California-- In a countermove to President Obama's charges that Chinese hackers are targeting the U.S., Chinese President Xi Jinping says his country is also a victim of cyber attacks.
But through "good faith cooperation," said Xi, the U.S. and China can make cyber security "a positive area of cooperation."
It looked like an effort by Xi to turn the tables on Mr. Obama as the two leaders reported on their first round of summit talks that lasted the better part of 3 hours and continued into the night over dinner.
Xi said U.S. press coverage of the hacking issue was giving people "the sense or feeling" that the cyber threat emanates from China and that it's the biggest issue in the Sino-American relationship.
In response to a reporter's question, Mr. Obama said the hacking issue came up in their talks, but they had not yet had "in depth discussions" on it.
"We were speaking at the 40,000 foot level," said Mr. Obama, but he expected the issue to come up again.
He spoke of "the need for rules and common approaches" to cyber security. Xi later committed to a similar objective
"We need to pay close attention to this issue," said Xi, "and study ways to effectively resolve it."
But Mr. Obama said "in some ways these are uncharted waters," when it comes to rules of the road for cyber security. Yet he believes the U.S. and China can arrive at "a firm understanding" of how to work together on the issue.
Mr. Obama made it clear he did not think his position on cyber security was in any way undermined by the disclosure of U.S. government surveillance phone call data and website visits.
He said the surveillance matter is complicated, but it's "different from the issue of hacking."
The agenda for the first round of talks also included the threat posed by North Korea. It's the U.S. hope that China will use all of its influence to get the unpredictable and erratic leader Kim Jong Un to abandon his country's production of nuclear weapons and missiles. No progress on the issue was reported.
In large part, the summit at Sunnylands, the estate built in the mid-1960s for billionaire publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonore, was a get-acquainted session for Presidents Obama and Xi.
They said it reflected the importance of the relationship between their nations.
Xi repeated his hope of laying the groundwork for building "a new model of major country relationship" between the U.S. and China.
"When the U.S. and China work together," said Xi "we can be an anchor of world stability and a propeller of world peace."
He spoke of his hope of deepening understanding and trust between the two countries in order to avoid "inevitable confrontations" and embark on a new path.
Mr. Obama seconded the objective. He said more could be accomplished if the U.S. and China worked cooperatively rather than in conflict.
He called the summit "a unique opportunity" to take the U.S.-China relationship to a new level. He said he's determined that the opportunity not be missed.
Xi invited Mr. Obama to visit China for a reciprocal summit, but no date was mentioned.
The two leaders have another round of talks Saturday morning before Xi departs midday.
Mr. Obama is scheduled to remain at Sunnylands until Sunday, so it gives him a block of time to play a round of golf on the Annenberg course, just as President Reagan did on his annual New Year holiday visits to the 200-acre estate.