US National Security Agency

Xi Jinping raises reports of NSA spying on Huawei in meeting with Obama

President brought up weekend media reports of NSA breach of Huawei servers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 3:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 7:47am

President Xi Jinping raised reports about US cyberspying in his conversations with President Barack Obama yesterday, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.

The two leaders met yesterday while attending a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands. Their meeting was complicated by renewed tensions over the National Security Agency's surveillance programme.

China's foreign ministry yesterday asked for a "clear explanation" from the US after The New York Times and German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the NSA had breached the servers of Huawei, China's largest phone-equipment maker.

"What President Obama made clear to him is that ... the United States does not engage in espionage to gain a commercial advantage. We don't share information with our companies," Rhodes said. He said Obama urged co-operation on the issue.

Xi also said he wanted a political solution in Ukraine and affirmed the principle of national sovereignty, according to Rhodes. "The United States in general is far more willing to move towards the use of aggressive, punitive actions like sanctions," Rhodes said, indicating distance with China on the issue. But he said Beijing had emphasised that sovereignty and territorial integrity were abiding principles of the international system.

"There, we believe the Chinese have been very clear in their expressions of support for a de-escalation and political resolution and, again, their general commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of nation states, including Ukraine."

On other bilateral issues, Xi said there was "greater space where China and the United States are co-operating".

He reiterated that China wanted to pursue a "new type of major power relationship" with the US, and cited a letter Obama had written to him "recently", Xinhua reported.

In their one-on-one talks, Xi pointed to areas of potential co-operation with the US as he settled in for what Obama described as a wide-ranging session.

"It is like a menu - and a rich one at that," Xi said through an interpreter.

Obama said the US and China had made "incredible strides" in their relationship and that resolving South China Sea disputes in a "constructive" way would strengthen ties throughout Asia.

Obama also thanked Xi for hosting his wife and daughters, who are touring China. "She also played some table tennis, although I think this was not the high level ping-pong diplomacy that we saw in the past," Obama joked about his wife.

Xi said he had a message for Obama from the US first lady."She asked me to formally convey to you her best regards," he said to laughter in the room.

Xi delivered a keynote speech last night at the biannual nuclear summit in The Hague.

Chinese analysts said Xi would use the opportunity to push forward Beijing's desire to renew the long-stalled six-party talks seeking to end North Korea's nuclear programme through negotiation.

Xi is likely to reiterate China's position - that the nuclear issue should be resolved through negotiations - at the summit, said Zhuang Jianzhong , deputy director of Jiaotong University's Centre for National Strategy Studies in Shanghai.

Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg