China and the United States should come clean to each other about what and who each is spying on, says former U.S. president Bill Clinton.
Speaking at a forum held Monday in Beijing, Clinton said: "China and America should commit to tell the whole truth of the listening we are doing to each other." He had earlier met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.
He said the scandal that followed whistle-blower Edward Snowden's revelation, that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had conducted global surveillance, had at least urged everyone to look at the need to balance privacy and security. "I don't think you can do it in a closet any more," Clinton said. "[The NSA scandal] made me think that we are on the verge of having the worst of all worlds: we'll have no security and no privacy."
According to Snowden, the NSA had tapped Chinese mobile companies to hijack text messages and breached servers at Tsinghua University. This followed U.S. allegations last year that Chinese networking equipment vendors, specifically Huawei and ZTE, posed national security threats due to their close links with their government. China strongly refuted the allegations.
During their meeting, Xi told Clinton Sino-US relations were generally moving in the right direction. "With the joint efforts of generations of Chinese and U.S. leaders, our relationship has become a skyscraper. We need to work together to keep building it," Xi said in a report by Xinhua News Agency.
The Chinese premier added that as long as the two economic powers respected each other and achieved win-win co-operation, bilateral ties would have broader prospects.