China and the US were able to set aside their cyber-spying-oneupmanship at a meeting yesterday, with officials from both sides agreeing to improving cooperation in tackling hackers.
Before representatives met to talk about computer security defences, China had made much of whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA's PRISM electronic surveillance programme - and how American pots shouldn't be calling any kettles black, while the US continued to harp on about commercial cyber attacks and theft of blueprints.
But Chinese state news agency Xinhua said despite their differences, the talks had gone well.
"The two sides held candid in-depth discussions on cybersecurity, including the mechanism of a bilateral cyber working group, international cyberspace rules, and measures to boost dialogue and cooperation on cybersecurity," the agency said.
"Both sides expressed the willingness to improve the mechanism of the cyber working group on the basis of mutual respect and equality so that it can play a positive role in enhancing mutual trust, reducing mutual suspicion, managing disputes and expanding cooperation."
The US State Department agreed with the Chinese assessment of the meeting, saying that discussions were "constructive".
"I think we could say both sides made practical proposals to increase our cooperation and build greater understanding and transparency between the two sides. We also raised issues concerning cyber-enabled economic theft," an official told reporters.
"We expect this meeting will be the start of substantive and a sustained discussions between the United States and China on cyber issues."
Another official said that the US was focused on "cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property" in the talks and not on the alleged hacking in connection with PRISM into Chinese telcos and the country's Tsinghua University.
The talks were held just ahead of the fifth China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, where Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councillor Yang Jiechi will meet with Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to discuss all sorts of political, economic and security topics. ®