U.S. officials appealed to China's self-interest on Wednesday with calls for deeper economic reforms including changes to the exchange rate policy and a halt to cyber theft of trade secrets - actions they said would benefit both nations.
Vice President Joe Biden launched the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue by stressing the shared stakes and responsibility to support the global economy.
"The next steps that China needs to take for its own economy happen to be in the interests of the United States as well," he said as the two-day talks opened in Washington.
"Your own plans call for the kinds of changes that have to take place, that are difficult, like here, but if they do, they will benefit us both, including free exchange rate, shifting to a consumption-led economy, enforcing intellectual property rights and renewing innovation," said Biden.
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But Biden did not mince words when he raised the hot-button issue of theft of intellectual property through hacking of computer networks, a conversation complicated by the fugitive spy agency contractor Edward Snowden's revelations of U.S. electronic surveillance around the world.
"Outright cyber-enabling theft that U.S. companies are experiencing now must be viewed as out of bounds and needs to stop," said Biden. U.S. officials say all countries spy on each other, but China is unique in its theft of foreign technology.
Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are hosting a Chinese delegation led by State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang for annual talks that cover both economics and wider geopolitical issues.
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Burns filled in for Secretary of State John Kerry, who left the meetings Wednesday to care for his ailing wife.
The talks were launched in 2008 with aim of managing an increasingly complex U.S.-China relationship and avoiding competition between the world's two largest economies from turning into destabilizing conflict.