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Hopes are high for US, China talks

Updated: 2013-07-09 11:55
By Chen Weihua in Washington ( China Daily)

Chinese and US officials were busy in talks on Monday leading up to the two-day fifth round of Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) and got right down to sensitive issues like cyber security.

US officials described the first meeting on Monday by the newly established China-US working group on cyber security as a "constructive" discussion.

"We had a constructive discussion with our Chinese counterparts, including norms of behavior in cyber space," said Chris Painter, a State Department coordinator for cyber issues, on a conference call Monday afternoon. "Both sides made practical proposals to increase our cooperation and build understanding and transparency between the two sides."

Painter hopes the first meeting will be the start of a substantive discussion between the US and China on cyber issues.

The US has claimed that the Chinese government has been involved in hacking into US corporations, an accusation that the Chinese government has flatly denied.

Many Chinese are furious over recent revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA has hacked into Tsinghua University's "backbone" network, a major one in China, and monitored cell phone companies on both the mainland and Hong Kong to gather messages of millions of users.

Chinese officials have argued that such behavior constitutes economic theft, infringement on the rights of millions of Chinese individuals and corporations, and a threat to China's national security.

While there is clearly tension over cyber space issues, both sides are looking for positive tones from the S&ED on July 10-11.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kin Moy emphasized that this S&ED will have four new faces co-chairing the dialogue: Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew on the US side, and Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi on the Chinese side.

Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, has been having serious health issues in recent days and his schedule will be determined on a day-to-day basis throughout the week, according to State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell.

Moy stressed that the meeting comes just a month after the Sunnylands summit between Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama.

"The dialogue we are having with the Chinese this week very much follows on the important discussions on June 7-8," he said.

"The S&ED remains a key mechanism for putting into practice our presidents' vision. It's important just four weeks after the discussions in California," he said.

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