WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that China's rise is good but that its theft of U.S. intellectual property must stop as the global powers began annual talks to build cooperation and hash out deep-seated differences.
The gathering took place a month after President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart's summit in California, which tried to set a positive tone but also made clear Washington's growing anxiety about Chinese cybertheft.
"We both will benefit from an open, secure, reliable Internet. Outright cyber-enabling theft that U.S. companies are experiencing now must be viewed as out of bounds and needs to stop," Biden said in his opening remarks at the State Department.
He called the "emerging and continuing growth of the Chinese economy" good news, with Beijing's rise "good for America and the world." Yet such progress, Biden said, "comes with some new international responsibilities."
Heavyweight delegations from the two sides also plan to discuss barriers to U.S. trade and investment in China, the nuclear program of Chinese ally North Korea and other matters, including Iran and Syria's civil war. Wednesday's talks focused on climate change and energy security.
"China will stay committed to reform and opening up," China State Councilor Yang Jiechi said, adding that China is committed to being a responsible player in the international system. But he made only passing reference to cybersecurity as one of the "global challenges" the United States and China should work together on.
The rivalry between the United States and China belies their economic interdependence and common interest in avoiding armed conflict. The upbeat tone of the Obama and Xi Jinping summit helped ease mutual suspicion but was short on concrete outcomes.
Another U.S. concern, the low value of China's currency and its impact on the skewed trade balance, has eased as the yuan has appreciated in value against the dollar. But the United States is still prodding Beijing to expedite economic reforms.
Biden said China needs to free its exchange rate, shift to a consumption-led economy instead of relying on exports and enforce intellectual property rights. He said the United States welcomes China's growth, but it should be based on international rules.