Chinese president Xi Jinping has promised to work with the US to combat cybercrime and has denied any involvement in hacking activities.
Currently on his week-long state visit in the country, Xi told top business executives at a dinner banquet in Seattle on Tuesday that China was open to a "high-level" dialogue with the US regarding cybersecurity and was a staunch defender of cybersecurity.
He further stressed that fighting cybercrime was a priority for China. "Commercial cybertheft and hacking against government networks are crimes that must be punished in accordance with the law and relevant international treaties.
"The Chinese government will not...engage in commercial theft or encourage or support such attempts by anyone," noted the Chinese head of state.
In a CNN report, Alibaba founder Jack Ma expressed support for Xi's comments. Ma, who attended the banquet in Seattle, said in the report: "[Cybersecurity] is a very big problem for both sides, not just the US," he said. "We have had 19 million hacks against our company, so this is a global problem that we are all going to have to work on together."
Xi also underscored the need for cordial Sino-US ties, noting that a confrontation would benefit neither party. "If China and the US cooperate well, they can become a bedrock of global stability and a booster of world peace. Should they enter into conflict or confrontation, it would lead to disaster for both countries," he said.
In an earlier interview with The Wall Street Journal, he said both countries shared common concerns about cybersecurity and were ready to "strengthen cooperation" on this issue.
Xi's comments follow a Washington Post report last month suggesting the US government was considering "unprecedented" sanctions against China over a spate of cyber attacks against US businesses. Citing anonymous US officials, the report said Chinese companies had benefited from the cybertheft of US trade secrets, such as source codes of a search engine, and other intellectual property.