China, U.S. pledge to improve cybersecurity cooperation

Progress between the two nations is underway, according to reports.

Photo courtesy U.S. Department of State

The United States and China have only just begun their fifth annual session on bilateral matters both political and economic, but talk to improve cooperation on cybersecurity is already progressing—even as former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden remains at large after making relevations about U.S. electronic surveillance activities .

Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today that discussion for the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, or S&ED, has been "candid" and with the aim to enhance "mutual trust" and reduce "mutual suspicion." The overall sentiment seems positive, Reuters notes in its own report on the summit, which takes place this week in Washington, D.C.

There was widespread concern leading up to the meeting, held annually in alternating locations since 2009, that the ongoing Snowden affair would overshadow positive talks between the world's two largest economies. 

"For many Chinese, it is bizarre that how Washington can continue to pose as the biggest cyber espionage victim and demand others behave well after former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed that U.S. spy agencies hacked deep into China and other countries' computer networks, including those of government, military, research, educational and business organizations," Yang Qingchuan wrote in recent commentary for Xinhua.

But the tone this week has been optimistic, if a little cautious, China Daily notes, even as both countries engage in and defend cyber spying activities that aggravate the other. The attitude is a likely extension of the unprecedented, rather informal meeting between U.S. president Barack Obama and China president Xi Jinping in California last month

China vice-premier Wang Yang, China state councilor Yang Jiechi, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and U.S. secretary of treasury Jack Lew are co-chairs for the event; U.S. vice president Joe Biden delivered the opening address.

"We don't have to agree on everything," Biden reportedly said during his address. "We have to trust."