Li Keqiang

Li Keqiang urges US and China to end cyber claims against each other

Premier's comments come as both nations are tangled in dispute over online attacks and national security, after US firm's allegation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 10:28am

Premier Li Keqiang called on both China and the United States to avoid making "groundless accusations" against each other concerning cyber security as he vowed to work with US President Barack Obama to build a "new type of relationship" between the two nations.

Li's comments came as the two countries were locked in a dispute over cyber attacks and national security, after a US online security company claimed last month it had proof that a Chinese military unit based in a Shanghai building was behind a series of hacking attacks on scores of US companies.

Li said he "sensed the presumption of guilt" when he was asked whether China would stop the hacking attacks in his first press conference as premier yesterday.

"I think we should not make groundless accusations against each other, and spend more time doing practical things that will contribute to cyber security," he said.

In a phone call with President Xi Jinping on Thursday, Obama raised Washington's concerns about the hacking attacks.

Li said China did not support cyber attacks, and that the nation itself had been a main target.

Yet Sino-US ties had still made progress despite some low points over the past decades, he said, and Beijing would work with the Obama administration to improve them.

Relations between the two nations have become tricky in recent years - Beijing is suspicious of the strengthening US military presence in Asia Pacific even though trade between the world's two largest economies reached some US$500 billion last year.

Beijing has previously said it welcomed the US playing a constructive role in the region, but warned Washington to respect the "core interests" of China while it was involved in territorial disputes with its neighbours.

"China and the US should have sound interactions in Asia Pacific and starting from this we can move to build a new type of relationship between major countries," Li said.

Professor Su Hao , from China Foreign Affairs University, said Beijing realised that all of its core interests in the region, including the maritime disputes and North Korea's nuclear programme, also touched on those of the US, which had close ties with Japan and the Philippines.

Li did not mention the spat in the East China Sea with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan calls the Senkakus, but added that China had "unshakable determination" to protect its territory.

He also said China was committed to strengthening relations with Russia, and that bilateral ties would receive a boost when Xi visits Moscow this week.