President Barack Obama pressed Chinese officials to ease tensions in the U.S.-China relationship by addressing American concerns about cyber-espionage and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Obama met at the White House Wednesday with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, Vice Premier Liu Yandong and State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the conclusion of the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington.
A White House statement emphasized areas of U.S.-China cooperation, including reaching a global climate accord in Paris in December, reining in North Korea and putting pressure on Iran to reach an agreement intended to block the Islamic Republic from gaining a nuclear weapon.
Obama also “raised ongoing U.S. concerns about China’s cyber and maritime behavior,” the statement said, without elaboration.
Before the meeting, Obama declined to answer questions about whether he would raise to the Chinese delegation a hack of federal employee records at the Office of Personnel Management. While the administration has refused to publicly blame any nation for the breach, officials have pointed to hackers based in China.
The U.S. and China have also clashed over China’s construction of man-made islands in the South China Sea and on human rights and other civil society matters in the country.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to travel to the U.S. for a state visit with Obama in September.
Obama has staked part of his presidential legacy on his so-called pivot to Asia, which includes both increased engagement with and military attention to that continent.
The group Obama met with included the U.S. co-chairmen of the forum, Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.