China, US to discuss cybersecurity at forum

BEIJING (AP) - China is ready to discuss strengthening cybersecurity with U.S. officials at a high-level forum next week and wants Washington to help settle territorial disputes in East Asia, officials said Friday.

Next week's two-day Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington will also include talks on finance and climate change and the inaugural gathering of a U.S.-Chinese cybersecurity group, the officials said at a government briefing.

Beijing is under U.S. pressure to crack down on cyberspying after security consultants tracked a wave of hacking attacks to China.

"We are ready to work with the United States and engage in dialogue and communication and, on the basis of mutual respect and mutual trust, enhance understanding and consensus and work with the international community to build a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace," said Zheng Zeguang, an assistant foreign minister.

The U.S. delegation to the dialogue is to be led by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew. The chief Chinese envoys will be State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang. They are to be joined by finance, military, energy, environmental and other officials.

The annual talks are aimed at heading off trade and other disputes between the world's two largest economies and to promote cooperation on managing the global economy, climate change and other issues.

Security experts say China is a base for a large share of the world's cyberspying, some of which might be carried out by its military. Beijing has rejected that, saying China is a victim of computer hacking.

Asked about disclosures by former NSA employee Edward Snowden about U.S. government spying and whether those would influence the talks, Zheng said, "The information released by the media shows once again that China is among the victims of cyberattacks."

On regional issues, Zheng said Beijing wants Washington to "do more to contribute" to settling tensions over territorial disputes.

Referring to China's conflicting claims with the Philippines, Vietnam and other governments over the South China Sea, Zheng said, "the United States should do more to contribute to a proper settlement of the issue."

As for Beijing's dispute with Japan over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, Zheng said Washington "should send correct instead of wrong signals and do more to contribute to the cooling of the situation."


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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