US, China take up rifts but seek cooperation
US Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns (lower R) and other officials meet with Chinese counterparts at the US Department of State July 11, 2013 in Washington.
Chinese and US officials were wrapping up the main annual meeting between the two sides and planned to speak to reporters at 2130 GMT at the conclusion of the two days of talks.
In a sign of the importance he attaches to managing ties with the rising Asian power, President Barack Obama -- who generally meets only leaders from other nations -- plans to receive the two main Chinese delegates at the White House.
Obama has invested time in seeking a smooth relationship with China's newly installed President Xi Jinping, meeting him for a weekend at a California desert resort last month, but has also stepped up the tone on hacking.
Vice President Joe Biden, opening the talks on Wednesday, openly raised US charges that China has waged a vast hacking campaign to steal US trade and government secrets.
"We both will benefit from an open, secure, reliable Internet. Outright cyber-enabling theft that US companies are experiencing now must be viewed as out of bounds and needs to stop," Biden told the talks, known as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
China insists it is also the victim of hacking and has demanded answers after US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden charged that US spies had worked their way into the billion-plus nation's Internet network.
Chinese officials, who often bristle at US criticism, took a measured tone during the dialogue, whose format of formal, heavily scripted meetings is often seen as appealing to Beijing.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked in Beijing about Biden's remarks, said only that both China and the United States "have the willingness to lay down international regulations" on cyber-security.
"We are also willing to make the field of cyber-security a new highlight of our bilateral cooperation instead of the source of friction between the two countries," she said.
The United States and China announced Wednesday that they would step up cooperation on fighting climate change, although their agreements were general in tone.
The two countries -- which together pump out more than 40 percent of carbon blamed for the planet's warming temperatures -- said they would chart out plans by October in five areas including reducing emissions from heavy-duty vehicles.
The United States and China said they would also carry out more work to find ways to capture emissions from coal, one of the dirtiest forms of energy which is politically sensitive in both countries.
Climate change is seen as a key area for collaboration as the leaders of both countries both see an interest in addressing the problem, even if Obama's efforts are hobbled by opposition in Congress.
Secretary of State John Kerry has vowed to make climate change a top priority in US diplomacy, including in the relationship with China.
Kerry left after the start of talks Wednesday to join his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, who is ill at a Boston hospital. Kerry is being replaced by his deputy, veteran diplomat William Burns.
During the economic track of the talks, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has renewed calls on China to guarantee intellectual property rights and to allow a rise in the value of the yuan, which US manufacturers say is kept artificially low to boost exports.
But pressure on China has eased in recent months as the yuan has appreciated, mostly in response to inflationary pressure.
At least one Chinese statement on the bonhomie between the countries raised eyebrows as Vice Premier Wang Yang joked of his relationship with Lew in terms of gay marriage.
Wang compared the two officials to newlyweds and, according to China News Service, quipped: "I know the United States allows same-sex marriage, but obviously I don't think myself and Jacob actually want this."
While jokes are common in the United States, Wang's remarks are unusual for a Chinese official and triggered criticism on China's often nationalistic blogosphere.
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