Barack Obama and Xi Jinping discuss cybersecurity as tension over privacy increases in U.S.

The two presidents met in California to discuss the issue "at the 40,000-foot level," according to Obama

Published June 8, 2013 2:47PM (EDT)

Hours after addressing the nation over the NSA's surveillance operations, President Barack Obama kicked off a two-day summit in California with China's President Xi Jinping, hoping to build a rapport with the country's new president and and address issues like cybersecurity, North Korea, climate change and intellectual property rights.

The Guardian notes, however, that the recent NSA leak could hinder Obama's mission to establish "a world order where all countries play by the same rules on cybersecurity," though the two leaders discussed it at only "at the 40,000-foot level":

From the Guardian:

He spoke within hours of striking a defiant stance amid revelations about the extent of the surveillance state in the US – a row that analysts said could weaken his efforts to pressure Xi over Chinese hacking.

Xi made no mention of the issue in opening remarks in which he said the talks were a chance to "chart the future" of bilateral ties. "Relations between our two countries are at a new historical starting point," he said.

Conversely, U.S. officials remain tense over privacy and hacking from China, as the Washington Post explains:

Although U.S. officials have grown increasingly concerned about China’s hacking of private records of American companies, both Obama and Xi, publicly at least, stopped short of directly confronting the contentious issue.

When a U.S. journalist pressed Xi on the cyber-spying, the Chinese leader asserted that China, too, is a victim of such attacks — and he faulted the news media with leaving what he considers a misleading impression that the threat comes mostly from China. Xi pledged to resolve concerns with the United States “in a pragmatic way.”

Despite theses privacy concerns, Obama remained optimistic and promised a “new model of cooperation” between the two nations.

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Barack Obama China Cyber-security Foreign Relations Hacking Nsa Privacy Xi Jinping