United States-China Summit
US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping’s weekend summit in California was dominated by the issue of cyber security. “It is now really at the center of the relationship,” according to Tom Donilon, Obama’s departing national security adviser. The New York Times quotes an American official who participated in some of the meetings as saying that “there was definitely an intent to send a signal to the bureaucracies on both sides that any kind of downward spiral into overt and sustained competition would not be in either side’s interest”. The two leaders are seeking to prevent the dispute over cyber attacks and China’s increased assertiveness in the Pacific from “descending into a cold war mentality and to avoid the pitfalls of a rising power confronting an established one”.
The two countries announced an agreement to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons, a gas that is used in many industrial applications, especially as a refrigerant. The Wall Street Journal says that according to the White House, “the agreement with China to phase out HFCs through the existing Montreal Protocol could eventually cut global emissions by the equivalent of 90 billion tons of CO2, or two years’ worth of global greenhouse-gas emissions.”
The Chinese media has reacted cautiously to the summit. A Global Times editorial raises questions on the importance given to the issue of cyber security. According to the newspaper, ”it baffles us when the US raises many issues, such as cyber security, to a height closely related to strategic relations between the two countries. Is it a hoax to threaten China, or is it because the US believes each of the issues is more important than anything else?”
Around the World
The Guardian Reveals Identity of US Whistleblower: The Guardian has revealed the identity of the whistleblower who leaked information of the US National Security Agency’s surveillance of online communication. He is Edward Snowden, a 29-year old former technical assistant in the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. He has chosen to hide out in Hong Kong because of its ”spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and his belief that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government. ”All my options are bad,” he told the newspaper, suggesting that the US could either begin attempts to extradite him or that Chinese authorities might want to question high, as a valuable source of information. This episode adds an additional complication in the US-China relationship.
North and South Korea Agree to High-Level Talks: For the first time since 2007, both North and South Korean officials have agreed to hold high-level talks, following months of increasing tensions between the two neighbors. The talks will take place in Seoul on Wednesday and Thursday. While both countries have not agreed on a detailed agenda for the talks, North Korea’s Central News Agency said that it would focus on restoring suspended commercial links, particularly the Kaesong joint commercial zone which was shut down by the North in April as tensions escalated, according to the BBC.
Militants Attack Kabul Airport: A group of armed militants attacked Kabul’s main airport today using rocket-propelled grenades. The attack ‘forced authorities to cancel flights and sent military personnel and residents scurrying for cover in one of the most heavily guarded sectors of the capital’, reports the Washington Post. The Afghan Taliban has claimed resposibility for the attack. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid is said to have sent a text message to journalists where he wrote that “heavy casualties have been inflicted on the enemy.”