companies, whoever may be doing it,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier on Tuesday in a speech at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.
“And we are convinced that it is in China’s interest to help put an end to this practise,” Kerry said just hours before leaving on a trip that will include a stop in Beijing.
Washington is also at odds with Beijing over its human rights record and assertive actions in disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, but U.S. officials insist they want to constructively manage differences.
Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Jim Loney