Friday, June 7, Obama will meet China’s President Xi Jinping in Sunnylands, an Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage, California. The meeting is an informal,”shirt-sleeves” summit. There is some disagreement whether it was China or the U.S. that asked for the meeting.
Xi promotes the idea of the “Chinese Dream”, a revitalization of the Chinese nation.
Xi is reportedly a more charming personality than his predecessor, Hu Jintao, often descried as “wooden”. There are high hopes in some circles that this will be a breakthrough moment in U.S. – China relations.
Can great leaders really shape the world we live in? Or are they mere figureheads carried along by the unstoppable economic and demographic flood-tides of human history?
If you accept that men can alter the course of history, then it is hard to overstate the importance of this encounter.
“It really could be an important tipping point in Sino-US relations, but we won’t know until six months or a year down the line that that is what it was.”
At the end of their Californian encounter Xi Jinping and Barack Obama do not have to reach any specific agreement but, aware of a shared sense of global responsibility, they can proclaim to the world: “We have a dream.”
In spite of there being a very nice golf course at Sunnylands, topics of major importance will be on the agenda. Cybersecurity is one of them. A “senior U.S. offical” reveals that Obama is going to get tough on that issue..
We shall see how tough Obama gets. The Chinese are robbing us blind stealing business and military technology via cybercrime.
David Sanger, author of Confront and Conceal spoke to CBS recently about cybersecurity.
CBS: When it comes to this whole question of cyber attacks, David, pretty clearly the problem goes straight to China. Jon Huntsman, former ambassador to China and former presidential candidate says as many as 66% of cyber attacks on American companies come from the Chinese, right?
Sanger: That statistic may be low, but certainly China is a preponderance or good majority of the theft that is intellectual property. [There are] other kinds of cyber attacks. You saw a number of attacks on American banks that took place earlier this year, those were sort of denial of service attacks, experts try to make it impossible to use the system. Some believed to come from Iran. The Iranians are nowhere near as talented as the Chinese and Russians.
CBS: This sort of stuff has got to cost companies a lot of money.
Sanger: It costs them billions of dollars and there is increasing pressure from American firms and that’s a point that the President will be making to Xi Jinping. For the first time you have heard some of the greatest advocates, like the U.S.-China Business Council and so forth, complain this problem has to get solved or American companies won’t continue to invest and bring new technology to China. Whether or not they are willing to cut themselves out of the Chinese market, that’s another question. And the other question, to what degree does the President have much leverage here since China is not only a very needed trading partner, but a very needed lender to the u.s. treasury.
CBS: Indeed. Not a problem that will go away quickly.
We shall soon see how much leverage Obama thinks he has or if he has the courage to use it. Will the charming Obama get the charming Xi to stop stealing from us? I have a dream, a nightmare—the great American leader returns from the “shirt-sleeves” summit in his underwear.