The second day of high-level talks between the United States and China concluded Thursday in Beijing and the two sides appeared to make little headway on a range of security and economic issues.
The annual U.S-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue gives both countries an opportunity to talk about bilateral relations.
At a news conference, Secretary of State John Kerry affirmed the U.S. commitment to good relations with China.
“The U.S and China are committed to a new model of relations based on practical cooperation and constructive management of differences,” said Kerry.
Kerry said he only learned of an attempt by Chinese hackers to gain access to government personnel files after the conclusion of his meetings with Chinese leaders. He said no sensitive information appears to have been compromised in the hacking attacks, but said he had “frank” discussions with Chinese leaders on cyber security.
Kerry said U.S. officials were able to find common ground with Beijing on several issues, including nuclear non-proliferation, the importance of the rule of law, the rise in tensions with China's neighbors and in-depth discussions on military to military talks. But he provided few details.
The highest profile agreement to come out of the talks was a series of deals on climate change. The partnership pacts involved companies and research organizations and the sharing of clean coal and carbon capture technologies.
On Thursday China State Councilor Yang Jiechi said that building better ties requires mutual respect.
He said creating a new relationship model between China and the United States requires us to respect each other, treat each other with sincerity, correctly view each other's strategic intentions, and avoid strategic misjudgment.
Thursday's talks began with a breakfast that included entrepreneurs from the United States and China.
At a time when there are continuing tensions between the two nations, many see economic cooperation as a key opportunity.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew addressed the gathering, saying, "Today strengthening the commercial relationships remains an important test ahead of us. It's a way to create economic growth and jobs in our two countries and it's a way to help drive the global economy forward."
Following Thursday's meetings, Lew said China is committed to reducing market intervention and revaluation of its currency. He said steps also were taken towards the signing of a bilateral investment treaty.
The U.S. economy shrank in the first quarter of 2014 by 2.9 percent. China’s grew by 7.4 percent during the same period, but that is an 18-month low for the country. After the 2008 financial crisis, huge Chinese government stimulus spending boosted its economy and helped lift the rest of the world. But on Wednesday, Beijing’s finance minister said those spending measures are over, and it is up to the United States to drive the global economy.
Later on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry told a gathering that academic freedoms and independent news media are key issues in the relationship between Washington and Beijing.
"And it's a partnership that has the potential to be even stronger when we understand that academic freedom and free press are not barriers to greater exchanges between our people -- they are the drivers of a better understanding of those exchanges. The story of US-China relations really can be one of genuine cooperation, and frankly a spectacular accomplishment," said Kerry.
On Wednesday, a prominent Tibetan writer, Tsering Woeser, who has written about Tibetan rights issues, was placed under house arrest, after she had received an invitation to attend a dinner at the U.S. embassy while Secretary Kerry is in town. A spokesman for the state department said Kerry discussed human rights issues and the treatment of ethnic minorities in conversations with Chinese authorities.
Despite U.S. differences over China on these issues and increasing rivalry with China in economic power and military might, Kerry emphasized the potential for partnership between the two countries.
“We recognize the need to avoid falling into a trap of a zero-sum competition. And that recognition is now driving our partnership on issues like climate change, wildlife trafficking to Afghanistan, to peacefully solving the Iranian nuclear issue.”
China frequently has warned the United States against trying to “contain” its economic and diplomatic rise, and it views the U.S. “pivot” to Asia as part of a strategy of containment. U.S. officials routinely reject that characterization, and say they fully support the rise of a stable, peaceful and prosperous China.
During the annual talks, Beijing officials have insisted they are trying to find the right balance on advancing economic reforms, including exchange rate liberalization and market access.
The two days of talks are also focusing on other disputes, such as China's maritime disputes with its neighbors and U.S. concerns over China's human rights record.
At the first day of the dialogue Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized cooperating, saying confrontation between the U.S. and China would "definitely be a disaster."
Kerry said the United States and China have the ability to find common ground. He said Washington is not trying to contain China, but hopes it becomes "peaceful, stable and prosperous."
Meanwhile, a writer who advocates human rights in Tibet says authorities have placed her and her husband under house arrest in Beijing for Kerry's visit.
Tsering Woeser was kept from attending a dinner to which she was invited by the U.S. embassy.
Woeser was given an International Women of Courage Award by the State Department last year. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said officials are concerned by her reported house arrest and are looking into the matter.