Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for the United States and China to better understand each other’s “strategic intentions”, asking for “a new model of major country relationship” with more understanding and less suspicion.
Xi, delivering a keynote address to about 650 business executives and other guests in Seattle on Tuesday, said China will not manipulate its currency to boost exports and will never engage in commercial theft.
The president sought to reassure business and government officials on the first day of his week-long US visit over a long list of issues, from economic reform to cyber attacks and human rights.
He also said China will not discriminate against foreign businesses, will speed its market opening, and make efforts to improve human rights.
“If China and the US cooperate well, they can become a bedrock of global stability,” Xi said. “Should they enter into conflict or confrontation, it would lead to disaster for both countries and the world at large.”
Xi will likely be pressed for specifics as he meets this week with tech and other top business leaders before attending a black-tie state dinner at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama.
White House officials said cyber spying will be a key part of discussions between Obama and Xi, but they did not expect the US to level economic sanctions against China for cyber espionage ahead of Xi’s arrival in Washington.
No mention has been made during the early stages of Xi’s visit about an American businesswoman held for six months in China on suspicion of spying and stealing state secrets.
About 100 people gathered in downtown Seattle earlier on Tuesday to protest against human rights abuses in China, the first of what could be a series of demonstrations against Xi’s visit.
Xi came under a barrage of criticism before his speech over China’s treatment of US businesses operating in his country.
“This week, a number of significant deals are being announced alongside President Xi’s visit that exemplify [US] companies’ commitment to support China’s development, both with capital and with world-class technologies,” said US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
“Nevertheless, we and our companies continue to have serious concerns about an overall lack of legal and regulatory transparency, inconsistent protection of intellectual property, discriminatory cyber and technology policies, and more generally, the lack of a level playing field across a range of sectors.”
Responding to allegations that China has been behind cyber attacks affecting US business and government databases, Xi reiterated that China, too, had often been a victim.
“The Chinese government will not in whatever form engage in commercial thefts or encourage or support such attempts by anyone,” Xi vowed.
Xi’s US visit ends with an address at the United Nations.