Obama-Xi summit: Less piety, more realism?

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama at Sunnylands, California (7 June)

One of my pet hates is when journalists claim that a meeting has been "overshadowed" by something or other.

What they usually mean is that they have decided to ignore the event in favour of a better story. It is rarely true that the participants in the summit of whatever find their attention wandering in the same direction as the journalists. What annoys me is the suggestion that this is an act of God that really changes the nature of the event, rather than a conscious editorial decision to put different story on TV or in the newspapers.

So it is with the summit in the desert and the series of leaks about the USA's national security. But they may have a curious effect.

They may embarrass President Obama enough to make the summit a little less pious, and a bit more realistic. The revelations about widespread mining of phone data, serious as they are, are neither here nor there in this context, although at least one report suggests Chinese activists are a bit taken aback.

But the latest leak in the Guardian may have an impact. It suggests President Obama asked his intelligence team to prepare for cyber attacks on unnamed targets. This may make American preaching on alleged Chinese cyber-attacks look a little hypocritical.

Of course there are differences. If the revelations are true, it would mean President Obama was making sure America could carry out what would amount to an act of war, taking out unnamed infrastructure and capabilities. What the Chinese are accused of is basically either spying or theft - taking information using sophisticated computer techniques.

But it suggests the two men have something real to talk about. President Obama made the point that this is uncharted territory - there are no international rules, similar to those that govern nuclear weapons or war. So if they are serious about forging a new global order, a blueprint for a better relationship, this is a pretty good place to start.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Interesting piece on BBC about shortages of cheap labor in major coastal Chinese cities.High cost of living is increasing, wages are low, other opportunities inland, families want migrant labor children to come home.Is the demographic ticking time bomb in China starting to bite the way it is in Japan, will in Italy and Russia?Fewer young having to support more aging people.One more minus for China

  • Comment number 134.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 133.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    marieinausten @130
    "psychology" of & as of children
    Adam & Eve: craving temptation that we might prove virtue?
    Questions not so "obscure", I'm sure, for Xi & Obama

    Many the courses of individual 'evolution'. What 'survives' is as much or more a reflection of culture as of genes, both contributing to capacity & drive, reason & care. Shall we try for the positive, or throw faith in 'the deep-end'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    "Stay tuned"
    Obama or Xi in Darkness at Noon?

    The joke has a kernel of reason, affording resonance in those who fear peace: loss of opportunity for aggression, loss of place in a suspect hierarchy ( accreted legacy of deeds fair & foul, martial & mercantile, hardly of 'merit'). That resonance can allow Man to be represented as beyond salvation, EXCEPT though 'these ordained tests'...!

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    128.All. Imo, it’s child psychology. Orignl sin is really just Shame (poisoning Identity; as opposed to Guilt-from-behavior).Shame usually comes from a parent. As soon as a person figures out something's amiss, maybe s/he should be handed John Bradshaw. Heal, & be a better parent when it’s his/her turn - instead of this spinning in circles. Meanwhile we’re mostly reacting to old stuff. :-|

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    All for All (128),

    “… Here's a question for Xi & Obama & (1 + 0.4) billion: failing agreement is Man's survival deserved; given agreement is individual virtue devalued?”

    I’ll be sure to ask this question when I next meet with either of the two gentlemen. Their answers may well illuminate some of the more obscure Sino-US relations.

    Stay tuned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Chryses @127
    "cosmic fitness
    lost in the Fall"
    Poetic, I hope. Liking Milton?
    More prosaic: the logical necessity (& logical morality) of human (equal) partnership to 'overcome' what tests (beyond Satan's) may 'in or before the fullness of time' befall. Here's a question for Xi & Obama & (1 + 0.4) billion: failing agreement is Man's survival deserved; given agreement is individual virtue devalued?

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    All for All (123),

    Appreciate as ever reliance on facts & logic ...”

    I do find solace in those disciplines.

    I fear that humanity’s 'cosmic fitness' was lost in the Fall, and we have yet to regain it. Perhaps in the fullness of time …

  • Comment number 126.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    I've just heard that Xi's "China Dream" is actually a recurring nightmare he gets, in which hundreds or thousands of innocent young unarmed teenagers are massacred by tanks and automatic weapons just because they dared to hold a peaceful protest asking for basic freedoms which we, for all our faults, take for granted in our free societies where we can express views. TianSquare is his dream !!!!!

  • Comment number 124.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Appreciate as ever reliance on facts & logic, reluctance to go far hoping "to improve the human condition". However, agreed equal partnership would be a defence, its acquisition will favour long-run survival ('cosmic fitness', test possible any time: nuclear, climate, planetesimal impact), and it is (in society) morally 'right', logically shareable & democratically agreeable, Catch 22!

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Observation Station (121),

    “Chryses is a spy spying like a spider on a fly”

    Dang! You caught me! I’m actually a Chinese spy sent from the Central Politburo trying to lull Westerners into false sense of security!

  • Comment number 121.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    I daresay you’d get a much lower count if you asked how many did NOT find them obnoxious as well as ill-informed and ignorant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    All for All (117),

    Relying on 'architecture' is relying on readiness ...”

    You asked @114 for “… a further insurance …”. I provided one you seem to not want. OK.

    “…Relying also on never-a-spark, never-a-miscalculation, never …”

    I prefer to rely on an improved net design for critical components. Feel free to improve the human condition if you prefer.

  • Comment number 118.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Relying on 'architecture' is relying on readiness, or bluff, either way sustained by competitive effort, constant & credible, to undermine 'capability'. Relying also on never-a-spark, never-a-miscalculation, never a 'change-of-direction' in personnel. What chance / point / 'hope' if blinkered arrogance & racial paranoia our guides, unhappy at home, abroad, anywhere but playing chicken?

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    All for All (114),

    “Chryses @112
    You echo the confidence of sieuarlu @101. And who knows?”

    I base my opinions upon the information I have available to me.

    “… might you also commend a further insurance …”

    Sure – revisit the internet architecture. It was designed to be robust, not secure. It is robust and insecure. First stop: domain name to ip translators.


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