US calls on China to ‘abide by rules’

Updated 13 July 2013
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US calls on China to ‘abide by rules’

WASHINGTON: The United States called Thursday on China to abide by what it called international rules in areas from cyber-hacking to freedom at sea as the world’s two largest economies waded into key disputes.
Chinese and US officials were wrapping up an annual two-day meeting designed to address the gamut of issues in their complicated relationship, with both sides looking for at least small ways to expand cooperation.
In a sign of the importance he attaches to managing ties with the rising Asian power, President Barack Obama, who generally meets only leaders from other nations, plans to receive the two main Chinese delegates at the White House.
Obama has invested time in seeking a smooth relationship with China’s newly installed President Xi Jinping, meeting him for a weekend at a California desert resort last month, but has also stepped up the tone on hacking.
For the second day in a row, the United States raised charges that China has waged a vast hacking campaign to steal US trade and government secrets, costing the economy billions of dollars through the counterfeiting of products.
“As major powers looking to forge a new model of relations, our countries have a responsibility to show restraint in our actions and abide by the rules meant to govern international affairs,” Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told a session.
“This means respecting the universality of human rights and addressing cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property,” Burns said.
Burns also called on China to “uphold the freedom of navigation” in the economically vital waterways of Asia, where US allies Japan and the Philippines as well as Vietnam accuse Beijing of aggressively exerting its claims.
“Adhering to these and other global rules will help reduce uncertainty and, in turn, strengthen global security and increase steady economic growth,” Burns said.
A US official said that Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday was “very forceful” on human rights concerns in China and raised specific cases. Burns later filled in for Kerry, who returned to Boston to see his hospitalized wife.
Vice President Joe Biden raised hacking concerns when he opened the talks on Wednesday, saying that “outright” theft by China “must be viewed as out of bounds and needs to stop.”
China insists it is also the victim of hacking and has demanded answers after US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden charged that US spies had worked their way into the billion-plus nation’s Internet network.
Chinese officials, who often bristle at US criticism, took a measured tone during the dialogue, whose format of formal, heavily scripted meetings is seen as appealing to Beijing.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked in Beijing about Biden’s remarks, said only that the two countries can make cyber-security “a new highlight of our bilateral cooperation instead of the source of friction.”
Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, addressing reporters on the sidelines of the talks, spoke of progress on reaching a treaty to protect and encourage investment between the two countries.
“We hope that on top of what has been done, both sides can initiate their negotiations on substantive parts of the bilateral investment treaty as soon as possible,” he said.
Gao declined to give a more specific timeframe for the treaty, over which talks began five years ago.
The United States and China announced Wednesday that they would step up cooperation on fighting climate change, although their agreements were general in tone.
The two countries, which together pump out more than 40 percent of carbon blamed for the planet’s warming temperatures, said they would chart out plans by October in five areas including reducing emissions from heavy-duty vehicles.
Climate change is seen as a key area for collaboration as the leaders of both countries both see an interest in addressing the problem, even if Obama’s efforts are hobbled by opposition in Congress.
Christiana Figueres, head of the UN climate body, called the agreements “welcome and important” and said that such efforts can help pave the way for an elusive successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol.


First female CIA director Gina Haspel is sworn in

Updated 10 min 19 sec ago
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First female CIA director Gina Haspel is sworn in

  • Gina Haspel was confirmed by the Senate last week in a 54-45 vote, despite the deep reservations of some lawmakers about her past involvement in the torture of terror suspects in the post-9/11 era.
  • Trump paid tribute to Haspel as “a very special person” who was uniquely qualified to lead “the most elite intelligence professionals on the planet Earth.”

WASHINGTON: Veteran CIA officer Gina Haspel was sworn in as the agency’s first female director Monday, hailing the “heroines” who had gone before her and expressing hope she and her team would be “role models.”
The 61-year-old Haspel, a Russia specialist who spent her career in the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine service, takes over from Mike Pompeo, whom Trump recently made his secretary of state.
Haspel was confirmed by the Senate last week in a 54-45 vote, despite the deep reservations of some lawmakers about her past involvement in the torture of terror suspects in the post-9/11 era.
“I stand on the shoulders of heroines who never sought public acclaim, but served as inspirations to the generations that came after them,” Haspel said after being sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence and introduced by President Donald Trump.
“I would not be standing before you today if not for the remarkable courage and dedication displayed by generations” of women officers, she said at CIA headquarters in Virginia.
“In roles both large and small,” Haspel said they “challenged stereotypes, broke down barriers and opened doors for the rest of us.”
“I am deeply indebted to them and I am extremely proud to follow in their footsteps and to carry on their extraordinary legacy.”
Haspel added: “I want the current CIA leadership team to be role models and mentors for our next generation of officers.”
She joked about her bruising confirmation hearing, which dug into her work overseeing a secret “black site” prison in Thailand.
It was there that Al-Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri were water-boarded, an interrogation technique subsequently condemned as torture.
“It has been nearly 50 years since an operations officer rose up through the ranks to become the director and after the experience of the last two months, I think I know why that is,” she told officers and invited guests.
In his introductory remarks, Trump paid tribute to Haspel as “a very special person” who was uniquely qualified to lead “the most elite intelligence professionals on the planet Earth.”
“Our enemies will take note: Gina is tough. She is strong. And when it comes to defending America, Gina will never, ever back down,” Trump said.
The president largely avoided the controversies swirling around his presidency, including his allegations, just hours earlier, that former CIA director John Brennan was behind the investigation into his campaign’s dealings.
Trump however angered some former CIA officers with his decision to thank “courageous” Congressman Devin Nunes.
A Trump supporter, Nunes has demanded documents about the investigation into Team Trump, but which the intelligence community says risks exposing sources.
Former intelligence officer David Priess said Trump’s comment about Nunes was “disgusting.”
“I can’t imagine this comment goes over well-but, unlike the president, IC officials are respectful enough not to make a scene,” Priess said.