WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping said they made important progress in talks regarding cybertheft, agreements on climate change and North Korea denuclearization, but differences of opinion prevailed over Chinese activity in the South China Sea.
Speaking from the Rose Garden at the White House on Friday, Obama said the United States welcomes the rise of a China that is "peaceful, stable and prosperous," adding exports to China have nearly doubled since 2009, with trade now supporting 1 million U.S. jobs.
With growing business ties, however, cyber espionage for commercial gain also has surged. Obama said neither Beijing nor Washington will "conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information for commercial advantage."
Xi said he had reached a consensus with Obama on cybercrimes, and that Beijing is to step up investigations in this area.
"But I have to insist that our work is not yet done, I believe we can expand our progress in this area," Obama said.
Beijing and Washington also agreed to new channels of communication that could "reduce the risks of miscalculation between our militaries," Obama said.
They also discussed North Korea.
"The United States and China reaffirmed our commitment to the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner," Obama said. "We demand the full implementation of all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, and we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state."
Xi and Obama, however, took differing approaches to Beijing's activities in land reclamation in disputed areas of the South China Sea. Obama said Washington holds significant concerns over land reclamation, construction and militarization of disputed areas.
"[They make] it harder for countries in the region to resolve disagreements peacefully," Obama said.
In his separate statement, Xi took a firm approach, and said China maintains its sovereignty over territories in the South China Sea, where Beijing has been building airstrips over reclaimed reefs.
"Islands in the South China Sea since ancient times are China's territory. We have the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful legitimate maritime rights and interests," Xi said.
The Chinese leader said the construction activity on the "Nansha Islands" do not impact any country, and that China is not pursuing militarization of the islands and supports freedom of maritime navigation.
China recently broke a pledge to halt reclamation and has built three runways on artificial islands at the Fiery Cross and Subi reefs.
The United States has urged China to bring an end to maritime activities that have drawn protests from neighboring countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Each country has claimed the disputed Spratly Islands as its own.