Obama calls for ‘new model’ at China summit


US President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping have agreed to work together to try to resolve disputes over cyber security, a major irritant between the world’s top two economic powers. Hosting Xi at a two-day summit in a luxurious desert estate in southern California, Obama said on Friday that the US welcomes China’s “peaceful rise” but made clear that Beijing must play by the same rules of economic world order as other major nations. The US had accused Chinese hackers of accessing American military secrets, an accusation China denies, and the White House itself faces questions at home over its own surveillance of emails and phone records. Obama did not shy away from the issue of cyber spying in the first day of closed-door meetings, but he took a cautious line at a news conference, stopping short of pointing the finger directly at China or threatening any consequences. With Xi making his first US visit since taking over the presidency in March, both sides appeared intent on giving the impression of a constructive tone at a summit billed as a get-to-know-you encounter at the sprawling Sunnylands compound near Palm Springs. Xi expressed the hope for deeper co-operation, saying China and the United States could build a new model of “big country” relations. Speaking to reporters at the start of Friday’s talks, Obama said he wanted to achieve a “new model of co-operation” with China – a goal many feel eluded him in his first term when dealing with former Chinese president Hu Jintao. “Our decision to meet so early, I think, signifies the importance of the U.S.-China relationship. It’s important not only for the prosperity of our two countries and the security of our two countries, but it’s also important for the Asia Pacific region and important for the world,” Obama said. Obama said it was in the interest of the US that China continued on the path of success “because we believe that a peaceful and stable and prosperous China is not only good for Chinese but also good for the world and for the United States”. Obama said as two of the world’s largest economies, the US and China were aiming to have a healthy economic competition. But he added that the two nations had a “whole range of challenges on which we have to cooperate”. These, Obama said, include North Korea and its nuclear and missile programmes, nuclear proliferation and climate change. Obama urged Xi to stop reported Chinese hacking against the US, but his call could be overshadowed by new revelations that Obama’s own administration has been secretly collecting information about phone and internet use.