What’s on the Obama-Xi Agenda?

Photo of President Xi Jinping by Carlos Barria/Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who just took office in March, and President Barack Obama meet in California on Friday and Saturday to discuss in a casual setting some issues the White House deems critical, including China’s alleged cyber spying on U.S. businesses.

“One of the issues that threatens to damage U.S.-China relations, as well as potentially damage the international economy and China’s reputation, is the use of cyber technology, particularly as a means of obtaining intellectual property from American companies and institutions,” said a senior administration official in a background briefing for reporters.

Sources: Bloomberg, The Economist, Huffington Post, Reuters, PBS NewsHour. Graphic by Elizabeth Shell.

Editor’s note: This graphic was updated on Friday, June 7 to reflect a correction in population data.

The official said the White House was looking for recognition on China’s part of the urgency and the scope of the problem, and to do something about it. “Every government has a responsibility to seriously investigate what may be happening within its own borders, including its virtual cyber borders, and make best efforts to put a stop to activities.”

President Obama also is hoping to enlist China’s support — and Russia’s — on a political transition in Syria, and to engage the new leader in cooperative efforts to denuclearize North Korea and provide security in the disputed islands of the Asia-Pacific.

An area of agreement between the two countries is in economic development. Xi, who already has met with some U.S. governors about encouraging foreign investment, “seems to be someone who is fast on his feet, who is open to engagement, who is willing to speak directly to Americans and to issues of concern to Americans in a manner that was not the hallmark of some of his predecessors,” the administration official said.

After the two leaders meet at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., the next key summit for the two countries is the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C., on July 8-12.

Related Resources

  • Kenneth Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution and author Gordon Chang discussed the issues of trade, defense and cybersecurity for China and the United States in this March 14 PBS NewsHour interview:

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