WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama said that China has understood his “very blunt” message that cyber-hacking against the United States will lead to a deterioration of relations between the two powers.
“We’ve had very blunt conversations about this. They understand, I think, that this can adversely affect the fundamentals of the US-China relationship,” Obama told “The Charlie Rose Show” in an interview broadcast late Monday.
Obama raised charges of a Chinese cyber-hacking campaign when he met on June 7-8 at a resort in California with China’s new President Xi Jinping, who told reporters that the Asian power was also a victim of cyber theft.
“I don’t think you ever expect a Chinese leader to say, ‘You know what, you’re right, you’ve caught us red-handed. We’re stealing all your stuff, and every day we figure out how we can get into Apple,” Obama said.
Obama, who has faced criticism at home for disclosures of US surveillance, said that every nation gathered intelligence but that China went beyond such “standard fare” as trying to “find out what my talking points are when I’m meeting the Japanese.”
“There’s a big difference between that and a hacker directly connected with the Chinese government or the Chinese military breaking into Apple’s software systems to see if they can obtain the designs for the latest Apple product.
“That’s theft. And we can’t tolerate that,” Obama said.
Obama, calling the United States “the world’s innovator” of products, said: “If countries like China are stealing that, that affects our long-term prosperity in a serious way.”
A private US report earlier this year said that hacking by China cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars per year through the theft of intellectual property.
The Pentagon has charged that Chinese hackers have broken into both US companies and government agencies, including secret designs for sophisticated weapons systems.