President Obama said late Friday that the focus on his administration’s massive Internet and phone surveillance programs have no bearing on his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping about reining in cyber-spying.
After hours of discussions with Xi at a California desert retreat, Obama called it important to “distinguish between the deep concerns we have as a government around theft of intellectual property or hacking into systems that might disrupt those systems … versus some of the issues that have been raised around NSA programs.”
Obama planned to press the Chinese leader about cybersecurity — U.S. officials cite growing Chinese hacking of American companies — but new revelations about the National Security Agency collecting massive amounts of phone and Internet data are overshadowing that agenda.
Before departing for the two-day summit with Xi, Obama insisted the “modest encroachments on privacy” by his NSA were needed to protect the homeland. Obama added that he and Xi discussed cybersecurity just at the “40,000-foot level,” talks that will continue on Saturday.
While neither leader accused the other of cyber-spying — at least publicly — the duo agreed that new oversights were needed in these “uncharted waters.”
“China and the United States must find a new path,” Xi said, “one that is different from the inevitable confrontation and conflict between the major countries of the past.”