With the visit of Chinese premier Xi Jinping just a week away, the White House won’t say whether one of its goals is to reach an agreement with China over cybersecurity.
Hacking has been one of the issues at the forefront of U.S.-China relations over the last couple of years, particularly after the U.S. accused China of hacking into sensitive federal government systems, something that China denies.
“We’ve been pretty blunt in describing the concerns that we have with China’s behavior in cyberspace,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on board Air Force One on Monday, according to a pool report.
But Earnest wouldn’t comment on any measures that might be taken ahead of the visit.
Last week Meng Jianzhu, secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China, held a series of high-level meetings in Washington on cybersecurity to help prepare for Xi’s visit.
Meng met with National Security Advisor Susan Rice and the two had a “pretty candid exchange of views,” according to the White House. He also met with FBI Director Comey at FBI headquarters and with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
But while the White House isn’t divulging much, Meng did. China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported him as saying the U.S. and China reached important consensus on combating cyber crimes.
It didn’t provide any more details.
“We certainly were pleased to have the opportunity to have that discussion with the Chinese, and I would anticipate that discussion will continue when the president has the opportunity to meet with his counterpart,” Earnest said on Monday.